Our last day! We’re taking the ferry from Hull this evening and need to be there at five, so we get up at six. After a quick breakfast and an efficient exodus we drive south. I really still want to see the Firth of Forth bridge, a steel cantilever rail bridge of almost 130 years old. We’ve seen it from afar when visiting Edinburgh but I really want to see it up close, so we take the northern road around the firth just so we can drive over the newer bridge right next to it to have a better look. The plan only succeeds in part, we do drive over the firth, but the highway is moved to the newer Queensferry Crossing bridge which is further away, so my look is brief and a bit obscured.
The cool thing is that it has three separate parts, each standing in the river and extending sideways to almost meet its left and right partner. The weight of the train is carried entirely by the standing structure, that’s the principle of a cantilever. It’s kind of the opposite of a suspension bridge, where the deck is held up by cables to a pylon.
We take the A1 south, it’s Saturday so traffic is light, it’s mostly a dual carriage way and we make good progress. We have time for one stop and the kids in the group had only one request before the start of the holiday: to see the Harry Potter castle. We find a parking spot right by the entrance of Alnwick castle and are (as usual) just in time to follow a guided tour. First we visit the state rooms, where the ducal Percy family still lives in winter. It seems to be an illustrious family, one of the family portraits is by Van Dyck, they also have a few Titians and several priceless objects. I’m impressed by a beautiful art nouveau table, representing the five senses in intricate woodwork. Next up is the film tour, where the guide shows the different spots used in films (Harry Potter movies, obviously, but also Transforms, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, ..) and TV series like Downton Abbey. The anecdotes about how the scenes were set up and shot are amusing, even if I don’t remember the movie scenes specifically.
Lunch is supposed to be quick because of the ferry check-in deadline but there is some problem with the order and when the food finally comes we only have 15 minutes to eat it. After a quick stop to refuel (the car with gasoline and myself with M&M’s) we continue south. We arrive in Hull exactly at the appointed time 90 minutes before cast off, it seems everybody else is on time as well because the boat departs early. It maneuvers deftly into the tiny lock and we’re off towards Zeebrugge. There is time for a board game but I decline to join, too troubled by motion sickness.