Monday, 15 November 2010
Most people have heard of The Rows - the unique double-story rows of medieval buildings that line the main high street, or Via Principalis, as the Romans knew it - but there is so much more.
You can take a walk around almost the entire walls of the old Roman city, or stroll along the attractive river Dee. There's the castle, the cathedral, the Roman villa......the list is endless.
The town centre itself is a maze of new shops, in modern arcades hidden from the high street, and small independant shops selling everything from rain forest products to American Christmas goods. Each shop individual in its own way.
The town clock sits high on the city wall, at one end of the high street
Monday, 6 September 2010
Stokesay Castle is quite simply the finest and best preserved fortified medieval manor house in England. Set in peaceful countryside near the Welsh border, the castle, timber-framed gatehouse and parish church form an unforgettably picturesque group.
I went there on a beautiful September day, and the bright sunshine enhanced the warmth of the gatehouse.
It's funny, but most places I visit, you try to imagine what it would have been like to live there. With Stokesay, I found myself wandering around thinking, 'I'd have a long sideboard there, a big leather couch there................' I could actually imagine living there.
It's an odd sort of place. To start with, you get to it through the churchyard next door. You walk through the gatehouse, and if you look to your left, you see a castle, but if you look to the right, what you see resembles a castle wall with a medieval house perched on top. Most odd...........
Altogether, well worth a visit
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
If you like castles, you'll enjoy this (I hope!)
If you don't know the tragic, almost unbelievable, story of Slapton Sands, I recommend you read it.
I was going to transfer the post over to this blog, but in a way, it makes more sense to leave it on the other one.
So, here is the link http://thelifeoflittleinsect.blogspot.com/search/label/Slapton%20Sands
Monday, 23 August 2010
Excellent..................except for me breaking my ignition key, and my Other Half having to do a 100 mile round trip to get my spare, that is.
I've added a bit about the museum on the 'Hampshire' post. Actually, even if only one member of the family is into old bikes, it's a good day out for all the family. You can enjoy a leisurely drive through the New Forest, looking at the ponies wandering free.
The Museum complex itself has something for all the family. There's a children's farm, with friendly alpacas, pygmy goats, rabbits, birds, chickens. ducks etc. There's a few nice little craft shops, and an excellent tea rooms cum restaurant.
Why not check it out? Or combine it with a trip to Bucklers Hard. I would suggest Beaulieu, but that needs an entire day all to itself.
Wednesday, 30 June 2010
And these days, I seem to want to do that more and more. Sometimes I have a great need for solitude and serenity, which is why I treasure my solo trips away as much as I do those with my husband or friends.
There's an awful lot to be said for spending time alone with your own thoughts and self. If you've got a problem, getting away somewhere quiet is often the way to find a solution - in fact, there's been times when I've ended up wondering why I had been making such a fuss over nothing!
So, here are some places where you really can find a quiet spot 'far from the madding crowd' I've not included Ireland and Scotland at this point, because both of those places are renowned for their idyllic loneliness.
Blue Pool, Dorset
Yes, it's a tourist attraction, but hidden in a hollow away from the roads, and completely surrounded by trees, it's easy to find somewhere quiet, and marvel at the ever-changing colour of the water.
Chesil Beach, Dorset
This amazing bank of shingle stretches almost half the length of the coast of Dorset. At the Weymouth end, there's a car park, and a busy little cafe, and at the other, there's Abbotsbury, with its famous Swannery.
But in the middle, there's nothing. Well, maybe the odd fisherman, but at times, there's nobody. Walk out along the bank for a mile or so. You can't be reached by the holiday makers in their caravans, because they're the other side of the Fleet lagoon. There's just you and the seagulls.....
Brecon Beacons, Wales
There's a beautiful road that runs from Brecon towards Merthyr Tydfil, through the heart of the Beacons. Ignore the cafe, and the Verandah, with it's burger van, and find somewhere small to pull off the road. Walk just a few yards to where you can't be seen from the road, and relish in the quietness and the beauty.
Elan Valley, Wales
It always surprises me that so few of my friends have even heard of the Elan Valley. It's renowned for it's huge reservoirs and magnificent dams, and there's a visitor's centre, and a circular route from which you can see everything. Even so, take one of the little maintenance roads that lead off the main trail, and there's beauty everywhere. It's a grand place for watching the red kites swooping and soaring above the valleys.
Wales' largest national park has tourist areas aplenty, but it's still not hard to find a little tranquility and peace off the beaten track. What is it about sitting on the bank by water - whether sea, river or lake - that is so relaxing?
Most bikers are familiar with the road from Pickering to Whitby, and they all know the big layby opposite the Hole Of Horcum - a favourite stop off for ice-cream!
Cross over the road, and look down. There's a huge hole in the ground. This is the Hole Of Horcum, a natural depression in the Moors. Everytime I go there, I'm amazed by the different colours, which change almost daily throughout the year. It's probably at its' prettiest when the purple heather is in bloom. There are walks around the rim, and down into the valley.
Of course, this is a huge area, and can be quite spectacular in its' solitude. Like all the high moors in the UK, it is sparsely populated, with narrow twisty roads, where you seem to spend most of your time dodging livestock!
This is the famous Ribblehead Viaduct, which just seems to grow out of the moorland for no reason, other than to make the view stunning.
Of the three high moors in the West Country, Exmoor is my favourite. Bodmin Moor is often grey and drizzly, and Dartmoor is oftimes overrun with tourists. OK, so you will probably have to stop and wait for that little posse of ponies to remove themselves from the road in front of you, but while you're waiting, just take in that vast expanse of sedge, bracken and heather. Take a deep breath of that cool clean air. Now, doesn't that feel better?
Of course, you can find a quiet spot anywhere - even in the middle of London, but there's much to be said for really getting away from the humdrum routine of daily living, and opening your mind to what could be.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Thursday, 17 June 2010
Thursday, 3 June 2010
The history stretches back almost 1,100 years. In 914AD Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, ordered the building of a 'burh' or an earthen rampart to protect the small hill top settlement of Warwick from Danish invaders.
It is now owned by the Tussauds Group, and is constantly being voted as England's Best Historic Attraction - a title it richly deserves.
Now, this isn't a visitor's attraction, it's a hotel. However, it does have a good history behind it.
Once the country seat of Sir Christopher Wren, Wroxall boasts a magnificent collection of listed buildings and private grounds. The House itself, is beautiful. The stables and coach house have been sympathetically turned into further accommodation for the hotel. In the grounds, are a private chapel, and the ruins of Wroxall Abbey itself.
I had the pleasure of staying here a couple of times on business, and the hotel lived up to my expectation of how a country house hotel should be.
And it has a one-eyed cat called Nelson!
The site now occupied by the Museum was formerly the Amberley chalk pits. From the 1840s to the 1960s, chalk was quarried and burnt in kilns to make lime for mortar, for decorating and for agricultural use. A century ago the limeworks was one of the largest in the region.
The Museum contains chalk pits, kilns and buildings from this once important industry, as well as many other interesting exhibits.
There are nearly 1,000 years of history at this great castle, situated in magnificent grounds overlooking the River Arun in West Sussex and built at the end of the 11th century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel.
Arundel Castle is now the home of The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk and their children. The Duke of Norfolk is the Premier Duke, the title having been conferred on Sir John Howard in 1483 by his friend King Richard III. The Dukedom has carried with it the hereditary office of Earl Marshal of England. This means that the Duke is in charge of state ceremonial such as the coronation and funeral of the sovereign and such occasions as the sovereign declares shall be a state occasion, e.g. the investiture of HRH The Prince of Wales and the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. Visitors often ask about the relationship of the English sovereign to the Dukes of Norfolk: they share a common ancestor in King Edward I (1239-1307) and also King Edward III (1312-1377). As Earl Marshal, the Duke is head of the College of Arms, founded in 1484, the official authority on heraldry and genealogy in England and Wales.
Leonardslee is a large house with extensive gardens, near Beding is Sussex. Until recently, it has been open to the public. The estate has the most beautiful gardens, a small motor museum, and the most impressive dollshouse exhibition, depicting a town and country estate in the Victorian era.
Sadly, the Loder family have sold the estate, and it will close to the public at the end of June 2010. What will happen to the 'Beyond The Dollshouse' exhibition is anyone's guess. It would be a tragic shame if it wasn't put somewhere where it can be seen and enjoyed by the public, as it is believed to be the largest anywhere in the world.
WEALD & DOWNLAND OPEN AIR MUSEUM
Situated at Singleton, near Chichester.
Set in 50 acres of beautiful Sussex countryside is a very special place to wander amongst a fascinating collection of nearly 50 historic buildings dating from the 13th to the 19th century, many with period gardens, together with farm animals, woodland walks and a picturesque lake.
Rescued from destruction, the buildings have been carefully dismantled, conserved and rebuilt to their original form and bring to life the homes, farmsteads and rural industries of the last 500 years.
A small place, Aldeburgh has become famous as the home of composer Benjamin Britten, and for Snape Maltings, with its superb concert hall. The River Alde at the Maltings is a haven for birdlife with its expansive estuary.
Most people are drawn to this attractive Suffolk town by the profusion of half-timbered medieval cottages, beloved of calendar photographers. Lavenham has been called "the most complete medieval town in Britain", a tribute to its fine collection of medieval and Tudor architecture. Mansions of wealthy merchants mingle with simple cottages, some of which mix crooked timber beams with sprightly pink-painted infill
It benefits from the fact that the road completely by-passes it, so there is little or no through-traffic.
The Guildhall was built in 1529, by the wool growers' Guild. Lavenham was famous for its' blue cloth stamped with a fleur-de-lys mark. The Guildhall became successively the town hall and then a gaol, although by then, it was in a poor state of repair. It is now beautifully restored.
Hardly surprising that Lacock has been used in such films and TV series as 'Pride and Predjudice' and 'Cranford'. The village is totally unspoilt. Even some of the pavements are not surfaced.
The tall slender tower of Salisbury Cathedral can be seen for miles. The town itself is pretty too.