This was our last morning in a Premier Inn before the run on Sunday but we thought we’d have a little more relaxed breakfast. Pastries all round then.
The plan today was drive to Oxford, have a look around Oxford Castle and then see how we feel. Oxford was easy to get to but a little hard to navigate around. The car park at the castle was tiny and full, and when we did get in they denied all knowledge of our reservation for a tour. We did get sorted out though. The Oxford Castle Unlocked tour was a little expensive but it was really good. The actor/guide did a great job and helped us enjoy it loads, despite the fairly grim weather on top of the tower she showed us round. A quick tour around the old prison was interesting too.
After lunch we just went straight to our hotel in Northampton, but not before we had seen what was at least the fourth different London Road we’ve driven along. I joked earlier in the week that every town in England has one, except London and now I’m really starting to wonder if it’s true.
We ate at the hotel tonight, and loved it, but after that we started preparing properly for our run bringing together the stuff we will need on Sunday, and packing our bags for after the race. It’s all getting very close now!
The third day started with another Premier Inn breakfast. This time one of those where you have to pre-order your hot food – not quite as much fun as a buffet but the food was nice. We didn’t have to dash off anywhere so we had a more leisurely start then we had some days.
We then returned to Brighton as we had always planned to visit the Sea Life centre there. The trip there was fine. We got petrol on the way which took us in a different direction going in via Falmer, which I’ll now always know because it’s the tiny place where Brighton’s football ground is. Not in Brighton – which would be silly of course. One thing about it though. It is a massive enormous imposing structure dominating the scenery around it. I’ve walked past Old Trafford before and that seemed tiny in comparison.
Anyway, the Sea Life centre was good. Not great maybe although that’s largely because we’ve been to better aquariums for better value, but it was still a good morning. I then went for a run along the Brighton seafront. The run looked like a brilliant idea in theory. Unfortunately there turned out to be two problems. Firstly, the seafront pavement was closed opposite the Grand Hotel and I really didn’t want to mess around crossing roads I didn’t know, so I just ran back from there and decided to go the other way. Sadly that didn’t get me that far either as the seafront seemed to stop after the car park right down on the coast and as this was meant to be a “comfortable” run a quick hill climb didn’t appeal, so it got cut short that way too. Oh – and it rained too. Irritating but a good training session in the end.
We then made our way up to our next hotel in Bracknell to relax a bit before going out. We had a table booked at Jamie’s Italian in The Oracle centre in Reading so we tried to head there. The SatNav had other ideas though. I had searched for all shopping centres in Reading and it find Oracle on Oracle Drive, so we went there. Unfortunately that Oracle is the computer company. Fortunately we weren’t delayed too long. I didn’t spend long in the Oracle as such but I do have to go back sometime. The High Street was lovely too. I really liked the feel of the town and I can easily imagine going back sometime.
Jamie’s Italian was lovely. The food was outstanding and I would definitely go back. The service was a little patchy though, although that could have been us being quite critical and grumpy after all our travelling! All in all we had another great day and we’re another day nearer our run!
Today was sort of meant to be a bit quieter but it really REALLY didn’t work out that way. Breakfast in Gosport was nice enough – had better, had far worse. Then after a quick relax then we drove down to Brighton. That was a lovely drive especially the last bit along the seafront past Hove. The satnav was playing tricks so insisted on sending us around the block rather than directly to the car park that had been recommended to us. No harm done really though.
The main purpose of visiting was so our daughter could attend something, but we might as well enjoy ourselves while we were there. At the recommendation of our hosts the previous night, we did this murder mystery trail thing where we started by Brighton Pier and walked around the “cultural quarter” finding things and solving clues. We had a detour to meet our daughter again and pop for lunch somewhere.
I have to say this trail thing was brilliant fun, as it was hard enough to really get us looking for stuff, but it was still perfectly achievable without needing to be a member of Mensa. Compared to the completely unsuccessful challenge of trying to find a “dongle” (apparently – a thingy for mobile internet anyway) it went brilliantly. Loved it.
After that we all met up again, and instead of heading straight back to the car we went on the “Wheel of Excellence”. This was a great surprise as we had never planned it, and probably didn’t really have time to have a go, but it was well worth it for the fantastic views and photo opportunities. Shame about it’s name really because it sounds like a working title for an 80s arcade game, or Japanese manga cartoon. OK it wasn’t the London Eye but it was still a great visit.
Tonight we had another lovely evening laid on by other family friends and ended up leaving much later than we had planned but we were having such a fab time again we didn’t really want to leave. In the end we got to our hotel in Burgess Hill about 11 which was fine considering we’re planning a properly quiet day tomorrow. We’ll see….
We started off the day with more of the same fantastic food which we had the night before. A really nicely done buffet cooked breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee. Lovely. Then we had a quick trip to an Asda to stock up for the day, and buy some rolls and meat for lunch.
Our first trip proper for the day was to Southampton. It wasn’t a long drive but it was still enjoyable. For this day we had planned to see the Sea City museum, and we spent a fascinating couple of hours there. The exhibition about those who have come to, and left, the town was OK, and very interactive – just watch out for the rats – but that about the Titanic was amazing. Really interesting and enjoyable. A couple of hours really well spent.
Next up was a trip to Winchester, which featured our first visit to Primark of the week, although in fairness very little actual shopping was done. The highlight of this town was very much the cathedral. The cathedral itself is simply beautiful, and there were a few volunteers on hand with a few relevant stories to tell. OK that sort of thing isn’t our style but it was still an excellent trip.
After a great evening with family tonight we then returned to our latest Premier Inn venue, in Gosport. A slightly newer hotel than last night’s in Poole, and so far it’s been as comfy as always.
Often I’ll do little diaries for holidays, as much for my own pleasure both at the time and looking back later, documenting where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to. Not long ago I read back my posts from my trips to the BVI and to Egypt and enjoyed the read hugely, but then realised I didn’t do anything for Marrakech but I certainly didn’t enjoy that trip any less.
So I decided only very late on (the first morning in a hotel) that I’d at least start one off. Whether it becomes being about our holiday (and even then I’m not sure that’s the right word for what we’re doing this week) or it turns into a half-marathon preparation blog will remain to be seen.
Let’s get to business then.
I managed to leave work on Monday morning more or less on time. This was an encouraging start to the week. And quite rare in itself. Usually I spend so long making sure everything is “just so” at work that I’ll be much later and feel much less organised. Like a say, a good start.
I did however forget for a while that my half-marathon training schedule dictated a 20 minute run. This was an odd one. It was not only my last Jersey training run but it was possibly the warmest conditions I’ve had which caught me out a bit. Anyway, I ran down to Rue de Pre in a little over 8 minutes which was probably a bit quicker than necessary. On the way back I ran up a hill which we’ll often avoid so I guess I could do no more.
There’s not a lot to say about the boat trip. It was good and uneventful. The first run from Jersey to Guernsey was a little lumpy but nothing too bad. The second trip to Weymouth was just very smooth, and passed much more quickly than I was expecting. We were off the boat quickly, and on our way to Poole. We realised quite quickly that we were well ahead of schedule so thought we’d bring forward our visit to Halfords to pick up this dashboard mount for our GPS – fed up with holding it all the time! We got there just before closing in the end, although that contradicted the closing time we had seen on the internet. Obviously this store was not understaffed. They had maybe 8 of them all hanging around by the door. Clearly this was not going to be a day for browsing the shop in peace and quiet!
The other funny thing about this trip was the occasional “Flood” signs. I know they have been there for good reasons but I’ve seen more water in the average puddle. We drove through a puddle once. I shouldn’t complain I know – if we’d been here last week I dare say our drive wouldn’t be so simple.
The drive to the hotel was a good one, and the hotel itself was lovely. Yes there were a couple of problems with the room, one was quickly fixed and the other was easily worked around. It was a shame though because absolutely all of the staff are lovely here – a shame that a little maintenance has slightly let them down.