A Travellerspoint blog

Mysterious Stonehenge

An Unsolved Mystery

Salisbury Plains....sounds like a dull name but actually we are here to visit the famous magical ring of stones...Stonehenge. The stones are amazing up close...the pictures don't do it justice. With audio device in hand we are free to wander around the "circle" at our own pace listening to what is known and unknown about the stones.

Stonehenge is a 3500 year-old circle of standing stones and one of Britain's most important monuments. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site with no facts who built this landmark or how it was constructed.

Evidence suggests that it may have once been a burial site. There are theories that Stonehenge may have astronomical, spiritual and possibly supernatural meanings....to me it is the unknown which is so appealing!

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Erected @ 2500 BC the ancientness of it is really hard to fathom....quite a mystery!

FUN FACTS:

The stones travelled from Wiltshire to South Wales (probably by boat)

The Average Stonehenge sarsen weighs 25 tons and the largest stone, The Heel Stone, weighs about 30 tons

Some stones are bigger than they look...the tallest standing stone on the site, is buried underground...in total it measures 8.71 metres from base to tip

Approximately 180 generations have passed since the stones were erected at Stonehenge however, people were living at the site long before Stonehenge was built

In 1802 an archaeologist left a bottle of port under the Slaughter Stone.

About 1500 Roman objects have been found at Stonehenge

So worth the visit...

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 12:32 Archived in England Comments (0)

Oxford University

Witchcraft and Wizardry?

The oldest university in the English-speaking world is housed in the city of Oxford. The colleges that makeup the university are known for some of the finest architecture in Europe. As we walk the cobble-stoned streets, the academic ambiance permeates the air..I can almost see the literary geniuses that studied here.

Christ Church, The Bodleian and New College helped create the backdrop that became Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Oscar Wilde,
Indira Ghandi, Dr. Seuss, Steven Hawking, Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton...just to name a few...studied here. The architecture, the formal gardens and streets linking one college to another is amazing.

I soaked in as much as I could for today...I even feel smarter....does this make me an honorary Oxonian?

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After a long day, we enjoyed another wonderful meal and of course enjoyed my new favorite dessert: Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce. This dessert seemed to be the favorite on everyone's list. As the Brits say: 'It's absolutely scrummy!"

Here is the recipe if you're interested:

STICKY DATE PUDDING WITH TOFFEE SAUCE

1 3/4 c packed pitted dates (@ 10 oz)
2 c water
1 1/2 t baking soda
2 c all purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t salt
3/4 sticks (6 T) unsalted butter, softened
1 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs

FOR SAUCE

1 3/4 STICKS (3/4 c plus 2 T) unsalted butter
1 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 c heavy cream
1/2 t vanilla
ACCOMPANIMENT: vanilla ice cream

PREPARATION:

MAKE PUDDING:

PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 F. AND BUTTER AND FLOUR AN 8" SQUARE BAKING PAN ( 2 INCHES DEEP).

COARSELY CHOP DATES AND IN A 1 1/2 TO 2 QUART SAUCEPAN SIMMER DATES IN WATER UNCOVERED FOR 5 MINUTES.

REMOVE PAN FROM HEAT AND STIR IN BAKING SODA. (MIXTURE WILL FOAM). LET MIXTURE STAND FOR 20 MINUTES.

WHILE MIXTURE IS STANDING, INTO A BOWL SIFT TOGETHER FLOUR, BAKING POWDER, GINGER, SALT. IN A LARGE BOWL WITH AN ELECTRIC

MIXER BEAT TOGETHER BUTTER AND SUGAR UNTIL LIGHT AND FLUFFY. BEAT IN EGGS ONE AT A TIME, BEATING WELL AFTER EACH ADDITION.

ADD FLOUR MIXTURE IN 3 BATCHES, BEATING AFTER EACH ADDITION UNTIL JUST COMBINED. ADD DATE MIXTURE AND WITH A WOODEN

SPOON STIR BATTER UNTIL JUST COMBINED WELL.

POUR BATTER INTO BAKING PAN AND SET PAN IN A LARGER BAKING PAN. ADD ENOUGH HOT WATER TO LARGER PAN TO REACH HALFWAY UP

SIDES OF SMALLER PAN AND BAKE IN MIDDLE OF OVEN UNTIL A TESTER COMES OUT CLEAN....35 TO 40 MINUTES. REMOVE SMALLER PAN FROM

WATER BATH AND COOL PUDDING TO WARM ON A RACK.

MAKE SAUCE WHILE PUDDING IS COOLING

IN A 1 1/2 TO 2 QUART HEAVY SAUCEPAN MELT BUTTER OVER MODERATE HEAT AND ADD BROWN SUGAR. BRING MIXTURE TO A BOIL STIRRING

OCCASIONALLY, AND STIR IN CREAM AND VANILLA. SIMMER SAUCE, STILL STIRRING OCCASIONALLY UNTIL THICKENED SLIGHTLY, ABOUT 5

MINUTES. COOL SAUCE TO WARM.

CUT WARM PUDDING INTO SQUARES. SERVE WITH ICE CREAM AND WARM SAUCE.

Enjoy!

:

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 12:10 Archived in England Comments (0)

“To live a charmed life”...

Stratford-upon-Avon

sunny

Our first stop today is a visit to Anne Hathaway's Cottage -- a twelve-roomed farmhouse where Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare, lived as a child in the village of Shottery, Warwickshire, England, about 1 mile west of Stratford-upon-Avon. Spacious, and with several bedrooms, it is set in extensive gardens where expert gardeners time the plantings so there is always something blooming all year long. This creates a romantic atmosphere all around the property. There gardens include flowers, of course, vegetables, herbs and an extensive variety of shrubs.

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“In my minds eye” ...the beauty of the Cotswolds is as picturesque as I imagine it to be. Stratford-upon-Avon, home of the greatest English writer...William Shakespeare who wrote 38 plays and 154 sonnets which were translated into every major language in the world.

Do these sound familiar?

“This above all: to thine own self be true, ...
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ...
“To be, or not to be: that is the question”

Into town we go to visit "Bill's" birthplace and meander through the various shops and eateries. As we enter the main street, we are greeted by the court jester, "Touchstone" from the play "As you like it".

Holy Trinity Church is a nice walk through town and along the river and away from tourists. The small church is interesting and the cemetary is filled with beautiful old, mossy headstones. This is where Shakespeare was baptized, married and buried

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A nice stroll back into town to find a bite to eat...maybe some fish and chips to round out the day and on to Oxford we go!

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 10:43 Archived in England Comments (0)

Caernarfan Castle

Bumbershoots

sunny

The scenery changes as we head to Deganwy, Wales. Instead of miles of stone walls and green pastures studded with sheep we start to see a few rolling hills and inlets of water which suddenly leads us to a shoreline harboring sailboats and motor boats...which rhymes with moats....which belong to the main attraction: Caernarfon Castle.

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Caernarfon is architecturally one of the most impressive of all of the castles in Wales and was built with the intention of being a seat of power. This castle and medieval town is located on the North Wales Coastline at the southern end of the Menai Strait between north Wales and Anglesey. Because of the agriculturally rich land and the Menai Strait to allow for easy access between the North and Western Welsh coast, this was the perfect place to build a castle. Caernarvon was built on the shoreline ...supplies came by sea due to the skill of the Welsh in convoy ambush over land .

Fun facts:

Caernarfon Castle is a top attraction in North Wales, and one of the most impressive castles found in the whole of the UK. What makes it so impressive? The entire fishing town of Caernarfon is within the castle’s walls, and it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highest percentage of Welsh speakers live in this town.

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The design of this castle is a little unusual when compared to other castles in the region. Imagine the structure as a figure eight; at the middle of the castle, the walls narrow into each other, forming two large and symmetrical courtyards. Surrounding the central courtyards are thick, reinforced walls on all sides. The walls extend back from the bay, and wrap around the old town of Caernarfon, meaning the whole place is securely held within the stone castle

King Edward l had hundreds of tradesman and craftsman work on the castle. The timber shipped from Liverpool and Anglesley and laborers coming from London. At that time, the 1200’s, the cost was approximately £22,000 to build it...AND...it was completed within 5 years!

One of Caernarfon Castle’s appealing characteristics is its 12 octagonal towers. The style of the towers is different to the others in the area built by Edward I and were much harder to build. It is thought the design was chosen to evoke Constantinople, what is now Istanbul in Turkey, and even used multicoloured stone to mirror the Byzantine city. The towers are large; the Eagle Tower measures 10m across at the base.

Caernarfon Castle can only be entered through one of two gatehouses, the King’s Gate which faces the town and the Queen’s Gate, which faces the sea. The Queen’s Gate was mostly used for unloading supplies from ships. But the King’s Gate is something else. It was built with holes and slots, for pouring boiling oil and water over people trying to enter and shooting arrows from. In its glory days, the gatehouse would have contained more than four doors and five different portcullises.

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We walk through the quaint small town and enjoy the scenic views and happenings of the day.

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Something for everyone!

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Lucky for us...a market to stroll through as well!

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Another find!

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On the way to our hotel we visit Deganwy and chose a leisurely stroll back to our hotel.

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A surprise community garden enroute....

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Back at the hotel a refreshing Aperol Spritzer...delish!
..... and guess what we had for dessert...that’s right...Sticky Toffee Pudding! ...my fav!

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 03:00 Archived in Wales Comments (1)

Walled City of Chester

Nowhere man

sunny

The walled city of Chester is one of the oldest in Britain, and has a charm and splendor all of its own despite being dwarfed in size by neighboring Liverpool and Manchester. Chester is the best preserved walled city in England as its medieval walls form the most complete circuit around any town or city in England. Chester was founded as Roman fort in the year 79 and was known as Deva. It was one of the three major Roman army bases in the UK.

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Chester is often ranked as one of the best places to live in England, making it no wonder that so many people want to live here. With access to a range of independent and mainstream shops, amenities, bars, restaurants and activities right on your doorstep, Chester is a great place to live.
We get the tour of the wall surrounding the city.

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We meet an artist along the way...

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He even has security guarding the area:

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The Cats of Chester:

You’ve heard of the Cheshire Cat??? ....Did you ever wonder about that Cheshire grin???? In the Cheshire port town of Chester, there’s a local legend set around the docks. It’s said Chester cats were the happiest in all of England because they feasted on the ship rats and mice lured out of their docked boats by the town’s scent of milk and cheese.

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In the old city, the Rows is a shopping district distinguished by 2-level covered arcades and Tudor-style half-timber buildings. A Roman amphitheatre, with ongoing excavations, lies just outside the old city's walls.

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Another secret in this town is a 13th century crypt in the heart of Chester's Independent Quarter and what we find is a cave of fine wines, quirky brews and sophisticated spirits. There has just been a refurb that marries the best of modern and medieval design!

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Fun Facts:

James Bond was born here. John Lennon’s granny lived here too!
Lennon’s grandmother, Annie Jane Millward, was born in the Bear & Billet pub, on Lower Bridge Street, in 1873. At the time it was known as the Earl of Shrewsbury's town house and Annie was said to have lived there until she was in her 20s.

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While the Fab Four were in Chester in the early 60s, they heard tales of a
cottage on the banks of the River Dee, near to the Grosvenor Bridge, called 'Nowhere'. It is said to have intrigued John Lennon so much that he visited the house and later wrote the song Nowhere Man.

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The Town Crier did his thing and luckily none of us ended up in shackles otherwise we would have missed our dinner at the Bodant Furnace Farm!
No worries about that though...Michelle wouldn’t let us miss a meal!

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Superman?????

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On to Wales for our dinner prepared by Dai Davies ( & Co.).

Known as Dai Chef ...one of the Seven Celtic Chefs who wowed opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti with his culinary skills has been appointed as the resident chef at Bodnant Welsh Food in Conwy.

The centre of excellence at the heart of the 5,000 acre estate has been a big hit since it was officially opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012.

Today, he is wowing some American Superstars and we are singing his praises.

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After a delicious meal, a little shopping at the on-site store and off to Deganwy we go for another adventure!

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 01:44 Archived in England Tagged food chester town center chef dai bodnant crier Comments (0)

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