Sunday Morning 10/6/2019: Week 5 in the UK

Looking out over the Old Town to Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags (in Holyrood Park) from Edinburgh Castle.

While we had a great time in Edinburgh this past week, we are also glad to be home again in our little village and in our cozy cottage. We stayed busy the entire time we were away, but the rides up and back, while beautiful, were long and tiring. The trip up to Scotland went according to schedule, but although we left Edinburgh on time Friday morning and arrived at our first stop in London on time, after that things fell apart. It turned out our ride from Gatwick out to Moreton was scheduled for 20 minutes before our train even left St. Pancras for Gatwick Station (I blame myself for not checking the timing better)! Then, to add to the turmoil, trains from St. Pancras station to Gatwick were not running on schedule anyway, with five trains already canceled. We were able to get on a train at 3:05 with hopes of getting to Gatwick in time to catch a 4:00 train to Reading (where we transferred to get to Moreton) but the train from St. Pancras quite literally poked along and we got into Gatwick at 4:25. We finally caught the 5:00 which got us into Moreton at 8:00 p.m., where a lovely young couple at the Moreton station offered to share their cab with us as Blockley was on their way. We were back in the cottage by 8:30 although feeling completely wiped out at that point. We spent yesterday doing laundry, reading, and resting and will continue the reading and resting today as we’re both still feeling a little tired.

This was the view from behind our apartment building – Edinburgh Castle was only a 10-minute walk away. All those clouds were almost blown away by the wind by the time we got up to the castle entrance. We were fascinated by all the chimneys everywhere – apparently back in the day every apartment (tenement) had its own fireplace (or two).

We enjoyed absolutely beautiful weather for our first two days in Edinburgh but woke up to a steep drop in the temperature, strong winds and cloudy skies on our third day (but thankfully no rain). Rain arrived on Friday morning but for some reason let up just when it was time for us to walk over to the station to catch our train, thank goodness. It’s colder here in Blockley now as well – we’ve got the heat on and the gas fireplace going in the cottage to keep us warm. Fall has definitely arrived.

We’ll be heading back up to London (Heathrow) on Friday afternoon – we’re spending the night there so we can meet YaYu’s plane early Saturday morning (before 7:00 a.m.). We plan to drop off our bags at our Airbnb in the morning and then head into the city for the day, or at least for as long as YaYu can handle being up. We’re doing a walking tour of Notting Hill early Saturday afternoon and a morning tour at Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard on Monday, but otherwise our time will be our own to fill and we’ll go along with what YaYu wants to see and do. On Tuesday we’ll come back to Blockley for a couple of days, and then go back to Oxford on Friday and spend the night there, putting YaYu on the bus to Heathrow for her flight back to the U.S. late Saturday morning. We’re thinking of going down to Bourton-on-the-Water for the day when we’re back here in the Cotswolds, but will have to see how we feel – we may just want to rest again and only do some walks around Blockley. Whatever happens, it’s going to be another busy week.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finally finished Middle England, but after we got back because I was too exhausted to read while we were away. I’ve just started Resurrection Men because I wanted to read something about Edinburgh and nobody does it better than Ian Rankin. He makes the city as much of a character as any of the people in his books.
  • Listening to: It is peacefully quiet here this morning both inside and out. Yesterday morning the church bells rang for over three hours! It was fun listening knowing how it was done and who was doing the ringing. It also rained quite a bit and the washer and dryer ran all day.
  • Watching: We didn’t watch any TV while we were in Edinburgh, but we did watch The Descendents on our last night there (the DVD was available in the apartment). We traditionally watch it on Thanksgiving, but missed it last year and will again this year, so we thought we should catch it while we could. It sure made us homesick for Kaua’i – can’t wait to be there again in January. I watched an episode of Endeavour on TV here last night but that’s it.
  • Cooking: We’ll be having leftover meatloaf tonight along with vegetable soup made from several odds and odds of vegetables that I want to use up before we go shopping tomorrow. This week we’ll be having chicken and vegetable stir-fry; chicken vegetable soup; meatballs with marinara; lamb burgers with roasted vegetables; tuna melts; and breakfast for dinner with eggs, sausages, and sauteed apples. YaYu doesn’t eat meat anymore so we’re also going to look for some vegetarian things to have on hand when she’s here at the cottage.
    After three busy days in Edinburgh, we were already tired when we started the long journey back to Blockley. But we were happy – we’d had a great visit!

    The scenery along the way going and coming back was beautiful, but it was especially thrilling to pass along the North Sea as we got close to Edinburgh.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: The train journey to and from Edinburgh was an effort and an accomplishment as each way involved four different train changes and getting through three rather large stations (including crossing the street to get from St. Pancras to King’s Cross). We also got stuck in rush hour traffic in London on our way back on Friday which kept things a bit more challenging. We made it to each of our four Edinburgh tours on time, a feat considering we had to figure out how to maneuver through a city we didn’t know very well at the time. We walked a minimum of three miles each day, and one day walked over six miles. Last Sunday evening, before we left I booked an Airbnb in Massachusetts for our stay for YaYu’s graduation, and another in Maine for a visit there afterward. We’re going to spend one night in Vermont or New Hampshire in between but haven’t chosen where yet. Laundry day yesterday was an accomplishment – it took over 10 hours to get everything done and put away (because the washer is very small and it takes nearly two hours for one load to run).
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re very excited about YaYu’s arrival next weekend and getting to visit London and Oxford with her, as well as showing her around our village. It was exciting seeing things like the Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye as our trains passed through London, knowing we’d be there soon. If it doesn’t rain this week we’re hoping to ride the bus over to the village of Broad Campden and then walk back to Blockley (around three miles).
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Everything went better than expected on our getaway. We had absolutely gorgeous weather for the first two days we were there as well, and the rain held off our entire visit and our walk over to the train station on Friday morning when we left (it was raining when we arrived on Monday, but we took a cab to our Airbnb). Even though we missed our original train home to Moreton, we were able to use our tickets for a later train at no extra cost.

    Chicken and mushroom pie for lunch at the Mitre pub on Edinburgh’s High Street. It came with vegetables, mashed potatoes, and gravy and kept me full the rest of the day . . . all for $14.75.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We took a bag of food up with us up to Edinburgh, and the apartment was stocked with yogurt (for me) and oatmeal (for Brett) which helped us keep our food costs down. We went out to dinner the night we arrived (which provided leftovers for the next day), and then had lunch out each day at a pub, where the meals were large and reasonably priced, and then ate leftovers or the things we brought at night. Other than taking the taxi from the train station when we arrived, we walked everywhere while we were in Edinburgh. We did buy some souvenirs but discussed those ahead of time so we weren’t tempted to make impulse purchases.

    Brett and I got ourselves a cashmere scarf, and we also bought a bottle of Edinburgh gin – we got a discount on it at their shop because we took a tour of the distillery (and because it’s delicious), and got a discount on the scarves because we bought two.
  • Grateful for: Once again, some very kind strangers stepped up to help us get back to Blockley when we were otherwise stranded. We were thinking we were going to have to walk into Moreton from the station when we arrived (in the cold and dark) and go to a hotel to call a taxi, but a young couple from London who arrived at the same time offered to share their ride with us as Blockley was on the way to their destination. We were extremely tired at that point and their kindness made a huge difference after a long day.
  • Bonus question: Did you eat haggis in Scotland? NO! I had absolutely no desire to give it a try before we went or while we were there and that still holds. We did get to sample a “wee dram” of whiskey on one of our tours and I was reminded once again of why I don’t drink whiskey and prefer gin instead. We did have some lovely pub meals, including incredible meat pies in one place. I’ve never had such a wonderful, flaky crust in my life and the filling (chicken and mushroom) was divine. We tried a can of IrnBru (Scotland’s soft drink) while we were there – it was tasty – and ate some authentic Scottish shortbread. I thought Walkers shortbread was pretty good until we visited a shop and tasted some that just melted in our mouths and were less sweet too – so delicious! I’ve been spoiled for life.

One thing Brett and I both realized on this trip is that although we are healthy, and in pretty good shape, we do tire more easily these days and couldn’t have sustained the pace we kept for much longer than the three days we were there. Our visit reinforced why we enjoy being able to stay in one place for a while and keep a less hectic schedule. Our time with YaYu will most likely be just as busy, but after that we know we can slow down again and not have to work so hard. We’re wondering now if we really want to do a full week’s driving tour down to Cornwall, and think maybe we might go down by train for a couple of nights instead.

I won’t be posting next Sunday as we’ll be out and about in London, and will probably not post during the week either. I do have a couple of posts planned for this week though but not sure what days those will go up.

That’s a wrap for this week! I hope everyone had a lovely week, with lots of good food, good books, good friends and good things happening for them, and is looking forward to the week coming up.

19 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 10/6/2019: Week 5 in the UK

    1. It was so exciting to see the North Sea appear on our way up to Edinburgh. It was almost dark, and the train went around a corner and there it was – completely unexpected. We better views on the way back although the sky and sea were very gray.

      That pie was the best thing I’ve eaten since I don’t know when. A perfectly flaky crust and delicious filling. The green vegetable was kale, and very tasty. The potatoes were too.

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  1. Thank you, thank you, for sharing your adventures. Your blog is helping me shape a vision for retirement (20 years to save!). Seriously, it’s the most positive thing to read these days. Thank you, you are a blessing.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely words. It is very rewarding to know that what I write has made a difference for someone. We are having the time of our lives, and hope the same for you in the future!

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  2. We’ve been home from our recent travels for just a little over a week, but reading your post today has me positively itching to head out yet again. This travel bug thing is terminal I fear! 😊

    As intrepid travelers, you probably don’t need any advice, but we did find our self-guided walking tour of Oxford to be immensely helpful, because there are scads of interesting little tidbits about the town that it would have been difficult to know of otherwise. We also didn’t know to research how we might actually tour one of Oxford’s many colleges, which the internet now makes very simple.

    We are planning a return trip to the UK in 2021, so I’m much looking forward to your trip reports for both Oxford and London. London, BTW, is like a fairy tale around every corner. Your camera will likely get a good workout!

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    1. Thanks for the tip about self-guided touring in Oxford. We haven’t made up our mind about how in-depth we’ll go there – that will depend on what our daughter wants to see and do. Besides the universities, there is a pottery studio in town that I want to check out, and I’d love to see some locales/settings from Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis if possible.

      We’ll only be in London for three days – we’ll be working on our itinerary this week (outside of the two tours we already have booked). Our quick visit to Edinburgh wore us out so I don’t want to overdo it in London and ruin the rest of the week.

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  3. Oooh I’m so jealous you’re going to Notting Hill! I will be looking for pictures on IG! And I watched The Descendants this week as well, and now am desperate to go back to Kauai. It’s been 18 months, way too long!

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    1. We thought YaYu would like to see Notting Hill because that’s where many movie stars live (she says if she spots Keira Knightly she will die happy).

      We are so excited to be able to go back to Kaua’i – seeing The Descendents made us realize how much we have missed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I stay at the St. Pancras when I go to London for work – love that area. It sounds like Edinburgh was delightful! I myself am recovering from major jet lag, after getting in from Tokyo on Friday.

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    1. All we did at St. Pancras was walk across the street to King’s Cross Station! Loved arriving and leaving St. Pancras Station though as we got nice views of the Tower Bridge, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral and some of the famous newer buildings.

      Our time in the jet lag barrel is coming, but hopefully it won’t be as bad as usual as we’ll be flying west instead of east.

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  5. I’m heading to Kauai and Maui in early December. Can’t wait! It’ll be cold and gloomy here by then so it’ll be nice to go somewhere warm and sunny.

    I have a friend who lives in Scotland in Glenrothes. She sends me photos all the time and it just looks so picturesque. I hope to visit there someday. Your photos are great and enjoy your time in London with YaYu!

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    1. Lucky you! You’ll enjoy lovely weather in Hawai’i in early December, and hurricane season will be over.

      Scotland was lovely, at least the little we saw of it. We weren’t there long enough to see more than the Old Town Edinburgh, but we definitely would like to go back and see more, and get up into the Highlands.

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  6. Beautiful pictures as always. I am sure you will have tons of fun with Ya-Yu. As for haggis, I looked up what that is and no thanks! I understand why you did not want to taste it.

    I will be leaving for the US on the 22nd this month. I will be staying in NYC for the first 10 days and move to upstate NY. Then, I will have a solo roadtrip all the way down to Florida to visit friends and on the way back, I will spend Thanksgiving in SC with other friends. I am staying in upstate NY till early January. I am hoping to post about my travels too.

    Enjoy your time with Ya-Yu!

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    1. Thanks, TPol!

      Your trip sounds wonderful – where in upstate NY will you be? In South Carolina? We loved Charleston and have always wanted to go back. I can’t wait to read about your trip and see pictures. Brett and I are still debating whether or not to do a long-term road trip around the U.S. – when I read that you’re doing one down the east coast it got me interested again.

      We’re so excited about seeing YaYu – just a few more days!

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      1. I will be around Poughkeepsie and will cover a lot of ground in New England while I am there. In SC, I will be within 20 minutes of Charleston. I am also going to stay in Savannah, GA. I have heard so much about it.

        My favorite places are on the coast all the way from Cape Cod to Annapolis. New England is my absolute favorite part of the US.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I love visiting the east coast but didn’t like it so much when we lived there (summer humidity and cold, cold winters). I will be following along with your travels because Brett and I are still considering a long-term driving trip around the U.S. in the future.

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  7. My three children are half Scottish and only one likes haggis. But everyone agrees that Granny’s shortbread is to die for. I haven’t had it in years, but the memory is vivid. And her Canadian butter tarts. She did great desserts. 🙂

    We visited grands this week and the drive is almost six hours each way. We were again reminded that we don’t have the energy we used to, so I think you are wise to settle in one place for a time. We are able to do the sprints entailed with a visit (especially with kids who wake up before 6 each day!), but we’re really happy to be back in our own bed and crash tonight.

    Really loved all the pics of Edinburgh. They brought back many happy memories for me.

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  8. Love your travels. Just explained (again) to my husband how you have a base in the Cotswolds and have little adventures. We both like the idea of that. May copy it when we go for 3 months. To be able to do adventures without schlapping the luggage everywhere! And to have days of rest and not running for a train!

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    1. We are having a great time, although sometimes now we think about settling down but don’t think we’re quite ready yet. Staying long-term in one place as a base and then making side trips from there seems to work best for us. No schlepping the big luggage around and plenty of time to rest and explore and get to know the local area in-between. , Three months in one place is too long though – we’re thinking six weeks might be just about right.

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