National Rail museum, York

Tuesday 9th March 2019

I had from about 10:00 am until 3:00pm to spend at the gorgeous National Rail Museum in York. It took me about 20 minutes to walk there from where the coach parked, so, camera in hand, off I went.

The last time I visited the museum was in 1982 so I was expecting one or two changes! It was much bigger than I remembered with a huge amount of locomotives, carriages and memorabilia to see.

It’s free to enter but well worth popping a note or two in their collection boxes!

The first thing I saw were the royal carriages

I wanted to see the Eurostar, Bullet train, Mallard and the Flying Scotsman in particular and I soon realised I would have to prioritise things to be sure of seeing everything.

How lucky was I? The Flying Scotsman was having a service. Fortunately there is a viewing platform so you can see pretty much everything

By this time, I was thinking Coffee and a snack and so I sat down in the open cafe and tucked into a home made sausage roll and a nice coffee.

There was so much more to see and so I will put some more pictures below….

If you ever get the chance to visit this lovely place, you should! Highly recommended!



Harrogate, Leeds & Knaresborough March 2019

Monday 4/3/19

Left home at 6:00am, just a short walk to meet the coach which arrived at 6:20am

We picked up more passengers at Newton Abbot, Exeter, Taunton and Bristol.

We had a coffee and comfort break at Gordano Services and left there at 10:00am

We arrived at the interchange at Corley services at 11:45 where we met our tour coach and driver. Time for a spot of lunch before we left at 2:00pm

Some of the coaches at Corley

A comfort stop at the fairly new Tibshelf  Services and we got to Harrogate at 5:30pm

Now, I knew the hotel had recently had a facelift, but I was unprepared for how gorgeous the place was. Very modern, young staff and just plain gorgeous.

Shearings, the coach company are brilliant, once your case has been loaded on to the coach at the start of your journey, you don’t see it again until it is delivered to your room! So I had a single – ample room and spotlessly clean!

Time to freshen up and get changed and then down for dinner

And what a dinner!

An early night tonight as I was tired from sitting on a coach all day! Seems ridiculous but it was true.

The following day we were off to York for the day so I needed a decent breakfast. A beautifully cooked English breakfast followed but if I had wanted a lighter breakfast the choices were brilliant

The continental table

Then off to York where I wanted to visit the National Railway Museum as it was 35 years ago when I last went!

On the way back to the coach I stopped at my favourite little bar for a gin and tonic

Dinner was delicious again – I’ll spare you the pictures!

There was a trip on the coach again today but I didn’t go. Instead I caught the train to Leeds – only £6.75 with my railcard.

Leeds is BIG!

Apparently it has the largest indoor market in Europe! Well it is pretty big

Enjoyed a really nice coffee here –


I got back to the hotel and went down for dinner. Now something had been bothering me. There were some people on the coach who I was sure I had met before, but I didn’t like to say anything in case I was wrong! Well they just happened to sit on the next table at dinner, and as I turned to ask, the lady turned to me at the same time and sure enough  we knew each other – such a small world! They used to live in the same town as me, but moved 4 years ago. Dinner was exquisite again and then into the bar for a spot of catching up.

Thursday 7/3/19

Had a wander around Harrogate this morning.

Back on the coach for a quick trip to Knaresborough in the afternoon.

So back to the hotel for our last dinner!

Friday 8/3/19

Such a lovely week – met some new friends and caught up with some old ones!

The hotel was terrific and If I get the chance I will go back. The staff were fantastic – nothing was too much trouble and always smiling. You got the impression that it’s a great place to work as well as to visit.

With the extras, all of this came to less than £50 per night – utterly amazing!

Got home at around 8:00pm.

A Trip to…Paignton Zoo, Newquay Zoo & Living Coasts

I decided to buy an annual membership for Paignton Zoo. This allows me to pay them a visit any time I want to for a year.

Not a bad plan as Paignton Zoo is my favourite Zoo of all. The bonus is that it means I also get unlimited visits to Newquay Zoo in Cornwall and Living Coasts in Torquay. I’m also allowed one visit to Chester Zoo as well! What a bargain – less than £50 for all that.

So armed with a new camera, I decided that I would try and combine a trip to both Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo. (It didn’t quite work as there is so much to see at Paignton that I had to go to Newquay the next day.)

Now as Living Coasts and Newquay Zoo are smaller it was possible to combine both so the camera got a good workout.

Living Coasts is a coastal zoo and aquarium in Torquay and has Sea Lions, Otters, lots of seabirds and an aquarium.

Newquay Zoo has a pride of lions who you can get really close to.


It’s just as well there was some armoured glass, she didn’t like the camera very much!


Newquay Zoo is much more compact than Paignton but nonetheless a lovely afternoon out.


So, here we are, a couple or three months away from the ‘Brexit’  (I so hate that word!) deadline.

What do we know for sure?

  • We were lied to on a grand scale


  • The far right of the Conservative party are desperate for us to leave without a deal ( what the newspapers are calling a ‘hard brexit’).


  • The Labour leadership have been less than dynamic over the whole thing.
  • The UK is split more than ever
  • Theresa May has proved to be a ‘uniter’ – Pretty much everyone is united in their dislike of her!


  • Only 70% of the electorate voted in the referendum
  • Of the 43,000,000 entitled to vote, just 17,410,742 voted to leave (40%)
  • 25,589,258 people did not vote to leave the EU.
  • The consistency for a ‘peoples vote’ – or in other words, a second referendum has been with the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats.


Given the importance of this issue to the UK in general, would it be right to have another vote?

A trip to… Camden Market

When I visited London Zoo a while back, the waterbus went to Camden Market and also Little Venice. I caught the Little Venice one but decided that when I had more time, I would come back and visit Camden Market.

So, yet another great deal on GWR from South Devon to Paddington (£30 return, what’s not to like!) and a good deal on a Premier Inn at Euston I set off.

When I got to Paddington, I caught the tube to Euston and then on to Camden Town. When I got to Camden Town, I noticed a sign that said that I couldn’t catch a return tube to Euston on a Sunday due to the volume of people wanting to leave Camden Market. There was a clue if ever I saw one! When you come out of Camden Town Station, you need to head for Camden Lock which meant a right turn from the station. A short stroll later and the market came into view.


As it was a very hot day and also a Sunday, there were huge crowds at the market (which is massive). I wasn’t too worried as I knew I would be back the following day. I spent ages watching an impromptu magic show from a stall holder who was selling the tricks and made a mental note to return the following day – I had already agreed to do a magic show for my grandchildren at Christmas and I needed some new tricks!

I spent the rest of the afternoon at the market and then wandered up to Chalk Farm station past the famous Roundhouse which has seen performances from pretty much all the major bands of the 70’s, the train back to Euston was quick and I walked over to the hotel just a couple of minutes from the station. Now I have to say, I do like Premier Inns, the staff are always friendly and helpful, the rooms are, in my experience always clean and the food is usually ok.

This time was no different and I had booked a ‘meal deal’ which  gave me a two course evening meal, a drink and breakfast all for less than £25, which for central London is a bargain.

After a huge breakfast (well it is help yourself!), I staggered walked to Euston station and caught the tube back to Camden Town.

As my train didn’t leave until after 7:00pm I was able to spend all day at the market. I had a good look at the various food offerings – Mexican, American, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Hungarian, Italian and loads more, the clothing and the jewellery and then went back to the magic stall for my own private magic show. I did buy quite a few tricks for my Christmas magic show and I had a few months to learn how to do them. I had a truly magical time at the market and then headed for something to eat (well you have to keep your strength up don’t you!). I chose to sit in a Mexican eatery and I’m glad I did, the food was spectacular!

Time for another stroll around the market and then I made my way to the waterbus and back to Little Venice. Time for a light meal at Paddington station along with a glass or two of vino and then on to the train and back home just before midnight. Would I go to Camden Market again? You bet!


A trip to…Weston-Super-Mare

I got another good deal on the train to I looked around online for a hotel. After about an hour without success, I was beginning to wonder if I would find one. Eventually I got the last available room at the Royal hotel – ok but expensive!

How come it was so busy? I know it was peak season but there are usually more vacancies than that!

I found out why when I arrived at W.S.M. – The annual air show coincided with my trip. Now I’m not usually a lover of things that get hordes of people in a smallish space at once and I had avoided the air show in Torbay by going to Bournemouth (more about that in the future).

It was very hot but I thought I would watch bits of it from the pier.

Of course, 1000’s of others had the same idea and it was packed. These shots were taken earlier in the morning before the crowds arrived! I can’t tell you how welcome this pint of cider was later on…


Given the state this country is in and the problem town centres are having all over the country, Weston is clean, not a huge amount of empty shops and there didn’t seem to be too many beggars on the streets.

Every place I went into, I was welcomed with a smile and given how busy they all were it did make me feel good.

I managed to choose the hotel (I didn’t get much choice!) that the Red Arrows support guys were staying in so there was quite a lot going on.


Day 2 was very similar to day one – but even busier. By lunchtime, it was heaving and so I headed for the back streets and lo and behold a restaurant that was quiet. I did worry that there was a reason for this, but no, friendly staff and a nice roast dinner – made my day! Eventually I headed back to the sea front just in time to catch the Red Arrows. Then, back to the station for my train home!


A trip to…London Zoo & British Museum

So another away day!

I promised myself that I would come and visit the British Museum in London and I thought that I should be able to combine this with a trip to London Zoo. Now I love Zoos and I particularly love the work they do to breed endangered species. The last time I visited London Zoo though was over 30 years ago so I was looking forward to seeing the changes.

So I managed to find a great return deal on GWR (£30 Paignton – Paddington return – can you believe it??) and a good deal on a Travelodge in Kings Cross and off I went.

I decided to walk to the museum from the station as it was a beautiful day – I think you get to see more when you walk!

It was uncomfortably hot in the museum and filled with foreign students and so I cut my visit short and walked on to Kings Cross to the hotel.

Despite some of the reviews, I was pleasantly surprised and had a coffee after checking in.

I had decided to eat out as there was so much choice and walked across the road to this place.

The following day I had breakfast in a local McDonalds and caught a train to Camden Town and wandered up to the Zoo.

Later in the afternoon, I was thinking about catching a train back to Paddington when I came across a sign for the London Waterbus. You can catch it from the zoo and it goes either on to Camden Lock or back to Little Venice. The one I caught went back to Little Venice (which is very close to Paddington!) idyllic!

A gentle stroll back to Paddington for a bite to eat and watch the commuters rushing around to catch their trains and I wandered in to the station in time to catch my return train back to Devon – Lovely!