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The Covid Party

Sherwood Forest

all seasons in one day 16 °C
View Sherwood on kmmk17's travel map.

After last year's trip to The Fens, we repeated a trip to a log cabin, only this time going to Sherwood Forest - home of Robin Hood.

With Covid cases rising, and my sister working in a hospital, we took some Lateral Flow Tests before we left. All were negative so after work we began our journey for a weekend away.

We unfortunately had to leave a little bit later than we'd have liked, and also needed to travel via Milton Keynes to pick up my sister and her boyfriend. It was also a horrific day - with much of the journey up the M1 being through torrential rain.

After stopping en route for dinner, we eventually arrived at the forest just before 9pm. There was a barrier at the entrance and we were provided with the code in advance. When we arrived though, there was a car in front who had no idea what the code was. We then had to endure the arduous process of one of the passengers getting out of the car, phoning up to find out the code and then driving so slowly to the reception...

Then at reception they hadn't prefilled in any of the details and didn't know the car's registration number. Thankfully by this stage we were able to be served by someone else, get the keys and head to our cabin.

But then, we needed to head straight back out again to go and grab some food for our weekend trip. By the time we arrived back at the cabin and got to get in the hot tub for the first time it was gone 10 - thought at least it had stopped raining!

We had a catch up and enjoyed some drinks before heading back in to play some games. However after a really long day we were all pretty tired, and so headed to bed.

None of us got a great sleep that night, but nevertheless felt a bit fresher in the morning and after having some breakfast we headed out to explore Sherwood Forest itself.

We headed out in the car just 10 minutes before reaching the village of Edwinstowe. After parking up, it was only a short walk to the visitor centre for Sherwood Forest.

After walking through the visitor centre, we began following the paths to the Major Oak, supposedly the shelter where Robin Hood and his Merry Men would stay. This Oak Tree is around 800-1000 years old and is only still surviving due to the huge supports in place for it's overloaded canopy.

The Major Oak

The Major Oak

After a nice, but short walk, we headed back to the cabin for some time in the hot tub, before playing some games. Myself and my sister were both feeling pretty tired after the busy times and lack of sleep, so had a nap before coming back to play some more games and the have some dinner.

A quiz had been advertised at 6, so we headed over in good time, only to find there was no one there, so headed back to play some games by ourselves!

We then headed back into the hot tub for a bit, before playing some final games. However by now we were all feeling petty tired, and so headed for a relatively early night.

The next day was our last, but we didn't need to leave until late. We all awoke to find we had various degrees of colds - hardly surprising as the country was full of it. Nevertheless we had breakfast, and then went for a little walk around the forest area of Sherwood Pines.

Sherwood Pines

Sherwood Pines

After getting back we got in the hot tub for the final time, before playing a few games. It was only early afternoon but feeling tired, and with a long drive we decided to start heading off now.

Hot Tub Time

Hot Tub Time

Stopping for some food on the way, we eventually arrived home, unpacked our stuff and then took an early night - it had been a busy few days

Or so we thought... at around 10pm, I awoke to find my sister ringing me... she had just done a lateral flow and found it was positive. She had Covid, and it was so strong she must have had it all weekend - explains the colds. We decided to take some tests ourselves, and instantly Chris's came back screaming positive... uh oh... mine was weak but also positive. We'd had a Covid Party...

Turns out Chris must coincidently, like my sister, have brought it with him, and so we'd spent the entire weekend spreading it around. We'd managed to dodge it since the start of the pandemic, but finally it had got us, and it meant the rest of the week was a write off. But don't worry - I did live to tell the tale!

Posted by kmmk17 17:13 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged trees rain lodge forest sickness Comments (0)

Sunny Sussex

East Sussex

sunny 32 °C
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Having had a short weekend trip to Jersey in July, we were tempted to have another weekend away in August. But by leaving it too late we ran out of time to go anywhere, and instead decided to just enjoy a day trip.

Thankfully as the day we'd planned for our day out neared, the weather got good and it was going to be a lovely and warm! We had decided to head down to Sussex, and visit a few different locations we'd not been to before.

We headed down the western side of the M25, and made our way to Seaford for views of Seven Sisters, the beautiful chalk cliffs along the English Channel. These cliffs are 'cleaner' than the White Cliffs of Dover as these ones are allowed to erode and therefore prevent the build up of vegetation.

Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters

The best place to see them is from the Coastguard Cottages on the edge of Seaford, where the headland allows a beautiful side shot of the cliffs. After parking at the car park at Seaford Head, we took a short walk down the hill through the nature reserve towards the cottages. There were a lot of people here already, heading down to the beach for a swim or relax, but we headed back to the car as we had other places to go.

A short drive around the corner, and we made it to Beachy Head, the highest sea cliff in Britain. Consequently, it is the third most common suicide spot in the world, and as soon as we had parked we could see the signs reminding people to speak to the Samaritans instead.

Beachy Head

Beachy Head

There were however beautiful views over the nearby area and we took a short walk along the coast towards Seven Sisters.

On our return we stopped at the small museum before heading back into the car and driving through Eastbourne. We then headed inland to the village of Battle, where the eponymous Battle of Hastings that changed England forever took place.

Battle Abbey

Battle Abbey

We had booked our tickets in advance, and after parking up walked to the gatehouse, which is now the entrance and gift shop. We then wandered into the estate, and started our tour with a look inside the Exhibition Building, where some background history to the battle was explained, before we wandered around the corner to the battlefield.

The Battlefield

The Battlefield

As it was hot, we didn't walk around the field, instead looking from the hilltop. We then walked through the remains of the Abbey, which had been built by William the Conqueror on the spot of Harold's death spot.

Having done a loop of the complex, I then took a walk through the gatehouse itself, including visiting the roof for views down the High Street, which we then took a walk down.

Battle High Street

Battle High Street

By now it was already mid afternoon, and so we headed back towards home - but not before stopping by the Bluewater Shopping Centre outside Dartford, for dinner at a restaurant.

It had been a lovely day, seeing some new things in the glorious weather.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:16 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged sea cliffs history summer Comments (0)

The Fens

Fens

semi-overcast 22 °C
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It had been a long time since we had had a relaxing getaway, and so we booked ourselves a lodge with a hot tub in Norfolk, and went up with my brother and sister.

We travelled up after work on Friday, getting dinner en route, before dropping our bits off at the lodge, located in the Fens in Norfolk. The Fens were historically marshy underwater land that was drained in the 1600s. Very much like the Netherlands they are incredibly flat, and contain lots of straight roads and drains, and arable crops.

After popping to the supermarket in Downham Market, we headed back to the lodge and made our first use of the hot tub, enjoying drinks and music in the soothing tub.

The following day we made use of being in this part of the world, by visiting the city of Ely. Ely was historically an island within the Fens, and although home to just 20,000 people is only of the most important places in the area.

After eventually finding a space to park we headed into the centre, walking down the High Street, before turning into the churchyard. Here the huge Ely Cathedral came into view. The cathedral has an iconic Octagonal tower, and dominates the skyline of the whole city.

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Admission was £8, and so for the four of us this would have been £32 - but as the pay point was just inside the church we went inside took a quick look across the barrier, went inside the gift shop and then left.

We then headed across the Green, past the canon captured from the Crimean War, before arriving outside the family home of Oliver Cromwell, the leader of England during the Republic after the civil war. Inside, the building also functions as the Tourist Information Centre, where we bought some souvenirs, before heading along the circular walk around town.

Oliver Cromwell's House

Oliver Cromwell's House

This walk heads to the south of the cathedral through gardens dedicated to the Queen's Golden Jubilee, before arriving along the banks of the River Great Ouse.

After making it back round to the car, we headed to the lodge, where after a bit of lunch we spent the rest of the day in and out of the hot tub, mixing it up with games and chats.

Hot Tub Fun

Hot Tub Fun

The following day was our last. We had a pretty lazy day, in and out of the hot tub, and only leaving it to go for a wander around the edge of the campsite. At late afternoon we then packed up our stuff and headed back home, once again getting dinner en route.

It was a lovely weekend, just being able to relax in a nice environment and have fun and games with my siblings.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:22 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged history city cathedral family lodge Comments (0)

A Day In The Cotswolds

Cotswolds

sunny 21 °C
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After the last 18 months of not getting to go very far, we managed to have a day out to the Cotswolds on one of the few nice summer's days of 2021.

With a lot of leave still to use, we'd taken the week off and spent much of it decorating the living room. But to give us a bit of a break from all the work on a 'week off', we decided to have a day out and picked the best one weather-wise in what had been a pretty miserable summer.

The first place we headed to was Bourton-on-the-Water, which involved driving across country. As we were almost there, the road we needed to take to cross over to Stow-on-the-Wold was closed, with the nearest diversion adding another 30mins to our journey. Feeling that this might be a bit excessive, we decided to try our luck and see how far down the road we could get before cutting around the road closure on country roads.

As we almost entered Stow-on-the-Wold, we cut off and diverted via a suburb to the south. However these tiny narrow lanes were not suitable for the huge cars ignorant people love to drive. Arriving at one bend where there were loads of parked cars, the developing trail of cars I was caught up in met another travelling the opposite way. A trail of three cars had already headed down what had become a de facto single lane highway which our larger trail was already on. As we had right of way, and also nowhere to go, the cars headed towards us had to reverse to allow us to pass. Some of them did so amicably, but one driver decided he would only reverse as far as possible for all our cars to mount the verge and squeeze past - despite him being able to reverse back slightly more and let us drive on the actual carriageway.

My blood was now boiling. How dare this ignorant man just sit there so obnoxiously expecting us to do something so unnecessary. So I sat there waiting for him to reverse further, but he would not. So, as I was forced to mount the verge passing him, I stopped adjacent to his window, wound mine down and absolutely lost it at him - shouting, screaming and swearing right in his face. He probably didn't care but it made me feel better anyway.

As we left the town we could see the huge traffic queue that had formed due to the closure of the important road. Thankfully we were missing it via our reroute, and around 10 minutes later we were in the middle of an extremely busy Bouton-on-the-Water. Despite being a weekday, probably due to the nice weather and the school holidays, it was full of people and we were lucky to get parked.

Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-Water

After a little walk we ended up on the main High Street of this beautiful village, where a small river runs just to the south creating an area of parkland where many families were picnicking. Crossing several of the bridges we started at the west end by the Motoring Museum, before heading into gift shops and ending outside the Model Village. It is quite simply the idealised English village.

But being a Cotswold village, there wasn't much to do, and so after picking up some souvenirs we then headed back to the car park and made our way to the nearby city of Gloucester.

Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral

Around half an hour later, and just outside the Cotswolds we arrived and parked in the shopping centre car park. We then went for a wander over to Gloucester Cathedral. This huge cathedral contains the tomb of Edward II, and also served as a filming location for the Harry Potter films.

Cloisters

Cloisters

There, they did the typical thing of providing 'free' entry, whilst in reality trying to force us to give them a donation. So we pretended to leave and then when no one was looking legged it across the vestry - we only wanted a quick look!

Edward II's Tomb

Edward II's Tomb

We went for a little wander into the cloisters and courtyard, before heading back to the exit via the tombs. We then headed back towards the centre, stopping for lunch, before making our way towards the Docks, located on the edge of the River Severn.

On driving into the town it dawned on me that this was also the city where Fred and Rose West had lived and murdered, and their house, where 9 bodies were found in 1994 was just a short walk away. So we decided to walk back via the site, which has since been knocked down and turned into a footpath.

We were now headed back towards home, but we also had another Cotswold village we wanted to stop by at - Bibury.

Bibury

Bibury

Much smaller than Bourton-on-the-Water, it was very scenic. However even at 4:30 on a weekday afternoon, we were lucky to get a space. After driving past the best parking spaces, we could see a learner driver was just getting into the car. After turning around, a stroke of luck, he was trying to pull out. So I let him go and then nabbed his spot.

We then went for a short walk around the village, before making our way back to the car, and a final drive home.

Bibury

Bibury

It may have only been one day, but it was a nice break from the normality of home, and it was very scenic. Would recommend.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 19:20 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged hills river scenery city cathedral quaint Comments (0)

Unlucky by the Lochs

Lochaber, Cairngorms & Inverness - Highlands

semi-overcast 16 °C
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As we continued towards Fort William, our next base, we kept a keen eye on the developing crack. After stopping just outside Spean Bridge we realised the crack was worsening, and with another 3 days and 200 miles still to drive, this problem needed fixing. But with no Internet we had little choice but to continue on our 3 hour journey to Fort William.

Once we arrived we discussed our options, and realised our only option was to swap the car, but with no Avis base in Fort William, all we could do was drive back to Inverness Airport which was 2 hours away. En route we tried to call them to check this was possible, but being on hold with a dodgy signal meant this was not very successful.

Eventually, at around 4pm we arrived back at the airport, where we would be in just a few days time. Thankfully we were able to swap the car but it was now another two hours back to Fort William. Trying to create some sort of silver lining we decided that we would shuffle around our schedule and today would be the Loch Ness day.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness

We stopped en route a few times for views of Loch Ness, as well as grabbing some souvenirs. Loch Ness really is huge, and most of the detour to Inverness had meant driving along side it. So much so, that by the end we weren't even interested in it anymore!

As it was a very long day, after eventually getting some dinner we decided tomorrow needed to be much more restful, and so we scrapped our planned visit to Tobermory.

No longer needing to make a ferry, we had a lay in and leisurely made our way over to the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This viaduct was made famous in the Harry Potter films and has great vantage points from the nearby hills.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Glenfinnan Viaduct

As we were walking towards the viaduct itself, we were treated to the sight of a local train crossing it. Although sadly we were a few minutes too late to see it from the better vantage point.

Walking underneath, and then climbing up the hill beside the viaduct, we got a beautiful vantage point of the embankment and the adjacent valley whilst getting attacked by midges. I walked a little bit further along for a view of the nearby loch, before we turned back and walked down to the loch itself.

Loch Shiel

Loch Shiel

Beside Loch Shiel is a monument commemorating the location of the beginning of the Jacobite rising, from where Bonnie Prince Charlie attempted to regain the British crown.

We then popped into the giftshop to get a few souvenirs when we heard a sound... I ran outside and saw a steam rain making its way around the hill side. Sadly we had missed seeing it in all it's glory crossing the viaduct, but at least we had seen this.

A few minutes up the road from here was the station itself, where there is a small museum detailing the extension of the railway line to the coast. We took a look inside before continuing further west to Loch Eilt, which is the setting for the island of Dumbledore's Grave in the Harry Potter Films.

Loch Eilt

Loch Eilt

From here, we would have continued on a long winding road down to Kilochan Port, but after yesterday's drama this was the furthest we were now going. So instead, we turned back and headed to the Neptune's Staircase, made up of eight adjacent lochs - the longest staircase loch in Britain.

Neptune's Staircase

Neptune's Staircase

From here it was only a 5 minute drive to the hotel and being almost check in time we decided to head straight there. This was the nicest room we had had so far, and we had a view overlooking The Parade - a lovely garden in the centre of town.

As it was still only mid afternoon, we then headed out towards Glen Coe, where we had initially planned to visit the previous afternoon. Although we had seen hundreds of valleys by now, this did live up the hype and was certainly one of the most beautiful. Even despite the miserable weather.

Glen Coe

Glen Coe

It had been a long day by now and so we wouldn't venture too far for the rest of today. We went back to the hotel, dropped our stuff and then went for a quick wander around the town.

There wasn't much to see, but we did stop at the site of old Fort that gave the town it's name, which sits imposingly beside Loch Linnhe.

Fort William Old Fort

Fort William Old Fort

After grabbing dinner at McDonalds, where I went full Scot by ordering an Irn Bru, we settled in for the night. The following morning we had a Full Scottish breakfast (the same thing, just with Haggis and a tattie scone) before checking out and visiting the final sight in this area - Ben Nevis.

We weren't climbing it, but we did get a decent viewpoint at it's base in Glen Nevis, where we managed to upset the local sheep who quickly scarpered as soon as we got out the car.

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis

Having already seen Loch Ness on our unintended diversion back via Inverness, a few days ago we decided to head north on a different route, cutting across the country and stopping in the Cairngorms.

The Cairngorms weren't vastly different from the Highlands, just perhaps with more trees. We drove to Aviemore, and had a wander around the woods outside the town, before driving through it. It really felt like nowhere else in the UK - the town is haven for Winter sports, and felt an alpine village in that aspect, despite being in northern Scotland.

Snow in June

Snow in June

From here it wasn't far to Inverness, where we checked into our final hotel of the trip before driving into the city centre for a quick look around.
After missing the entrance to the car park the first time, we eventually parked and ended up in the middle of the shopping centre.

Inverness wasn't particularly big, and after we walked down the high street for five minutes we arrived at the castle, where there were impressive views from the hill over the river.

Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle

After seeing what the town had to offer, we headed for dinner before chilling for the rest of the evening.

The following morning we checked out of the hotel and headed back to Inverness Airport. Parking up after driving exactly 1000 miles, we saw that our previous hire car hadn't moved from where we'd left it, but the crack had grown even further - a good job we had dropped it back off when we did!

The Crack!

The Crack!

As there was a BA flight back to London around half an hour before ours, the tiny airport was overwhelmed and it took ages to get through security. But there was no real rush, there was little to do in the departure lounge and we had plenty of time.

The flight back home was less comfortable than our outgoing flight, as there were a lot more people on it. We were surrounded by others, and despite wearing face masks we didn't feel overly safe knowing that no one here needed to take any kind of tests to spend over an hour non-socially distanced.

When we landed back in Luton it was like arriving in the Med in summer. Although it hadn't been cold in Inverness, it was around 8C warmer down south and came as a shock to the system after a week in Scotland!

Despite the car drama and the less-than-great weather, it had been a enjoyable trip. Not only as an excuse to get out the house after 15 months of Covid, but also as the scenery was incredible. A hire car is definitely the way to go on a Highland trip!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 14:12 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged lakes snow fort airport island valley castle Comments (0)

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