Saturday 29 September 2012Destination: Roman Vindolanda Museum
Megan and I got off the train at Bardon Mill, and I was reminded of the scene from The Chronicles of Narnia where the children get off the train in the middle of nowhere and just stand on the platform as the train chugs away. Except there was no horse and cart to pick us up, and as our train was not steam powered there was no chugging. We wandered into the sleepy town of Bardon Mill rather unsure of which direction to take, so I pulled out my ipad and pinned our location on my google map. I think investing in 4G was definitely a wise decision, and fortunately England is well equipped with cellular towers and satellites. We wanted to find an information center with a map, but when I say Bardon Mill was a sleepy town I am not exaggerating. It was about 1:00 in the afternoon and there was no one in sight. Even the pub looked closed! Since there was no location map to be found we just picked a direction and started walking. Relying on instinct isn't always the worst thing in the world; fortunately it was the right direction. We toodled through a gap in the hedge, ran across a busy motorway and found a sign pointing up hill: "Vindolanda 2"
After we meandered through the museum we left out the back door and took the short cut back to the train station. This cut a good mile out of our journey and was all down hill. It was a pretty windy
We made it back to the train station with 10 minutes to spare, which was lucky because we had completely forgotten to check the return times! We figured our all around walking distance was about 7 miles. Not to shabby for a Saturday, and I'm glad I got my sneakers!
Sunday 30 September 2012Destination: Alnwick Castle (pronounced ANN-ick)
Megan and I were joined by Cata from Columbia, and Tony from Russia on this journey. We hoped on the bus at 9:45 in the morning and alighted in the town of Alnwick somewhere around 10:30. Scattered showers were predicted for the day, which meant we were under constant threat by a blanket of dark grey clouds. Good thing I had my new rain coat and umbrella with me! Alnwick seemed to just be waking up, after all it was a Sunday and pubs were open generally from 12-2pm for Sunday roasts (lunch). The castle walls are snuggled right up next to a main road in town. I almost missed it because the stone work in the rest of the town was slightly similar.
When we walked out into the first courtyard we immediately recognized it as the courtyard in which Harry, Hermoine and Ron all have their first flying lesson in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I couldn't stop grinning, and looking around for the statue with the sword that Neville got caught on on when he fell off his broom ... that part was computer generated apparently. Sad. The managers at Alnwick Castle have certainly capitalized on the fact that Harry Potter was there, and they have made it a major kid friendly attraction by giving "flying lessons" every hour or so! We watched part of one such lesson being given, and I couldn't stop smiling at the little boy with Harry Potter glasses painted around his eyes, a lightening bolt painted on his forehead, and a little robe tied around his neck, taking his broom stick and wand very seriously.
Unfortunately you can't see him above because the munchkin in the read jacket is standing in the way, and I didn't want to be creepy and keep taking pictures of the same kids! And in this picture the flying instructors are demonstrating the correct way to "MOUNT" your broomstick. When you do so, you must yell "MOUNT!" in as loud and ridiculous a voice as you can possibly manage. I will point out that you can see an adorable little girl with blonde braids wearing her little wizards robe on the far right of the picture. She was very concerned about holding on to her broomstick as well.
|This one was to confuse the enemies with how small it is and|
then take them out at the shins.
|This one is not poisonous. I smelled it, and it was beautiful.|
I also found her garden of poisonous plants to be quite fascinating. She is championing drug awareness, possibly a result of her brother in law (the former Duke of Northumberland) being found dead in his hotel room from an overdose of amphetamines. You can take a guided tour through the garden, and after doing that I don't think I will ever pick so much as a raspberry and eat it again (you never know what's growing around it)! It's all grocery store and farmers markets for me from now on!
Unfortunately my camera died halfway through the gardens, but I did get a couple nice shots.