Tuesday, 18 September 2018

St Peter Port - Guernsey

Earlier in the month I visited the island of Guernsey. For those who don't Guernsey is part of the Channel Islands and a south governing Crown Dependency off of the coast of France. It is the last remaining part of the Dukedom of Normandy that the crown retains.

Its capital is the delightful town of St Peter Port. Much of its charm is that many of the big chains stores are absent and it retains a small town atmosphere.

I highly recommend a visit to it together with day trips to its sister islands Herm and Sark.

Guernsey was occupied in WWII, the Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles that was, and the Liberation May 9th 1945 is a big celebration. This is the Liberation Monument.

The old Post Office

Morris Dancing in Candie Garden

This is the light house just beyond Castle Cornet. Cruise Ships behind it and behind them Herm

Sunday, 5 August 2018


Sorry for the lack of posts.... the heat is getting me down a bit!

Anyway I recently spent a lovely if VERY HOT week in Norfolk!

Castle Acre Priory. This is the ruins of a Cluniac Priory established in 1089. The priory was dissolved in 1537. The west front and Priors lodgings are fairly well preserved. It and the nearby Castle are owned by the Earl of Leicester (who lives at Holkham Hall) but are in the care of English Heritage.

The church of St John the Evangelist is next to Oxburgh hall and as had a hard last 70 years. In 1948 the steeple collapsed destroying the nave. And recently someone stole the lead from the roof from the Bedingfield Chapel (which has some fine Terracotta tombs)

Rising Castle in Castle Rising.... and confusingly it is known as Castle Rising Castle as well!!

Although it is an English Heritage property it is not owned and managed by them. Which I assume explains why the audio guide is a £1 and not free?

The castle was built some time after 1138 by William Albini. There is a story that a French Queen threw him to her pet lion and William wrapped his cloak around his hand and ripped the Lions tongue out. The most famous resident was Isabella the She Wolf (wife of Edward II)

 Houghton Hall which was built by Sir Robert Walpole the first Prime Minister although technically there was no such thing as a Prime Minister at the time.... QI will tell you its Arthur Balfour.

I have been going to Holkham Hall for over 40 years and I have seen many changes over the years .... some good some not. In the old days you were able to park under the trees overlooking cricket pitch and lake.... Mum & Dad loved this they could have a walk and sit and enjoy the view....now there is a purpose built car park.... a few years back I was told that it was to present the house as you would have seen it....Which I assume is uhm bumkum as there are cars parked in front of the house!

There used to be an old boy who collected a 50p parking fee. Apparently it was a job created for an old retainer because when he stopped doing it the charge was dropped. Today you are charged £3 (as an HHA member this was waved). I have no problem to the charge BTW it is a big estate and takes some upkeep (oh and they got plenty of cash out of me.... water, diet coke etc :) )

 Holkham was built by Thomas Coke another Thomas (the son of his nephew) was to inherit and he was a great Agricultural Pioneer. He is known as Coke of Holkham or Norfolk.

I forget when I first went to Hunstanton probably late 70's ? I have memories of a pleasant little sea side town. It was split in two the south bit a bit more kiss me quick but not overly the north a lovely expanse of grass with putting greens, bowling lawns leading to a ruin chapel a lighthouse and a pitch and putt.

Ironically given the heat I once visited with Mum and Dad and dad walked along the grass with the wind blowing a gale wrapping his trousers round his skinny legs... Mum was in hysterics..

Felbrigg is an old friend.....I'm not sure that doing the 1.5 mile lake walk was sensible :)

St Nicholas Church, Great Yarmouth

The church was founded in 1101 and due to it's floor area it is the biggest parish church in England. It has had a checkered history during the Second World War, the building was bombed and nearly destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt by the architect Stephen Dykes Bower and re-consecrated in 1961. It has a notable collection of 1960's glass.

 Horsey Windpump is a type of windmill used for pumping water. There were once over 200 in Norfolk but these have been replaced by electric ones. The one at Horsey was constructed in 1912 on the ruins of an earlier 18th century one called Horsey Black Mill. The National Trust are restoring it after it was struck by Lightening in 1943 and further storm damage in 1987. It's cap and sails have been repaired and the plan is to get it fully operational.

 Hoveton Hall Garden is a garden near to my hotel... it had a sculpture trail on....

Octagon Unitary Chapel Norwich

It was completed in 1756 and is a perfect Octagon. It is an example of English Neo-Palladian. It was built as the first Methodist chapel but is now used by the Unitarians

Ah Blickling Hall ! I have been coming here for 40 years. In the old days you could park your car in the orchard and Mum & Dad would sit in deck chairs and picnic.... today  you park in a .... car park.....

East Ruston Old Vicarage Garden. It is a 32 acre garden a mile and a half from the North Sea.  It was designed by Alan Gray and Graham Robeson and is highly regarded. I have never been before.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Ingatestone Hall

William Petre bought the manor of Ingatestone after the dissolution of the monastries and commissioned the building of the current house. Elizabeth I spent several nights here in 1561. The family were Catholic resucants and befriended the composer William Byrd who composed music to be sung at their private chapels.

It houses what's left of the Petre family picture collection ater the fire in the 19th century at the family's other house the palladian Thorndon Hall.

Sunday, 24 June 2018


I've just spent a week in the Cotswolds. It is full of quaint picture postcard villages and I guess many overseas visitors have this area as their perception of England.

So I guess Sezincote comes as something of a surprise. It is was built in the Indian Style a combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture. The Prince Regent visited in 1807 and the house is said to have influenced the Brighton Pavillion.

It is visited by guided tour and it is well worth a visit. The gardens are lovely as well.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Bourton-on-the-Water and Snowshill

I am currently in the Cotswolds. It is a lovely area of the country and there is a lot to see without having to drive that far.

Bourton-on-the-Water is a picturesque if touristy village

Snowshill Manor houses the collection of Charles Padget Wade who was a total eccentric. The house contains his collection which contains no masterpiece but is definitely worth a visit.

Sunday, 20 May 2018


I've just come back from 5 nights in Florence, like many people I fly in and out of Pisa airport and I typically spend my last day in Pisa. I get the feeling most people who visit Tuscany do the same thing.

Pisa sort of gets a bad rap. Yes it is a bit rough a round the edges compared to some cities but it certainly has its moments, it isn't a city I'd choose to stay in (if you are looking for an alternative to Florence to visit choose Lucca) but it is well worth exploring. You can easily walk from the rail station to the Leaning Tower. I didn't have as much time as I'd wish (someone was too lazy to jump out of bed on the last day) so I didn't explore as much as I'd like

Whatever your thoughts on Pisa you can't deny that the Field of Miracles with it's tower, baptistery and Duomo is singularly beautiful.


Cafe culture....something I love about Italy

The river.... you may notice a religious building on the right

This is the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina. And annoyingly it was open and closed about 15 minutes before I got there....

Oh well an excuse to go back.... something I'm not likely to need :)