16.08.2007 -17 °C
Words could not express our delight when we arrived in an English speaking country for the first time in 2 ½ months. Even the smallest things - the customs officer making a joke that we could understand, the bus driver telling us what stop to get off at and ordering food without the need for pointing, caused great excitement all round.
With good Irish names like ‘Hegerty’ and ‘Kelly Roy Sheerin’ there was no doubt we were going to enjoy Ireland and enjoy it we did. The people were friendly, the food was just like your mother would make it and our only regret was that we didn’t have longer there. Four days was nowhere near enough.
We started in Dublin and caught up with my friend Sarah who, as a seasoned veteran, warned us that all food in Ireland (even potatoes) comes with a side of potatoes, that the cows spend all their time lying down, and that after a month there she still giggles when the Irish say ‘Three Thirty’ (aka ‘Tree Terty’). On all accounts she was spot on.
We headed from Dublin to Galway and stayed in a tiny (when I say tiny, I mean teeny tiny) town called Gort where we stayed above a café bunking with a rather rural but friendly father and son team who were there on a ‘nature’ course. Our next stop was the Cliffs of Moher. The scenery along the way was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Misty, dark, vast plains of rocks with hundreds of stone walls and Stonehenge like tombs. With so many tourists the Cliffs of Moher were a bit of a disappointment (yes I know we are tourists too). They had also decided that this natural landscape was in need of some shops and cafes, and just in case you thought jumping would be a good idea their were a million signs warning you against it. Just in case this wasn’t enough to spoil the natural landscape there were at all times just a few more than necessary loud Americans.
The accommodation on our next night was 2 km into the bush, about 10 km from the nearest town. The owners were quite strange (obviously from too much time in the bush) and much to our surprise there was no electricity. Needless to say the owners received quite blank looks from us when they asked us if we knew how to work the gas lamps.
All in all a fantastic road trip, just too short.
We kicked off our time in England by spending a night with friends (Lerch and Rachel) in their home town Taunton which is in the South-West. We had a great time looking around their village, doing some hiking in the local woods, having a pint of cider at the local pub and tea and scones with cream and jam at a nearby homestead. It was all very country English and good fun. The next day it was up to Bath to check out the Roman baths and the other quant little things this town had to offer. It was a nice little town, but almost felt like a giant sized Remuera.
From Bath it was on to the big-bad London for a couple of nights. We were lucky to staying quite close to Hyde Park, so we spent a bit of time hanging out there and enjoying what is a magnificent area. Unfortunately our accommodation in London wasn’t up to much, largely thanks to the great value you get for the NZ Paso.
We spent a lot of time just wandering around the touristy spots. Our highlight was the Tower of London which was well worth the time and money. The Natural History Museum is also pretty good and we were lucky enough to get a special after hours, behind the scenes tour from our Kiwi friend Rachel.
From London it was up to the University town of Cambridge where we had a couple of nights staying with Briar and Ivan (friends from NZ). The University pretty much dominates most of this town, but it is not just one entity. It is made up of a number of ‘Colleges’ all of whom have their own spectacular buildings and grounds. The highlight from our time in Cambridge was punting down the river Cam. We hired our own punt and headed off down the river, only to discover that it is actually a little more difficult than it looks. Some picked up the skill a little quicker than others, and all I will say is that some time was spent zig zagging our way down the river.
Another highlight was spending the day catching up with friends Simone and Dan who have just moved over and Gordon, Dan’s brother. We spent a bit of time looking around the small village where they are living south of London before heading down to Brighton (on the south coast) for the afternoon. The major attraction in Brighton is its giant sized pier with a whole collection of amusement park rides on the end of the Pier.
Back to London for a couple more days back in London seeing the sights and catching up with friends and then it was off on a particularly nasty 6am flight to New York.
Although we enjoyed our time in England, it must be said their weather, even in the middle of summer was truly appalling. It is the coldest place we have been in three months. Bring on the US!