On Sunday, August 2nd it was packing time again as the next day I left for my summer trip to Europe.
London – 4-6 August
First stop was London where I arrived on the morning of the 4th after a sleepless flight (nothing new there, at least not in economy). I headed straight to my dear friends Silvia and Wayne’s. Apart from a stroll around Balham I didn’t do much that day.
Silvia had taken the day off on Wednesday and we tubed it to London Bridge station. After a short stroll through the revamped area, we sat down for a nutty cup of coffee at the London Riviera. Feeling properly caffeinated we felt ready for a bit of culture, so down to City Hall we went to see the Bleeding London Photography exhibition. This project is inspired by Geoff Nicholson’s Whitbread short-listed novel Bleeding London, in which a character named Stuart London walks the complete length and breadth London; Londoners and visitors to the capital have been following in Stuart’s footsteps and photographing every street as they go.
Strolling, sipping and looking made us feel peckish so we enjoyed lunch with a view at Dim T, just next to the Riviera.
Then it was time to make our way, via Euston Station, to Watford Junction. Watford? Yes, Watford. What the hell for?!
Well… you may remember some rather popular books turned rather popular movies about a spectacled wizard boy? The studios where the movies were filmed happen to be in said Watford and yours truly was more then a little excited to finally be able to go and see this. So without hesitation we boarded the special shuttle that took us to Warner Bros Studios – The Making of Harry Potter. The tour is put together really well: props, sets, background, and we got to go on the Hogwarts Express! One very happy camper!! Two actually… I suspect Silvia enjoyed it almost as much as I did 🙂
On Thursday Wayne and I took a drive to Box Hill, Surrey. We went for a nice walk and then sat down for the obligatory lattes and had an enjoyable lunch – but I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the place…
Dublin, Ireland – 7-10 August
This part was all about family. Months before, on board The World in South Africa, Alison and I had hatched the plan to get my mum, brother and aunt Erna on board The World for the weekend in Dublin. We decided to go ahead and still do this; Stefaan was with us in our hearts.
Besides enjoying being on board this wonderful ship, we also enjoyed sightseeing in and around Dublin. Mum and Erna both really love gardens, so one of the highlights was a visit to Powerscourt Estate where we enjoyed lunch and a stroll around the gardens.
Oban and Edinburgh, Scotland – 11-13 August
Mum and tante Erna had disembarked The World the previous day and flown back home from Dublin.
While sailing out of Dublin it was nice catching up with good friends Peter and Stephanie.
We arrived in Oban the morning of the 11th and I took the tender over to shore to spend the best part of the afternoon exploring the town. The view from McCaig’s Tower over the town and bay was rather nice. That evening our friends Marianne and Rick, and their son Alex, invited me along to dinner at the Manor House.
The next day I disembarked and took quite scenic train from Oban to Edinburgh, via Glasgow.
I arrived in Edinburgh the evening of the 12th and, after checking into the Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor close to Haymarket station, I went for an evening walk into town. It was a gorgeous night for a walk.
The next morning announced itself with the promise of a gorgeous summer day and it did not disappoint until well into the night. After breakfast at the hotel I set out to explore. Edinburgh is a gorgeous mix of Old Town and New Town, which is the reason for its Unesco status. St Mary’s Cathedral, Randolph Crescent, Ainslie Place, Moray Place, George Street full of outside terraces, Edinburgh Photographic Society Exhibition, … then I wandered over towards the old town where I sat down for lunch. old streets, Fringe venues, National Museum of Scotland, up to Edinburgh Castle, all the way back to Waverley and back to my hotel for a short rest.
In the evening I went to the office of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo just on the off-chance that a single ticket would have become available (they were sold out earlier that day) and what d’you know… I got lucky! So up the hill I went again to see the spectacle. A fitting end to a lovely day in this beautiful city.
Rain had come overnight (storms according to some) so this being the UK, naturally the trains were all messed up, with mine cancelled. Of course. Not to worry, I got handed a new timetable and waited for the next connection towards Doncaster. No reserved seat anymore but luckily I found an empty one. Only one hour later than planned, I arrived in Doncaster where Bruce, Ann and Sonny were waiting for me. I stayed one night in at the Mount Pleasant Hotel and one night with Bruce and Ann.
We enjoyed a stroll around the local fair, a visit to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and lots of catching up.
Very early start on Sunday, August 16th, to take a 6am taxi to Manchester airport to catch my 10am flight to Brussels to go to Eeklo (5 days) and Gent (2 days).
After checking into lovely B&B Cambiare in Eeklo I went out to enjoy the last evening of the Herbakkersfestival and enjoyed concerts by Les Bandits de Belleville, Frank Boeijen Groep, Nordmann (up to a point) and The Skyblasters. The next few days I spent time with my mum, caught up with my cousin Katrien and with friends. On the Thursday night I went to the ‘Helden in het Park’ concert with.
This was also the first time I got to see Stefaan’s Memorial stone.
Friday 21 August I shifted to Gent where I stayed with Hilde and family. I got to catch up with Ina and Gina.
On the Sunday I flew back home to San Francisco.