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Winter in the UK and Ireland! What were we thinking?? It was magical! Viewing a country from the perspective of a local and not just as a tourist. The crowds were certainly less and the scenery, well, different from the usual postcards.

Our wardrobe had been dictated by "Norway and Poland in February" - so we did dress warmly. Our only really stressful time was when the coach dropped us off at the (CLOSED) Liverpool bus station at 3:00am on a VERY cold January morning. We had expected an uncomfortable few hours in a sterile, but warm, bus station - but didn't expect to be outside an abandoned building in the middle of nowhere! We scoured the rubbish bins for some newspapers to sit on until we waited for the station to open around 5:30am.

Sometimes you have quite unique memories of places. For Ireland it was dirty cars! I hope nobody is offended but when the weather is that wet, people obviously don't have the opportunity to wash cars - and if it is anything like Oz, they risk causing more rain if they do wash the car!! I don't think we saw an occupied building "in need of TLC". Everywhere seemed to have recently had a fresh coat of paint and a bit of renovation. I was assured this was a recent phenomenon due to the raised standard of living.

When I was in London before I never noticed the narrowness of the roads. Perhaps with so many houses converted to flats and the need to park on the streets you became more aware of the narrowness. The Tube was just fabulous - even better than New York (which is also fabulous). With the countryside, it was the softness and gentleness. No harsh colours or dramatic peaks.

Who could go past the hoare frosts that greeted us every morning in Scotland!