About Me

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I am married to my loving husband for more than 37 years now. I am a mother to 3 beautiful children, until 10 years ago when I lost my youngest son. Since then my life is forever altered but yet unbroken....

My Travel Journal

"There isn't much I haven't shared with you along the road and through it all there'd always be tomorrow's episode" - Elton John

I started traveling around the world since early 80s when I had the opportunity to combine business trips with vacations. Then later when my rezeki is in abundance, there were numerous other trips along the way for vacations, most of the time with hubby and the kids when the timing is right. I have also started to compile the journal and photo-pages covering almost more than 25 years of world wide travel. Some destinations I visited just once, others many times. Many of those places are the obvious famous places people would like to visit but some, the casual traveler doesn't even think to try. I have placed links to my travel at the side bar of my personal page, My Life Reflections, and will be updating them from time to time.

My wish is to continue my travel and complete circumnavigate the globe, insyaAllah…

Thursday, 25 May 2017

2017 UK Exploration - England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland...

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life...” – Jack Kerouac

(Malaysia – England - Scotland - Wales - Ireland - France)
Date: 6 - 25 May 2017

(My fingerless gloves, ready for the cold weather)
(Comfortable walking shoes)

We are putting on our favorite walking shoes and ready to go.

We are going for a 20-day trip to explore those thriving exciting cities and attractions of the Great Britain. At the end of the trip, we will cross the Atlantic Ocean by train via the English Channel to France and visit Paris, the City of Lights and explore the Royal Château in Versailles.

Cities, towns and attractions visited on our route:

Cambridge, England - The City of perspiring dreams...
Leeds, England - The Knightbridge of the North...
Gateshead, England - The Angel of the North...
Carter Bar, Scotland - The Rolling Moorland of Northumberland...
Edinburgh, Scotland - Athens of the North...
Pitlochry, - Scotland - The home of Fergus the Hairy Coo...
Inverness, Scotland - The Capital of the Highlands...
Culloden, Scotland -  The bloody end of the Jacobite dream...
Drumnadrochit, Scotland - The home of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster...
Fort Augustus, Scotland - The War of the three Kingdoms...
Fort William, Scotland - The aftermath of the Jacobite rising... 
Glasgow, Scotland - The Shipbuilding capital of the world...
Gretna Green, Scotland - The Runaway Marriage Village... 
Rydal Mount, England - The home of the poet William Wordsworth...
Liverpool, England - The Beatles Story...
Holyhead, Wales - A busy Ferry Port...
Dublin, Ireland - The Fair Metropolitan City...
Bangor, Wales - The Oldest City in Wales...
Snowdonia, Wales - The Mountains and Glacial Landforms...
Cardiff, Wales - The City of Arcades...
Gloucester, England - The cathedral city of the Cotswolds...
Bibury, England - A Charming Cotswold Village...
Cirencester, England - A Market Town...
Castle Combe, England - The Prettiest Village in England...
Bath, England - The Original Roman Spa...
Warminster, England - The Iron Age Hill Forts...
Midsomer Norton, England - Solving the Midsomer Murders...
Stonehenge, Engaland - The Monument of Neolithic Ancestors...
Southampton, England - The Sinking of the Titanic...
Bicester, England - The Designer Outlet Shopping...
Oxford, England - The City of Dreaming Spires...
Heathrow, England - The Third Busiest Airport of the World...
London, England - The City of Smoke...
London, England - The Wax Museum and the Grand Mosque...
London, England - The City Tour...

Paris, France - The City of Lights...
Versailles, France - The Royal Chateau...

Cambridge, England - The City of perspiring dreams...

“Travel makes a wise man better, and a fool worse...” – Thomas Fuller

(One of the famous University cities in the world)

Date: 7 May 2017 (Sunday)
Route: Heathrow - Cambridge
Distance: 74 miles (1 hr 47 min)

(Heathrow International Airport)
(Our rented car, a Mitsubishi ASX)

We arrived in London Heathrow Airport early. Immigration and custom clearances were smooth. We bought a local sim card and Oyster Travel card and boarded the airport shuttle to Green Motion Car Rental at Holiday Inn Heathrow to collect our rental car, a Mitsubishi ASX. The total rental cost for 12 days was RM5,600. The pricing was inclusive of total collision damage waiver, theft protection, UK value added tax, insurance coverage for two drivers with unlimited mileage allowance.

By 9:00 am we settled documentations and payment and drove out of Heathrow towards north taking the A1 Highway heading towards Cambridge.

(Moody cloudy sky)
(Entering the town of Cambridge)

Cambridge is a university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, on the River Cam about 50 miles north of London.

(A view of King's College Chapel from across the garden)
(We drove through mustarad fields from Cambridge to Leeds)
(Heading towards north on the A1 highway)

Leeds, England - The Knightsbridge of the North...

“I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment...” – Hilaire Belloc

(One of the oldest visitor attractions in the country

Date: 7 May 2017 (Sunday)
Route: Cambridge - Leeds
Distance: 156 miles (3 hr 20 min)
Hotel: Travelodge Leeds Morley Hotel (£36) 

(Light traffic on the highway)

From Cambridge we drove on M18 towards Leeds with a short break for lunch on the way.

Leeds is a city in West Yorkshire, England. Historically in Yorkshire's West Riding, the history of Leeds can be traced to the 5th century when the name referred to a wooded area of the Kingdom of Elmet.

(An interesting drawing at the back of a lorry)
(Using the GPS and signages for directions)

The name Leeds has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the appellation of a small manorial borough in the 13th century, through several incarnations, to being the name attached to the present metropolitan borough. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a major centre for the production and trading of wool.

(Typical terrace houses in Leeds)
(Looking for our lodging in the suburb)

We had the opportunity to performed our prayers in Leeds Grand Mosque and met with the Muslim community.

Leeds Grand Mosque is with a Friday congregation of 1,500. The mosque has a diverse and ethnically mixed congregation with facilities for both male and female worshippers. The Friday prayer sermon is delivered in English and Arabic.

The mosque was originally Sacred Heart Church completed in 1965 and described as one of the most striking churches to be built in the 1960s. The design is Brutalist based on a concrete frame clad with pre-cast panels of Cornish granite aggregate. It closed in 1993 and was sold and converted in 1994, with funding from Saif Bin Muhammad Al-Nehayyan of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The chancel was converted into a smaller worship hall used on weekdays, and a women's gallery was constructed at the rear of the main hall, later augmented by converting the choir gallery into a second women's gallery. The stained glass window and obvious Christian symbols were removed, and facilities for wudu installed.

(The prayers time)
(The main prayer hall)
(The mimbar)
(We performed the jama' solat here)
(The back entrance of the Grand Mosque)

Another attraction visited was the Royal Armouries Museum.

The Royal Armouries Museum is a national museum which displays the National Collection of Arms and Armour. It is part of the Royal Armouries family of museums, the other sites being the Tower of London. The Royal Armouries Museum is located in Leeds Dock that opened in 1996. Its collection was previously on display or in storage at the Tower of London where the Royal Armouries still maintains a presence and displays in the White Tower. As at all UK National Museums, entry is free, though certain extra attractions are charged for.

(A collection of about 75,000 items)
(Armour is not just made from iron and steel)

Our lodging for tonight was at Travelodge Leeds Morley Hotel quite a distance from the city centre.

Gateshead, England - The Angel of the North...

“Too often. .I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen...” – Louis L’Amour

(The Angel Statue)

Date: 8 May 2017 (Monday)
Route: Leeds – Gateshead
Distance: 94 miles (1 hr 51 min)

After breakfast, we drove towards north to Gateshead on the A1 Motorway. Gateshead was a major shipbuilding and manufacturing hub during the Industrial Revolution and is now a centre of business, arts and sciences.

(Entering the town of Gateshead)
(Gateshead's medieval streets)

Gateshead is a town in Tyne and Wear, England, on the southern bank of the River Tyne opposite Newcastle upon Tyne. Gateshead and Newcastle are joined by seven bridges across the Tyne, including the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

(The Sage Gateshead is a concert venue and musical centre)
(The Swing Bridge Gateshead/Newcastle)
(The King Edward VII Bridge, Gateshead)

The town is known for its architecture, including the Sage Gateshead, the Angel of the North and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Residents of Gateshead, like the rest of Tyneside, are referred to as Geordies.

The Angel of the North stands on the hill of Birtley, overlooking the A1 Highway. Travellers entering Gateshead via the A1 will not miss this imposing structure.

(A fascinating icon)
(The wing span is greater than a Boeing 767 aircraft)

The Angel of the North is designed by Antony Gormley. It is a contemporary steel sculpture of an angel, 20 metres tall, with wings measuring 54 metres across. The wings do not stand straight sideways, but are angled 3.5 degrees forward to create a sense of embrace.

(The largest angel statue in the world)
(Britain's largest sculpture)

According to the designer, the significance of an angel was three-fold: first, to signify that beneath the site of its construction, coal miners worked for two centuries; second, to grasp the transition from an industrial to an information age, and third, to serve as a focus for mankind evolving hopes and fears.

(The Millennium Bridge has a scheduled tilting for ships to pass)
(The bridge links Newcastle bank and Gateshead Quays)

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian and cyclist tilt bridge spanning the River Tyne in England between Gateshead's Quays arts quarter on the south bank, and the Quayside of Newcastle upon Tyne on the north bank. The award-winning structure is sometimes referred to as the 'Blinking Eye Bridge' or the 'Winking Eye Bridge' due to its shape and its tilting method. In terms of height, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge is slightly shorter than the neighbouring Tyne Bridge, and stands as the sixteenth tallest structure in the city.

Carter Bar Summit, Scotland - The Rolling Moorland of Northumberland...

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted...” – Bill Bryson

(Carter Bar, the Scottish/England border)

Date: 8 May 2017 (Monday)
Route: Gateshead – Carter Bar
Distance: 49 miles (1 hr 9 min)

From Gateshead, we planned to cross Norththumberland National Park to the England/Scotland border.

We drove on the A696 through the northernmost national park in England. It covers an area of more than 1,000 square km between the Scottish border in the north to just south of Hadrian's Wall, and it is one of the least populated and least visited of the National Parks. The park lies entirely within Northumberland, covering about a quarter of the county.

(A beautiful day for a road trip to the border)
(Crossing the Norththumberland National Park)

In the north are the Cheviot Hills, a range of hills that mark the border between England and Scotland. Further south, the hills give way to areas of rolling moorland, some of which have been covered by forestry plantations. The 10,000-year history of human habitation of the region is explored through the many archaeological sites, ranging from prehistoric monuments and Roman remains to Pele towers, constructed as a defence against Border Reivers.

Nearing the border, out of nowhere we passed a small village and saw the sign of The Last Café in England. The cafe also known as Camien Café is a few miles from the England/Scotland border. It offers a nice range of food, from sandwiches to oven-baked dishes. A short stop here is a nice way to break up the journey to or from Scotland. The Camien Cafe is one of a dying breed. Luckily it is thriving and a haven for hungry thirsty travellers in need of a hearty meal or a steaming pot of tea or coffee.

(An authentic last cafe in England)

We did not make a stop at the the cafe but continued driving until we reached a reservoir. The Catcleugh Reservoir is a reservoir in Northumberland adjacent to the A68 road just north of Byrness; and to the south of the border with Scotland. The reservoir was constructed for the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company. The reservoir forms part of a series of reservoirs along the A68 which are connected by tunnels and aqueducts from Catcleugh Reservoir to Whittle Dene from where drinking water is supplied to Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, and some surrounding areas. The reservoir is fed by the River Rede.

(A brief stop by the reservoir)
(The supply of drinking water to the surrounding area)
(Having a cup of hot coffee on the mountain)

Driving a few miles after our short rest by the reservoir, we reached the England/Scotland border view point at Carter Bar.

Carter Bar is a point on the England–Scotland border, in Roxburghshire and Northumberland. Carter Bar is where the A68 road crosses the border and forms a pass located at the top of Redesdale in the Cheviot Hills at an elevation of 418 metres.

(Arriving at the border viewpoint)
(The boundary stone at Carter Bar)
(Stepping just over the border into Scotland)
(A welcoming signage at Carter Bar)
(View over the Scottish border from Carter bar)

The nearest Scottish towns near the border are Jedburgh 12 miles north, Hawick, and Kelso, and on the English side, Byrness, Redesdaleand Otterburn. From Carter Bar summit, the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, is only 58 miles away. The A696–A68 route is a popular scenic tourist route between Newcastle and Edinburgh.

(Stopping at an Alpaca farm)
(Jedburgh Abbey, one of the many castles on the way)
(The quiet country road to Edinburgh)