Travel Diary: Europe, 2018

Join Stephen and Rona Yarrow, and Steve and Debbie Hall, as they trek around England, Wales and Scotland during September 2018. In the first week of October they take the ferry to Amsterdam, then travel by train through Germany, Austria and Switzerland on their way to northern Italy. There's a lot to see in a very short time, but somebody has to do it!

Penny Lane will be "in our ears and in our eyes", though being "there beneath the blue suburban skies" is a bit of wishful thinking, knowing what the weather is like in Liverpool in September!

Previous posts

4.9.2018: Sydney to London
5.9.2018: London

6.9.2018: Canterbury, UK
7-9.2018: London City

8.9.2018: Greenwich, UK
8.9.2018: Goodwood Revival
9.9.2018: London

10.9.2018: Trip to Edinburgh
11.9.2018: Edinburgh

11.9.2018: Edinburgh
12.9.2018: Glasgow, Scotland
Stirling, Scotland
13.9.2018: Inverness, Scotland
Loch Ness, Scotland
14.9.2018: Train To Leeds, UK
15.9.2018: York, UK
16.9.2018: Leeds, Scarborough, UK
17.9.2018: Liverpool, UK

16th September 2018

We had a relaxed start of the day again, with breakfast over the road at The Palace. It's funny how you can develop an affinity with a place, and that is how we feel about The Palace. It's over the road from our hotel, the staff are friendly and it offers typical pub food that works a treat.

Sufficietly satisfied, our first port of call today was The Armouries Museum, which is just a short walk from our hotel. What a brillant place this is, in fact it would have to be Leeds's major tourist attraction. Set over 5 floors, it displays the British government's and monarchy's armouries collection - there's everything from Henry VIII's actual armour, to one of only three surviving examples of 19th century armour for elephants in India. None of us have any great interest in armour and armour collections, but it was so well presented we all found it both interesting and enlightening.

The Armouries

Though the weather was quite overcast but mild, we decided to take a train trip to the seaside resort town of Scarborough, stopping in at a small town called Malton on the way for lunch. For a minute there it looked as if we might have to make that afternoon tea, as we were captivated by the sight of three small pleasure boats entering a lock on the Leeds to Liverpool Canal beside The Armouries building. Stephen was the only one who had seen boats pass through a canal lock before, so we stopped and watched the boats enter the lock, the gates close behind them, water being pumped out to bring the boats down to the lower level, then the other gates opening and the boats sailing away up the canal. It reminded Debbie of an episode in the TV comedy "Keeping Up Appearances" in which Hyacinth passes through a lock on a boat.

We caught the 12.20pm train to Malton via York. As the minster's towers came into view, Debbie expressed how much she was attracted to York by saying, "Ah, there's something about York ... "

Rona enjoys some Spotted Dick

According to the tourist info, Malton is supposed to be all about food. We figured the title of Food Capital of Yorkshire might have to do with a number of food festivals held there, as our Sunday afternoon visit found it to be very quiet with only a few eating houses open. One that caught our eye was the Yorkshire Tea Rooms. Inside and outside it had a 'cottage' feel, helped no doubt by the fact it was run by a local mum and her two daughters who cooked everything on the menu themselves. The menu has plenty of Yorkshire favourites, like Roast Beef with Bovril gravy, Yorkshire Pudding and peas; Chip Butties; Jam Rolly Polly; Spotted Dick, which Stephen and Rona had for desert.

On again to our final destination - Scarbroough. Like Brighton and Blackoool, Scarborough was a fishing village until the industrial revolution turned it into a seaside resort town. It took on its new mantle when factory workers across Britain were given time off work for annual holidays and earned enough money to be able to afford to go somewhere. The logical place was the sea side - entrepreneurs realised the potential of beachside locations that were serviced by railways and built hotels at places like Scarborough.

We walked a lot - down to the sands then back up, up and up to Scarborough Castle which overlooks the town. It seemed an odd combination - a big, walled fishing boat harbour, a beach front promenade which had a carnival atmosphere definitely aimed at tourists, all overlooked by the ruins of an ancient castle. Evidence of prehistoric settlements, dated from 800BC and 500BC, were discovered during archeological excavations of the castle site.

Debbie, Knight of the Round Kitchen Table

In our short time in the UK we had seen a number of eating houses claiming they made "Britain's Best Fish and Ships" but one on the Scarborough seafront, Papas, was able to authenticate its claim by having been awarded the title by the BBC. We dined there, followed by another uphill jaunt to catch our train back to Leeds.

17th September 2018

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! ... guess where we were going today - Liverpool!. It was a 90 minute journey by train from Leeds and the first thing we did when we got there was to head down to Albert Dock and book our tickets for the Magical Mystery Tour, but more about that later. The long walk from the station was both pleasant and interesting. Debbie was pleasantly surprised to find Liverpool to be an open, clean place, and not the gritty, working class type of place she had expected it to be, In fact almost the entire shopping area on the way to the docks was a clean and open mall.

After booking the tour tickets, we started our exploration of the Docks area with a visit to The Beatles Story, which tells the story of the Beatles from their early connections to Liverpool, to their impact on the world of popular music. Again, it was well done with lots of facts, memorabilia and Beatles music, not to mention the obligatory Beatles shop and Fab 4 Cafe to relieve us of our hard earned money.

Debbie and Steve ... Penny Lane is in their ears and in their eyes

All this was followed up by our 4pm Magical Mystery Tour, which is a tourist bus ride around the suburbs of Liverpool to see the homes where John, Paul, George and Ringo grew up, relevant churches and schools, and some iconic locations like Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and The Cavern which are synonymous with the Fab Four. A bonus was a chance to drive the streets of Liverpool's suburbs and get a good look at the place.

In between booking our tour tickets and taking the tour itself we had intended to take the "ferry across the Mersey" and see as many of the six musurms on the waterfront as we could, but combined with stopping for lunch, we only had time to visit the Museum of Liverpool, where we found that there is much more to Liverpool than just The Beatles. We were fascinated by the staggering displays and detailed history, which stretches from prehistoric times to the present.

A bevy of stars - Debbie Hall, Cilla Black, Rona Yarrow

Now that's something that you don't see every day - a turnstyle into a toilet block with a sign on it advising that it out of order and so it can't take your money, so entry is fee, and apologising for any inconvenience caused. Naturally Stephen was heartbroken at the inconvenience of having to visit the loo for free rather than having to pay 50p.

Stephen Yarrow and Debbie Hall

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