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Exploring ENGLAND: Uncovering the Must See Landmarks and Sights - Part 1 - Our Great Britain series.

Updated: Jan 30

Ancient castles, thatched cottages, historic pubs and dear friends.

A perfect recipe for holiday happiness!


Well, at last!

This trip has been over three years in the making. Thanks, but no thanks, Covid.

Thrilled to be finally going after all this time, and the main reason was to visit

a few different friends, that we have met over our recent years of travelling.

Our 'extended travel family' is what I call them,

and we were very excited about visiting

the UK branch of this unique family tree.


And if you've read my previous blogs, you'll know us enough by now

that we'll throw in a seven week road and rail trip to do so!


It had been a journey just to get here this time. A long one. But a happy ending.

We have retired!

YIPPEEEE!


So, just the day before we stepped on the plane, it was Trev's last day at work. We've sold up, and are freeeeee! Also, it's just 10 weeks since he had a new knee put in.


We were ready...ready to be held up for the rest of our lives

going through the Xray at airports.

Bless.

Trev's a new man, and what better thing to do, than to travel long haul,

walk hundreds of miles and climb a gazillion steps.

Who needs physiotherapy?

Go to Great Britain!


This was a self planned holiday this time. No tour company, no travel agents, no cruise, just me at the computer for a good month or so, booking every hotel, train trip, car hire, and maybe the odd 'Outlander Tour'... I left no stone unturned, as I didn't want to waste half our day in a new town

looking for a place to stay, or driving past a fabulous site I didn't know about,

only to find out later that missed something special. I even checked opening times and days for certain castles for instance,

as some are closed later in the season.



What I did do, was to research and listen to hours podcasts via this amazing site; https://uktravelplanning.com/about-new/ , and I would highly recommend it if you are planning a trip to the UK. Invaluable information and tips, links,

and even help with your itinerary if required.


That said, all good plans have to be flexible, and ready to throw out the door.


But that comes later, in Scotland.


Here's where the fun of my planning began, and a lot of it was a surprise to Trevor. He had been so busy leading up to this trip, that he left it all to me. On it.


But before we hit Britain, we get to visit a life long friend who lives in Dubai,

and manages an incredible Arabian Horse Stud just outside of the city.

It was great to catch up with Bec, and as she's a Rugby league fan like us,

or perhaps even more passionate...we got to watch our team win in the footy finals with her,

at an Aussie styled and owned pub, pretty much all by ourselves.


Colours on, game on, go the boooooys!

Visiting exquisite Arabian horses is always a delight for me,

and Trev got to enjoy the massive private car collection housed there too. Win-win!


The middle photo of the mares with their native saddlery on, was a print hanging in their stable block. A very proud image of their magnificence.




The hotel I had chosen for our brief stay, was a pearler. The world's tallest hotel, the Gevora Hotel, and our room had a view of the Burj Khalifa. I couldn't take my eyes off it as I was lying in bed. It was magnificent! The building that is... Cheeky...;)





And when you get to the end of this whole three part adventure,

you'll see I booked a cracking hotel view for our last night too. A wee gift to ourselves.


---


Departing Dubai, refreshed and de- jet lagged,

it was time to crack on with our UK adventure!


So, in stark contrast from the previous two days,

our first three nights was going to be staying on a long boat,

hidden in a leafy canal, pretty much in the heart of London.

Perfect!



Challenging as it was for our airport transfer driver to find this place in the dark,

we were blessed to have the lovely owner of this quaint Air BnB experience, Alejandra,

waiting for us street side, to show us the direction away from life in the city,

down to the peace and tranquility at water level.


Trev was scratching his head, wondering what the heck I have gotten ourselves into! Rest assured, as the trip ahead unfolded, my choices were exciting,

very different, as you can see already, bang on. Phew!

What an extraordinary experience, and such a charming and unique way to start our journey. We had three relaxing nights booked on this puppy, named 'Emma'.

From here, it was just a quick seven minute walk to Angel tube station,

where we just pay-passed our way around London Town with ease.


Angel? Me? Haha, not likely!


Time to find the pillow Trev, tomorrow you'll need to put your skates on...

We have huge plans.


---


Next morning saw us hit the trains, taking four different ones, to meet our dear friend Tom, (whom we shared a safari car for 3 days in Africa with his lovely wife, Harriet, back in 2019),

and before we knew it, we were in front of the incredible Windsor Castle!

I should think of better words for 'Wow'.

But, Wow.


Windsor Castle at sunset. Not my shot, a great pic from the net, but unfortunately, there was no photo credit to share.




And to have Tom, (who is a retired Scot's Guard), and who, might I add, had the extreme honour of standing vigil at the Queen's coffin, as she lay in state at Westminster Abbey...

by our side, telling us stories and anecdotes that no-one else would hear on any tour...

we were in great hands. But not before a cinnamon scroll, hey boys?


A full day out enjoying this extraordinary castle and it's long history...

but we eventually made our way back to town,

as we had a booking that evening.

I confess - We are mad Great British Bake Off fans. Like, mad keen.

And guess what? They have a mock up tent in London (two, actually),

and are known as The Big London Bake,

and you can spend a few hours there,

knee deep in sponge mix, icing and sprinkles,

to compete with a bunch of other mad keen crazy fans,

all vying for the honour of winning Star Baker. I'm sooo down for that!



Too funny, and I found it impossible to resist the challenge.

This month's cake challenge was to make a 2D comic cake...

so here is a pic I found online for inspiration...

and now compare it to our creation at the end.

Hahaha!


NAILED IT!


Hey, give us a break - we still came third, and had soooooo much fun!

How's that for our first full day in London? Tomorrow is going to be even bigger!



The following morning was a wander through the stunning Westminster Abbey,

followed by an Historical walking pub tour,

which was at least three informative and thirst quenching hours,

starting by the fabulous St Paul's Cathedral,

and ending us up in the Covert Garden district,

which was perfect.

You see, we had tickets for the Lion King,

at the most beautiful Lyceum Theatre,

and that was just nearby. Another jam-packed day!



Westminster. Amazing. First time we were here it was closed for a private function. Stephen Hawking was being interred. This time we saw his resting place. Right next to Isaac Newton. Most appropriate. Geniuses.

What an incredible man.


Moving on from the resting place of geniuses, bless, but our Pub Tour beckoned,

and it's really worth doing something like this too. It's so interesting hearing the stories behind the city,

in the back lanes that are so steeped in history.

We met a lovely young guy on this little walking adventure, an actor,

(hiya Nicolas)

who is in the upcoming Ridley Scott film, 'Napoleon'! We struck it off so well, enjoyed some bevies and delicious scotch eggs,

and we hope one day to meet up again, but meanwhile,

we'll look out for him on the big screen.


Cheers, Big Ears!

I love St Paul's cathedral. Last visit here we climbed to the top,

where those people are in the photo on the right, at the top of the dome. It was amazing.

Moving on, Nicolas walked us to our next destination, The Lyceum Theatre. We bade our farewells, and I'm sure we'll stay in touch.


Did I mention that Trev needed his skates?

And he had a new knee? ;)

Another huge day, he's smashing it, it's full on yet so fulfilling. We never do things by halves.


I just adore the Lion King, I have the music in my Spotify library, hopeless, I know...

but I think we both may have nodded off at times

during the performance. Can you blame us?

We were finally sitting down, it was dark, comfy,

and perhaps we were a tad tired. Sleep when you're dead, I say!



Tomorrow we leave our cute little boat,

we'll be having lunch at the famous Borough Markets,

after a little meet and greet first by Buckingham Palace...

(no, not who you might think. We aint THAT special, haha!)


But not before a few more photos around the delightful canal

we have called home for the past three nights.


How's the serenity?


Meeting Tom the following morning, he manoeuvred us to a lesser known spot,

to witness the Changing of the Guard as they leave Buckingham Palace,

and head back to, ahh, wherever they go? ;)

Sorry, I should know... Tom's friend was there that day, Robbie, so he met us for a hello, and a photo or two. As you do... It was brilliant.



It must have been lunch time by now...

I think it always seem a fair time to eat when you're on holidays,

so we headed over to the most wonderful of choices...

Yup, wow. Just wow.

SOOOOOOO crowded, and the paella stand must have had a queue

that was at least 30-40 people long. No wonder, check it out!


Tom and I both settled on the 'home shot' (wow) venison burger,

whilst Trev wrapped his chops around some prawns and scotch eggs. We also picked up some wickedly scrumptious donuts for dessert tonight,

along with wonderful prosciutto and an assortment of fresh cheeses

for our picnic in a couple of days time

at the beautiful Hever Castle.


This market is definitely a must do.

It's not far from the Tower Bridge, and if it's a food,

it will be there, I reckon. And so will we! Trev's version of foodie heaven.



Departing London now, we get a homestay with Tom, Harriet and their

adorable son for a couple of nights. As it happens, not nearly long enough.

Such a gorgeous young family, and we have really cemented our friendship for life,

over wonderful home cooking, perhaps the odd bevvie or two, and plenty of laughter.


---


Today's visit, is to King Henry VIII's digs no less, the incredible Hampton Court Palace. Known as a 500 year old 'Pleasure Palace', it's most definitely is worthy of your time. I had to grab this shot from the net, as without a drone, there is no way to capture it all,

let alone from a phone.


One word?

Massive.


And so amazing inside and out, and yes, unlike Windsor Castle,

you are free to take interior photos. I guess that's perhaps because it's an historical sight, rather than a working Royal Palace?


We loved it.


The display in the armoury room, was nothing sort of overwhelming, really. Rows of muskets, circles of hand guns, swords, knives, you name it,

any weapon from days of old, were mounted spectacularly on the walls.



And who doesn't love a little dress up? Had to, sorry, not sorry.



That's exactly what Henry VIII did!


As I am a sucker for great gardens, ponds, fountains and immaculate lawns, I was busting to head outside.


I wasn't disappointed.



Again, time for lunch, and instead of grabbing an Uber into town,

we noticed there was a water taxi on the river next to the castle. And it was just about to leave.

AND we were the only ones to be onboard.

Perfect.

AND, even better, we were going to enjoy a whole hour,

pottering along what I found out was the Thames...

"No way", I said to Tom..".Yes, way!"he replied.

I was cheeky saying,

"So, you only have one river, hey?"...

(The hide of us colonials uttering such a thing!)


We got to have a great sticky beak at some beautiful river front properties,

before arriving at our destination of Richmond. Found a pub, and Trev got to order his first 'Bangers and Mash'! With onion rings. Tom and I again agreeing on soft shell crab burger with chilli jam.

Yum! Happy days.


Now I'm not one of those who post photos of menus much, or if at all...

but check out this one...so worthy, and for a pub! My-o-my, if only we had menus as

fabulous as this where we live!



What a great day!


---


Happily, the following day Harriet was able to join us, and we all headed off

via deer lined parks, to visit the delightfully pretty, Hever Castle. I'd never even heard of this place, until I was listening to those podcasts on the

UK Travel Planning site. Very glad I did! And I think it was a new visit for Tom too, so that's a bonus.


At Hever, besides the gorgeous castle, they are renowned for their beautiful gardens,

statues and lake, so many people just come here and picnic.

You can buy a ticket just for the exterior, and suit yourselves if you wish. We did both, as we aren't going to be back, so it's absolutely worth an explore inside.


Afterwards, we took our time strolling around the park-like surrounds,

threw 'Pooh sticks' off a bridge,

dodged the water sprays on a maze,

and chowed down on the yummy cheese and meats we bought from the Borough Markets. THIS, is living.



'Pooh sticks' was a new one for me.

You can image my surprise when Harriet suggested we do this...

considering their son has just started potty training! Cute. I think Trev chucked in a branch. Not competitive at all...


And this is what happens when Tom doesn't crouch down to meet the rest of us...!


Check out the swivel neck on that swan. Tip...don't get too close!


And there comes the end of our all too brief stay with these gorgeous people. Looking forward to seeing them again on our travels, or theirs...(Jamaica?) Thanks guys! xx


Onto a train to Southampton. Next stop?

Staying three nights with the fabulous Pete and Shaz,

who have featured in I think three of my past blogs. The last one being Paris.

It'll be super to catch up after all this Covid time off.


Isn't it funny, that when you're at home, sometimes all you want to do is dine out? But when you are away, all you sometimes yearn for is

home cooking and banter around a dinner table.

That's what we had the past few days, and tonight was no exception.

Pete's daughter Beth and son in law Ian, came over to catch up with us too,

as they visited us in Australia a few years back,

and it was brilliant to reconnect. This is favourite part about travelling. The people we meet, and consequently stay forever in touch with. We could've talked till dawn, but eventually turned in 'cause guess what? We have another big day tomorrow!

What's new? :)




---


Today we head down to the docks, and take the car onto the ferry,

to go across to the wonderfully scenic, Isle of Wight.

Another wow place.

I had mentioned to Shazz ahead of our visit, that I'm really into photographing lighthouses,

thatched roof cottages, and I wanted to see the attraction known as 'The Needles'. And that's exactly what we did. The Isle of Wight is a lot larger than you'd think, and it takes time to get around,

so I would advise if possible, to do this by car, rather than public transport.


I look like a Hobbit!


This rock formation is one of the world's most photographed, so says the internet;

And why not?

It's fabulously unique!


Whilst it is made of chalk, it's surprisingly erosion resistant.

If you get here, try to allow yourself time to take a boat ride out there, weather permitting, and at sunset, even better,

and I'm sure you'll get some great photos!


The second image is by 'Alfie in The Air' photography.


But the best part I reckon, is enjoying the very steep gondola ride down to the beach.

This, I first saw online and thought "You betcha, I wanna do this!"


This is Alum Bay, and its sands are so incredibly coloured.

So much so, that you can fill your own jars up with an assortment of sands at the visitor centre, and take a piece of the place home with you, legally!




Leaving this delightful location, we motored on to find me my lighthouse. You see, I am on a quest.


I have been photographing lighthouses during our more recent travels around the world...

I only wished I started years ago, but as they say; it's better late than never. And I'm really looking forward to the one at Dunnet's Head,

right at the very top of Mainland Britain. But that's part of my Scotland blog.


I plan to create a coffee table book of them all, and it's really stemmed from

the fact that the very first photo I ever took,

on my mum's old camera back when I was about seven,

was of a lighthouse.

Way off in the distance, but I was proud of my efforts not to blur it. On film of course, so you never know until you've had them developed.


So I thought that'd be a nice photo to have on the inside cover, scrapbook style,

of where my passion for photography all began.


NEXT trip to the UK, I'm going to investigate where we can stay in one!

Ireland looks the go. They have heaps. How amazing!!!


So, here we are on the Isle of Wight, at their most famous lighthouse,

besides the one on the end of the Needles;

this is St Catherine's.


A fair walk down the hill, so I left the other three up the top chatting,

whilst I nicked down through blackberry covered hedgerows,

to get my shot.

As the zoom on my phone was pretty ordinary, I ended up walking right down to it,

albeit, it was closed. But that's OK, plenty of chance for photos over the fence.


Originally, a lighthouse here was built back in 1323,

however this beauty has been standing proudly here since 1838. And freshly painted too.

Nice to see them loved.


Moving on, we found some crazy narrow laneways to manoeuvre the car,

followed by a steep, skinny track to wander down between some houses,

to arrive at the shore line.

A quick stop for refreshments,. and I get to see another lighthouse. This is, coincidentally enough, called...'Steephill Lighthouse', and you can stay there too!



And then another pub for lunch!

Not hard to take at all, especially in this beautiful Autumn weather!




My first UK fish'n'chips and mushy peas, and what more appropriate place to have them,

than the Isle of Wight seaside!


And finally, we arrive at the quaint little town of Shanklin. Famous for their thatched roofed houses and tearooms.

Happy days for these little Aussie travellers! And just in time for an icecream before we drive down to the ferry

to head home after a wonderful day.

Holiday calories, they don't count, right?




Looks like fairies could live here...

Circa 1690!


And that was our day on the Isle of Wight. Highly recommended.


---


The following day, we headed off to Winchester, once the capital of England,

and home of the fabled King Arthur's Round Table.

But not before we turned on the telly, to record the Australian Rugby League Grand Final,

which was to be broadcasted live around 9.30am, local England time. (Not the kind of time you want to watch the footy, beer in hand...) And seeing that our team,

the Brisbane Broncos were playing, we were keen to watch it when we came home. I was intent on no spoilers that day! That's later.


We're off to Winchester!


For my non-UK friends here, any town with 'Chester' in its title; ie: Colchester, Winchester, Dorchester, even Chester itself, means it's of Roman origins.

So much history everywhere you look around the UK anyway, I reckon. It's fabulous...except of course if you find a scrap of old pottery or roman coins as you dig in your garden, and your place becomes listed...;)


Winchester is as gorgeous as they come. Old Roman archways, cobblestoned streets,

The Great Hall where you'll find King Arthur's Round Table,

the OUTSTANDING Cathedral - honestly, it rivals Westminster Abbey,

and lastly, The Wykeham Arms Pub, where you'll get THE BEST Sunday roast on the planet!

Sounds like a great day out, hey?

It is!


And what better way to get there, than in Pete's convertible. Too bad about the bad hair!





I just had to add the second bridge shot here...

same gorgeous peeps, but a different holiday. That one was in Paris, 2019. Knew when I took the first shot, that there was an older similar one somewhere in my albums.



The Great Hall, next, is definitely worth the visit, if only to see Arthur's Round Table,

mounted high on the wall. More fascinating history to be learnt.



And it's not like us at all, to act out...



OK, enough frivolity, time to check out the astonishingly gorgeous Winchester Cathedral.


Built between 1079 and 1532, and if you click on the above link, it will tell you everything you need to know, if you are interested.



I loved how the boys just naturally stopped here.

This is the final resting place of author, Jane Austen,

as she died here in Winchester in 1817, at the young age of 41. Remarkably, only four people attended her funeral, as it had to be completed before the cathedral opened for business at 10am. Wow.


It was one of the most beautiful and historical Cathedrals we have seen. Even a section of tiles on the floor are the oldest remaining in England.

And yet you still walk on them.

They don't make things to last like that these days, sadly.


Did someone say lunchtime? And as its Sunday,

Shazz had booked ahead for us to have a proper Sunday roast.

We weren't disappointed -

Check them out, and the beautifully presented desserts too! It was like fine dining, pub style.




SOOO GOOOD!


Time to head back to watch our footy grand final...sadly our boys couldn't bring it home,

but it was a great match all the same, and even better company. Our last night with these beautiful friends of ours, as we head off tomorrow to further our adventures.


Thanks guys, hope to see you in Dublin, (and/or Canada) in 2025!


---


Now,

one word:


STONEHENGE!


Our next stop, on our way south towards to bottom of Britain,

(now we are finally independent with our hire car ... watch out),

is the ancient stone enclave of Stonehenge.

Trev grimacing a little through yet another selfie...

Thanks to shows like 'Outlander',

stone circles have become of even more interest to people,

even though they still all remain a mystery.

I'm showing the photo below from the car, as this is one's first view from the motorway

of the ancient structure, which pre-dates the pyramids by over 1000 years.

Once you get onto the site, it's extremely well maintained, has a very interesting visitors centre, and I think its thoughtfully set up that you can view and photograph it all,

without the interference of modern buildings.

Trev used to tease me about my yearning to visit Machu Picchu, saying that they were just

'Old rocks on a hill'. (Our visit there still goes down in Trev's heart as one of our best travel days ever.)

So now, it's just "Old rocks in a paddock, hey Love?"

"Yup".



We luckily avoided the threatening rain, so we moseyed on towards our evening's stop,

which was going to be at a castle, in Devon.

Another surprise for Trev!


Welcome to,



The autumn colours were going off!




This was our little cottage, isn't it just charming? We had a ground floor room, not the whole thing!

That four poster bed was actually part of a room that you can rent out,

that's in the main Castle. What a treat that would be!


Lunch down the road, was at a charming spot, called The Fisherman's Cot.

Located right on the gushing river with its ancient stone bridge,

we delighted in eating out in the beer garden,

as it wasn't raining, and not toooo cold yet!



Trev loving his first steak and ale pie, and then there's always

a dog to say hello to around here...they accompany their owners everywhere!




The following day was a fun drive...if you call fun taking a turn off the motorway,

and hitting the country lanes of Dartmoor National Park,

in a search for wild ponies!


Yup, that's me, always on the lookout for a wacky situation, but I was truly hopeful to find me some wild pony action.

I had read about this particular place that often has them

wandering down on the Main Street,

and it was 'sort of' on our way,

so we thought we'd hit the back lanes, and back lanes they were!


It was a good intro to driving, as heading to Cornwall, as well as Scotland later on,

these roads will be our every day life for a while. Just as well Trev is a very accomplished driver.


Welcome to the delightfully quiet stone town, in the middle of nowhere...

'Widecombe in the Moor'.


I love the logo of seven on the horse...yikes!


The Church was pretty awesome for a rural village,

but the graveyard is always going to call to us for a wander through. I never tire of them, and some of the great ages people lived to hundreds of years ago is most impressive! And some definitely not so lucky of course too.



Leaving town, we finally found some ponies!

Albeit, not on the road, but roaming free all the same.


So, just as our day starts to head towards sunset, we arrive at our destination

for the next three nights - Penzance.

Situated right at the bottom of England, and once famous for its pirating history,

it's now most famous for the sign post that many, including us, are aiming for:

Land's End.


Here marks either the beginning, (or the end), of the journey that takes you the length of Mainland Great Britain... From Land's End, England, to John O'Groats, Scotland.

(Technically the very top is the lighthouse at Dunnet's Head, not far from John O'Groats), and this is our quest.

And yep, I will get another lighthouse for my collection!

Then, we'll be officially known as 'End-to-Enders'!


Arriving just before five pm, we raced in to find this sign post for our celebratory 'Commencement' photo.

And lucky for us, the booth that does the offical photos by the post was closing,

so we scored the last pics of the day.

Perfect!



And then, a sunset to remember. With a lighthouse in the distance! Haha.


Point to note:


We neglected to realise that you have to pay for parking everywhere here. Didn't even think to look for a sign, particularly at the end of the day,

with hardly any cars in the carpark. An email later on confirmed our car hire company charged us the 35 pound fee.


That's about $AUD75.

Ouch. Welcome to driving in Britain.

Oh, and the cameras...plenty of those too. Just sayin'. Be aware.

---


Dawn broke with the promise of yet more sunshine. I must admit, we have been blessed by amazing weather so far, as I don't think we've seen anything more than a light drizzle of rain, and even that was only whilst we were driving.

I could say, but wait... Yes wait...it will happen. But not yet!!!


This morning we decided to drive to Cape Cornwall, for yup, a lighthouse,

but also such stunning views, and a cracking walk up a hill, to test Trev's knee out.

Very proud to say, he passed with flying colours, and beat me to the top.


Nothing but tiny, one lane roads around here, and by now, Trev loves the challenge! Never hire a large car, and we spoke to someone later on who nearly jammed their motorhome down here.

It happens!


Contemplation before the vertical climb...

The exquisite Cornish coastline.

Well done Trev, your surgeon will be so proud of you, as am I!

Found me a holiday home...! ;)


Leaving here to head to the lighthouse, we drove past Geevor Tin Mine museum,

so we decided to poke our heads in for a look. With a land area covering 67 acres, it is the largest preserved tin mining site in Great Britain.

Not something we come across at all at home,

and tin mines are a huge part of Cornwall's history. I thought I'd test out my claustrophobia, but the mine wasn't too bad at all, and plenty of air.

Also, being off season, there was barely a soul here.



Good fun!


Moving along from the mine, thinking the next stop was this lighthouse...but nope,

there's always something else to distract us, and worthy of a stop.

And yes, WILD PONIES!!!!!!!!


I was literally out the car door before it stopped.



And always time for that proverbial animal selfie. They aren't technically 'wild',

they are all officially owned, but they do roam free and you do have to keep an eye

out for them when you are driving.

Bless.


We then called into a ruin of another old mine...

I guess you do need to watch your footing where you walk. But we can't resit an explore and the chance for some arty shots.



Finally, I got me my lighthouse!


This is Pendeen Lighthouse, built in 1900, so relatively new. The beaches around here were known as smugglers' landings, hence a few wrecks occurred. You can even book this place to stay! I wish I had known...



Our day trip continues towards St Ives, just a little further up the coast,

along yet another tiny, one laned winding road. The only road.

Now, we had heard, (actually, been warned), not to drive into the town,

as it's known as a 'Park and Ride' place, but we thought...

"Hey, it's not peak season - she'll be right!"


W R O N G.


We could not have been more mistaken. You see, being in Penzance, we were thinking how lovely and uncrowded it was. There was a reason.

They were all in St Ives.


Well, we did drive in. Of course we did. Haha.

But it ended up being a blind panic after about frustrating 20 minutes,

dodging pedestriatians, trying not to get stuck down dead ends,

that we finally just said to each other - after not finding a carpark,

even in a carpark that took our money...

"Let's get the h*ll out of Dodge!


So here's an online pic....and if you come here....park and ride!


It does look gorgeous though, doesn't it?

No wonder it's popular.


I think St Micheal's Mount is calling us, to finish the day on a high.

And being low tide, means the causeway was exposed so we could wander across freely,

and have a little poke around the bottom part.

It was just on closing time, so we enjoyed what we could, knowing we can come back tomorrow morning to check it out properly, and not be rushed. We had really been looking forward to this and tomorrow will work well.


And perhaps the morning may bring some warm weather, as the wind had picked up,

as you can see on Trev's face...he ain't much of a fan of the cold.





This lovely spot is right on the waterfront, and an excellent spot for a picnic. Not everyone goes all the way up.


And these guys aren't going anyway fast either!

A common sight here in the UK, when the tide is out.


But, the day still isn't over just yet. We found a quaint old pub just around the corner from where we were staying,

and it's in a little seaside village called 'Mousehole'.

But don't be a tourist like us and call it as it looks ... Mouse-hole. It's actually pronounced Mouz'll.

Of course it is, isn't it obvious?


The Ship Inn promised good things, like a Trivia Night for our last evening tomorrow,

so we enjoyed a nice meal here, and booked a table for Trivia.

Our friends at home know we have a penchant for the odd game of trivia. ;)



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And like Groundhog Day,

we had yet another morning appearing to us of sunshine and mild weather. Grateful much!


Time to jump on a boat this time, and cruise across the short crossing at high tide,


Photo credit: Countryfile.

How beautiful is this? What a piece of real estate!


This is a privately owned estate, the building itself dating back to the 12th century,

and the current owner and resident is a decendent of the family that bought it in 1659. That's one heck of a lineage!

Curiosity had me commenting to a guide that it must be an amazing place to get married,

to which I found out that you must be related to the owners to get married here.

Money can't buy your way in, no matter who you are.

Fair call.

However, anyone that works on the island can use it too. So, even if you clean their toilets, you are privy to one of the finest locations

around for a wedding. How cool is that?


Stories say that Queen Victoria herself visited here many years ago,

but the owners weren't home.

DRATT!

What a bummer that must have been!

Would you have believed your staff if they told you?

Hmmm. No selfies back then. ;)



We loved it here. One of our favourites of our entire trip.




I think we are well overdue to enjoy our first cream tea here in England. And what a place to try it! We have never had true clotted cream, before, (it's thick and almost buttery)

and let me say - ahhhh, next level yum! Fills a hole, and we're now all set for our afternoon plans...

Bit different from the day before!


After a fabulous tour through this magnificent structure, we cruised back to shore,

and with satisfied bellies,

we headed off towards something we really had no clue about - The Minack Theatre.


Another tip I found out on that UK Travel Planning site, that this is something that shouldn't be missed.


A fair drive out of Penzance...not in distance, but it was another classic winding donkey track, wondering all the way if we had must've made a wrong turn.


Nope.


Finally we saw a sign for a carpark, and boom, we were there.



Perched halfway down a rugged clifftop, with nothing but 180 deg views of mountains, waves crashing and oceans for miles, sat a wee stage,

and stone amphitheatre styled seating,

carved into the side of the cliff.




Trev's first ever live play, it was called 'Fup', a comedy about a goose, of all things. It was both funny and sad, and it was the last show of their season.

We loved it. What a truly unique experience.

It was actually right up there as a fine memory.


Afterwards, whilst driving away from here, back towards town,

we glimpsed something in a field,

that made us do a screaming u'ey (Aussie for U-turn).


We saw a random stone circle in a paddock.

And a decent one too.

With just two other people there.




A really, really cool random find!

No sign posts...

Is this normal?

We had no idea, but we weren't going to miss out on anything.

Stopping and turning around was always on the agenda. Something that you have the power to do, when you are travelling on your own,

and not on a tour. We love the freedom.


So now, all we need to do is head back to 'Mouz'll, for dinner at the pub,

and some trivia for a fun way to finish the day.


Mousehole. So sweet.


Time for trivia...

Can I just add a visual here?

A little crazy, but it was fun.


One of our trivia questions, we were all given some coloured play dough,

and the challenge was to make something that could be considered...'painful.'


Let me say, our pink number came second.

The blue work of art came first.

It was titled 'Breech'.


No words necessary to describe.

It was pretty funny, at the time...and very novel!


Oh my.


And that's where we leave the Cornish coast, and the beautiful town of Penzance.

Time to head north now...and our destination tomorrow at the end of the day,

will be the ancient and beautiful Roman town of Bath.


But the pressing issue for Trev is...he still hasn't had a Cornish pasty!


OH NO!!!!


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We had a decent drive ahead of us today, mostly on the motorway, which was great,

as we really wanted to get to Bath in time to see The Roman Baths before they closed...

seeing we were only there, sadly, just overnight.


But we had to press on afterwards, as we were heading the following morning to the beautiful Cotswolds,

and that's what I was focusing on, as I knew we had a lot to see around there.


That said, don't take anything away from the stunning architectural city of Bath. If we had time, I definitely would have included another day.


But, sometimes, I just had to cull, and down size the expectations...

We're trying, but can't honestly see it all. There is so much here.


Lucky for Trev, whilst still inside the Cornish boundaries, we pulled into a service stop,

and let me say...if you ever see a food sign that says 'Warrens'...

and you want a pasty...

STOP!


It was Trev's first, and best of the whole trip. And it was obviously super hot...



Happy days.

Sometimes the most fun and endearing travel memories evolve around food. At least with us. :)


And now,

it's Bath time!!!



The Romans built here back in 60 AD, where the warm mineral springs were discovered,

that still exist today.

Fast forward to now, and whilst the population is only 101 thousand people,

over 6 million people flock to this Unesco listed city every year.


And this is the main reason why.



These Roman baths are still here.

Still standing.

And the museum around it is an absolute credit to them. Don't miss the chance to wander through ancient history, as though it's alive today.

It's amazing.


The water is only green now as it's exposed to sunlight.

In ancient times, these baths were fully enclosed under an ornate roof.



And besides all that, the city is gorgeous on its own, and worth your time to explore.




Sorry, but this was but a fleeting visit.

We leave early tomorrow, but it'll be worth it.

We are stopping by a place that has been my screen saver for months.

You'll see why it's been voted the prettiest town in England,

and I'll finally get that bridge shot for myself.


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And here she is.

How utterly gorgeous is this?

And not a soul insight.

This place is only 15 minutes north of Bath, just off the main road,

and on our way to the Cotswolds.

Another place I only knew about from reading up on various websites. So glad I did!

But if you go, get there early, before the bus loads.




Tearing ourselves away from the quaintness of Castle Combe,

we continued on towards our next destination;

the stunning and very popular Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water.


As it's only an hour or so away,

we kept our eyes out for any other points of interest along the way.

You don't have to wait too long.


We saw a little sign saying, 'Roman Villa',

(that had 'visit me' written all over it.) And even better, it had the symbol of a 'National Trust' site,

for which we had memberships, so we'd get in for free.

(We used this to get into St Michael's Mount too, so it's already paid for itself.)



Honestly, we weren't expecting much.

You know, 'a few old rocks in a paddock' kind of thing... ;)


But wow, weren't we surprised and so impressed?!


Seriously, in the middle of nowhere, nothing but hedgerows and a few sheep,

and at the end of yet more donkey tracks,

we found ourselves with a carpark, and a proper visitor's centre.

It is one the largest Roman Villas in all of Britain.


This had amazingly preserved Roman Ruins, mosaics, baths, spas, cold plunge pools,

and an audio tour that you got to take you around with you to the various sites.


We spent at least an hour there, and got lunch too.

Win-win.





See those stone stacks? Those are the foundations that the floor sat on, and it enabled for warmed air to circulate underneath the mosaic tiled floors. Underfloor heating, Roman style.


A really cool little site to visit.

Another bonus of travelling yourselves - you get to choose where and when you go.


Time to hit those Cotswolds.


Now this is something that we had been really looking forward to the whole time.

The Cotswolds itself, is an area covering over 2000 square kilometres,

so don't think you can see it all in a couple of days.


You need to choose a central location to base yourself at, and take some day trips.

Which is exactly what we did.


Welcome to

Bourton-on-the-Water.




That's our hotel there on the left, the 'Old Manse Hotel'.


This is Cotswolds central;

Babbling brooks, picturesque bridges, cosy cottages, you name it - its here.

Even in the shoulder season the tourists pour in from buses, from early in the day.

That's why Bourton is a great place to stay and just do day trips from,

then come back in the late afternoon

and enjoy some serenity once the hordes have left.

Perfect.


We have been literally going gangbusters since we left Australia,

so it was really nice not to have an agenda.

Well, at least for today, Trev. ;)

We have three days here, so our first day we chose to stay in the village to explore quietly,

and enjoy just being in one of the most scenic places in England.


Did someone say, ice cream?



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I had two places I wanted us to go to from here, both in the same direction,

but both needing their own day.

So as much as I'd lik