Today is the last day of my May holiday and for this one single week off, I actually managed to do some traveling again. I went to England for 5 days this week, the main purpose? To visit my friend Alison. We met years ago through Backstreet Boys and she came to Holland to stay with me nearly 2 years ago. We hadn’t seen each other for as long, so when Alison let me know that I could come to stay at her place last summer, we decided to make plans for me to come over. I stayed with her in Stoke-On-Trent, we visited both Llandudno in Wales and Manchester and on my final day I traveled down to London before I flew back home.
Alison & myself on the summit of The Great Orme.
Day 1: Traveling, Victorian parks & food shopping.
On the first day we decided to have a relaxed day. It was raining for most of it any way, so Alison just took me around her neck of the woods and showed me some of the Victorian parks and buildings in her town. She lives in an area known as The Potteries, which is where tons of British ceramics originated. Think, Royal Doulton, Royal Stafford and Wedgewood pottery. There are still a few kilns standing, but the factories are now mostly gone. The towns are scattered with perfectly manicured Victorian parks with tennis courts and tons of blossoming trees. It was pretty despite the rain and freezing wind.
After some walking around we grabbed lunch and went for some food shopping at ASDA. We grabbed some bits for breakfast, but we mostly ended up getting tons of sweets for me to try, because I don’t know them. We bought flapjacks for breakfast, caramel shortbread (both were delish), custard creams, malted milk biscuits, ginger nuts, chocolate pretzels, Cadbury caramel nibbles, pear drops, assorted mints, sherbert lemons (because: Dumbledore!), Horlicks chocolate malted milk and sour patch kids. We also bought some chewy candy for me to try. By now I’ve managed to sample them all and there are a few things I really don’t like and a few things I love such as the custard creams, ginger nuts, sherbert lemons & pear drops.
Day 2: Potteries Museum & Art Gallery & Fort Green Hall
Fort Green Hall
The Potteries museum & art gallery
The second day was still a quite chilled out day. We took our time getting ready in the morning as the museum wouldn’t be open any earlier. We went to visit the Potteries museum in Hanley. They house a massive collection of ceremics, as well as a replica of a WWI trench, the Stafford Hoard and some natural history on local English flora and fauna. Afterwards we visited an original Tudor style house: Fort Green Hall, where I got my inner Henry VIII to come out. We decided to call it a day at a very early time as we were knackered from all the wind and rain from the day before and because we knew day 3 would be a long one.
Day 3: Llandudno
On Day 3 we caught a very early train out of Stoke. We were set for Llandudno: a traditional seaside town on the coast of north Wales. It is a town that despite the tourists has not succumbed to commercialization as much and really still have a true Victorian character including a pier and little shops here and there.
Because it was the May Day bank holiday weekend, the town had a fair on as well as the Victorian extravaganza. We spotted some traditional Victorian underground toilets and went to have some food at a small tea room for lunch.
As we were waiting for the parade to start, we spotted a bird display with some owls and a falcon. We stood and snapped some pictures and found a spot for the parade.
The parade was Victorian themed, but there were also some old timer cars and buses as well as people in Victorian dress that were part of it. Most of the vehicles however ran on steam and we saw anything going buy from teeny tiny one no bigger than a wheelbarrow and massive steam engines that look that they were ones train engines now re-purposed for use on the road. There was a lot of noise and a lot of steam, but it was fun to see all these old machines still running.
Then we moved on to the pier, but before we got there we had to play some games in the arcade, true English style. We paid some penny slots, did some air hockey and then I spotted a Dance Dance Revolution machine. I had always wanted to try it. So I grabbed my chance and played a game. That was so much fun as you can see in this picture here.
We walked up and down the pier had a look around and then went for some ice cream at the bottom of the Great Orme: our next destination.
We took the tram up to the top of the Great Orme. The Great Orme is a small mountain that provides you with some stunning views. You get up there by foot, cable car or the Victorian tram. Since our feet had started to hurt and we are both afraid of heights, we opted for the little tram.
Once there, we were treated to some stunning views. It had gotten cloudy by then, but there was still a pretty play of light over the ocean. We went back down, grabbed dinner and went back on the train.
Day 4: Shopping in Manchester
Alison told me that Manchester would probably be the best spot for some serious shopping. So we took the train and that was quite eventful as we were stuck on the train for 1.5 hours because of a tree which was on fire and hit the electricity wires. Virgin Trains was great about it though and they passed out free water, a chocolate wafer and thermal blankets. We also got some free food and Alison even got free cake as she had jokingly asked for it on Twitter and then the man from the concession on board the train came round to give her some. Once in Manchester we opted to go the Arndale Shopping center, where we hit up Boots, the Lego Store, New Look, Lush, Topshop and Waterstone’s.
Some of the food on this trip. I didn’t just eat candy, but I came close! We went for pizza at Pizza Hut after shopping, had Chinese for dinner on Day 1, Fish & Chips in Llandudno and we also had a cupcake and a sandwhich as well as ice cream when we were there. I also tried some Victorian style Rose Lemonade which was really tasty.
Day 5: London & Alexander McQueen
On my final day in England, I left The Potteries and hopped on a train to London early in the morning. I really wanted to visit the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A so I decided to squeeze it in. The train + a flight home from London cost as much as a flight back home from Manchester, so why not? I loved the exhibition and after being left in utter awe over what one man could do with clothes and accessories, I went to Oxford Street and paid a visit to Selfridges and the Topshop flagship store as I had found a pair of jeans in Manchester, but they didn’t have my size.
I flew back home completely knackered and it has taken me three days to sort of recuperate. I managed to pick up quite a few make up bits, which I will be showing you in a shoplog next Saturday. So until then, stay tuned to see what I got from Boots, Superdrug and Selfridges.
Enjoy your Sunday! What were you up to this week?