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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is the most famous attraction in Canterbury and has given the city much of its identity over the centuries since a church was first constructed here way back in 602, at the beginning of Saxon England's conversion to Christianity.

Nowadays Canterbury Cathedral is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England and Anglicans worldwide.

Canterbury Cathedral forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising the cathedral along with St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church.

Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, Kent, UK.

In 1070, the first Norman archbishop Lanfranc demolished the original Saxon structure and began the building that we now see as Canterbury Cathedral. Little remains of these early structures except for the Romanesque Crypt which is the oldest of its kind in England.

The church has been much modified and tweaked over the following centuries and includes the 71m-tall Bell Harry Tower (the present central tower) that was completed in 1505.

Altar of the Sword's Point, Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

The spectacular interior of Canterbury Cathedral includes the tomb of King Henry IV and his wife Joan of Navarre and a gilded effigy of the Black Prince, the son of Edward III and one of the most famous of English warrior princes of the medieval period.

Also impressive are the stained glass in the Trinity Chapel which depict the life of Thomas a Becket.

Notice the white marble St. Augustine's Chair where archbishops of Canterbury are enthroned.

Tomb of the Black Prince, Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

Canterbury Cathedral is deeply associated with the murder of Thomas a Becket within its walls in 1170. Beckett's shrine stood within the Trinity Chapel until 1538, when it was looted and destroyed during Henry VIII's Reformation.

Now Becket's martyrdom is marked by the Altar of the Sword's Point at the very spot the "troublesome priest" was murdered by knights of Henry II.

As Becket's tomb became a place of pilgrimage immortalized in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, drawing pilgrims from all over Britain and Europe, the cathedral and surrounding town became increasingly wealthy and had the funds to expand and beautify the church.

The fascinating Canterbury Tales museum in Canterbury is a recreation of medieval life celebrating Chaucer's masterpiece.

Canterbury Cathedral stained glass window.

Canterbury Cathedral
11 The Precincts
Kent CT1 2EH
Tel: 01227 762862

Visitors to Canterbury should also visit the nearby Canterbury Heritage Museum and the Roman Museum Canterbury.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hebridean Cuisine

Hebridean food has much in common with the cuisine of the Shetland Islands.

Hebridean Cuisine.

The Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, are known for their high-quality fish and seafood especially crabs, lobsters, mussels, oysters, salmon and scallops.

Smoked fish is another treat from the Hebrides and there are smokehouses in Stornoway and on North Uist and South Uist.

Stornoway Black Pudding is a local specialty that visitors should be encouraged to try. Local butchers add a local twist to their puddings make the taste unique to the locality.

Hebridean lamb and cattle are raised on both grass and heather which gives the meat a lovely taste.

Hebridean Cuisine.

Famed desserts from the islands include Scottish tablets and delicious shortbreads. Luxury chocolate truffles are sold across the Hebrides direct from Stornoway's very own chocolate factory - Hebridean Chocolates - while the Hebridean Toffee Company based on the Isle of Barra produces homemade luxury confectionery sold across the islands and in the shops of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Outer Hebrides has its own beer brewed in Stornoway at the Hebridean Brewery and for whisky try a dram from the new Abhainn Dearg distillery in Uig, on the Isle of Lewis.

Spirit of Lewis, Hebrides.

Spirit of Lewis is single malt spirit from the distillery but is aged for less than 3 years so is legally not a whisky.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cumberland Pencil Museum

The Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick in the Lake District is one of England's quirkier museums.

Cumberland Pencil Museum, Lake District, UK.

The discovery of graphite in the area led to Keswick becoming an important pencil-making town and the Cumberland Pencil Museum tells this story. Pencils have been made in the area since 1832 producing such famous brands as Lakeland pencils and Derwent Watercolour pencils.

The Cumberland Pencil Museum hosts regular free demonstrations & tuition workshops as well as family fun days, which are great for kids, especially at this time of year when children can draw, create and build their own Christmas presents.

The museum has a shop where you can buy pencils and pastels and also a coffee shop to relax.

Cumberland Pencil Museum.

Cumberland Pencil Museum
Southey Works
CA12 5NG


From the M6 motorway, Junction 40 follow signs for A66 Keswick and continue into the town centre. The nearest railway station is Penrith, 17 miles away. From Penrith it is a 40 minute bus ride to Keswick.

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cerne Abbas Giant Dorset

Dorchester is close to two historic sites, Maiden Castle to the south of town and Cerne Abbas to the north.

The origins of Maiden Castle are thought to be prehistoric, but the Cerne Abbas Giant is believed by archaeologists and historians to be either pre-Roman or Romano-British, though the first mention of it is only in the late 17th century.

Cerne Abbas Giant Dorset, England.
The Cerne Giant is on the left

The Cerne Abbas Giant is a hill-figure carved into the chalk hill with the 2-foot trenches also filled with crushed chalk.

The priapic figure is 180 feet tall, brandishes a club and has a disproportionately small head. The club has led to the comparisons with the Greco-Roman god Hercules.

The figure seems connected with local fertility rites and it was thought that women lying on the aroused, 36-foot member of the figure would increase their chances of giving birth, though this practice is now discouraged by the new owners, The National Trust.

Cerne Abbas Giant Dorset.

The Cerne Giant is close to the charming village of Cerne Abbas, off the A352 Dorchester-Sherbourne road, with its Tudor cottages and ruined abbey

By public transport there are Damory Coaches 216 buses from both Dorchester and Sherbourne to Cerne Abbas on weekdays. Maiden Newton train station is 6 miles distant, while Dorchester West train station and Dorchester South stations are both 8 miles away.

Cerne Giant (National Trust)
Cerne Abbas, Dorset, DT2 7AL
OS Grid Ref: ST666016

Cerne Abbas, Dorset, UK.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bus from Heathrow Airport to Bath

National Express runs express buses from Heathrow Airport to various parts of the country including Bath. An alternative way to reach Bath from Heathrow is to take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station and then train to Bath Spa.

national express coach, heathrow airport

Taking a National Express coach to Bath, however, avoids having to journey back into central London and then out west again. The service between Heathrow and Bath takes about 2 hours and is reasonably priced (around ₤30 return for an advance fare booked online). Amendable fares are slightly more expensive.

There are presently services leaving Heathrow at 8.20am, 10.24am, 1.10pm, 3.15pm and 6.25pm.
Some of the scheduled departures would involve a change of bus and a wait in Bristol adding up to a journey time of nearly 4 hours. Check for the direct services which take 2 hours for the fastest service.

national express coach, heathrow airport, london, uk

National Express tickets are available in a variety of ways and different pricing schemes. Booking on line at www.nationalexpress.com is easy. Traditionally, however, tickets are sold through National Express ticket offices located at coach stations, or by third-party agents including travel agents around the country. In general, tickets are sold at the 'Standard Fare' or at 'Advance Fares' when booking in advance.

Customers looking for a discount may want to consider a coachcard. National Express currently offers four different coachcards. These include:
the Young Person Coachcard – for those under 26 or full-time students of any age. This card allows for one-third off the standard fare;
the Family Coachcard – which enables one child (ages 3–15) to travel for free with one full fare paying adult (or 2 children with 2 adults);
the Senior Coachcard – which allows for one-third off the standard fare;
and the Disabled Coachcard – which also allows for one-third off the standard fare.

Buses from Heathrow Airport arrive at Bath Bus Station.


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Monday, November 24, 2014

Republican Murals in Belfast

The murals in Belfast and (London)Derry are now as much of the tourist scene in Northern Ireland as the Giant's Causeway. Taxi tours of the best murals out of the 300 or so "quality" murals can be arranged by taxi. Check with the local tourist office for the best deals.

Republican Murals in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Many of Northern Ireland's murals reflect the religious and political divide in the country during the so-called Troubles of the late 1960's to the 1990's.

Not all murals however are political or religious in design and can portray other topics such as social causes, sports and even humour.

Republican Murals in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.

Murals reflect the shared values and beliefs of the communities where they were painted and are mostly found in working class areas. They are often found on the end walls of terraced houses.

Republican Murals in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Britain.

Various books on the subject of murals in Northern Ireland include Politics and Painting: Murals and Conflict in Northern Ireland, Murals of Derry and Drawing Support 4.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sydney Gardens in Bath

Bath’s oldest park, Sydney Gardens, is located behind the Holburne Museum at the end of Great Pulteney Street. Sydney Gardens was designed by the architect Harcourt Masters in 1795 and covers 12 acres. The gardens were purchased in 1909 by the city.

Sydney Gardens, Bath, England

Sydney Gardens became very popular towards the end of the 18th and 19th century and was frequented by members of the Royal family as well as the famous author Jane Austen who lived nearby at number 4 Sydney Place.

Sydney Gardens sign, Bath, England

Today, Sydney Gardens features fine trees, shrubberies, lawns and flower beds, tennis courts and a children’s play area. Sydney Gardens is also popular for its bridge views of the railway line and for the Kennet and Avon Canal which runs through the park. The canal's wide paths are ideal for cycling.
Cast Iron Bridges, Sydney Gardens, Canal

Visitors to Sydney Gardens can admire Cleveland House which is located within the gardens as well as nearby Pulteney Bridge and Henrietta Park.

Sydney Gardens
Sydney Road
Bath, North East Somerset
Tel: 01225 394041

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