Musings about wanderings

Month: July 2017

Summer Holiday P2 2017

The Wednesday of my summer holiday dawned and it was time to move on to the second part, Cambridge. But first a detour.

I’d wanted to go to the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford site for a while and since it was only 15mins or so from Cambridge, the journey south seemed like an ideal opportunity to visit. The route there was simple and I was heading out at 7:45 am and at the museum by 10:45am.

The site is massive with 3 large hangers full of exhibits alongside smaller areas. The first hanger contained some of the things you come to see. A Concorde and a Vulcan. Plenty more though with a Harrier, Mosqueto, Canberra and much more. I spent an hour at least just looking round. Also among the planes there was the Comet that did the first scheduled Atlantic crossing. That was like a time capsule back to the early days of jet aviation. Didn’t seem that much smaller than a modern airliner, if anything, it felt more roomy inside. I suppose in the early days it was such a special thing air travel that they wern’t trying to pack them in.

Next along was a smaller hanger with a Battle of Britain exhibit and some of the aircraft that have defended the UK though the years. An ME109 that had been shot down was displayed in a diorama as it would have appeared when it landed in the farmer’s field.

A big hanger was next. This was the American Air Museum with some very large exhibits including a B52 though that seemed smaller than I expected being mostly wing. Lots of iconic aircraft here including a Phatom, SR71, U2 spy plane and B17 bomber. Also, and slightly strangely, was a piece of the alleged Iraqi “Supergun”. It seemed out of place.

Last on my visit was the ground war exhibiting. This was a huge number of tanks, trucks and alike from all round the world. Mostly WW2 and a lost of it on D-Day. There was so much to see that it would be easy to go back to Duxford and spend another day. But as I was leaving came the highlight. A Spitfire took off and flew some aerobatics. To hear that Merlin engine roar was the crowning moment of the trip to Duxford.

Heading out from Duxford, it was on to the Cherry Hinton Caravan and Motorhome club site. I found to my peril, the problems of ignoring the travel advice to the site and ended up on quite a narrow and twisty road up to the site followed by an abrupt slowing down as the entrance appeared out of nowhere.

The site is built in a disused chalk pit and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. This time I got a pitch next to the loo block and was soon set up and setting out on my first attempt to back bread in the van. It went well initially but after the second knead, it rose too much and stuck to bits of the pan that I’d not greased. Oh well it was a learning experience.

Thursday was for a trip to London and something I’d been looking forward to for a long while, the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A. And so I was up and out the van early and up to the train station. Unfortunately I’d booked my ticket for the exhibit at such a time that I had to get the early train into London and this cost my £40odd to get there. I successfully navigated the underground and was soon standing in the queue.

Of the exhibition, all I can say is that if you’re a Pink Floyd fan, try to go and see it. The presentation along with the sound was very very well done. There was a room for just listening to the Dark Side of the Moon and The Division Bell heads were present in all their glory. It did the band proud.

Lunch was in the V&A courtyard and then on the Science Museum. By this point of the trip I was getting a little museum’ed out so it was a quick visit to look at the computing and maths exhibits and then back to the train only stopping to admire that tourist trap that is Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station.

Last full day of the trip, Friday, was to be spent in Cambridge itself. Got to the tourist office and found a map of the city centre. First port of call was King’s College and most especially the chapel. This was massive for a chapel, almost cathedral size and with a complete set of stained glass telling a story. And also, The Adoration of the Magi. Well worth the entrance fee.

King's College Chapel

King’s College Chapel

This was the only college that I went into as they all wanted a entrance fee and it could of got expensive. So it was a wander round looking at the old buildings, visiting the odd gallery and nearly coming away with £700 worth of painting. The Scott Polar Institute was a worthwhile visit including as it does, a replica of the boat that Ernest Shackleton did his epic voyage in.

Last on the trip was a visit to the Museum of Old Computers. This was a real throwback to my youth with lots of computers and games machines from the years including a full working Domesday System. Games I’d played when young (and not so young) and in the entrance hall, a large CPU taking up 2 walls made out of discrete logic with LEDs and 7 segment displays to show its operation. Absolutely something that any geek visiting the area should see.

The holiday was to extend into Saturday and go home on the Sunday but I’d seen everything I wanted to see so I cut it a bit short and packed up on the Friday evening ready for a quick getaway on the Saturday morning.

And so Saturday morning came around and I hit the road north. I was coming down with a cold I could feel so it was a good thing that I was setting off. The drive north was onto the A1 and just keep going. Apart from very slow traffic through roadworks at Scotch Corner I got home in about 7.5 hours with no real trouble.

A great holiday was had. The weather wasn’t always kind but I got to see all that I wanted to see and probably more. I was getting a little punch drunk from all the museums and in the future I should build in some rest days to the plan but I enjoyed it and it is time to start plannning the next adventure.


Here’s the bulk of the photos

Summer Holiday Pt1 2017

Glasgow fair fortnight 2017 rolled around and it was time to head off on my travels. This year it was heading south again with visits to York and to Cambridge. I’ve been to York a few times and love the city but this was to be the first visit to Cambridge.

I hit the road on Sunday morning about 8:30am and after a pit stop at Sainsbury’s for food and brimming the fuel tank at Dunbar, I was on the A1 and heading south. Good time was made up till some roadworks round about Scotch Corner. A good deal of the journey was spent arguing with the Sat Nav which couldn’t quite believe that it was a mostly straight road to the campsite. For some reason when I’m heading south, it wants to take me off the A1 and on to the A19.

Arrived at Rowntree Park Caravan and Motorhome Club site after a journey of 4.5 hours feeling pretty good. One of the lovely things about Cali is that the van is comfortable enough to do long journeys in one go.

The site was packed and there was a bit of a queue to get booked in. I ended up on a pitch a little further from the toilet block than I would have liked but not to mind. The sun was out and I was on holiday. I’d picked out some new books to read on holiday and chose “Mend The Living” as the first one to be read. I’d not taken the full blow up awning with me but had rolled out the one that was attached to the van and the rest of the evening was spent sitting under it reading, cooking and eating dinner and generallly relaxing. As night fell, the sounds of a blues band making their way through some of the standards could be heard on the wind.

I did, however, manage some stupidity when setting up for bed managing to blow the fuse for the internal lighting circuit so the rest of the trip was to be done with only two camping lanterns inside.

Monday morning woke to clouds and drizzle, the hot sun of the day before having disappeared. First on the itinerary was the National Railway Museum. I always make a point of visiting when I’m in York and it didn’t disappoint. There was some time of Murder On the Train mystery going on in the small hall. But in the larger hall there were some changes since the last time I’d been. First of these in a EuroStar power car. I still think of the channel tunnel and EuroStar as something new and modern but the first of the sets must be 25 years old by now or more so they will be coming out of service and into preservation. Unlike the rest of the British Rail network where they run units for 40 years as they can’t afford to replace them.

Eurostar Power Car

Eurostar Power Car

The Mallard was out on display as usual and I got a peek in the cockpit. Also for this visit, I got to see the turntable working. It moved a loco round effortlessly. And close to each other was the Japanese Bullet Train and the Evening Star. Two locos from almost the same time but opposite views of the future. The former new and modern electric loco, the latter the last steam train built for the uk network and expected to last in service 25 years.



Evening Star

Evening Star

After the National Railway Museum, I caught the road train up to the Minster. I wasn’t intending the visit but I did since I was in the neighbourhood.

York Minster

York Minster

I didn’t spend long but it was nice to see that the restoration of the large stained glass windows was almost complete and it was looking very very good. When finished that will be superb to see. Some of the other stained glass was looking good as well.

York Minster

York Minster

From there was it was back to the van. The weather had cleared up a bit so I was able to sit in the sun and read a bit more.

Tuesday dawned as early and with as miserable weather as Monday. The plan was to take advantage of being in s city with a big railway station and head to Leeds to visit the Royal Armouries. So it was to the train station and on to the fast train to Leeds. Going in the other direction was the Skyfall train.

Skyfall Train

Skyfall Train

It was raining a bit in Leeds but not enough to make the walk to the Armouries too bad. Once in I had another go on the Lee Enfield virtual shooting range and was as bad as last time I tried. There’s plenty to see in the Armouries and highlights include a set of replica weapons from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies that were made by Weta. The detail on them is incredible. All the more so when you realised that much of what went into them couldn’t be seen on screen. Various sets of armour were fascinating. The technology in them ( for the time ) is incredible. No wonder that NASA came to visit when developing the first spacesuits.

Although the museum contains lots of weapons, it tries in part to look at the cost of having weapons in society. There is a section towards the end of the museum where they take a gun crime and try to look at all the people that were affected by it. Moving stuff.

From Leeds it was back to York and since I had time, it was into the Castle Museum. I’ve not been in a while and it was an interesting look at life through the years. There were special sections on the 60s and on the First World War, the latter being a look at how the people of Yorkshire were affected by the war.

This was my last day in York. The weather hadn’t been kind but it was worth the visit as usual.

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