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Friday, December 31, 2010

Roman Barracks Caerleon

The Roman Barracks Caerleon are the only visible remains of Roman Legionary Barracks which exist in Europe. These barracks lie in what was once the western corner of the fortress of Isca. Visitors to the Roman Barracks at Caerleon can view the remains of 4 of the original 60 blocks of barracks which housed the Second Augustan Legion (comprising around 5500 men). The barracks were built around 75AD originally of wood and then in the 2nd century replaced in stone.

Roman Barracks Caerleon
Each of the Barracks buildings at Roman Barracks Caerleon housed a century (80-100 men) and featured a veranda, red-tiled roof and greenish glass windows.

Roman Barracks Caerleon
Visitors to the Roman Barracks Caerleon can also view the remains of service buildings (see below) including a latrine which were attached to the barracks.

Roman Barracks Caerleon

The Roman Barracks Caerleon are located just a short walk from Broadway in Caerleon.

Visitors to the Roman Barracks Caerleon may also want to visit the nearby Caerleon Amphitheatre, Caerleon Fortress Baths, Roman Legionary Museum, Raglan Castle or White Castle.

Roman Barracks Caerleon Map

© 2010 John Westby

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Caerleon Amphitheatre

The Caerleon Amphitheatre is the only fully excavated Roman amphitheatre in Great Britain. The Caerleon Amphitheatre was built in 90AD and was maintained until its abandonment in the 3rd century when the Second Augustan Roman Legion departed. The Caerleon Amphitheatre was built just outside the Isca fortress defenses.

Caerleon Amphitheatre

The Caerleon Amphitheatre boasted 8 vaulted entrances, a shrine possibly to the goddess Nemesis, and seating for 6,000 spectators.

Caerleon Amphitheatre

Visitors to the Caerleon Amphitheatre can also catch a glimpse of the remains of the fortress wall which once surrounded Isca (see beyond fenceline below).

Caerleon Amphitheatre

The Caerleon Amphitheatre is on Broadway in Caerleon. Visitors to the Amphitheatre may also want to visit the nearby Caerleon Fortress Baths, Roman Legionary Museum, Raglan Castle or White Castle.

Caerleon Amphitheatre Map

© 2010 John Westby

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dartmoor

Dartmoor National Park covers an area of 368 square miles and is the largest area of wilderness in southern England.

The ancient landscape of weathered granite hills (tors), moors, raging rivers and unspoilt forest is popular with climbers, hikers, cyclists, canoe enthusiasts and walkers from all over Europe.

Easily accessible from both Devon's main cities of Exeter and Plymouth, the desolate, eerie beauty of the heather-covered moors have inspired writers and poets such as Arthur Conan Doyle, who based his novel The Hound of the Baskervilles on Dartmoor.

Dartmoor, Devon

The most important settlements on Dartmoor include Bovey Tracy, Chagford, Okehampton, Princetown - famous for its Dartmoor Prison - Postbridge, Moretonhampstead, Tavistock, Widecombe-in-the Moor, Yelverton and Lydford.

Dartmoor is criss-crossed by walking trails including the 90 mile, circular Dartmoor Way, Templer Way, Tarka Trail and the Two Moors Way.

Merrivale Rows, Dartmoor, Devon

Dartmoor is also rich in prehistoric sites including numerous cairn circles and the Merrivale Rows of stones, which are an ancient burial ground, west of Princetown.

Other attractions on Darmoor include Castle Drogo, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and the last castle to be built in England, Buckland Abbey, a 14th century Cistercian monastery, which later became the country house of Sir Francis Drake, Lydford Gorge with the spectacular White Lady Waterfall and the "Cathedral of the Moor" aka St Pancreas Church at Widecombe.

Dartmoor is a haven for wildlife and is home to its famous Dartmoor ponies, badgers, deer, hares and otters. Buzzards, herons and owls are just a few of the many birds on the moors. Salmon and trout can be found in the River Dart and its tributary streams.

Dartmoor, Devon, UK.


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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Roman Legionary Museum Caerleon

The Roman Legionary Museum in Caerleon was built in 1850 and features exhibitions and artefacts showing how the Romans lived, fought, worshipped and died. Wales was the furthest outpost of the Roman Empire in 75 AD, and the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon, Isca, that would guard the region for over 200 years. Caerleon was one of just three permanent fortresses in Roman Britain. The museum lies inside what used to be the fortress.

Roman Legionary Museum Caerleon
Admission to the Roman Legionary Museum Caerleon is free and the visitor is treated to a treasure trove of artefacts from Roman times (see below).

Roman Legionary Museum Caerleon
The artefacts at the Roman Legionary Museum Caerleon include a mosaic floor (see below).

Roman Legionary Museum Caerleon
Visitors to the Roman Legionary Museum Caerleon can also view a reproduction of a Roman military barracks (see below).

Roman Legionary Museum Caerleon

The Roman Legionary Museum Caerleon is located on the High Street in Caerleon. Visitors to the museum may also want to visit the nearby Caerleon Fortress Baths, Roman Amphitheatre, Raglan Castle or White Castle.

National Roman Legion Museum
High Street, Caerleon, Newport
NP18 1AE
Tel: 01633 423 134
Roman Legionary Museum Caerleon Map


© 2010 John Westby


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Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year's Eve Parties in the South West

There's alot happening on New Year's Eve in Bath with Balls at The Pump Room and The Assembly Rooms, classical music at the Bath Theatre Royal and club and live music nights at Komedia and The Cork.

Bristol Hippodrome is staging the pantomime Dick Whittington starring the iconic Barbara Windsor as Fairy Bowbells. There are club nights at Blue Mountain, Severnshed, The Thunderbolt, Motion and Esporta.

In Exeter there's Rush, an under 18's event at Exeter Phoenix on December 30 and club nights at Timepiece, Walkabout, Mosaic and Havana.


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Sunday, December 26, 2010

St Mary's Airport Isles of Scilly Flight Information

Track flights to and from St Mary's Airport (ISC) on the Scilly Islands.



Flight information is provided by FlightStats, and is subject to the FlightStats Terms of Use

St Mary's Airport (ISC) is situated 1 mile east of Hugh Town on St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.

St Mary's Airport (ISC) has connecting flights to Bristol Airport in season, Exeter Airport, Penzance (helicopter service), Land's End, Newquay and Southampton.

Most flights are operated by British International Helicopters and Isles of Scilly Skybus .

St. Mary's Airport is also the administrative centre for the Scilly Islands Fire and Rescue Service.

A day return by Sikorsky S61 helicopter to Penzance is currently 96 GBP and takes 20 minutes.

Council of the Isles of Scilly
Town Hall
St Mary's
Isles of Scilly
TR21 0LW
Tel: 01720 422537

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Caerleon Fortress Baths

Caerleon in Wales is the site of the Roman fortress of Isca. As part of that fortress, the Romans built a bath house and exercise facility. The ruins of that facility can be seen by visitors at the excellent Roman Baths Museum in Caerleon (see below).

Caerleon Fortress Baths
Upon entering the Roman Baths Museum, the visitor encounters the natatio (outdoor swimming pool) used by the Roman Second Augustan Legion. A projection system has been used to recreate the water (see below) and swimming Romans. The Fortress Baths exhibition also includes interactive computer games.


Caerleon Fortress Baths
Evidence of the ancient Romans, including a footprint frozen in time (see below), can be viewed by visitors.

Caerleon Fortress Baths

Other areas of the bath house (see below) including the apodyterium (heated changing rooms) and frigidarium (cold plunge pools) are on view for visitors.

Caerleon Fortress Baths
The Roman Baths Museum is located on the High Street in Caerleon. Parking is available in the Bull Inn car park in front of the museum. Visitors can also easily access the nearby White Castle.

High Street
Caerleon,
Newport
NP18 1AE
Tel: 01633 422518
Caerleon Fortress Baths Map

© 2010 John Westby
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Friday, December 24, 2010

SS Great Britain

The SS Great Britain has been called "The World's First Great Ocean Liner". Conceived by the great Victorian engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the revolutionary combination of a screw propeller, an iron hull, and a massive 1000-horsepower steam engine revolutionized international travel. So groundbreaking was the design that in 1843 when the SS Great Britain was launched, she was called "the greatest experiment since the Creation".


SS Great Britain
Today, visitors can view the SS Great Britain in the dry dock where she was built between 1839 and 1843. Views extend below the water line (as seen below). The visionary Brunel understood that a ship made of wrought iron could be bigger and stronger than one made of wood.


SS Great Britain
Before boarding the SS Great Britain, visitors first tour the excellent museum which explains the ship's history and offers related educational activities for adults and kids alike. The combination of sail and steam power was one feature of the SS Great Britain (see below).


SS Great Britain
Visitors can also tour below decks and see cabins, the engine room, steerage areas, the dining room (see below), etc. The tour below decks includes an audio guide.

SS Great Britain

The SS Great Britain can be reached on foot from central Bristol or by the Cross-Harbour Ferry which runs between Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Capricorn Quay and the new harbour inlet. Visitors to the SS Great Britain may also want to visit nearby St Mary Redcliffe Parish Church, Georgian House or Bristol Cathedral.


Brunel's SS Great Britain
Great Western Dockyard
Bristol
BS1 6TY
Tel: 0117 9260680
SS Great Britain Map

© 2010 John Westby

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Plymouth Airport Flight Information

Plymouth Airport closed in 2011.

Track flights to and from Plymouth City Airport (PLH).



Flight information is provided by FlightStats, and is subject to the FlightStats Terms of Use

Plymouth City Airport (PLH) is situated 4 miles about 20 minutes on the A386 Tavistock Road from the centre of Plymouth. Citybus (#28A and #28B) and First Bus (#83 & #84) services run from Derriford Roundabout about a 10 minute walk from the airport.

Plymouth City Airport (PLH) has connecting flights to Bristol Airport, Glasgow, Guernsey, Jersey, Leeds Bradford, London Gatwick, Manchester Airport, Newcastle (ending in 2011), Newquay and international flights to Cork and Dublin in Ireland.

Most flights are operated by Air Southwest and Eastern Airways.

Plymouth City Airport
Crownhill
Plymouth
PL6 8BW
Tel: 01752 204090

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bath Chairs

A Bath chair (aka bath chair) is a light carriage with a folding hood which can be opened or closed. At the time of their use, Bath chairs were particularly useful for invalids. They were mounted on three or four wheels and drawn or pushed by hand. The Bath chair could be steered by the passenger. The name traces back to the Bath chair's origin in the city of Bath. James Heath, of Bath, who flourished before the middle of the 18th century, was the inventor.


Bath Chairs

The Bath chair shown above is exhibited at the Assembly Rooms in Bath. Bath chairs at first competed with sedan chairs but had replaced them by the 1850s due to the fact that they could be operated by a single person. The last Bath chair operator retired in 1949.

Bath Chairs

Visitors to the Assembly Rooms in Bath can view the Bath chair for free. Visitors to the Assembly Rooms in Bath may also want to visit nearby Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths, or Prior Park.

Assembly Rooms
Bennett Street
Bath
BA1 2QH
Tel: 01225 477173

Assembly Rooms Map

© 2010 John Westby

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sedan Chairs

The sedan chair is an English variant of the litter. The sedan chair consists of a chair or windowed cabin made for a single occupant. The sedan chair was carried by at least two porters in front and behind. The porters used wooden rails that passed through brackets on the sides of the chair. The sedan chair shown below is exhibited at the Assembly Rooms in Bath.


Sedan Chairs
Another sedan chair exhibited at the Assembly Rooms in Bath (see below) was decorated in a style popular in Germany and Austria. This sedan chair dates to the late 18th century and was used to bring people to the Assembly Rooms for concerts and assemblies.

Sedan Chairs

Visitors to the Assembly Rooms in Bath can view the sedan chairs for free. Visitors to the Assembly Rooms in Bath may also want to visit nearby Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths, or Prior Park.

Assembly Rooms
Bennett Street
Bath
BA1 2QH
Tel: 01225 477173

Assembly Rooms Map

© 2010 John Westby

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Monday, December 20, 2010

St Mary Redcliffe Parish Church in Bristol

St Mary Redcliffe is a parish church located in the Redcliffe district of Bristol, close to the city centre. Constructed between the 12th and 15th centuries AD, the church is a Grade 1 listed building. St Mary Redcliffe is famous for the beauty of its Gothic architecture. Queen Elizabeth I described St Mary Redcliffe as, "the fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England."

St Mary Redcliffe Parish Church in Bristol

St Mary Redcliffe is cruciform in plan with a nave (see below), chancel, and north and south transepts. The south transept contains the remains of Admiral Sir William Penn, father of William Penn, founder of the US state of Pennsylvania.

St Mary Redcliffe Parish Church in Bristol

Visitors to the North Transept at St Mary Redcliffe will find the chaotic pendulum (see below) which claims to defy scientific explanation and thus demonstrate the divine nature of the cosmos.

St Mary Redcliffe Parish Church in Bristol

St Mary Redcliffe is located on Colston Parade near central Bristol. Visitors to St Mary Redcliffe may also want to visit nearby Bristol Cathedral, City Museum, the Ye Shakespeare pub or Georgian House.

Parish Office
12 Colston Parade
Bristol, BS1 6RA
Tel: 0117 929 1487
St Mary Redcliffe Map

© 2010 John Westby

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bath Christmas Market

The Bath Christmas Market will run from 24 November - 11 December in 2011. In the centre of Bath's main shopping area, 129 traditional wooden chalets (see below) will offer unique, handmade and unusual gifts, decorations and food items. Given the rising popularity of its Christmas Market, Bath is becoming known as ‘the Christmas City’.

Bath Christmas Market
Visitors to the Bath Christmas Market can enjoy a varied shopping experience in the shadow of Bath Abbey (see below) and the Roman Baths.

Bath Christmas Market
The Bath Christmas Market is centered around Bath Abbey in central Bath.

Tel: 01225 396417

Bath Christmas Market Map

© 2010 John Westby

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Full English Breakfast

The traditional full English breakfast (see below) often includes bacon, eggs (fried or poached), fried or grilled tomatoes, baked beans, fried mushrooms, fried bread or toast, hash browns, black pudding (up North) and sausages.

Full English Breakfast with poached egg


The Full English Breakfast is usually served with a mug of tea. The concept of the English breakfast is probably relatively recent. It seems to have emerged in the mid-1800s, and it was particularly popular among wealthy members of society, though now the Full English is associated with "Greasy Spoon" cafes for manual workers.

English Breakfast
The traditional full English breakfast is widely offered in cafes and Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) throughout England.

Like fish and chips, the Full English is an iconic dish of British cuisine. One Italian truck driver of my acquaintance would eat nothing else while in England, deeming the rest of British fare unpalatable.

Traditional Full English Breakfast


Shetland Islands Cuisine


Full English Breakfast.


© 2010 John Westby

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South West England Feels The Cold

The weather has taken a turn for the worst this weekend with freezing and hazardous conditions over much of the south west of England causing serious transport delays for Christmas travellers.

Devon Winter Weather

Exeter Airport has faced severe disruption as temperatures are predicted to reach minus 6 degrees Celsius overnight. Check our Exeter arrival and departure information for the latest news on flights into and out of Exeter.

Devon Winter Weather

Bristol Airport is also facing delays to flights leaving and arriving. Check our Bristol arrival and departure information page for the latest news on flights into and out of Bristol. A number of flights have been cancelled including KLM flights to Amsterdam and Easy Jet flights to Salzburg, Madrid and Belfast.

Devon Winter Weather

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Friday, December 17, 2010

White Castle

White Castle gets its name from the white rendering which once covered its outer walls.

White Castle is the most impressive of three castles used by the Normans to conquer this part of Wales. The other two castles are Skenfrith and Grosmont. The earliest surviving parts of White Castle date from the 12th century AD, and White Castle may have been founded before 1075.

White Castle
White Castle was built on a hill and commands magnificent views to the north, south, and west. White Castle clearly served as a military outpost and watch post against the Welsh.

White Castle
The inner ward of White Castle (see below) is surrounded by a moat.

White Castle
White Castle is located between the B4521 and the B4233 east of Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, Wales. Visitors to White Castle may also want to visit nearby Raglan Castle, Tintern Abbey, or Caerleon.

Ger Y Fenni,
NP7 8UD
Tel: 01600 780380

White Castle Map

© 2010 John Westby

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle is a fairly magical place. Begun in the 1430s for show rather than battle, Raglan Castle held out for 13 weeks against Oliver Cromwell's forces during the English Civil War. The parliamentary forces then proceeded to demolish the castle which left it in its present state.

Raglan Castle is well known for its Tudor styling and is most closely associated with William ap Thomas, who fought with King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Due to William ap Thomas' experiences in France, the French influence on Raglan Castle is considerable.


Raglan Castle
The French influence on Raglan Castle includes the polygonal shape and double-drawbridge arrangement of the keep, unique in Britain. The Great Tower, a.k.a.'The Yellow Tower of Gwent,' is a striking feature at Raglan which was designed by William ap Thomas in the contemporary French style.

Raglan Castle
The Great Tower (see below) which was unfortunately destroyed by parliamentary troops is surrounded by a moat.

Raglan Castle
Visitors who climb the Great Tower are treated to remarkable views of the castle and keep (see below).

Raglan Castle
Raglan Castle is located on the A40 in Raglan, Monmouthshire in Wales. Visitors to Raglan Castle may also want to visit nearby Tintern Abbey, White Castle or Caerleon.

Raglan
Monmouthshire
NP15 2BT
Tel: 01291 690228

Raglan Castle Map
© 2010 John Westby

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tintern Trail

Tintern Trail takes the visitor through Tintern Village which was formed by the relatively recent coalescence of 2 villages, Tintern Parva and Chapel Hill. The Village of Tintern is located on the western bank of the River Wye in Monmouthshire, Wales. The Tintern Trail takes in all the attractions of Tintern. The trail is marked as seen below.


Tintern Trail
Tintern was once the location of a ferry service to England across the River Wye. The river can now be crossed by way of the old metal rail bridge seen below.

Tintern Trail
Walking along the Tintern Trail brings the visitor to the Abbey Mill with its craft and gift shops. The historic water wheel at the Abbey Mill turns for 15 minutes 5 times a day.

Tintern Trail
The Tintern Trail is located in Tintern Village which is on the A466 just north of Chepstow in Wales. Visitors to Tintern may also want to visit Tintern Abbey and the nearby Raglan Castle, White Castle or Caerleon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey was celebrated by the poet William Wordsworth in his poem, Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, written in 1798. Tintern Abbey was founded by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow in 1131AD. The abbey is situated on the Welsh bank of the River Wye which separates Monmouthshire in Wales from Gloucestershire in England. This Gothic church was built in the Decorated style of red sandstone. The present ruins of Tintern Abbey represent around 400 years of building between 1136 and 1536. Today, Tintern Abbey ranks as one of the most important ruins in Wales.


Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey was only the second Abbey founded by the Cistercians in Britain and the first in Wales. The Cistercians were one of the most successful orders of the 12th and 13th centuries and lived a highly austere lifetsyle which included a vow of silence. One exception to this austerity was the monks' daily allowance of 8 pints of ale.


Tintern Abbey
Visitors to the Abbey can enter the ruined interior of the church (see below). The church had a cruciform plan with an aisled nave.

Tintern Abbey
Visitors to Tintern Abbey can also visit the chapter house (see below). In this once vaulted chamber, faults were confessed and penances assigned.

Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey is located on the A466 north of Chepstow in Wales.

Visitors to Tintern Abbey may also want to visit nearby Raglan Castle or Caerleon.

Tintern Abbey
Tintern, Chepstow
NP16 6SE
Monmouthshire
Tel: 01291 689251

Tintern Abbey Map

© 2010 John Westby

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