02.05.2016 - 05.05.2016
Museum Monday. We continued our tradition of visiting famous university cities on public holidays, and headed to Oxford for the day. Yet again, ye olde park and ride was our weapon of choice, and yet again, it saved us time and money and parking related stress. We started at the Natural History Museum, and got our fix of all things naturally historical. Highlights included a dodo and several dinosaurs. I indulged in a good hour of people watching while Simon did his usual museum trick of reading every written word in the building (which, might I add, was impressive enough in itself). It was interesting to see 'Australia' and 'Tasmania' referenced as two separate locations on more than one information board. I would have thought a museum located at Oxford University would have their geography a bit better sorted than that, but nevermind.
After lunch we continued our highly intellectual study of the world of soft serve icecream, noting that the consistency of said soft serve in England appeared to be quite distinct from that found in Australia. And Tasmania. You could say we observed the serve. The only option from your Mr Whippy type establishment is to add a flake - no choc coating or sprinkles to be had. Just not the same.
We wandered past the Radcliffe Camera, which, as it turned out, was not named after Daniel Radcliffe. Who'd a thunk it? We encountered both walking tours and punting tours, but had learned from our experience in Cambridge and did not engage in either - which turned out just as well, because the rain started in the afternoon and didn't stop until we left Oxford.
We took ourselves out of the downpour and into the Pitt Rivers Museum - a vast collection of stuff. Literally. There were musical instruments, weapons, clothes, transport, writing implements, art... Just stuff, from all over the world. Including Australia. And Tasmania. So that took care of our afternoon, and then we rode back to our park, and let Feodora the sat nav guide us back to Northampton.
Tuesday Shoesday was almost an extension of Museum Monday, as we found ourselves at the Northampton Museum. The ground floor of which is essentially a museum of shoes. A Shoeseum, if you will. Not the world's greatest museum, a little haphazard in presentation and quality of exhibits, but possibly the greatest Shoeseum, so that's something. The top floor was a slightly more conventional (and even more daggy) museum of the history of Northampton, which featured a video playing on loop that I suspect was playing on a VHS. But hey - it's amazing what you'll go to for free, and we certainly got an afternoon's entertainment out of it. Zero pounds well spent.
Wednesday had no catchy title, unfortunately, but it saw us leave Northampton and the combined powers of Feodor and Feodora got us to Mawbray in radiant sunshine. Upon our arrival, the sun was certainly still shining but the wind was blowing a gale! Still, we went to the beach and saw Scotland. As you do. Dinner was sponsored by The Co-op, Guinness sponsored by John The Airbnb Host. Not a bad way to end a day's ninking, really.
Thursday started off all bleak and miserable, with sniddle and grey clouds. It was tempting to stay inside warming our hands by the Aga for the day, but our adventurous side won out and we set off for the Lake District. We stopped at Cockermouth (!) which was a quaint (and rather flood prone) village that was the home of William Wordsworth, Fletcher Christian and John Dalton. And a brewery. And lots of floods.
We continued to Keswick, which was a gorgeous (and still fairly flood prone) village that was home to Jemima Puddle-Duck, Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs Tiggywinkle and the like. By this stage the sun was shining and it was a balmy 17 degrees - so we were glad that we hadn't just stayed at home moping. We went for a splendid 5km stroll around Keswick, enjoying views of Derwentwater (not a lake) and farmland and fells and blue skies and generally spectacular countryside. We even walked up to the top of Castlehead for panoramic escape-to-the-country type views. We saw sheep and geese and ducks and tadpoles and sunshine. Ah the serenity... I'd arrived with high expectations of Lake District scenery, and I'm pleased to report that my expectations were met, well and truly. There was just something incredibly breathtaking about this particular combination of water/hills/grass/skies/trees. Full marks to the Lake District - you won me over.
We did a Dennis, and returned to Mawbray a different way from the outward journey. This proved to be worthwhile, as it gave the opportunity to take in different (but equally beautiful) scenery, as well as the opportunity to be diverted around an unexpectedly closed bridge.
We capped off a splendiferous day with a splendiferous meal at The Lowther, a two minute walk from our AirBnb and definitely one of the friendliest pubs I've had the privilege of visiting. Throw into the mix two pizzas for £12 (pulled pork and crispy duck, naturally), sweet potato fries and a waitress with stories about Iceland - pretty much a perfect night. John joined us on his return from work and the next thing we knew it was closing time. Tomorrow we will leave Mawbray - but we certainly hope to return to the Lake District somewhere along the line...