Been travellin’ – Chapter 1 (England)

You may or may not have noticed the lack of posts over the last few months. Heather and I have been travelling. A lot.. But we’re home for a while now so it’s time to get back to work. Shortly after the retaining wall was finished we hopped on a jet and headed over to England and France. England was a quick stop. We landed in Gatwick and travelled south to Botley where we stayed with our friends Lynn and Antony at their place. They have a beautiful old house in the village that was built in 1868. Quite a change from our BC definition of old architecture in which 1900 is pretty much prehistoric 🙂 Their property and gardens were super nice and gave Heather and I some ideas of things to do at home.

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View from the garden in Botley

The first day was kind of rough because we had left Vancouver at 1:30 in the afternoon, arrived at Gatwick at 7:30 AM and then took the train to Chichester where Lynn picked us up and settled us in. No sleep on the plane really and we forced ourselves to stay awake for the remainder of the day until it was a decent time to go to bed. Long story short – 30 hours awake. We had a great sleep the next day and Lynn took us on a trip to Winchester which was England’s ancient capital.  A lovely city. We toured around and saw the Winchester Cathedral as well as Winchester Castle (or at least the Great Hall which is all that is left of it) and an imitation Arthurian “Round Table” that was built in the 13th century and tarted up later painted for Henry the VIII. Pretty cool. Couldn’t get over how OLD stuff was there.

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Winchester Cathedral
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Winchester High Street
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River walk in Winchester
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Round Table in the Great Hall – Winchester

While we were in Winchester we wandered up the High Street and I picked up a SIM card and All-in-One “pay as you” go plan from 3Mobile for the time we were to be in England and France. Roaming was free, it came with 300 minutes of talk, 3000 texts and 12GB of data for 1 month. £20!! Worked out to be a great deal and we had coverage everywhere we went. Didn’t need to use wifi at all. Highly recommended.

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After our day wandering around Lynn and Antony took us for dinner at The Shoe in Exton. A nice little “Gastro Pub”. The food was really good, the beer was tasty and we enjoyed a lovely warm evening.

Next day was goodbye to Lynn and Antony and back on the train to Reading where we had booked our first ever Airbnb stay. It was Great! Our hosts Mark and Celina made us feel at home and their back garden was beautiful. Stole some ideas there as well.

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Mark and Celina’s Airbnb in Reading
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Hosta’s in the garden

Our reason for heading to Reading was to meet up with Ben. We met Ben a few years ago when we took a G Adventures trip to the Galapagos and Macchu Picchu. We met up with Ben at the All Bar One in the Oracle Centre where we had dinner and caught up on the last few years. It was so great to see Ben again and hear what he’d been up to.

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Heather and Ben
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The Almshouses – Reading

We said goodbye to Ben and had a nice walk back to our place. It was starting to really get warm and it looked like that was going to be the trend for the rest of our trip. We decided we had no problems with that. The next day we were taking the Eurostar to Paris and were really excited about the next stop in our adventure – Paris.

We had a great sleep and got up refreshed. Celina had set up a great breakfast spread. We packed up and when she offered us a ride to the train station (as she had to go that way to do some morning errands) we gladly accepted.  The first stage of the day’s travel was Reading to Paddington Station and then a tube ride to St. Pancras to catch the Eurostar train to Paris. We had decided we would do this trip as a “carry-on only” trip and so we had just our Osprey Talon 33 backpacks and our small sling Pacsafes (which have done a great job of keeping our stuff safe in some sketchy areas).  So far the lightweight packing was the right choice as we we weren’t lugging heavy bags around and had whizzed through our incoming customs proccessing at Gatwick a few days previously.

At St. Pancras we met up with Claire (the daughter of our good freinds Margaret and David in Salmon Arm) who lives in London. It was a quick but wonderful visit. We said goodbye to Claire and checked in for our train ride under the channel. The Eurostar train was really nice and comfortable. We had a nice smooth (fast) ride and by 4 PM had arrived at the Paris Gare Du Nord station ready for the next chapter.

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St. Pancras station
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Boarding the Eurostar
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Leaving the station – Next stop Paris

So far so good. Heather was going to get a LOT of practise with her french for the next few weeks as we travelled through France. We had hit the ground running and Paris promised to turn things up a notch.

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