And now for more Travelling in the 90s — tripping back in time to 1994 and my road trip around the UK. Last installment from my travel journal saw us in Scotland and we’ve now come south again to hang out with family friends on a quaint little farm near Lincoln in northern England…
[Monday 17 January, 1994] This morning I slept in and later went for a walk around the farm. It SNOWED overnight (not heavily but enough). We walked down some country lanes and came to a pig farm. I was fascinated, having never seen a pig farm before — the pigs are huge things. I also saw a large fox, a squirrel, horses, goats, and a rabbit. Add to these the menagerie of animals living or day-boarding at the farm… I guess no farm is the same without animals.
[Wednesday 19 January, 1994] Today H and I decided we had better get off our backsides and do something other than laze about the farm, so we went down to Sherwood Forest — only an hour away. It was amazingly a beautiful day (for England) and we walked through Birklands Forest, and then through Thieves Wood — both remaining clumps of the once-mighty Sherwood Forest.
Birklands consisted mainly of birch trees (surprise), and we were mildly disappointed that it wasn’t a dense forest. Not as we’d imagined. The trees weren’t very tall, were widely spaced with little undergrowth, and gave very little cover. How would Robin Hood’s Merry Men hide???
Nevertheless, it was very pretty, and we saw the Major Oak — according to legend the tree under which Robin Hood met his men. But the tree is only about 500 years old (only!) — not old enough for Robin Hood. We then went into Nottingham to get our mega-touristy Robin Hood fix at the Robin Hood Centre. It was overall an immensely enjoyable day.
[Saturday 22 January, 1994] Thursday saw us in York, the Roman/Viking city with a wall around it. We are still being singularly unsuccessful with getting up early, but were in York by about midday (disgraceful!). We went first to the old York keep, and admired the city from the top.
We then headed for the Jorvik Viking Centre (expensive!), similar in theory to the Robin Hood centre – i.e. we got to ride little carriages through a reconstructed Viking street (smell and sound included) and then through a reconstructed archaeological site. I actually bought a scratch and sniff postcard — Viking market and latrines!
After seeing York minster (yet another cathedral), and wandering along the York wall for a while, we had afternoon tea at a delightful old-fashioned coffee house — Thomas Gent’s is situated on a tiny little cobbled lane called Coffee Yard. In fact much of York is cobbled shopping malls, so the place has lots of atmosphere. It was lovely just to wander about and window shop.
Another cathedral awaited us yesterday in Lincoln — but with a difference. The Lincoln imp sits up at the top of one of the pillars grinning down at people. He’s cute. Lincoln castle was next (if there’s a castle I gotta go see it!).
A big bonus was that one of the four remaining original versions of the Magna Carta was there! It was incredible to see something of such historical significance. The castle itself consisted mainly of walls, with a rather spectacular observatory tower, and a keep shoved off to the side which reminded both of us of “The Secret Garden”. It had a lovely tall tree in the middle.
[Tuesday 25 January, 1994] Sunday was a lovely day, and we drove to the Yorkshire Dales and Ilkley Moor. I’m really glad I’ve seen a moor now! It was hilly and barren, with red bracken covering the ground. We parked the car and stumbled out into the FREEZING wind — amazing how cold it was up there, given the sunny weather.
We drove then to Haworth, the old home of the Brontes — Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Predictably, the parsonage where they lived was closed, but the village is extremely pretty, consisting of a main cobbled street that climbed a hill. We went for a wander, and found afternoon tea at Heather Cottage — hot chocolate fudge cake and cream. Yum!
Yesterday we visited the beach. Specifically, Cleethorpes, a port town near the mouth of the Humber. We ate fish and chips (from Ye Olde Chippie) on the water front (at the edge of the muddy beach). And promenaded along the beach (well, along the asphalt pathway next to the mud). And so now we’ve seen an English beach.
Next we went to Gainsborough Old Hall — an English Heritage Property picked at random off the map. It turned out to be a real highlight. The Hall was mainly medieval, and really well set out — enhanced by an audio tour which lasted for about 50 minutes. In particular, the main hall was wonderful — with high wooden arches and a floor paved in terracotta.
Sadly, our road trip is almost over and it’s back to London next, then Paris! Looking forward to reliving that…
PS — the last couple of photos are even more crappy than ever, owing to the fact my camera broke and H temporarily LOST hers, leaving us at the mercy of a DISPOSABLE camera… remember those? (They are still all iPhone snaps of prints – apologies!)