We arrived in the marina in Licata in October. It was hot and sunny and we spent our days working on the yacht (installing solar panels, cleaning the teak, fixing leaks etc) and the nights socialising with our fellow cruisers who were wintering in the marina.
But then winter came and it got cold, windy and wet and we were quite often trapped inside the boat because we didn’t leave the boat if it wasn’t really necessary.
So, when the weather turned bad after New Year’s and most of our jobs were done on the boat, we decided to head north and escape the Sicilian winter and instead spend a few weeks in England and Germany. I never thought I would actually say that.
We wanted to visit family in England and Germany – quite simple, really. But when you throw a dog into the equation things are not so straight forward.
We couldn’t take Tiny into the UK, so we had to fly from Catania to Hannover to drop Tiny off at my parents, then continue on to London the next day. Find flights back to Hannover and then head home o where our yacht is – with Tiny. Not many (affordable) airlines take dogs in the cabin. We found 2 airlines to choose from – Air Berlin and Eurowings – and chose the latter even though the fare was slightly higher, but our stop was in Stuttgart, rather than Vienna.
Tiny handled the flights quite well, after a time she relaxed in her bag and lay down. Every time we landed she started crying a bit but she does the same thing when driving in a car.
London / Chertsey
We hired a car in London but stayed the first night in Stansted as we arrived quite late. The next day we drove south around London on the M25 and past Windsor before heading on to Chertsey. We couldn’t believe how packed Windsor was and there was not a single parking space to find to go and actually have a look at Windsor Castle. I only managed two blurry pictures from the moving car. A bit further away we found a spot to pull in and I could play with the ducks and swans of the river Thames. In Chertsey, Alistair showed me around his old stomping grounds (twice) and we were done by lunchtime. Alistair couldn’t believe how small the town was – his house, his friends’ places, the school, downtown, train station – everything was within 1 minute driving distance. It was great to see the place and it brought back so many memories for Alistair.
As it was still quite early we decided to take the scenic route towards the west and go and see Stonehenge! Oooh, how excited was I?! Coming on the A303 you go right past it and I had my camera at the ready and I managed to snap some pics. Alistair then spoiled my fun when he said that the parking probably costs a few pounds but I wanted to check it out anyway. And would you believe it? The parking was free! Yay! So we got out of the car, got our camera gear etc and headed off to the entrance / visitor centre and then we saw it….. £18.50 per person. To go look at some rocks? From quite a distance (as it’s fenced off)? We think not! Little me was very disappointed and even the gift shop couldn’t really cheer me up. And I do love my gift shops! We wandered aimlessly about and then went back to the car to organise a hotel for the night. Bookings.com was becoming our new best friend!
The Fontmell / Fontmell Magna
We found a place for the night which also included a full English breakfast in the room fee. We were sold! From Stonehenge it took us about 1 hour to get from Stonehenge to The Fontmell. At some stage I thought we got lost; we had to turn off the main road and ended up on a very narrow dirt road, following a tractor. But that is just the English countryside for you. I loved the drive, loved the narrow roads, the fields, the villages, the old stone walls…
Fontmell Magna is no difference. We loved the place and especially The Fontmell, where we stayed the night. We usually give recommendations for marinas we come by and not hotels but I will make an exception. When we walked into the reception (which is also the pub), I felt instantly at home and when we went up to our room, we were really impressed. The room had just been refurbished (other rooms were in the process of being done up): it had a huge bed, great decor and our shower had two shower heads (I mean, whaaat?). Obviously, any place where you don't need to pump the water manually out of the shower is good for us. But this was pure luxury! We spent the evening in the pub and dining area - excellent food (and wine - but we stuck with local cider and gin tonic), personable friendly staff and great ambience. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend this place to anyone! 10/10 would go there again!
Follow Alistair and Nicola as they share their experience of traveling around the world.