It’s been four days since we arrived here in Old Blighty, and today is the first day that I have had the time or the energy to put fingers to keys. I do like to tell stories. What I like the most is to tell stories about my travels and some of the characters that seem to find their way into a position where I can observe their antics.
This trip is so far no different. The first character of this trip appeared as I took receipt of a very tasty Empress Gin & Tonic in the Vancouver Airport Fairmont Hotel lounge. The lounge of which I speak is a special place to be and a perfect oasis in an otherwise hectic and stressful international hub.
I can simply describe the man as in his early 60’s. He had a receding hairline, very pail skin and wore glasses with frames that would have been contemporary in the 70’s. The man’s most unique feature was of course his face. So flat indeed that he could have taken a bite out of any of the walls surrounding us. Unfortunate features and just a little weird to boot.
This man seemed to be lost. He seemed to be overwhelmed. He wore a simple smile that suggested he was very confused. The man stood near the bar for a while and then inexplicably began to spin like Julie Andrews in the The Sound of Music.
We were waiting for the waitress to inquire if he was alright or if she could help him. Just as she was about to do so, Mr. Flatface stopped and focused on her attention. It turned out he was OK’ish. He told the waitress that he was just enjoying some time on his own as his wife was several minutes behind him. Make what you want of Mr Flatface’s statement, but I sensed he wasn’t thrilled with Mrs. Flatface and that any alone time he scrounged was precious and to be enjoyed in anyway he saw fit.
And then if by magic Mrs. Flatface arrived on scene. Mrs. Flatface was dragging numerous bags and had a scowl that could stop a clock. If you are ever in doubt of the definition of the word evil, don’t bother with the Oxford English Dictionary. Just consider Mrs. Flatface. Mr. Flatface at that point noticed his betrothed had arrived. Mr. Flatface took a seat beside her and promptly changed his happy-go-lucky outlook to a significantly more forlorn expression of “just shoot me now”.
Perhaps we will revisit the Flatface’s a little later. Thirty minutes on & we hopped aboard BA flight 84. It took us nine and a half hours to arrive at London Heathrow and with a quick connection we were soon in Newcastle Upon Tyne in the Northeast of England. Our rental car was a winner and we drove away from the airport in style to our accommodation for the next 3 days.
The following morning we drove the narrow country roads of Northumberland and Scottish Borders with no real destination but a sixth sense for the finer country pubs en-route. We had some fantastic beer and wonderful meals to accompany them. Having the opportunity to visit Flodden field a little later was amazing.
The site of one of the biggest battles ever to take place on British soil happened in 1513 on this field and saw the King of Scotland loose his life in battle. The last time any British monarch lost a life in combat. We made our way from the countryside inland to the beaches and castles of the Northeast coast. Bamburgh Castle stood proud.
Next on the agenda was to meet old friends for dinner at a pub near Whitley Bay. A modern pub with classic grub. A couple of pints of real ale and some awesome conversation.
We then followed our noses into the city centre of Newcastle and walked the quayside into the early hours. No rain and a sky full of stars with very few clouds. The city is clean and tidy and impressive as a result.
The following morning we made our way across the country towards the West coast. We visited Heavenfield Church. Heavenfield is aptly named as it is a little slice of you know what. I wont tell you how to get there as it is mine all mine.
From there we stopped in Corbridge, Hexham and then finished our day in Keswick which is the hub town for Lake District walkers, hikers and climbers. Our stay at the Royal Oak was great and the full Cumbrian breakfast was unreal. We were up early this morning and made the most of our travels visiting some of the prettiest places on earth. Several more stops at top class pubs provided further sustenance.
You find me in our room at an airport hotel in Manchester. Tomorrow morning starts very early as we leave England behind and fly east to Budapest. My first time in Hungary. Can’t wait, it should be fantastic.