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Back to Jolly Ole England


June 3rd, 2022

After we left Rosslyn Chapel in southern Scotland, we made our way south towards the English border to the town of Bamburgh and enroute Fran saw on the map a place called Holy Island which you can only reach outside the hours at high tide.  We checked the tide tables and it was possible to drive across the causeway that is apparently flooded during high tide and it cuts off access to the Island.

The town itself is at one corner of the island and is bigger than we thought and you can visit the ruins of a priory and take a short walk out to the castle and the old lime kilns.

It was quite windy and we felt the cold wind like we had up north; yes we are wimps!  It’s the icy wind off the sea that does it.  It’s quite pleasant when you can find a sheltered spot.

We left the island and arrived in Bamburgh, which is touted as the best beach resort in England.  The castle there is huge and the beach was lovely.  There were a no real parking lots in town and around the coastal there were few we could have stayed but one had an awkward spot and the other was quite windy with no cell signal.

We tried to find a spot in the town itself with no luck so we had to head south further along the coast and found a layby outside the town of Seahouses next to a golf course with a path to their beach.

We took a walk out to and along the beach in the wind and wished it was warmer.  It wasn’t as nice as the Bamburgh beach but still sandy.

We ended up with a neighbour later in the day in a white van but otherwise considering how close to the road we were it wasn’t too noisy.

Saturday morning, we continued southward to the city of Alnwick.  Here you find Alnwick Castle (begun in the 11th century) which was used most famously as “Hogwarts” in the Harry Potter movies as well as being used in Downton Abbey, Elizabeth, Count Dracula and more.

Lion Bridge
Alnwick Castle – AKA Hogwarts School

Trying to get a peek at the castle proved a bit of a struggle as some roads were blocked but Fran had found two places nearby that promised views.  The cost to enter the grounds is £20 pp and that was pretty steep just to see the buildings so we tried one of those spots.

Now it’s Jubilee weekend and there are some road closures and lots of celebrations even in small towns.

No British monarch has ever reigned for seventy years.  To put this into perspective, Queen Elizabeth’s reign is already longer than the reigns of her FOUR predecessors put together.  Her time as queen has stretched over multiple eras, across 14 different UK prime ministers and 14 US presidents.  Queen Victoria reined for 63 years and internationally, King Louis VIV reined for 72 years. 

The weather today is mostly cloudy but the sun peeks out at times and it looks better for the afternoon – maybe a second day of no rain!  We can only hope.

As we are carrying on down the A1 Minou decides to give us (well mostly, Doug) a challenge – she blew a tire!   What a racket that made and it did more damage than just the tire.   Luckily although we were on a busy highway, we were very close to a left hand turn (not a roundabout) which was rather wide and when Doug crawled under her, there with plenty of rooms for vehicles to still get around us.  The hazard lights went on and we both got out saw this:

So it damaged the tire, fender had come quite loose, wiring hung done and some of it was broken.  The impact of the chuck of tread that came loose must have hit all that in the process and the noise it made was terrible.

So out came the jack and Doug had to crawl under Minou to get the spare tire which is stored underneath.  That as a job in itself and the lighting under there was not so good.  He had to take a picture with a phone in order to figure out how it was hooked up.  Then getting the jack up was excruciatingly slow.

The whole tire changing process took almost two hours and then he had to figure out the fender, which luckily although it looked warped, did pop back on. The wiring was a weird thing; we couldn’t figure out what the two broken wires did; all the lights worked as did everything inside so I’ll guess one day we’ll see if something does not come on; in the meantime, Doug hooked them back up anyway, hoping he’d connected the right ones and off we went.

Due to the “hole” in the underside of the vehicle, we did not want to have to drive in the rain so we decided that since it was mostly sunny now, we should just head to Sunday’s destination in the hopes of finding a body shop on Monday in that town and not have to drive in the rain much if at all.

We did have another site to see in the city of Newcastle and stopped at a turret of the ancient Hadrian’s wall.

Hadrian’s Wall also known as the Roman Wall, Picts’ Wall, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province of Britannia, begun in AD 122 in the reign of the emperor Hadrian. Running “from Wallsend on the River Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west”, the Wall covered the whole width of the island. In addition to the wall’s defensive military role, its gates may have been customs posts.

It is the largest Roman archaeological feature in Britain, it runs a total of 73 miles (117.5 kilometres.  It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.  Hadrian’s Wall marked the boundary between Roman Britannia and unconquered Caledonia to the north. The wall lies entirely within England and has never formed the Anglo-Scottish border.

Enroute to the second section of the wall we wanted to visit, Doug spotted a tire shop that was open.  Due to its being Saturday and a long holiday weekend (Britain has a four day holiday weekend this weekend for the Jubilee.

We pulled and we were lucky that they were able to help us right away and had the correct tire in stock.  While they did the work, we went across the street to get lunch (it was now 1:30) and enjoyed some fish and chips.

So with a new “shoe” that was not unreasonably price and the spare back in place, we were off again to see the second section of the Wall.  This section was fenced off and locked but we got this photo:

It was full sun now and although still somewhat cool – about 13C / 55, it was not very windy and quite pleasant.

We got back on the A1 and arrived in the town of Otley (which was bigger than we expected) and parked behind a pub called The Yew Tree

They allow free overnights as long as you have a drink and/or a meal in the place and this one actually offers Wi-Fi, dumping and fresh water.  We are meeting some overlanders here that live in nearby Leeds that we met in Uruguay back in 2019.  Stu and Lins were travelling in a van and we spent a couple of nights with them on the coast.

After getting level (the lot is quite sloped) we went inside to get drinks to enjoy happy hour and sat outside in the sun.  It didn’t stay out long and it got cool quick so we returned to Minou for dinner; after that big late lunch we’d had earlier, we had a light dinner and a quiet night. We also made a reservation for an early dinner here tomorrow for all four us to enjoy their “carvery” dinner – Doug is looking forward to Yorkshire pudding!

Next morning, guess what, it rained on and off.  We managed to get some steps in and Doug worked on fixing the underside of the motorhome after finding a hardware store open on a Sunday morning.

Stu and Linz showed up on time and we had a drink before being called for our turn at the Carvery.  They carved each of us some ham, turkey and roast beef and then you could have all the veggies you wanted; there was roasted potatoes and parsnips, broccoli, carrots, peas, stuffing and cheese topped cauliflower.  It was all pretty good and a heck of a deal for £8.95 per person.  We did not order dessert but Fran did try a very British drink after dinner called Pimm’s, which is a sort of liqueur but not quite as strong and it’s served with Sprite.  It was quite refreshing – apparently it’s a favourite at Wimbledon and other summer events.

We had a quiet night in the parking lot, showered the next morning and filled our tank before leaving with the tap on the side of the pub (the had allowed us to dump our cassette the day before in the men’s washroom too).

We have reached out to two other friends here in England.  A family we met in the Pantanal of Brazil who live near Nottingham and a South African fellow who lives near London whom we met in Texas several years ago and we’ve kept in touch on Facebook.

So our next stop is on Wednesday to visit the first couple and we don’t have to be there for a couple of days, as it’s now only Monday, we tried to check out a launderette to get some clothes and our bedding washing but it turned out not to be self-serve.  We left Otley and found one in nearby Holt and were able to park right out front and got it all done.

NOTE:  Fran needed change to do the dryers and handed the guy a £20 note – he wouldn’t take it as it was from Scotland!  At first she thought he was just pulling her leg but no, he refused to take it; said the Scottish bills were easier to forge and his bank wouldn’t take them!  Luckily, she still had a £20 English one and used that.  He told her she could change them at a bank if need be and that some places do take them but he won’t.  So much for a “united” Kingdom!

We then made our way about 35 miles to get gas in Knottingley, a few groceries (we don’t want to buy much as we are leaving the UK soon and don’t want to have issues crossing into the EU) and we were able to “pawn” off a few more £20 notes here and we will be eating out a bit in the next few days.  The Morrison’s had gas as well and we parked in the lot overnight in the corner.  There were no “no overnight parking” signs.

We had another very quiet night; not bothered in the parking lot at all.  Next morning Doug went for a longish walk and after brunch we made our way to Doncaster where we thought we’d take in a movie – the new Top Gun Maverick.  Fran found a pub near it that allows motorhome parking and we made our way to the mall with the cinemas and spent the afternoon there until it was time.

Best part of today was the mostly sunny skies, temperatures reaching 19C / 66F.  Warmest we’ve had in the UK! We’ll take it.

Well we really enjoyed the movie last night; popcorn was okay and it was expensive!  At the theatre we went to and maybe all over the UK, when you purchase your tickets, there are three levels of seating prices, general, special and VIP so since we don’t go to the movies often, we chose the VIP at £6.99 per seat.  They turned out to be right in the rows we like and were big comfy seats with large armrests.

We returned to Minou and drove 3km / 2mi to Toby Carvery, parked out back, went to the bar to order a drink and tell them we were back there in our motorhome.  We were welcomed and told no problem after which we sat outside on the patio to have our drinks.

It rained a fair bit overnight but we awoke to partly cloudy skies and we have a slow day as we don’t have to get to our friends in Aslockton until 6:30 and it’s not far away.  We hope to dump and shower enroute.  They told us they have room in their driveway but the lane to get there is narrow and the driveway is sloping so our plan is to get there early, scope it out and decide if we want to sleep there or stay in a layby about a mile away and walk over for dinner.

The walk over to Ally & Mike’s was nice and the lane is not that narrow nor would their driveway be an issue so we’ll head over there before dinner.  We got our steps and got online for awhile.

We arrived at their house about 6:30 and were invited in for drinks.  Their two teenage children, Adam and Emily, were there and we all enjoyed a late, lovely vegetarian dinner.

We returned to Minou to sleep even though they offered us a room (it’s easier to sleep in our own beds) and next morning we left around 9 to check out a couple of sites in nearby Nottingham on their recommendation.

Ally suggested we park across the river in a huge mall parking lot and walk downtown.  That worked perfectly!  It was less than a half mile to get over to the outside of the Nottingham Castle:

Nottingham Castle is built on Castle Rock which has stood here for over 400,000 years.  It is made of a grtty pebbly rock called Nottingham Sandstone. It is soft and crumbly and easy to dig caves out of.  The caves here have been used as stables, tanneries, and store rooms.  It has more caves than anywhere else in Britian – all of which are manmade.  It was ordered to be built by William the Conqueror.

To see the Robin Hood statue and plaques.  We wanted to check out the oldest pub in Britain but it doesn’t open until 11 so we returned to Minou, had an early brunch and then walked back.

Robin Hood is a legendary outlaw originally depicted in English folklore and subsequently featured in literature and film. According to legend, he was a highly skilled archer and swordsman. In some versions of the legend, he is depicted as being of noble birth, and in modern retellings he is sometimes depicted as having fought in the Crusades before returning to England to find his lands taken by the Sheriff. In the oldest known versions he is instead a member of the yeoman class. Traditionally depicted dressed in Lincoln green, he is said to have robbed from the rich and given to the poor.

Through retellings, additions, and variations, a body of familiar characters associated with Robin Hood has been created. These include his lover, Maid Marian, his band of outlaws, the Merry Men, and his chief opponent, the Sheriff of Nottingham. The Sheriff is often depicted as assisting Prince John in usurping the rightful but absent King Richard, to whom Robin Hood remains loyal. His partisanship of the common people and his hostility to the Sheriff of Nottingham are early recorded features of the legend, but his interest in the rightfulness of the king is not, and neither is his setting in the reign of Richard I. He became a popular folk figure in the Late Middle Ages. The earliest known ballads featuring him are from the 15th century.

There have been numerous variations and adaptations of the story over the subsequent years, and the story continues to be widely represented in literature, film, and television. Robin Hood is considered one of the best-known tales of English folklore. In popular culture, the term “Robin Hood” is often used to describe a heroic outlaw or rebel against tyranny.

The historicity of Robin Hood has been debated for centuries. There are numerous references to historical figures with similar names that have been proposed as possible evidence of his existence, some dating back to the late 13th century. At least eight plausible origins to the story have been mooted by historians and folklorists, including suggestions that “Robin Hood” was a stock alias used by or in reference to bandits.

Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem is built just outside the rocks under the castle and some of the rooms are actually caves.  There is apparently a large “city of caves” under the castle you can tour as well.

This pub claims to have been established in 1189.  This was the year that Richard the Lionheart became king and Pope Gregory VIII called for a Third Crusade to the Holy Land; however, there is no documentation to verify this date. Evidence suggests that caves in the rock against which the pub is built (called Castle Rock) were used as a brew house for Nottingham Castle, and may date from around the time the castle was built in 1067. These caves were reputedly originally used as a brew house for the castle, dating from the medieval period.

The earliest known reference to the name “Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem” was in 1799. Before being known by its current name, it is believed that the pub was named “The Pilgrim” and references to this name date back to 1751. The current name is believed to come from the belief that pilgrims or crusaders would stop at the inn on their journey to Jerusalem. Some elements of the pub’s name are misunderstood in the modern day: “Ye Olde” is properly pronounced “the old” and “trip” refers to a stop on a journey, rather than the journey itself.

Locals often use a shortened version of the name, “the Trip”.


With regard to our Scottish twenty pound notes, Doug went to a bank and they wouldn’t exchange them without you having an account but a kind soul in the queue offered to exchange them and he would deposit them.  Ah the kindness of strangers!