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Archive for the ‘Castles of UK and Ireland’ Category

Nottingham has been on my list of places to go ever since I arrived in the UK 17 years ago. It’s taken a while LOL. Getting around the UK is relatively easy with the extensive railway network, but it is prohibitively expensive, so my visit to Nottingham had to wait till an assignment became available…which it did in February. Exciting!! I was thrilled.

When I did the journey planner the station code came up as NOT and as it turned out, NOT pretty much described my overall visit…..NOT Nottingham. It just wasn’t at all what I expected. First impressions were thrilling….the castle built on top of the sandstone caves; gaping wounds in the cliff-face gave an indication of what lay behind the facade.

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Sandstone cliffs and a myriad of cave

A quick walk around the city after checking in at my AirBnB led to the discovery of the fantastic 12th century inn; Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem – apparently the oldest inn in England (disputed by some) and saw the statue of Robin Hood in the plaza out front of the castle walls. I found a superb old Tudor style building nearby and delighted in the stories behind the myriad caves that lay beneath the castle.

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Nottingham Castle gates and statue of Robin Hood

Walking further into the city I found that I could have been in any major city anywhere in the UK. Nottingham didn’t hold the quirky charm I had been expecting….high street stores, chain restaurants and charity shops. I felt robbed LOL sorry Robin.

But never one to leave any stone unturned or city unexplored, I delved deeper, determined to find the hidden gems…and I found plenty.

First up a walk through the city’s oldest area: the Lace Market. This historic quarter-mile area was once the centre of the world’s lace industry during the British Empire. Meandering the streets I was enchanted by the quirky old buildings, now dotted with street art and turned over to various other industries and businesses, the area still holds a charming olde worlde atmosphere.

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The Creative Quarter; the Nottingham Lace Market

From there I made my way to The City of Caves, the entrance located on the upper level of the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. For someone who loves caves, this was a real treat. They are fantastic and tell the story of the people who have inhabited the area for aeons, right up until when the caves were used as air-raid shelters during the 2nd WW. There is even the sound effect of an air-raid with bombers going overhead and the wail of a siren. Thrilling. I can recommend this if you enjoy history & caves and don’t suffer from claustrophobia http://www.nationaljusticemuseum.org.uk/venue/city-of-caves/

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Walking above ground, you would never know there were 800 caves beneath your feet…a city of caves indeed.

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the city of caves…..800 caves beneath your feet

I managed to visit 2 churches, one of which; The Church of St Mary the Virgin is located in the Lace Market area

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The Church of St Mary the Virgin is the oldest religious foundation in the City of Nottingham, England, the largest church after the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Nottingham and the largest mediaval building in the city

St Mary the Virgin, aka St Mary’s in the Lace Market was by far and away my favourite building. A Grade 1 listed building, one of only 5 in Nottingham, this fantastic 16th century church has a history is that is just astounding. Mentioned in the Domesday Book it is believed it’s roots go back deep into Saxon times. The main body of the present building (possibly the 3rd on the site) dates from the end of the reign of Edward III (1377) to that of Henry VII (1485–1509), the tower wasn’t completed till the reign of Henry VIII. There are some fascinating memorials in the church with an array of stunning stained glass windows; art works in themselves. The chantry door, dating from the 1370s or 1380s is considered to be the oldest surviving door in Nottingham and contains an example of iron work from the medieval period in the locking mechanism.

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the Chantry door, St Mary the Virgin in the Lace Market area of Nottingham

In the grounds are a number of marvellous headstones that tell a story all their own as well the grave and a memorial plaque to Nottingham’s first black entrepreneur: George Africanus (1763-1834). This magnificent church is well worth a visit in my opinion. They depend on donations for the upkeep of this magnificent building; please give generously https://www.stmarysnottingham.org/

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The Church of St Peter with St James

The 2nd church; Church of St Peter with St James is a delightful church right in the centre of Nottingham. I had noticed it previously when I first arrived and was delighted to discover the link with the pilgrim St James. One of the three medieval parish churches in Nottingham, the original church was destroyed by fire in the early 1100s and rebuilt between 1180 and 1220. United with the church of St James which was demolished in the 1930’s, the church is now a Grade I listed building. The stained glass windows are a glorious rainbow of bright bold colours and above the west porch entrance is a fantastic painting of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper. Painted in 1816 by Thomas Barber (1771-1843). This beautiful building offers an oasis of peace and tranquillity in a busy city.

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Nottingham Cathedral.

And the cathedral; Nottingham Cathedral is located not too far from the castle along and just off Maid Marion Way. I loved the fabulous feeling of space in this church and the ceiling seems to soar above you. An unearthly blue light fills the space, the stained glass windows adding to the ethereal atmosphere. Built between 1841 and 1844 by the architect was Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, I was delighted to discover the link to the church in Ramsgate; St Augustine’s, from whence I started my walk along The Way of St Augustine in 2017. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is absolutely exquisite and well worth the visit.

I visited the Castle that isn’t really a castle, but more of an enormous palatial Manor house built after the original castle was destroyed by fire, and explored the fantastic displays and exhibitions quite thoroughly before embarking on a tour of the caves which were just awesome. There is a charge to visit the castle and an extra £5 to visit the caves.

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Exhibitions in Nottingham Castle

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Sandstone Caves at Nottingham Castle,

Before I left I managed to squeeze in a visit to Green’s Mill. I’d seen the windmill on the horizon earlier on in my stay, and determined to visit before I left the area. Absolutely charming. It’s a working mill and you can buy freshly milled flour on the premises and a recipe book for various yummy goodies …I bought one bag of flour and a recipe book for my son-in-law who is a keen baker. You can clamber about the inside the mill which offers a look at the many mechanisms required for milling the grain into flour.

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Green’s Mill and Science Centre, Nottingham

The views from the top floor are well worth the climb; just mind your head going up!! Green’s Mill also depends on donations to maintain the building, so please give generously. If you’re a UK tax payer remember to tick the Gift Aid box. It all helps. https://www.greensmill.org.uk/

I managed to get in a couple of lovely walks along the canal and river as well as a visit to Victoria Park and the amazing memorial to both World Wars, on the embankment near the fantastic suspension bridge

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In all I spent 2.5 weeks in Nottingham, 2 weeks of which was working, and so, during my breaks I managed to get in quite a few walks around the area, many of which were along the river. On a warm clear day before the snow, I chanced upon and watched a boat race.

Nottingham. Although I was at first quite disappointed, after digging around and finding all these amazing places to visit, I can say that, despite not meeting Robin, in all I enjoyed visiting these amazing places and discovering more about the history of the city and I especially enjoyed visiting the caves.

And so my visit went from NOT Nottingham, to why NOT Nottingham.

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I’ve been wanting to visit Chester for ever such a long time, and suddenly, due to circumstances on the work front, I’m able to plan a visit.

I’ve been working up in Nottingham for 2 weeks in February/March and tacked on 2 days for exploring the city while I’m here. I then tackled Google maps to see which places of interest were nearby…..voila Chester came up in my search, and since its just a 2.5 hour train journey away, I’ve decided to travel to Chester afterwards and spend a few days there as well.

Chester, located on the River Dee, has long been on my travel dream list as well as another location for Project101. A walled Roman city, Chester has a fascinating history, some of the most amazing Tudor architecture, a castle, an amphitheatre and a cathedral and nestles alongside a river, over which I’m sure there is a bridge or two. Perfect – at least 6 or 7 of the categories I’m aiming to fulfil. Founded as a ‘castrum’ or fort during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in AD79, Chester was one of the main Roman army camps, it’s original name: Deva Victrix, it was also briefly located in Wales, and is of course mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Known for it’s extensive Roman walls made of the local red sandstone, within the medieval city is The Rows, now a shopping precinct with Tudor-style half-timbered buildings, some of which are Victorian renovations. Just beyond the city’s old walls there’s a Roman amphitheatre and ongoing excavations. I’m excited to see my 3rd Roman amphitheatre.

The Minster Church of West Mercia, founded by King AEthelred of Mercia in 689, became Chester’s cathedral and the town was granted city status in 1541 during the reign of Henry VIII.  Apparently it has one of the best preserved Roman walls in Britain, which the Saxons extended and strengthened to protect the city against the Danes. Chester was one of the last cities in England to fall to the Normans after which William the Conqueror constructed a castle, to dominate not only the town but also the nearby Welsh border.

Chester experienced substantial development during the Industrial Revolution which saw railways, canals and new roads being built. I’m so excited to be visiting there and wish I had a few more days…..but 2.5 will have to do for now.

Things I plan to see/do while I’m there:

Walk a circuit of the City Walls; 3kms approx and visit the city gates, of which there are by all accounts 7: Bridgegate, Eastgate, Newgate, Northgate, St Martin’s Gate, Watergate, and Wolf Gate. Awesome. I wonder how it compares to the city walls at Canterbury?

The amphitheatre and excavations – it will be interesting to see the comparison to the Roman amphitheatre at Guildhall in London.

The Castle (of course 🙂 ) – I love a good castle

The Cathedral – one of my favourite types of buildings to visit, they are usually quite exquisite.

The Row with it’s Tudor-style buildings – an absolute favourite in terms of architecture.

Walk alongside the river and cross at least two bridges….a must do 🙂

And last but absolutely not least….visit the famous Eastgate Clock; apparently the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben, which seems hard to believe…. This was one of the very first things about Chester that made the decision for me; I had to visit.

And so to Chester I go…..

 

 

 

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It is my dream and goal to visit as many places in the UK as I possibly can, especially places relative to my Project 101.

If I could spend every day travelling and going to new places I surely would…in between visiting home and my family of course 😉 I’m looking forward to the day I buy my motor home.

A few weeks ago I contacted the agency I get my assignments from and asked if they could send me farther afield than Kent…I’ve been to so many places in Kent already as well as many in the neighbouring counties, and I really wanted to extend my range again. Since Nottingham is on my list of places to go, so when they suggested a position in the city for 2 weeks I jumped at the chance.

After a long day of travel I finally arrived at Nottingham Station. It’s a long way from Broadstairs to Nottingham…5.5 hours and 3 train changes.

The Nottingham Canal that I crossed over on my way from the station to the B&B opened in 1796. I love seeing canal boats on a river, they always look so quaint and intriguing.

This is my first visit to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, which is really exciting, as I’m now able to add this visit to a few categories on my Project 101: Domesday Book town, walled city, a major river, a castle, a cathedral city, a cathedral…which remarkably is linked to the Architect Augustus Pugin and ties in to the walk I did last year : The Way of St Augustine.

Can’t wait to explore, although proper exploration will have to wait till the assignment is finished, to which end I’ve booked to stay for a couple of days after. However there is no reason why I couldn’t pop out for a short walk around the city even though it was already dark out.

Nottingham is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book as “Snotingeham” and “Snotingham”. Named for a Saxon Chieftain ‘Snot’, it was dubbed “Snotingaham” meaning literally, “the homestead of Snot’s people” (Inga = the people of; Ham = homestead).

First on the agenda was a visit to Nottingham Castle. I’d walked past it on my way to the B&B and seriously it was quite simply amazing…..

Nottingham Castle was constructed in the 11th century on a sandstone outcrop by the River Trent. I have never seen any such location for a castle in my life. The outcrop appears to be pock marked with caves and holes…and apparently, after reading the storyboard nearby, it seems that there are in fact tunnels and caves below the castle…..now I’m really intrigued and excited. The opening time is March which means my timing is perfect…thankfully. At the side of the castle is a fab statue of Robin Hood, he of Nottingham Forest and Maid Marion fame…..steal from the rich to feed the poor. Remember the film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves… I wonder if he looked anything like Kevin Costner 😉

On the way there I passed Ye Olde trip to Jerusalem Inn which according to the blurb, is the oldest inn in England. Apparently this too has tunnels running beneath so of course I absolutely have to go back for a tour.

From there I took a stroll through the streets passing a fab little Tudor style house. I didn’t see many medieval style houses – I must try to find out if there are any.

The pedestrianised area is lined with the usual high street shops and stores…it look so familiar to many places I’ve been I could have been almost anywhere. Is there a template?

I did enjoy seeing the electrified trams…reminded me of Amsterdam and Dublin.

I stopped for a quick bite at Five Guys, I haven’t ever eaten there before, and probably won’t again. The sandwich I had was okay, and the fries edible but nothing to write home about.

Since it was was already very dark I decided to head back to the B&B and settle in for a nice hot bath, some T.V. – one of my favourite shows: Call the Midwife and then an early night is in order.

I’m looking forward to when the assignment is over and I can explore more thoroughly. I enjoyed finding these coats of arms and of course a door is always intriguing..

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Yesterday’s Camino 2018 practice walk took me up to Montgomery Castle. I hadn’t been up for a fair while; snow and frost. Well mostly frost, since the snow was so last year 😉 and I have actually been up once since I arrived here on the 3rd…

I’m trying to get in at least an hour of walking every day now. I remember training most days for at least 2 hours over 18 month for my previous Camino, but I’m hoping some of that fitness still lingers and that 9 months of training will be sufficient this year. It’s not a far distance, but it is all uphill and that final stretch sure stretches my lungs LOL My legs too complain loudly by the time I reach the ridge.

Although not as substantial as some of the castles we get in Wales and the rest of the UK, Montgomery Castle is stupendous, albeit just ruins and a fraction of what it used to be. I love the history attached and wish the walls could talk. The English considered it to be the Key to the Kingdom; the kingdom being Wales, since the border with England (Shropshire) is just a stones throw away and easily accessible with a fair walk.

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Key to the Kingdom; Montgomery, Wales

Built more as a defensive position than a luxurious palace, it played a key role in many turning point dates in the history of the UK…from Offa’s day till the 17th century, when in 1643 the castle was surrendered to Parliamentary troops in the Civil war by Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Chirchury.

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The Battle of Montgomery 1644 – map my walk

Originally a motte and bailey (a fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte and accompanied by an enclosed courtyard or bailey), it was eventually rebuilt in stone. Rebuilding commenced in the late summer of 1223; the 16th birthday of Henry III of England. The castle was eventually reduced to a backwater prison and later demolished by order of Parliament.

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales; the ruined gatehouse to the inner ward seen from the south

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales; imposing walls built of stone

One of my favourite things to do when I get up to the castle is to sit on the ruined walls and just enjoy the quiet and the stupendous views. I can clearly see Offa’s Dyke from there as well as the Berwyns (range of Welsh Mountains). I believe there are number of Roman camps and mottes dotted about the country and it’s really frustrating to not be able to get to see them. I shall have to include a visit to this area when I have my motor home. A misty kind of day, in the distance you can see the promised cold front approaching.

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fantastic views across Wales and Shropshire from Montgomery Castle

Before leaving I took a walk right around the perimeter of the castle – looking up at the rocks on which the castle is built I am awed at the workmanship that went into this imposing edifice.

Distance walked: 1.86 miles (2.98 kms) – not much as far as distance goes and certainly not anywhere near the distances I covered during my breaks last year, but it’s building. At the moment I have quite a few projects I’m working on so have to split my 2 hour break between walking and working 🙂

 

 

 

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As mentioned in yesterday’s post I didn’t get out till 3rd January to start my #walk1000miles challenge for 2018. Mostly due to the mooky weather. I’ve been in North East Wales since the evening of the 3rd and yesterday was only the 2nd day I’ve managed to get a decent walk in.

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a mooky day

The day dawned bright, clear and stunningly beautiful. We have the most amazing view from the barn across the fields and valleys to the Berwyns and as usual I was enchanted by the colours of the sunrise. We had a thick covering of frost in the morning and because the village is in a groove between the mountain and the hill the sun doesn’t really make much of an impact as how it’s so far back on it’s winter trajectory.

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a frosty day

I started out at 2pm during my break time and initially I had planned to walk up to the castle but at the point where the road curves up the hill and becomes really steep, I had barely made 6 steps up the road when I started to slide back downhill. Thankfully I had my walking poles or I would have fallen over for sure. I then decided to go downhill along a more traffic frequented road and made my way across the fields using a shortcut utilised by horse riders, joggers and walkers alike and to my delight I happened upon the lake; Lower Pool, that I had seen from the castle so many times.  I initially thought it was the River Severn but on closer inspection using Google maps I saw it was merely a lake, albeit a rather large one.

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Lower Pool, Montgomery

It was truly beautiful and a bevy of swans have made their home on a wee island in the middle…..too far for photos but I could see them quite easily.

The ground was totally sodden and before long my feet started to get wet so I headed back to the road where I met a lovely lady by the name of Suzanne. We chatted all the way back to the village and swapped walking stories. I told her about my 3 pilgrimages and she was inspired to learn more about the Camino 🙂

I slipped a fair number of times heading back through the village. I had wanted to reach the crest of the hill on the other side of the village I had seen from the castle.

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view from the Kerry Road – in the distance is Corndon Hill

Again I slipped and slid most alarmingly and again my poles saved the day. I can assure you that I will never walk any distances again without them. I was though really puzzled as to why I was slipping about so much. When I got home I checked the bottom of my walking shoes and noticed that the treads  have worn down substantially, so it was no wonder I spent a lot of time slipping and sliding on the roads…thankfully I had my walking poles which averted any tumbles, but it was most unpleasant…although the weather was wonderful.

I have another 2.5 weeks here in Wales so I must try to get to the river at least once. The other walk I mentioned was the day after I arrived….the morning was muggy and dismal but by 2pm it had cleared up quite a lot so I set off for my favourite place; Montgomery Castle. The view from there is quite sumptuous; right across the valley of the River Camlad (forms part of the border between Wales and England in places) and Montgomery Ford, a vital crossing of the River Severn towards the Berwyn Mountains. Known as the ‘The Key to the Kingdom’, a Norman castle, Montgomery Castle was built at the order of Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, sometime between 1071 and 1074.

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Key to the Kingdom; Montgomery, Wales

As with most castles in Britain it underwent a number of changes and changed hands a number of times and was substantially developed during the reign of Henry III. In 1227 Montgomery was granted a Royal Charter by the king, making it the oldest borough in Wales. I love to sit on the walls and visualise the deer hunting that must have taken place in the surrounding forests and the sight of soldiers marching across the valley.

It was very windy that day and I was hard put to remain stead on my feet whilst positing myself on the walls to take photos. I’m surprised they weren’t all blurred. I eventually gave up and staggered downhill with a blustery wind at my back. Reminded me a bit of my walk along the beaches on the Isle of Thanet the day before.

On the way back to the house I called in at the Dragon Hotel (must stay there sometime) and enquired about the swimming pool. It seems we can book an hour for £3.50. Hmmm. Glad I brought my swimsuit. I just loved the wee cottages leaning up against the hotel.

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the Dragon Hotel, Montgomery, Wales

As I meandered through the graveyard I spotted a gorgeous rainbow emanating from within the castle walls and touching ground in the valley below….

if I could just get there in time I may have found that pot of gold they’re always talking about!!! LOL

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oh to be free to walk and walk and walk

Walked 01.01.2018 – 07.01.2018 : 12.88 kms / Miles 8.05 – 991.95 miles to go ….hmmm.

I’ve been told that the Offa’s Dyke walk is accessible from the road I had walked along earlier so as soon as the weather warms up enough to not be leaving frosty roads I shall head along and try walk as much of it as I can. However I believe that it’s 177 miles /285 kms; a tad more than I can fit into a 2 hour break.  I’d love to walk the whole route though, but that will have to wait for another year…if I am ever up this way in 2019 I’ll try add it to the ever growing list of walks I want to undertake.

One of my walking plans for 2018 is along the cliffs from Broadstairs to Sandwich, Deal, Walmer, Dover and onto Folkestone as well as the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury and the Camino Inglés from Ferrol to Santiago. I hope I can squeeze them all in. Not that I’m complaining or anything, but work does rather get in the way of my walking dreams LOL.

 

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I was chatting to my daughter yesterday and remarked that I had been particularly blessed this year. Usually when you get to the end of the year you kinda feel like there is more that could/should be done before the year ends (well I do), and the last few days of December are spent cramming in just a few more activities. But this year I can truly say that I have had a year jam-packed with adventures, and for that, I am truly grateful.

inspirational quotes

Die with memories, not dreams

So to that end I decided to list my 2017 adventures, and was astounded at how much I had actually done, and how many places I have actually been to besides all my Camino 2017 practice walks that took me to some fantastic places. So this is my final blog for 31 Days of Gratitude – Day 31 – 2017 in review.

January

New Year’s Day swim 01.01.2017 Broadstairs Beach, Isle of Thanet, Kent

New Year's Day, Broadstairs

New Year’s Day, Broadstairs

Wedding Dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping…so much fun

Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England

visit the isle of wight

A visit to the isle of Wight

Places I went while I was there; Nettlestone (1086 Domesday Book village),20170116_144130-01 Bembridge Windmilll, Brading Roman Villa, Carisbrooke Castle, Cowes, Ryde, rode on a Hover craft, The Needles and Quarr Abbey.

And Osborne House


Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick Park, London

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

February
Oxted, Surrey – the Greenwich Meridian runs through the town

Oxted

A closer look at Oxted

Limpsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

Down House – home of Charles Darwin

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Tatsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

tatsfield surrey

South East England’s highest village; Tatsfield. Ref wikipedia: “In Anglo-Saxon England, Tatsfield lay within Tandridge hundred. In 1086 it was held by Anschitill (Ansketel) de Ros from the Bishop of Bayeux. Its Domesday assets were: ? hide. It had 2 ploughs. It rendered 60 shillings (£3) to its feudal overlords per year.”

Tandridge & Crowhurst, Surrey

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Dublin, Ireland

 

Trim Castle & Trim, Ireland

March
City of Winchester, Hampshire, England

Winchester

Winchester

Torquay, seaside resort – Devon

torquay

Torquay

April

Pisa, Florence, San Gimignano, Poggibonsi, Sienna, Lucca – Italy

 

May

Newcastle, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

Dark Hedges – Game of Thrones, N. Ireland

the dark hedges northern ireland

The Dark Hedges – scenes for Game of Thrones were shot in this area

Sevenoaks, Kent, England

 

June
Tonbridge, Kent, England

Ironbridge, Shropshire, England – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lenham, Kent, England

Lenham

Lenham

July
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route – Southwark to Canterbury

Battle of Britain Airshow, Headcorn

St Augustine’s Way – Ramsgate to Canterbury

August
Arundel, and Arundel Castle, West Sussex, England

Bromham, Houghton House with my lovely friends Lynne & Tim and Elstow (birthplace of John Bunyan) – Bedfordshire, England

Bronham, Houghton House, Elstow

Bromham, Houghton House, Elstow

Zip Line with Zip World in London with my daughter

September
Walked the Caminho Portuguese – Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain 240 kms – Both UNESCO World Heritage sites

Coimbra, Portugal – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

October
Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

November
Caernarfon Castle, Wales – site where Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway Line Train ride; Caenarfon to Portmadogg through Snowdonia

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Porthmadogg, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Portmadogg, Wales

Climbed Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd – highest mountain in Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Montgomery, Powys, Wales – The Treaty of Montgomery was signed 29 September 1267 in Montgomeryshire. By this treaty King Henry III of England acknowledged Llywelyn ap Gruffudd as Prince of Wales.

Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery, Wales

December
Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Christmas in Broadstairs, Isle of Thanet, Kent

xmas 2017

Christmas 2017 with my delightful family

And in total, between 01.01.2017 & 31.12.2017 I have walked well over 1100 miles.

What an extraordinary year; 2017.IMG_20171231_100927_404

p.s. Days 14-30 Days of Gratitude will follow shortly….I eventually ran out of time 😉

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31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful for enchantment.

It’s possible you may think this is something quite weird to be grateful for; an emotion, but for me enchantment is an essential quality to bring to my day. I look for the enchantment in the every day, and there is much to enchant.

I have been lucky enough to be working in North West Wales during a period of snow-fall. It’s been amazing to wake the last 2 mornings and feel the quiet – that quiet you only get when it snows…..it feels like you’re in a cocoon of cotton-wool, the air feels close and fluffy and quiet.

As soon as I woke this morning at 06:30 I opened my window and just stood looking out at the sheer beauty and whiteness of a landscape covered by a thick layer of crispy, crunchy snow already 3 or 4 inches deep. After a quick cup of tea I pulled on my winter woollies and crept quietly out the house and down to the monument. The air was still that fantastic ice-blue you get just before dawn.

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

ice blue

I spent at least 20 minutes just listening to the utter quiet and peacefulness. It was totally enchanting.

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

the monument

All too soon I had to head back indoors and get my client up and dressed et al. But as soon as all my chores were done, he was like “go, go on and enjoy the snow, just be safe” Yayyy. So once again I pulled on all my winter woollies; those layers on layers that take ages to get on and then later to get back off again….and with my poles in hand I set off….a crunchy, crispy, slippery walk uphill to the castle.

I walked via the churchyard,

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

the churchyard

through the village and uphill to the castle. I was not alone 🙂 There were a couple of dozen people out, some with sleds, some slipping and laughing, some bundled up you wouldn’t know who they were, others clambering about in boots.

Up on the hill the snow hung heavy in the trees and covered the roads and verges.

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

the church from the hill

From the castle you can normally see Shropshire, but the fields were barely visible today, and it’s snowing still…..magical, enchanting. It truly felt like I was walking through Narnia.

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

Montgomery Castle

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

Today I am grateful to the opportunities for enchantment

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 9

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