Sunday, June 01, 2014

Our trip to the UK

We just got back on Wednesday from our three-week trip to the UK. We made the trip because my youngest sister got (re)married and we wanted to be there to see it. I'm very happy that we went because I really wanted to be a part of the day with my sister.  Also, my sister's new husband has a huge family and they were all there for the wedding (they live in the UK so it was easier for them to get there); our family is really small in comparison and not everyone could make it so we, along with my sister's daughter, represented our entire family.

I cried through the whole wedding. I usually cry at weddings - that's just who I am - but this time I was crying in part because our parents weren't there. I really felt the loss of both my parents that day and even now as I write this, tears are coming to my eyes. I guess it isn't surprising that I'd miss my parents so much during a big life event but it took me by surprise.

The wedding was beautiful. My sister and her groom were radiant in their wedding finery and the ceremony was very touching. It was held at the registry office and they had the most beautiful vows! The reception was at a local pub which was fun because it was relaxed and casual. 

It's hard to summarize a three-week trip to another place, especially since we spent time in so many places, but I'll try. We spent our first few days in London near Westminster Bridge and the London Eye. We didn't ride the Eye but I did see Westminster Abbey (it's old and full of the dead), the British Museum (Vikings!!! the actual Rosetta Stone!!!), the V&A museum (beautiful jewellery and clothes and ironwork), the Tower of London (Crown Jewels and old buildings), and parts of central London (full of more tourists than Londoners).

From there we went to Manchester to spend a few days there for the wedding. It reminded me very much of Edmonton for some reason. We didn't do as much touristy stuff there because we spent a lot of time with my sister, her daughter (and I wouldn't have it any other way), and her new husband. I hadn't met my sister's husband before this trip so it was good to spend time with him. He's a very nice guy (with musical talent!) and it's clear that he and my sister love each other very much and are happy together. We spent some time shopping in the central part of the city and around where my sister lives and spending time at her flat. We did see the Manchester Cathedral, which was neat. On one of the days we went to Hope in Peak's Park where we tramped through sheep fields to a couple of caverns (Treak and Speedwell).

Then we were on our way to Scotland: a night in Glasgow and then up to Fort William, where we took the Jacobite train (aka the Harry Potter train) to Mallaig. This was a steam train (they provided the trains used in the Harry Potter movies) and it went over a famous viaduct. At Mallaig we saw seagulls nesting! 

After the steam train we headed down to Edinburgh. I took a day off there, which I shouldn't have done, because it meant that we couldn't go back to Glasgow. We did see Edinburgh castle (very old, lovely crown jewels - called Honours, and lots of people), the outside of the Scott Monument (I didn't want to climb the 286 steps to the top), and we hiked up Arthur's seat

We spent some time in nearby North Berwick at the Scottish Seabird Centre. That was an amazing place! They have cameras set up on the nearby nesting islands so that visitors can look around and see the birds. We also took a boat out near the islands to see the birds up-close. It smelled really bad but it was so amazing to see these nesting birds (mostly gannets but also a variety of gulls as well as puffins!!!!) cover these islands. On our last day there we went over to Falkirk to see the Falkirk Wheel, which is a super-cool replacement for a series of canal locks.

We spent our last night back in London and did absolutely nothing of note because we were tired and it was raining. And then we came home.

A word about our flights: they were both delayed. On the way out, we were delayed about an hour because one of the doors wasn't showing that it was closed. Just after we took off there was a medical emergency on board and we diverted to Halifax so that the person could get proper medical treatment. We ended up landing about an hour and a half late which worked out well because we got into our hotel room right away.

On the way home, the flight was also late. At some point the plane type was changed from a 63-row 777 to a 40-something-row 777 but no one knew that until they got to the gate... and the intercom system wasn't working. So the passengers would get in line to board but about 20% of them discovered that their seat assignments weren't valid, so they had to go and stand in another line to get reassigned and then they had to stand in line to board again. It was a major mess that could have been avoided. We flew Air Canada both ways and I can't help but think that they'd have been able to handle this situation so much better.

We traveled throughout the UK on the train, which gave us a chance to see much of the countryside. It was beautiful. I had no idea that rhododendrons grow wild in the UK, but they do, and they were blooming while we were there. Bluebells were also blooming, as were gorse (related to broom plants), and ferns were unfurling. It was really beautiful countryside. 

This trip, like the one we took to Atlantic Canada, could only be like a tasting menu; we had to pick and choose what we saw. We couldn't possibly have seen everything because there's thousands of years of history there and it would take years to see it all. I guess we did see a lot but I wanted to see more. In my head I could do more but it turns out that I can't do that much. It seems that I have a fairly strict two-hour limit on activities that involve being on my feet and that I need at least two (and preferably four) hours of recovery time after that. This meant that I just couldn't do as much as I wanted to; fortunately, Ian did end up seeing a few things without me so he wasn't completely held back by me. 

We had a wonderful time on our trip but we were very happy to come home. I missed Gozer very much (she was with Ian's parents while we were gone and was happy there after an initial settling-in period) and I get tired of being away from home. I'm thrilled we could go and spend the time there and that we were able see my sister get married. I'm very happy for her and my new brother-in-law.


manchester fat acceptance said...

so happy that you came! it was so cool to have you inserted into my environment, y'know? and it felt special that you were able to attend the wedding and so on.

i passed on your kind words to Chris as well. he blushed :)

hopefully this taster will inspire you to return to see more of the countryside in future visits heh.


Robin said...

sounds awesome!