Red Rocks

Red Rocks

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Christmas Vacation in England

 We've had trouble getting everyone together for vacations with summer jobs and school, but it worked this year to fulfill a long awaited vacation to England for a Premier League adventure.
This is at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester where we watched Manchester City defeat Burnley on January 2nd. Our seats were just 5 rows back from the corner post - what a view.
Loved this giant Abysinnian statue at The British Museum, but not sure why he has 5 legs...
 One non-football highlight for me was a visit to the British Museum. This museum is loaded with antiquities from Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the ancient middle east.
Hunter and Alex outside our first Pub

Food was a constant reason to slow down. Our general favorite was to go to a pub and have fish & chips and a pint.

The boys attended the first match alone, and got to watch Tottenham defeat Southampton on Wednesday December 28. They figured out the train and we saw them off at Waterloo station. Tami, Alex and I then spent some time at the Tate Modern museum, walked the Millenium Bridge, saw St. Paul's Cathedral, and dined at a place called Fishworks, Yummy.

Luke with Chelsea's Premier League Championship Cup

My final destination is...Dorking.
 On Saturday December 31, we all hopped on the train for the 1:15 trip to Southampton.
Cool frosty on the train to Southampton - they wisely don't let you drink in the stands

The youthful part of our Saints supporters
The Saints play in one of the smaller Premier League stadiums - 34,000? - and our seats were great despite being 3 rows from the top.
Meat pies are real - and delicious

A panorama of the Southampton pitch from our seats
 Sadly, the Saints lost to West Brom, but the experience was good. We love football.

The highlight of New Years Eve was a late dinner in a pub near our hotel, and then waiting for L&W to return from a futile journey in search of ice cream. In the morning as we prepared to leave we discovered that the boiler had gone out in our hotel so no showers were available.
New Year's Eve - more pub food

We drove to Manchester on New Years Day. The car we had reserved online was not nearly big enough for 6 people and their luggage so we quickly upgraded (?) to a commercial vehicle called a Vauxhall Vivaro. First adventure was trying to figure out how to shift into reverse in a manual 6-speed diesel van but I figured it out.

We drove a couple of hundred miles in pouring rain and then darkness to get to Manchester only to arrive at the wrong address for our "aparthotel." A phone call and short drive later we arrived at the correct address, were shown to our spacious apartment in the basement of an old mill - and discovered that there was no hot water. Another phone call, another drive and we arrive at our new place, 2 real apartments near a canal. There was hot water.
The whole crew at Etihad; great seats, good game, being together
 The next day was January 2nd, and that meant our signature game at the Etihad Stadium. Will has been a Manchester City fan for almost 10 years. We got to see them play an exhibition in Minneapolis 3 summers ago, but what a thrill to sit with 65,000 fans at a Premier league game and watch them defeat Burnley. We had great seats in a corner, and Kevin DeBruyne took several corners not 15 feet from our spots.

Neapolitan pizza is always a good bet

The Sir William Hotel in Grindelford - my favorite

Dinner at Sir William - right before the owner showed us some Magic!

Tuesday morning we got up, packed "The Loaf" as Luke had fondly named our ride, and drove through the national park east of Manchester. The weather was our second worst day of the trip, quite windy and threatening to rain, and the roads were a little dicey including a stretch called "The Snake."

Eventually we arrived in the beautiful village of Grindelford. Our hotel didn't open until 5:00 (the owners were returning from their own holiday) so we had lunch at another hotel, met a nice young waiter from northern Scotland (who'd been "forced" to move to Grindelford by his girlfriend) and the kids took a muddy hike up to the edge of the valley.
A panorama from the valley's edge near Grindelford
The next morning - after a great night's sleep - the boys had a kick around at the local pitch and then we all set off on a grand hike along the rim of the valley.
A break from our hike

These people know how to build a freestanding rock wall!
Iconic bell tower with the Eye in the background

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