Royal Rendezvous part 2 (at last)
Part 2 of the holiday started with the QM2 tying up in Southampton and bidding farewell to our travelling friends Bob and Joan were heading for London and were catching a National Express coach. They were to be in the first group to leave the ship and already had their luggage to disembark. Dave and Anita were actually going to be staying with family in Southampton and Judy and I were to be picking up a hire car that we had organised with an Australian broker before we left. The embarkation was very orderly with designated areas to go to until being called for. We were off well ahead of the anticipated time and a short taxi ride took us to the Alamo car hire office which was quite busy. A silver Peugeot 308 diesel was bought around, we accepted their fuel deal whereby you pay up front for a discounted tank of fuel and can bring the car back on empty a not have to pay the much higher bowser price.
We had a 20 mile journey to my dad’s house where I grew up in the village of Liss in Hampshire. I managed to turn it into closer to 40 miles with a few wrong turns here and there. It was great to be staying with dad and in the house that I grew up in although a little strange now that mum had passed away some five years previously.
We stayed with dad for a week, although now 84 dad still loves to travel and was in Australia last Christmas and will be there again this year when his eldest grand daughter is getting married. We then travelled on to Cornwall to stay with a sister but went a more leisurely route via the New Forrest, which is an area of southern England which includes the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture landand heathland forest in the heavily-populated south-east of England. It covers south-west Hampshire extends into south-east Wiltshire and towards east Dorset.
We travelled to Devon and stayed overnight with an Aunt and Uncle in a quaint English thatched cottage in the Village of Whimple that dates back to before Australia was even settled. My Aunt and Uncle are also regular visitors to Australia as they have a daughter and 2 grand children and 2 great grandchildren living there.
We departed at midday and arrived at my sisters house in the countryside not far from the village of St Agnes, It was wonderful to catch up and it was my wife’s first visit to my sisters home where she keeps chickens, goats, pigs a llama, geese a pony and three very friendly dogs and a cat. Judy is an animal person anyway so took to them straight away. We stayed for 2 wonderful weeks in the summer house and although the weather was a little unkind it never stopped us from doing anything from visits to the museum to collecting and cooking up mussels from the beach at low tide.
Chris my brother in law took a week off from work and took us to may interesting places and Cornwall has a fascinating history and normally a great climate.
There had been wild weather all over the UK but fortunately not at places when we were there. We had ferry ride from the city of Truro down the tidal river to the port of Falmouth on the south coast.
Whilst in Cornwall I did get to make some bread and do some baking and my sister also took me along to meet Baker Tom at his new bakery, unfortunately Tom was busy with a couple of people that were on a bread course but did come and say hello
All to soon it was time to move on and we headed off, we went along the North coast of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Gloucestshire stopping at lots beautiful post card towns in secluded bays.
We crossed the suspension bridge into Wales the weather perfect we drove on enjoying the scenery but noting that the rivers were high and muddy a testament to the recent heavy weather. We decided it was time to stop at a B+B for the night but we were out of luck as many were full, we called in at a Premier Inn but told that they too were full apparently a big motorcycle event was on nearby and most places were likely to be full as they were ringing around to find vacancies. Nothing for it but to sleep in the car, we found a nice spot just off the main road with some houses and a park close by, the car was quite comfortable with layback seats and we were able to watch the slow transition to twilight, a phenomenon that doesn’t really occur in Australia.
We woke around 3.00am both feeling a bit cold, my wife asked to have the heater on, to which I replied that we might as well get going as it required the motor to be started.
We arrived in Crewe at 5.00am about the same time as daylight was making an appearance along with the partygoers from a nightclub, many young women scantily dressed for the cool air oblivious to the cool and motor vehicles.
We saw 24 Hr Tesco store and thought we would be able to get a hot coffee only to find 24 hr does not include Sat/Sunday Anyway it was a good spot to have some further shuteye.
Several hours later we were off again headed for Leek were my sister in Australia has just purchased a property so we were going to have a look see anyway we found a pub open that was opened for a full breakfast for under 4 pounds.
Now completely refuelled we pressed on to find Leek a most interesting locale especially with the canal passing through the majestic hilly countryside, which we traversed heading for Huddersfield.
We stayed at Huddersfield for a couple of weeks catching up with Judy’s family who I get along with really well and had a marvellous time catching up, even a cousin that normally lives in Spain was there.
We headed further North and stopped at Durham only to find a great deal of activity with police and security everywhere, nice of them to have made such a fuss for us, but apparently it was for her majesty the QUEEN now that’s what I call a royal rendezvous. We saw LIZZY go by and before long were heading of to meet baking Royalty just north of Newcastle we found our way into the little village of Powburn
And very quickly found the bed and breakfast that we had booked into a couple of cottages down from Andy (ananda) Smith, I soon spotted the wood fired oven around the back and met Andy in the flesh, we have been TFL members for a similar length of time and have corresponded a bit as we both had been employed at technical colleges although Andy as a teacher and myself as a purchasing officer but getting involved in the bread making side of things with the hospitality staff and student chefs. We had a lovely cuppa and Andy showed me his set up with mixer and flours.
Judy of course made friends with Andy’s cat ,We decided we would all go out for a meal and some Real Ale, Alison was away unfortunately so it was just the 3 of us at a delightful English pub well off the beaten track where we had a good feed and some fine Beer.
We didn’t make it a late night as Andy was going to be doing a stint in a community bakery the following day. So after farewelling Andy we had a great nights sleep at the B+B, the next morning after talking with the owner we decided to stay an extra night and explore the area we even got to Holy Island that Andy featured in one of his write ups, the whole area is really quite beautiful.
The next morning we were shown the birds of prey that the B+B proprietor keeps, I keep parrots and finches back home which are very pretty and colourful but the hawks and owls were quite majestic, and quite big and impressive up close.
Next stop was Scotland and we drove through the low country rather than along the motorways and with the aid of the sat nav I bought in Huddersfield had the confidence to tackle some very lonely narrow roads through some stunning scenery.
We stayed with some friends that I went to school with many years ago when we were all from Hampshire. I came to Australia and they moved to Scotland when Peter graduated from Uni. We had an absolute ball and had so much fun doing so many different things, its pretty much the same when they come to Australia and stay with us too. All to soon it was time to board the flight back to Australia we had arranged to leave from Glasgow airport to avoid London as the Olympics were just kicking off. We were able to drop off the hire car a couple of days earlier so that was one less thing to worry about. The flight was aboard a Emirates A340 to Dubai we left early evening and arrived in Dubai early morning. A stopover was planed to break up the 19 hours flying time and we stayed at the Premier hotel close to the airport, they run a free shuttle bus every 30 minutes. Check in time wasn’t until 2.00pm but we were able to drop off our bags and get the free shuttle that took us into town and shopping centres. As a railway enthusiast I was keen to go on the driverless train and bought all day tickets and travelled the length of the train line. It was very very hot but everything is air-conditioned. It was Ramadan so many food outlets were closed at least until evening. We went back to the hotel checked into a comfortable room and I went up to the roof pool for a swim, the water must be cooled too as it was very pleasant. Later we headed out again on the free bus to the biggest shopping centre with the ski slope and the huge aquarium, we missed the dancing fountain and before long were looking to head back to the hotel. The locals were all very friendly and we caught a packed bus to the railway station. The front of the bus was reserved for ladies only I was told, and at the airport there were ladies only Taxis driven by ladies for ladies easily recognised with there pink roofs. I think that would be a winner back home here in Australia especially at night. The hotel free shuttle bus took us from the airport stop back to the hotel and we collapsed into bed well after midnight.
Next morning we had decided to take a swim in the pool, we were surprised how hot it was beside the pool so didn’t stay for long as the intention was to have breakfast at the hotel. When we said two for breakfast we were told that breakfast finished at 10.00am but the good news was we were in time for lunch it was just after 12.00.
We then relaxed as our fight was to leave Dubai in the early hours and it is an 11 hour flight . There was only one more important thing left to do and that was to meet Khalid (mebake) he was coming after work and after breaking his fast for Ramadan after sunset. Any way Khalid arrived and we sat in the cool lobby and talked bread and about Dubai and Khalid had some home milled flour for me that I was unable to accept as Australian customs are super strict on food stuffs being bought into the country, I would have dearly liked to have tried it as it looked felt and smelled great. Khalid also had some of his breads for me to take but again I could only take what I knew we would eat on the plane or those Beagles would get me at Perth airport. The bread was every bit as good as Khalid’s pictures and thankyou my friend for you generosity, It was a great pleasure meeting both Andy and Khalid on this trip and although we didn’t get the time to bake together perhaps we will another time ! So we made it home much to the delight of the grandchildren and I managed to do Royal Rendezvous part1 quite quickly its taken some time to get part 2 finished, I guess I was prompted with the Queen Mary 2 arriving in Fremantle this afternoon on her world cruise, almost makes me want to do it all again.
Kind regards YOZZA