Since our last update we've been to the following places;
Cambridge - Saw the university and quickly strolled through a few museums. Very impressive town and we would have liked to have more time and money to take some tours or take a boat along the river.
Osmaston - You've probably never heard of this place, but Marijke's Draper ancestors were from here so we went. It was a really nice, small village featuring thatched-roofed houses, a pub and a village church. We looked over the graves in the churchyard for some of Marijke's ancestors names but we couldn't find any. We talked to a lady who volunteered for the church and she told us to go and talk to an old man who was born and raised in Osmaston. Neither of them knew about Marijke's family but they told us where we could most likely find the records.
We took a walk around a pretty, wooded area called Osmaston Park. About half a mile into the park there is a beautiful sawmill and man-made waterfall. The sawmill is no longer operating but it would have been when Marijke's forbears were here.
We ate dinner at The Shoulder of Mutton pub which has been operating without interruption since the time of the American Revolution (meaning Marijke's ancestors likely would have eaten here). We felt like idiots navigating the pub dining model, it's different enough from an American-style restaurant that we had no idea what to do. The staff was really nice and they walked us through the process. Just an FYI - tips are not expected by the staff at a pub, which made us feel awkward but everyone has assured us this is the way it is.
We spent the night at the Izaak Watson Hotel, which is at the mouth of England's Peak District. The room was exactly what you would imagine an English B&B to be like. Parts of the hotel have been around since the early 17th century. There were sheep and cows surrounding the hotel and we were startled aroused from our sleep a few times by mooing cows. The ceilings in this hotel were really low and kind of awkward; as a result Richard hit his head and blacked out which made him fall down (that had never happened to him before). It was really sad!
Sheffield - Sheffield isn't the most touristy destination (sort of like Pittsburgh) but our hosts really provided us with a great experience. We stayed with Rachel and Alistair Martin and had a great time. Alistair was Richard's companion in Scotland for 11 months of his 24-month mission and they got to know each other well. They took us to the Chatsworth House and had a picnic. The Martins had prepared the picnic and they paid for our entrance fee (this was the first of many charitable acts on their part). The Chatsworth House was a really nice place and we never would have known to go there if it weren't for the Martins. The Duke of Derbyshire lived/lives there and parts of the most recent Pride and Prejudice adaptation were filmed here (Mr. Darcy's house). That night the Martins took us to a carvery restaurant which is kind of like a restaurant most Americans would be familiar with combined with elements of a buffet. It was a fun, traditional English experience. The next day the Martins also provided Marijke with her first ever fish and chips lunch (of course she doesn't eat fish, so it was basically just chips and vinegar). Alistair took Richard to a pitch and putt golf course then showed him around where he grew up and Richard was able to meet Al's family. We had a great time and hope to see them again (either in the U.S. or in England).
Preston Temple and England MTC - We spent Friday night at the Preston Temple accommodations. We were able to go to the spot on the River Ribble where the first Latter-day Saints were baptized in the UK. On Saturday morning we attended a session at the temple and got to see a wedding happening at the chapel situated next-door (in the UK the couple has to get married in a public place before they can be sealed in the temple). The grounds are beautiful and this is where Richard lived for 2 weeks while he trained as a missionary.
Drive through the Lake District - This was a really scenic drive but we didn't have time to stop in the towns (they all look really touristy, expensive and crowded). This is the area William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter (among others) are from.
West Auckland/Middleton-in-Teesdale - Marijke has ancestors buried in West Auckland and family from Middleton. Middelton-in-Teesdale was located in a lovely section of the countryside whereas West Auckland was a little run down and kind of depressing. We went to the graveyard where Marijke's ancestors are most likely buried but the vicar told us they would only have a headstone if they were wealthy, and almost no one would have had a headstone before the 1830s. The vicar told us you can tell how old a graveyard is by how high the grass is above street-level. Because the churchyards are so small, they have to add to the top of the graveyard making them deeper and deeper over the years. That's also why you have paths to the church doors on street level while the grassy parts are up high on either side. This graveyard was about 4 feet high and the church was 900 years old.
Newcastle - We've heard wonderful things about Newcastle (or White Castle as Marijke calls it) but we were just there to stay the night. Unfortunately our room at the Douglas Vaults Hotel was on top of the Douglas Vaults pub (not mentioned online or over the phone). Saturday in England means you go to the pub, even if you're in your 50s or 60s. The pub beneath our room was full of baby-boomers belting out karaoke (singing Lady Gaga and Backstreet Boys). The internet at this hotel didn't work even though that was the sales-point that caused us to get a room here. The hotel manager seemed really inconvenienced by our inconveniences and didn't really offer to help or compensate in any way.
Edinburgh - In the morning we drove up to Edinburgh where Richard previously lived. On the way we passed Alnwick (fairly cool) and Berwick-upon-Tweed (really cool). Both locations are really old and well-preserved sea-side towns. Berwick is a great walled city and had amazing bridges and viaducts all around it. We wish we could have spent more time in these places. In Edinburgh we met many of the people Richard knew while he was a missionary there, but the ward had changed so much. Joe McKay, an 18 year old in the Edinburgh ward, took us home to his house and made us a meal all by himself. We were really impressed and had a lot of fun talking to Joe about how the ward had changed. We went to a park in Edinburgh to see a firework show closing the Edinburgh Festival. The fireworks were set off right in front of the Edinburgh Castle and were synchronized with live orchestral music.
p.s. Justin Bieber is playing right now at the McDonalds. There is no escaping Bieber.