Monday, September 7, 2009

Bonjour Paris

After coming to the end of our trip through the UK we were both excited to get on the train to Paris. We have had a busy few days since arriving but are loving every minute. We arrived late Saturday afternoon so decided to relax & take a walk along the river Seine before wandering through the shops in the Le Marais & having dinner at a typical french restaurant (snails & all). Yesterday was a long day but again we had a great time - we caught the train to Versailles & spent the day looking through the Kings Palace, apartments, gardens (including the fountain show) & then Marie-Antionette's House. After returning to Paris we visited the Eiffel Tower & although most people say its over rated we still enjoyed it & of course the views from the top are fantastic. Today we have been to the Louvre (& yes we saw the Mona Lisa) and then walked from the Louvre along Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe where once again the views over Paris were pretty cool. So far the plan for tonight is to visit Notre Dame & then head back to the Eiffel Tower to see it in all it's night time glory - by this time we should be ready for sleep!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lakes District, Yorkshire, Cumbria & back to London

After leaving Edinburgh we thought we'd take a scenic route to Harrogate, Yorkshire, & go via the Lakes District to see Hill Top (the Beatrix Potter farm). Unfortunately the weather was MISERABLE & the area was packed with visitors for the long weekend so after a quick stopover and look through the Beatrix Potter Gallery we continued on our way to Harrogate. We had a great couple of nights in Harrogate staying with Nick & his family and from here we spent Monday looking around York. We both really loved York & had a fantastic day Monday visiting the York Minster, the Shambles & wandering around the streets & the shops. Before leaving Harrogate on Tuesday Nick showed us through his 'egg business' right from the chickens laying to the packaging & marketing which was really fascinating. From here we continued south (stopping in at the Wedgwood museum) to stay with Roger & his family. Again we had a great stay & really enjoyed being able to see the numerous ventures Roger & his boys are operating - gave us plenty to think about!! On the move again we headed back towards the Wales border to visit Aled who was kind enough to give up his time & let us tour his new chicken house (142,000 in a single shed - we didn't even see the other sheds) & processing/packaging facility. This was an incredible setup to see & I can honestly say I don't think we will ever see so many eggs again (packing well over 1 million eggs per day). From here we continued on to stay with Nick for the night before making our way back towards Cambridge for a full day of meetings & then back to London to finish the UK portion of our trip.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Unfortunately Bruce was not very well for the Edinburgh leg of our trip & spent all of Saturday in bed. I on the other hand had a great time touring Edinburgh Castle (including the Crown Jewels), wandering around Princes St & climbing to the top of Scotts monument for fantastic views over Edinburgh. Since Bruce wasn't in tow I also managed to fill in my time with a bit of shopping! Thankfully Bruce was feeling a little better come Sunday so before leaving we went for another walk through the gardens beside Edinburgh Castle and then along the Royal Mile down to parliament & the Queen's Edinburgh residence.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Northern Ireland & into Scotland

The remainder of our time in Dublin was good fun. We had an amazing meal at a french restaurant Tuesday night & then spent Wednesday morning looking around Dublin. We managed to see Oscar Wilde's house & toured Trinity College including The Book of Kells. From Dublin we headed north to briefly stop in at Belfast to see some of the political murals & then onwards towards Ballymena. Thursday we had a fantastic day visiting the Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-rede ropebridge & driving the Glens of Antrim around the north east coast of Ireland. The coastline really was spectacular and in the morning before the rain set in again you could see all the way across to Scotland. Friday saw us catching the ferry from Larne to Cairnryan in Scotland. Thankfully this ferry ride was much quicker & much much smoother than the last. Once we had arrived in Scotland we followed the coastline north into Glasgow to visit George's square & then east to Edinburgh.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Over the sea & into Ireland

After the worst ferry trip of our lives (no exaggeration - I'll spare you the details) we arrived in Ireland. The weather was typically Irish - cold, wet & windy so we headed to The Lobster Pot, a local pub near the beach specialising in crab & lobster. After lunch & once our stomachs had settled from the ferry we headed south into Waterford to see the crystal manufacturing which has since closed & been shipped off shore so toured the showrooms instead. From Waterford we continued south west to Cork where we stayed with another Nuffield scholar & Bruce met with some of the agricultural guys from one of the banks. In the afternoon we decided to head north-west to Killarney (massive tourist trap full of Americans) and then continued on to drive the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry was quite spectacular with some quaint little villages and amazing views over the west coast of Ireland although the rain didn't stay away for long & soon you were lucky to see even the railing beside you for rain & fog.
Today we have driven from Cork to Dublin stopping in at The Rock of Cashel along the way. The Rock of Cashel was good to see although I may regret to say that we are nearly all castle/cathedralled out! As I type this now I am waiting for Bruce to return from a meeting with the Irish Farm Journal before we take off again to check out the sites of Dublin.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

New South Welshmen in Wales

We arrived in Cardiff, Wales, on Thursday & spent the day looking around Cardiff Castle (not much to see) & Millennium Stadium. The tour of Millennium stadium was good although a little disappointing as they had the turf up & were setting up for the U2 concert Saturday night so was a little hard to picture it in its full rugby glory. Later in the afternoon we headed to Cardiff Bay for a coffee - once again it was nice but not fantastic. I guess it comes down to the fact that despite being a capital city it's still relatively small & you really can't compare it to the likes of Sydney or London.
Friday we headed across to the west coast of Wales, stopping in at Caerphilly Castle and then Tenby along the way. Tenby was pretty although one of the biggest tourist traps we saw in Wales. Set on the hill overlooking the beach & ocean it was so packed with tourists they actually shut off the town centre to traffic during the day to allow the tourists to spill onto the streets. The view was pretty although the wind was freezing (seems it was just us who thought so - the Welsh were walking around in shorts & thongs, and still swimming in the water - for us it was like the middle of winter!).
Friday night we spent with a farmer near Pembroke & had a great look around his farm which included everything from cropping, dairy, potatoes, lamb fattening & a little bit of real estate. They had just started digging potatoes they day we arrived & were about halfway through the wheat harvest (averaging 70bags - really quite depressing). The wheat harvesting didn't quite seem the same as at home - it was so wet the header & chaser bin were leaving 10inch ruts in the ground and there was no dust to be seen. Before leaving Saturday we also managed to touring their local potato processing/packing plant which was great to see.
Saturday night we headed a little further north to stay with another scholar & really enjoyed our time looking around his sheep and national trust property. The views here were just spectacular - lush green hills dotted with sheep - its amazing what 80inches of rainfall a year can do!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oxford to Exeter via Stonehenge & Onwards to Bath

Kirsty please note the inclusion of this photo!

After leaving the Oxford area we headed south west towards Exeter stopping in at Stonehenge along the way. Stonehenge was packed with tourists & great to see although the day itself was fairly cold and miserable. From Stonehenge we went back into Salisbury to see the Salisbury Cathedral, noted as having the tallest spiral in England, & its pillars have even buckled under the weight giving it a permanent lean. From Salisbury we continued on to Exeter and had lots of fun staying with Michael Dart (Nuffield scholar) & checking out his 'farm shop'. The shop was absolutely incredible & gave us both a lot of food for thought - I even helped out the business side of things by doing a little shopping myself!

After Exeter we headed north to Bridgewater for more meetings organised by Ian Tremain (Nuffield scholar) & continued on to near Weston to stay with another scholar & his family, Alistair House.
From Weston we drove via Blagdon on to Bath - the drive itself was quite pretty if not a little hairy at times through the tiny narrow country laneways. We were both excited to arrive in Bath although our excitement soon faded once we queued for an hour and 20 minutes for a car park (who would ever go travelling in peak tourist season??!!). Once finally parked, we spent the afternoon wandering the streets & touring the original Roman Baths & Pump Room as well as checking out the old Georgian houses along Royal Crescent & The Circus.

Our last night before heading to Wales we had a great time with Simon Ball (Nuffield scholar) & his family, touring the family & checking out their farm shop.