Traveling in an Expensive Country Can Be Fun
Neither one of us speaks British, but we decided to brave it anyway and headed off to England after our
Portugal adventure. The main problem for cheapskates like us, however, was the value of the pound relative to the US dollar made food, lodging, hell, everything very expensive. So what might the budget traveler do to overcome this problem and be able to visit this lovely isle?
The answer came when Carrie the cat lover found a website dedicated to hooking up pet owners in need of a vacation with animal loving people in need of a budget vacation. By the way, on holiday is the British way of saying vacation. See, we were already learning British. So for the responsibility of taking care of the family pet(s), we get free lodging. For those interested the website is: www.trustedhousesitters.com.
Our first gig was sitting 2 adorable cats in Newark-On-Trent for their owner while she was on holiday in Italy.
Actually we were just on the outskirts, but still within walking distance, of Newark in an area known as Kelham. Beautiful, quaint, and charming only begins to convey what this area had to offer. Newark, which is located in the east midlands of England, is within Nottinghamshire county, and with a population of under 30,000, truly gives a taste of small town English life. And with Kelham Hall and its beautiful grounds, as well as a pub in our backyard, we were in heaven.
Wikipedia has an excellent synopsis of the area if you would like further information at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newark-on-Trent. Additional information on Kelham Hall at: http://kelham-hall.com/.
Getting There is the Hardest Part
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Getting to Newark was an interesting little adventure and our first taste of how thoughtful, helpful and efficient the British are. We landed at Stanstead Airport, the smaller London airport, late afternoon and immediately hopped onto a train headed for Newark. So far all was well. But, about halfway into our journey, someone up the track a bit decided that life was no longer worth living and jumped in front of a train. This meant that the track that we were using was closed. Train to Newark canceled! But with the help of some local people and train staff we were able to find an alternate route. So we’re back on our way, but instead of arriving around 11pm, it would be after 1am. Our next problem was how to let our host, who was to pick us up at the station, know that we would be late. Answer: One of our fellow travels offered us her phone so that we could call our host Georgina, who agreed to pick us up even at the very late hour.
Getting to Know You…
The next morning we became acquainted with our charges, Libby and Mika, as well as getting the low down on the area from Georgina. By the way, Georgina also offers a room through Airbnb and if you’re in the area we would highly recommend to give her a ring. You can find her at: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/12699135?guests=1&s=EIsiw4cR.
Once on our own, we settled into a nice routine of picnics at Kelham Hall (vino was involved), pints at the nearby pub, and walks into Newark for more pub crawling, food and photo ops.
One pub in particular was a lot of fun, called The Castle Barge Pub, which is located on a barge in a canal overlooking a castle, hence the name. Creative we thought.
We had an opportunity to speak with the owner who told us that Newark’s sister city was Newark, Ohio, not far from where we grew up. Small world, huh?
Time to Move On
But, as is always the case, all things come to an end and it was time to figure out where next. Carrie found us another cat sitting gig, this time in Wales. After her normal hair pulling, gut wrenching research, she determined that it would be more cost effective to rent a car for a few months instead of spending time and money on trains, planes, and automobiles.
Stay to the Left! Stay to the Left!
“But, but, but, they drive on the wrong side of the road here!” I complained. She not so convincingly replies with: “No they don’t, they drive on the left side of the road here. Trust me, it will be fine.”. So off to Falcon Motors we went and asked for the smallest, cheapest car they had, which turned out to be a Ford Fiesta with a manual transmission. Paperwork completed, we hop into the car. The first thing to remember is that the steering wheel is on the opposite side from US cars (so is the stick shift). I can’t tell you how many times we both attempted to enter the car on the wrong side. The second thing to remember is to stay left.
Just keep reminding yourself to keep left. Third thing to remember is don’t hit the curb. It’s the natural inclination to stay further to the left than you think necessary, which means hitting the curb. But, after a few miles I was doing pretty well.
Hell, I only had one car blow their horn at me. I sort of cut him off in a round about. Oh, and the roundabouts were extremely interesting for a Yankee to negotiate and took a bit of practice and concentration. One final note on driving in the UK, the roads were narrow and they parked their cars on the street. This meant that only one direction could pass at a time. There was a protocol and logical progression on when to go and when to wait, and so far, I seemed to have followed the rules. I never have been very good at following rules, so stay tuned. Here’s hoping for no international incidents!
Next stop: Newport , Pembrokeshire, Wales which is a bout a 4 hour drive. Wish us luck! More pictures below.
Hike Drink Live Laugh ==> Apero Time