uklighthousetour

One crazy lady and a bizarre obsession = an ongoing tour of the best lighthouses the UK has to offer

St Catherine’s (finally) and a bit of a national tour

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Canterbury Cathedral – not quite a lighthouse!

The weekend just passed can only be described as a little bit crazy! It was a long weekend for me as Bob returned from his expedition in Ecuador on Thursday evening, so I met him at the airport ahead of our mad weekend, which saw him flung straight back in at the deep in (the deep end being pretty standard for him). We covered numerous locations in four days, these being: Canterbury (Friday), Isle of Wight (Saturday), Southampton to Inverness and Kingussie (Sunday) and London/north coast of Scotland (Monday). Surprising the weekend only involved the one lighthouse, but a very exciting one it was and for very exciting reasons! But we shall get to that shortly.

Friday gave me the opportunity to do the tourist thing in Canterbury, a city I had not previously visited, while Bob had a meeting. I was keen to go to the Canterbury Tales museum/experience so I headed straight there. It was a funny place and I was grateful for the lady informing me at the beginning that nobody would jump out at me as I walked through. So, I wandered through the rooms, surrounded by plastic characters and stopping in each area to hear a Canterbury tale. I would call the experience amusing. The audio guide and self-opening doors make it quite a fun place to visit. I had to pay a visit to the cathedral next, although I slightly resented paying £9.50 for the privilege. It is a beautiful building though and I spent quite a bit of time there in the end. I wasn’t impressed by the cobweb I caught sight of though, particularly when you pay such a high entry fee! I then wandered about the city and stopped for a hot chocolate before meeting up with Bob and driving through to Southampton.

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Me with the St Catherine’s lighthouse optic

Saturday was an early start and we arrived on the Isle of Wight just after 8am. We had booked a tour of St Catherine’s lighthouse on the southern tip of the island. The reasons this was so exciting was that I’ve been meaning to visit it for years, but most of all because we have made arrangements with Trinity House for the guests at our wedding to have a tour after the ceremony. As we arrived at the lighthouse the rain stopped and we were shown into the building by the guide. The lighthouse has some really unique features, such as a system to check that the lighthouse isn’t being affected by subsidence due to its close proximity to the eroding cliffs and a curtain used by the lighthouse keeper during the cleaning of the optic. The area surrounding the lighthouse is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public. There seems to be a lot of good photo opportunities in and around the lighthouse for the wedding day! Very exciting!

Later that day we joined my family in celebrating my nan’s 80th birthday. It was great to see everyone; she seems to get more and more popular every year! We also stopped off to see friends who had yet to meet Bob. Later that evening we headed to the wedding reception venue and made some great progress there. There certainly has been a lot of wedding-related developments over the weekend!

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Gretna Hall Hotel and Blacksmiths where we didn’t get married!

On Sunday we left the island early as Bob needed to be back at home for work on Monday. I also needed to be at work, but instead of doing what most normal people would do and being dropped off in London or somewhere nearby with public transport links, I joined Bob on a road trip heading north. One of the reasons for this was so that we could share the driving, which did happen, but my share was a large percentage less than Bob’s! We stopped off at snowy Gretna for lunch and, as we were leaving, drove past the Gretna Hall Hotel and Blacksmiths. Gretna, as you probably know, is famous as a destination for elopement. We did briefly discuss the possibility of getting married there and then, but we thought we’d better wait until later in the year as our parents might be annoyed.

We passed some amazing winter scenery on the way “up the road”. We stopped off for dinner in Inverness, before heading back to Kingussie (the lady at the train station in Inverness was very unhelpful in extending my ticket from Inverness). On the way back, Bob took a detour at Aviemore and we headed up to the car park for the Cairngorm Mountain Railway. From the car park we could see an amazing amount of stars, definitely more than I’m used to seeing. Now, you may think that this was very romantic of Bob to take me here to look at the stars, and I would have been inclined to agree with you had it not been for the fact that we began a snowball fight (with loose, powdery snow) and I ended up with snow in my face twice! It was a lovely end to the trip though and we then headed back to Kingussie, after a brief tour of Newtonmore, so I could catch the sleeper train back to London for work on Monday morning.

A very busy, but particularly enjoyable long weekend with a bit of everything! I’m not sure where or when my next lighthouse hunt will take me, so we’ll all just have to watch this space for now! 🙂

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