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Wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, great-aunt and friend....and fur-kid mum I love Quilting, stitching, photography, cooking, baking, gardening, blogging and making new friends...stop by and say hi!

Thursday 31 October 2013

Windsor Castle, Bath & Stonehenge - Part 1

This week was really going fast. Only a few more days left of our holiday and one more Day trip planned. Red and I were heading for Stonehenge.

 Stonehenge has always facinated me and after years of longing to visit, I first did so back in 2006. I was blown away then and really wanted to return so I was really looking forward to this day trip. Now you may be saying, right now, "wow, crazy! it's only a bunch of rocks in the middle of a field"! Right! but I find the atmosphere quite electric. Being there makes the hair stand up on my arms. Seriously!, it does! Stonehenge was the highlight of the day but not the only stop.

First things first, this was going to be a long day and I WAS NOT going to let the slightest twinge of a headache spoil it so I popped a paracetomol with my breakfast and packed the rest in my backpack.

Windsor was the first port of call today. If you have ever been there you will know that Windsor is a lovely little town nestled right outside the walls of a looming Windsor Castle which is one of the Queens official residences. She wasn't home for our visit though.
The Railway Station at Windsor was built in the Victorian era.  Previously, Queen Victoria had to travel to Windsor by River (the Thames River reaches here) and so the Railway station was built for her to have a more comfortable and faster journey.
Queen Victoria's Steam Engine.
Because this is one of the current Queen's main residences, security is taken very seriously with airport style searches and due to the crowds, it took us an hour to get into the grounds. We were taken to the State Rooms for a tour around.  No photography allowed inside. Didn't stop me from being snap happy outside.
Due to the security screen taking so long and the heavy traffic getting here (all going to Legoland - TG) we were advised to buy some lunch to eat on the bus.  The Railway Station is also a lovely shopping precinct so after supplying ourselves with sandwiches and drinks, I hurriedly dragged Red around the little shops looking for curios.

Have a look at this phone box with a difference outside the station.:
Tomorrow I will tell you about Bath.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Regents Park

After the morning at Camden Town, I returned to the hotel to drop off my shopping and collect my camera. I decided to spend the afternoon at Regents Park. A quick glance at the map told me that there is a Rose Garden at the Park......sounds lovely!

The one thing I absolutely love about London is the Tube system.  It is so easy to use and makes getting around this huge city an absolute breeze so with a little planning it didn't take very long to get to the nearest Tube Station and a short walk later I was at Regent Park.

Regents Park, although not as big as Hyde Park, is still a very large area and I was initially a bit confused as to where I was.  Not a problem, there are plenty of "you are here" maps which kept me on track.  I was looking for Queen Mary's Rose Garden.
On the way to the Rose Garden, there was still alot to get my camera snapping. This spot is called The Avenue.

At last I found Queen Mary's Rose Garden and although nearing the end of the season, the roses were still spectacular in mass. Here are some of the single shots I took. Quite a few varieties.
Afterwards I found a park bench and sat awhile and mused over what I would do on my next spare day. Maybe the Zoo or Madame Taussards?
a lovely musing spot
Time to walk again and I made my way towards the lake (much, much bigger than the pond above) stopping for an ice-cream on the way.
This lake was enjoyed by people in those funny looking paddle boats and by lots and lots of birds. I was thrilled to catch a shot of this Heron looking for a feed.
I had a lovely afternoon strolling around this magnificent park and so many beautiful things to photograph (believe me, you are only seeing the half of it!) but this was my favourite shot of the day.
For me, this shot totally epitomises an English Summer Day!

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Camden Town Markets

There was something I really wanted to find while I was in London. When walking down Oxford Street a couple of weeks previously, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that I thought Ted would love. It said "Keep Calm, the doctor is here" referring of course to Dr Who. The best place to find anything like this is Camden Street Market. Red had plans with someone he had met on his tour so off I went for my own little adventure.

 This is the High street in Camden and it is crowded with little shops. No high street M&S here but you can buy anything from out there goth, punk or burlesque clothes to hemp lollipops and down at the end where you see the green/yellow sign that says Camden Lock are the most amazing markets ever.

The largest part of the markets is called the Stable Market and it was originally stables for the horses that once upon a time pulled barges up and down the Regent Canal, that runs alongside. One of the charming features of this market are the bronze statues of horses that can be found throughout the building among the stalls.
It took me 4 hours of searching and I was just about to give up.  I had asked every t-shirt stall keeper and on my way back to the tube station I decided on one more shop. I was offered help and when I explained what I wanted he directed me to another part of the market that I had been to very early on.and as I was crossing the road, I saw exactly what I wanted. It turned out that when I was there first thing he had not finished hanging out his range of t-shirts. I nearly hugged him and bought a couple more T's that I thought Ted would like.

I didn't bother taking my camera with me to Camden as I thought I was on a focused mission but I am really sorry that I didn't. While I was there I got to watch a couple of barge homes make their way through the lock and came across quite a few interesting sights that would have been fun to photograph. Thank goodness for smart phones. Thats how I took all these photos.

shoes with dwarves for heels
This shop was the only "real" high street clothing shop around and the shop window which is twice the height of a normal window and ran the whole frontage was filled top to bottom, side to side with antique sewing machines.  It was really hard to get a decent photo but try to imagine! WOW!

With my mission complete I headed back to our hotel at Euston Station. Wonder what I could do for the rest of the afternoon.

Monday 14 October 2013

Dover and Canterbury Cathedral

I have been to Dover before and even though I don't think much to the town itself, they do have a great castle and a fabulous wartime history tour. Today, however, we were just stopping here for some lunch.   We were quite lucky that because it was a bank holiday, we made really good time travelling there and were taken to the war memorial ontop of the white cliffs ......for a quick look.

 Would of been nice to stop on the cliff tops for a picnic and even a short walk but that was not on the agenda. After lunch in Dover itself, we took the tour guides advice to walk to the "beach" (if that is still what you call it when it is pebbles instead of sand) take our shoes off and paddle in the waves.  I wanted to walk to the waters edge to take a photo and since I was wearing slip ons was forced to take them off because I kept getting pebbles stuck in them. Let me tell you now......never walk barefoot on a pebble beach....OUCH!

 Back on the bus and heading for Cantebury I started to feel really yuck.  A migraine was making itself felt and I really should have taken something there and then but I didn't have anything and I didn't think to ask Red. I probably would have enjoyed the trip to Cantebury more if I didn't feel the need to lie down and have a bit of shut eye.

Gateway to the Cathedral
and the Cathedral itself
This is what I know about Cantebury Cathedral, even before visiting it. In the 6th century, the pope noticed two blonde slaves in a Roman market and he was told they were "Angli" (from Anglia or England). He mistook this as meaning Angels from God and it reminded him that Anglia was a godless country.  He made it his mission to bring them back into the fold and sent an emissary to convert them. The king at the time was called Ethelbert of Kent and although he was no Christian, he dearly loved his Christian wife, Bertha, and would do anything to please her.  It was due to her that he agreed to a church being built at Cantebury which is now Cantebury Cathedral. So, you could say that Cantebury is the birthplace of Christianity in England and also explains why the highest religious order in the land is known as the Archbishop of Cantebury. Of course there is a great deal more to the history of this magnificent building including the scandelous murder of a priest (Thomas Beckett)and the dissolution of the Catholic Church having an effect here as well but I like the story of Ethelbert and Bertha most.

Another interesting fact is that during WW2, the Germans bombed Cantebury as part of a reprisal bombing blitz (the English having bombed Cologne), the Cathedral did not suffer any damage. Astonishing since over 10,000 bombs were dropped in and around the town. That aside, I wasn't really listening to or wanting to explore much here as the migraine was getting worse.  I did find the cloisters which was so serene and cool and that green grass was so inviting. However we were running out of time and as much as I wanted to explore the rest of this area of the town, Red wanted to get a couple of things from the shops.

By this time I knew I needed some headache tablets and it turns out Red had some in his backpack and although I expected them to take effect rather quickly, they didn't make me feel better at all and in fact I became more and more unwell.  He had to prepare some "sick bags" for me out of a couple of shopping bags. Since they have holes in the bottom to prevent suffocation, he had to tie some knots in them. By the time we got off the bus at the last stop, Greenwich, I really wanted my bed and didn't know how I was going to get there without the embarrassing act of throwing up in public.  That's right folks, it happened.  Once on the pavement in Greenwich, once on the ferry heading back into London (knew that was going to be a challenge) and finally, I thought I was well enough to get onto the underground at Embankment but once those doors closed, I knew it was a bad idea.  Fortunately, it is not very far to the next station, Charing Cross, and I motioned to Red that I had to get off here and find a bathroom. The bathroom was just too far and if I thought I had nothing left in my stomach, then I was wrong.  An empty commuter tunnel underground had to do. Red was wonderful. Gently patting me on the back and telling me I will feel better soon. Patiently waiting for me to find a bathroom and get cleaned up. I did feel better after that and EVENTUALLY we got back to the hotel but I tell you, I have never felt so happy to see a bed that wasn't my own.

the beautiful stainglass window
That was our trip to Leeds Castle, Dover and Cantebury.  Started fantastic but did not end so well. 

Saturday 12 October 2013

Leeds Castle

I stayed with mum and her partner for 2 weeks and then headed back to London as I had a couple of day trips planned for Red and myself.

Our first trip was to Leeds Castle.  I just ...L.O.V.E... castles so I was really looking forward to this trip.
the croquet lawn
We got here early so were given a special tour inside before the crowds arrived. Like most castles in the UK, Leeds Castle was built in Norman times (around 1119) and at one time was actually lived in by King Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The castle has been added to and rebuilt several times since it was first built so not much of the original castle remains.
The wing in the photo above is the newest part of the castle which was purchased in the late 20's by an American Heiress, Lady Baillie. She used it as a weekend getaway from London and would invite several houseguests to join her to swim (yes she built a swimming pool....with a wave machine), play croquet, tennis or watch movies in her own private cinema.  Some famous people who joined her where Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplain, Errol Flynn and David Niven. As well as Winston Churchhill and various royal guests. When Lady Baillie passed away, she left the castle to a privately owned charitable trust called the Leeds Castle Foundation and they keep it in tip top condition for the public to enjoy.

 You can of course still stay here yoursself (no doubt for a princely sum of money) and they also host weddings, conferences and the like.
The above 3 photos show the inside of the oldest, liveable, part of the castle and the decor is very much in keeping with those medieval times whereas the next photos are taken in the newest part and are done in the art deco style of the 1920's.

Outside, the castle is very photogenic and the grounds, once roamed by zebra!, are very extensive including a golf course.

 There is not much left of the original part of the castle.  Just some derelict walls, a gateway and part of the mill.

 After the tour inside we were left to stroll around the grounds for about an hour. Lady Baillie was very fond of birds and the lake is full of geese, ducks and swans.  Some of the swans are black and feature in the logo for the castle.  These are of course Australian Black swans and were gifted to Sir Winston Churchill as a postwar present from the Australian Government at the time. He had nowhere to keep them so left them with Lady Baillie. Their decsendents are still here tho' somewhat elusive.  Took me ages to get a picture and they were quite far away.

punting on the moat
I you would like to read more on the facinating history of this castle, go to the link here . Lots of lovely photos too.

 It really is a fabulous place to visit and I would have liked to have spent the whole day here as there was still so much to do and see but the bus tour was heading off.  Next stop Dover and Canterbury Cathedral.

Oops, a little late with Septembers WINNER

I have become so caught up in my travel posts that I forgot to pick a winner for my September giveaway. Very remiss of me but I seem to be running on that trend at the moment and trying to catch up.  I have steadily been going through my emails which on last count had somehow multiplied and quite rapidly to 3000.  Geez Loueez! Maybe its time to change my email address!

I only had 3 posts in September and Mr RNG picked out #3, which was, "Nostalgic Whitby". I am so glad to be getting such lovely comments from you all about my photos and my trip and I am really enjoying writing these posts as I get to relive my trip, making it more than just a distant memory.

Six of you left comments for this post and Mr RNG picked out #4 which was the lovely Sheila from Sheila's Quilt World who wrote: "Thanks for taking us along on your wonderful journey , I so enjoyed this post and would love to visit Yorkshire"


Something "sweet & small" will be winging its way to you very soon.


Thursday 10 October 2013

Liberty for Shopping

Nowhere confuses me more than Oxford Street even though I usually have an excellent sense of direction. Getting off the tube on the Oxford street corner, I had no idea which way to go to get to Liberty even though I had a map in my hand. Setting off in what I thought was the right direction I spotted one of those street maps on a lamppost (or something like that) and decided to have another look. Fortunately! I was just about to head off the wrong way. Quick U turn and one block down, there it was! The most beautiful building that is Liberty of London.

Liberty was originally opened in Regent Street, off Oxford Street,  in 1875. In the 1920's the current Tudor style building was built from the timber of two ships.  It is a gorgeous building inside and out.
A view of level two
A window in the stair well
the stairwell
Even though there was some absolutely gorgeous goodies here, most of them were too expensive for me so I took the stairs to the third floor to find the haberdashery department. I was quite keen to find some of those famous Liberty Fabrics for my stash. I was very tempted to buy some cross stitch designs and some other little haberdashery items but the prices were a little over the top so in the end I just bought 10 skinny eighths which cost me 50 Pounds which I thought was horrendous and even more when I saw the conversion on my return home.......$82!!! oh my! But look at the lovely little bag I got to carry home.
so posh!
And here is what was inside.
yum, yum

Street level windows
And there you have it a visit to Kensington Garden and Liberty in one day and I ended up having a very decadent late lunch just around the corner from here through the archway under the clock and down the lane to the pub next door.

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