Eden Project, Cornwall 2018

So, another away day, this time to Cornwall. Both hotel and first class rail fare (both ways!) for less than £50 – bargain!

Went on one of the new trains, first class isn’t as comfortable as the old ones, but for the price and the complimentary coffee and cake? #stillgreatvalue

 

I stayed at the Travelodge where I stayed the last time which is ok and the staff are really nice.

I got given a disabled room for some reason so it was close to the bar (but not too close!) with a wet room, nice!

Cheap drinks between 4 & 6 too.

 

I took advantage of the cheap drinks and the food promotion and enjoyed a long sleep before heading up to Eden the next day.

Now it has to be said – The Eden Project is simply amazing – if you like finding out what grows where in the world, and the autumn colours……. There are three main areas – the outdoor gardens, the Mediterranean biome and the rainforest biome. Rather than go on too long, I’ve let the pictures do the talking!

 

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I took hundreds of photos and I will change the images in the slideshow from time to time so check back to see if there are new ones!

First class train home and an early night!

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Scarborough, York & Whitby 2018

This trip was a bit different! I went on a coach holiday and I REALLY enjoyed it!

Part of the fun for me is the planning. What is there to see and do, what to take with me etc. and as I was going in May and the weather forecast was good for the week, I didn’t need lots of clothing. By the time I left, I had loads of leaflets and catalogues from the Scarborough and York tourist offices, and so I was ready to go!

I met the coach at the coach park about 5 minutes from where I live at 6:15 AM!!!

By the time we had collected others from Newton Abbot, Exeter, Taunton and Bridgewater, it was a little after 9:00. We headed up to Gloucester Services for a comfort break and a coffee. The services were really nice with a farm shop as well.

The next stop was Corley Services, which is the regional hub for the coach company. There were probably 10 or 12 coaches there when we arrived. There was enough time to have a leisurely lunch and everyone was called for the coach. The driver was brilliant (just as well as we had him until we got back to Corley on Friday afternoon!). The next comfort break was at Doncaster Services. We arrived at the hotel at around 5:00pm and checked in. Someone brought the cases to the rooms and I went for a walk to stretch my legs before dinner.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of decent food considering the price I paid ( around £60 per night with full English breakfast and a 3 course meal each night and all transport), however, I was very pleasantly surprised. Plenty of choices and well cooked!

The following day we had a day in York – if you haven’t been, trust me, you should go! Lovely city with loads to see and several museums. I wanted to get to the Jorvik museum, the Castle museum and the Railway museum, but in the end, I settled on the Castle and Jorvik.

I didn’t bother with York Minster as I’m not interested in religion and I stayed next door to it 35 years ago when I last came! Apparently though it’s very nice if it’s your thing.

A really lovely trip and one that I’ll repeat as I’ve got to see the railway museum!

A trip to Whitby came the next day

A quick check to remind myself of what Whitby is famous for – Bram Stoker, fish, annual folk festival and Whitby Jet are the main things.

It’s a typical seaside tourist town and as I live in one of those, it didn’t do a lot for me. I did have a fish and chip lunch though – delicious!

fish and chips

The following day we were free to spend in Scarborough and as I had spent a lot of time sitting on a coach, I decided a good long walk was in order. I spent the day walking and taking the odd photo. I was ready for dinner by the time I got back to the hotel.

Early breakfast and travelling home the next day – so day 1 in reverse! I got home at about 6:30pm and decided there and then that I would come to Yorkshire again.

London Museums

So in Early November 2015, I started having my ‘away days’ as I like to call them, and this was the first.

Planning them at least 3 months ahead to get the best rail fares and hotel deals. This one was slightly different – I set myself a maximum budget of £125.00 which had to include the rail fares AND the hotel!

I went on a Tuesday and came back on the Wednesday. A reasonably early start and I was at the Natural History Museum by about 2:00pm and I spent the afternoon there.

I stayed at a supposed 3* hotel in Earls Court, I would mention the name but I’ve forgotten it. Boy was it bad. The only thing that was any good at all was the shower so at least I didn’t smell!

It was about 30mins to the Museums from the hotel and following breakfast (not in the hotel!) I walked up to the Science Museum. Fascinating place, you can even experience (safely!) an earthquake. I then crossed the road to the V&A Museum and spent a really interesting few hours in there before heading back to the NHM for the rest of the afternoon.

I headed back to the station before it got too busy and had a wander around Paddington and a meal before catching my train home. A very busy couple of days but really enjoyable – I promised myself I would come back one day and visit the British Museum!

Swindon June 2017

After my success with Birmingham, I thought I would try something similar, that’s how I ended up going to Swindon.

It involved a 5:00am start as the train left at 6:15am! The bonus was that I got to Swindon by 9:30am

One of the main reasons for going to Swindon was the amazing railway museum. In it’s heyday, Swindon produced around 3 steam trains each week and the size of the original factory  was mind blowing.

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The original GWR factory

These days a lot of the old factory is a large shopping centre, which is next to the HQ of the National Trust. The railway museum is brilliant and covers all the old workshops, machine shop, foundry and loads more. If ever you find yourself in Swindon with a couple of hours to spare I would highly recommend it.

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National Trust HQ

I only stayed in Swindon for one night and I stayed at the Travelodge. Much more basic than the Premier Inn, but in this instance marginally cheaper too.

I ate in the hotel as the town centre looked a bit dodgy and the food was ok. Not up to the standard of the Premier Inn but quite acceptable nonetheless.

 

The following day, I had breakfast in a café and then wandered out to the big shopping centre out of town. Lots of big factory shops selling expensive branded stuff basically, and after lunch, I wandered back to the station to find that the train I was booked on had been cancelled. A quick rearrange and I got on a train to Bristol and changed at Temple Meads for a train home. Another nice weekend!

 

Birmingham June 2017

I do love the centre of Birmingham! Great food, great shopping and great views in a smallish area.

So I was playing around on t’internet and I thought I would see if I could get a decent deal on a train trip, and I found that if you booked three months ahead and weren’t too fussy about timings then yes you could! So I priced up a return to Birmingham New Street (about 30 quid return!!!) and set about finding a hotel. Now I have to admit, my favourite hotels are Premier Inn – the rooms are always comfortable and there is none of the pretentiousness of the fancy hotel chains. You can usually get a half decent meal too.

So I ended up staying at a Premier Inn in Waterloo Street Birmingham (about 20 minutes stroll from New Street station) for two nights.

Other than the Bullring there are a number of shopping centres in the centre of Birmingham, some are really nice, others, not so, but with a couple of hours before the shops shut, I had a wander around some of the lesser known ones – The Square, Martineau Place and the Piccadilly Arcade. I didn’t go to Birmingham to shop, but I like the buildings and the atmosphere. I did seem to spend most of my time in shopping areas though. The next day I went to the museum and Chinatown. I was disappointed with the museum (I prefer the RAMM at Exeter if I’m honest), I think I expected it to be like the big museums in London, but sadly it wasn’t.

Lunch in Chinatown was amazing. I noticed a number of Chinese going into one place so I thought I would join them. I had roast duck, roast pork and roast chicken with vegetables on a bed of fried rice, all for £7.00. I can honestly say, it was one of the biggest meals I’ve ever eaten! I had to go back to the hotel and sleep it off!

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That meant I didn’t want to eat anything in the evening, so I walked to the nearest Wetherspoons –  The Briar Rose (about 50yds away) for a couple of pints of Guinness and very nice it was too! Wetherspoons are great for people watching.

I had 1 day left (my train was leaving at 6:45pm), so I chose to go to the Bullring and the markets.

I had lunch at Izza Pizza in Selfridges, it was probably the best pizza I’ve ever eaten and I watched it being made – gorgeous! I went to explore the markets after lunch, there are three markets open to the public, the rag market, the bullring open market and St Martins market. I saw things I’ve never seen before – the rag market is brilliant, mainly clothing but loads of material. As I wandered back into the Bullring, I went in a different direction and found myself in yet another shopping centre, this one built above New Street Station! It had a massive John Lewis store and loads of others. Thankfully there was somewhere to relax and enjoy a glass or two of wine before I went downstairs to catch my train. In all, a really lovely couple of days.