Tag Archives: england

Why Norfolk Island?


When we said we were going to Norfolk Island people either asked “where’s that?”  or “why there?”

Well apart from the fact we like going to places little known and especially small islands (Norfolk is about 8x5kms) I had found out I actually had a connection there.  I’m not sure if it still holds true, but when we went there the rule was that to be able to live on Norfolk you had to have ancestry there.mutiny on the bounty

Fletcher Christian led the mutiny on the “Bounty” and ejected  Captain Bligh and those loyal to him from the ship. Christian and eight mutineers, one being John Adams, along with 18 Tahitians lived on Pitcairn Island and made it their home for almost 20 years.

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I have ancestry there.  A distant (very distant) maternal uncle was John Adams.

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John Adams

A Cockney orphan, had been brought up in the poorhouse, and joined the Bounty under the name of Alexander Smith.   In Pitcairn, Adams filled his days with Bible reading and drinking spirits distilled from the juices of the ti-tree root.   He turned religious and took upon himself the task of educating children.

By the 1850’s Pitcairn had out grown their tiny island and Queen Victoria agreed to relocate the islanders to Norfolk Island. 193 men, woman and children arrived to Norfolk on 8 June 1856. The settling of the Pitcairners on Norfolk Island marked a complete break from the island’s convict past, establishing new patterns of life.

So there you have it – my reason for wanting to visit Norfolk Island!

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John Adams Grave on Pitcairn Island

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A Haunting in Chagford


It was by chance that we happened on the little town of Chagford one cold and rainy evening………

Sounds like the beginning of a scary story eh?  It wasn’t exactly scary, but it was interesting, and my husband did say he wasn’t keen to stay another night!

We stayed at The Three Crowns, which was once an old manor house belonging to Sir John Whyddon,   before the hotel had it’s refurbishment,  and it was, for us, the quintessential piece of English history.  Built in the thirteenth century,  with big open fireplaces, oak beams and narrow winding stone steps to the bedrooms, The Three Crowns had a real sense of history.

three crowns inn
Three Crowns Inn

Travelling through Dartmoor can be pretty but can also be pretty spooky!

If you’ve ever been to this part of England, you’ll know that you don’t really want to be driving at night on the moors.

Even though it was mid-summer, the moors are cold and wet and often covered in mist.

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Dartmoor, Devon, England

After checking in we dumped our bags in our room, (The Sidney Godolphin Room) and took a few photos admiring the four poster bed and beautiful portrait of the cavalier behind a comfy winged-back chair.  Then we went downstairs to the bar for dinner, a few drinks, and a chat with the locals. That’s when it started to get interesting………

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Four poster bed Three Crowns Inn

A woman who used to work there but had since moved away,  was planning to come and celebrate her next birthday there and asked the manager to book her a room.  He winked at the other barman and said  “Yes you can have the Godolphin Room”   To which the woman quickly snapped back and said  “No thanks – that’s haunted!”

I looked at my husband in horror and he laughed, saying they were just winding us up and it was fine. He was a non-believer in things that go bump in the night.  I said was…..

So after a few drinks and laughs we decided to call it a night and head up to our room. We said goodnight to the bar staff, who both said goodnight back, with the added phrase “take care”.  Is it normal in England to remind people to take care when retiring for the night?  How much trouble can you get into when going to sleep?

Not really being a pair of scardy-cats and relaxed by the drinks, we both fell asleep quite quickly.

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I woke in the night because I had that sensation that some-one was watching me, c’mon, you all know what that feels like!   I just lay there unable to go back to sleep for ages,  I thought I had heard creaking footsteps walking around the bed.  There was of course no-one else in the room except my husband sound asleep next to me.  Or so I thought….

Well, he was next to me, but he too was awake, having had the same “somebody watching me”  feeling and also hearing the creaky floorboards!

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Fireplace in the bar at Three Crowns Inn, Chagford

Before going down for breakfast the next morning, I noticed the painting of Sidney Godolphin on the wall  was hanging a bit wonky,  but neither of us could remember if it was like that all the time, was it our imaginations just getting the better of us?

We told the staff about our night visitor, real or imagined, and they casually remarked, “Oh, again?”

We later found out that it was in the stone porch entrance that young Sidney Godolphin, aged 32, Cavalier and poet, and described as ‘one of the four wheels of Charles 1sts wain,’ was killed during a skirmish with the Roundheads in 1642.  He died on one of the stone seats in the sides of the porch.

When we returned to Australia and had our photos developed,  there was the one of Rick in the winged armchair with the painting behind him, and yes, you guessed it – it was straight!

Believe what you will!!!   Would I stay there again?  Most certainly!!

Would you?   If you don’t believe me, maybe you should try for yourself!

Portrait chagford
You can just see the painting, and yes it is straight!

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Chagford itself is a beautiful market town, they used to have wild pony sales, and neighbouring village Tavistock still hosts the annual Goose Fair!

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Pepperpot building, market square, Chagford

Sitting opposite The Three Crowns is the church St Michael of Archangel, built in the 15th Century,  with some parts dating back as early as the 13th Century.  This church was also the place where Mary Wydden was about to marry when she was murdered by a jilted admirer.

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St Michael of Archangel, Chagford

So maybe The Three Crowns has two nightly visitors?   I dare you to visit and stay in the Sidney Godolphin Room !!

 

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The moors, beautiful by day

Chagford isn’t the least bit touristy I couldn’t find any little tacky something to bring home, so all we have is photos and memories.

Ahhh  but what memories!!

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Oldest Pub in Britain?


This post by Stephen Liddell is well worth a read!  Click the link and enjoy his blog – you won’t regret it!

This time last week I was giving a lovely guided tour to a charming couple to the old Roman city of St Albans which as it happens is just 5 miles from my house and an hour out of central London. We visited some of the sights which I might post on next time but […]

via Ye Olde Fighting Cock – The Oldest Pub in Britain? — Stephen Liddell

Top things to see in the Tower


1.Crown Jewels

As I said in an earlier post, the Crown Jewels at the Tower are magnificent. No photos could ever do them justice, they have to be seen in situ.

 The tradition of coronation in England is well over 1000 years old, but the Crown Jewels at the Tower are more recent. Almost everything in the Jewel House was made after 1660 – the earlier crowns, orbs and sceptres had been destroyed following the abolition of the monarchy in 1649.

 

2.The Ravens

Legend says that  if the six resident ravens ever leave,the kingdom and the Tower will fall. 

It was Charles II who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower shoravensuld be protected. His astronomer, John Flamsteed, complained that the ravens impeded the business of his observatory in the White Tower. Despite their having one wing trimmed, some ravens do in fact go absent without leave and others have had to be sacked. Raven George was dismissed for eating television aerials, and Raven Grog was last seen outside an East End pub.

3.The White Tower

 One of the most famous castle keeps in the world, The White Tower  was built to subdue and terrify Londoners and to deter foreign invaders. It’s an iconic symbol of London and Britain.tol-iconic-white-tower-1

Along with the rest of the Tower complex, the White Tower is one of the most important historic buildings in the world. It’s part of a World Heritage Site and is an example of Norman Architecture. 

The White Tower also houses the magnificent Royal Armouries collections, including the 300 year old exhibition Line of Kings as well as treasures of the Royal Armouries.

There are arms and armour on display including the magnificent royal armours of Henry VIII, Charles I and James II.  

armoury

The White Tower was also used for torture, imprisonment, and execution over the centuries.

Actually, torture was only used in the Tower during the 16th and 17th centuries, and only a fraction of the Tower’s prisoners were tortured. It was never used as a punishment, only a means to get information.

Torture has never been officially permitted under English law. Those who carried out this brutal practice in the Tower acted under the direct orders and authority of the Privy Council and the monarch.RackTowerofLondon

The three main instruments of torture employed at the Tower were the rack, the Scavenger’s Daughter and the manacles.

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Tower Bridge: Some interesting facts


tower-bridge1910 – the high-level Walkways, which were designed so that the public could still cross the bridge when it was raised, were closed down due to lack of use.

1912 – during an emergency, Frank McClean had to fly between the bascules and the high-level walkways in his Short biplane, to avoid an accident.

1952 – a London bus driven by Albert Gunter had to leap from one bascule to the other when the bridge began to rise with the number 78 bus still on it.

1977 – Tower Bridge was painted red, white and blue to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. (Before that, it was painted a chocolate brown colour).

1982 – Tower Bridge opened to the public for the first time since 1910, with a permanent exhibition inside called The Tower Bridge Experience.

 1993 – The Centenary exhibition was opened at the Tower Bridge.

 1994 – The bridge was available for events and parties.

 2002Tower Bridge Exhibition.  was reopened.

Tower Bridge was needed as originally the only crossing for the Thames was London bridge, and as the population grew this became too congested. At this time the east end of London was a thriving port being served by hundreds of boats including Thames Sailing Barges.

(London Bridge was perhaps one of the first bridges built over the Thames, the original wooden version was built about 50 AD.  The most famous version of the bridge that was used in the nursery rhyme was built by King Henry II as part of his penitence for the murder of Thomas Becket by his knights.  Eventually it became saturated with buildings (some 200 by the Tudor period) on top that ultimately proved to be a fire hazard and were torn down after an act of Parliament in the 18th Century.  Another bridge was built in the 19th Century, and when it came time for its replacement, it was sold in 1968 to Robert McCulloch, who had it shipped to Arizona where he rebuilt it).  

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The Coca-Cola London Eye


Eye Pod

Situated on London’s South Bank, it is within easy walking distance from several London Underground stations: Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross and Westminster. 

The 32 capsules of the Eye are symbolic of London’s 32 boroughs and are numbered 1 to 33, eliminating the thirteenth carriage for good luck.  The wheel offers some of the greatest panoramic views of the city, on a good day stretching as far as 40 kilometres. 

It stands 135 metres high and is now the Coca-Cola London Eye and is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel. The experience showcases breathtaking 360-degree views of the capital and its famous landmarks and has been the number one visitor experience in the city for the past decade.

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My Favourite 5 Places to go in London


1. The Tower                                         toweroflondon

One of my earliest memories of London was visiting the Tower, with my sister-in-law when I was a child. The scary ravens on the lawns are said to protect not only the Tower, but London itself. The story goes that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, London will fall. They have lived there for over 200 years and don’t look like going anywhere, thank God!

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London- why you must visit


 I LOVE London!london

Have I said it already?   Well I’ll say it again – I LOVE LONDON!

Why? Oh so many reasons, after all these years it still makes me welcome when I visit. Growing up in Essex, and working in London, I got to see quite a lot of the place. And I never get tired of it, I can go there time and time again, see the same sights and still learn something new each time. London has so much to offer visitors, you can spend a few weeks easily wandering from one attraction to another. Guided walking tours are available for those that want something more organised, or you can simply use the hop-on-hop-off bus if you are pushed for time. I find that just walking around is the best way and the new London Wayfinder signs for walkers are excellent.  ll-totem-1wayfinder-sign

The London Underground rail system, (known as “The Tube”) is really easy to use and visitors can purchase a Visitor Oyster Card which offers a 50% discount to cash fares. These can be bought online at Visit Britain Limited, along with a London Pass which gives you free access to 60+ attractions around London, including the Hop-on, Hop-off bus.

The London Pass can be bought for 1, 2, 3 or 6 days use, and attractions include;

  • Tower of London, londonsightseeingboat1 bigbus1
  • Westminster Abbey, 
  • Windsor Castle,
  •  Hampton Court Palace, 
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre,  
  • London Bridge Experience, 
  • Thames River Cruise,
  • Tower Bridge Exhibition,
  • Monument.

There are many guided walking tours, some are free, and some offer self-guided tours. A good starting point when researching is to check out these websites:

Free tours by foot                   Strawberry Tours                 New Europe Tours

Free London Walking Tours         Undiscovered London              London for Free

tower-bridge

Well now we’ve explored ways and means of getting around the city, lets see some of the places worth the effort!  (And these are purely my own experiences and opinions, you may have different ideas of what you like and if so, please share them with us on the comments section).

London Eye              St Paul’s Cathedral              Tower Bridge              Westminster Abbey

Madame Tussaud’s              Hyde Park              Piccadilly Circus              Covent Garden

The Old Cheshire Cheese              Buckingham Palace              Tate Modern

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Youth Hostel Association (England & Wales)


YHA (England & Wales) provides lowcost accommodation which is often in unusual places, perfect for adventurers.

YHA has been operating for around 80 years and is also a charity organisation working to ensure that every young person should have the opportunity to venture out and experience something new and exciting.

With over 150 places to stay, YHA accommodation is no longer the “big dormitory bunk-bed, communal kitchen” type of place. There are so many other options to choose from, YHA caters for every sort of traveller. And likewise, not all accommodation is in diverse country places, some are, but some are in the middle of towns if that’s what you prefer.

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YHA offers a divers range of accommodation, everything from Castles to Campsites!

To find out more about YHA and the unique opportunities they’ve created, watch the video.

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So Big a Planet and so little time……..


Some background first

 the-monument-column-and-cage-in-the-city-of-london

Ever since I was a young girl in England I have had the yearning for travel and experiencing new adventures, possibly stemming back to my ancestry, coming from Huguenot heritage.

At the ripe old age of 13 my father bought me a bicycle and I made  plans to travel part of the home country with my two best friends. There was no mobile phones back then, and the plan was to make use of youth hostels.  For months we sat huddled in my bedroom, planning our trip, we had an itinerary, bikes and parents permission – I was excited!

Sad to say, a couple of weeks before we were due to set off, both friends decided it was just too scary, and backed out, leaving me high and dry. No way at 13 was I going alone!

So the longing to travel further than Essex to London stayed with me. When my sister emigrated to Australia with her family and invited me to join them 2 years later I jumped at the chance! Once again, another two friends were going to come along for the ride. Once again we sat huddled together discussing our plans to live in Sydney, get an apartment and jobs. We were going on a 2 year working holiday it would be a great experience! Three pot-smoking hippy girls being independent women at 15!  The world was ours!

But needless to say, once again my friends backed out and once again I was left to go it alone!  This time however, I didn’t stay – I went to Australia.

That trip across the globe satisfied my wanderlust for many years, I settled in Perth Western Australia, married and had 2 children. Later in life, after a divorce and a trip with my boys back to England, I came back to Australia where I met my new husband and made a new life.

And that’s when my itchy feet started to twitch once again, I wanted to travel and explore new places, and I wanted to share the experience with the love of my life. Lucky for me, he was easy to convince, and he didn’t back out like my friends!

So that’s when our adventures started, with a trip to Queensland to whet our appetites…