Been longer than I thought. Sorry folks.
Since I left Sweden I've been in the UK, where it's getting colder by the day.
I didn't do much for a week or so once I got back to Liverpool. After a month on the road I was in need of some rest. I did have a day out in Chester. I really like Chester - it's an old Roman town and there are still some Roman ruins there. Plenty of medieval stuff too. Lots of history wherever you look - just what I like :)
Too many people though!
Next stop was Blackburn to stay with my uncle Brian (and Ann) for a week. Blackburn itself isn't much to look at: a north-western industrial town. I was taken to a club one night - one of the local haunts. The band was okay but the so-called comedian was atrocious. Apparently there are no laws against racial vilification up there.
The surrounding countryside is lovely though. We did a couple of day trips around the area: Ribchester, Whalley, Chipping, etc.
We also had a day in Manchester. Nothing to write home about there. The refurbished docks looked plain and boring compared to Liverpool's. The old buildings have been torn down whereas in Liverpool they've been cleaned up and turned into shops, restaurants, galleries, etc. The Albert Dock area in Liverpool really is a nice place to spend the day. I did think about looking for The Hacienda and Factory Records but we didn't know where they are, or even if they still exist. Maybe some other day I'll go do that pilgrimage.
Brian and Ann then took me up to their daughter's place near Durham. We had a look at the Angel of the North - another Antony Gormley structure. It overlooks the motorway at Gateshead and is huge! It's an industrial angel sort of thing and is meant to remind us to keep imagining angels. I like the idea of that. The angel itself is very imposing. Lots of people don't like it but I think it's interesting.
We also went to Durham Cathedral. The cathedral was originally founded in 1093 and is regarded as the finest example of Norman architecture in England. It's very impressive inside but, sadly, they don't allow photography. The reason I was given is a load of bollocks really. I was told it's because it's a place of worship and cameras distract the worshippers. I looked around and saw hundreds of people - all tourists, nobody was praying. The clerics and volunteers were all busy shepherding tour groups around. Really what they mean is "no photos because we want you to buy our merchandise". Pfftt!
From there we headed north towards the Scottish border to check out Hadrian's Wall. I only saw bits of the wall but we did have a lengthy look at the remains of a Roman fort at Chesters (not to be confused with Chester). I wandered around taking lots of photos of grey stones :)
The fort is 2000 years old, give or take a few years, and was originally built by the Romans to protect Hadrian's Wall where it crosses the Tyne river. Clever people those Romans.
On the way home from Blackburn I decided to pay the Iron Men at Crosby another visit:
Next stop was Kent to visit Joan and Jim, another aunty/uncle. I drove down from Liverpool - motorway driving is pretty damn boring. Kent is lovely though - they call it "The Garden of England" and not without cause.
I spent an excellent day with Bridie, a friend from Melbourne. We drove around the countryside and had a look at Hastings and Brighton. Brighton is a big seaside town which used to be "THE" place for the rich and famous to go. It's also home to fearless doughnut thieves too. After wandering up and down the pier, we decided to get some doughnuts. Next thing you know, a seagull swoops over my head from behind (actually hitting my head on the way through) and stole Bridie's doughnut right out of her hand.
While in Kent I also visited Chartwell (home of Winston Churchill), Hever Castle (home of Anne Boleyn and, later, William Waldorf Astor), and Knole (home of the Sackville family - important royal cousins in Tudor times).
The grounds at Chartwell and Hever are spectacular. Chartwell is traditional English with rose gardens and sweeping lawns. Hever has that too but also has an immense Roman garden, established by WW Astor. Impressive.
To be continued........
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