Posted by: christinelaennec | April 12, 2012

An epic journey!

We were none too sure about taking the Easter trip we’d planned, given how unwell the Dafter has been lately.  Usually we travel to England on the train.  But that wasn’t going to be possible.  However, after much discussion we decided to go for it – in the car.  And we made it!  There and back.  It was wonderful to see family and friends, and we had fun visiting a few tourist attractions as well.  The Dafter traced the route we took:

Our car journey nearly the length of Britain - drawn as we went by the Dafter.

The morning we left, it snowed!  The promised “sneachd an uain” arrived:

April 3rd, 2012: snow in Scotland and the north of England.

We were snug and warm in our car, and had hired a wheelchair in order to make more things possible for the Dafter.

Have wheelchair, will travel! The Dafter in her "nest".

We were amused by this Dr. Who Tardis at the Glendoick Garden Centre:

A Tardis! At Glendoick Garden Centre near Perth.

The snow followed us south, nearly all the way to Blackpool, where we visited a cousin we hadn’t seen in years.  It was wonderful to see her again and we were treated like visiting (vegetarian) royalty.  We stayed overnight in Liverpool, and visited Croxteth House, which I’ll post about later.  We drove through the centre of town on our way out, as a stretch of the motorway was closed due to the snow:

Liverpool: the "Liver birds" are the statues on the tops of the towers of this famous landmark building.

From Liverpool we drove to Cambridge.  Sadly, we missed seeing Michael’s mother Norah, bless her soul.  But it was wonderful to see his brother and older sister again.  The Dafter wanted to put daisies on her grave, and the sun came out for our visit:

Flowers for her Granny's grave.

Norah would have loved the daisies better than any store-bought flowers.

Our visit to the cemetery. The birds were in full song and the sun was warm.

She’s in a very peaceful corner of the cemetery.

Angels

The Dafter needed to rest but her auntie kindly stayed with her for a few hours while Michael and I went into town to explore a bit:

Me in front of King's College, Cambridge.

I love how the cattle graze in the middle of the city.  It’s probably a good way of keeping the grass short!

Cattle grazing on Midsummer Common, Cambridge.

After our stay in Cambridge, and a yummy family dinner all together, we drove to stay with friends near London.  On our way we went here:

The entrance to Legoland, Windsor!

The wheelchair made all the difference, and I will show you photos of the Miniworld in another post.

One afternoon, Michael and I went on a wee tourist excursion in London:

Kensington, London: the curving buildings behind the circular Royal Albert Hall.

I thought this card was the best version of the current “Keep Calm” craze that I’ve seen.  It’s certainly the best version for me at the moment, anyhow!

"Keep calm and say thanks" - seen in an office window in London.

(Do you suppose those pingpong balls are glued together?)  Now here’s a funny thing.  We’d brought our friends a vase made by Fiona Duckett (Watergaw Ceramics) in the North-East of Scotland.  It went perfectly with their beautiful painting by Willie Fulton, and the objects assembled nearby!

Beauty at our friends' house. Painting by Willie Fulton from the Isle of Harris.

On Easter Sunday I went to the Methodist church and really enjoyed the service.  It was good to be reminded that out of darkness comes light.  I left feeling a bit more resolved to be hopeful and to trust we will be helped, healed and taken care of.  As clearly we are!

When we left London, it was the usual havoc on the motorway.  Before the Dartford Crossing, we crept along with the flashing “40 mph” sign mocking us, considering we were all going about 1/40th that fast.  However, there’s nothing for it as there’s no other way to get across the Thames:

Creeping along the M25 outside London.

I was just thankful that we weren’t in either of the two accidents that we went slowly past on our journey North.

After another night in Cambridge, we were pleased to see the “Angel of the North” statue as we came into Newcastle:

The 'Angel of the North' outside Newcastle.

And of course we were happy to cross the border into Scotland:

Crossing the border back into Scotland.

We spent the night in Edinburgh, at the hotel next to the zoo.  It was absolutely packed, and everyone there – including some Chinese tourists and ourselves – seemed to be going to see the Giant Pandas.

View over Edinburgh to the Pentland Hills from the hotel next to Edinburgh Zoo.

Only the female panda was on view, and she was having a nap at that, but we had a very good visit – as well as with our son!  I will write another post about our trip to the zoo, but will just mention here that it poured with rain the night before, and also just after we left, but was sunny and warm(ish) during our visit.

The Dafter and I at Edinburgh Zoo.

After saying our goodbyes, we headed for home, across the Firth of Forth:

Crossing the Forth Road Bridge (which is not actually tilted!)

We were greeted by hailstones and rainbows:

A rainbow greets us as we near Aberdeen.

We’re tired, but it’s good to be home.  We turned the wheelchair back in today, but have decided to buy one, as the Dafter did actually walk a lot more on our holiday because she had the option of resting in the wheelchair rather than just on the ground.   It was wonderful to reconnect with our family and friends.  We were spoiled rotten and Michael and I had a real chance to unwind, which was great.  Oh and did I mention we ate a LOT of chocolate?!

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Responses

  1. Wonderful to see you enjoying your trip – the Scottish spring seems to bring out a little of the adventurous in us! yay! xx

  2. wow! what an amazing trip. your wonderful daughter seems to have grown up quite a bit since last time we saw a picture of her and it’s so lovely to see her out and about and enjoying life. i remember going to Blackpool as a girl for holidays and i returned there with a friend after we finished school. what a beautiful vase and how nice that it matched so perfectly. i’m glad that you had a chance to visit Norah’s gravesite and spend some time there. love the “welcome to Scotland” sign. have passed that a few times and it feels good to cross the border on to familiar ground. thanks for the wonderful post and i’m so glad you had a good time.

  3. What a lovely vacation with so many adventures! The photos are beautiful, especially the very sweet and poignant one of your daughter holding her sweet daisies. It is good to hear that she is enjoying herself even with all that she has to overcome.

    It’s so nice that you made time to spend together doing happy things and seeing loved ones on your journey.

    How perfect that you were greeted home by a rainbow! xx

  4. So pleased that you managed to take this trip. I’ve been thinking about you, and Megan often asks how The Dafter is doing.
    All those different scenes will be food for the mind long after the trip, and how encouraging that walking is easier with a wheelchair to hand.
    Sorry not to have seen you when you were in Edinburgh but understandably by that point in the trip you all needed to conserve energy rather than meeting “weird bloggy people”.

    The cows in Cambridge are lovely, aren’t they? It accentuates the medieval feel of the place.

  5. So glad your trip went well. I suppose the security of having the wheelchair made the difference, abut so good that she enjoyed the trip too. Well done. xxx

  6. Thank you for sharing your epic journey. In spite of everything you all looked as if you enjoyed it – and what a lot of things you managed to see and do travelling there and back! The wheelchair was a brilliant idea as backup. We always drive if we can, when we go south. Admittedly we only have the two of us to worry about, but I always think you can see so much more and (motorway traffic depending) you can travel at your own pace. I was born in Kensington and lived there as a little girl.
    The best bit though for us, is when we come home again and cross over the border into Scotland! I think the pace of life seems quieter and there is more space to spread out!

  7. Wow, that really was an epic journey. How long did it take? So glad you all enjoyed the trip and the Dafter looks really bonny.

  8. So glad to hear that you had a nice family break. Just the thing to lift the spirits!

  9. what a wonderful trip…so many sights you were able to take in…love the keep calm sign and the smiles on all of your faces.

  10. What a wonderful trip! Getting the wheel chair is a great idea. The Dafter can conserve her energy and hopefully have more stamina for the things she most wants to do.

    How gorgeous England and Scotland are (hail and traffic jams aside).

  11. Sounds like a good time was had by all! We make a similar journey once a year down to Kent to see family. It’s nice to break it up into bite-size chunks, isn’t it? I bet it’s nice to be home-sweet-home too though! 🙂 xx

  12. Seeing your route on the map really concentrates the mind! I don’t think I would have made such a journey by car – well done for doing it and making so much of it too!

  13. Dear everyone,

    Thanks for sharing our adventure, and I’m glad you didn’t mind the 20 photo travelogue! We did have a good time, and the challenges were worth it.

    Amanda, yes I agree there is a sense of adventure about the springtime.

    ajb, I’ve told the Dafter you think she’s looking more grown-up. She has been arguing with me that “her face looks 12”! Sigh…

    Karen, I took the rainbow as a good sign too.

    Linda, I wasn’t sure until the night before whether we would be able to make our zoo date with our son, and we left before lunchtime. But I’ll be in touch about another “weird bloggy people” opportunity! You’re absolutely right about the cows in Cambridge. It does feel quite medieval.

    Jacqui, thank you and for the hugs.

    Ann, we’re not natural car travellers. The Dafter has always hated car travel, and as a baby was the only one I knew who woke up and cried when put in her car seat! However, needs must and as you say at least you can stop when you need to. I’m fascinated that you were born in Kensington. It seemed like a Disneyland to me: no cars and only tourists, that I could see at least! Obviously there are also actual residents somewhere.

    Jill, we were gone for 8 days, of which 3 didn’t involve any driving. The Dafter says thank you for the compliment!

    Martin, yes indeed!

    Lisa, I’m glad you like the sign – it kind of sums up your blog I think!

    Kelly, that’s exactly how it worked out, more stamina for fun(ner) things. Yes, we do live in a beautiful country.

    Tina, you do that once a year?! Golly. We have done it twice before, in 20 years. I much prefer the sleeper train, myself.

    Roobeedoo – see above. But it was good to have the car as an option.

  14. Marvelous! I myself measure the success of a trip by how much excellent chocolate I eat. 🙂 Wonderful photos, as usual, to document your epic journey. I’m envious! xo

    Ellen

    • Oh I’m glad you don’t approve of the chocolate aspect of travelling! I’m glad you liked the photos. It sounds as if you’ll be planning an epic GB journey of your own one of these days!

    • Sorry, I meant I’m glad you don’t DISapprove… obviously I need to have a piece of chocolate now…


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