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UK Tripper

a travel blog by jennderek

An exciting whirlwind trip to the UK from Grande Prairie Alberta Canada. Stopping at such well known landmarks as:

Big Ben
Carol's Back Yard
The River Mersey
The London Eye
and many more...
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Getting Ready to Go!

Grande Prairie, Canada

We are about four hours away from takeoff! Derek is out picking up some last minute things and Owen is having his afternoon nap. Nothing left to do for Jenn... just have to wait for Derek to come home and rearrange all the weight in the bags. Thank god for our portable baggage scale!

We will be arriving in London (Heathrow) on Sunday July 19, so hopefully have an exciting entry of our trip from London Heathrow to Bromborough!

permalink written by  jennderek on July 18, 2009 from Grande Prairie, Canada
from the travel blog: UK Tripper
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Made It!

Heathrow, United Kingdom

Made it to Heathrow airport. Derek tried to convince the flight attendants to give us some first class sleeping pods, but they just smiled and laughed. We made our way to our seats and found that the one remaining seat in our row was empty! We all settled in, ate our dinners and watched movies. Owen laid across two seats (thanks to the empty one) and slept until about an hour before landing.

We got to London Heathrow and were quickly ushered to the front of the immigration/passport control line, most likely because we had Owen with us. That probably saved us at least half an hour!

We made our way to the baggage (re)claim (one of the many differences Jenn found between England an Canada... instead of the baggage claim, it is baggage reclaim) and Derek found one of our bags right away.

We waited and waited and waited for our second bag on the carousel, but it just wasn't showing up. Derek took a walk around and found it siting on the floor... someone had mistakenly pulled it off thinking it was theirs and just left it on the floor instead of replacing it on the carousel. Interesting logic there!

We went to pick up our car and while Jenn and Owen waited for Derek to sort it all out, we probably saw about 10 planes take off in the span of 10 minutes! Off we drove to Derek's sister's house in Bromborough, Wirral. It is quite cool to be a passenger on the North American "driver's side" of the car and be driving on the "right" side of the road. The novelty has not worn off one bit. Owen and Jenn pretty much slept the entire way there!

We did stop for lunch at Beaconsfield Service Station ... nothing like Canadian Service Stations! They are like indoor food courts along the side of the road! Jenn continued to notice many little differences, such as toilet stall locks... finally figured those out and will have to take a picture the next time.

permalink written by  jennderek on July 19, 2009 from Heathrow, United Kingdom
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First Stop!

Bromborough, United Kingdom

permalink written by  jennderek on July 19, 2009 from Bromborough, United Kingdom
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Tour of Liverpool

Liverpool, United Kingdom

We had a great day in Liverpool with Arthur and Sue (Derek's dad and stepmum). We started by walking around downtown checking out the shops... indoor and outdoor shopping centres!

We met up with Eleanor Rigby and sat and chatted with her a while!

We walked through Mathew Street and Jenn got to see the infamous Cavern Club, which was a special moment.

At the end of the street we met up with John Lennon for a photo op!

We made our way down to the Mersey Ferry and Arthur pointed out buildings and shared interesting tidbits along the way.

We all enjoyed the tour around the Mersey, especially Owen, despite his grouchy picture!

Derek, Owen and Jenn made out way home to Bromborough, but stopped at a few points of interest along the way (Derek's old schools and the house where he was born).

permalink written by  jennderek on July 20, 2009 from Liverpool, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK Tripper
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New Brighton, United Kingdom

After supper we decided to go fly kites in New Brighton... Dave (brother-in-law), Charlotte (niece), Nathan (nephew), Owen, Derek and Jenn.

Unfortunately the tide was up at the beach with the good wind, so we found another area of the beach where the tide was low. The kids even found a jellyfish!

Owen had a blast running in and out of the water, chasing the RC truck we brought along, covering his hands in sand, and helping Charlotte build a sand boat.

permalink written by  jennderek on July 20, 2009 from New Brighton, United Kingdom
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Busy Streets of Chester

Chester, United Kingdom

permalink written by  jennderek on July 21, 2009 from Chester, United Kingdom
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Crazy Country Lanes

Ruthin, United Kingdom

Our visit to Wales was awesome! It is such a beautiful country... so green and lush and Ruthin is incredibly quaint. Ok this picture is not so green, but the view was breathtaking

Derek decided to show Jenn some of the country lanes, which are only wide enough to accommodate one car, but there are spots along the way to pull to the side to let an oncoming vehicle pass (see below).

Derek's aunt and uncle live there, so we paid them a visit! Here are some pictures of their beautiful house:

Owen played with the dog (Derek's cousin's dog, who also came for a visit) and got spoiled with some new toy cars, which he took everywhere from the day he got them. He also discovered the harmonica and played it for quite some time... Derek's cousin Ruthanna came by with her significant other, Ian, and their son, Bowen. We were all quite entertained by Owen walking around playing the harmonica and Bowen following behind him... sort of like pied piper-style!
Becky, Another one of Derek's cousins came by later on with her significant other, John, and their little one, Tom. Tom had lots of fun on the slide in the garden!

We had a delicious buffet lunch of sandwiches (amazingly soft "baps"... which are rolls), pork pie, quiche, veggies, crisps. Then for dessert there was strawberries and rasperries with double cream. Jenn was in absolute heaven... the strawberries tasted nothing like she's ever had before... so sweet and soft, but not mushy or soggy. Delicious with the double cream! (nothing you can get in Canada, unfortunately) There was also a very nice spread of cakes, which Bowen proceeded to sample each of! Very cute!

We had a great visit to Wales!

permalink written by  jennderek on July 22, 2009 from Ruthin, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK Tripper
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The Olllllld City of York

York, United Kingdom

You can either drive into York and pray you find parking or you can use the Park and Ride! We opted for the Park and Ride... cost us 5 pound to park, then ride the bus into York... not a bad deal! Owen loves riding city buses anyway, we have found.
Using the Park and Ride also reduces pollution in the very old city.

We rode through York on the bus, past huge stone homes, some of them converted into businesses or medical practices. We got off at Clifford Tower.

We quickly found the Jorvik Viking Centre after walking through the busy streets... apparently York is huge for shopping, there were so many shops! The Jorvik Viking Centre was rated in our England guide book as a "must see" and Derek has been there numerous times. We crammed ourselves into the "time machine" and rode through time through a reconstructed Viking city. This viking city was discovered below ground level and a lot of the items in the reconstruction were dated from 948 - 1067 BC. They even had smells to go along with the exhibits from woodworking to leatherworking to bathroom smells! Derek said they used to have one of baking bread...mmmm! The headrests on the seats have speakers and you can choose which language to listen to the tour in. There was a kids' version, so we put that on for Owen, although we're not sure if he could hear since his head was not even close to the headrest! After the ride, they had many items they found on display from lumber to bone combs to entire skeletons of vikings. There was a video showing the facial reconstruction of one of the skulls they found. Very cool! Unfortunately it was too crowded to stick around and read all the signs and plaques.

After Jorvik, we walked through the busy streets again and found lunch - pizza hut! 10 pound for a large pizza and 2 pound for a Pepsi!!! So about $32 Canadian for us all to share a pizza and have some drinks. We ate our ham and mushroom pizza quickly and made our way to the awe-inspiring York Minster.

From further away, seeing it was amazing, but when you get closer up and see the detail of the architecture, it is really spectacular. Inside, Jenn was impressed with the enormity and elaborateness. Everywhere you look, there is something to read, inspect and wonder upon.

The stained glass was certainly the highlight, although one of the windows was removed for maintenance (a wonderment in itself, since the windows are huge).

Owen fell asleep pretty soon after we started our tour.

Derek told stories of his time in York and at the York Minster cleaning the organ there. We proceeded to the crypts underneath the York Minster and unlike Yorvik, we spent the time and read most of the signs and plaques. There were displays of leather, tools, parts of buildings discovered - many of it not found until recently, which begs the question of what else will they find? It's so neat to walk through such displays of ancient times. Jenn came out feeling very relaxed and serene.

We came out of the York Minster just as Owen was waking up (good thing he was free!) and made our way to the Shambles, a very narrow old street in York that used to be used for hanging meat, but is now used for all kinds of shops from jewelers to souvenirs to butchers. We stopped and had a cream tea, which is tea with scones (in this case, raisin) with clotted cream and jam. It was to die for! Owen mostly enjoyed licking the jam off his buttered scone and wasn't interesting in eating (as usual). As we left the tea house, it began to rain and we stopped under shelter to wait for the rain to die off. Probably 15 minutes later, we were on our way again. We got to our bus stop about five seconds after the bus left, so we went down to the River Ouse. Owen loved watching the water and the boats.

It took forever to get back to Bromborough due to slow downs in traffic on the motorway, but when we made it back we had some amazing fish and chips! This was Jenn and Owen's first ever English fish & chips.

permalink written by  jennderek on July 23, 2009 from York, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK Tripper
tagged York, Jorvik and YorkMinster

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Chips chips and more chips

Burnley, United Kingdom

Went to Burnley today. Derek lived here for 5 years and he showed us around... the houses he owned, where he worked, where he drove around for work, and the market and shops. Went to his old local chippy's for a steak & kidney pie and a cheese & onion pie - and chips. Ooh the chips... can't get enough of those!!! Jenn noticed the cans of Coke are smaller than the ones in Canada (340 ml vs. 355). So cans of beer are bigger and cans of pop are smaller... hmm! We won't complain about the size of beer.

Walked around the shops (including M & S) Picked up some tacky stripy socks from the market then had some cream cakes from Gregg's. We had a hilarious incident of a flock of pigeons flying straight at us while walking... only Jenn was the only one to freak out and duck... apparently a common occurence!

It rained off and on constantly all day in Burnley... 1 minute of rain then 1 minute of sun, and so on and so forth from heavy rain on the motorway to light sprinklings in the city.

We left Burnley and made our way onto the motorway to pick up Derek's mum... huge delays and accidents all over the motorways. We sat in traffic a while and made it right on time to meet Derek's mum. We had heard about a man sitting for three hours in traffic!

Met Derek's mum and went to supper... we all had the mixed grill, which was sausages, egg, English bacon, beans, lamp chop, tomatoes, mushrooms, chips. Mmmmm! Owen had pizza with chips... was also supposed to come with beans. Everything with beans, I tell you!

We finished supper in the nick of time to make it to Derek's nieces' (and dad's) dance show. We had great seats up in the balcony and really enjoyed the dance academy's show... from Ballet to hip hop to Irish dancing, lots of everything. Samantha and Charlotte were awesome! A highlight was watching Derek's dad dancing with the other dads... a can can and then they danced to Beastie Boys... very entertaining!!!

permalink written by  jennderek on July 24, 2009 from Burnley, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK Tripper
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Cheese! (and more chips)

Blackpool, United Kingdom

Blackpool is officially the cheesiest place ever! Apparently it is similar to New York's Coney Island. We had a great time, despite the cheese.

Bit of traffic coming in, adding an hour to our trip. Once we made it in, Jenn desperately needed a loo, and found the only ones closeby required a 20p coin. Lots of people hold the doors open for people so they don't have to pay, but there wasn't an opportunity. We didn't have exact change, so she bought an ice cream bar to make some change.

Our first stop was for some lunch. Fish and chips for Derek, hotdog and chips for Jenn and chicken nuggets and chips for Owen. Ohhh the chips are good, did I mention that already? The hotdogs here taste different than the North American variety... could just be how this place makes them, but they were very soft, almost like a vegetarian hotdog.

With the purchase of a meal, you get some tokens to play in the slot machines, so we showed Owen how to gamble... didn't win anything!

We made our way down to the Central Pier to check out the rides. Owen was very interested in the rides to say the least! Last year when we tried to get him on rides he freaked out... this time he was ready! He was very attached to one ride where all the kids get to sit in cars, trucks, fire trucks, motorcycles and they go around and around on a track (one hill). He loved it! Then we decided to kick it up a notch and put him on an airplane ride.... everything was fine then he started crying midway through... no idea what happened there. We made our way to the ferris wheel and got some amazing views of the Irish Sea and of Blackpool.

Time for an ice cream rest! Owen had vanilla in a cup, while Jenn and Derek indulged in a 99 cone (vanilla ice cream with a chocolate flake bar in it).

Off to the tower... luckily, the Tower Circus was about to begin, so we got in a Circus show! It was an animal-free circus show and it was really entertaining. They had some fake animals and we're pretty sure Owen couldn't tell the difference.

After the two-hour circus show, we went and looked at the aquariums in the tower... Owen has really developed an interest for fish, sharks and whales. He ran back and forth looking at all the tanks, excitedly. A lot of it was probably happy to be running around (because he was in the car seat for two hours, then sitting in the stroller, then sitting on the rides, then sitting at the circus). The tower was closing almost as soon as the circus finished, so we made out way out to the beach, but not before picking up some cheesy postcards and some rock candy.

The tide was out quite a ways (before the circus, it was in) allowing us to walk along the beach and under the Central Pier. Uncle Dave (Derek's brother-in-law) asked Owen to say hello to the donkeys on the beach, so that we did! Yes, donkey rides on the beach! Two of the donkeys started walking towards Owen and he throught it was hilarious and ran behind Derek for protection!

So concluded our day at Blackpool! It was hot and sunny and a great day! Our drive home was a lot better than the ride in... no congested traffic. Owen was crazy hyper off the rock candy and was chatting away in the back seat the entire ride. Fed him his dinner when we got home and put him to bed so we could have our special meal... Indian food! It was sooo good, we really wish we could get that kind of food in Grande Prairie!

permalink written by  jennderek on July 25, 2009 from Blackpool, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK Tripper
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