So after a fabulous week in Amsterdam (see last post) our next leg was a fly then drive holiday in UK (a week in England & a week in Wales).  On previous trips we had entered the UK via Heathrow, London, and on every occasion the process was super slow even when Tony was on an official passport for business trips.  We wanted to avoid that so we explored other options and glad we did because flying from Amsterdam – Southhampton was excellent;  we were even able to avoid expensive taxi fares in Amsterdam and take the airport train (very direct & convenient too).  See cover photo.  Amsterdam railway station is like an airport with plenty of cafes;  we filled in a spare half hour over a leisurely coffee as the walk from our B&B was a lot easier on a Friday morning compared to when we arrived on a v busy Saturday the wk before.  

There was a big security presence at the railway station and especially at Amsterdam airport.  The screening process was very detailed and thorough like we expected (DFAT had warned about that so we allowed extra time).  The airport is luxurious in parts and services eg. Massage, etc. are comparatively inexpensive so I had a manicure/pedicure/massage for the 1st time at an airport.  It was very relaxing!  On arrival at Southhampton airport, again the processing was detailed & comparatively slow but the queues (compared to Heathrow) were short.  The UK officials’ main concern is about seeing proof of departure from the UK…we thought that amusing as, even though we enjoy travelling, as the song goes…”we still call Australia home”!

At Southhampton airport (quite small) we hired a car and drove to Winchester (a 20 min drive).  We had booked a B&B for 2 nights but my cousin and his wife, who live in Winchester, insisted we stay with them.  Glad we did as we had a lovely time reconnecting after not seeing much of each other since our childhoods in Sydney.  

Winchester is a beautiful small city…see photos below.

Everything was so lush & green in Winchester and we were lucky to have a beautiful sunny morning to start our day.  In this garden photo, contemplating an active day after a leisurely breakfast.  After spending 2 weeks in Poland & another 2 in Germany & Amsterdam (see past posts) it was good to slow down + catch up with laundry…a good drying day☀️  Once that was done we went to the Old Town area for morning tea…in a gorgeous old tea room but also serving great coffee + handmade pastries and chocolates.  After that we strolled around the town – we loved the market stalls which sell a variety of produce including breads, processed meats (prosciuttos etc), cheeses, handcrafts etc.  There’s a combination of beautifully restored historic buildings, flowers baskets, buskers and bustling activity so a delightful morning to stroll around for an hour or so…