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Landons in UK!

Hi everyone! Here is a quick summary of our 2 week trip to the UK along with pictures!

The purpose of the trip was for Mark to attend the bi-annual BUTEX conference. BUTEX is an association of British Universities who work together for Trans-Atlantic student exchange programs. The conference was held at Keele University, just outside of Newcastle-Under-Lyme (Near to Stoke-on-Trent).

We caught a direct flight from Philadelphia to Manchester, which is about an hour north of the university. Mark rented a car which was a Renault Mirange. Unfortunately, the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car! Mark proceeded to drive on the left-hand side of the road. This was a very tense drive. Mark hit the curb several times, had many unhappy rush-hour drivers stacked up behind him and came close to numerous accidents. The good news is that there were no collisions. After this trip, Donna became the driver, and Mark was the navigator. This arrangement worked out great for the next two weeks!

Mark attended meetings during the day for the next few days, while Allie and Donna explored, played and slept (they both slept till noon one day). They visited Britain's largest amusement park, called Alton Towers. They also visited some of the potteries. They each made a vase and a flower out of clay.

Two of the evenings of the conference had conference sponsored dinners. The first was at a 14th Century English Manor House called Colhurst Manor, about 40 minutes from the university. We rode on a bus with the other participants to the old house. The staff at the manor house were dressed in period costumes. The owner told us that the house had a couple of ghosts. We think he just tells people this to drum up business. They served us a dinner which was mostly meats in pastries. Donna and Mark enjoyed it, but Allie did not. We ate our meal out in the gardens of the Manor House, which were beautiful!

The next night there was a formal conference dinner on campus. The dinner was held in Keele Hall, which dates to the mid-1800's. It was a beautiful mansion in a wonderful setting. Before dinner we saw some traditional dancers on the lawn, including one who dressed in a horse costume! Here's a picture of Allie standing at the entrance to the dining room.

When the conference was over at midday on Thursday, we drove a couple of hours to the North Coast of Wales. We stopped at the walled city of Chester on the way (quite different from Chester, PA).

We arrived to our destination of LLandudno (pronounced Chlan-did-no) aound 5 pm. We drove through the town center to the rocky hill just past town called the Great Ormes Head. It is on the face of this hill, up against the Irish Sea, that our Bed and Breakfast, the Lighthouse, sits 350 feet up the cliffs.

The B&B was a functioning lighthouse until 1985. It has been open as a Bed and Breakfast since 1991. The views are spectacular. There are many rabbits, sea gulls and goats around the hillside.

We had many adventures in Wales. We spent one afternoon visiting an indoor water park. We visited Conwy Castle and its walled city.

We took a train to the top of Mount Snowden. This is the tallest peak in England and Wales. The views on the way up were great, but a cloud rolled in just as we reached the top, so the view from the top was limited. There were several breaks in the clouds, giving us windows on the valley below. Here is Allie at the top. After taking the train back down, we drove through Snowdonia National park which was had wonderful scenery.

Another day in Wales, we drove out to the most Western portion of Wales, through the Isle of Angelsea, to the small Isle of Holyhead. This is where the ferry goes across the Irish Sea to Dublin. We saw lots of strange automobiles in the UK including 3 wheelers and much smaller models than we are used to. While on Holyhead, I found this Mercedes van. I took a picture so Edward would know what he would be driving if he were in the UK.

On the way across Anglesea, we stopped in the town with the longest place name in the world. You can see the name in this picture . The locals call it Llanfair PG for short.

Each evening in Llandudno, we walked out the promenade which runs in front of the beach front hotels, and onto the pier, where there were some penny arcades. I took these picture for Bailey and Brooke in front of one of the arcades of Donna and Allie with the Teletubbies and Mark with Noo-Noo!

Each morning at the Lighthouse, the innkeeper prepared a wonderful Welsh breakfast including eggs, toast, hashbrowns, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon (which is what we would call ham) and sausage. Most days, we didn't even think about eating again until mid-afternoon. Here's a final shot from Llandudno. This is the sunrise (very early in the morning) from the window of the Lighthouse.

On Monday morning, a week after we arrived in the UK, we caught a train in Llandudno bound for London. The train was very crowded and we did not have reservations. As a result, the conductor told us to go to first class. Very society! The train was comfortable and we arrived in London about 3 hours later.

The train took us to London's Euston Station. We went through the station and down to the Underground without going outside. We carried our bags on to the 'Tube' and wound up 3 blocks from our hotel, the Dolphin Square hotel. We took a lot of pictures in London, but not on the digital camera (which was used for the pictures you see here), so I don't have many London pictures to show you. Here are a couple though: Allie in a park which was between our hotel and Thames, and Allie eating Chinese for lunch. Both of these were taken while Donna was shopping at Harrods! Mark and Allie decided to skip Harrods to take a dip in the hotel pool and then tool around town.

While there are no photos to show you here, our time in London was action-packed. We went to the Theater (saw Fosse), dined in Soho, took a ride on the 'eye' (the millenium wheel), visited the National Museum, and toured the whole town on top of a double-decker bus. On the bus we saw all of the major sights including Buckinham Palace, the Tower of London (including Big Ben), the London Tower Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, etc., etc. It was fantastic seeing all of these landmarks which are so familiar.

After 3 quick days in London, we headed for our final stop, Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District. This region was beautiful! We stayed in a B&B which overlooked the lake. The view was incredible. We had to walk up a very steep hill each time we left to walk down town. We easily burned off all of the extra calories we ate in Bowness.

The lake district was home to many writers, including Beatrice Potter. There was a Beatrice Potter museum in town. Here is a picture of Donna with one of her characters, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. (For a year or so when Allie was about 2 years old, the tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle was her favorite).

In Bowness, Lake Windermere is the star. We went rowing a couple of times (here's another picture), and took a sunset cruise one evening.

On Monday the 7th, we waited for the train and then rode it straight to Manchester Airport. We had a direct flight back to Philly which arrived right on time. We're glad to be back home after a really nice trip!