Edinburgh and York

The timing happened to work out for us to attend an evening film called Godspeed as part of The Abbey Summer School evening lecture offering. My professor from Regent College, Iain Provan introduced the film and Matt Canlis wrote it.  The story follows a young American Presbyterian minister as he serves in a Scottish parish while undergoing graduate studies in St. Andrews. He learns from his parishioners that the good work of God with people is often slow work.  We loved the film as well as the following discussion. You can learn more here: livegodspeed.org

After breakfasting at Edinburgh Larder, we boarded a noon train for York. And here we spend the night.  Our room backs onto a busy railway track and temperatures in our little hideaway feel about 8 degrees higher than outside but the bed is soft and we’re glad to be here.

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Edinburgh, or thereabouts

We drove from St. Andrews to Edinburgh and stopped twice on the way. First, the Falkirk Wheel, an engineering wonder, then Rosslyn Chapel, a newly restored 11th century church renowned for its rare stone carved decor and the spot where the final scene of the Da Vinci Code was filmed. After returning our rental car, we explored Edinburgh’s castle and enjoyed a self-guided walking tour of the Royal Mile. That’s a lot of goings-on for one day.

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St. Andrews, Scotland

A road closure meant a “diversion” north from Oban and an extra 90 minutes drive to our day, but the views proved spectacular through glacial valleys and steep, lush highlands. I think it’s what some folks call a happy accident.  We arrived mid-afternoon in St. Andrews and the weather cleared for a sunny walk with our friend, Margie, who was good enough to show us around town.

 

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Scotland’s Westcoast

4 hours is a long drive for a Scot, apparently. And that’s why Oban, on Scotland’s mid-west shore, brings mainly tourists to its wee hamlet of 10,000 souls. Oban’s ferries run hourly to the Inner Hebrides where hardy folk inhabit clan mansions and feed on whatever the day’s catch might be. Temperatures here are akin to Vancouver Island’s Westcoast — somewhere in the mid teens C. Local wool shops are busy all year around.  But it’s some of the most gorgeous countryside we’ve seen and feels a lot like St. John’s, Newfoundland.  And home.

I snapped the photo below at a petrol station. Truckers’ laundromat, we think.

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Keswick

In the north Lakes District lies a town about the size of Ladysmith.  Its primary industry is tourism, especially catering to outdoor enthusiasts. In the past, the local slate mine provided economic sustainability and we saw evidence of that everywhere. Coasters, placemats, floors, walls, signage, and slate-art. Nowadays, the majority of shops sell outdoor climbing equipment and clothing. The surrounding hills fall far short of Swiss Alps for elevation, but the town still feels Swiss. Or French Swiss, to be exact. Even our hotelier hails from Switzerland — married an English girl and now runs an outstanding B&B in the heart of the north Lakes.

Keswick is a treasure in every way!

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The Lakes District


It’s no wonder we found throngs of tourists weekending at the Lakes this Bank Holiday.  Rolling hills, lakeside picnics, hiking, canoeing, golf and shopping draw vacationers to quaint towns dotted along the rivers that thread through this lovely country. And then there’s Hill Top Farm, the home of Beatrix Potter, along with every other wonderful thing.

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The Midlands and North Wales

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Meandering About the Cotswolds

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Blenheim Palace and Chipping Campden

Born at a high society party, 2 months premature in the cloak room of his ancestor’s palace, Winston Churchill entered the world at Blenheim Palace as an infant much talked about. He spent much of his childhood there, raised by his grandmother on generous affection and a family history of military success stories. Even at a young age, Winston’s love of words and art hinted at genius, much to the delight of his doting Grannie.

Blenheim Palace in the beautiful Cotswolds rivals Vienna’s Schoenberg Palace and Paris’s Versailles for its royal grandeur and extensive gardens.  We popped in for a visit on our way through, arriving at our Cotswold B&B just in time for a quick shower before dining on local lamb at the famous 400 year old Ebrington Pub. Temperatures climb with the sunshine and the air feels like May ought to

Just for fun, I’ve included a couple of creative alternatives Brits have found for those iconic (but obsolete) red telephone booths.

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Bath

First that photo from St. James Park in London. Remember? The commanding views of Buckingham Palace?

Monday morning, we left Paddington Station by train and 90 minutes later, disembarked in Bath. Today we’ve explored the city (about the size of Nanaimo) and hit the major tourist attractions: Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent Apartments on the Circus.

The weather is changeable — about 15 degrees C but the people are warm, the food delicious and the gardens tidy, awaiting their annual planting. Everything is lovely and we’re enjoying ourselves immensely.

The photo below displays a butterfly exhibit symbolizing the swarms of beautiful immigrants landing on British soil and bringing with them the distinctive uniqueness inherent in diversity. The sign reads, “Don’t be pro-Palestinian, don’t be pro-Israeli, be pro-justice.”

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