A visit to the UK

The Wortley Arms in South Yorkshire with the Church directly across the road © Ricky Yates

At the end of August, I spent a busy but most enjoyable four days in the UK – only my third visit back to my home country in nearly four years since moving to Prague.

The trip started early, in fact very early, on the morning of Monday 27th August. My flight with the Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air from Prague to Luton Airport, (officially ‘London Luton Airport’, but as far as I am concerned, ‘Luton Airport’ as it is located adjacent to Luton and not London :mrgreen: ), was scheduled to depart at 06.00 CEST that morning. Whilst I am a great believer in using public transport and two night buses would have got me to the airport, I eventually chose the easier option and booked a taxi which was waiting for me outside our apartment block at 04.30. The flight was uneventful and we landed at Luton on time, just before 07.00 BST.

Just over an hour later, having collected my bag, got through passport control remembering to say “Good morning” rather than “Dobrý den”, found the free bus service to take me to Slip End and collected my pre-booked hire car, I was heading up the relatively quiet M1 motorway, bound for Derby. The motorway was quiet, partly due to the relatively early hour, but also because it was the August Bank Holiday Monday (public holiday for all non-Brits reading this) meaning very few trucks were on the move.

The main purpose of my trip was to spend time with each of my two adult children, my son Phillip and my daughter Christa. Phillip has recently moved to a flat right in the centre of Derby, very convenient for the shops but with no free parking facilities nearby. Thus he suggested that I park at a location about ten minutes walk from where he lives, where he met me and helped carry my bag back to the flat he now shares with his friend Sam.

Monday 27th August was a typical British bank/public holiday – it was cold and it rained most of the afternoon and evening 🙁 But I enjoyed seeing Phillip play for his indoor five-a-side football team where they posted a convincing 4 – 1 victory. Afterwards, we enjoyed a fish and chips supper from a nearby takeaway.

Phillip in his 1986 retro Oxford United shirt at Elland Road Football Stadium, Leeds © Ricky Yates

Phillip had been able to take the next day off as part of his annual leave and in contrast to the previous day, Tuesday 28th August dawned fine and sunny. We spent a good part the day on a leisurely drive north up through the Derbyshire and South Yorkshire countryside, stopping off for lunch at this typical English village pub in Wortley, located directly opposite the village Church 🙂

We were headed for Leeds where that evening, Oxford United FC were playing Leeds United FC in the second round of the League Cup competition.

Back in 1986, Oxford United famously won the League Cup so, as you can see, Phillip wore his replica retro Oxford shirt dating from that occasion. Unfortunately, it didn’t bring any good fortune this time as the match ended in a 3 – 0 victory for Leeds United.

Despite the result, it was still an enjoyable day out together and allowed Phillip to add Elland Road to the list of football grounds he has been to. We also had a relatively quick return journey to Derby after the match, back down the M1 and the A38.

The next day, after a leisurely breakfast, I set off and drove south, initially to the outskirts of Coventry where I visited two large Tesco supermarkets in search of a small number of things Sybille had asked me to try and purchase whilst in the UK. With one exception, I was successful! I had intended to then spend a few hours exploring the centre of the city where I spent the first eighteen years of my life, but unfortunately it was once more pouring down with rain. So instead, I drove along a relatively newly-constructed road, (which follows the route of what I remember as being a railway line 🙂 ), out of Coventry and on to the village of Braunston, situated on the Warwickshire-Northamptonshire border, where I had booked to stay the night at ‘The Old Workshop‘, a canal-side Bed and Breakfast establishment.

Cast iron bridge over the entrance to Braunston Marina © Ricky Yates

Within an hour of my arrival, the weather decided to improve markedly. I was therefore able to enjoy a walk up the canal towpath alongside the Braunston flight of locks, first crossing this splendid cast iron bridge over the entrance to the adjacent marina.

Emmylou on her island © Ricky Yates







That evening, I met up with my daughter Christa and my new son-in-law Ian, at the Boat House Pub and Restaurant in Braunston where we enjoyed a meal together. Then the next day, I visited them in their new home in nearby Daventry and met Emmylou and Harriet, Ian’s two children by his previous marriage.

The weather was kind enough to allow us all to spend the afternoon on a walk through Daventry Country Park which is based around one of the two reservoirs that feed the summit level of the Grand Union Canal. Emmylou rode her bicycle and found her own island at the edge of the reservoir.






Ian, Harriet and Christa in Daventry Country Park © Ricky Yates

Harriet is quadriplegic and so travelled in her specially adapted outdoor wheelchair. Here she is, along with Christa and Ian.

Christa, Harriet and me at Daventry Country Park © Ian Margieson

And here she is with Christa and me.

All too soon it was time to leave and head back down the M1 to Luton, return the hire car, get the bus to the airport and catch my Wizz Air flight back to Prague. In typical low-cost airline fashion, my flight departure was delayed but, on this occasion, only by thirty minutes. I had wondered whether I was wise to fly with Wizz Air again following my experience just over two years previously when the equivalent flight was delayed by five and a half hours 🙁

The delay, together with gaining an hour by flying eastwards, meant it was after midnight before we touched down in Prague. However, another taxi ride eventually got me safely back to the Chaplaincy Flat by 01.00 on Friday 31st August.

9 comments to A visit to the UK

  • It sounds like you packed a huge amount into a short trip, Ricky, and had a lovely time with Phillip and Christa. What fun! 🙂

  • Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip. Christa’s coat looked first like Marimekko design but I guess it is not. I haven’t seen that pattern with those colours in Marimekko collection. Yet, very nice fabric, in the spirit of the 60s. 🙂

    • Ricky

      Hi Johanna – Yes, I did enjoy my trip. Christa’s coat is very distinctive and is one she’s had for quite some time which almost certainly indicates that the fabric is good & the coat is well made. However, I have no idea about the designer. There is a certain 60s feel to it, not that either you or she would really know about such things, as neither of you were alive at the time – unlike me 🙂

  • Hi, Rev. Yates,

    So the English exile returns to his native land? ;-)It sounds like you had a lovely time! It must have been nice to see your daughter + family over there; have they ever visited you in the Czech Republic?

    I like the picture of Emmylou on the “island”. She has the contented expression Columbus must have had upon setting foot in the Americas! How old is she and how old is Harriet?

    God Bless,

    P.S. Wandering Pilgrim is back from his exile from the Blogosphere! I was happy to see him posting again since I had been trying to contact him for a while and was worried something might have happened to him.

    P.S.S. Do you like Lord of the Rings much? I just watched it and put up movie reviews, so my mind is on it at present!

    • Ricky

      Hi Pearl – In my opinion, to be a successful expat you don’t go back very often to visit your native land otherwise you never settle in your adopted country. It’s a theme I intend to blog about shortly.

      To answer you various questions, my son Phillip has been out to the Czech Republic several times – see http://rickyyates.com/snowy-prague/ & http://rickyyates.com/football-and-beer/ . My daughter Christa, son-in-law Ian & his children haven’t yet though I hope they will do at some point in the future. Emmylou is five & Harriet is eight.

      With regard to your PS – I did know and left WP a comment immediately after yours & he has since replied to both comments. With regard to your PSS, I’m personally not a Tolkien fan though my wife Sybille is & she is looking forward to the film version of ‘The Hobbit’ when it is released this coming December.

  • […] the four years we have lived in the Czech Republic, I have been back to the UK just three times. As far as I am concerned, Prague is my home for the immediate future. When we have holidays, we […]

  • Heather

    Hi Ricky, Finally read your latest addition to the blog. Nice photos. So pleased you have got together with Christa and family and spent time with Phillip as well. Wizz Air seems a bit ropey, but probably good value for money. We hope to fly somewhere warm next spring with EasyJet from Southend. No need for parking fees for the car as we will hop on a bus or get a taxi for the short journey to our local airport. There is also an airport station on the Liverpool Street/Southend line. EasyJet are adding more destinations all the time. Not sure about Prague though. Weather has been good here for October – lots of blue skies and sunshine. Had a lovely day in Greenwich last Friday and tried out the new Emirates cable car across the Thames. Look out for pictures on Facebook soon. Not looking forward to the clocks going back next weekend, it means winter’s on it’s way. 🙁 I suppose you will have snow before Christmas. Fits in well with Good King Wenceslas .. deep and crisp and even…etc. All’s well here, keeping very busy with our various activities. Bye for now. Say hi to Sybille for us. best wishes, Heather and Fred

    • Ricky

      Hi Heather – Thank you for both visiting & leaving a comment. Glad you liked the photos. I particularly like the one Ian took of Christa & me with Harriet. With regard to budget airlines such as Wizz Air or EasyJet, you do get what you pay for 🙁 Being able to easily get to an airport without driving your own car & pay for parking, is very useful. It is the joy of where we live – Prague airport is about 30 minutes away by public transport & even a taxi is relatively cheap.

      Glad you’re enjoying the Autumn weather. Yes – we usually have some snow before Christmas but it doesn’t always settle & remain in the city. But the ski season usually starts in the Czech mountains, sometime before the end of November.