England 2017

Ken’s work travel and my college coaching schedule don’t often line up, so when he was offered a class in London the week before my spring break, we jumped at the chance to spend a week exploring.  Of course, my first thought was– “I wonder if there are any races we could join in… you know, for the experience?”  And yes, there just happened to be a half marathon in Weymouth, a coastal fishing village about 3 hours south of London.  I emailed my friend Jerry who is from England, and he said “OMG- Weymouth is where I grew up”… quickly followed with dozens of suggestions of things to do, places to go, and favorite foods to eat.

We had a spectacular 6 days, loved the friendly British people, the beautiful London Parks, and the absolutely stunning coastal walking paths.  Following are some of our favorite pictures.  We can’t wait to go back, possibly for a longer walking tour…. there is so much to see.

Day 1

I arrived at Heathrow airport at 9am, took the Heathrow Express train to Paddington station, where my friend Luda met me and guided me to my hotel.  I took a short nap, and Ken arrived a couple hours later after finishing his teaching.  We headed out on a walk through Hyde Park

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Beautiful dafodils throughout the park

We had dinner at Luda and Okhtay’s flat that evening, played with brilliant Leo and adorable Nina, and headed to bed early having flown all night previously.

Day 2

After an early morning walk around the village of Westminster, we took some croissants over to Luda and Okhtays where they had already prepared a wonderful breakfast.  Okhtay and Nina then walked us to the train station, gave us directions, and sent us off to explore some of the tourist sites.    Starting with Westminster Cathedral and Big Ben…

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Yes, the iconic red phone booths are still poised throughout the city

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Westminster Cathedral and Big Ben in the back ground

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The “London Eye”

We walked a couple of miles back to the hotel, through the old streets, and to the “Car Park” where we rented our car for a few days.  I’ve hiked mountains in all kinds of weather, canoed 120 miles through the night, been on the rodeo team and trained race horses, but the most terrifying experience of my entire life was driving (or in my case riding) on the left side of the road!  Only 2 taxis almost collided head on when Ken “forgot” which side of the road to turn onto.  Once out of the city, he did great (and I sure wasn’t about to try it), but for awhile I really wondered WHY THE HECK they let people with a US lisence rent a car in the UK.  We drove 3 hours to Weymouth, where we checked intou our AirBnB apt, cooked an easy supper, and prepared for the half marathon the next day.

Day 3-

We both finally slept well, and got up early for breakfast.  We wanted to be at the race  around 7:30 to check in and get ready for an 8:30 start.  At 7:15, we remembered, “OH MY GOSH, it’s day light savings time… we just missed the start”.  We went running out of the apt and headed down the road.  As we passed some folk returning from an all nighter at the pub, I asked “what time is it here” and learned that daylight savings time doesn’t start in England until the end of March.  PHEW… we made it.

The weathe Kind of drizzly, but failrly warm and pleasant.  My legs felt like I’d been on a plane all night, hadn’t slept well, and sat in a car on the wrong side of the road for way too long…. in short, like crap.  But I hung onto Ken and kept telling myself it would get better.  Well, it didn’t get better, but by half way, I knew that I could make it and was able to hang onto the pace.  We both finished in just under 1:50, which we were happy with considering the past few days.  After the race we had the famous British Fish and Chips, and I will say it was delicious, we walked along the beach, and then had our first “Cream Tea” with a blueberry scone.  The first full on gluten I’ve had in 9 years and it was well worth it… I am in love with clotted cream, and every last crumb of the scone was delicious.IMG_3955

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Boats along the River Wey, Weymouth

Weymouth is a beautiful little village, with a fantastic beach, lots of nice restaurants and pubs, and lots of fantastic views.  Right across a bridge is the Isle of Portland which we drove around and took a few short walks out to coastal views.

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Fishermen off Isle of Portland

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The Coastline off Isle of Portland

Day 4-

We left Weymouth, and drove south towards the town of Poole where we had reserved another airBnB.  On our way we stopped at Lulworth Cove, and took a short, 3 mile hike along the Coastal Path  (a 500 mile walking trail).  It is spectacular, there are lots of people walking, and we can’t wait to go explore more of it.

Everyone seems to enjoy walking, and nearly everyone has a dog.  Usually off leash, and seemingly very well behaved.  Dogs are even allowed in many restaurants!

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The Coast Path goes for 500 miles, and is well marked!

Some views as we walked along the path to Durdle Door— all stunning.  But most stunning of all is Durdle Door itself!

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Durdle Door- along the Coast Path

From here we drove another 45 minutes or so to Poole.  Along the way we passed a castle.. .

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A castle we happened to pass on our drive

Poole is a nice village, a little more populated than Weymouth, but still quaint and with lots of outdoor activities.  The beach is lovely.  And the tidal marshes beautiful both when the tide is out like below, and when it is higher.  There are lots of water sport activities- kite surfing, wind surfing, paddle boarding, etc.

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Who knew the beaches in England were so grand!

Day 5

We headed down to the water and rented mountain bikes.  They were not much to look at, but they worked, and they got us across the Isle of Purbeck to Corfe Castle which was built by William the Conquerer in the 11th Century.  The ride out was gorgeous, and included a short ferry ride.

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Ken cycling on Isle of Purbeck

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More well marked walking trails

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Corfe Castle

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Just one of many beautiful quaint old cottages we cycled by

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Chain Ferry between Poole and Purbeck

Day 6

After such a beautiful day yesterday -we did not think we could match it, but the New Forest was absolutely amazing.  Again we rented mountain bikes, and headed down to 100 miles of dirt roads through the forest.  The semi-wild ponies throughout the forest were a real highlight!

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The ponies are quite friendly, and wanted to join our walk!

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Another Pony

After our biking adventure, we drove back into London, survived the traffic, and the left side of the road, and then went to dinner with Okhtay, Luda, and Nina and Leo.

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