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Archive for June, 2011

30th June
2011
written by Hazel

I haven’t been looking forward to writing this post.  To be honest, we hit a pretty low point in our trip and it threw both of us for pretty ugly loops.  I don’t want to dwell on it, but I think there are some traveling lessons to be learned, and we’ve had to adjust recently.  We got very accustomed to being able to plan a day or two ahead of time and just show up places and have things work out.  This is not the way that Europe works.  Especially in the summer.  Especially if you’re trying to save money.

We discovered this in a dramatic fashion.  The night before we left London I booked us a bus from London to Paris (which is really kind of cool – they put the bus on a train and take the train through the chunnel!) and then started trying to look for a place to stay.  It was late and we may have had a drink or two with our friends and we just wanted to go to sleep since we had to get up early for our bus.  But we couldn’t find a single hotel or hostel online in Paris for the next night for less than 200 Euros.  Total panic ensued.  And we still didn’t have a place to stay when we left the next morning.  We also didn’t have our bus ticket printed, but that was easily solved with an internet cafe across the street from London Victoria Coach Station.

By the time we got to Paris in the evening we were worried, tired, stressed out and figured we had two choices.  We could jump right into our Eurail pass and take a train to somewhere smaller where we thought we could get cheaper accommodation, or we could wander the streets of Paris fairly randomly until we found a place to stay.  We flipped through the train timetable (which we have since become very well acquainted with) and picked Strasbourg since we wanted very much to go there and there was a train leaving soon and it was only a two hour trip by TGV.

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29th June
2011
written by Hazel

I just have to start this post by saying that I completely neglected my camera for this part of the trip. I think it was because we were staying with friends and family and were so busy enjoying their company that I didn’t even think to get it out! So this post will be light on the photos. I’ll try to make the writing extra descriptive, but I’m not sure that will make up for it!

We had an easy bus trip from Durham to Oxford and even though it was raining when we arrived we had no trouble finding another bus to my aunt’s house. She has always been very encouraging to me and on several occasions has had chats with me that have very much helped me figure things out or see things more clearly, so I was really, really happy to see her.

She took us to a high table dinner at Brasenose College (Oxford University) and we had a wonderful time! Before she mentioned it to us, I did not even know what this event was, or even that it existed, so I’ll try to explain and people can chime in on the comments if I have it wrong. The colleges at the university serve dinners for the students and staff and it is an opportunity for everyone to meet up and share a meal. The high table is at the end of the hall and is where the professors and lecturers and their guests get to sit. There is a formal seating arrangement and they serve you amazing food and wine and you get to meet all kinds of people who you might not otherwise meet.

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28th June
2011
written by Hazel

It really seems as though we’re honing our fabric gathering skills because, in my opinion, we just keep getting better and better fabric!

There wasn’t much question about what kind of fabric we should try to get from Scotland.  It had to be a tartan.  I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to find, but we were lucky.  As we walked down the street in Edinburgh we noticed a little kilt shop, and right outside there was a large basket of odd bits of tartan which were left over from making the kilts!  This was perfect since we just wanted a little piece and we could pick colors we liked.  This isn’t a pattern related to our family or anything, but we thought it was pretty sweet.

Scotland Fabric

Scotland Fabric

And the England fabric is even better!!!  My aunt, who I will speak about in the post about Oxford, allowed us to pick through her fabric and take a piece that we like.  I’m so pleased about this because when I see it in the quilt I will think of her.  The design seems to fit what I think of when I think about English designs as well, so this is one of my favorite bits collected so far!

England Fabric

England Fabric

28th June
2011
written by Hazel

The next stop on our family tour of the UK was Durham, where my brother is working on his PhD. He recently bought a house, so we were excited to see him and to check out his new place. He gave us a wonderful tour of castle and abbey ruins and I had a blast taking tons of photos.

We started out with a bit of a walking tour of the town, cathedral, and the castle which is part of the university.

It was a beautiful walk along the river. The cathedral is in the background.

Walking along the river into town

Walking along the river into town

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27th June
2011
written by Hazel

From Oban we had a quick overnight stop back in Edinburgh, then took the train south to visit my gran in Doncaster. It was so good to see her and her husband Ken and they very kindly let us stay in their very deluxe motor home in their back garden. This motor home was better equipped than many houses I’ve lived in and was a really comfy place to stay!

We had several very competitive games of Rummikub, saw my aunt and uncle, ate lots of tasty food, and really enjoyed hanging out and chatting. We stayed for two nights, so we had bits of two days and one whole day there. Gran and Ken offered to take us to see one of their favorite castles in the area, so of course we couldn’t say no to that!

They took us to Castle Howard and it was spectacular! The grounds were beautiful and the house/castle is absolutely huge. This castle has been used twice for filming major productions of Brideshead Revisited and part of the upper level had an exhibition about how the filming was done.

We walked through the rose garden and the other beautifully landscaped gardens.

The roses were in bloom

The roses were in bloom

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24th June
2011
written by Justin

After seeing Edinburgh for a little bit, we decided to see my old college friend who now lives in Oban.  This is a small port town north of Glasgow on the west coast of Scotland, and not far from all the famed Scottish isles.  It’s a beautiful place!

Oban's Coastline

Oban's Coastline

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23rd June
2011
written by Hazel

So sorry to be so far behind in our adventures. We’ve had a wonderful time seeing friends and family and haven’t had much time for blogging. But, that does mean that we have lots of wonderful days to post about!

We arrived in Edinburgh after one of the nicest (read: least bumpy) flights ever. There was one slight mishap on the getting to the airport in Madrid. I woke up, in a panic that I had slept through my alarm, roused Justin and very sleepily hustled us out of the hostel, only to find out that my alarm hadn’t even gone off yet! We were about two hours earlier to the airport than we needed to be. But I suppose that’s better than two hours late.

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23rd June
2011
written by Hazel

So I know it’s been an incredibly long time since our last post, and a LOT has happened since then, but since we’re in a very, very pretty place right now and I need to get out and do some sightseeing those summaries will just have to wait a little longer.  We’ve had a rotten time figuring out where to go and especially where to stay recently, to the point that we’ve wasted hours putting together plans only to have them go bad, internet not working in multiple locations, and on and on and on.

So today we’re going exploring!

But I do have a long overdue set of pictures of the fabric we bought in Spain for the wedding quilt.  This is some of my favorite fabric yet!!!  It really reminds me of Spain and although I’m not sure where it was manufactured it wasn’t in the USA.  The colors are pretty amazing too.

Spain Fabric

Spain Fabric

13th June
2011
written by Hazel

After a getting briefly lost on our way out of Barcelona (thanks everyone else for fixing that one!) we had a long but uneventful drive to Madrid and got rid of the car on our way into town.  Madrid has a really great metro system (the best one we’ve seen so far) and so it was much easier to get around that way than with the car in the city.

We were hungry after our long drive, so after getting our friends checked into their hotel we set out in search of something to eat.  We found a type of restaurant I hadn’t seen before.  It was a place where they had a bunch of sandwiches, pastas and salads all ready to buy and take home, but you could have them put it on a nice plate and eat it there if you wanted.  Genius!  After dinner, Justin and I headed over to the same hostel that we had stayed in on our first trip to Madrid and got settled in.

The next day was a sight-seeing marathon!  We saw parks, museums, buildings, the big bullfighting arena, and somehow still had enough energy to go out in the evening!

Really cool statue

Really cool statue

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12th June
2011
written by Hazel

We arrived in Barcelona and went right to the hotel to meet up with our good friends from home.  This was so exciting!  We got 4 whole days traveling with them and it was glorious!  The hotel we stayed at in Barcelona was quite a bit more pricey than we’ve been used to, but we were excited to have our own bathroom and a really comfy bed for a couple of nights.

We went out and tasted some of the food and nightlife in the neighborhood we were staying in.

Amazing seafood paella!

Amazing seafood paella!

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