A special year for the great Dorset Steam fair as it was the 50th Anniversary show, also they were going for the record of 500 steam engines all being displayed at a single show. The fair is enormous covering over 600 acres in total with everything from classic cars, foods, Beer, army vehicles, tractors and thousands more things. We decided again to camp this year so we could have a drink on the Saturday night, and this year we had a few pints of proper scrumpy Cider !. You need a whole day just to get round most things but you will still miss loads.
We booked the tickets for the RA a couple of months ago and we have looked forward to this trip for some time. This year was the 250th year of the summer Exhibition and was coordinated by Grayson Perry the artist and committee member. Getting to the RA is easy just take a tube to Piccadilly Circus and walk the short distance to Burlington gardens, you are close to both New and old Bond Street and the arcades selling all manner of things.
For 250 years painters and sculptures have been showing their latest works and this year works by Hockney, Emin and Allen Jones were on show for the public to purchase. A good couple of hours were spent having a look around and I shall go next year as we both enjoyed it. I have included some pictures below for you to have a look at.
It was nice weather so we set off into the peak district and the lovely Dove Dale. This walk was a 8.5 mile route following the river Dove, this river is about 45 miles in length and runs from Buxton to Newton Solney. Dovedale is one of the top attractions on the Peak District owned by the National Trust and its estimated over a Million people walk it a year. If you just wish to walk the ravine its a fairly flat route with a short climb up towards Lovers Leap however this is on good paths. If you venture out of the ravine you will find some sharp climbs but again the paths are in good condition. The stepping stones run across the River Dove and its good fun walking across the water but it can get busy in the summertime. Our walk took us down to the lovely village of Milldale where you will find a public house if you fancy a pint. This is a great walk.
The limestone rock that forms the geology of Dovedale is the fossilised remains of sea creatures that lived in a shallow sea over the area during the Carboniferous period, about 350 million years ago. During the two ice ages, the limestone rock (known as reef limestone) was cut into craggy shapes by glacial meltwater, and dry caves such as Dove Holes and Reynard’s Kitchen Cave were eventually formed. The caves were used as shelters by hunters around 13,000 BCE, and Dovedale has seen continuous human activity since. Around 4,500 years ago Neolithic farmers used the caves as tomb. For more info please click this link.
A cheap train ticket to Birmingham on a wet saturday led us to the National trust back to back houses, the restored 19th century courtyard is one of the best NT attractions we have visited and well worth the trip alone. If visiting make sure you book your tickets in advance as you cannot gain entry simply by just turning up . After that we looked around the centre of Birmingham and well not a lot I can say about that really, anyway a bit from Wiki about the back to back houses below for you to read before you plan your visit.
The Birmingham Back to Backs (also known as Court 15) are the city’s last surviving court of back-to-back houses. They are preserved as examples of the thousands of similar houses that were built around shared courtyards, for the rapidly increasing population of Britain’s expanding industrial towns. They are a very particular sort of British terraced housing. This sort of housing was deemed unsatisfactory, and the passage of the Public Health Act 1875 meant that no more were built; instead byelaw terraced houses took their place. This court, at 50–54 Inge Street and 55–63 Hurst Street, is now operated as a historic house museum by the National Trust.
Numerous back-to-back houses, two or three storeys high, were built in Birmingham during the 19th century. Most of these houses were concentrated in inner-city areas such as Ladywood, Handsworth, Aston, Small Heath and Highgate. Most were still in quite good condition in the early 20th century and also prior to their demolition. By the early 1970s, almost all of Birmingham’s back-to-back houses had been demolished. The occupants were rehoused in new council houses and flats, some in redeveloped inner-city areas, while the majority moved to new housing estates such as Castle Vale and Chelmsley Wood.
After a deluge of rain over the bank holiday weekend we had to get out, so we braved the constant rain and headed for Staffordshire and the national Trust Shugborough Hall and estate. In the 1960’s the estate was handed over to the national Trust by Lord Lichfield following massive Death Duties by the Government . You can obtain timed Tickets to view his private apartments and see a collection of Famous photos of the Royal family and pictures from major fashion houses around the world. He died in 2005 and his apartments are well worth a look.
Entry to the grand house is not on a timed ticket and just go in when you want, its full of works of art and various objects from the Anson family. They purchased the house in 1642 and the 2 brothers made loads of improvements and extensions to the stately home. One of the brothers was an explorer and he visited all four corners of the globe. He was involved in fighting with the Spanish Amarda and they took loads of gold and silver from them as spoils of war. A goood visit this one and well worth a visit if you are around this area.
Another of our long walks along the River thames this time starting in Henley-on-Thames and finishing in the Town of Tilehurst a total distance of about 12.5 miles.
Mapping (sorry cant get it to Embed with WordPress)
Once at Tilehurst Station you will find the River Thames just over the Barrier however you cannot get down from the Station platform, just head onto the road and head North west along Oxford Road until you find the Roebuck Hotel and the bridge leading down to the path. You will pass some great real estate along the banks of the thames as you approach the City of reading, as soon you will find yourself at Redgrave Pinsent Rowing lake names after he Olympic rowers Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. The lake and its boathouse are specifically designed for training use, and provide training, medical, and scientific facities for the GB rowing squad, and for Oxford University in preparation for the Boat Race.
A great but long walk this one but the ground is flat and easy with loads to see on route. Watch out because after rain some of the path can become a bit boggy under foot so take good walking boots. There are plenty of pubs along the route if you fancy a beer whilst out.
We first made our way to Henley on Thames train station operated by Great Western Train services. The Car park has plenty of spaces so we parked here easily and on a Saturday it will cost you £5 for all day. To get toTilehurst just take the train to Twyford then change to Tilehurst it cost about £13 for 2 single tickets and took about 35mins in total.
The second part of the days trip took us to Bury St Edmonds in East Suffolk. The town sprung up around 1080 and was known for Brewing and Malting, The green king brewery is still in the Town as well as the Silver Spoon sugar works. Parking was easy with loads of long stay car parks and only cost a couple of Pound.
The highlight of the tour was walking around the ruins of the old Abbey , it was the Burial place of the king St Edmund who was killed by the Vikings in 869. Must say its an impressive town with some nice bars and restaurants if you are staying overnight.
History from Wikipedia
Bury St Edmunds (Beodericsworth, Bedrichesworth, St Edmund’s Bury), supposed by some[who?] to have been the Villa Faustina of the Romans, was one of the royal towns of the Saxons. Sigebert, king of the East Angles, founded a monastery here about 633, which in 903 became the burial place of King Edmund, who was slain by the Danes in 869, and owed most of its early celebrity to the reputed miracles performed at the shrine of the martyr king. The town grew around Bury St Edmunds Abbey, a site of pilgrimage. By 925 the fame of St Edmund had spread far and wide, and the name of the town was changed to St Edmund’s Bury.
with a Friday off work and some decent January weather at last we decided to go for a drive into Suffolk to the village of Lavenham. Its a long drive from South Northants but worth the visit. The village is noted for its 15th Century timbered medieval cottages and luckily on the day we visited it was not to busy. There are a large number of gift shops to take your cash and some nice pubs also dotted around the village. The villages wealth come mainly from the Wool trade and it was in the 20 most wealthiest settlements in england you will note the huge church of St Peter & St Paul thats stands in the village it is known as a wool church financed by wealthy wool merchants . The decline of the village come from immigrants coming from Holland producing cloth much cheaper than they could produce.
The Guild Hall.
This grand old house now belonging to the National Trust sits in the heart of the village. This late 15th century Guildhall has a checkered history , it was built in the late 15th Century. Four guilds were setup in the village by local merchants with the main one being the Wool Guild the building become the main and most important property in the village. After the decline of the wool trade it become a Bridewell where the prisoners were treated very poorly and forced into hard labour whilst there. They explained a story how a young girl of Eleven was finally transported to Australia for Petty crimes., After that it become the local Workhouse.
We booked this trip way back in July because we wished to visit the Christmas markets and also have a look at the Cathedral. At the time of visiting there were large building and conservation works going on around the perimeter and also inside the cathedral itself, however this did not spoil the visit to the cathedral . Gloucester cathedral is the burial place of Edward II and you will find his tomb inside also other large and elegant tombs can be found inside.
The cathedral, built as the abbey church, consists of a Norman nucleus (Walter de Lacy is buried there), with additions in every style of Gothic architecture. It is 420 feet (130 m) long, and 144 feet (44 m) wide, with a fine central tower of the 15th century rising to the height of 225 ft (69 m) and topped by four delicate pinnacles, a famous landmark. he nave is massive Norman with an Early English roof; the crypt, under the choir, aisles and chapels, is Norman, as is the chapter house. The crypt is one of the four apsidal cathedral crypts in England, the others being at Worcester, Winchester and Canterbury.
The children had got us this trip for Gail’s birthday along with afternoon tea at a nice hotel. The studios are in Watford so only a short trip down there, but remember you cannot get tickets down there you have to pre order on the internet. At nearly £40 each its not cheap, but it’s worth the money and we spent nearly 3 hours looking around. All the sets from the hit films as they built them are there and you can walk through the great hall and other places from the films. Costumes as well as the original art work and the model of hogworts that they used for filming for the castle shots can be found. Only place to watch out for is the gift shop here you will not find magic only pain, Jesus it’s a rip off. Have a look at the photos and film it was a great day out indeed.