Saturday, March 8, 2008

Trip pics

Sorry it’s taken me so long to post about the trip. It’s been a tiring week, working and dealing with jet lag. My camera wasn’t working during part of the trip but I did get a good number of photos – at least enough to give a quick overview.

My first 2 days were spent either on the way to Bath, being lost in Bath and exploring Bath. Stayed in a wonderful B&B just on the outskirts of the city center and had beautiful weather for the day of my wander. I could definitely live in Bath, I’ve decided, and would absolutely love to return. If anyone has read Jane Austin, you’ll meet her at every turn – the Royal Crescent, the Marlborough Buildings, the Baths and the Pump Room. Here are some pics:

(a view over the river; the statues overlooking the baths and the Abbey behind; steam off the baths; roman-era mosaic floor; roman-era spinning and weaving tools)

I went on to visit my friend Val just outside of Cardiff. She and her husband, Peter, made me feel right at home and I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with them and finding that we’ve been going through a very similar sort of experience. They definitely have the gift of hospitality, I must say. One my way out of town, I did take a couple of hours to visit the city center of Cardiff where I took this (rather poor) photo of the Cardiff Market. Seems it’s been around since the middle of the 19th century.

Here’s a photo of the sort of countryside I drove through in the southern section of Scotland on my way to West Kilbride. It was, by this time very stormy and gale force winds so I didn’t stop to take many photos!

Here are a couple of pictures – the first of West Kilbride, the village I lived in for several years, and then the view from West Kilbride/Seamill. This is the view I used to see everyday from my bedroom window. If it had been a clear day you would be able to see the Isle of Arran on the horizon. I know I keep saying things like how wonderful my friends are and how thoroughly I enjoying them but I’m afraid those are the only terms I can use for the whole trip. I had a great time catching up with my friends Katharine and Wade and having a look over the training school building that I spent 3 years of my life in. I have to admit I cried leaving Seamill – the only time during the whole trip that I cried. I so miss living there and would go back in a heartbeat. I love the west coast of Scotland.

I decided to brave the weather and make a trip over to St Andrews and Perth the next day. Made for quite an exciting driving, seeing that all the bridges were closed to high sided vehicles because of the wind. I wasn’t in such a vehicle but just goes to show how strong the winds were. My camera was not working at this point so no photos (sorry) but it was my first trip to St Andrews – a most unique place. I did get to find the shop/studio of Di Gilpin and had a very nice chat with her. She has some very interesting plans for providing training from her studio – makes me wish I was going to be near enough to take advantage.

From St Andrews I went on to Perth for the evening. The plan was to visit Di’s wool shop in Perth. The reality, however, was that I got trapped in a hotel car park and decided to just not fight it and stay there! Fortunately it was a reasonable rate and, although I had a stroll through the town center, I was too late to make it to the wool shop. I had spent quite a bit of time in Perth before I left Scotland and I have very fond memories of that time and the folks that I got to know. Unfortunately, I never kept up with any of the contacts but it was nice to be there again.

This brings us to Saturday and to Glasgow to spend time with some of my favorite people on the entire planet – the whole Bridgeton clan. It was really the highlight of my while trip and was quite amazing that it was so comfortable and like I’d never been gone 10 years. There’s just not enough to say about them except how special they all are to me and how much I have to be grateful to them for. Here's my teddy bear and bagpipe magnet which says "Clan Smith" given to me by my friends Robert and Ann. The magnet plays Scotland the Brave - the whole song! The whole long song which made things interesting when it got knocked in my bag!!

On to Paisley, another place I lived for about 5 years of my life. It’s another of those things where you know the place is going to be changed after 10 years but it still felt so comfortable and so much a part of me. My friend, Lynne, has a fabulous work with international students in the university there. It’s very enjoyable to see someone working so hard at something they so evidently love to do. I know she’s having an amazing impact on these young students.

From Paisley (after an entirely too short visit) I began the march south. Cutting through the Yorkshire Dales was not entirely planned but it provided a most satisfying surprise. I drove through tiny country roads that threaded through farms and tiny villages that have been there longer than anyone can remember. Towards the end, the road took me up and up and up to the top of these barren, alone hills. It felt like being on the top of the world with no one and nothing else existing anywhere nearby. There were no people and no cars and for part of it, not even any sheep. Quite eerie really but pretty breathtaking all the same.

I eventually made it to York. A place, like Bath, that I went away from thinking I could totally live there. Amazing. I even made it to an early morning service at York Minster. I was too late for the Matins service but walked in as the boy’s choir was finishing a hymn. Breathtaking. Here are a few photos from around the city. My B&B was in an old coach house right outside the city walls (called The Coach House Hotel, oddly enough!). The city walls still stand and I could look right over them to see the top of York Minister from my window. I just can’t explain how beautiful it was, all lit up at night. Of course, not quite so beautiful was being almost thrown out of my bed at 1am when the largest earthquake in years hit the UK. I had no idea what had happened until the next morning. I've been in tornados but never an earthquake. It was something like 5.7 on the Richter scale and centered not too far from where I was. Quite a moving experience!!

(York building; York wool shop - Sheepish - just missed getting in as had to be out of B&B before they opened; York Minster - side view; York city wall; view of Minster from my room)

From York, I made my way back to the Gatwick area so I could return the car and make a foray into London. The first place I headed was the Victoria and Albert Museum and, of course, I never made it anywhere else! If I lived in London, I would be at that museum every Saturday all day. All.Day. Don’t want to bore you too much more but here are a couple of photos of textile things I had the pleasure of seeing. Sorry the quality’s not so good. The textile rooms are kept darkish and I had problems with my camera. But seeing just the little bit I saw was really overwhelming. Really. All day, every Saturday. Just wait and see if I don’t, should I ever end up in London. Really.

(beaded bag and 19th century knitting at V&A)

I have never had such a vacation – 2 weeks of everything going absolutely perfectly and having wonderful time with people I care deeply about and then seeing things I’d never seen before. Absolutely perfect. I feel quite in awe that I received such a wonderful gift – in fact, as I told my mother, it was so perfect that I didn’t ever mind coming back and going immediately back to work. There were things I didn’t get to see and certainly not enough time in any of the places I went but I couldn’t ask for anything more. I told someone that I thought I would need about 2 years and unlimited finances to do everything I want to do and see everyone I want to see so I’ll be sure to let you know when my ship comes in and that happens!!

Anyway, that’s probably a lot more detail that most wanted and much less than others wanted. Quite a trip!!

1 comment:

cyndy said...

Thank you for posting your description and photographs from your trip...I enjoyed it!