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Archive for the ‘cities and towns of the UK’ Category

Many years ago, back in the days when I still actually ‘liked’ Facebook and set up my profile (2007), I filled in one of those ‘where have you been in the world’ online maps. At the time I was already living in the UK and had been for a few years, so had had the opportunity to travel to quite a few places.

flag-map-denmark-puerto

Map by andrewfahmy on Reddit

While I was pinning names I realised that not only had I visited quite a few countries, but I had also visited quite a few islands…wow, awesome. And so an idea was born; I would visit 100 islands before I die. Okay!! So since I’m not and wasn’t then, planning on dying in the near future, I set about compiling a list of islands I would still like to visit, and since the UK has 6,289 (LOL) I was spoiled for choice. However, since I also wanted to visit Europe, the scope for achieving my goal widened substantially. Did you know that Norway has 240,000 islands, islets, reefs, coral reefs and cays? Now that…would take me quite a few years then!!! As if!!
Jump forward a few years (almost a decade) and subsequent to my stay on the Isle of Wight in January this year where I discovered the Domesday Village of Nettlestone amongst others, an idea was born! Supported by a previous list of the many many villages and towns I’ve visited in the UK since 2007 in my capacity as a Carer for the Elderly, and of course all my holidays; in the UK and abroad, I started thinking……..
I realised that not only had I unknowingly visited many other Domesday villages, but I had during my travels visited a great number of castles, cathedrals, cities, most of the counties in England and Ireland, palaces, famous houses, a random selection of rivers, and to my surprise, a substantial number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites!!! Wow, I had not realised this.
Thus a new list was compiled and Project 101 was born….100 is so yesterday!! LOL.

I immediately set about updating the list with these new categories and updating the details of those I had already visited or been to – this is Project 101; to visit 101 in each of these categories before I die….whenever that may be. I have a separate list of places still to visit. Clearly some categories won’t cater to my 101 target, like the counties of England for instance…only 48, so not much chance there then, but combine them with Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and the numbers add up ;).

I’m planning (hoping) to write about each of these places, but this will take quite a while as I have to go back in time to find the photos, do some research and write the article….so to kick things off, I’ll start with my more recent travels which to my delight was Italy.

travel in europe

I dreamed of Florence, and Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano and Lucca 😉 all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites except with the possible exception of Lucca.

With one trip I was able to visit 5 or 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 5 cathedral cities and by extension their cathedrals, 4 or 5 walled cities, famous gardens and a river.  I’ve done research on Lucca and in google searches it comes up, but when I go to the UNESCO site it’s not listed. Further research will be needed… Some places just make it easy; cathedral city/cathedral/UNESCO site(s)/famous house(s)/palace(s)/river……think London & Florence 😉 6 birds with one visit LOL.

Of course now that I have started this blessed list my mind is like……’hmmmm, should I add Roman cities to the Project’? Or maybe churches…..and then I remember just HOW MANY churches I have indeed visited in the last 15 years alone….and my head says NO NO NO!!! So for now (?) here are the categories I’ve settled on…for now 😉 I’ve haven’t listed any of the places in chronological order; that would just be too time consuming. So in no particular order….. these are the places I’ve already been to; looks like I have some catching up to do to visit 101 in each category….now where’s that campervan?!!

ISLANDS (16)
United Kingdom
Portsea Island – UK
Ireland
Arran Islands
Manhattan – USA
Long Island – USA
Sanibel – USA
Venice – Italy
Torcello – Italy
Burano – Italy
Murano – Italy
Providence – Bahamas
Bruges – Belgium
Isle of Skye – Scotland
Iceland
Isle of Wight – UK

COUNTRIES (14)
South Africa
Swaziland
England
Ireland
N.Ireland
Scotland
Wales
United States of America
Bahamas
Italy
France
Netherlands
Belgium
Gibraltar

U.K. COUNTIES
ENGLAND (29)
Greater London (I’ve lived in or visited 25 of the 33 boroughs, including City of London)
Hampshire
Surrey
Norfolk
Suffolk
Buckinghamshire
Cambridgeshire
Oxfordshire
Devon
Cornwall
Kent
Hertfordshire
Herefordshire
Lancashire
Warwickshire
Worcestershire
Bedfordshire
Berkshire
Dorset
Middlesex (now considered part of Greater London)
Shropshire
Somerset
Wiltshire
East Sussex
West Sussex
Essex
Gloucestershire
Bristol
Isle of Wight

SCOTLAND (5)
Edinburgh/Midlothian
Inverness
Moray
Fife
Ross and Cromarty

WALES (4)
Pembrokeshire
Cardiff
Swansea
Newport

N. IRELAND (3)
Armagh
Down
Antrim

Republic of IRELAND (14)
Dublin
Wicklow
Galway
Clare
Meath
Cork
Kilkenny
Waterford
Wexford
Kerry
Limerick
Tipperary
Mayo
Donegal

CATHEDRAL CITIES (26)
London
Westminster
Winchester
Dublin
Belfast
Edinburgh
Inverness
Brussels
Antwerp
Canterbury
Rijkavik
Chichester
Oxford
Worcester
St David’s
Venice
Verona
Salisbury
Exeter
Chichester
Wells
Pisa
Florence
San Gimignano
Siena
Lucca

CATHEDRALS (26)
St Paul’s Cathedral – London
Southwark Cathedral – London
St George’s Cathedral – London
Westminster Cathedral – London
Worcester Cathedral – England
St David’s Cathedral – Wales
Inverness Cathedral – Scotland
St Patrick’s Cathedral – Dublin, Ireland
Christ Church Cathedral – Dublin, Ireland
Glendalough Cathedral – Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Exeter Cathedral – England
Winchester Cathedral – England
Chichester Cathedral – England
Christ Church, Oxford – England
Salisbury Cathedral – England
St Mark’s Basilica – Venice
Notre Dame Basilica – Paris
Canterbury Cathedral – Kent
Chichester Cathedral – England
Wells Cathedral – England
Duomo Santa Maria Assunta – Pisa, Italy
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore – Florence, Italy
Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta – Duomo di San Gimignano, Italy
Duomo di Siena – Italy
Duomo di Lucca, Cattedrale di San Martino – Itlay

ABBEYS (9)
Westminster Abbey – City of Westminster, London, England
Sherbourne Abbey – Dorset, England
Shaftesbury Abbey – Dorset, England
Bury St Edmunds – Suffolk, England
Great Malvern (Priory) – Worcestershire, England
St Mary’s – Trim, Ireland
Kylemore Abbey – Galway, Ireland
Quarr Abbey – Isle of Wight, England
Torre Abbey – Torquay, England

I visited so many abbeys, priories, friaries and monasteries in Ireland that I’ve quite lost track…so if I can I will one day try to revisit as many as possible 🙂

DOMESDAY towns & villages (87) – Domesday Book is a manuscript record of the “Great Survey” of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror.  My list needs updating; research still being done LOL Admittedly when I complied this list it surprised me that I had already been to so many!

Ashford – Kent
Ayot St Lawrence – Hertfordshire
Bath – Wiltshire
Battersea (London) – Surrey
Bermondsey (London) – Surrey
Brading – Isle of Wight
Bressingham – Norfolk
Blackford – Somerset
Bodiam – Sussex
Bradford-on-Avon – Wiltshire
Brighton – Sussex
Bristol – Somerset
Bromley – Kent
Bury St Edmunds – Suffolk
Bushey – Hertfordshire
Canterbury – Kent
Castle Cary – Siomerset
Castle Combe – Wiltshire
Chatham – Kent
Deal – Kent
Dover – Kent
Epsom – Surrey
Fishbourne – Sussex
Godalming – Surrey
Gravesend – Kent
Hastings – Kent
Hatfield – Herefordshire
Hawkhurst – Kent
Holborn (London) – Middlesex
Hythe – Kent
Ingatestone – Essex
Lambeth (London) – Surrey
Lavenham – Suffolk
Limpsfield – Surrey
London – City of
Maidstone – Kent
Margate – Kent
Meon – Hampshire
Meopham – Kent
Mortlake – Surrey
Nettlestone – Isle of Wight
North Cadbury – Somerset
Norwich – Norfolk
Oxford – Oxfordshire
Oxted – Surrey
Pakenham – Suffolk
Petersham – Surrey
Puckpool – Isle of Wight
Rochester – Kent
Romney Marsh – Kent
Rye – Sussex
Sandown – Isle of Wight
Sandwich – Kent
Shanklin – Isle of Wight
Shaftesbury – Dorset
Sherbourne – Dorset
Sidmouth – Devon
South Cadbury – Somerset
Southwark (London) – Surrey
Sparkford – Somerset
St Albans – Hertfordshire
Stanmore – Middlesex
Stoke Newington (London) – Middlesex
Stoke Trister – Somerset
St Pancras (London) – Middlesex
Stratford-Upon-Avon – Warwickshire
Sundridge – Kent
Tatsfield -Surrey
Templecombe – Somerset
Thames Ditton – Surrey
Titsey – Surrey
Tonbridge – Kent
Trumpington – Cambridgeshire
Tudeley – Kent
Wells – Somerset
Weobley – Herefordshire
West Camel – Somerset
West Meon – Hampshire
Westerham – Surrey
Westminster (London) – Middlesex
Weybridge – Surrey
Whitstable – Kent
Wincanton – Somerset
Winchester – Hampshire
Windsor – Surrey
Woolston – Somerset
Worcester – Worcestershire

CASTLES (36)
Cape Town – South Africa
Dublin – Ireland
Trim – Ireland
Blarney – Ireland
Clontarf – Ireland
Dalkey – Ireland
Howth – Ireland
Kilkenny Castle – Ireland
King John’s Castle – Ireland
Rock of Cashel – Ireland
Malahide – Ireland
Waterford – Ireland
Tower of London – England
Edinburgh – Scotland
Urquhart – Scotland
Eilean Donan – Scotland
Deal – England
Dover – England
Midhurst – England
Sherbourne – England
Rochester – England
Canterbury – Engalnd
Pembroke – Wales
Tonbridge – England
Hever – England
Warwick – England
Leeds – England
Bodiam – England
Oxford – England
Windsor – England
Hastings – England
Rye (Ypres Tower) – England
St Briavels – England
Carisbrooke – Isle of Wight
Rocca Scaligera – Sirmione, Italy
Castelvecchio – Verona, Italy

PALACES (20)
Buckingham Palace – City of Westminster, Great London
Hampton Court Palace – Hampton Court, England
Kew Palace – Kew, London
Windsor Palace – Windsor, England
Burlington House – City of Westminster, London
Westminster Palace – City of Westminster, London
Banqueting House (remains of Whitehall Palace) – City of Westminster, London
St James’s Palace – City of Westminster, London
Richmond Palace – Richmond (now a private residence), Greater London
Lambeth Palace – Lambeth, London
Winchester Palace – Southwark, London
Tower of London – Tower Hamlets/City of London, London
Kensington Palace – City of Westminster, London
The Old Palace – Hatfield (home to Elizabeth I)
Eltham Palace – Royal Borough of Greenwich, Greater London
Palace of Versailles – France
The Doges Palace – Venice, Italy
Palazzo dei Cavalieri – Knights’ Square, Pisa, Italy
Palazzo Pitti – Florence, Italy
Palazzo Vecchio – Florence

FAMOUS HOUSES (18)
Jan Smuts House – Transvaal, South Africa
Anne Franks House – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Burlington House – City of Westminster, Greater London
Chartwell (Winston Churchill) – Kent, England
Ham House – Ham, Greater London
Strawberry Hill House (Horace Walpole) – Twickenham, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
Downe House (Charles Darwin) – Kent, England
Benjamin Franklin’s House – City of Westminster, Greater London
Marble Hill House (Henriette Howard) – Twickenham, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
The Queens House – Royal Borough of Greenwich, London
Bleak House (Charles Dickens) – Broadstairs, Kent
Turner House (JMW Turner) – Twickenham, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
Apsley House – (1st Duke of Wellington) – City of Westminster, Greater London
Kenwood House (William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield) – Hampstead, Greater London
Hatfield House (Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury) – Hertfordshire, England
Shakespeare’s House (William Shakespeare) – Stratford Upon Avon, England
Keats House (John Keats) – Hampstead, Greater London
Chiswick House (Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington) – Chiswick, Greater London

UNESCO World Heritage Sites (25)
Venice and it’s lagoon – Italy
City of Verona – Italy
Pinvellir National Park – Iceland
Historic Centre of Bruges – Belgium
Palace and Park of Versailles – France
Cathedral of Notre Dame – Paris, France
Paris; Banks of the Siene
17th century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht – Netherlands
City of Bath – England
Stonehenge – England
Palace of Westminster – London, England
Westminster Abbey – London, England
Canterbury Cathedral – England
Tower of London – London, England
Old and New Towns of – Scotland
Maritime Greenwich – London
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew London
Everglades National Park – Florida, USA
Piazza del Duomo – Pisa, Italy
Baboli Gardens & Palazzo Pitti – Florence, Italy
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore – Florence, Italy
Historic centre of Siena – Italy
Historic centre of Florence – Italy
Historic centre of San Gimignano – Italy
Historic city of Lucca – (although this is mentioned as a UNESCO site, I can’t find it listed)

WALLED CITIES (37)
Dublin – Ireland
Cashel – Ireland
Cork – Ireland
Galway – Ireland
Kilkenny – Ireland
Trim – Ireland
Waterford – Ireland
Wexford – Ireland
City of London – London
Exeter – England
Canterbury – England
Winchester – England
Chichester – England
Oxford – England
Rochester – England
Rye – England
Hastings – England
Salisbury – England
Warwick – England
Worcester – England
Bristol – England
Warwick – England
Worcester – England
Edinburgh – Scotland
St Andrews – Scotland
Pembroke – Wales
Verona – Italy
Amsterdam – Netherlands
Gouda – Netherlands
Paris – France
Gibraltar – British Overseas Territory
Brussels – Belgium
Pisa – Italy
Florence – Italy
San Gimignano – Italy
Siena – Italy
Lucca – Italy

RIVERS I’VE MET ALONG THE WAY (31)
Orange River – South Africa
Vaal River – South Africa
Great Kei River – South Africa
Storms River – South Africa
Sabie River – South Africa
Klip River – South Africa
Jukskei River – South Africa
Blyde River – South Africa
River Thames – London
Eden – England
Avon – England
Spey – Scotland
Ness – Scotland
Medway – England
Severn – England
Wye – England
Yealm – England
Lea – England
Exe – England
Wey – England
Stour – England
Cherwell – England
Cam – England
Itchen – England
Dart – England
Hudson River – USA
East River – USA
Tennessee – USA
Seine – Paris
Liffey – Ireland
Arno – Pisa and Florence – Italy

So, I’m guessing that if I ever get to visit 101 of each of the above categories, I’ll be able to consider myself; Well Travelled LOL

inspirational quotes

Die with memories, not dreams

UNUSUAL PLACES I’VE BEEN/THINGS I’VE DONE
Toured the HMS Eagle Aircraft Carrier in Durban Harbour – South Africa
Explored the Echo Caves – South Africa
Explored the Cango Caves – South Africa
Hot-Air Balloon ride – South Africa
Abseiled off a bridge – South Africa
Paragliding – South Africa
Rock wall climbing on a cruise ship – Bahamas
Parasailing – Bahamas
Wookey Hole – Somerset
Climbed the O2 – London
Helicopter Ride over London (my 60th birthday gift from my daughter)
Fire-walk – London
Stood on Greenwich Meridian Line – London
Sailed along Thames on a Tall Ship – London
Visited the Roman Amphitheatre – London
Kissed the Blarney Stone – Ireland
Climbed The Monument to the Great Fire of London 1666 – London
Followed the Gloriana in the Tudor Pull – London
Participated in the Green Man ceremony – London
Part of the Magna Carta flotilla – London
Stood on two of the earth’s geological plates at the same time; Eurasia & American in Iceland
Visited Stonehenge
Visited all the Cinque Ports in England; Sandwich, Dover, New Romney, Hastings, Hythe, Rye and Winchelsea
Walked along WW2 Tunnels at Ramsgate
Lived in a Gypsy Caravan on Eel Pie Island on the banks of the River Thames
Lived in a Castle in Scotland
Slept on The Mall in London for the Wedding of William and Kate 🙂
Bell ringing at a church in Cambridge

If you’ve read this far…bravo!!! Thank you, I appreciate that you did. I post photos of the various places I travel to on instagram and will be updating Project 101 as I go. My next trip is The Giant’s Causeway in Belfast next week Wednesday; a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and then I’ll be visiting Ironbridge in June which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I’d love for you to join me on instagram …say hello if you do.

(I found the map at the top of this article on 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World. Fascinating; worth a visit)

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While I was working in Oxted, on most days, I made the most of my breaks to explore the area and add to my miles for the #walk1000miles challenge, as well as improve my fitness for the Camino. On one said walk my feet took me to one of the largest surviving historic estates in Surrey; Titsey Place in Oxted dates back to the 16th century.

Titsey Estate Surrey

the beautiful grounds of the Titsey Estate

An impressive manor house set in beautiful gardens on a large estate in the stunning countryside of the North Downs. Sadly the house was still closed for winter but I’m hoping to visit when I next visit Oxted.

titsey house and estate surrey

Titsey House, Surrey

My walk took me along the lanes and by-ways of Oxted and I enjoyed being able to explore further afield. I’m participating in the walk 1000 miles 2017 challenge and this walk from Oxted to the Titsey Estate and along part of the Pilgrim’s Way took 1 hour 49 minutes; 4.57 miles / 11,735 steps.

titsey place surrey

the highways and byways of Surrey

I so enjoyed the quiet of the Downs pathway, just me and the birds in the trees and a few cows. I could see and hear the traffic on the M25, and although it didn’t really spoil the walk, it’s interesting how difficult it is to walk anywhere these days without traffic encroaching. We’re meant to walk for health, but if you consider the amount of traffic we’re constantly walking nearby to….well!!! LOL anyway, moving on from that thorny issue, I love walking and thoroughly enjoyed the views and the house looked awesome….roll on March end.

titsey place oxted surrey

views of the Titsey Place Estate near Oxted in Surrey

Titsey House and Gardens are held in Charitable Trust and for part of the year are open to the public offering and there are guided tours of the house.

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The weather had been pretty grim my first week in Oxted, with some snow flurries on the following Sunday, not enough to impress but just enough to get excited about….it soon melted and didn’t return. However, not to be deterred by the weather, on Tuesday, the afternoon after my arrival, I set off to explore and my meandering took me through the town of Oxted and along the streets and roads and on to a delightful medieval village called Limpsfield. What a treat!! The High Street is lined with houses dating from as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries.

limpsfield surrey, domesday book village, limpsfield, english architecture

some of the quintessentially English houses lining the streets of Limpsfield; a Domesday village

Quintessentially English houses built of local quarried stone lined both sides, looking absolutely charming. I discovered the little church; St Peter’s, constructed in the late 12th century and a Grade I listed building.  As I was entering the church I noticed that it was in fact a Pilgrim church!!! Thrilling. In alignment with my Camino this year I am hoping to gather some stamps before I set off on my walk. There was a stamp hanging on a board at the door, so I’m planning on ordering my Camino passport as soon as possible and when I return to the assignment at the end of March I’m hoping to be able to add that as the start of many I plan to collect on my journey. The church is also famous because the English composer Frederick Delius and orchestral conductor Sir Thomas Beecham are both buried in the village churchyard. Although I looked very carefully I never did find Delius’s grave.

limpsfield surrey, domesday villages of england, english villages, st peters church limpsfield

St Peter’s Church, Limpsfield – a pilgrim’s church

Situated at the foot of the North Downs, Limpsfield would have been on the ancient Pilgrim’s Way that stretches along the base of the downs between Winchester and Canterbury. To my delight on researching the history I discovered that Limpsfield too was a Domesday village: and appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Limenesfeld and held by the Abbot of Battle Abbey, Sussex.

Limpsfield’s High Street is named as a conservation area with 89 listed buildings along the street and in the immediate locality; one of which, Old Court Cottage in Titsey Road, (formerly the manorial court of the Abbot of Battle), is Grade I listed building and dates from c1190-1200 (including aisle posts and arcade plates) with alterations in the late 14th century, and a 16th-century crosswing. (ref wikipedia). Unfortunately I didn’t get to see this building, but the Post Office/village store was just charming so I stepped over the threshold and bought some stamps and a chocolate 🙂

limpsfield surrey, high street limpsfield, domesday book village, domesday book villages of england

Limpsfield High Street

I spent some time photographing all the buildings and meandering about the church and churchyard. I love these old ancient places and often wish I could just knock on the doors of the houses to see inside 😉

At the entrance to the village is a delightful name board – I love finding these!

limpsfield surrey, domesday book villages of england, limpsfield domesday village, villages of england

Limpsfield, Surrey

Limenesfelde 1086 (db). ‘Open land at Limen’. OE feld added to a Celtic place name or river-name

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You can imagine my absolute delight on discovering that my last assignment which took me to a town called Oxted in Surrey, is one of the Domesday towns of 1086!! Now that I’ve starting compiling my list, the towns are adding up fast and furious 🙂

Of course when I got the booking I wasn’t aware of this, but after a few days with my clients, the gentleman of whom is a history buff, we got to talking and he loaned me a book about the town….voila….Domesday town!! In the Domesday Book the then village is spelled ‘Acstede’ – meaning ‘the place of the oaks’.

oxted surrey, domesday villages of england, oxted domesday village, english history

Oxted; the place of the oaks – a 1086 Domesday Book village

Oxted – the place of the oaks. I delight in finding out the meanings of the names behind some of these older villages. Although first mentioned in the Domeday book of 1086, Oxted area was inhabited from as early as the late Iron Age. Located exactly on the Greenwich Meridian at O* longitude and on 51* 15′ latitude. The so-called Pilgrim’s way from Winchester to Canterbury passes the north of Oxted. As soon as I discovered this little snippet I set out to find the plaque. No-one seemed to know anything about it (?) but eventually I located it, set in the pharmacy wall on the exterior, the lass who directed me to the person who knew where it was, said she’d walked past it every days for months and didn’t know it was there! Such is life when it comes to history!

oxted surrey, domesday villages of england, oxted domesday village, english history, greenwich meridian

Besides being a Domesday Book village, Oxted lies on the Greenwich Meridian

On one of my walks I discovered a 2nd plaque that marked the point where the North Downs Way crossed the Meridian Line. 🙂 Awesome!!

St Mary’s Church in Oxted stands on a mound believed to have been a pre-Christian place of worship. The church has undergone much restoration and the walls were raised. There are remains within the church from Saxon times and changes and improvements range from 12th century through to 19th century. Sadly the door (unusually) was locked whenever I went past so I didn’t get to go in. Perhaps next time.

st marys church oxted, domesday villages of england, pre-christian places of worship, saxon graves oxted

St Mary’s Church, Oxted.

On one of my walks past the church I stopped in at the old graveyard and to may amazement discovered a herd of goats!!! A notice on the fence said that they graze them here to keep the grass and weeds under control rather than mowing…makes perfect sense to me. 🙂  Further exploration revealed two Anglo-Saxon graves next to the porch of St Mary’s Church.

anglo-saxon graves, st mary's church oxted, domesday villages of england,

2 Anglo-Saxon graves at St Mary’s Church, Oxted

The period before the Battle of Hastings in 1066 laid the foundations of a new age and with the coming of the Normans a small settlement began to grow up on the site of the Old Oxted. The medieval period is when Oxted began to establish itself as an integrated community. During the 15 C and 16 C some of the most picturesque buildings were constructed. Many of these buildings are still standing albeit occupied with vastly different businesses. Many of the survivors date to 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. An architectural treasure trove.

I spent a number of days meandering about the town exploring during my time in the area and spent one of my breaks exploring the Old town of Oxted.  Now that was an architectural marvel.

old oxted surrey, domesday villages of england, english villages

Old Oxted – High Street

The Old Bell Pub at the top of the High Street was a wonderful discovery ; with one section built in the 14th century, the middle section in the 16th/17th century and the latter part in the 18th century. It’s now a listed building and no further alterations can be made…quite right!! I stepped inside for a brief look and to photograph the 14th century beamed ceiling.

old oxted surrey, domesday villages of england, english villages, pubs of england

The Old Bell Pub, Old Oxted, Surrey – an architectural marvel

On Tuesday, the afternoon after my arrival, I set off to explore and my meandering took me through the old town and on to a delightful medieval village called Limpsfield. What a treat!! The High Street is lined with houses dating from as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries.

Other days were taken up with walking to Titsey Farm and along the North Downs Pilgrims Way. The views are spectacular and the only thing that spoils it all is the M25 motorway that runs between the town and the North Downs.

Oxted reminds me a lot of another town I visited some years ago…Weobley in Herefordshire. ‘The term “black and white” derives from presence of many timbered and half-timbered houses in the area, some dating from medieval times. The buildings’ black oak beams are exposed on the outside, with white painted walls between. The numbers of houses surviving in this style in the villages creates a very distinctive impression and differs from building styles outside this area.’

oxted surrey, black and white towns, domesday book villages and towns, villages of england, domesday book towns

I loved this sign. Oxted, Surrey. – the place of the oaks. If you look at the windows you can see some other buildings reflected.

I’m looking forward to my next spell In Oxted at the end of March. And since UPS (the slackers) lost my hard-drive with all my photos from the last 10 years on it, I shall have to visit Weobley again too. Maybe I should sue UPS for their tardiness.

p.s. I’ll be posting the article on Limpsfield shortly 😉 come back then.

Limpsfield; a Domesday village

 

 

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London is truly my absolute favourite city in the world….I’ve had a love-affair with this city since the day back in March 2002 when I cautiously made my way from London Bridge station and stepped tentatively onto London Bridge looking downstream. Instant love!

hello london and magic lantern festival

View of the River Thames towards Tower Bridge from London Bridge

After a wonderful adventure on the Isle of Wight I was in transit on my way home in Kent. But first I had to stop over in London, there was much to see and do – 1. go see the fabulous Magic Lantern Festival at Chiswick House and 2. meet my best friend Valy at Guildhall Art Gallery where we were to see that extraordinary and totally amazing sliver of history: William the Conqueror’s London Charter dating from 1067!!! I mean seriously!!

The train hurtled up the line from Portsmouth to London Victoria; 148.6 km’s 🙂 I had mapmywalk on just for fun and it was weird watching myself walking 1 km in 1.20 seconds!! If I had actually walked the distance it would have been 108850 steps!!! Crikey.

Before too long we arrived at Victoria Station. I lugged my bag below ground and onto the Victoria line to Earls Court where I had planned to stay the night at the YHA…my favourite choice of accommodation. I checked in, located my bed (which had been ‘acquired’ by a young lady, whom I very kindly informed had to move to the top bunk.) We swapped bedding, I made sure to put my stuff all over the bed to indicate that it was in use and headed out into the cold and dark to Chiswick House for the Magic Lantern Festival.

Wow!!! What an extraordinary exhibition! when I told my daughter I was planning on going she was aghast….I loathe those lanterns that people tend to send off into the air for arbitrary reasons and various events, and she initially thought “what??? but you hate those things!!” I do and it wasn’t.

Magic Lantern Festival - Chiswick House, London

Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick House, London

This is the 2nd year that Chiswick House has hosted this amazing festival. The beautifully sculpted and decorated items shone out like a beacon and I’m sure could probably have been seen from space 😉 It was fantastic. My jaw literally dropped at the splendour as I gasped in wonder at each new exhibit. After passing through security the path wove and meandered around the grounds and gardens of the house, weaving between hedges, past the lake, over the bridge, past the house and lit up the night with wonder! I can’t even begin to describe how exquisite each piece was. Lifelike figures, delicate flowers, bold horsemen on charging mounts, magnificent palaces, temples and towering ships in full sail. Magnificent.

Magic Lantern Festival - Chiswick House, London

lifelike figures – exquisite

Despite the ticket sell-out, the venue wasn’t over-crowded and people tended to thin out and then gather in a group at each new wonder. The path was muddy of course and in order to showcase the full splendour of the pieces, there were only intermittent low lights on the ground to guide the way. But seriously there was so much light from the exhibits you hardly needed anything else to guide the way.

Magic Lantern Festival - Chiswick House, London

Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick House, London

The only downside that I can think of were the food stall sort of half way round and the ‘fun-fair’ and tent and stalls at the end. But even though they were a distraction, they were necessary of course for the venue to generate income to offset the costs of hosting such an event. Well worth the ticket price…which may I add was exceptionally cheap considering the stunning stunning exhibition. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Sunday dawned more or less bright and of course, being the YHA…quite early. People have no idea how to keep quiet LOL.

I lugged my bag downstairs to the luggage room, prayed it would be okay and stepped out into the then sunshine. I had planned on going to Hampton Court Palace but frankly I was just wayyyy too tired so instead I meandered about the area, just exploring the streets enroute to City of London and Guildhall Art Gallery to view the charter given to the City of London by William the Conqueror soon after he was crowned at Westminster.

colourful houses in london

scenes of London

On the way I visited the V&A Museum…where I saw a fantastic exhibition featuring Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard Kipling’s father), and his time in India…which seemed rather congruent as how I had just the day before visited Osborne House where you can see the influence India had on ‘Empress’ Victoria.

a magnificent Dale Chihuly glass sculpture in the V&A Museum foyer

a magnificent Dale Chihuly glass sculpture in the V&A Museum foyer

Then I popped in at the Science Museum to see the capsule the Tim Peake travelled back to earth in after his stint on the ISS International Space Station last year. Wow!!! Amazing. The Science Museum is a particular favourite of mine and I love to see all the amazing exhibits they have there.

Tim Peake's Capsule at The Science Museum

Tim Peake’s Capsule at The Science Museum

You could spend days and not see everything…much like the V&A and the many other fantastic museums in London. From there I meandered through Kensington Gardens and popped into Kensington Palace. My Historic Royal Palaces membership was due to expire and I really wanted to make one more visit before that happened. It was perfect really as I had visited Osborne House on the Isle of Wight just the day before.

The young Queen Victoria at Kensington palace

The young Queen Victoria at Kensington palace

I met my lovely Belgian friend Valy there at 12noon and we immediately went to have a look. Extraordinary! It’s just mind-blowing to see these treasures. How these things survive is incredible. I often wonder that if people had had more ….I suppose respect for things in the past few centuries, we might have more such treasures. Nevertheless, those that we do have are a wonder to behold and I appreciate every one of them.

On till 27 April 2017: A celebration of the 950th anniversary of the 1067 charter, the oldest item from the City of London Corporation’s 100 km of archives.

The charter was given to the City by William the Conqueror soon after he was crowned at Westminster, but before he entered the City of London. It is key to how William won the support of London and how the City itself began to gain its special autonomy.  Written in Old English, the Charter is tiny, less than 16cm x 2cm in size with one of the earliest seal impressions of William I.

Enchanting!!! Extraordinary!! Amazing!! Incredible!! Ancient!!

We spent another 30 minutes or so in the art gallery…oh those paintings….just stunning. Sometimes I look at them and just wonder at the skill and patience and love the artists must have had…very often you can look at a paintings and it is so finely executed you thinks it’s a photograph.

Procession of Sir James Whitehead, Lord Mayor 1888-1889

“The Ninth of November, 1888”; shows the Procession of Sir James Whitehead, Lord Mayor 1888-1889, passing the Royal Exchange. – artist William Logsdail (1859-1944)

From there we set off across the City of London intending to walk all the way back to Westminster but unfortunately it started to rain so we jumped on a bus instead. On our way to Leicester Square we briefly  passed by the Chinese New Year celebrations in Trafalgar Square.

Chinese New Year 2017 - Trafalgar Square

Chinese New Year 2017 – Trafalgar Square

For the very first time in a very long while I lost my beatings and ended up taking the LONG way round to Leicester Square. Urgh. I can blame lack of sleep LOL.

new LEGO store at Leicester Square

The huge new LEGO store at Leicester Square

All too soon it was time to say goodbye and Valy headed over to St Pancras for the Eurostar back to Belgium and I onto the tube to Earls Court and then back to the mainline station for my train home.

What a fab end to a wonderful trip to the Isle of Wight. I’d SO love to go back there sometime, but the chances of that are pretty slender. I love to see new places and have so many travel goals to achieve on my wish list, that it’s improbable. Although The Needles are calling for a 2nd look 😉 so who knows…..

Next time I’ll be in Surrey working in what I was to discover was one of the Domesday Book towns and………blog coming soon….the place of the oaks.

 

 

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After a lovely hot shower when I got back to the B&B the night before, I jumped into bed and snuggled down for the night…weary to my bones but every so happy with what I had seen. Thankfully my night was undisturbed so when the alarm went off at 7:30 again I felt refreshed and ready to go go go. This was also my final morning on the island and I was due to catch the 13:47 ferry to Portsmouth and then train to London.

Sadly the B&B forgot to put out my breakfast tray so I had to raid the dining room and left with 2 yogurt pots and a box of cereal in my backpack. Oh the food I eat when exploring.

exploring the isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

fantastic views from the top deck of the bus

I hopped onto the 08:50 bus to Osborne and arrived with 45 minutes to spare before the gates of Osborne House opened. Rather than hang around kicking my heels I had noticed on the way in that East Cowes marina was just a stones-throw (okay no not really…it was a tad further), so I set off at a quick pace to explore – despite that it was all downhill, I’m so glad I made the effort.

exploring the isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

East Cowes Marina

The weather was stunning in comparison to the day before and the marina looked beautiful. I explored for a bit then headed back to Osborne House…..urgh those hills going back up!!!

osborne house, exploring the isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

aerial view of Osborne and the house

Osborne House was wonderful. The interior is sumptuous and the views from the patio and many of the windows are stunning. Osborne House was the much loved seaside retreat for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, built between 1845 and 1851, and apparently they spent many a happy day there with their children. It was also the place Victoria returned to after the death of her beloved Albert in 1861. She was to spend the next 7 years there, holed up, mourning the loss of her husband, friend and confidant, dressed in black and refusing to budge, even though desperately needed as Head of State. She even refused to ‘Open Parliament’, which put the Government in a quandry!  Queen Victoria used Osborne for over 50 years, entertaining foreign royalty and visiting ministers.

osborne house, exploring the isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

Osborne House, Isle of Wight – seaside home for Victoria and Albert

Taken on a guided tour of the lower floor and some of the rooms, we were left gasping by the sheer splendour and magnificence of the furnishings and decorations. Albert had pretty much the final say on how it should look and I can say the man had amazing taste; he has left an amazing legacy for the country.

osborne house isle of wight, visit isle of wight

beautifully decorated and long passageways

Not ostentatious, but finely set out, the rooms are stunning with faux-marble columns, exquisitely woven carpets, fabulous paintings on the walls, much of it original furniture and works of art (some are replicas as the current Queen has the originals).

osborne house isle of wight, visit isle of wight

exquisitely furnished with lush carpets, decorative ceilings, fabulous chandeliers

Their initials V & A interwoven can be seen in ceiling decorations, woven into the corners of carpets and added wherever possible.

victoria and albert osborne house isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

V & A – everywhere you looked there initials were interwoven and part of the decor; carpets, floors, ceilings, cornices

I found it to be quite poignant viewing the rooms and imagined the family living there – how much they must have loved it.

osborne house isle of wight, visit isle of wight

beautiful passageways with exquisite sculptures, finely furnished rooms

Many, many family portraits filled the walls in most of the family rooms. Poignant images of beloved children, from toddlers into adulthood with children of their own; all long gone, some of whom met tragic ends.

osborne house victoria and albert, visit the isle of wight

Victoria and Albert who between them created a dynasty that spread across the world – family portraits

The one room that left me gasping was the fabulous Durbar Room. Added to entertain large numbers of people it was built and completed between 1891 and 1892 almost 30 years after Prince Albert’s death…I’m quite sure he would have approved. This room is stunning! Designed by Lockwood Kipling (father of the author Rudyard Kipling) and master carver Bhai Ram Singh. Detailed with intricate Indian-style plaster work, it is richly decorated in the architectural styles of northern India and reflected Queen Victoria’s then status as Empress of India, the large reception room is breath-taking. Although it looks like everything is carved from ivory, the plaster-work was executed by the Indian plasterer Bhai Ram Singh -there is not one piece of ivory in the room.

osborne house isle of wight, victoria and albert osborne house, visit the isle of wight

The Durbar Room, Osborne House

The Durbar Wing also provided accommodation for Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest married daughter, and her family on the 1st floor.

In the display cabinets in the room are some of the stunning gifts received by Victoria when she was Empress of India.

queen victoria empress of india, osborne house isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

gifts for the Empress of India, Osborne House, Isle of Wight

With reference to my visit to The Needles yesterday and the Marconi Monument, in 1898 messages were received from Marconi at Queen Victoria’s Osborne House on a telephone presented by Alexander Bell.

Queen Victoria died at Osborne House in 1901.

queen victoria, osborne house, isle of wight

Queen Victoria – Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Her successor, her eldest son, Edward VII (1841–1910), didn’t need it and as no other member of the royal family wanted to take on the upkeep, the king gave the Osborne estate to the nation on his  Coronation Day in 1902.  Osborne House is now managed by English Heritage.

After the tour which sadly only took in part of the house due to much needed repairs being done on the central staircase, I headed outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and views. The grounds are a delight and much as I wanted to go down to the beach are and visit the Swiss Cottage, my time was almost up, so I contented myself with a quick whizz around the perimeter of the house and at 12noon I recorded the chimes of the clock and then set off back to the bus-stop. In all a fantastic trip.

visit osborne house isle of wight, visit isle of wight

Exterior views of Osborne House and across the grounds to the Solent

My next stop was Ryde, then the B&B where I collected my suitcase and set off for the ferry with plenty of time to spare. I even managed to watch one of the Hovercraft come in to land….again!!! LOL They are fascinating to watch.

And so it was time to say goodbye to the Isle of Wight. I shall definitely return, although I know not when. But there is still much to see and after chatting to the gentleman that I accosted one day on one of my walks in Bembridge, I am inspired to do what he did and walk around the while perimeter of the island. (btw I didn’t harm the guy, I just stopped him to ask about the walking poles he was using!! 😉 )

visit the isle of wight

Goodbye to the Isle of Wight

One of my ambitions is to visit 100 of the Domesday towns and villages in England. There are 84 such places on the Isle of Wight, some of which have morphed into larger towns and others that are still around but looking nothing at all like they may have in 1085/86. I managed to visit 6 of these places: Binstead, Brading, Nettleston, Sandown, Shanklin and a walk through the lower end of Puckpool.

The Domesday Book was commissioned in December 1085 by William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066. The first draft was completed in August 1086 and contained records for 13,418 settlements in the English counties south of the rivers Ribble and Tees (the border with Scotland at the time).

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Day 2: After a very disturbed night, and struggling to get back to sleep after being woken at 01:30 in the morning by a hell of a ruckus downstairs (I did look but couldn’t see who or what), I was tempted to just shut my eyes and snuggle back under the covers when my alarm went off at 7:30! Urgh. But, I had adventures ahead so after a most welcome cup of tea I got dressed, partook of the ‘continental’ breakfast the B&B had kindly provided for me, and set off for the bus to my first stop……Brading Roman Villa.

visit Brading Roman Villa on the Isle of Wight

Brading Roman Villa on the Isle of Wight

It was great travelling along a different route and of course in the daylight I could see so much more of the countryside. Before too long the driver let me off at my requested stop and directed me to the entrance to the villa. On the whole I found the bus drivers on the IoW to be very helpful. It was a real thrill to walk along the route that had possibly been traversed by the Romans nearly two centuries ago. I was quite early so I enjoyed a 30 minute excursion of the site before entering the building.

visit brading roman villa isle of wight

the outside area of Brading Roman Villa

The Brading Roman Villa heritage site is owned and operated by the Oglander Roman Trust and they have done a superb job of preserving the remains. There are a number of cabinets exhibiting ancient artefacts..fab!!

visit brading roman villa

Brading Roman Villa

I had a very entertaining guide give me a head start and then I was off to explore. Oh my gosh! I cannot tell you how stunning the place is. Imagine being able to see the stunning mosaics insitu as they had been laid all those hundreds of years ago. And they are astoundingly beautiful. It always gives me a thrill to walk in the footsteps of long ago civilizations…..I always wish I could just time-travel for an hour or so…just to experience what it must have looked like.

visit brading roman villa isle of wight

some of the stunning mosaics. what a wonderful way to decorate your house

After thoroughly exploring the villa I set off once again for the next leg of my journey to Shanklin. The route took us through Sandown and since I had already visited the town previously, decided to not get off there again.

whistle stop tour of the isle of wight shanklin

scenes of Shanklin

Shanklin was lovely and I had a fantastic walk around the town, discovered some beautiful places and managed a short walk along the clifftop before heading back into town centre to the little tea-shop I had seen earlier: Cinderella’s Tea Room and Dress Shop…how could I not stop off 😉

whistle stop tour of the isle of wight shanklin

Cinderella Tea Room and dress shop

Then it was off back uphill through the town and since my bus wasn’t due for another 30 minutes I decided to walk as far as I could before the next one was due. Along the way I passed the most delightful set of cottages you could imagine. Totally quintessential England. The Old Thatch Teashop was closed for the winter, I am most certainly going to plan a visit the next time I visit the island.

whistle stop tour of the isle of wight shanklin

Chocolate Box perfect – quintessential England – Shanklin Isle of Wight

Unfortunately the clouds had by now settled and it began to rain…I had already walked a fair distance so wasn’t too unhappy to wait for the bus – it arrived just before the heavens opened!! Glad of the snug warmth of the bus I enjoyed the scenery whizzing by. One of the things that surprised me the most about the IoW is how hilly it is. I thought it might be fun to walk around the island next visit, and that thought was uppermost in my mind as we traversed the hills and dales…..those hills will be a test of my endurance, that’s for sure.

Next stop was Newport. Located at the point where the River Medina splits into two; one branch, the Medina continues almost all the way across the island to the southern most point, splitting into lots of smaller tributaries and off shoots along the way, and the other continues as the Lukely Brook to Bowcombe where it peters out.

visit newport isle of wight

Newport Harbour and the River Medina, Isle of Wight

Newport, located in the centre of the island, is the principal town on the IoW and often referred to as the capital. With the town’s quay a short distance away, the town centre is made up of 2 squares surrounded by elegant Victorian and Georgian architecture.

visit newport isle of wight

scenes of Newport, Isle of Wight

With a historic past that goes back 40,000 years to the Neanderthal period, mousterian remains; tools made by Neanderthals were found in the 1970’s, there are also Roman remains and two Roman villas, as well as links to the Norman Conquest.  I spent an hour or so walking around and visited The Guildhall Museum which is a delightful showcase for the history of the island. Well worth a visit.

guildhall museum visit newport isle of wight

Guildhall Museum, Newport, Isle of Wight – only £2 entry fee, it’s so worth a visit

As mentioned previously, the buses are not exactly very regular so instead of waiting for 45 minutes for the next one out of town, I walked to Carisbrooke Castle which was next on my agenda. Carisbrooke was for centuries the Isle of Wight’s capital and was once called Buccombe or Beaucombe, and means the ‘ fair valley’ and I’m sure on a fine day it would be an amazing sight from the top of the hill across the valley.

visit Carisbrooke, Newport, Isle of Wight

Carisbrooke, Newport, Isle of Wight

I so enjoyed the walk; it took no time at all and I was within sight of the castle…only at the top of a great big bloody hill LOL. I wasn’t in the mood for climbing!!! Jeez. Anyway, I put on my big girl panties and started trudging uphill. Ever so worth it.

visit carisbrooke castle newport isle of wight

Carisbrooke Castle – Charles I was detained here before his trial

Carisbrooke Castle is stunning!! Carrisbrooke, an historic Motte-and-Bailey castle, originally a Roman fort, is located in the village of Carisbrooke, not too far from Newport. The castle was built soon after William the Conqueror came to England and the following centuries saw a tumultuous history with a number of owners. In 1293 the castle became the property of Edward I and the crown. In 1647 Charles I took refuge at the castle, but this later turned into his prison from which he tried to escape in the months prior to his trial. His daughter princess Elizabeth later died there aged 14. Also managed by English Heritage the castle was unfortunately closed on weekdays at the time of my visit. I’ll definitely have to visit again.

carisbrooke isle of wight

the village of Carisbrooke with the castle on the other side of the river Lukely

The village of Carisbrooke appears to be split in two by the River Lukely with a major part of the town on one side and the castle on the other.  The views from the hill on which the castle perches are outstanding, even though it was a grey and glum day.

From there I made the insane decision to make the long journey to see The Needles. I had planned on doing this as part of my whistle-stop tour, but the day was already closing in, it was raining and I was cold and hungry. But after a quick whatsapp discussion with my daughter I drew breath and started walking…yes, you guessed…the next bus was 37 minutes away and I don’t like standing endlessly waiting!!! ….LOL I tell you it was a real challenge getting around the island with the ludicrous bus timetable. On the way I passed through the village of Gunville, of which I saw little besides the name and a convenience store where I bought something to eat….I was famished by that time : 15:30!! I decided at this point to wait for the bus….the road out of the village was narrow with high hedges and it was raining…..I didn’t fancy becoming a statistic on the Isle of Wight!

Located at the South Western tip of the Isle of Wight above Alum Bay, The Needles, an iconic image, immediately spring to mind when you think of the island.  Am I ever so glad I decided to go!! We got to The Needles tourist area at 16:50 – completely deserted. The bus I arrived on was due to leave again at 17:05. It was raining. It was getting dark. The next bus after was at 17:35…..I did not feel like hanging around. So I dashed over to the viewing platform, had a quick look, took some photos and dashed back to the warmth of the bus. Wow, what a thrill to see them in the distance even though the light was fading rapidly and I could barely see.

visit the needles on the isle of wight

The Needles above Alum Bay on the south-western tip of the Isle of Wight

An added bonus was being able to see the Marconi Monument. Located at The Needles, the monument marks the precise location where Guglielmo Marconi undertook his pioneering work at the end of the 19th Century.  This led to radio and all telecommunications as we know it today.

The Needles and the Marconi Monument, Isle of Wight

The Needles and the Marconi Monument, Isle of Wight

And then we were off and on the way back to Newport where once again and for the final time that day I had to change buses to get back to Ryde.

A magical day, albeit exhausting. I got to see 90% of what I had planned on seeing and even though it was a whistle-stop tour, it was fun. I was however really really glad to get back to the B&B and bed!

The following day; Saturday was my final morning on the Isle of Wight and I had planned a trip to see Osborne House; once the seaside home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

For more about my first day of adventure….

Day 3 – 1/2

 

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