Thursday, September 23, 2010

United Kingdom, The Summer of 2010

Kay and I finally flew over the big pond to the United Kingdom. The impetus for this trip started with a friend from the UK, Shirl, whom I met during a self-contained ACA bike tour across the U.S. in 2008 along the Southern Tier. She wanted to organize a bike tour across the UK and invited friends from the 2008 Southern Tier tour group, self-named the "Happy Bottoms Club". For me, the opportunity to tour in the picturesque countryside of England, Wales and Scotland by bicycle was not to be missed, rain or shine. Kay and I decided to add two weeks of travel exploring Leicester (Shirl's hometown), London and Bath before the bike tour, thus, our 2010 summer in the United Kingdom came to be. Much thanks goes to Shirl for organizing everything and for being the reluctant trail boss of the bike tour. Also, "thank you", Shirl and Lee, for your outstanding hospitality toward Kay and I, and the rest of the gang during our stays in Leicester. The way you opened your home and hearts to all of us has left a lasting impression on me.

Below is a photo journal of our trip in the United Kingdom. Photo journal! This means there's a lot of pictures. But then again, it takes a lot of pictures to tell the complete story and I generally prefer pictures over words. Also, it's my hope that this will help me to remember all the details of this journey when I look back sometimes in the years ahead. "With age comes wisdom, but at the cost of memory". You can quote me! The photo journal is divided into six groups below. Kay flew home soon after we concluded our travels in Leicester, London and Bath just before everyone arrived for the bike tour. In brief, the bike tour went from Lands End (UK's southwestern point) to John O'Groats (northeastern point) by way of an indirect route. The object was to see as much of the best of the UK as we could. After John O'Groats, we spent time exploring the Orkney Islands, then riding back toward Edinburgh.

Click on the picture below to open a new window to view the PICASA slideshow. When you are done viewing or just wish to quit, close the new window by clicking the "X" on the upper right corner of your window. Kay and I have added text to each picture to help tell the story. We hope it all works.


After arriving at the Birmingham airport, Shirl whisked us off to her hometown. Having the opportunity to stay with Shirl in her home was such a wonderful experience. It gave us a feel of everyday life in a British town away from the tourism of London and Bath. Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England. We found the city to be quite quaint and yet it had a bustling city center marked with historical landmarks, large shopping malls, open market, and restaurants.


Double-decker buses, museums, historical landmarks, pubs and more, London is a thriving and interesting city. We were able to explore the historical landmarks, experience aerial views of the city, see the eye-popping crown jewels, and of course, shop at the famous Harrods department store, Kay's favorite.


From London we trained to Bath, a town famous for its healing hot springs. The town square is cluster of landmarks including the historic abbey, Roman and medieval baths, shops and restaurants. Bath was also the home for Jane Austin, the famous English novelist of romantic fiction, and architect/designer John Wood, famous for the Georgian style terraced homes.

UK Bike Tour:

I divided the tour into three parts for presentation purposes. Now, what can I say about this tour, but thanks to Shirl for all she did for us. The heart of a person is defined not by their knowledge, believes, or abilities; but by their actions. For me, it's another trip of a lifetime. This tour allowed me to see, learn, and experience so much regionally, culturally, and historically. I hope the pictures will give you a good sense of our journey through the UK this summer. The varied and rugged wide open landscape of northern Scotland still lingers in my mind.

Lands End to Lancaster:

Kirkstone Pass to Tongue:

Thurso to Edinburgh: