UK Holiday report29 Jan 2018 | UK Netherlands holiday
After 9 days back at work in 2018 it was time for another holiday. This trip was designed to spend time with the in-laws rather than visit and explore places we wanted to see. So really a friends and family visit in the depth of a UK winter.
The flights worked best travelling out via Adelaide, so we left on Sunday evening from Canberra, through Adelaide, then Dubai arriving into London Gatwick mid-morning a day later. The flights were all very easy - as we had paid for business class and I’d snatched a standard 7 hours of good sleep onboard, and a refreshing shower on our layover in Dubai winning. To complete the ‘easy-as-it-gets’ trip halfway around the world we met our chauffeur driver soon after landing for a door to door drive the 60 miles out to our base in Pamber Heath.
Up early the next morning I waited until it was light (about 7:30am) and took my legs out for a stretch around the forest and common that Denise’ parents house backs onto. Crisp and boggy but with some lovely trails and enough space to lose yourself in.
We then visited the Tadley shops to stockup on our vegetarian-and-low-sodium dietary needs, and visited the local cafe for a couple of strong coffees to help reset our body clocks. Over the next few days at we set into a ryhthm, I would awake pre-dawn and spend an hour or two tinkering on the laptop, then go for a run, then return for second breakfast and wait for the house to be awake, before a lunchtime or afternoon excursion out somewhere. I managed to:
- visit Watership Down
- visit Windsor castle
- visit the locals; Calleva Arms pub for dinner, and the Pelican for a pint
- get in a few more trail and footpath runs
- re-establish the node js application running api.adamrumbold.com on AWS after redhat openshift decomissioned the existing free VM and their platform wouldn’t support custom domains anymore.
- continue to tinker on migrating our Wybalena Grove website onto the static open source Grav platform
On the Friday we headed over to Reading to spend the night with Nicola, and have a night out in Reading. We only made it to a single coctail bar, and then a local pub for a drink on the way home. Our bodies weren’t quite adapted enough for a wild night out. The weekend had us heading into London to visit friends in Highgate for drinks, and catchup with an old school friend of mine.
It was a cold and wet day in London so we wandered through the Burrough markets and then visited the Tate modern for a couple of hours. That night we wandered up the hill to the Dukes Head and rather than a pub crawl spent the evening catching up with Sarah, Andrew, Susan and Ian.
On Sunday we attempted to meetup with Denise’ older sister and visit the Natural History Museum, unfortunately there was a massive queue outside in the snow and cold, so we instead wandered through the Victoria and Albert museum. Later that afternoon we met up with Will and his fiancé Bernie at the Royal Art Academy for a cup of tea, followed by a quick beer at a local free house before the slow train back to Reading.
To get ourselves back to Pamber Heath on Monday we opted for the convenience of an uber, which for just £18 was well worth it. Once back I decided to quickly head off for a long run - as with darkness descending before 5pm, time was of the essence. The run was lovely, through a few forests, old Bucklebury, then back along the canal for a sneaky 43k run.
Denise in this time had come down with the flu and was bed bound for a few days. Tuesday I had an easy recovery day walking into the village and buying supplies for a poorly Denise (and a few English ales for me), then making a nice soup. Thursday morning with Denise still feeling rotten, we were picked up by Nicola for the 4 hour drive north to Manchester. This was so I could experience a CAMRA real ale festival - and this one didn’t dissappoint. There were literally hundreds of beers, with over half true English cask ales, and the remainder kegged beers of all flavours and styles. Nicola and I put in a good solid 7 hours of sampling and slowly drinking our way through the beers of interest.
Friday morning we explored Manchesters Northern quarter to see what had changed in the 15 years since living there.
We took a short KLM flight over to Schipol and then headed to Delft to catchup and stay with Mishka and her family. Since we last visited, they have moved and are living in a nice, (relatively) big house in a village (or more like a suburb) just outside of Delft. On Saturday we travelled back into Amsterdam to stay with our friends Martin and Sonja. We took a short bike ride to Oude Pijp to see the place where Denise, Martin and Sonja used to live, and spent some time strolling through the markets. That evening we Sonja drove out of Amsterdam to have a lovely dinner at Wendy, Roland and Polo’s new house.
Sunday was an early start, with a drive to Den Helder, followed by a short ferry trip over to the island of Texel. This is where Martin grew up, and his family has a history reaching back a few hundred years. Denise and I spent a bit of time by the wind swept north sea at De Koog. I fortunately could use this opportunity to get a run in :)
A late lunch at Martin’s parents house in the Oosterend village. This was a beautiful old house, with so much character, which his parents have built upon over time. Martins parents house is next door to the a church, with surrounding gravestones, many with the Vlaming surname etched on them.
There is also the communal barometer that the fishermen of the village would consult before heading out into the fierce north sea. It was lovely to spend time in this nice little village, with a nice family, and with such a lovely house. We even got magical sunset colours as we left.
Martin kindly dropped us at the airport - and we timed it perfectly, through the standard security and immigration ho-ha, to the gate, and boarding straight away. Only to sit on the plane delayed for about 30 minutes. Such is life.
UK pt. 2
We got back still feeling the last traces of the UK cold we picked up. So we unfortunately had to scotch our plans for a catchup with a friend for a meal in London. We headed back to Nicola’s place in Reading for a bite to eat, a shower and coffee. From their I decided to mission home on foot, slightly longer than first thought, but a really nice run
On Tuesday we took a nice drive along back roads up the Thames up to a nice waterfront cafe in Benson. Wednesday was spent catching up with Denises oldest uncle Brian down in Southhampton, and a dinner with the family out at the Old Mill pub in Old Basing.
That brought us up to the end of our trip - with a slog across the M25 to Gatwick and schlepping across the globe to get back home in time for work on Monday.