Lincoln and Newark, Lincolnshire

I got stuck. It’s taken me ages to finish this post! I get the urge to write something more often, but then I get busy, distracted by other things, hence the delay. I wish I had more time, but one has to earn money and live a little… Still, one year delay is pretty shameful… I’ll just humbly proceed with the posts…

I was getting itchy feet again and in October (last year, of course, lol) my usual English co-traveller contacted me asking if and where I would like to go to next. The way we made the choice was quite spooky. I just finished watching Simon Schama’s ‘The Story of Jews’ where in one episode he talked about the story of the Jewish community in Lincoln and I THOUGHT, ‘I wish I went there’. In the next message from my friend she asked me, ‘How about Lincoln?’ Whoa! Mind reader!

So the first weekend of November we went to Lincoln and Newark nearby.

It was easier and more economical for me to go to Lincoln by train, meet my friends there, who came by car and continue the trip together. I left sunny King’s Cross & St Pancras behind, had a change at Nottingham to more crowded and non air-conditioned train (felt like being back in Poland), passed Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power station with gigantic chimneys which looked like the ones used in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and finally arrived in Lincoln after midday. Saturday was wet. Frequent showers ‘forced’ us to frequent visits to second hand bookshops and tea rooms on the way up the hill where the Cathedral and Castle were. One of them was Jewish House, where I bought Gombrich’s “The Story of Art” for £2.50!

Entry to the Cathedral was paid and the Castle ‘next door’ was already closed, because it was off season, so we decided to eat dinner by Brayford Pool, bought some cheese and wine, because on the next day was my Name Day and head to our hostel to have a rest. After taking shower, we enjoyed wine while watching 50 Years of National Theatre Live on BBC2.

On Sunday the weather was much better. We strolled familiar streets and went up the hill again. We visited the Castle. The ticket was very cheap, only £2 to enter Castle Square. The Castle itself was closed, because of the renovations. We could go inside only with a guided tour which was in an hour, but we didn’t want to wait. The view on the Cathedral from the wall was a disappointment. One side was blocked with rubbish and the tower with the best view was closed to the visitors without the guide.

Good thing we managed to go into the Cathedral for free, because it was right after the Sunday Mass. The highlight of this trip for me was to see one of the copies of Magna Carta from 1215 signed by King John.

After having one foot long hot dogs, we went to Newark, a small town with a lovely square and castle ruins. When we walked around the town, I had a bizarre feeling, because I didn’t hear any English, just Polish absolutely everywhere! I felt that my friends were only English in town. It wasn’t a complete truth, but seriously, it was too much.

In the evening my friends left and I waited in a pub for my train back to London.

That was on 2-3 November, 2013.

Burton, Derby, Nottingham, Sudbury Hall and Abbots Bromley

The week in the middle of April was quite intense: bombs at the Boston marathon, Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. So what do I do? Leave the city! The weekend of April 19-21, I spent visiting three counties: Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. On Friday afternoon I caught a train to my regular co-traveller friend and together we went to Burton upon Trent which is mostly famous for its brewery heritage and Marmite (yuk!) first factory was established there at the beginning of the 20th century. We didn’t stay there long, because we took a bus straight to Derby where we met our friend. We made a small tour around the town, had dinner at Brewery Tap, coffee at Bookcafe and some delicious beer at the best pub in Derby, The Exeter Arms owned by a local brewery Dancing Duck. There were many rooms to sit in, so we chose the oldest part of the house. I think I tasted Nice Weather, which had a strong rose flavour and Seduction, very nice dark one. I also had a sip of Dark Drake, a bit too dark, but yummy as well. The Brewery owns also The New Zealand Arms in Derby, so you understand they’re the overall winners. We spent the night at our friend’s place in Burton and went back to Derby on the next day. After seeing places we couldn’t see the evening before, we took a bus to Nottingham. We were lucky again with the weather. Late afternoon, we went back to my Staffordshire friend’s place and spent an evening watching series 1 of ‘Black Books‘. This is when I was introduced to Dylan Moran and my life has never been the same again. haha.

National Trust had this special weekend when you could print a voucher and see some of their estates for free, so after breakfast on Sunday, we went to Sudbury Hall where Pride and Prejudice, the BBC version with Colin Firth was filmed. We also visited Museum of Childhood there. On the way back we stopped by in Abbots Bromley to see reindeer antlers used during the Horn Dance in September every year.

I left Staffordshire having the rainbow outside my train window. I could watch this video on a loop.

Cardiff / Caerdydd

In February, I was working only at weekends at the RA shop. I was very surprised when I got my first salary which was almost the same as when I was working full time for PAUL. It just confirmed that I made the right move. Nevertheless, during working days I was leaving my CV in various cafes, emailing or filling up application forms online hoping to find something part time. And I did! With the beginning of March, I got a job in a shop very close to my home, a 10 min walk away. I was thrown into deep water there and since then I have been working 7 days a week, sometimes 12 or more hours a day (in both shops taken together), but before that I had a chance to take a deep breath. My Staffordshire friend had a few days of holiday left to use, so we picked Cardiff this time.

I wasn’t sure about the weather, but the forecast was very promising. On Tuesday March 5th, I took the National Express from Victoria Station at 8am and arrived in Cardiff at 11:25. When I got off the bus, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and the breeze from the Bay reminded me how the fresh air could smell. I wasn’t in London anymore and I could really breathe. I instantly fell in love with this city and couldn’t stop taking pictures.

S&J came by car soon after I arrived. We spent all day taking the advantage of the beautiful weather and seeing everything outside and leaving museums and galleries for later, which was a good decision, because the weather got worse on the next day. I wish I could stay there longer. I don’t know why, but I felt that if not in London, this is the city I could live in Britain. Maybe because Cardiff Market reminded me Hala Mirowska in Warsaw or maybe because the access to the water is so enticing.

This is a rough selection of the photos I took.

March 5th & 6th

Cambridge & Ely

The first weekend of 2013 was my only weekend off out of manager’s initiative while working at PAUL (and I worked for them for 10 months). As soon as I saw it on my rota before Christmas, I knew I had to get away from the city. I got in touch with my friend from Staffordshire who gets itchy feet just like me and we tried to figure out where it would be the best to go. Initially, I was thinking of Belfast, but it had to be somewhere close to both of us, since it was just a weekend outing. I’m glad we didn’t go there, because there were riots on the streets of Belfast that weekend.

I hadn’t been to Cambridge yet, she hadn’t visited that city for a long time as well as her friend who joined us, so after spending the Friday evening on January 4th at her place, we hit the road the next morning. My friend had booked an accommodation outside of Cambridge, so we decided to park the car on Park ‘n’ Ride, go to the city centre by bus, do the touristy things and then come back in the evening and find our Travelodge. The weather was cloudy at first, but after lunch at Auntie’s Tea Shop the sky cleared up and we could enjoy some sun and luckily, it rained just a little bit at the end of the weekend. Because one day was enough to visit Cambridge, on Sunday we went to see Ely (about 20km from Cambridge) and the mighty Ely Cathedral (to my and Wikipedia’s knowledge, Cambridge does not have a cathedral). The day was foggy, the Cathedral looked beautiful and spooky and it was interesting to have a history lesson from the British puritanism and witness what Oliver Cromwell left or rather didn’t leave after his reign.

We spent the Sunday late afternoon in Cambridge visiting Fitzpatrick Museum and in the evening I caught a train back to London.

blank pages

The pages in my physical diary are blank now. I can only blame myself, because I spend most of my days at home, because I don’t have money to go out and sometimes I miss something, like I found out about a week later that four All Blacks (Richie, Israel, Sam and Ali) had been signing stuff at Harrods here in London. It was easier to run on them in New Zealand than here. I just realised that in London there as twice as many people as in the whole New Zealand. Just in London! I feel claustrophobic.

I can always borrow some money from my dad, but it’s not cool and I don’t like this feeling of dependancy either. And it’s embarrassing to eat from my sister’s fridge without putting anything into it. There are so many flavours in this city and I can’t taste them. I think this is one of the strongest motivations why I finally started looking for a job, online so far and in language schools. I’m not really convinced about my English abilities, but some of my native English speaking friends said that my English is pretty good and I heard that my students back in Poland miss me, so I guess I’m a good teacher. Having been encouraged in those areas, I’m thinking of trying to find a job as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. And I’ll be also looking for any other job, like a shop assistant, barista, dancer… maybe not. 😉

My days haven’t been completely dull and idle. Last weekend I spent with my friend from England and my sister’s ears could rest a little from my talking about New Zealand. I’m a boring company, because I don’t have anything to say now apart from what it’s like down there.

My friend didn’t mind listening to me… I hope… In fact she’s the one I can blame for my NZ music craze. You should visit her website, Kiwis With Instruments to see how much she loves that music!

Anyway, we spent a lot of time walking around the streets of London. I had a chance to drink again my favourite flat white in Soho, which wasn’t as good as the one from Midnight Espresso. 😉 If you want to eat Chinese food in Chinatown, don’t go anywhere but Wonk Kei (sweet and sour chicken is the best although some may prefer roast duck). And we visited the market on Brick Lane and then saw Wilhem Sasnal’s exhibition in the Whitechapel Gallery. Mr Sasnal is Polish. 🙂

On Saturday, I saw a huge bunch of Santas on skates on Trafalgar square.

This is my last post from England this year. Yesterday, winter tyres arrived, which meant we could go to Poland for Christmas. Before that we weren’t sure if we spend this holiday at home. We’re leaving in the middle of the night to catch a ferry at 6 am. In Poland, Christmas Eve is the most important time of celebration, so we should make it on time to share a wafer with my parents and grandma and listen to my cats talking at midnight.