Harrogate & Maidenhead
First time to the UK!
The United Kingdom in March is lovely! It is beautiful all around and the weather is tolerable.
Planning for two weeks in mid march in UK meant loads of woollens and I prepared well. We were a team of four on this trip and my large suitcase was the butt of a lot of jokes because firstly it was the largest and secondly it was the very last to arrive at the baggage claim in Heathrow.
Anyways, our first set of Client meetings were at Harrogate, so off we went to King Cross station to catch our train to Harrogate. The train station reminded me of Harry Potter and the entire three hour journey was beautiful to say the least. Nothing beats the scenic English countryside view and I felt I was part of a James Herriot book. Even though his books are mostly based in Scotland, the green pastures, farmhouses and the cows grazing on the fields only reminded me of his books- ‘All things bright and beautiful’ ‘and ‘ All creatures great and small’.
We reached Harrogate past five thirty in the evening and were startled by the hotel we were booked into. It was called Ashley House and was more of a home lodging place and was too small and ancient from what I think we expected in UK. Nevertheless, we went to a nearby restaurant for a quick dinner and tucked in for the night to get some much needed rest prior to starting work the next day.
On day two we were given independent rooms, unlike the day before where the 4 of us shared two rooms because the 4 rooms were in various parts of the 4 storey house with wooden carpeted stairs and no elevator/lifts! One of the guys kindly carried my large suitcase to my first floor room.
I had never seen a room more pink in my entire life! I think almost everything was PINK. Right from the bedspread to the wallpaper to the table cloth to the curtains and the lampshade on the nightstand, I mean you couldn’t get it pinker!
It used to be pitch dark by six thirty in the evening and so silent that one could hear footsteps of people walking on the street from a first floor road facing room. Gulp- cold, dark, tik tok of steps and no other sound...I focussed hard on my preparation for work the next day. The following morning at breakfast one of the hotel guests informed me about someone jumping out the window late at night leaving her flowers all trampled, I swallowed my toast and dismissed the story for the rest of the day.
We explored the town if you may call it that, on some evenings after work. The roads were sloping; it was very pretty with flowers and lots of tiny shops and restaurants. Just about everything shuts by six or six thirty pm. We even passed by the Turkish Baths; the guys were more adventurous in giving it a try, we gals stuck to keeping our gloved hands firmly in our coat pockets and went jay walking and shopping instead.
Have to mention I was glad for all my woollies and remained snug and comfy all through my stay at Harrogate. My large suitcase was well appreciated at that time.
Weekend at London
The weekend at London was glorious, Friday night we checked in at the Crown Plaza on Shoreditch and dashed off to catch the famous London tube to explore as much as we could of London that night. First stop was Bond Street and the tube doors closed after me, leaving my colleagues stare back at me as the tube whizzed off. I had my formal training of travelling on the London tube on my very first trip itself. Reunited, we shopped at Bond street, then went to Piccadilly Circus, and made a couple of stops along with dinner and headed back only by midnight. London on that cold late night felt safe and full of life.
The next day I went to Madam Tussaud’s and took the ride on the London Eye, saw the Big Ben, it was a fabulous day, simply loved it all. Touristy to the hilt!
Sunday evening we took a taxi to Maidenhead. Now Maidenhead was another experience of sorts in terms of lodging for me. Given our experience at Harrogate, we were all hoping M would be different! The place was very nice, just that the four of us got rooms like in four different towers of the lodge and mine had a window facing out to this eerie looking church whose bell tolled every hour. Goodness me, I didn’t sleep for almost three nights thanks to the bells, the creaks on the wooden floor boarding and the noises off the pipes from the old fashioned heating system! With the lack of sleep and fear (I admit) yet I had to look all bright eyed for my Client meetings every morning.
Yet again, Maidenhead was a very pretty place, quiet, not as spooky as Harrogate and it had enough places to eat out and shop at.
Overall, my two week stay at the three places was very memorable and enjoyable. The UK was just as I had read in the Enid Blytons, Harry Potters & James Herriots during my growing years. Books come to life was a real treat for this kid.
Not to forget, I was the first to catch a flight back and had shopped a lot to add to my large suitcase. The farewell jokes were that I’d be paying for excess baggage, can’t describe the glee with which I called my colleagues once I had checked in that I had been passed and they stated they were heading shopping right away!!