Off on a Cruise

Ivan and I woke up at 9 am on July 3, 2013.  We gathered up our luggage.

It was an overcast day.  We left Sussex at 10 am.  Ivan recognized the area of Gants Hill since his grandparents lived there.  Ivan said we just had to stop at Shalom Hot Bagels for a Jewish bagel.

We parked right in front of the bagel shop and picked up a bagel to share and a few fish balls.  The bagel was a lot more dense and tasted fantastic.  The fish balls were good.

It was a short drive away to Romford where we were picking up our Australian friends Tim & Gabbie.  We arrived at 11 am at Gabbie’s cousin’s apartment.

Tim and Gabbie said good-bye to Gabbie’s cousin and his wife and kid.  We were glad that Tim and Gabbie only had a small suitcase and two small backpacks since we had a a lot of big luggage already in the car.

It was great to see the Aussies again since we get along with both of them so well.  They’re super cool and so fun.  We spent a lot of time with them in Las Vegas.

Ivan drove us towards Dover, our trip took an hour.  We bought alcohol at a convenience store.  Ivan dropped us off and then dropped off the car at the car rental office.

We waited for him and then went upstairs at the cruise port to check in at 1:40 pm.  I’m glad there wasn’t a long line.  Check-in was relatively fast.  We each got a bottle of liquor each on the ship.  You could always try to sneak on more alcohol by checking your bags in.  Sometimes, the boats scan… but we’ve always gotten stuff on with no trouble.  Our group was on the Carnival Legend at 1:55 pm.

This cruise ship is a lot smaller than most cruise ships we’ve been on, but it’s going to Scandinavia and we love the cruise director, John Heald who’s so funny.  He’s the brand ambassador of Carnival – he basically is the face of Carnival.  His personal assistant Calvyn is hilarious.  Together they are such a comedy duo.  We’ve done a few Carnival cruises with both of them before.

Atrium on the Carnival Legend

We love walking in to the grand Atrium which was dark brown and gold which reminded me of the Louis Vuitton bags.  Norwegian doesn’t have an Atrium on their cruise ships.  I just think all cruise ships should have an Atrium.  It’s just a great central place to meet, hear music or have a drink.  I really like seeing the elevators going up from the Atrium.

The rooms were ready, so we checked out Tim and Gabbie’s interior room.  Then, Ivan and I put our backpacks in our room.  We got a room with a balcony.  I love being able to see the ocean right from bed.  Also, it’s great to have breakfast on the balcony.

It was time for lunch – so we went up to the buffet in the Unicorn Cafe.  We had some great fish.  The apple crumble was really tasty for dessert.  The food in the buffet here in Carnival was better than the gourmet food on the Norwegian Epic.  That’s pretty sad.

Ivan took us on a tour around the ship.  I call it the ‘Ivan tour’ since it’s just following Ivan around the ship on the first day.  It’s really quiet everywhere, so it’s the best time to walk around and take pictures.  I’m used to really bright décor on the Carnival boats.

Follies Theatre on the Carnival Legend

The décor is bright in some areas, but it has a medieval theme.  I never thought of a medieval theme, but it’s different and looks great.

Lil Dave went to search the cruise ship for other monkeys to play with.

Ivan, Tim, Gabbie and I played a fun game of miniature golf.

Jen playing mini golf on the Carnival Legend

Tim ended up winning.

Ivan and I chilled in the room before going to the Mandatory Safety Briefing.  We heard the cruise director John on the intercom and he made funny comments.  It was good to hear his voice.  Being on a Carnival cruise ship on the first day feels like coming home to me.

Tim and Gabbie met us in our room.  We had champagne on the balcony for the sail away from Dover.

Ivan and Jen with their champagne

We gave Tim his birthday gift which was a fez and stick-on mustaches.

It was cool passing by the white cliffs of Dover.  Too bad that the weather was still overcast.  The pictures would have turned out a lot better with blue skies.

The White Cliffs of Dover

We chilled on the balcony for awhile and listened to music.  Ivan, Tim and Gabbie went to the Truffles Restaurant to change so that we would be on the same dining table for dinner.

Ivan and I started getting ready.  He left after his shower to play the Mind Game Trivia while I was still getting ready.

He didn’t win the trivia game.  I met him at 8 pm.

We went to our table which was #220.  There was a couple sitting there who were in their 40’s.  Tim and Gabbie joined us shortly.  We found out that the couple are from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with three kids.

I started with a linguini for a starter.  My main course was tilapia which was average.  It came with a tasty mac & cheese for a side dish.

Ivan and I got the famous chocolate melting cake to share for dessert.  It was so very tasty.

Tim and Gabi were pigs and got four desserts to share.

Tim & Gabi eating lots of desserts

Ivan, Tim and Gabbie and I headed to the theatre Follies.  We wanted to get a good seat for the Welcome Aboard Show.

I headed to the toilet.  Calvyn was doing Bingo and recognized Ivan.

The Welcome Aboard Show was really funny.  John, the cruise director, talked to Tim and Gabbie since they clapped when he asked where the honeymooners were and we were sitting in the front row.

Later, when they were picking six people to go on stage.. John said Come on, Blondie to Gabbie to head up to the stage.  Gabbie is really shy and doesn’t like being on stage.  I thought it was funny that she was picked.  I knew she didn’t want to go up at all.  I guess she felt she had to.

John can make any situation funny.  Some of the people were funny like the guy who has been married for 50 years.  To celebrate being married for 50 years, he and his wife got tattoos with their names on their upper arm.

John Heald and Gabi at the Welcome Aboard Show

Gabbie was really shy and you could tell, so John didn’t talk to her much.  All six people got a bottle of champagne and a gold ship on a stick (cruise ship trophy) for being on stage.

Ivan, Tim, Gabbie and I headed to Guest Services.  Ivan and Gabbie wrote letters to John.  Ivan told him about our wedding anniversary and Gabbie wrote about how they’re on a year long honeymoon.

Gabbie switched her champagne bottle for a cold one.  We headed to the room to drink champagne and talked for awhile before going to bed.


Blue Wembley

I woke up at 8 am on July 2, 2013 since I thought I heard a knock on the door.  But, I guess I was just worried that we would wake up late.  Ivan got up since he couldn’t go back to sleep.  I was supposed to wake up at 8:30 am, but I was tired from waking up earlier than planned and slept until 8:45 am.

Ivan and I had our breakfast which included the lovely trifle, apple juice, tea and poached eggs with smoked salmon. 

Ivan drove me to my hair appointment at Havens.  My blue and aqua highlights have been turning green and yellow, so I needed to fix it.  I don’t remember my hairdresser’s name, but she was a nice English girl with long blonde hair.  I spent hours getting blue highlights in my hair. 

Me with foils on at Havens

I was reading my magazine and thinking about life.  I also got a haircut since it’s been ages since my last haircut.  I always seem to forget my hair cut when I’m traveling.  My hair looked good, but not as obviously blue as before.. not as chunky, but it looked good.  It looked dark blue, but the girl said it would lighten up after washing it a few times.  I guess we’ll see about that.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to find a place for lunch.  Ivan thought The Opposition Bistro looked good.  The place next door looked good, but it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Sat down in The Opposition Bistro which was looked great inside.  Lil Dave got a banana salad.  Ivan and I each got the set menu.  We both got a tomato and aubergine soup for our starters which turned out quite lovely. 

Salmon at The Opposition Bistro

The main course was salmon with asparagus, mashed potatoes and a pea sauce.  It was a wonderful meal.

I walked to the post office with Lil Dave.  Ivan went to 3 to get a USB internet stick.  I bought lots of stamps for all the postcards I was sending out.  We also seem to send out so many postcards at once.

I was waiting for Ivan to come back and was browsing the postcards.  The Stratford-upon-Avon postcards aren’t very good.  I’m surprised there’s not any pictures of the river and the swans on the river.  That’s very Stratford-upon-Avon to me. 

Ivan started driving us at 2 pm towards London.  Tonight, we’re going to be seeing Robbie Williams for the second time.  It’s awesome that our first night we got to see him and our last night of of our English road trip. 

It was another overcast day.  It started raining at 2:30 pm.  We arrived in Sussex at 3:30 pm. 

The Airbnb apartment was right near Wembley Stadium which was perfect since that’s where the concert is tonight.  Wembley is where Queen performed and where the original Live Aid was. 

We parked our car at the Airbnb apartment.  Too bad we couldn’t check in until 6 pm. We started walking towards Wembley Stadium.  It was really crowded. 

Ivan did his research online and found out that you could go in different gates that didn’t match your ticket.  One didn’t work, so we weren’t sure if it would work on a different one.  It started showering.  Ivan found one that actually worked and called me over since I was trying to hide under the roof. 

We got in without joining the long line at the gate that matched on our ticket thanks to Ivan’s smart thinking.  Thankfully, we got into the Golden Circle without a special ticket or people checking for wristbands. 

We got our two wristbands to re-enter later on.  Ivan and I sat down in two seats and played games on our phones.

At 6:30 pm, Ivan and I went to get dinner.  We had delicious peri-peri chicken which came on a skewer that was on top of a tortilla filled with rice and vegetables.  There was so much food in the tortilla that you couldn’t really make it into a taco that could be easily eaten.  I tried, but it started falling apart toward the end. 

We had more time to spare and sat playing our games and chatting while sitting down. 

Later, Olly Murs came on at 7:30 pm.  He was good, but I think he was sick since he couldn’t really hit the high notes.. also, he said that he was so tired. 

Robbie Williams Concert

We started walking up to the toilets when “Troublemaker” came on since it’s his last song.

It’s great that Wembley Stadium has lots of food stalls and toilets.  But, it’s always smart to go early for the ladies toilets.  I still don’t understand why it takes women so long to use the loo. 

Robbie Williams came on at 9 pm.  He once again made a grand entrance by ziplining down into the stadium.  This time the stadium was filled with 75,000 people.  He’s so popular in Europe with a backlog of wonderful songs.. so he can still fill up the stadiums for multiple nights in a city. 

Fire coming out of Robbie's head

It was another amazing concert, so glad that we got to see him twice.  Robbie walks around and definitely puts on quite a show.  He’s a cheeky, funny guy.  He sang lots songs like Millennium, Hot Fudge, Me and My Monkey and Come Undone.  Olly Murs came out and sang Kids with him.

Colorful graphics on Robbie's head

His encore was the same with Feel, She’s the One and Angels.  Robbie told us to think of any loved ones who have passed on before he sang Angels.  Everybody was singing along during Angels.  I was crying thinking about a few friends who have passed on.  Also, I think I was really enjoying the concert as well and it made me all emotional.  What a beautiful night of lovely entertainment by Mr. Williams.  If you ever get the opportunity to see Robbie Williams, I wouldn’t hesitate to go see him.

The Wembley arch looks pretty lit up at night.

Wembley Stadium arch at night

Ivan and I walked 5 minutes to get to the Airbnb apartment.  We talked with the girl there while her boyfriend wasn’t that chatty.  We talked about Las Vegas, the concert and London before going to bed.


Mad Shakespeare World

On July 1, 2013, Ivan and I had the breakfast at the Moss Cottage at 9 am.  We had the tasty Moss Cottage trifle which is Greek yogurt with granola, dried apricot and honey.  We also got toast, poached eggs with smoked salmon and juice.  I picked apple instead of orange since I’m not the biggest fan of orange juice.  The apple juice was really nice.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I left the B&B before 10 am.  Ivan found a car park and we parked the car there.

Walked to the Swan Fountain and arrived before 11 am. 

It was a big group of 30 people and 1 monkey for the Stratford Town Walk.  Our tour guide was a local lady named Barbara. 

We saw the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre. 

On Market Street, they painted a red post box gold since a guy form Stratford-upon-Avon is a gold medalist. 

Two gold post boxes

There’s two post boxes, but the other one was left red and it looked funny next to the gold one, so they painted that one gold as well.

Barbara showed us different thatch houses and let us know if they were old or new.  It was hard to tell sometimes.

Thatch houses

Barbara took us to our first stop which was William Shakespeare’s birthplace.  You can take a tour of the house for an entrance fee.  Barbara told us about his life.  Shakespeare married at 18 to Anne Hathaway who was 26 years old.  Anne had Judith and then later two twins Susana and Hamnet.  Shakespeare went away from 1595-1592 which were his Lost Years and nobody knows what he did or where he was.  Hamlet died when he was 11 years old – Shakespeare wasn’t there.  He turned up later writing plays in London. 

Judith married a guy who was a drunkard.  Shakespeare didn’t like him since he thought he was a gold digger. 

Old Thatch Tavern is the only building in Stratford-upon-Avon to have a thatch roof.  Thatch is wood which can burn very easily.  The people who worked at the Old Thatch Tavern would always get the guy who wanted to them to get rid of the roof really drunk, so that he always forgot what he came in that tavern for.  Thatch is quite warm, so the cats and dogs would snuggle up in it.  But, when it rained it got really wet, the cats and dogs would jump from the roof.  That’s where we get the term “it’s raining cats and dogs”.

We also learned that The Teletubbies were actually created in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Our group saw lots of lamp posts from many countries around the world that were given to Stratford-upon-Avon. 

Israel lamp post

The best one was from Israel which had a few characters from Shakespeare’s plays.

We stopped at Nash’s House and the site of New Place.  New Place was a big house that Shakespeare bought when he came back to Stratford-upon-Avon in 1610. 

The site of New Place

He died 6 years later in 1616.  A guy lived in Shakespeare’s place after he died and he was harassed by people wanting to see where Shakespeare lived and died.  He kept going to the council to get help, but they didn’t do anything.  He eventually got fed up with asking for help and nothing happening… so, he moved away.  He told his servants to tear the house up.  So, eventually it was demolished.  The council didn’t get anything and it was gone.  Such a sad story because of a selfish man.  I’m all for keeping history alive for future generations to see. 

We saw a scene on the river that Barbara thought was beautiful and was the perfect postcard for Stratford.  Too bad they don’t sell this picture in the souvenir shops.

Stratford-upon-Avon scenery postcard

We also saw boats that you could rent with names from Shakespeare’s plays like Ophelia, Rosalind and Juliet.

Boats on the river in Stratford-upon-Avon

The big group went to the grounds of the Holy Trinity Church.  Barbara told us that the churches in Stratford would do a recycle and take the bones and create a bone fire.  That’s where we get the term bonfire. 

Holy Trinity Church

Shakespeare was worried that this would happen to him and his family.  So, he bought land inside the church to have his family buried there.  He put a curse on his grave as well which you can read on the top of the picture below.

Shakespeare's grave

He certainly had a way with words.  Usually its £2 per person to get in, but with the tour we got in for £1 each. 

It was great to be able to take pictures of the grave.  We also got a few minutes to take pictures in the church.  I do like church architecture. 

Beautiful glass stained windows

I really do love stained glass windows since they seem mysterious and cool to me. 

Ivan asked if the Shakespeare bloodline still existed.  Barbara said that it actually was dead.  An inn owner said that she had Shakespeare’s child.  He was also the godfather.  So, maybe there is some Shakespeare blood out there somewhere.

We stopped outside of Susana’s house.  Susana married well and Shakespeare was happy about that.  She married a doctor.  If a person had a sore throat, he would hold a frog over a patient’s mouth.  The frog’s saliva would drop into their mouth.  The frog’s saliva has antiseptic qualities.  Barbara said that this is where we get the term “frog in the throat”.

Shakespeare left most of his estate to his favorite daughter Susana and nothing to his other daughter.  He left Anne his second best bed.  The best bed was for the guests.  The second best bed was the marital bed. 

Barbara was a wonderful guide.  I highly recommend the Stratford Town Walk.  It’s great to see some of the Shakespeare sights, hear about his life and see the lovely town. 

I really do find Stratford-upon-Avon quite charming.  It’s nice to walk everywhere you need to go.  We didn’t know there would be so much to do.  If Ivan knew this, we would have booked a stay for longer.

Ivan and went to The Church Street Town House for lunch.  Ivan and I shared a Mediterranean vegetable and goats cheese sandwich & a crab, spring onion and Gruyere cheese sandwich and a mushroom soup.  The vegetable sandwich was really good while the crab sandwich lacked flavor.  The mushroom soup was beautiful. 

We used the free internet for awhile in the restaurant.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to the Bancroft Cruisers.  We saw a male swan roaming around and he wasn’t afraid of humans and went really close to us. 

At 4 pm, we got on to the boat.  A swan tried to pop its head into the window. 


We thought it was really cute.

Ivan and I got a Fresh Scone Cream tea and another tea.  The scone was quite tasty with the cream and jam. 

The guide talked about what we were passing.  He wasn’t very chatty probably since it was his last boat ride of the day.  He went off on a tangent about how cows shouldn’t eat corn. 

The outside of Holy Trinity Church

We saw the RSC, Holy Trinity Church and lovely houses along the river.

Bridge in Stratford

The scenery was really quite beautiful.  I really love this town.  I hope that I get to come back to visit. 

We chilled for awhile at the B&B.

Later, we walked to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).  Ivan picked up the tickets at the Swan Theatre box office. 

It was time to see a farce.  The play was called Mad World My Masters.  It’s about a guy who is the nephew to a rich man.  The guy is quite mad and wants to claim his inheritance before his rich uncle dies.  So, he concocts a plan to impersonate a Lord and then raid his vault. 

Another storyline was about a woman who was in love with another man who wasn’t her husband.  Her sister was a con artist who was actually a prostitute pimped out by her mother. 

The two stories eventually intertwined.  It was a funny farce.  It was slow at times, but it was entertaining. 

Ivan and I walked back to Moss Cottage.  We had some tuna pasta dishes at the B&B.  We watched some tv while we used the internet.


Spice Village

On June 30, 2013, Ivan and I had breakfast at 10 am at the B&B.  It was a lot of food – pancakes, boiled egg, cereal, orange juice and tea.

We packed everything up and left Abel’s House.  Ivan started driving out of Caernarfon towards Gwynedd.

It took us 30 minutes to reach Portmeirion Village.  It was £10 per person for the entrance fee.  Good thing, Lil Dave hid in my bag or we would have paid an extra £6 for the monkey entrance fee.

The village has colorful buildings. 

Portmeirion mermaid

The logo of the place is of a beautiful mermaid who I presume is Meirion.  It’s a terrific place. 

Portmeirion plaza

The designer Sir Clough Williams-Ellis wanted to pay tribute to the Mediterranean and created an Italian village. 

Ivan in the lighthouse

Ivan, Lil Dave and I took a walk down to the waterfront.  I thought the trees were wonderful.

Tree with a big muscle

I felt one with nature.  Ivan didn’t feel the same way though.  He did find it beautiful as well though.  But, he thought it was expensive to get in which I agreed. 

I saw lots of beautiful purple flowers.  I don’t know the name of the flower though.

Beautiful purple flowers

There was a sign saying that it’s dangerous because the tide is really fast.  We did see the tide come in very fast.

Lovely greenery in the distance

The mountains and greenery were lovely in the distance.

We walked back to the plaza and then went back to the car.

Driving with lovely scenery around us

Ivan started driving us even more towards the Wales-England border.  We stopped at a restaurant, but it only had Sunday roast for lunch. 

We stopped at Cwpan Pinc in Welshpool.  Ivan and I shared a Welsh rarebit and a jacket potato with tuna. 

Welsh rarebit

Both tasted good, but I really enjoyed the Welsh rarebit.

Ivan drove us more and we were in England.  We drove on and arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon at 6 pm.

We checked in to the Moss Cottage B&B.  The owner Bill is so very friendly and chatty.  He told us how to get around the town and different things to see in town.  We also talked about our trip. 

Ivan and I used the internet for awhile before heading out to get dinner.

Ivan and I walked to an Indian restaurant called Avon Spice.  We shared poppadums with chutneys.  Chicken tikka came out next.  Our main courses were chicken jalfrezi and chala masala with rice and a roti.

Chala masala and chicken jalfrezi

The chala masala was beautiful, but the chicken jalfrezi didn’t have much flavor.  It was a good meal.


Small Castle Station

Ivan was up before me on June 29, 2013.  I woke up right before 10 am.  We had the free breakfast at Abel’s House in the basement.  It was lots of food: fried egg, vegetables, cereal, tea and strawberries.  I’m not really a breakfast person.  I don’t know how people eat so much food like a Full English Breakfast.  I think they eat a big breakfast, skip lunch and then have tea with scones & biscuits around 3 pm. 

We walked to Caernarfon Castle.  It was another overcast day.  This castle was spread out, but not that big.

Jen at Caernarfon Castle

I love exploring castles since you don’t know what you’ll find next. 

Entryway headed to...

I lost Ivan at one point, so I got explore on my own.. which allowed me to take lots of pictures. 

An alcove in the castle

Ivan checked out the museum while I was taking pictures. 

Stained glass in Caernarfon Castle

It’s cool to think that people actually lived here once.  What a great house to have. 

Caernarfon Castle

The investiture of The Prince of Wales, Princes Charles, took place at Caernarfon Castle on July 1, 1969. 

Ivan and I stopped by Palas for a strawberry & cream ice cream cone which was so lovely. 

A street in Caernarfon

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to the car and Ivan drove us towards Conwy. 

Lil Dave went to go meet up with his hermit cousin Davoff in Conwy.  Davoff doesn’t really keep in touch with most of the monkey family since he likes to keep to himself.  Señor Dave managed to get a hold of him and let him know that Lil Dave would be in North Wales.  They were going to take a monkey tour and hang out in Caernarfon.

Ivan and I really wanted to try Welsh rarebit.  I thought it had meat in it, but it’s actually just cheese and toast and other ingredients. 

We found Pen-Y-Bryn Tea Rooms which served Welsh rarebit.  Ivan and I shared the Welsh rarebit and a  jacket potato with baked beans.  The Welsh rarebit was on brown bread.

Welsh rarebit

It was really quite tasty.  Ivan and I both don’t like yellow mustard.  But, Dijon mustard can be quite nice mixed with something good like cheese.  I was reading about Welsh rarebit and it seems dry mustard is used in most recipes.

We walked to the waterfront.  Aunt Carol told us about the smallest house in Britain and it was here. 

Ivan in front of The Smallest House in Great Britain

It was really tiny and consisted of two rooms with the bedroom being upstairs.

We walked to Conwy Castle which was a lot bigger than Caernarfon Castle. 

Ivan and the sitting man

It’s not as nice inside as I found the Caearnarfon Castle.  It’s still great to walk around though.

Jen at Conwy Castle

The King’s Room was really cool with a big wire King right above.

Wire King

It’s cool to go up to one of the towers and get a terrific view of Conwy. 

View from Conwy Castle

It was a shame about the gloomy weather.  We went up to the Chapel Tower and enjoyed the view of the castle and the town.

View of Conwy Castle from The Chapel Tower

Ivan and I hopped in the car headed to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll.  I fell asleep while Ivan was driving. 

We arrived at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch train station which is the longest train station name in the world.  This sign shows how it’s pronounced. 

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch train station sign

I tried to say it, but I don’t’ think I did a very good job of it.  Go here, if you howant to hear how it’s pronounced.  I hope I never have to repeat it 5 times fast for a contest.

We stopped by the train station’s shop.  Ivan and I bought a bottle of mead.  We headed back to the car.  Took a swig of the mead which was sweet.  We thought it would taste better served cold.

Ivan drove us back to Caernarfon where we relaxed in the b&b.

Later that night, we headed out to find a restaurant for dinner.  We didn’t know that most of the restaurants close at 9 pm.  Ivan found a chippy (fish & chips shop) that makes the best fish and chips in Wales.  We walked there, but it didn’t look very exciting.

We stopped at Tafarn & Porthole Wetherspoon’s for dinner.  Ivan and I each got a superfood whole wheat pesto pasta with chicken.  The pasta was good and it went well with the Toffee Apple cider.



I woke up at 11 am on Jun 28, 2013.  Ivan was already using the internet.  We packed everything up.  I brought the luggage down while Ivan went to grab lunch at Tesco Express.

We left the hotel and headed for the car park.  Ivan started driving us to Wales at 12:20 pm. 


It was another overcast, gloomy day in Liverpool.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I ate our lunch in the car.

Lil Dave read his book Monkey Flies the World while I worked on the blog.

Our car went into a tunnel and we were underwater for a few minutes.  Very cool.  It started raining when we reached Wales. 

Ivan called his Uncle Alan to let him know that we were about 45 minutes away from his place.  He lives on a farm in Anglesey with his wife Carol. 

Ivan met Uncle Alan and we followed him to his house since it’s not listed on the GPS.

Alan came to our car to say hello.  Ivan’s highlight of visiting Uncle Alan & Aunt Carol’s farm was riding on the tractor.  He thought the field was huge as a kid, but now it seemed really small.  It was still a decent size, but as a kid things seem so much bigger than they actually are.. probably since we’re much smaller.

We went inside the house and sat in the living room with Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol.  Uncle Alan has a strong scouse (Liverpool) accent.  Aunt Carol has an accent, but not the same kind of Liverpool accent.  I do realize now that Ivan’s dad Ken does still have a bit of his Liverpool accent still.

Aunt Carol made us tea and brought out a plate of lemon cake and carrot cake.  The cakes tasted lovely with the tea.  We talked about Las Vegas, travelling and the farm. 

Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol have the two cutest white golden retrievers. 

Cute white Golden Retrievers

Ivan asked if we could play with them in the back garden.  Aunt Carol said it was fine, but they’ll jump on you.  That’s fine.  One of the dogs kept jumping on me.  I just made sure she didn’t knock me down.  The dogs looked similar except one had more golden hair and a kinder face.  The dogs went mental when we came to play with them.  But, their excitement died down quickly and then they were really calm and didn’t seem to want to play anymore.

Ivan playing with Elsa

Ivan kept throwing balls and toys at Elsa and she would grab it, but go inside with it.  Holly seemed hungry and didn’t want to play.  Both of the dogs are so very sweet and love being petted. 

Ivan and I went outside to check out the animals with Uncle Alan.  He showed us the chickens, ducks, cows, bulls, guinea fowls and two animals that looked like ostriches. 

Animals on the farm

We couldn’t see the pigs since it’s too muddy.  We even got a chance to see guinea fowl baby chicks.  So cute!

Guinea fowl baby chicks

Uncle Alan told us about Cemaes and Bull Bay.  Ivan’s Dad Ken said that his family would visit Bull Bay for their holiday.

Ivan told Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol that we would be back in an hour.  Ivan drove us to Cemaes and we walked around the sleepy little village which was really, really quiet. 

Me & Lil Dave at Cemaes Harbor

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked along Cemaes Harbor.

It was off to Bull Bay next.  Bull Bay was another cute little sleepy village.  Ivan and I needed the loo, but the public restroom was locked already. 

Ivan said we should go to the pub for a drink.  We went to the pub inside The Bull Bay Hotel.  We used the toilet and then we drank our whiskey. 

Ivan drove us back to Uncle Alan & Aunt Carol’s farm.  I changed my shirt since we were going to a nice restaurant soon.  It was the same restaurant that they took Ivan’s parents to when they visited last year. 

We followed Uncle Alan in our car to Tre-Ysgawen Hall Country House shortly before 7:30 pm.  Ivan thought about staying here, but it was expensive.  It’s a beautiful place,

Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol went inside Noelle’s Bar and we followed them.  It reminded me and Ivan of our friend Noelle in Las Vegas. 

One of the staff brought over drinks for Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol without them ordering since they’re regulars.  Ivan asked Aunt Carol what she got and she said a sherry.  Ivan ordered us two sherries.  The sherry was good, but probably not something I’d order often.

Aunt Carol told us that the hotel used to be run by a family.  It was taken over by a millionaire widow.  She bought it in memory of her late daughter who was named Noelle.  She says that the money raised from the hotel pays the staff and then the rest goes to charity.  Uncle Alan says she bought it just to have a place to stay.  It would be nice to be that rich. 

A waiter brought us menus.  It was a 5 course meal.  Uncle Alan said the portions weren’t that big.  For some reason, I knew we would probably be stuffed at the end of the meal.

A waitress let us know that our table was ready.  We went into Noelle’s Restaurant for dinner.

Noelle's Restaurant

Everybody got a green vegetable soup to start off with.  Next, Ivan and I shared a seared smoked salmon salad with asparagus and a poached egg and a fried mackerel fillet with a seared scallop.  Both appetizers were really tasty.

Our main courses came out next. 

Chicken on risotto

Ivan and I shared the spicy chicken with vegetable risotto and a pesto Panko crusted salmon.  Both dishes were good, but not amazing.

Our smiley waitress brought everybody a small shot glass filled with lovely strawberry sorbet. 

Dessert was up next.  Ivan and I got an almond panna cotta with chocolate ice cream and a lemon tart. 

Lemon tart for dessert

The lemon tart was delicious.  There was too much cream on top of the panna cotta, so it was pretty sweet.  I took out the cream and mixed the chocolate ice cream with the almond panna cotta and it tasted alright.

We went to The Library for tea and sweets. 

The Library

Ivan and I were so stuffed from dinner.  We still managed to have tea and share two macarons.  I don’t think I could ever say no to a macaron since they’re usually so yummy. 


We chatted for awhile in the beautiful library. 

Everybody went outside.  Ivan and I thanked Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol for dinner and we also said good-bye.  They told us that we could always come stay with them in their caravan which actually has heating in it.  It was the big caravan that we saw earlier today on the farm.  It was a lovely spending time with them chatting and having a great meal together.  It’s always nice to meet more of Ivan’s family.

Ivan drove us to Caernarfon which was 25 minutes away.  We checked in to Abel’s House Bed & Breakfast.  Our room has nice country décor.  We all used the internet for awhile before it was time for bed.


Beatles Day

I woke up at 10 am on June 27, 2013.  Ivan and Lil Dave were already awake.  We used the internet in the room.  I worked on the blog.

It was a gloomy overcast day with some rain.

Ivan and I walked to the store to pick up our food for lunch.  We ate our lunch in the bar.

At 12:30 pm, we were picked up by a taxi for The Beatles Fab Four Taxi Tour.  Our guide was a man named Alan.

It was raining out which was a bit depressing since pictures usually don’t look good when it’s rainy and overcast. 

Alan drove us to many places around Liverpool that related to The Beatles.  Our first stop was the registry office where John Lennon and Cynthia Powell got married.  Brian Epstein kept it a secret from the press since he thought it would affect the Beatles popularity.

John Lennon sign

We stopped by where the hospital where John Lennon was born which is now a student residence hall.

We made an unofficial stop to take a picture with a Beatles themed Lamb Banana.


Brian Epstein was secretly gay since it was illegal to be gay during those times.  Brian let John and Cynthia stay at his flat for their honeymoon.  They actually stayed for four months.  At this apartment, John wrote Do You Wanna Know a Secret? which referred to his secret marriage and about Brian being gay.

Another stop was the The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) school where John Lennon attended art school.  Paul McCartney contributed money to renovate this school.  We took pictures of the guitar cases which had the names of The Beatles on it including Stu Sutcliffe.

Me & Ivan in front of the cases

Alan told us about the different places and buildings that we passed.  It’s always great to learn about a city to get a feel about the place.

A great stop was Penny Lane. 

Us at Penny Lane

Alan told us that some of the businesses are red herrings to try to draw the tourists in when their business wasn’t actually written about in the song.  We passed by the fish shop that referred to “four fish and finger pie”.  Ivan and I got out with Alan and went inside Penny Lane Barber Shop.  It was called Bioletti’s back when The Beatles got their haircuts there.  We got to sit in a chair and take a picture with a Penny Lane sign. 

Me & Penny Lane

Very strange.

We stopped at Paul, John, George and Ringo’s childhood homes. 

Another cool stop was at Strawberry Fields. 

Ivan and I at Strawberry Fields

An orphanage was located at Strawberry Fields.  John Lennon would go here and hang out with the kids since he lived nearby at his Aunt Mimi’s house.  The kids told the owners of the orphanage that they were sad when John left and they wanted to go home with him.  So, two tough guys went to talk to Aunt Mimi saying that John wasn’t welcome back.  Aunt Mimi was really mean and told John Lennon that he couldn’t go or he would be hung.  Wow, that’s harsh!  That’s where the lyric “there’s nothing to get hung about” came from. 

We stopped at George Harrison’s childhood house.  He would get tons of fan mail delivered to his house.  Girls would come and hop in the garden and steal George’s dad’s underwear and socks thinking it was actually George’s.  George eventually bought his parent’s a new house to avoid being bothered by the fans.

Our final stop had us stopping at Eleanor Rigby’s grave. 

Eleanor Rigby gravestone

We also saw a grave with a Tommy McKenzie and also listed Martha.  Father McKenzie is used in the song Eleanor Rigby.  Martha is used in the song Martha My Dear.  The Beatles seemed to borrow from things they saw or events from their lives. 

We walked across the road to where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. 

Paul McCartney & John Lennon first meeting spot

I took a picture of the sign and then we went inside the taxi since it was raining.

Alan told us about the meeting.  Ivan Vaughn who was a part-time member of John Lennon’s band The Quarrymen thought that Paul should meet John since he was a good guitarist. 

They met during a festival where The Quarrymen were performing.  Paul and John were informally introduced.  John said that I heard you can play, Why don’t you play something for us.  Paul borrowed John’s guitar.  He said it wasn’t in tune since John was playing it as a banjo for the skiffle band.  Paul played the guitar upside down since he was left handed.  He put it in tune and then played two songs.  Everybody was blown away by what they heard.  They asked him to join The Quarrymen.  Paul was a bit shy and said he had to go help with his dad’s surprise party which was actually the truth.   Alan believes that this awesome moment changed music.. since it was the start of a beautiful friendship that went on to make wonderful music.  But, even if this meeting didn’t happen.. it might have happened another way.

It was great to hear about their first meeting.  I really have no clue how The Beatles were started after that.  I know I can Google it and read all about it.  I just felt like I was left hanging.  Not really a complaint.. just like how you feel at a book that leaves you hanging on purpose, just so that you tune in to the next book.

Alan drove us around Liverpool for 3 hours.  He was very passionate and knowledgeable about The Beatles and his city of Liverpool.  We could definitely listen to more of Alan’s Beatles stories.  It was all very interesting.  I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to see where I was headed to next on a tour. 

The Beatles Fab Four Taxi Tour is a definite MUST for any Beatles fans.  It’s great to see the sights of Liverpool relating to The Beatles and to learn more about the Beatles lives and their song lyrics.

Ivan and I walked to The Albert Dock to find a place for dinner.  We walked inside Gusto and it was really busy.  We didn’t think it would be since it was so quiet outside.  The wait was 30 minutes – Ivan put his name down for the waiting list.

We walked further down the row of restaurants to see if there was a better restaurant.  We found the Indian restaurant Spice Lounge.  Ivan thought we should go since he was already hungry.  There was a 5-10 minute wait and it turned out to be only a five minute wait.

Rapti Salmon at Spice Lounge

Ivan and I shared Rapti Salmon and Murgh Tikka Karara (Chicken Tikka) for our starters.  The chicken was tough, but still tasted good.  The salmon was delectable.

Our main courses were Prawn Gulnaar and Tarka Dal with rice and a roti.  It was another wonderful Indian meal.

We got a cab to The Cavern Club since it was showering out and we were running late.

John Lennon and Ivan are just chillin'

It was really crowded already and it was 9:30 pm with the show scheduled to start at 10 pm.

The Cavern Club is in the basement with lots of bricks everywhere.  This is the location where The Beatles played early in their career.  It’s not the same exact club since they had to re-build it because of construction work.

Ivan managed to find a seat and then I found one that was free.  I went to the loo and came back and people were standing right in front of us.  They didn’t even care that they were blocking our view.  Nobody wants a view of heads and shoulders when all they really want is to see the band on the stage.  Ivan kept moving my chair forward thinking they would move over.  But, not only were they rude, they were stupid as well. 

The Beatles tribute band came on.  It was four guys who were wearing bowl cut wigs and wore black turtleneck shirts, black jeans and black boots. 

It was really warm down in The Cavern Club.   Ivan and I got strawberry lime ciders which helped cool us down a bit.

I ended up standing in front of the rude people.  There was a woman named Jackie who has muscular dystrophy and she danced crazily right in the front of the band. 

The music was really good.  The guy who played Paul wasn’t the best singer, he couldn’t hit the high notes. 

The Beatles tribute band

The Beatles band played Help!, Please, Please Me, If I Fell, No Reply, Can’t Buy Me Love, Yellow Submarine, Eight Days a Week, Norwegian Wood, Do You Wanna Know a Secret? and more in two sets. 

We were thinking about staying for the hippie songs that they promised for the third set.  But, it was too warm down there for us to stay.


Beach City

On June 26, 2013, Ivan and I woke up at 8:45 am.  We went downstairs for the free breakfast.

Ivan and I each had cereal, poached eggs and baked beans.  Lil Dave had bananas on toast.

Packed everything up and checked out. 

Ivan drove us to the amusement park Pleasure Beach.  Ivan said it’s the #1 attraction in England.

Lil Dave went off to Nickelodeon Land to go play and ride a few rides.

Some rides we passed on since the rollercoaster looked kind of tame.  Ivan is a big fan of rollercoasters.  I’m glad that the lines weren’t very long since it was a pretty quiet day at the park.

View of Pleasure Beach from The Big One

We went on Infusion, Wallace & Gromit Thrill-O-Matic, The Big One, Grand National and Wild Mouse.  We waited in line for Valhalla, but the ride had technical problems and wouldn’t be up for awhile. 

I was happy that I got to take a picture with Spongebob!

Spongebob and me

Ivan and I thought it was really weird that the park didn’t have any signs directing you to other rides.  We only saw one set of toilets which was called Loos.

It’s a fun place, but the rides don’t compare to Six Flags in California.  America has much better rollercoaster rides compared to England.

At 1 pm, Ivan drove us to Yorkshire Fisheries for lunch.  Ivan and I each got the King cod this time which is the bigger fish portion.  Ivan got fries with his that we planned on sharing.  Lil Dave got some fries to have with his banana sandwich. 

Ivan's ready to eat lots of fish!

The fish was once again wonderful.  Ivan decided to get mushy peas which is exactly what it sounds like.. peas all mushed up.  We dipped our fries in the tasty mushy peas.  We were so full and happy.

Ivan and I walked to The Blackpool Tower to see The Afternoon Tea Dance in The Blackpool Tower Ballroom.  The tea dance is dancing in the afternoon with tea, sandwiches, cakes and biscuits – of course, you don’t drink tea or eat while you’re dancing.  Imagine trying to dance while you’re sipping on your tea.. that would be hard, but challenging.

It is free to enter upstairs and watch the tea dancing. 

Beautiful artwork on the ceiling

The ballroom was lovely with beautiful architecture.

The organist plays songs right on the stage.

Organist on the stage

We saw lots of dancers doing the Foxtrot, Waltz, The Charleston and more.  It was fun to see the people dance.  Some were really quite good and a few were trying, but not really that good. 

Tea dance at The Blackpool Tower Ballroom

It made think that Life is like dancing… Some are flawless at it, while others have to try really hard to make it work.

Ivan started driving us toward Liverpool.  I was really tired for some reason and took a long nap.  Lil Dave kept Ivan company while he was driving.

It took us an hour and 15 minutes to arrive in Liverpool from Blackpool.

We drove to The Claremont Bar. 

The Claremont Bar in Liverpool

This pub is where Ivan’s dad Ken grew up.  Ivan’s never been, so we had to make a visit.  Neal, Ivan’s brother, said it wasn’t located in a nice area.  But, it looked fine to us.

Ivan and I went inside and checked it all out.  Ivan ordered us a mixed fruits cider to share. 

The Claremont Bar

Ivan tried to imagine his dad and his uncles at the bar helping out their mum.  We finished our cider and then walked back to the car.

Ivan drove us to the Radisson Blu Hotel.  The first room we got was like walking into a sauna. Ivan did read the bad reviews saying that some of the rooms were incredibly hot.  The air-conditioning didn’t really work – it just seemed to circulate the air in the room.  The windows didn’t open, so you couldn’t let any cool air in at all.  Ivan went down to the front desk to get a new room.

Ivan opened the door to the new room and it was so much cooler.  I’m glad that got sorted out.  I don’t think I could have slept in the hot room.

I worked on the blog while Ivan used the internet.

We walked to the Indian restaurant Spice City for dinner.  Ivan and I love Indian food.  There’s always so much selection on the menu in an Indian restaurant. 

We started off with poppadums with the lovely chutneys.  I wasn’t that big a fan of their mint chutney.

Chicken shishlik at Spice City

Ivan and I shared a vegetable and cheese stuffed pepper, chicken shishlik and Fish Balti Jalfrezi.  Lil Dave got a banana dal and a banana shihlik.  The food was simply delicious.


Funny Fish Circus

I woke up at 9:30 am on June 25, 2013.  Ivan was already up and we went to eat breakfast in the Lake View restaurant.

Ivan and I each had cereal and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs.  It was so much food again. 

We headed to the room to pack everything up.  I didn’t want to leave the Inn on the Lake or The Lake District since it’s so beautiful here.  We checked out and Ivan started driving at 11 am.

Ivan was driving us to Blackpool today.  The weather in Glenridding was the same as it was yesterday – gloomy and overcast.

Ivan drove us 50 miles away from The Lake District and the weather was blue skies with only a few clouds.  It was quite a change from the weather in The Lake District. 

It took us 2 hours to arrive in Blackpool, England.  We parked on the next street over from the b&b we were staying at.

Ivan and I checked in to The Arthington Hotel which is a great bed & breakfast run by an English couple.

Elaine and Steve were very friendly to us.  Our room was a little small, but very modern with a comfortable bed.

Showgirl signs along the waterfront

Ivan wanted to get food, so we started walking towards The Blackpool Tower.  Ivan was reading a brochure while we were walking.  He read about The Blackpool Tower Circus and said we had to rush since the circus would be starting soon.

We quickly grabbed chicken fajita wraps and cheese crisps.  We walked downstairs and sat down in our seats.

A girl flying in the air at the circus

We ate our food during the show.  It was entertaining with clowns, comedy and acrobatics.


We walked along the waterfront and checked out Central Pier and The Big Wheel. 

Cheeky postcard

It was really quiet.  I always think it looks weird when the tide is way out. 

We played a few games in the amusement arcades.  Also, we checked out a few souvenir shops and saw interesting flavors of rock candy.

Ivan and I relaxed in the b&b for awhile before we drove to the chippy (fish and chips shop) for dinner.

Yorkshire Fisheries sign

Ivan read online that Yorkshire Fisheries is the best fish and chips in Blackpool.  Lil Dave decided to get dinner around the The Arthington since he wasn’t into fish and chips.  If it was banana and chips, I’m sure he’d love to go there.

Ivan and I each got a lightly battered cod with chips. 

Best Fish & Chips ever

It was definitely the best fish and chips we’ve ever had.  We’re definitely coming back tomorrow for lunch.

We walked to Funny Girls.  It’s the longest running show in Blackpool.  Ivan said this show is THE #1 thing to do in Blackpool. 

Our hostess was a drag queen named Zoe.  She was playing music suited for old people since we didn’t enjoy it or we didn’t know what song she was playing.  People in the audience were allowed to put in requests or announcements.  She was funny when I understood her accent. 

Funny Girls is a drag queen show with dancing and singing.  The cast don’t sing, but mime (lip-synch) to the songs. 

The opening act was songs from Priscilla Queen of the Desert.  The cast were wearing the colorful outfits with the big shoes like in the Priscilla musical. 

Funny Girls show

After one act ended, there was a 15 minute break.  I don’t think there should have been breaks that long.

Ivan and I played on our phones and drank our tasty Shiraz during the breaks.

One of the girls was lip-synching and it was totally obvious that she was.  I think the trick to lip-synching is trying to make it look natural.

Red sequins number

The other acts had songs like Copacabana, a selection of songs from Bananarama and Spanish songs with flamenco-like outfits.  A few of the songs had some funny bits, but I thought the show would have been a lot funnier.

The show was okay, nothing special.  If this is the #1 thing in Blackpool…then it just proves that there’s not much to do in Blackpool.

Ivan and I left early at 10 pm.  I don’t think we could have stayed for the rest of the show which would have been over an hour.


Pooley Walk

On June 24, 2013, I woke up at 9:30 am.  Ivan was already awake.  I had a great night’s sleep – I think the comfortable bed had something to do with it.

We had breakfast in the Lake View Restaurant.  Lil Dave had cereal with bananas in it.  Ivan and I got cereal, tea and smoked haddock fillet with a poached egg.  It was our first time having smoked haddock and it turned out great.

We used the internet in the lounge for awhile.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to the pier to go on a Ullswater Steamers boat. 

Ullswater Steamers boat

It was cold being out on the boat since it was windy.  The views were green and gorgeous. 

Lovely scenery on our boat ride

Ivan and I each got a hot mulled wine to warm up our cockles.

Me on the stern of the boat

The first stop was Howtown.  Most people got off at this stop since it’s a popular 3 hour hike back to Glenridding.  Ivan wanted to do this, but the weather wasn’t good.  It would have been really bad walking for hours if it rained and you were wet and cold.

The next stop was Pooley Bridge where we decided to get off the boat.  We checked out the cute souvenir shops. 


Ivan and I went to Granny Dowbekin’s for lunch.  We were sat in the tea garden which had a nice view of the bridge.  Lil Dave got a banana and cheese baguette.  Ivan got the vegetable lasagna while I got the tuna pasta bake.  Mine wasn’t good at all – it needed more tomato sauce and cheese.  Ivan was kind enough to let me have half of his lasagna while he ate the rest of my boring pasta bake. 

We walked back to a souvenir shop and we bought a few things.

Ivan thought we should walk to Howtown which is 2.5 miles away.  It would take an hour and then we could have tea and crumpets later this afternoon.  We got to walk along with the sheep which I’ve never done before.  A group of five sheep greeted us, but they didn’t know what to say to us.  Baaaa Ba would have sufficed.

The sheep welcoming committee

The sheep are pretty calm.

We walked for awhile on the road and we saw some cars pass by, but not many.  We chatted about our childhoods and travelling.  The sun kept coming out every now and then. 

It took us an hour to get to Howtown. 

Howtown sign

We were rushing at the end because we didn’t want to miss the boat since it was already at the dock.  I’m glad we got to the boat before it left since I was so knackered (tired) from walking so much.

More greenery on our way back

It started showering near the end of the boat ride. 

We walked back to the Inn on the Lake.  We went to the bar and Ivan ordered Pimm’s with strawberries and cream.  He got it free with the hotel package he booked.  The Pimm’s was very refreshing. 

Pimm's with strawberries & cream

The cream was really nice, not too sweet, and a perfect match to the sweet strawberries.

We used the internet in the lounge.  I worked on the blog.

At 4 pm, Ivan and I had tea with a scone and crumpets.  I love crumpets.  Lil Dave got a banana scone. 

Lil Dave and I headed to the garden for some Daily Dave shots since I’m so behind on it.

Later, Ivan and I had dinner at 8:30 pm in the Lake View restaurant.  We started off with crispy cod cheeks and a leek & wild mushroom tart. 

Leek & wild mushroom tart

Both tasted good, but nothing too incredibly special.

Our main courses were salmon for both of us.  I think that salmon dishes are usually good.  It tasted wonderful.  I did wish that the skin was crunchier though.

Ivan and me at dinner

I was sad that English Sticky Toffee wasn’t on the dessert menu.  Ivan and I shared chocolate panna cotta and duo cheese and biscuits.  The cheese was alright while the panna cotta was so tasty.  It reminded me of a chocolate mouse.

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