Lynn’s Grand Tour Summer 2022 sounds a lot grander than it really was. I was not in fact meandering through Europe with a fawning retinue and a sketch book, I was simply travelling around England to visit friends and family. Nevertheless, I was away from my island home for more than two weeks, WITHOUT MY DOGS which made it an event worthy of a blog post.
One of the strange things about this trip was how difficult it was to make it. I’ve been off island several times since the Great Lockdown Horror but only for short periods of time, and always with a purpose in mind. Even my writer’s retreat last autumn wasn’t for that long and had the specific aim of visiting the navy museum in Hartlepool. When we planned this trip it wasn’t intended to be this long, but somehow we kept adding to it and when I booked the ferry and realised how long we’d be away I almost panicked. I’d forgotten what it was like to be away for this long and even though we were travelling by car, packing was a nightmare.
We started off with family, at an outdoor party for my brother-in-law’s 70th birthday. This was an outdoor event and the weather was perfect. Curry and music, dancing on the lawn and then a spectacular firework display to finish was a great start to our trip.
We spent a few days in Nottinghamshire before moving on to Cambridge to stay with my friend Jacqui. The weather, if anything, was too warm but it didn’t stop us from doing a tour of Cambridge. I’ve not been there for many years and it was fabulous to have a tour guide who genuinely loves the city. We went from King’s College to climb the tower of Great St Mary’s which has lovely views over the city.
This was followed by lunch at Michaelhouse Café which was excellent and then on to Pembroke College where we said a quick hello to William Pitt the Younger (otherwise known as Pitt the Bro to the biographer of his elder brother…)
After that we toured the Fitzwilliam Museum, mostly because it was much cooler than outside, and were extremely erudite about porcelain, art and ancient artefacts. Or at least, we pretended to be. We had a great time and are very grateful to Jacqui and Miklos for being excellent hosts.
From Cambridge, we moved on to Winchester to visit some old friends who live just outside the city. I love Winchester and it isn’t entirely because of the Winchester Military Museums, although obviously that definitely helps.
There are six museums on site, along with an excellent café. My favourites are obviously the ones dedicated to the Rifle Regiment and the Royal Green Jackets with their displays on the Peninsular War and Waterloo. Nevertheless, the other museums, following the history of the Gurkhas, the King’s Royal Hussars, the Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum and the Museum of the Adjutant-General’s Corps are all completely fascinating. I’ve been several times before and there’s always something new.
I’m also a big fan of some of the other historic sites in Winchester, particularly the Cathedral and the Great Hall. There’s a great exhibition in the Cathedral at present, called Kings and Scribes which is well worth seeing. The Cathedral is one of the most historically important buildings in Britain. Winchester was a former capital city and twelve English kings are believed to be buried here. The exhibition looks at those kings and examines the stories and treasures associated with the long history of the Cathedral.
Winchester is also fairly close to one of my other favourite museums and I was lucky enough to get another fabulously sunny day for a trip to the Historic Naval Dockyard at Portsmouth. I’ve been before, but was a bit rushed for time. This time I had all day to wallow happily in naval history, the Mary Rose, HMS Warrior and of course the Victory.
It wasn’t the best day to take photographs of the Victory as a major conservation project means that the ship is mostly covered in scaffolding. There were great displays about the work taking place though and the interior of the ship is still open to visitors. I’m proud of the fact that I was there for so long I was about to be kicked out at the end of the day.
After a visit to London to see my mother-in-law we were finally on our way home. It felt like a very long time since we set off. The dogs went insane when we got home. I’m sure you’ve all seen the online videos of servicemen who have been away for five years being jumped on by their dogs on their return. These don’t impress me, I can get the same result by going to the supermarket. All the same, Oscar and Alfie are delighted I’m back and relieved to be able to settle into their routine again. I daren’t tell them I’m off to Waterloo in just over a week…
All in all, Lynn’s Grand Tour Summer 2022 was a success. I’m hoping that now I’ve done it, I’ll feel more relaxed about doing it again. Many thanks to all those people who hosted us and made us feel very welcome. I’m enjoying my week at home before I set off on my trip to London and Waterloo with Number One London Tours.