A Heatwave in Bath

32 degrees C and I thought they only have snow here. Its Hot!!

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We were up early to leave our London digs and to get to Paddington where the Bath train left from, we had to catch two Tube Trains. They are amazingly efficient and once you get your head around them, theyre fantastic. We were at Paddington with time left over for a thickshake and some free Wifi at McDonalds 🙂

The Bath Abbey

After an hour or so we arrived in Bath.  We caught a Taxi to the Hotel which has to go round the back of Bath due to the one way streets to get to our Hotel, and then later in the day during our walk, discovered that the Station is only just around the corner.  Oh well .. it was hot and we had a fair bit of luggage to drag around  😉

We dropped off our bags and went for a wander around to check out the town. This is one very old town which I think was built by the Romans and like the other towns has the same stunning old buildings. Some of these though are really old.

The Roman Baths arch over the street

We spent the afternoon sitting out the heat under an umbrella with some cold drinks watching all the tourists board their buses outside the hotel.

Fiona in the Umbrella Street. I’m not sure what this was all about but it is a bit different 🙂

A lovely town with more to do with the rental car over the next few days.

Round and Round

We arrived in London about midday and from the train station headed straight to our Hotel by the British Museum.

The Morgan, where we stayed in London

It was really handy to everything and only a block or so away from two of the Tube stations from significant lines.

The British Museum just around the corner

The next morning, we headed up the road to a bus stop for the Hop on Hop off bus or as many call it, “The round and round bus”. Armed with our London pass, we headed off down into the London traffic on an open top Double Decker bus and it was great.

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St Pauls from the traffic !

Down to Trafalgar Square and then we went left along the Strand and then to Fleet St. Here we hit the traffic and didn’t move for about 20 minutes!! It eventually let us past St Pauls and not long after that, we ended up at The Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.

From the Tower Bridge

Once we got across the Tower Bridge we hit the traffic again. It was almost gridlock and I think it took about an hour to get through to Southhampton bridge which is near where the London eye is.

There is a lot of construction going on down there with several new apartments blocks going up.

House of Parliament

We got across to Westminster where we got off the bus and headed for the Cathedral.

Fiona outside Westminster Abbey

What an amazing building and it just oozes history.

The audio tour is great and a must do but both Fiona and I struggled to understand what we were looking at as the Audio tour didn’t really line up with the map very well. We got there in the end and it was time to find a pub for lunch.

Just around the corner in Parliament St was the Red Lion pub which had an upstairs dining room. I had the biggest Cod and chips with mushy peas I’ve ever seen in my life with an English beer.
The fish was fantastic, the beer was fine.. it was called Londons Pride but not being a big beer drinker I was really just interested in a taste. I think I prefer Heinekin as far as beer goes.
Great service, resonable prices and nice food.. This was the first time I’ve had mushy peas and I loved them. Fiona had a chicken salad and that was great too. .. washed down with a quality English cider which neither of us can remember the name of.

The Household cavalry Museum

We left here looking for the Churchill War room but the queue was so long and in the heatwave sun, we decided to flag it and while Fiona headed for the Household Cavalry Museum, I headed towards the Marble Arch and got some images of Buckingham Palace and the arch itself.

Marble Arch

The Household Cavalry has a close association with the Coldstream Guards. Fiona’s dad served in Malaya with the Coldstream Guards under the then CO Sir Ralph (pronounced Rafe) Anstruther who Rafe is named after.

Buckingham Palace down the Mall

Fiona caught up with me at the Charing Cross tube station and we both headed back to the Hotel. It was hot. They were talking 30C! so we were pleased to get back to the air conditioning.

A good day and the bus is definitely the best way to see London.

Little Downham

One of the main reasons we came up to Ely is that my English family were all originally from Little Downham which is about 10k’s out of Ely.

The main street of little Downham

Little Downham is a small farming village basically all centred around one main street.

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The church at the end of the road

At one end is the church which is like what you see on the TV shows and at the other end of the street is a pub called The Plough. Word has it that every generation in my family has had a drink in this Pub. It was shut when we were there so my turn will have to wait for another time.

The Church

One of my cousins Jan and her husband Bryan who are motorhomers too, organised the family to meet at another local pub called the Anchor. For Fiona and I, it was the first time that we’ve met most of them but I had known about many of them.

Outside the Anchor looking down the main street of Little Downham

Jan is a niece of my grandfather Bert and there were 11 brothers and sisters in the Miller family ! .. lots of cousins.

The whole family around the table

My grandfather Bert was a real hard case and was in the battle of the Somme during the first world war. He was a Tankie in one of the old diamond shape tanks in this battle and was one of the few to survive. He was listed as missing in action as they couldn’t find him!

Word has it that when he arrived back in Little Downham the town was deserted. He saw someone he knew and asked where everyone was. “Oh they’re all down at the church at your funeral Bert!”
So off he went down the road. His mother was so pleased to see him that she scraped the dirt of his great coat and put in a tin. This has been handed down through the family and is now in the safe hands of my son Alex with all the other family military memorabilia. The dirt is said to be from the Somme but is could easily be from a puddle anywhere 🙂 Good story anyway!!

Back to the reunion.. we had a great lunch .. it was neat meeting all those from my Grandfathers family. They’re a fun lot and we’re looking forward to doing another trip here to see them again.

Linda, Jan’s younger sister who lives in Ely very kindly gave us a ride back to the Lamb Hotel in Ely where were staying.

I just love these English towns with the history and the amazing buildings.

The man at the Ministers Tavern

We were early to check in to the Lamb Hotel so we went for a wander around Ely...After checking out the Cathedral which is massive, we headed down the main street towards a market.

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Inside the cathedral

The buildings are amazing and the streetscapes just sensational. Everywhere you looked, there was a piccy.

The cathedral at Ely

We ended up in a pub called the Ministers Tavern right opposite from the cathedral and the Lamb Hotel along the road a bit. The barman was wearing a Lions rugby jersey and when I asked for a Chardy, he described it as cheap aussie stuff so I was really pleased to be able to tell him we were Kiwis but I’m sure he knew anyway.

Our friendly barman with the Lions jersey.

He was more interested in telling us that the Lions beat the Maoris with a huge smile on his face.
We talked briefly about the Lions tour and he was a real rugby follower. Nice guy too. He was pleased when I told him that the cheap Aussie Chardy was actually quite nice! It was the only Chardy he had! We checked in at a wine shop around the corner and they seemed to be light on the Chardonnay offerings too.

It was too hot for wandering around much more so we went back to the Hotel for a blob.

Trains past Baker Street

The night we’ve been packing for finally rolled around and we were off to the airport for our almost midnight flight to Singapore from Auckland. We’d dropped the car off with daughter in law, Sarah earlier in the day and caught a shuttle to the airport.

What we didn’t know was that both of our sons, Drew, his girlfriend Jenna and Alex were on the same flight up from Wellington. We could have driven our car to the airport and they could have driven it home.. never mind. The shuttle was booked and paid for and it was too hard to undo.

At Singapore with our A380 about to take us to London

We left Auckland at 11:55 and about 2am, we both finally got some sleep. I find it really hard to sleep on a plane and dozy bouts is as good as it gets. I end up tired and grumpy at the other end and after a decent sleep, I’m right again:-)

Arriving at Changi at 6:30 odd, we had two hours before the next flight left at 9am. .. 13 hours !!

Both flights was pretty good though. I was watching the flight track and it was interesting to see that we flew over India and then up through Tajikistan and across to Moscow, out to the Baltic sea past Vilnius and then down to the English channel to Heathrow. .. well clear of the trouble spots!

The terminal transfer Train

Arriving at Heathrow was a doddle and what a massive airport. 5 Terminals all connected by trains in tunnels and you walk for miles between things.

Just to get our luggage was a hike through several buildings. I was expecting to get our bag and then go through Immigration. Not here.. you get in a queue, yep, they love their queues and once through Immigration, you get your bag. There wasn’t any customs that I could see.. we simply walked out, amazing. The immigration guy was a great guy and was more interested in having a chat about some of the strange photos he’d seen of people coming through than holding up a big queue 🙂 .. nice guy.

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We were both knackered and made our way straight to the airport Hilton (terminal 4) where we were booked for the night and crashed.

At Paddington with the amazing roof

The next morning, we were up early and caught a train to Terminal 3 where we caught an Express train into Paddington station.

People going for it at Paddington

Paddington is amazing with one of the big wired WW2 looking hanger structures over the whole platform area. Just like you see in all the old movies. Great for piccies so I took a few here. It was busy too with people everywhere.

We caught another train from here to Kings Cross and then changed again to catch our prepaid train to Ely. Kings Cross station is very like Paddington with the huge Hanger like look .. amazing.

A visitor from Hawkes Bay checking out the Baker street sign

On the way to Cambridge was the Baker Street stop. My immediate thought was  Sherlock. When we stopped, the double entrance doors perfectly lined up for the Baker Street signs and while I took a piccy a young girl wandered into the shot to photograph it herself.. all this without getting out of my seat ! My lucky day.

After lunch, we rocked into Ely.  A few trains, cabs and stuff but we’re here and its fantastic.

Europe here we come

Rafe is in Taupo safely tucked up and snug in Gary and Diannes Shed and being very spoilt on carpet too!

Our last view from the place on the hill.

They have sold their Rosie and are waiting for their new “Basil” to arrive from Germany. Basil is a 8.8 metre Niesmann and Bischoff, with all the bells and whistles and yes, it will fit in the shed ! .. more on this later when it arrives.

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Fiona with Boxes and Suitcases

We’re packing up for the trip and we’re also moving our of our room in Milford which we’ve been renting from our son Andrew.

We’ve also packed our bags for Europe. We’re heading first to the UK and after 10 days or so, we’ll be picking up “Ralph”, and yes really, it is its real name 🙂  Its a rental Hymer and we’ll be  joining our friends from Taupo, Gary and Dianne on a trip through Europe.

Empty Wardrobe

Gary and Dianne both lived in Prague for a couple of years and have done several motorhome trips through Europe so know it well.

We’re crossing on the Chunnel together and heading through Belgium, German, Poland and up to Estonia and back down again. Through the South of Poland, Czech Republic, France and then back to the UK.

Ralph the left hand drive Hymer

Once we get back from the UK in early August, we’ll pick up Rafe from Taupo, come back to Auckland for some final sorting out of our stuff and then we’re off to the bottom of the South Island until Christmas, effectively fulltiming ! ..yippee.

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Europe here we come 🙂

Tucked Away

Driving along the waterfront in Paihia while I was trying to decide where to stay, I passed Terry and Ruth’s Dethleffs White Magic A Class Motorhome parked on the side of the road. I’ve been meaning to try to catch up with Terry as I’ve been following their progress around the bay with their friends on Facebook. I turned Rafe around and parked a few spaces behind and as it was lunchtime, wandered along the waterfront to look for something to eat.

There was neat place about 50 yards along which was doing $10 roast lamb meals which I thought sounded good and ordered a glass of Chardy to go with it. While I was sitting there, I thought I’d facebook message Terry and see if he was around. I’ve never met Terry or Ruth before so had no idea what they looked like. I simply said I was parked behind them, be nice to catch up and where I was having lunch.

Within two minutes, I had a response back and my neighbours at the next table were looking around for me. How’s that for small world stuff and technology.. I shifted to their table and we swapped various stories for the next hour or so. .. Fun times in the fast lane 🙂 It was nice to catch up and I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.

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After a memorable lunch with Terry and Ruth, I decided on staying at a little tucked away waterfront site called Beachside Holiday Park owned by Dusty and Aroha Miller.

Right on the water

In their office they have a picture on the wall taken in the early 70’s of the park and it looks completely different. Dusty and Aroha have been here for 15 years, progressively working to a plan they had done for the transformation of this fantastic site. They say there is still things to do but the place looks fantastic.

Dusty with the older pic and the plan behind

The Dump station is what you wish for everywhere where you don’t even need to get your grey water hose dirty. Simply back up over the grate and let her rip !

The laundry looks like a Space Station with industrial machines right along one wall. Toilets and showers are all in new condition and kept very clean. Walking around there are non powered sites for tents on little grassed terraces carved out for camping, most with great views of the water.

Beam me up laundry!

There is a boat ramp there and a rack of kayaks which are available for guests.

For the first night I was parked by the water but Rafe was poking out a bit on the roadway so I moved to a bigger site one row back for the second night. I was also parked under a tree so I had TV reception the next night too!  The charge is $20pp which is pretty much normal at this time of the year around Paihia but right on the water parking with all the facilities, its fantastic.

Nice people and nice to see someone investing in the future and doing a great job of it.

The Netspeed Speedtest
Download: 21.03 Mbps
Upload: 4.03 Mbps
Ping: 59 ms

Rafe’s Track to this site

How I got there, you can see where I turned around to catch up with Terry.

Fiona & Chris, two empty nesters put their dreams of doing something different into reality… Living in their Motorhome, come along for the ride.

Our Tour

Touring Europe by Motorhome

MOTORHOMENEWS

A personal take by Christopher Macgowan on tourism, travel and motorhomes.

Our Bumble

Travelling around Europe in a motorhome.

Diverting Journeys

A travelogue of museums, historic homes, and other curious destinations.

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