Mini Vacation (part two)

29 09 2009

I’m back!  With the second part of our mini vacation to the UK for a wedding.

On the Saturday of the wedding, we had some time to go to the local shopping mall in Telford… aaaaaaahhhhh a real mall!!  There aren’t any malls where I live and I can honestly say I miss it!  Normally I wasn’t a mall person living in Canada, but after nearly a year of not having one right next door, I miss it.  I had a great time wandering around looking at different things I can’t get in NL, or going into the department stores and *sigh* getting all I need in one stop.  Oh sure we have the V&Dhere in, but it still doesn’t add up to Sears or the Bay, or even (yes I’m going to say it) Walmart.  i enjoyed walking from store to store without being run over by bikes or getting rained on!  Soon though we had to leave so that we could get ready for the wedding.

We arrived at the school a bit early and saw Jonathan, his family and best man taking the official photos.  So I was able to give him his Toronto Maple Leaf gift.  This was my version of something old, something new, and the blue part.  But as I mentioned to Jon, it’s to bad they suck!   [ this part here is for Jonathan – yes I know they beat Detroit the other day –  but  1) it wasn’t a regulation game and 2) Detroit just felt sorry for them losing all the time and threw them a bone].   We then went into the church to wait for the ceremony to start. 

Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures during the service so I wasn’t able to get Sarah walking down the aisle, or a picture of Jonathan looking like he was going to pass out,  but we did get some nice ones after the service.  The service was lovely, they chose wonderful music and great readings to go along with the day.  I had one reading to do Corinthians 13, and as much as I like to talk, I hate public speaking.  My nerves didn’t get the best of me though and I didn’t rush through according to those to said I did a good job…I think Frank paid them.    Following the service, they had drinks and hor d’ourves on the grass, it was really nice and for the most part I was able to enjoy some of the treats but man I wish I could have had more since the seafood ones looked so yummy!!   While we drank and ate, Jonathan and Sarah did pictures.  Frank was able to get in there and take a few for our books.  J and S The only complaint I had (and it’s not their fault) was the weather…HOLY MAMMA it was cold!!!  I knew I should have brought a sweater with me but of course forgot as I walked out the door.   I’m not sure how Sarah managed to walk around in her sleeveless dress all day but she did!  

Soon after we headed inside for a really nice dinner and some great JAZZ (in caps for a reason – SOMEONE will know why) music.  Then afterwards Jonathan got on stage and played a few diddies for us, I’d show you the video of it but for some reason it won’t up load… grrrrrr…There was dancing, cake cutting, drinks, laughter and all in all good fun.  Unfortunately since my sleep schedule was a ruined thanks to the Calais hotel I couldn’t keep up.  So we left around 11 and headed back to the hotel.  I don’t remember my head hitting the pillow!   All in all it was a great day. 

The next day Frank and I headed to Shrewsbury to do some shopping.  They have a Toysrus and of course I had to go!!  We don’t have one here so I wanted to take advantage of a little shopping!  I bought the baby’s swing and the bumbo from there since it was so much cheaper then buying it here in NL.   After we headed right into the town.

Our first stop was the Shrewsbury Abbey,  for the price of one pound you are able to buy your permit to take pictures.  This was a great thing, I would rather pay the money then be told no you can’t take pictures inside then I have to sneak them.  I love taking pictures of old churches, especially the stain glass.  But on this trip, Frank was the photographer in Shrewsbury so all the pictures you see on either here or Flickr is from him.  I would be great if we could get him a professional camera instead of my crappy little Fuji.  Abbeyalter abbeyabbey

We then decided to go into the main city part to see the castle.  We were going to walk there until we realized we were a little ways out, luckily we were able to find parking!  The town was pretty busy considering it was a Sunday and most lots were full.  We lucked out and found one right next to the Tourist Info center

We managed to get our bearings and headed towards the centre of town where some of the shops were open.  But we didn’t stop there we continued up the hill and went to the castle.  I was excited to see a castle hoping it would be as well preserved with old furniture and the rooms set up like they were back in the day; but this castle had been turned into a military museum.  I wasn’t too keen on going, but Frank wanted to so we ventured inside.  I have to say they did a wonderful job setting it up.  The displays were informative.  But I can only look at guns and flags for so long. Frank wandered I sat.   After the museum there was another area to visit, up to the tower.  Frank ventured up and I tried to figure out what to do next.   castle150I have to say I really enjoyed visiting the birthplace of Charles Darwin.   I found that they had a great selection of stores and restaurants, plus just enough touristy stuff to keep you busy for the day.  Plus on the Sunday they had all these open air acts for either the adults or for the kids.  It is one place I would love to visit again and spend a little more time. 

We left Shrewsbury to head back to Telford again, since we were going to go for dinner with Jonathan, Sarah and Jon’s best friend/man Jim.  We just went to a little pub nearby and had a great laugh.  It wasn’t a long night, I think the weekend caught up with everyone and the call of the bed was too much.  It was still nice to see everyone one last time before we left the next morning.

On the Monday it was going to be a straight through drive,  we arrived at the tunnel early so we were able to get on a different train.  We were 2 hours ahead of schedule.  The drive home was pretty painless, well for me anyways since Frank drove the whole time.   I don’t think we hit traffic until we actually got back into the Netherlands and that was because it was rush hour.  

I have to say it was a great trip, it was nice for us to get away and have some time alone. 

Now to plan another trip to the UK this time I would like to bring the kids and Stoney.

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A mini vacation (Part one)

16 09 2009

A few weekends back, Frank and I took of the UK for a wedding of a very good college friend Jonathan and his now wife Sarah.  I’ve known Jonathan since the first day of college when he made some smart-ass remark about me playing the flute (no band camp jokes please) and I gave him an evil look.  Since then we’ve remained friends and he still has most of his limbs attached.  

The wedding was wonderful, the trip there was great minus the nasty, skanky ass hotel that we stayed in in Calais.  Yes Erwin I still plan on beating the snot out of you for recommending the hotel.  Here let me give a mini version of the play by play weekend vacay!!

We left on Thursday and unfortunately we didn’t really leave on time.  As we were packing the car up, Stoney bolted out of the house and jumped into the car into the front seat with a look like ” I’m ready to go!”  I felt so bad for taking him out and putting him back in the house, he really does love his car rides.   But before I could turn around, he was back in the car, this time when I went to get him he jumped in to the back seat, then jumped into the front on to the floor and did the wet noodle so I couldn’t pick him up.  Now I would have brought him with us, especially since Frank’s ex mother in law (stupid @#$%$) cancelled on us 3 days before we were suppose to leave.   But Stoney didn’t meet all the requirements to get over the UK border.   So we left him at home and had Michelle watch him.   Soon we were on the road, until we realized that we forgot the suit and my dress for the wedding; so back we go.

OK finally on the road… the weather was pretty crap out and it stayed that way all through the Netherlands (there’s a surprise), but at least a beautiful rainbow showed up just as we were getting close to the Belgium border.

RainbowSo it was a nice treat to see.  We drove straight through to Calais stopping twice, once for food (Had a craving for MacDonald’s) and once for gas.  But eventually after about 4 hours we arrived at the hotel. 

Now I didn’t take any pictures of this lovely sh*thole (don’t let the pretty website fool you), I think I was in shock more than anything.  The first thing that got me was the outside of the hotel, ugh really?  Nasty as.  But the kickers didn’t come until we got to our room… or cell… first off, NO TOILET OR SHOWER IN THE ROOM.  I may sound like a hotel snob when I say I need a shower and a toilet in my room, well ok.. I am then.   I have issues lining up to go pee at 2 am!  So that set me in a right mood right there.  Next, we asked for a NON smoking room and what do we get? MMMMMMmmmmm cuddling down in to a nice smoke smelling mattress when you are pregnant is so lovely!   But lets not forget the fact that the bed looked like it was a cheap version of Ikea put it together yourself crap that was low to the floor and hard as concrete.   But the best part of this great adventure was the security guard’s dog that he kept locked in his car outside our window all night!  Why was this the best part??? Because the damn thing didn’t shut up!  It barked all night long, even after I went downstairs to complain it stopped for oh an hour then started up again.  So besides not being able to breath, can’t get comfortable, and the dog, we had a GREAT night and approximately 1 hour of sleep.   The only bonus was the breakfast that had fresh baguettes.  We tried to complain to the receptionist, but her only reply was that the non smoking rooms were full (no excuse) and that we had to write a letter.  So we are in the letter writing process now. 

driving to the trainSo after leaving the hotel of hell, we started towards the Euro Tunnel to take us to the UK.   We arrived fairly early, almost an hour before our scheduled train, so we headed into the duty free shop to mosey around and waste some time.  Normally I would be game for shopping, but surviving on one hour of sleep just doesn’t agree with me.   Eventually our letter was called and we headed towards customs, goodbye France and not more than 300 feet customs for the UK, hello UK.  So now I have two new stamps in my passport and the baby has already travelled through 4 countries and she’s not even born yet.   We followed the signs to take us to the train and at 8:20 am it really wasn’t that busy.  Once you get to the train you are instructed to turn your lights on and follow the cars in front of you,  after driving through a few cars we got to the end and stopped.  Put the car in first gear, emergency brake on, windows down and enjoy the 30 minute ride to England.  I personally slept.  The ride is quite smooth and after a while you forget you are on a train.  I have to say, I really don’t think I would travel by ferry again to the UK or vice versa.  I enjoyed the ferry travel but this was so much faster! 

Now it was time to drive on the other side of the street!  I have to say, Frank did pretty darn good with this.  He got the hang of it right away; except for one little oopsy in a gas station but heck no one was coming the other way so he got the freebie.   I think the part that helped was that as soon as we exited the train we pretty much ended up on the motorway, so you didn’t have the cars coming at you from the other side of the street at a close proximity.   As for myself I was a bit out of sorts with it for a little while but soon it didn’t bother me either.   We barreled towards Telford,  on the other side of Birmingham.   It was a nice drive and the weather got a little better the further north we went.  We stopped for gas and some treats  at a Welcome Break and I think I acted like a 2 year old when I saw Glamour and Cosmo … IN ENGLISH!!!!   Plus I had to get some Salt and Vinegar chips…mmmmmmmmm…

After a 4 hour drive to Telford and a bit of running around the city since the GPS didn’t know where she was going, we finally arrived at our hotel.   Oh a real hotel!!   I mean with real people and real beds and toilet and shower INSIDE the room!!  Not to mention a great breakfast the next morning that would run from 6 – 11 !!  Not those dumb ass hours from 5-7… really who the hell wants to get up at 5 am to eat breakfast when they are on vacation???    I was able to shower and then take a nap before heading to Wrekin College for the rehearsal at the church.

After the rehearsal, Frank and I went out of Indian at this great restaurant in Wellington.  The Dhaka Tandoori restaurant, had wonderful butter chicken… granted I was too full from eating the appetizers.  But either way it was delicious.  Then after rolling back to the car we decided to just go to the hotel and relax for the night,  since the wedding was the next day and we knew it was going to be a long day. 

This is the short version of the first two days, I’ll continue soon with the wedding details and our day out in Shrewsbury.