[This is second in a series of travel posts from the Summer of 2017 (2/4)]
So you thought I was going to spare you some more travel posts huh? uhhh–NOPES
Travelling all the way to London and not venturing outside of it would have been a shame, so we took a week-long road trip to Scotland and back. This was our route: London-Bristol-Lancaster-Edinburgh-Newcastle-London. Lancaster and Newcastle were just there to break down the journey as travelling with a two year old strapped in a car seat for long distances…eeez NOT recommended.
We rented Avis from London City airport, and well, it took three whole hours. It was an AWFUL experience; really, really awful customer service, which came as a very rude shock considering we had rented Avis in three other countries before and had never been disappointed.
For navigation we used Waze this time. It’s much better than Google Maps, do give it a try.
On the way to Bristol, we made a pitstop at Reading for refueling (ourselves and the car). Reached Malago Bed & Breakfast in the evening. This motel is small but very clean. The buffet breakfast was very good but the staff, two stern looking ladies, made it feel like an army mess hall. The toddler is loud, as all toddlers are, and we got a bunch of icy looks from them. BUT! The place offers free parking, so can’t complain.
Anyway, after check in we left for a round of the city. Bristol, during the first round of the city seemed like a quiet town, slumbering peacefully and content in its own skin. And for the large part it is. In some ways it is a typical English city, but you can tell it is quietly embracing innovation, crawling out of its inherently British nature to keep apace. Bristol is also very modest about its beauty. It doesn’t loudly blow its trumpet; you will be driving around and find a breathtaking view suddenly- a gently sloping street lined with uniform homes (identical structure) asserting their individuality through their uniquely colored facades. This:
We made a trip to the University of the West of England, where the hubbards spent a year for his Bar Vocational Course. Beautiful campus and very nice housing; suddenly all the Bristol tales I had heard over the years came to life. We shopped from the closest Sainsbury’s and he bought pasta and pasta sauce for nostalgic reasons – his ‘go-to’ comfort food for all times. Near the UWE is a faaantastic pub called The Fox Den, ohh the food here is FABULOUS.
Must visit if you are in the city, I cannot recommend it enough. Here is the platter we shared:
Another very touristy place to see is the Clifton Suspension Bridge. But strangely for the middle of summer there was hardly any tourists besides us. It was eerily breathtaking. Maybe it’s because many a suicide has occurred down the cliffs the Bridge itself connects. The cliffs are a very sharp and deep drop down, with a gushing river below. We spotted many a rock climbers attempting the unthinkable. We crossed the bridge and pushed our stroller up the hill on the other side to get an even better view from an elevated position. Sat there imbibing the calming aura of the place and wolfed down many a strawberry.
Back to civilization and we headed to a relatively new mall called Cabot Circus. There is lots of stuff for the kiddos so parents of kids, rejoice!
Left for Lancaster after two nights in Bristol. Allow me to tell you a bit about the English countryside.. it IS actually exactly how you imagine it- rolling green hills, well-fed cows grazing far and wide, clean air that you forces you to inhale deeeep. For a thoroughbred Karachiite, it is quite amazing to realize that the world of Downton Abbey and Austen and Georgette Heyer really does exist and to this very day. In Lancaster we stayed at the Thurnham Hall Country Club, which is an estate! So very English. This made our experience so much the richer. The place is AMAZING. Greeeeeeen lawns till the eye can see. My eyes hurt it was such a verdant green. Cannot recommend it enough. [And pssst… sidenote: the British have no freaking idea about bed dimensions. They give you a Queen sized one when you ask for a King. And for a single bed, well they literally give you a 4-inch plank of wood and you have to sleep like a trapeze artist all night, balancing your offspring somewhere on top of you.] But this place, the King sized bed was for REAL, this was perhaps the most comfortable night in the whole trip.
We hardly stepped out of this Thurnham Hall except for lunch the first day. We tried the nearest pub called The Borough. OH.Emm.GEE. The Sticky Toffee Pudding here is heavenly. Our tastebuds went for such a ride. This pic does not do justice, but here goes:
Sadly, I cannot comment on the town itself as we were too emotionally attached with our accommodation and wanted to soak in every teeny second of our stay. It’s quite the experience to live in the thick of history but chockfull of all amenities. Our cottage was full-on luxury. We were torn between spending time outdoors versus in.
Lake District lies between Lancaster and Edinburgh (our next destination) and so we make a lunch-stop at Lake Windermere. This too, was such a scintillating place. Shimmering blue lakes nestled amidst green hills, dotted with B&Bs, restaurants, cafes, service stations. All relavant water sports were underway – the English do know how to have fun. Who exactly came up with the ‘stiff upper lip’ theory?!
Our tot had a fabulous time here running around, playing with someone’s beautiful dog. A quick bite of fresh fish n chips and we headed to Edinburgh. More on that in the next post!