2009 Vacation Preview

2009 Wedding Trip Preview

Our next trip to the UK will wrap around Holly and Paul’s upcoming wedding celebrations in Wales!!  First, Allan and I will fly to London, hop onto the Paddington Express train, followed by a short cab ride to Kings Cross Station and then onto an Intercity train to Scotland to spend four nights in beautiful Edinburgh – with luck we’ll catch the Flying Scotsman!  While in Edinburgh, we will visit the underground Vaults and spend lots of time walking around this amazing city.  Although we’ve been to Edinburgh several times before, we seem to love it more each time we visit.  We will visit Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House.  And we will definitely return to a couple of nice pubs discovered by us in 2006 – the Mitre on the Royal Mile with a fabulous copper ceiling and the Abbotsford on Rose Street (for the best darn mustard mash on the planet), and perhaps even a return trip for dinner at The Witchery on the Royal Mile.  We hope to spend a day seeing St. Andrews and maybe make a return trip to Rosslyn Chapel, which is a very short and easy bus ride from the City Center.  Unfortunately the ugly scaffolding is not due to be taken down for a few more years, so you cannot really get any good photos of the outside.

After four nights in Scotland, Allan and I will return to London and take up residence in the wonderful Fish Court Flat at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey, which we’ve rented every year for the past nine years.  We’ve rented it for an entire week this trip instead of our more usual four nights, and I’m very excited about that.  Allan and I will have a few nights there by ourselves before being joined by Holly and Paul for the last few nights. Paul's family will also be joining us at the Palace.   I love staying at Hampton Court and I love sharing it with others.  It is just 30 minutes by train from London Waterloo and we will definitely be going into the city several times.  At least once we’ll have lunch or dinner at the Spaghetti House on Duke Street, and I’d like to have lunch at one of Gordon Ramsay’s pubs.  We had a great lunch last trip at The Narrow, one of his new pubs in London Docklands.  Allan says it was the best fish and chips ever!  Allan and I want to go back to Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire for the express purpose of taking some photos.  We’ve been several times before (Holly’s take is that it is a VERY haunted ruins), but we’ve not been back since getting our newer cameras, and consequently, our older photos don’t do it justice.  We’d really love to get some really, really good shots of it.  Kenilworth once belonged to John of Gaunt, and many years later, in 1563, Queen Elizabeth I bestowed Kenilworth on Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who hosted a grand extravaganza with banquets and pageants on the grounds in 1575 when she visited him there for several days.  On a past trip we were regaled with stories about Kenilworth by a very knowledgeable and eager guide, whose love of the castle really shone through.  Also while in London I want Allan to see the Cabinet War Rooms.  Holly and I have been, but on that occasion, he stayed outside in St. James Park because he couldn’t tear himself away from taking photos of birds and whatnot. 

Once Holly and Paul have joined us at Hampton Court, we will host a pub night for our palace friends, either at the Albion or Prince of Wales in East Molesey, and the following night, we’ll host a nice dinner for the family wedding party at the Carlton Mitre, which is just across the street from the palace and has a pretty restaurant overlooking the Thames.  Obviously, during our week at the palace, we’ll have lots of opportunities to get out onto the grounds and into the courtyards at night to ghost hunt and soak up the atmosphere!  We might also finally visit Poulshot in Wiltshire, which is where my Mayo ancestors came from.  And we also plan to return to Hever Castle in Kent, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.Then…. it will be off to Conwy, Wales for three nights and the wedding celebrations at Conwy Castle!  Holly is taking care of all those arrangements, but we will definitely be staying at the Castle Hotel on the High Street, which is a lovely old coaching inn just a block or so from the castle.  Allan, Holly and I stayed there in 2003 for the first time and then Holly went back with Paul for a night in 2006 when they were spending a week in the UK.  Conwy is a gorgeous town in North Wales on the Conwy Estuary and it has an absolutely breathtaking Castle.  AND the town still has its medieval walls which can be walked in an almost unbroken circuit.  Edward I built Conwy Castle as one of his ring of fortresses to keep order over the Welsh in Wales!   There are several of these imposing castles in the area at approximately 25 mile intervals.  We’ll be re-visiting another one of them – Caernarfon (or Caernarvon), which is the spot where all Princes of Wales have their investiture ceremonies.  


After our three nights in Wales, Holly and Paul will be off to Edinburgh for their honeymoon, while Allan and I will spend three nights in Shropshire. Probably one night in Ludlow at the Feathers Hotel and then two nights in Shrewsbury.  We are tentatively planning to stay at The Lion Hotel in Shrewsbury, another old coaching inn.  While in Ludlow we will also plan a vistit to Ludlow Castle, where Katherine of Aragon spent her honeymoon with Prince Arthur, Henry’s older, ill-fated brother.  It’s also the castle where Edward IV’s two sons lived just prior to being brought back to London after his death and being incarcerated in the Tower of London, (most believe by their Uncle, Richard III).  They were never to be seen again.  Allan has always wanted to visit the area around Shrewsbury and it looks like there is plenty to see and do, including touristy things relating to Brother Cadfael. and maybe even time for a visit to Ironbridge Gorge.

Following Shrewsbury, it’s back to London for a night or two before flying home.  The last few trips we’ve usually stayed at Premiere Travel Inn, County Hall, which is a great location for walking the Thames River Embankment, visiting Westminster Abbey and St. James Park, enjoying a ride on the London Eye and just plain hanging around.  The location just cannot be beat and the prices are fairly reasonable by London standards. Holly and Paul are staying there this year, but Allan and I will stay this time at the Thistle Westminster, which is a short walk down Victoria Street.  We will also have to make time for a pint or two at The George near Southwark Cathedral, the only surviving example in London of a galleried coaching inn!  Any excuse for a Stella! And we also plan to attend a performance of Spamalot.