England & Scotland 2012:: Days 1, 2, & 3: Arrival, Holy Island, and Whitby
The trip to Philly to catch our flight was uneventful. Because of my perpetual foot problems, I couldn't wear a sock on my right foot, and of course they made me take off my Doc Martens, so I looked a bit silly going through security with just one socked foot. Ah well. (I was randomly selected to do it again in London. :^|) We were very early, so there was a couple of hours of sitting around and reading before we got on the plane. Then we were in the air and on our way!
I actually slept a bit, which was a first for me. The flight was a bit late arriving in London, so it was quite a beeline to make our connection to Newcastle, but we made it.
Obviously, much happiness ensued when we met Sharon at the airport! :D :D :D
It was already afternoon, and we were exhausted, so we didn't do anything the first day but hang out at Sharon and Kirsty's (new to us) house. Kirsty made a delicious Thai green curry for dinner. We took a nap. We caught up. That sort of thing ... ready to hit the ground running the next morning!
Kirsty's dad kindly offered to drive us around the first two days to do some sightseeing, so the first stop on our agenda was Holy Island, where the famed Lindisfarne Gospels were made. Holy Island is obviously an island, but it is a bit of an unusual one: When the tide comes in, it floods the one road available to cross to and from the island, so you have to time your arrival and departure accordingly. Apparently, the tide comes in quickly enough that a few people each year trying to push a crossing get stranded and have to climb on top of their cars to avoid the rising water.
First, we headed to the priory, which was ruined when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and took the valuable lead roof, causing the building to collapse. Even ruined, it is quite an impressive structure.
When the priory was shut down, the stone was used to construct Lindisfarne Castle, magnificently atop a large hill. (However, I would not want to carry up groceries to that place!)
This was cool: the weathervane attached to a wind gauge in the castle.
Bobby and I both thought it'd be awesome to serve a big dinner in this room:
The castle had 360-degree views of the sea:
After Holy Island, we made a quick detour in Berwick, which is on the English-Scottish border (though on the English side).
It was windy.
That night we had dinner at Sharon and Kirsty's favorite pub, then it was home to good intentions to do something collective that never manifested because we were all tired.
The next day, we went down to Whitby with Kirsty's parents. Whitby is a seaside town with several claims to fame. It is home to the restaurant that serves the world's best fish and chips. (I'm not exactly sure who arbitrates that, but Bobby and Kirsty both agreed they were excellent.) It is also the town that inspired parts of Bram Stoker's Dracula.
It reminded me of a British version of Ocean City: the same junk shops, seafood restaurants, and salty smell to the air. We stopped for lunch at Magpie's first, home of the world's best fish and chips (as arbitrated by Whomever). Bobby has been talking about this for weeks, ever since we decided to go.
And, okay, confessions of the world's worst vegetarian: I had an eensy bite. I couldn't pass up the chance to say I'd tried the world's best fish and chips, and I haven't deliberately eaten meat in 18 years!
After that, we strolled around, giggled over the candied boobs and penises for sale in the novelty stores, and then headed for the Whitby Museum.
Oh, the weather--as you can see--was gorgeous: sunny, clear, and rather warm. (To me, it was a bit chilly, but I recognize that it was unseasonably nice for England in early spring, and I enjoyed that.)
The Whitby Museum would be better named, in my opinion, the Motley Museum, as they had a little bit of everything: art, old coins, objects in lightbulbs, model ships constructed by French prisoners of war using bones from their rations, stuffed wildlife, Nigerian artifacts, and a mummified hand--the "Hand of Glory"--that was apparently used by thieves under the superstition that occupants of the house being robbed would not awaken so long as the hand held or provided the light (from the fingers being lit on fire). A guy apparently found it randomly above his door. Imagine finding that?!?
(I'd actually like to find such a thing, but we all know I tend toward the macabre.)
I followed Sharon and Kirsty around and provided narration like a pirate, which led me to being dubbed the Gay Pirate with Rickets, which led Sharon to being dubbed the Gay Pirate with Rickets' Little Sister with Rickets. (No, I am not gay, and neither of us have rickets. It's one of those random inventions that tend to occur whenever we spend time together and based on an indecipherable entanglement of inside jokes.)
We next visited the Whitby Abbey--also ruined--that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula. Well, it's rather easy to see why, in my opinion.
Whitby Abbey also has a lovely view of the sea.
That night, we had dinner at a vegetarian restaurant that Sharon and Kirsty like (possibly to make up for my earlier transgression ._.), and it was delicious. We stayed up too late, given that we had to catch a train to Edinburgh the next morning, but it was fun.
More on that to come. :)
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