On Friday 29 August we packed our bags again, and the following morning we set off on another ‘UK tour’. It was designed to combine some work for Ian in Newcastle, a visit to his aunt in Glasgow, Paul’s wedding in Manchester and a weekend break in Blackpool!
The journey from High Wycombe to Newcastle is almost 300 miles, but we had a couple of pleasant breaks. The first was in Huntingdon, where we had coffee and enjoyed strolling round the town, looking at the shops and market. For a late lunch, we left the A1 in search of a village pub. We didn’t find one, but were directed to the Jacobean Pub at Rogerthorpe Manor, which provided good food in attractive surroundings. After reaching Newcastle and checking into our hotel, we walked along by the Tyne, and watched the ‘winking bridge’ change colour while we were eating dinner.
Ian spent two days working with colleagues at Newcastle University, talking them through the analysis he’d been doing at home. Sandie spent most of the time shopping or writing emails! On Monday when the work was finished we had drinks with the team in a pub, followed by dinner in a tapas restaurant with our friend James Tooley; it was great to have the opportunity for a catch-up, and we had a very pleasant evening.
On Tuesday morning we drove across to Glasgow, and in the afternoon we visited Ian’s Aunt Margie at Balmanno House, her nursing home. Next day we took her out to Dobbie’s Garden Centre, a favourite place because it is easy for a wheelchair. After coffee and some shopping we moved across to the Tickled Trout pub for lunch. Aunt M is getting noticeably more tired, and by the time we returned to Balmanno she was exhausted and needed to rest, even though we’d been out for less than four hours.
That left us with some free time, so we decided to go into the city centre. We ended up going to the King’s Theatre, to see the touring production of Dirty Dancing. It had a good set and some great dancing, but was somewhat spoilt for us by the loud shouting and screaming from some of the audience, especially a group sitting just behind us. We’ve never heard anything like it in a theatre. If that’s what Glasgow audiences are like, we’ll stick to London (or Sarasota) in future!
On Thursday we had haircuts, and took Aunt M to the Pond Hotel (where we stay) for lunch. Then we headed south. We checked into the Travelodge at Birch services on the M62, just north of Manchester. The receptionist informed us that Sandie’s cousin Mike and his wife Jane had already arrived, and directed us to a nearby pub, where we met them for dinner. Later we were joined by Claire, Charlie, Oscar and Maggi, who had driven them all up from High Wycombe. A very pleasant family evening!
Next day was Paul’s wedding to Alexa. The ceremony was at the kingdom hall in Bury, because Alexa is a Jehovah’s Witness and Paul has converted (which we regret). The reception was 25 miles away, at Farington Lodge near Preston. The weather was good, and the grounds beautiful – ideal for the children to run around! In the evening there was dancing, and the talking (and drinking) went on late into the night.
After leaving Farington Lodge, we went with Claire, Charlie and Oscar to Blackpool for a real seaside weekend, complete with chips, donuts and (for the boys) lots of rides. We spent Saturday afternoon/early evening at the Pleasure Beach, then after dinner we took a tram tour through the illuminations. They were good, but not appreciated by Oscar who fell asleep just after the tram left!
Next morning we went up the Tower, and then to the Central Pier. We all went on the Big Wheel, and Ian took Charlie on the Dodgems. We even spent a short time on the beach, where the boys constructed ‘Schagen Towers’ out of sand, but declined the offer of a donkey ride.
We arrived home fairly late Sunday evening, and are now catching up with work and other things, before setting off on our travels again!