A soft landing in Newark, England

After walking the Camino de Santiago, Chris and I felt drained both physically and emotionally.  I didn’t even feel like writing which was a sure sign of fatigue on my part.  (My apologies for such a long absence on the blog!)  We spent the first two weeks after the Camino enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation in Newark, England which is located in the East Midlands area, about an hour and half by train, north west of London.  Colin and Lynne, my niece Catherine’s in-laws, welcomed us warmly into their cozy, comfortable home and spent the first few days of our stay taking care of all our needs. Just to clarify, the photo to the left is not a photo of their house.

Each day we spent a few hours exploring the local attractions, visiting places like Wimpole Estate and Belton House, both of which are National Trust properties.   These are beautiful estates that have been donated to the National Trust and are cared for primarily by a large workforce of volunteer. The homes are huge, surrounded by gorgeous gardens, and offer a glimpse of what life would have been like for the privileged class in days by gone.  Interestingly, Prince Charles and Lady Diana considered buying Belton House (photo to the right) but in the end it was deemed unsuitable because the grounds were too difficult to secure.

The market town of Newark boasts the ruins of a castle
along the Trent river.

When we heard the Olympic Torch would be passing right by the house, we joined a large throng of flag-waving, patriotic neighbours of all ages who lined both sides of the street to catch a glimpse of the torch.  I don’t recall this kind of zeal when the torch for the 2010 Olympic Games passed through the streets of Ottawa, but that may have had more to do with the cold, wintry weather in the middle of December.  After watching the torch go by, Colin and Lynne invited some of their neighbours over for tea.  It was great to meet them and we really appreciated their offers to help us out during our visit.

Colin and Lynne have been so kind and nurturing towards us – not only have they generously given us the use of their house for five weeks, but they have also provided us with a car, and some much needed driving lessons for Chris. It is a challenge to get used to driving on the other side of the road…..all I’m going to say is that Chris has done remarkably well and we have the cleanest windshield in all of Britain (the windshield wipers are located where the blinkers would be in a Canadian car).

After a few days, Colin and Lynne departed for Canada where they are spending five weeks visiting their son Mark and his wife Catherine (my niece – now you see the connection!) Alone in the house, Chris and I proceeded to make ourselves at home.  We didn’t even leave the house for the first couple of days as we ate up all the lovely leftovers and raided Lynne’s pantry (which we’ll replenish before we leave, of course).  We just needed some down time and that’s what we had.  We then spent the better part of the next week getting caught up on the photos for our Camino blog entries and I did some website maintenance as well.  Each day we walked into the pretty town centre to pick up whatever we needed and perhaps stop for a coffee as well.  It was a very relaxing week however it rained every single day.  Now and then the sun would peak out and offer false hope that the rain was over.  In fact, the entire two weeks in England were wet, dreary and downright cold.

By the second week, we were ready to explore a little further afar and so we did some day trips into neighbouring towns of Lincoln and Nottingham – yes, famous for Robinhood and his merry men.  Sadly, there isn’t much left of Sherwood Forest these days but it is still a popular tourist attraction. I must admit, these excursions were a little nerve racking as we worked together to get us safely to our destination – Chris did the driving and I did the navigating.  Just when we figured we had mastered the roundabout, we came upon one that was multi-laned with traffic lights – now that threw us for a bit of a loop but we got through it safely – it helped that all the lights were green when we went through.

A selection of local beers that Colin thought Chris might enjoy.

After two weeks of rest and relaxation in England, Chris and I boarded a high speed train  to Paris for one week to celebrate my 50th birthday.

Category: England, Europe
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10 Responses
  1. Jurgen Portz says:

    Happy 50th birthday, Christina! Enjoy Paris. You guys deserved a good rest after the Camino experience.

  2. Angus says:

    Great way to spend your 50th, Happy Birthday. I offered to take Janet to Paris for her 50th this September but due to her heart issues she’s opted for St. John’s Newfoundland instead so she can stay in Canada.

    I’m off to China a week Monday for a week in Beijing. It’s going to be a long and tiring trip and this old body doesn’t handle the jet lag and late nights like it used to.

    Glad to see you guys are back on the blog. Interested to see more pics from England and Paris.

    Angus

    • christina says:

      Paris was fabulous! Chris and I went to Newfoundland a few years ago and just loved it – I think it’s Canada’s secret destination as it seems to be overlooked even by Canadians. Hope you guys have a great trip. We’ve never been to China but it is on the list for this trip so if you have any tips to send our way, we’re all ears. We’ve got one more week in Newark during which time I hope to catch up on the blog (again). I seem to be out of my writing groove these days.
      Enjoy Beijing.
      Christina

  3. Connie and Yves says:

    Happy 50th birthday Christina!!!What a beautiful place to spend your birthday!! Enjoy your time there. Can’t wait to hear more. Love your sis-in-law,
    Connie

    • christina says:

      Thanks Connie. I had a fabulous birthday in Paris – the best part was having the kids arrive on my actual birthday – best present ever. I fell in love with Paris. Hope you see it one day too!
      Christina

  4. Kathy says:

    Hi Christina,
    I’m so happy you and Chris had some time to just relax and unwind after your achievement of finishing your pilgrimage – (although I was experiencing some withdrawal symptons not have your blog to read!). I remember very well how un-nerving it was at first to drive on the left hand side of the road. I always found parking lots to be the trickiest, but roundabouts were a close second.

    I really liked your photos of the Camino, they added a whole other dimension to your stories. Although Chris may be a more ‘professional’ photographer, you are no slouch yourself!

    Fred and I loved Paris (as you may remember) when we went for my 50th birthday/ 25th anniversary. Have a wonderful time. Really looking forward to reading all about it.

    I see by Jurgen post that it was your birthday. Happy Birthday!! Take care.
    Cheers,
    Kathy

    • christina says:

      Hi Kathy

      So nice to hear from you again…..glad you enjoyed the Camino pictures. I thought they added something as well so I’m glad I took them and inserted them after the fact. I’ve been really negligent on the blog this month partly because I’ve been so busy with the kids’ visit and I think also because I’m still tired emotionally from the Camino experience. It really did take a lot out of me. But I’ll get back in the swing of things soon enough I’m sure.

      We spent a week in Paris and I simply loved it. It’s my favourite city so far. I do remember when you went to Paris and how jealous I was :) It was a memorable way to spend my 50th birthday.

      Take care
      Christina

  5. Jennifer Wells says:

    Hi Christina – I’ve just caught back up with you on your travels. I can’t wait to hear about your Paris adventure with your children.
    Reading about your olympic torch experience reminded me of the excitement in Sydney when the torch came to town for “our” Olympics in 2000.
    Enjoy your time in England, relax and good luck with the driving Chris :-)
    See you in a few months.
    Jenny and Tony

    • christina says:

      Hi Jenny and Tony
      We’re having a great time in the UK….just got back from Edinburgh, Scotland where we visited some cousins and a distant relative…will write about that if I ever get caught up on the blog! We’re looking forward to seeing you guys in Sydney, hard to believe it is just a few months away!
      Take care,
      Christina