1994 saw the first really, really Really long flight for me – Sydney to Bangkok, Bangkok to Heathrow. Little did I know back then that long haul flights would become a huge part of my life today. Going to London to see the Queen!
I was with my dad and we went first to a place called Kirkby Overblow near York, for a combined 100th birthday party (Both husband and wife in age equalled up to 100 – cool idea huh? I think Dear Husband and I will borrow their idea as our lifestyle sometimes means we miss birthdays). After the epic trip that was from Sydney, and the epic car trip to get there, I fell asleep at the dinner table (The first of quite a few times) and apparently missed all the frivolity that went on later at night.
The party was great, but the most exciting part of being there for me was their pets – they had a dog, bird and a hamster. I’d never seen a hamster before (in Australia we have guinea pigs instead) and it was love at first sight! There’s a photo of me, and I have to find it where I have made the bird sit on the dog’s head and the hamster was close by – lucky they were all friends.
Anyway, back to the travel experience at hand. We went to the Yorvic Viking Centre in York – this was the first time I actually believed Vikings were real, and not classed in the realms of fairies and mermaids. If you ever pass by York, make some time to go there. It was really interesting and informative and had wonderful displays.
We then headed north to Loch Ness. Bed and breakfast accommodation is absolutely the way to go – you get to meet so many interesting people! There was the farmhouse that had the puppies (yep, I cuddled all of them) and there was Rose in Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness who had the cat called soldier, who would sit up and salute! Nessie must have been on holidays as we didn’t get to see her (Is Nessie a girl? I think so…) but the Loch was beautiful.
We also went to Culloden, where the famous battle of 1746 was (although I didn’t read the history until much later it was still a fascinating place) and Hadrian’s Wall (Again, back then I didn’t know too much about Hadrian, but at the time it was interesting). I wish I could repeat this trip with all the knowledge I have now.
And so we wound our way back south, through Surrey (I highly recommend the bird park) , Winchester (Climb all the stairs if you go there – you get a certificate) to London. Before I left, a friend of my mother’s gave me some pounds and told me to have ice-cream at Fortnum and Mason – which I did and enjoyed. We went to Harrods, but as an 11 year old shopping was not my top priority (What was wrong with me at 11? at 6 I was cruising the International Market Place on a daily basis; At 11 I was like can we go now? There may be an animal I haven’t seen outside). I think maybe both Dad and my stepmother, Donela, regretted introducing me to the pigeons….
In 1994, the pigeons ruled Trafalgar Square in London. You could even buy pigeon food and feed them! I would have stayed there 24/7 for the whole week if I was allowed! Everywhere we went that week somehow ended up at Trafalgar Square, feeding the pigeons. Buckingham Palace – pigeons. Harrods – pigeons. Lunch with friends in outer suburbs of London – pigeons. Meeting relatives in another part of London – pigeons. But now, in 2015, the pigeons are no longer there (so I’m told). Pigeon food is no longer sold. There is a very good reason for this though – they were cleaning 1/2 a tonne of pigeon poo a year of Nelson’s Column (More about Nelson in later posts – he turns up in the most amazing places) and it was ruining the structure so the pigeons had to find a new home.
It was a wonderful trip with great memories and to some really interesting places I hope in the future I will return to (Loch Ness being the top of my to-do list). I have been back to the UK in recent times, but not any of these places and more about that in later posts.