“England swings like a pendulum do; Bobbies on bicycles, two by two
Westminster Abbey, the tower of Big Ben; The rosy red cheeks of the little children”
Lyrics by Roger Miller, 1965
This song has been running through my head for the last few weeks, and I’m thrilled to say that I got to see all of the things mentioned in it on my recent trip to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Three of my growing up friends, one of their spouses, and my husband, Rex, enjoyed a coach (bus) tour of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Wales last week in celebration of our 60th birthdays. Even though we’ve been planning the trip for over six months, it snuck up on me like most things do! I found myself ordering tickets to attractions at midnight the night before we left – but it was worth it! Thankfully some of my friends are better planners than I am.
Our group of six added an extra day to our trip on the front end and opted to forego the city tour of London offered by our tour group in favor of one that went more places and allowed time for getting off and looking around, so we missed the formal introductions to the other 22 travelers we’d be sharing a bus with for 10 days. No worries – it didn’t take them long to know we were the party people! We hit the ground running, arriving at Heathrow at 8 AM and walking through the gates of Windsor Castle soon after it opened at 9:30. Rex and I split off after lunch and went to Warner Bros. to see the Making of Harry Potter – GREAT CHOICE!!! – we LOVED it!! I only wish we had had more time to spend there. Randy and Judy opted for a Beatles tour in the evening, and we met up for a late dinner at a pub not far from our hotel, while Lori and Peg turned in early.
Bright and early the next morning, Judy, Randy, Rex, and I made our way back to the Victoria Coach Station to begin our tour of London. Some of the major stops included St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, lunch at a pub, a chance to spend a few hours at the Tower of London, a boat ride on the Thames, and (drum roll) a ride on the spectacular London Eye. Thanks to spending a few extra pounds for fast track tickets, we were able to get back to our hotel almost on time for our dinner and reception with our fellow travelers. Peg and Lori rolled in a few minutes after we did, having had quite an adventure themselves! After dinner, Lori and I took a stroll through nearby Hyde Park before collapsing for a good night’s sleep. It had been a LONG day!
Our coach tour began the next morning – I won’t bore you with all of the details here, but here are the highlights of our trip:
- London to Harrogate, with stops in Cambridge and York.
- Harrogate to Edinburgh, Scotland, with stops in Durham, England, at the border crossing, and at Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott.
- A morning in Edinburgh, including a city tour and a tour of the Edinburgh Castle, followed by a side trip for Judy, Randy, Lori, Rex and me to the Old Course at St. Andrews.
- One of the trip’s major highlights was that night at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo back at Edinburgh Castle. Oh my goodness, was it phenomenal!
- Edinburgh to the west coast of Scotland, followed by a ferry ride to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where we toured the fantastic Titanic Museum. From there, we made our way to Dublin and had a great evening exploring on our own and enjoying a delicious dinner at a restaurant housed in an old church.
- We spent the morning in Dublin touring the city including St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Guinness Storehouse, then we had the afternoon to ourselves. We opted for a tour of the Whiskey Museum and a boat tour up and down the River Liffey. That evening we all went to the Merry Ploughboy Pub for a wonderful meal and great Irish music and dancing.
- Dublin to Waterford, with stops along the way at Russborough (the longest house in Ireland) and Jerpoint Park (a lovely privately owned home on the site of an ancient town). This was the prettiest driving day – the Irish countryside was lovely! Once in Waterford, we toured the crystal factory and then went on a walking tour of the old city.
- An early start took us down the coast to Rosslaire where we caught a ferry to Wales, just in time to tour the Cardiff Castle. We had an entertaining evening at the Castle, too, including a delightful meal and Welsh singing and hospitality.
- The next morning began with a tour of Cardiff, and then stops at Bath (what an amazing city!) and Stonehenge (!!!) before making our way back to London.
- It rained just a bit on our last night in London – other than that, the weather was PERFECT!! Warm, sunny days and blue skies – the few times it showered were all times we were either inside, on the bus, or sound asleep – and we saw two incredible rainbows!
By Sunday evening we were back in the States and back to the Texas heat…I can’t wait to download and look through all of my photos! I’ve been slowly adding them to my Forever account, even tagging as I go! I’m sure you’ll see more pages in the coming weeks, but for now, here are a few London sights.
Content Used: Distressed Digital Overlays by CM; Americana Alpha Set by Seatrout Scraps
Font: KG What the Teacher Wants, Kingsthings Exeter