Part three and the final leg of our UK Road Trip takes us from Scotland to Ireland. From Edinburgh through Cumbria’s Lake District where Beatrix Potter once dreamt up Peter Rabbit, through Yorkshire to delve into my ancestry and finally to the mythical Ireland we love, to be with family.
Part of Edinburgh Castle
Our home for two weeks; a two bed Airbnb apartment only walking distance from Edinburgh’s Portobello Beach.
I hate to start with a negative but my goodness!; it’s a nightmare to find parking in the city center and if you find a spot it costs a fortune. I parked at a Sainsbury’s and walked a mile with the kids to catch the city sightseeing Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus to see the sights of Edinburgh.
Sainsbury’s allow 4hours of free parking which meant I had to keep an eye on the clock to make it back in time.
The Museum of Childhood was a treat, but I can see how it may not be for everyone. It’s not too big. Both the kids and I enjoyed the interactive exhibits.
The National Museum of Scotland was up next, but less than half an hour in, a fire alarm was sounded and the whole building was evacuated so we never got to see it or find out what the alarm was about.
We went on a walkabout around the city and got drawn in by its old-world charm. Edinburgh castle is a magnificent fortress built in the middle of the city on top of a mountainous rock. It truly is an impressive place worth seeing and has a history as old as the mountains.
I can’t say too much about the charm of the Scots we came across, but I’m hoping if we get to visit another side of Scotland that the locals will show more of themselves. As with many places, I find its the older generation that gives it its real character. The white heads. I say that with the deepest respect so you know exactly who should get the credit. They are more often what’s endearing than old buildings or attractions and I’m all ears when they tell a story or crack a joke.
A highlight of our visit to Edinburgh was The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the biggest arts festival in the world. Brendan and I went to the press launch at The Gilded Balloon. You can read all about it here.
EDINBURGH TO YORKSHIRE
THE LAKE DISTRICT
We want to live there! Oh my word, it’s gorgeous. As we drove along the lakes of Cumbria to get to Yorkshire we saw so much natural beauty that we dream of owning a home there or at least be able to visit for extended holidays. So, we’ll have to work that into the plan somehow: go to Cumbria and explore the Lake District as often as we can.
We stopped at Rheged, the shopping center built completely under a hill. If not for the signs you’ll think there’s nothing there, but they did a magnificent job of turning a hill into a mall without changing much of the natural landscape.
Further along, we came across Wray Castle, a mock gothic castle from the 19th century that was the holiday home of Beatrix Potter and her family once. Our favorite was the Peter Rabbit adventure rooms, the neat natural forest play area, and the lakeside beach.
Part of the reason why we were flying from Bradford Leeds Airport was not only that the flights to Dublin were cheaper from there, but mainly because we were meeting up with distant relatives in nearby Bingley to delve into my paternal ancestry.
David and Susan Markham (nee Leach) showed us around Bingley and shared stories of their life and of our mutual ancestors which just fascinates me beyond words. They showed me where my great great great grandfather and his family lived, worked and where they were laid to rest. We hope to see them again soon in England. Not my great great great grandparents; just Susan and David. We’d like to see only them.
The Bingley five rise lock is an engineering feat worth inspecting. We were rewarded for our visit by a timely houseboat entering the lock and slowly making its way up the river through the five rises one by one. It was a nice experience to see the whole system in use and a perfect way to end our afternoon in Bingley.
FROM ENGLAND TO IRELAND
The kids and I said a teary goodbye to Brendan at the airport. We were going to stay with my sister and my Mom at Brittas Bay in Ireland for 6 weeks before we’d see him again.
Brendan had to be in Belfast for work while the kids and I were in Ireland so we planned a little weekend get-away while we had willing and able babysitters. We spent three days in Belfast and I got to explore the city on foot and follow the Titanic Trail to visit the Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic museums. We went to our first live heavyweight boxing match at Windsor Park and had a pint in the world famous Crown pub.
Read all about our visit to Belfast here.
Brittas Bay in County Wicklow is one of the best beaches in Ireland. Unlike the pebble beaches mostly found in Ireland, Brittas Bay has soft white sand, big sand dunes, miles of beach and gentle waves. There is paid parking at the main beach, but if you drive towards Arklow you’ll find a few free parking spots about a mile from the main beach.
We spent many days in late August and early September on the beach and my kids swam most of the time. The weather was great. Even though we missed Daddy, spending time with our family and relaxing there was just what we needed before setting off on a three-month road trip around America.
Together with my Mom and Sis, Leah and I learned how to crochet. Most evenings, long after the kids went to bed we’d stil be sitting together, crocheting squares for a big blanket through laughter, tears and a few much needed heartfelt talks.
Leah is now crocheting a pair of fingerless mittens for herself. The two of us had a Mommy-Daughter day in Arklow before Daddy arrived from the UK. We had breakfast at Eddie Rockets, both got mani’s and pedi’s, had our hair done at the salon and just enjoyed being out and about together.
Ireland is small but it is mythical, beautiful and otherworldly. I have a thousand photos of the place that I want to post here to show you what I mean but I picked my favorites only. The Irish are THE friendliest people I’ve met. We love the country and I adore its old folks. The youngsters are different, but the older Irish are eager to smile with you, chat with you, crack a joke, you name it and I just adore them!
Ireland is filled with true stories of famous pirates such as Jack White, has a rich history of saints, Vikings, war, Norman castles and tragedy. Did you know that Halloween originated in Ireland? The Americans just did what they do best; made it into something big and glamorous so the rest of the world will buy it. We don’t celebrate Halloween ourselves but its big in Ireland and even bigger in the USA.
In our travel plans, or hopes and dreams rather, is an in-depth discovery road trip of Ireland, preferably just Brendan and myself in a small motorhome or camper. That will be amazing, but next up, we go on a road trip of a different magnitude…
Three months in a 28ft motorhome through America with the kids. Wish us luck and if you want to keep up with regular updates on our progress the best place to follow along is on Instagram, facebook or twitter.