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Our friend Vanessa is living in Sheffield England for a year, so of course we had to go visit her!  We've traveled with Vanessa to Iceland, Scotland, Italy, and now England & Ireland.

Day 15 - Dublin

August 13, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day 15 – Dublin (Saturday July 6th)

After two weeks of walking we decided to give our feet a rest and took one of the tour buses around the city to hit some widely spaced  sites.  It was a good and bad day for the bus tour.  The good was the weather – no clouds and low 80s, which would have made for hot city walking.  The bad was the bus route – we couldn’t go as far into Phoenix Park as normal because they were setting up for huge Justin Timberlake concert, and the main road - O’Connell St – was closed for a protest march.  The Irish do like their protests.

The tour bus driver was entertaining as we made our way across the city, the best of the 4 drivers we heard during the day.  Our planned first stop was Kilmainham Gaol, an important site during the Irish War of Independence and more recently an important movie set.  The East Wing was similar to other jails around the UK, so is used in place of those other jails in movies.   Besides being a place with really fascinating history, it was a great place to photograph.

From there we took the bus to Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed urban park in Europe, and meandered through it back to the edge of town where we found the famous ‘Nancy Hands’ pub for lunch.  Just walking through to look at the woodwork in the place would be great.  Back on the bus we took an abbreviated tour of the North side of town, thanks to the protest march.  We walked around O’Connell Street a little before hopping back on the bus.  A bachelor party joined us on upper deck and we thought they were going to be obnoxious, but a few minutes under the blazing sun and they faded!  Many pints of Guiness + unusual summer weather = sleepy people.

We took the bus past our morning starting point and got off at St Patrick’s Cathedral.  For 2 days in Dublin I kept asking, “Is that St. Patrick’s?”  There are a lot of churches in Dublin.  We paid to go inside and tour it, being mindful of the signs everywhere warning of pickpockets.  Jonathan Swift was the Dean there for 32 years and his tomb is inside.  After getting back into the sun, we rested on the grass in St Patrick's Park next door, along with 1/2 of Dublin.

Strolling back to our hotel, we stopped at the Bull & Castle Beerhall & Steakhouse, which has "one of Ireland's widest selection of Irish craft beer" for a pre-dinner pint.  It seems that every place we visited was the "oldest" or had some other superlative value, once you put enough qualifiers around it.  For our last dinner in Dublin we ended up in an Italian restaurant on the banks of the River Liffey; all the modern Irish places were booked up on a Saturday night.


Day 14 - County Meath

August 06, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day 14 - County Meath Ireland (Friday July 5th)

After a full day in the city we were ready to get out of town and see some sites.  County Meath is just North of Dublin and has several days’ worth of sites to visit.  Since we just had 1 day, we crammed in as much as possible.  The Boyne Valley has been inhabited for at least 9000 years and has sites dating back 5000 years.

We started at another UNESCO World Heritage site, Brú na Bóinnem, which is 5,000 years old and we visited the burial sites of Newgrange and Knowth.  Knowth contains more than a third of the total number of megalithic art stones in Western Europe!  I have some pictures of these, including a 5000 yr old sundial stone.  The whole mound is encircled with them.  The passage tomb itself is not intact; some later people thought it was a great hill to build on and disturbed the original design.  Newgrange is much larger and more famous, but with only a few carved megalithic stones.  The highlight there is the intact passage tomb that, 5000 years later, the rising sun on the winter solstice still shines directly into.  We went in and they simulated the rising sun for us, which wasn't too exciting.  They have an online lottery for tickets to be in there during the solstice, just hope there are no clouds.  Between visiting the two sites we had an excellent lunch in their cafe, we've eaten in many museum cafeterias over the years, and this was one of the best.

From there we headed to the town and castle of Trim, the largest Norman castle in Ireland.  The keep & walls are in good shape and it’s recently famous for standing in as the castle of York in Braveheart.  Like most actors, it needed a lot of makeup before being on the big screen so what we saw wasn't very recognizable.  While at the top of the keep, we were looking down onto a rooftop party with an event going on for a Jonathan Swift Satire Festival.  We couldn't hear any satire, but could hear the worst Lynyrd Skynyrd cover ever; maybe they were being satirical.  Trim is a cute little town, but of course, we were off to the next site.

The Hill of Tara is the legendary seat of the High King of Ireland, sort of equivalent to the Stone of Scone in Scotland.  There's not much there today; just lots of lines of raised grass, a small passage tomb and a couple of monuments.  It does have great view across the Boyne Valley and was a peaceful spot to end our touring day.  We drove to the town of Malahide on coast for dinner.  A bustling town, it had lots of good non-pub food to offer.  The Dublin Airport was just a few minutes away and we dropped our rental car and took a bus back into the city.  [Our rental car was a Ford Focus.  It was a diesel with a 6 speed manual transmission and when it was in neutral and your foot was on the brake, it turned off!  Put your foot on the clutch and it turned back on!  Try getting that car in the states.  In our day of country, highway, backroad, and city driving, I got 49MPG.]

Of course we missed many sites in Meath, the town of Kells, more castles, more abbey ruins, more cute sea-side towns.



Day 13 - Dublin

August 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day 13 - Dublin (Thursday July 4th)

There were lots of American flags flying in Dublin today.  On our way into town on the 3rd our taxi driver commented that the 4th was a big day for us Yanks.  I told him that's why we had to leave England, they might still bear a grudge!  I found out later that a co-worker and his wife were in Dublin on this day, but for some reason we never saw them!

We headed right out to Trinity College and 'The Book of Kells' exhibit, which was pretty fascinating.  The 'Long Room' in the library above was also very cool with more information about book restoration & preservation then I'll ever need.   When we left, the line was even longer, so it's good we went early.  Around the corner is Merrion Square that is lined with Georgian houses, not the most exciting architectural style.  The square itself is nice and has the only full-color statue in Dublin; of Oscar Wilde, a very colorful guy. 

Our afternoon goal was the Guinness tour, we figured Thursday afternoon would be a much better time than Saturday!  We meandered through central Dublin, going by Christ Church Cathedral, St. Audoen's Church (the oldest parish church in Dublin, dating from 1190), along the River Liffey, past St Patrick's Tower (Europe's tallest smock windmill) and finally to the Guinness tour.

Sure the whole thing is a tourist trap, but it's cool tourist trap that ends with pint of Guinness in a bar with the best view of Dublin  to be found anywhere.  They turned an old brewery building into a shrine to the beer (sorry, stout) and the middle is a huge round area in the shape of a pint!  A 7 story pint.   Sue was particularly fascinated by the cooper exhibition.  At one time the had 300 men doing nothing but making barrels.  Coopering is one of many skills that we don't need much of anymore.

Leaving there, we passed 'John's Lane Church' with some bizarre sculptures outside it.  Then another excellent 'Modern Irish' restaurant, The Exchequer, ended our walking tour for the day.



Day 12 - Travel to Dublin

July 31, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day 12 – Travel & Dublin (Wednesday, July 3rd)

Today was an exciting travel day!  We spent the morning in Sheffield doing some last-minute shopping (a Made In Sheffield knife) and walked through the Winter Garden & Millennium Gallery.  The gallery had a display commemorating 100 years of stainless steel and a great collection from John Ruskin, whom I’d never heard of.

Three us hit the road (Vanessa came to Ireland with us) and drove through the Peak District one last time on our way to the Manchester Airport.  Sue found a fun way to chat with security personnel – neatly coil all your power cords & cables, put an apple in the middle of it, and put through the x-ray.  Apparently wires & organic matter make them nervous.  We had an exciting airport lunch, then flew Ryan Air to Dublin.  I think the flight took less time than it took to wait in line to board the plane.  A much quicker taxi-ride got us to our hotel in Central Dublin.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around, with Vanessa as our tour guide.  The masses were out, Dublin is a city, with all the that goes with it.   St Stephens Green is a nice respite from the streets.  Back on the streets we headed towards parliament and some sort of protest (they have lots of protests).  From a distance we could hear them chanting "What do want?"  "mumble mumble" "When do want it" "Now"  As we got closer, the best Sue could figure out was they wanted "Stale Crackers."  We weren't sure why anyone would protest for stale crackers, or even fresh crackers, but to each their own.  When we were really close, and could read their signs, it was clear that they didn't want "stale crackers" but "fair taxes."  That made more sense.

After that, we headed to a pub as quickly as we could for a pint of Guinness!  Dinner was 'Modern Irish' at the Boulevard Cafe where we sat in the window and watched our server sitting outside smoking and chatting with his friends, instead of serving.  We went through Temple Bar to the River Liffey and walked along there until Vanessa spotted a brewpub - J.W. Sweetman - a rarity in Ireland.  On our way back to the hotel we stopped in Temple Bar at one of the calmer places and listened to some music.

No pictures from today, the camera was tired and needed a rest.

Day 11 - Around Sheffield

July 30, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day 11 - East of Sheffield (Tuesday July 2nd)

For our last full day in England, we stayed close to home, or at least close to Sheffield.  We hit four very interesting sites today and were never farther than 20 miles from Sheffield.  First was Newstead Abbey that was founded in - yawn - 1163.  It's also the ancestral home of Lord Byron and where his beloved Newfoundland dog is buried (the thing on the right side in my second picture is his tomb & epitaph).  The grounds were a great place to stroll, even on a chilly July day.

We then drove towards Sherwood Forest (yes, that one) through the small town of Blidsworth.  We didn't stop, but later read that Robin Hood's sidekick is buried there.  Or maybe the purported Robin Hood's purported sidekick may be buried there.  Fact & fiction blend together in this area.  This area is so rich in history that we just drove right by Rufford Abbey without stopping.  Sherwood Forest, or what's left, is pretty kitschy and is the place all the local school kids get sick of taking field trips.  We took a stroll out to the 'Major Oak' that may, or may not, be 1100 years old.  They won't know until it dies, and they are doing everything they can to keep it alive!

This new stuff was getting to us, so we drove to Creswell Crags - a limestone gorge with evidence of human habitation dating back almost 40,000 years.  It was neat to walk around, but the caves were open for weekend tours only.  I took many pictures of the inside of dark caves and they are about as interesting as they sound.

Roche Abbey was the last of our spots for the day.  It's another nice ruined abbey  (like the castle ruins, we never got tired of the abbey ruins) dating from 1147.  It was 'closed', but there are several public walking trails all around it and there was just a short wire fence between us and the ruins.  So no climbing on them, but plenty to look at.

After those 4 sites, we got stuck (and lost) in rush-hour traffic heading back into Sheffield.  We had a last-minute tour through the University area and hit a few last pubs - The Wick at Both Ends, The Bath Hotel, and The Devonshire Cat (Dev-Cat to the hip).


Newstead Abbey (and the dog poem)






Day 10 - Wales

July 29, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day 10 - Wales (Monday July 1st)

After our 'Full Welsh' breakfast, we walked across the street to Swallow Falls.  Very scenic, dark and atmospheric.  Early on a drizzly Monday was a good time to go there, it's a very popular site.   We got on the road headed for Llanberis, our goal for the day was to take the cog railway to the top of Mt Snowden - the highest point in Wales (and higher than anything in England.)  The weather was not looking good, lots of rain and low-hanging clouds.  The terrain changed from rolling green hills to rocky, craggy mts.  Coming through the Pen-Y-Pass, we had foggy views of the mountains on both sides.

In Llanberis the weather wasn't any better, but we booked tickets for the 2pm train, hoping that predicated afternoon clearing was correct.  Llanberis was a massive center for slate-mining and the hillsides across the lake still show that very clearly.  To kill time we walked over to Dolbadarn Castle, which is a mostly intact keep with some outlines of the old walls.  Another built by Llywelyn the Great in the 13th century.  It is on a hill with views of the slate mine and up the pass.  I never got tired of those castle ruins.

We went into downtown Llanberis and had a lucky find with 'The Heights' pub & inn.  More 'Modern Welsh' but the food was excellent (served on slate planks) and they had Welsh cask ales.  There was still time before our train so we killed a few minutes at the slate museum.  It is free and we could have spent much more time there (of course) and we had to run to catch the pre-train movie at Snowdonia Railway.    Then it was on the train and up the mountain.  Yes, we could have hiked up there, but we were short for time.  From Llanberis it's a 10 mile round trip hike, or a 2.5 hour round trip train ride.

The forecast turned out to be accurate and it was a beautiful day.  Blue skies, puffy clouds, cool temperatures; what more could you ask for?  The summit was mobbed with hikers - there are 5 different trailheads that lead to the summit.  You can pay to take the train up and hike down, or hike up and take the train down for free.  Or go up & down different trails and take a shuttle bus back.  This is definitely on the list to go back to.

After our return trip down the mountain, we hit the road to go back to Sheffield, about 2:45 minutes away.  But of course we got sidetracked and stopped in Conwy for a 'brief' visit.  The town has Conwy Castle, one of "the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe", intact city walls, Telford bridges, a beautiful bay and the smallest house in Britain.  The castle was closed, but we walked around the outside, up on the walls, down to the water, and decided it was time for dinner!  We found Watson's Bistro, another Modern Welsh restaurant with more excellent food to send us on our way.  The bistro is connected to the city wall and had it's own staircase that led to the top, but we didn't know that.  So we walked around the block, climbed the wall, and walked to the sign on the top of Watson's.  We took the wall all the way to the bay and headed back along the promenade to our car (maybe the only time in the UK we didn't have to pay to park!)  We got back to Sheffield around 11pm after a wonderful day in Wales.

Many pictures from today, but it was a photogenic day.


Day 9 - Wales

July 28, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day 9 - Wales (Sunday, June 30th)

Today we headed to a foreign country within the UK - Wales.  It felt like moving between states in the US, or maybe more like between an English speaking province in Canada and a French speaking province.  I'm sure we don't understand the subtleties beyond that, and I won't try.

Anyway, going west from Sheffield means driving through the Peak District again.  By this time we've taken every road in and out of Sheffield going that way.  We drove by the Ladybower & Derwent Reservoirs again and continued through Snake Pass, we assume named for the shape of the road.  Of course it was scenic! Then it was onto main roads around Manchester until the border crossing into Wales - marked by a sign saying 'Cymru.' 

Once in Wales we paralleled the Irish Sea for quite a ways, and took a smaller road with hopes of better views but most smaller roads are lined with hedgerows, so we had no views!  The road did go to the top of a hill with a lay-by (rest-stop) with good views of the Irish Sea, Colwyn Bay and the town of Rhôs-on-Sea.  There were many windmills and a couple of drilling platforms out in the Irish Seas.  Maybe scenic, maybe not.

We stopped in Rhôs-on-Sea to stretch our legs, visit the tourist info and have lunch & ice cream.  Walking along the promenade at low tide was cool, all the boats in the harbor were resting on the ground!  We read about a fishing weir that we could see at low tide.  This was yet another of those crazy-old things; all the other weirs were closed - "Because such weirs decimated inshore fish stocks, Parliament banned them in 1861 unless it could be shown they pre-dated the Magna Carta, which the then owners, the Parry Evans family, were able to prove."  So this fishing weir in the ocean pre-dates the Magna Carta in 1215, and they could prove it!  These things just never cease to amaze me.

From there we headed inland to Betws-Y-Coed.  This is a very small town with a very large tourist population!  We checked out the gorgeous stream that flowed through town, then headed out to get away from the crowds.  Just a few miles down the road is Dolwyddelan, with a wonderful castle ruins on a hill top, and very few tourists.  This is one of the many Welsh castles (or castells in welsh) built by LLywelyn the Great, and captured by Edward I.  Heading back into town we stopped at Fairy Glen, a privately owned picturesque river.   We stayed at hotel/inn/hostel just out of town across from Swallow Falls.  Some local brews in the pub fortified us to head back into town for dinner at Bistro Betws-Y-Coed‎, the best place in town.  They serve modern-Welsh food (which is just like modern-English food), so it was served on a plank.  The food was very good and paired well with some more local Welsh beer.


Day 8 - Yorkshire Dales

July 27, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day8 – North Yorkshire (Saturday, June28th)

After a peaceful night in York, we headed east to North Yorkshire & the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.   Driving through the smaller villages, it’s always a shame that we couldn’t stop at every one.  You do get overloaded with quaint, cute, and old; so we kept driving.  We drove across the River Nidd in Knaresborough, and I did have to pull over; it was too photogenic to pass by.  We were aiming for Harrogate for ‘elevenses’ , and after a wrong turn or two, got there.  Harrogate is a spa town that reminded me of Saratoga Springs, NY.   There is some money there; I saw more Astin Martins in Harrogate than anywhere else.  

Our main destination for the day was Skipton Castle – one of the most complete and well preserved medieval castles in England.  After seeing lots of ruins, it was neat to walk through an intact castle.  To stretch our legs we walked through Skipton Woods; along a canal, a creek, and finally along a field lined with nice dry-stone walls.  Before getting on the road we were induced to try a 99p ice cream cone, with a flake.  I won’t try to explain, but there’s a BBC article below that does try.

Haworth and the Pennines was next on the list – this area is famous mainly for the Bronte sisters.  They all lived (and died very young) in this village.  It’s a very small, picturesque village on top of hill, with many trails leading off through the moors.  We parked next to its famous railway station – at the bottom of the hill, and had a long walk up.   The graveyard of the parsonage had more gravestones per square foot than any I’ve ever seen, I read that 20-60000 bodies were buried there.  Apparently it was closed when most of the town’s water pollution was traced to water leaching through the graveyard.

On our way back to Sheffield we stopped in the very small village of Hebden Bridge and tried to have dinner.  Of our two options one was a towny bar and the other was a Thai restaurant that didn’t have any room.  So we drove back to Sheffield and ate around the corner from Vanessa’s flat.



Day 7 - York

July 27, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day 7 – York (Friday June 28)

York is great small city with lots more to do than we were able to get to.  We had lunch at a pub called ‘Guy Fawkes’ which I assumed was a random name, but it’s the actual house where Guy Fawkes was born (in 1570) and raised.  The York Minister is an amazing building with stained glass that dates from 1250.  There’s a good Viking museum in town with some creepy animatronic Vikings.  More Abbey ruins, great old city walls, 82 listed CAMRA pubs, and a nice river running through all make York a treat to visit.  On the old grounds of St Mary’s Abbey, there are so many leftover bits and baubs that they used them to make wall and planters in the modern garden.

We stayed in town at the Coach House Hotel, across the old city wall from St Mary's and around the corner from the Minster. 


Day 6 - Derwent Valley & Castleton

July 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day 6 – Derwent Vally & Castleton (Thursday June 27)

Back to the Peak District today for some short hikes around the lakes in Derwent Valley and Castleton.  They would have been longer walks, but my lower back decided that it was tired of all this traveling and decided to cramp up.  We parked at a visitor center and hiked up to the Derwent Dam and along the reservoir.  This was one the spots used for flight-testing in preparation for the dam-busting bomb runs during WWII.   There were a lot of rhododendrons in bloom around the lake, which I wasn’t expecting.  I think of those as native American plants and it turns out that many species were introduced from North Carolina to England!  All the reservoirs were low so the lake edges weren’t very interesting.  There are many, many hiking trails in this area and I read that 2 million people a year go there to hike!  Fortunately it was a grey, mid-week day, so very people were out.  We passed by many trail intersections that were unmarked – that’s why their guidebooks are so detailed (turn left at the 4th beech tree after you cross the second stone wall but before the 3rd stream.)

From there we headed to the Hope Valley and Castleton, home of Peveril Castle and many caverns.  We had a good lunch (and pints) at Ye Old Cheshire Cheese Inn.  We climbed the hill to the castle, and thanks to a light rain, we had the place to ourselves.  It’s a medieval castle ruin on a high prominence above the town with great views down into the ‘Secret Valley’ and across to the hills & moors on the other side of the valley.   One edge drops straight down to the entrance to ‘Peak Cavern’ also known as ‘The Devil’s Arse.’   I just finished a murder mystery that takes place all around this area and it was neat knowing all the places that were mentioned.  Ye Old Cheshire Cheese had a prominent role in the book.

We didn’t have time for any caverns, but walked some of the twisty roads to the entrance.  I took a photo of the steep wall coming down from the castle to the stream that issues from the cave and it has some interesting features.  Not a great photo, but that book I read had a description of those same rocks.

There is a narrow gorge that leads out of the valley and we drove through there to the top of the moors for views of fog, rocks & sheep.  Not a unique view in this area!  We headed back to Sheffield and missed our planned road, but found another nice walk to 'Surprise View' - which wasn't very surprising.  After the rains the trail was covered in large black slugs like nothing we'd ever seen.  Thanks to our missed road we had another evening trying to find our way back into town!


Day 5 - Bakewell & Chatsworth House

July 24, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Day 5 – Bakewell, Chatsworth House (Wed June 26)

Today was a lot less driving, just up into the Peak District.  We drove to the tourist town of Bakewell.  I could try to describe, but wouldn’t come close to this description from a Daily Telegraph article:

It is lucky, in a way, that puddings put Bakewell on the map as, without them, it is the original one-horse town. This is Middle England as we know, love and, occasionally, mock it. The town is certainly quaint, with its undulating streets and its cobbles and its weather-worn cottages overgrown with ivy. In the right light, the grey stone buildings have a ghostly quality, almost as if they have been frozen in time.”

In addition to all that, there are many hiking trails from town, a lovely river flowing along the edge (full of HUGE trout that no one is allowed to catch) and a 10th century church on top of the hill.  The church was started in 920, pre-Norman.  The age of things in Europe never ceases to amaze me.  As we were leaving the church, many townspeople where gathering for a funeral, which was interesting to see.  We wandered down to the river, around through town, back along the river and walking trails into town and made our way to ‘The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop’ for lunch and the obligatory ‘Bakewell Pudding’ and ‘Bakewell Tart.’  (We got a small of each and split them)  After lunch (and a pint from the local Thornbridge Brewery) we slowly walked back to our car and headed over to Chatsworth House.

Chatsworth House is owned by one of the few Dukes in the country and is pretty amazing.  We took the house tour and roamed the gardens for a few hours.  The family is rich beyond imagining, collects lots of art, and is a group of hoarders.   Sure, what they hoard is worth a lot and they have a monstrous house to store it in, but I can spot hoarders when I see them.  The photo of the digital color display and the roman bath typifies this.  The house is crammed with art and art-like-objects.  (PBS did a special on Chatsworth House right after we got home and it was fascinating – JFKs sister married the Duke and is buried there)

The gardens and grounds were worth the price alone.  The Cascade (1696) was very cool, along with the rock garden (a huge, constructed garden), maze (which we didn’t find the center of, we gave up!), fountains & pools.  After leaving the grounds, we walked up the Hunting Tower for even better views across the valley.  It is privately owned and there was a small party going on while we sat up there.

A short drive back to Sheffield, made longer by getting lost, got us back in time for dinner with Vanessa at the Blue Moon Café –a vegetarian break from steak pies & sausages.


Link to the Daily Telegraph article about Bakewell:



Day 4 - West Midlands June 25th

July 23, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

After getting acclimated, we hit the road!  We drove through the Peak District National Park, through Bakewell, and over to the West Midlands.  (Don't confuse the West Midlands with the Midlands, we hear the locals don't think much of the Midlands) We decided to skip the pottery in Stoke-on-Trent and headed right to Shrewsbury in Shropshire.  Of course there is tons of history and too much to see & do.  Shrewsbury is Charles Darwin's hometown, but we didn't see anything related to him.  We checked out the castle and had a great lunch along 'Butcher's Row' -  Shrewsbury has some great street names.   We wandered around town and saw lots of Tudor architecture - which they make a point of noting is 'Tudor.'  Not 'Mock-Tudor' or 'Tudor-style' but houses that were built during the actual Tudor period (1484-1603).  We did learn, eventually, that Shrewsbury is pronounced something like 'Shrowsbree'. 

Driving in Shrewsbury is interesting; lots of one-way streets and the main city is an horseshoe bend in the River Severn, so we slowly made our way over to the Shrewsbury Abbey.   Home of the fictional 'Brother Cadfael' of medieval murder mystery fame, it's well worth a visit.  Like many of the monasteries, it was taken over by the friendly king, Henry the VIII, when he was worried about their power, but more interested in their wealth.  Apparently just all the lead on the abbey roofs was worth a lot.  This one was rebuilt, but still has some traces of the original abbey, including some arches from ~1085!

We stayed in Shropshire and headed to a very different site - Ironbridge Gorge, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site for its important role in the Industrial Revolution.  If I remember correctly, at one point about 3/4 of the world's iron works were in this little valley.  Tons of industrial museums and scenic hillsides.  The actual Ironbridge was finished in 1781.  I could have spent a full day here, but we were off to another site.

Wenlock Abbey was next, in the tiny little town of Much Wenlock.  Not much is left of this one, but the ruins were very interesting.  This was another Abbey brought down by Henry VIII.  Both this and Shrewsbury have parts built around the time of the Norman Conquest, close to 1000 years ago.  Lots of chances for good photos here.  Walking around Much Wenlock (with lots more Tudor houses) killed the rest of the day.  This area has lots of hiking along some sharp cliffs, or 'edges.'  We tried to stop at a highly recommended inn/pub right on the edge, but it was closed and for sale.  So dinner was back in Shewsbury, right across from the Abbey at a 'Modern British' restaurant, 'The Peach Tree.'  This was our first encounter with the latest thing in food service - putting it on a plank. Plates are so passe.

A long drive got us back to Vanessa's flat about 11pm, too late for a trip to a pub for a pint.  And I missed the brewery in Shrewbury.  But it was still a good day.


Day 3 - Sheffield June 24th

July 22, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

On our first true vacation day, we decided to stay in Sheffield while we adjusted to the time change (5 hours ahead).   We strolled around Vanessa's neighbourhood in the City Center in the morning, checking out the town.  After lunch (and a pint) at 'Benjiman Huntsman' - part of a chain but named after a Sheffield crucible steel inventor - we headed to the Kelham Island Museum. 

This is a fascinating place that details lots of the industrial history of Sheffield.  Before we left, I'd read that 'Made in Sheffield' was (and still is) a world-famous stamp of quality on cutlery, but had no idea of how extensive and pervasive the industrial history is.  This year is the 100th anniversary of stainless steel (in Sheffield) and there is a big display in the museum (and in the Millennium Museum that we say 9 days later.)   We stayed until closing time and went around the corner to 'The Fat Cat Pub' - home of beers from the Kelham Island Brewery. 

That morning Vanessa mentioned that we were going to meet some of her mates at a pub for trivia night.  The Fat Cat had signs for their trivia night and we joked that this was the pub.  It's funny because EVERY pub has a trivia night and of course it ended up that this was where we went later.  The winning team got 8 pints of beer, but our 13/20 questions was not good enough.  [Sue & I were no help in answering the name of tram stop closest to Sheffield University or the year the Green Party had big protests in Sheffield]

A few photos of the day, mostly from in & around the Kelham Island Museum.



Day 1 & 2 - Travel

July 22, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Our big trip this year was to England, Wales & Ireland.  After driving, flying, waiting, flying, sleeping, flying, and driving, we got to our friend Vanessa's flat in Sheffield England Sunday evening.  We were completely exhausted, but wanted to stay up as late as we could.  A shower to wake us up was followed by dinner at a curry shop (Indian Food).  Then off to the first of many, many pubs for a pint!  Vanessa took us to 'The Great Gatsby' pub, which was funny since I read that book on the flight over.  They were a CAMRA pub and had a moderate selection of cask ales.  Then to Henry's, with many more cask ales, for another pint before bed. 

The sun doesn't really set there this time of the year, it just slowly gets darker.  Even though we stayed awake until 11ish, it didn't feel that late since there was still light.

I have no good pictures from the travel day(s) but did get to watch the super-moon rise above the clouds into the blue sky at 37000 ft.  It was very cool, but it's hard to get a good picture through a plane window while shaking.

Saturday & Sunday June 22 & 23

Yellowstone Day 15 - September 9th

September 27, 2012  •  1 Comment

Yellowstone Day 15 (Tetons Day4)

The sad, last day of vacation.  I decided not to get up for sunrise on Mormon Row (another photography shrine) so there are only 5 photos for the day.

We headed back to 'The Church of the Transfiguration' at Menor's Ferry to get some photos with blue skies.  Then across the river to Dornan's in Moose for a late breakfast before our flight.  The last photo is of the Tetons reflected in the windows of Dornan's; the table in the upper right was where we sat two nights earlier watching all the wildlife.

I hope you enjoyed all my ramblings and pictures!

Matt & Sue



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