Sunday, 16 September 2012

Edinburgh to Sheffield

The old Abbey
We returned to England today, although almost went the wrong way. Having set off down the road, when the Tour Director started talking about the day ahead the driver suddenly panicked when he realised he was setting off on a different tour itinerary. He had just returned from a two day break! In that short diversion we were off to Peebles - Eric Bogle's original home town.

We stopped briefly at Jedburgh to photograph the ruin of an old abbey, after passing by a house Mary Queen of Scots had lived in. I took photographs but have no idea if I got the right one but no one will know the difference. We also stopped for coffee but Sue was instead was inspired to buy a new hat, meant as a compensation for not seeing Nessy. The result was ... well ... look at the photos. To think I wasn't allowed to buy a cape!

We climbed up into the Cheviot Hills, which form the divide between the old enemies, Scotland and England. It was bleak up there - rain driving in horizontally and the wind howling and for the first time I balked at venturing outside for the perfect shot, preferring to shoot from behind window glass instead. The complaints of those who were mad enough to do the opposite were enough compensation. I missed a big rock with England written on one side and Scotland on the other ... I've seen borders before. The rocks are much the same, only the names change.

Hadrian's Wall
On the way south we stopped in a small village hardly worthy of mention other than it gave us the chance to see a section of Hadrian's Wall. The Emperor Hadrian of Rome had instructed a wall be built across the top of England to keep the Celts at bay in the second century AD. It worked for a substantial time, mainly because it was accompanied by ditches and other defensive techniques but being made of sandstone, it eventually was taken by the elements. In the past few hundred years, the wall has been looted for building blocks for local houses. As a result, the section we looked at was perhaps 50m long and struggled to shin height but shot from the right angle, looked impressive.

We had a motorway stop for lunch and the rain kept falling.

York was a mid afternoon stop of two and a half hours. Breaking away from the guided tour offered by the Director, Sue and I wandered lonely as clouds. The first discovery was the worst public toilet since leaving Australia. The cubicle I used had just been vacated by a guy shooting up but was the only one with a lock. Blokes were standing around in there for no apparent reason other than that which was apparent. The ladies was barely different.

The city wall at York
Not surprisingly, things improved. We found a nice coffee shop where we had cheap viddles and drinks. You rolled a dice to determine the price you paid. I rolled low, which was a bonus. We went for a lovely leisurely walk about the old part of the town; found another public toilet where you paid to pee and it was clean, efficient and safe; walked along the wall which still surrounds the city in many places; and finished in a park full of geese beside the river Ouse (as in ooze).

The last part of the afternoon was used in driving to Sheffield.

Unfortunately but not unexpectedly, the touring party are coming apart at the seams. The confines of touring life in a coach are too close for some and tempers are beginning to fray and polite ignorance is being replaced with indifference towards others feelings etc. Bring on tomorrow afternoon and our own freedom for a week in London by ourselves.

Nice dinner tonight and a few drinks afterwards with Kevin and Amanda and the some very pleasant Kiwis, who told me earlier that I look Rolf Harris ... fancy that!

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