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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Wells, Glastonbury and Stonehenge

Today started off a bit slower, we did have a tour booked however we didn't depart until 1pm and as we had seen most of the things on our bucket list we really had time to wander. We visited the post office to ship some souvenirs home. And then wandered to a yarn shop to have a look, across the road from the yarn shop was a glass blowing workshop, we wandered in to have a look and was fortunate that they were about to start a demonstration on glass blowing and we had the opportunity to "blow" our own glass bauble.




This is myn, at this point it was still hot and the colours aren't true, shortly after this photo the glass blowers added a glass loop to the top.  It was really interesting to watch the demonstration and amazing to have something this special to add to our Christmas tree.


Our tour took us to several places of interest , the first was the town of 

Wells

Like Bath was originally settled due to the existence of water , in this case the Wells / spring.
We really only had time to look at the Cathedral.

 

They believe that there has been religious worship occurring in this area since the Stone Age,    however the current building was commenced in 1175.   


This spectacular church was awe inspiring, I m not sure how many times I uttered wow or how many photos I took , but it was very impressive.  This is the first British church to be built entirely in the Gothic style.
After leaving the Cathedral we headed to 

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor is a hill near the town of Glastonbury which is currently topped by the tower of what was St Michaels church.  We climbed this hill and the 360 degrees were spectacular.

  

There is evidence that this hill was occupied during the Neolithic period, during the Saxon period there were at least four religious dwellings on this site, in modern history there has been two St Michael churches on this site, the first lost during an earthquake the last was destroyed when the dissolution of monasteries law was passed.  Today it is also the site of mythology and legend. Some believe it is the Isle of Avalon, from King Arthur legends others believe it is the home of the king of the fairies.  
After leaving the tour we had a quick tour of the town of Glastonbury. Grabbed some food to eat and then headed into 

Glastonbury Abbey.

 

The first church of Glastonbury was established by the first Saxon's converted to Christianity.  Over the years it had many strong supporters and grew to be a important monastic and spiritual centre.  In 1086 it was documented as being the richest Abbey in England. However in 1184 a fire tore through the Abbey destroying it and all of its ancient treasures.



  


In 1191 the monks were doing excavations and discovered a lead coffin, with two bodies inside. It was believed that the coffin belonged to King Arthur and Gweneviere. By the 14th century Glastonbury was the second richest monastery in the country ( 2nd to Westminster). Unfortunately when the reformation occurred the Abbot refused to hand over the keys to the Abbey, this infuriated Henry the 8th and he used Glastonbury as an example, stripping it of all its wealth, it roof and destroying its windows. Afterwards sadly the building was used as a stone quarry with various owners selling the stone of the once large and beautiful church.  It was lovely to see what remained of this building, we had an excellent tour guide , he belonged to the Abbey and was dressed as a monk. He was very knowledgeable, showing us the original Dimensions and images of what th believe it looked like.

After this we headed to our final Destination 

Stonehenge

And it's surrounding area.

Our guide took us to various sites explaining there significance

As we had after hours and inside the circle access he headed, for the stones as early as possible with the hope we may just get some time there on our own.



  

And we did, Gadget and I had a solid 10 mins inside the stone circle by ourselves, and to me it just felt magical.  Of course there were rules no touching the stones, no standing or climbing on, but just to be there felt really special.  I have to say the hardest rule was no touching, because from the moment I walked into the circle all I wanted to do was touch them, I resisted of course, but when I spoke with our guide about it, he agreed, he said he feels exactly the same.  We were really lucky not only was our guide a tour guide for Stonehenge, but also he has worked on various archeological digs in an around the circle so he was very knowledgeable.



It was so amazing that all those years ago the creators of the circle fashioned these stones to create mortice holes and protruding tenons, also to ensure the stones slotted together on the top they fashioned the stones into a tongue and groove joint, just amazing considering they used rocks to shape the rocks.


  

I m not going to get into any of the history of Stonehenge, it would take way too much time.  

Although we don't really know what this place was used for and probably never will, 
To me it felt like a very special place and my visit here was probably one of the highlights of this trip so far and something I will never forget.


Ciao

Googy Girl


We are now in London, as some of you will know , and because we are super busy going to plays ect...  it is getting a little harder to keep up with the blog. I will catch up when I have time, but posts may be not as regular.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bath

For the first time Since the holiday began I think we both really just breathed a great big sigh and relaxed, the suitcases got unpacked ( not totally, but more than previously) and we actually just sat and enjoyed our surroundings, well not the first full day , but I m writing this three days after we arrived so . . . 
Anyway back to our first full day

for the sake of getting a tourist free photo I went out early.


The beautiful Bath Abbey , 3 hours later it was swarming with tourists and a busker entertaining the crowds.



Bath was first settled in about 60AD by the romans as a spa and was named aquae sulis because of the hot springs present, however the springs were well known prior to the roman spa. In the 16th and 17th centuries the spa became popular due to it's healing properties and an abbey / religious centre was founded. 


    

In the Georgian period it became even more popular with the introduction of gambling houses and it became the place to be. The majority of houses were built rapidly to house the rich , when the came to "take the water" and gamble.



These are the parade gardens, in the early morning later In the day they become filled with children running around and candy striped beach chairs with people enjoying the sun.  For locals this garden is free, for tourists £1.50 for entry. On the weekends there is often music as well.



These are the stairs leading to our apartment, I love walking up them , and feel very posh, although I m sure I wouldn't  feel like that with arms full of grocery bags . . . . . Lol
For our first day we decided we would do a tour of Bath, to get a feel for our home for the next four days.

Pulteney  bridge 

  

This is the Pulteney bridge, it was built in 1774 and according to our tour guide it was based on the Rialto and ponte Vecchio bridges in Italy, however the residents of Bath were not happy , they felt a bridge with shops on it was terribly old fashioned and the architect was promptly not given any more work in Bath.  Today it is a grade 1 listed building and the there are several really lovely cafes that you can sit and sip your tea and watch the river below.

Of course Jane Austen is forever connected with a Bath.

 

The above doorway is the entrance to just one of the homes that Jane Austen lived in during her several visits to the city of Bath. You can stay here in this home for £200 a night.  As we did our tour our guide pointed out some of the other places in Bath Jane lived and whilst Bath gets terribly excited about Jane and have festivals in her honour, Jane herself was not really keen on Bath, she didn't like the crowds terribly much as she was a country girl at heart, later in her life she had even more reason to dislike Bath, her believed bed father died here.

The Assembly Rooms  

  

When we entered this building I was truely impressed by the beauty of the rooms and I suppose as a Austen fan it was very easy for me to see Regency clad women parading around in this room.  Our tour guide explained to us that in the regency Bath there was a gentleman called Richard Beau Nash and he set the rules in Bath, for example there was no private parties allowed, everyone had to meet at the assembly rooms or any of the public areas.  In those days these rooms were like the eharmony of today if you were a eligible woman you needed to be "seen" in Bath and these were "the " place to be seen.  Apparently the assembly rooms were bombed during WWII  and have been carefully restored however the chandelier s are original as they were removed and stored for their safety.

The circus and the Royal crescent


So of course a tour of Bath wouldn't be complete without a visit to these two areas.  The Circus was the first to be built by John Wood ( senior) it is divided into three segments. wood was convinced that Bath was principal centre of Druid activity created the circus in the same dimensions as Stonehenge.  Our tour guide was telling us that just two years ago a "home" was sold for 4 million pounds.

  

The Royal crescent was designed by John Wood Jnr and was actually built during various phases not consecutively, it was basically sold off the plan.  Each original purchaser bought a length of the façade, and then employed their own architect to build a house behind the façade to their own specifications,  when you look closely at this image, you can see an area of lawn were the grass looks a bit longer. The area behind this belongs to the residents of the "crescent" and no one other than a resident is supposed to enter this area.

We really enjoyed walking around the city with our guide and she really went above and beyond with her tour. 

Bath Abbey

It is believed that the first religious dwelling was built on this site that in 673AD, over the years there has been three religious dwellings in this site. The first was an Anglo Saxon monastery which was pulled down by the Normans, then a Norman cathedral which fell into fell into disrepair by the late 15th century and the present Abbey that exists today.


The first King of England , King Edgar, was crowned here in this Abbey.  This was a beautiful church , with truely beautiful stonework inside and out.  There was hundreds of memorials throughout the church, and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the , Evensong service.

  

We had a pretty busy first day in Bath and managed to tick a lot off our bucket list  including an amazing meal in a Moroccan restaurant.

Cheerio 

Googy Girl

Dr Who and Bath

Okay here's were you get to realise that I am a total nerd and am incredibly proud of it.  The main reason poor gadget had to brave an hour in grid lock traffic was so that his wife could see the The Dr Who exhibition, yep he's a really good husband but then I am attending an international soccer game with him in London so it sort of evens out ... lol



So any dire hard Whovian knows that the modern day Dr Who is filmed in Cardiff in Wales and as such they have, well at least for another two weeks, the Dr Who Experience and a museum where you can come face to face with a dalek and see the Tardis up close.


And for people of my Vintage you can see K9 ( pictured above) who was a major character in Dr Who in my teenage years.  

So some history , Dr Who first aired in the UK in 1963 and in Australia in 1964, so a few years before I was born. It ran continuously from 1963 to 1989, then re launched again in 2005.  I can't remember when I started watching it but Tom Baker (4th Doctor) was my first Doctor, Throughout my teenage years it was my escape from reality and then as a mother of two teenage girls who both became keen Whovians it re- entered my life and I am again totally addicted to it.  It was even better when Mstr T ( Miss S's partner ) was also a fan and it became a bit of a family event on a Sunday night.

  

The above Tardis was a special Tardis  created as a memorial to Clara Oswald , the companion of the 11th and 12th doctors.

Above is the costumes worn by the first  six doctors. 
Seeing all the models of the many "creatures " that have been a part of Dr Who over the years was really great and the amount of artistry that goes into creating these costumes is really amazing , I really enjoyed myself and they only thing that would have made it better would have been sharing it with my girls and Mst T

After finishing at the Dr Who experience we headed off again in our last drive in our trusty black car , I knicknamed bertha, the destination was

Bath
This is the view from outside our apartment, it's pretty nice and is apparently of some historical significance as several times a day a tour group is gathered under this tree ,taking  photos of our building, 


We had to close our curtains because arriving here we had to catch up on some washing and I was a bit concerned that these tourists were taking photos of our underwear . . . . LOL

Anyway we are here for quite a few days so lots of time to talk about Bath

Cheerio

Googy Girl

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cornwall to Cardiff

This morning we packed up again and headed back north this time to Cardiff. We headed off straight after breakfast and thought we would arrive by just after lunchtime. After leaving the Cornwall narrow country lanes we were mainly on the free way, we were pretty pleased with our decision to head to Cornwall on this day (previously we had planned to do it in reverse which would of had us travelling into Cornwall on the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend) as we could see the traffic was grid locked heading south, however the smiles on our faces soon disappeared not long after as we ourselves ended up in the midst of traffic, instead of a 3 hr drive it became a four hour with the last hour the car travelling at no more than 10miles per hour.

We discovered the reason as we entered Cardiff, it was their pride weekend and everyone was heading to the city .  But we managed to get through the city pretty easily and found our hotel / car park with no problems.
Taking the opportunity to see something we headed straight out and went to 

Cardiff Castle


The first fortress on this site was Roman and was believed to Have been built in about 50AD, however excavations in the 70's indicate that that the roman fort would undergo another three transformations before the romans abandoned it in the 5th century AD. 

  

After years of abandonment the Normans took possession of the fort , they concentrated their work mainly on the western side of the fort creating a 40 feet high mound, surrounded by a moat, on which they  probably built a wooden stockade to protect the buildings inside.
The building above is located where the Normans had built there stockade.

As the years progressed the castle passed from family to family including the Neville's who included the earl of Warwick whom  was known as the "Kingmaker," it passed into the Tudor family's hands when Henry (7th) Tudor bequeathed it to his Uncle Jasper Tudor , after Jaspers death it passed to the crown. 


 

Eventually in 1776 it passed into the Bute family and they created the Cardiff castle we see today.


In 1865 Lord Bute invited architect William Burges to report on the state of the castle, together over the next sixteen years the transformed the earlier castle into the neogothic palace. It truely was very glamorous, I can't possibly post all the pictures on here but two of the rooms we seen were just  spectacular.  There also was a fabulous library which includes many rare volumes especially in relation to language as Lord Bute was a keen linguist. 

   

After touring the palace we entered into the walls of the castle , during World War Two the walls of the castle were used as an air raid shelter.  I have to say walking through these walls with the sounds of planes and bombs being dropped was very moving and probably for the first time I think I really  understood how scary it would have been during that time. 


They had beds set up in the corridors and periodically they had recreated areas that would have provided food to the people sheltering with  in the walls.



After leaving the castle we wandered around the streets to have a bit of a look at Cardiff , mind you it  was absolutely crazy because of the pride festival, but it was great to see so much support by the local community with the majority of shops and businesses displaying the rainbow flag.

rydych iechyd a hapusrwydd
(Wishing you good health in Welsh)


Googy Girl

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tintagel castle and a little of Cornwall

This morning I got to tick another box as I had the opportunity to visit the site of Tintagel castle, as a long term Arthurian fan I really couldn't miss this opportunity, Tintagel is believed to be the place that King Arthur was conceived and born.

"All the British nobles gather including Gorlois with his wife Ygerna "who was the most beautiful woman in Britain" . Upon seeing her, Uther is immediately filled with desire for her. Gorlois notes the flirtatious attention Uther bestows on his wife and leaves the court without permission. Enraged, Uther vows to destroy Gorlois' land until he gets "satisfaction for the way in which he had been insulted" . Hiding away his beautiful wife at Tintagel, Gorlois leaves to battle against his king. Consumed with desire for Ygerna, Uther seeks advice from Merlin. The magician helps Uther by changing him into the likeness of Gorlois. Easily gaining entrance into the castle, Uther goes to Ygerna "and satisfied his desire by making love with her" . Arthur is conceived that night and meanwhile the Duke is killed in a siege of his camp. Uther leaves and learns of the death of Gorlois. He returns to Tintagel and seizes it and Ygerna at the same time. Geoffrey writes, "from that day on they lived together as equals, united by their great love for each other"   Geoffrey of Monmouth , the history of the kings of Britain 

But Tintagel's fame does not lie only with King Arthur but was also believed to be the backdrop for another medieval story telling the tragic romance between the Cornish knight Tristan and the Irish princess Yseult. 


The ruins above sadly date from after the time of Geoffrey of Monmouth's publication of the first ever Arthurian tale, so can not be attributed to Gorlois's   castle.  However they did belong to Richard, earl of Cornwall and were built around 1230AD. The ruins are part of a reception room close to the entrance to the castle.

             

Above are the remains of a walled garden, inside are slate stones which outline the story of Tristan and Yseult.

 

These are the ruins of a chapel which also date from Duke  Richards period. However there are several ruins on the site that do date much further back to the Dark Ages around 450AD. It was a long held belief that prior to Richard , Duke of Cornwall there was no "Royal" or substantial residence here however recent excavations (2017) have found evidence of the island being home to an individual of wealth and importance and many artefacts that indicate that the persons living here lived richly and were trading with traders from the Mediterranean with shards of Venetian glass and amphorae being found on the site.

 

The above sculpture is called "Gallos" which means strength in Cornish, he definitely is an imposing figure on the landscape and stood head and shoulders above myself.  I think he was brilliant and we watched many travellers kneel before him, as to a king , is he mean't to be King Arthur? Well I guess that is for the individual to decide . . . 

             

Once the island was joined to the land , but now visitors need to cross a bridge and walk up the stairs shown in the above image, I can tell you they are steep and we had to walk up the same amount of stairs on each side of the valley.

 

I couldn't visit this site without seeing Merlins Cave, as the tide wasn't fully out this meant rolling up my Jeans and taking my sneakers off and risking the cool Cornish sea, 
And it was truely worth it, Merlins cave actually has two entrances and at low tide you can walk straight through.  I couldn't for my first visit . . . But after leaving the site as we were driving to our next place I did some googling And realised that in the cliff face near the castle was a carving of Merlins face, so being the devoted blogger that I am I couldn't leave you guys short so I walked the 1km plus walk back down into the site , whilst Gadget sampled more of the local produce, to get that photo . . . 

         

Was it worth it ? Darn right it was  . . . However as I walked back up the steep hill to meet with Gadget I was questioning myself a bit  . . . But hey I m in training, right girls ?

   

So after leaving Tintagel the first time we drove to 

Port Isaac 

 the location site of Doc Martin.  The town, again, is  as you see on the TV a delightful little village with white washed buildings and narrow winding streets.  After having a look around we grabbed an  award winning Cornish pastie and headed off again this time to 

Port William 



There really wasn't a large town here , just a dozen or so houses and a pub.  We grabbed a drink and watched the British enjoy the seaside, the vast majority were dressed in wet suits and there really wasn't much sun but they seemed to be really enjoying themselves, probably the most heart warming thing I have noticed since being over here is that the British, Scottish and Irish take their dogs everywhere.

We had a lovely day and we both really feel that Cornwall was the most beautiful place and enjoyed our short time here but more exciting adventures await us, so we returned to pack up again ready to    head off in the morning.
For all the Poldark fan's sorry we didn't venture far enough south to find any of their locations, but I can tell you that recently a wedding was filmed in Tintagel for the Doc Martin show,
whose wedding ?
Well we don't know but I m sure time will reveal all .

Cheerio 

Googy Girl


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Highclere to Tintagel

This morning we visited Highclere castle, this was definetly on my bucket list and to be honest I felt I already knew it so well. Of course it is otherwise known as "Downton Abbey".


There has been a building on this site since 749AD, sometime during the 12-13th century a red brick Tudor mansion was built and then in 18th century the Tudor mansion was converted into a Georgian mansion and then in 1839, the reknowned architet George Barry ( he designed the parliament houses in London) transformed it into a mansion that would " impress the world" and it does, it is ornate but not too ornate.

Highclere is the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnavon, and there family has some great history . . .  

At the age of 19 Almina the illegitimate daughter of the banker Alfred de Rothschild married the 5th earl of Carnavon. She came with a huge dowry and had to learn how to run a British nobles family estate. Almina fulfilled her role well and became well loved in social circles, in her time she was to attend the funeral of Queen Victoria, the coronation of Edward VII and many other grand and royal events.
When the war broke out in 1912, Almina turned her palatial home into a hospital, she took the role of matron herself  and was reknowned for the provision of excellent care, especially in the Orthopaedic area.  

Almina' husband the 5th earl of Carnavon is well known as a keen Egyptologist and the financial backer of the excavations in the valley of the kings that ultimately led to the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb.   The basement of Highclere has an exhibition of some artefacts found by the 5th earl and some reproductions of some of the objects found in Tutankhamen 's tomb.
The current Earl's father was the racing manager for and a close personal friend of Queen Elizabeth II , the current earl is the queens godson.

   

We arrived early and did our gift shop shopping early , which was a good idea as there was a huge line up later in the day. We strolled around the castle and came back to the front and there was a huge line up to get in, we were a little worried thinking we would be waiting for hours . . . But the staff were extremely efficient at getting people through without overcrowding the house. It was very well done.

So if your curious about what it looks like inside then, you need to watch Downton Abbey.  There was no photography inside, which is pretty normal.  It truely looks just like you see in Downton and the areas we got to see that is not shown in Downton were beautiful, one room had gorgeous tapestries from Italy that are over 500 years old. They have never used this room for filming due to the concern that the tapestries may get damaged.

Sadly we farewelled Highclere just after midday and headed south to Cornwall.

Most of the time we travelled along the expressways, which proved to be entertaining at times, but once we turned off, we got to travel down lush country lanes and through many quaint little towns until we arrived at our destination 
Tintagel
Is situated on the Atlantic coast of Cornwall, the village and it's castle are associated with the Arthurian legends. Tintagel castle was believed to be the birthplace of King Arthur.
Tintagel is a popular holiday spot and was swarming with people when we arrived

  

The building above is the village post office, this building is a grade 1 listed building and is said to be an excellent example of a 14th century stone house.


The village itself is really quite cute, with lists of shops, cafes and restaurants. I think mainly though I just fell in love with the green rolling hills and sheer cliffs and the sound of the sea, to me a perfect combination.


It's a beautiful place to be

Cheerio

Googy Girl

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Lake District to Highclere

Today was another big day of driving as Gadget tried to tick all my "wish to see" boxes.  We left the lakes District at around 9am and travelled about 3.5 hrs to 

Stratford upon Avon



Stratford upon Avon's most famous resident was William Shakespeare
And he was born in this house in around 1564. The house is open to the public and we fortunate to have a wander through.
It was furnished according to the period



And this is how they believed Shakespeare s childhood bedroom would have looked, they believed he would have shared this room with his two brothers.



The gentleman above was one of two actors performing on the day and they were amazing. They asked for any requests and were able to cite them verbatim.

Not long after we arrived they performed two sonnets accompanied by guitar.
When they next called for requests Gadget couldn't help himself and requested the 
"St Crispin's day" speech from The play Henry V
I don't know if you have ever heard this speech but it is long and emotive and this guy was absolutely amazing

If you are interested in hearing it just ask either myself or Gadget as I filmed it and we are happy to share it with you.

After leaving Shakespeare s family home we headed to the home of his daughter, which is beautiful furnished and very well maintained. With a lovely peaceful garden to sit in.

We wandered slowly back along the water front, which had lots of canal boats, in all different colours all beautifully presented. 
As we headed back to the car we came across a statue in the park that is a memorial to 
Shakespeare



The monument has an image of Shakespeare on top and around the bottom four of his many characters from his plays
The image above is of Falstaff who is mentioned in five of Shakespeare's plays
 After leaving we travelled onwards heading further south.


The amount of time spent in the car was good for my stitching and I finished my third Lucy Boston or this trip.

We arrived at our overnight accomodation around 5pm



The Yew tree inn was our home for the night and a 
Cuter place to stay I couldn't ask for 


The inn was full of olde world charm and had interesting little places to sit and things to see everywhere, every time I looked around I found something else to see.



We had an amazing meal here, one of our top three since being in the UK
The staff were lovely 
And after our meal Gadget had an impromptu 
Whisky tasting education session.

We had a lovely relaxing evening and the best thing was we only had to walk 
upstairs to our room.

Thanks for sharing our journey with us 

 Cheerio 

Googy Girl