As a test posting I am repeating here what I previously posted to the Ardorans email list and the Notebook: forum.
I will try and keep this brief, but how do you cram a month into a few lines?
Paris was fantastic. I am so glad we went there first. We found it overwhelming being surrounded by such beauty all the time, and if we had gone at the end of our trip we may have not appreciated it or just had a complete melt down. AS well as seeing (some of) the tourist attractions we spent lots of time eating pastries and drinking coffee and just walking around Paris. I managed in French most of the time, and found it exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Being understood in a foreign language is just an amazing feeling, I was so proud of myself. Hubby thought I was amazing and kept telling me what a great job I did.
Belfast was great. We stayed with friends and hung out with their friends doing normal things. There is a lovely brewery just out of town, I think it's called Hill End or something, If you are ever near by do drop in for a meal and a beer. We will have to go back and spend more time in Dublin. By the time we got there we were worn out and although we visited lots of places I don't think we got the most out of it. It was also quite hot and I got sunburned walking around on the first day there which made me a bit cross at myself.
From there we went by Ferry to Liverpool. It was a great way to travel, far more relaxed and refined than flying or going by train – as long as you don't get the same rowdy neighbours we had! It's actually quite a funny story now, but when we only got 3 hour sleep because of them it wasn't so funny.
We spent a wonderful 32 hours in Liverpool doing the Beatles tour and museum, then watching the first few games of the World Cup at our youth hostel.
Then it was on to Manchester and – oh bliss – 5 days staying in a self-contained apartment. With a washer. Clean clothes are wonderful things. And after a few weeks travel it was great to cook meals in the flat for ourselves. The town we stayed in is called Cheadle and the locals are just lovely. We adopted a local pub within hours of arriving, and they took great joy in supporting the Japanese in their game v Australia! But we had the last laugh when the Aussies won in the dying minutes of the game.
Then it was London to stay with 2 sets of friends. Again we didn't do as many things as we would have liked, but catching up with friends and doing 'normal' things with them was great. If you ever get the chance to visit Camden markets, go. It's huge and full of sites, sound and smells I am sure are unique. I ended up buying a gorgeous skirt from an Aussie who is selling her designs at the market and via internet. She was so nice, and her designs so suited to my figure I plan to buy more off her and have her post them to me.
We were sad when it was time to come home, but I was also glad to be back in my own bed and not on such a tight schedule all the time. Next trip we will spend longer in each place, as the constant packing up and moving on was stressful for us both.
I will try and post some piccies in the next few days.