A Travellerspoint blog

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)

Windermere lake

Gutter System

rain

Windermere Lake is the largest body of water in England. It is surrounded by mountains, bays and secluded islands. The scenery is breathtaking...what you can see of it between the fog and the rain! To my surprise this is a popular vacation destination for the Brits! It rains here all the time we’re told! Donned in our rain ponchos a few of us remain on deck to capture a few pics of the Lake while the rest of the group keeps warm and dry inside the cabin.

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In New York, at least, swimmers and boaters prefer sunny days but here in England...on Windermere, swimmers are in the water along with sailboats, rowboats and kyacks!!! Make the best of any weather, I guess must be their motto! Not a bad thing.

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This is the home of Beatrix Potter and for kids of all ages....the museum and gift shops are filled with Peter Rabbit-themed items - the big attraction.

Rumor has it that many celebs vacation here on Bowness-on-Windermere. It’s true! We spot a few smurfs in town today !

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Bowness-on-Windermere is a small Victorian town with lots of tea shops, icecream and craft shops. For Rick..no rocks to be found in this town... but he did comment on the one thing which was a highlight for him...

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....the gutter system!

“Always look for the positive” he says.

....and...other than smurfs

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Jemima Puddleduck!?

Levens Hall is next on today’s agenda. What awaits us behind the large stone wall are the topiary gardens. After a tour of the manor, we wander through the paths and arches which remain largely unchanged since the 17th century. Since the 1690’s the 10 acres of gardens retain many of its original features including the worlds oldest topiary gardens. This ancient collection of boxwood and yew trees rise up from the beautiful displays of flora planted with them.

Here’s a photo essay:

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Back at the hotel we have a nice dinner but the big deal for me was dessert...

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Sticky Toffee Pudding! (My highlight for today)

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 14:42 Archived in England Tagged sticky hall pudding bowness-on-windermere levens toffee Comments (1)

Castletown Estate

Meeting Lord Giles

rain

A beautiful ride south through the Scottish countryside to the Scotland/ England border takes us to a town called Jedburgh. In the Middle Ages this was a border country which has a bloody history (The Battle of Neville's Cross, The Scottish Reformation). . Jedburgh Abbey is a ruined Augustinian abbey which was founded in the 12th century (ca. 1118). The walls of the abbey are well maintained which gives you a great idea of how it would have looked back in the day. As you drive through the town it towers over the main road. Hard to miss.

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Travelling on we cross into England and drive through Northumberland National Park...home to England's cleanest rivers, clearest air and darkest skies. It is one of the least populated and least visited National Parks and also is known officially as the most tranquil place in England. The park covers 405 square miles from the Scottish border to Hadrians wall noted for its history and cultural heritage and known as the Land of the Far Horizons. One third of the parks landscape is made up of priority habitats which are recognized for their national and international importance. Walking, stargazing and visiting Hadrian's Wall are popular on the to-do list.

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The park is home to a World Heritage site - Hadrian's Wall - it's a stunning example of the dramatic legacy the Roman Empire left in the area.
The community in the park has deep roots - and the cultural identity of the local people is reflected in their speech, traditions, folklore, knowledge and skills.

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We are visiting Hadrians Wall a UNESCO World Heritage Site which reflects its frontier past.

A significant portion of the wall still stands and can be followed on foot along the adjoining Hadrian's Wall Path. The largest Roman archaeological feature in Britain, it runs a total of 73 miles in northern England. Regarded as a British cultural icon, Hadrian's Wall is one of Britain's major ancient tourist attractions.

It is a common misconception that Hadrian's Wall marks the boundary between England and Scotland. In fact Hadrian's Wall lies entirely within England.

Housesteads Roman Fort is the remains of an auxiliary fort on Hadrian's Wall. The fort was built in stone around AD 124, soon after the construction of the wall began in AD 122. The site is owned by the National Trust and is in the care of English Heritage. Finds can be seen in the site museum as well as a short informational video.

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This is where the rock collection for this trip begins. Rick has been picking up a few rocks on the walk up to the site...a thrill for him is “bringing home a piece of the land”.

We’ve worked up an appetite so we journey onward to Castletown Estate for a “regal” lunch. Country sausage, cold curried chicken and a green salad. Dessert followed with homemade raspberry-mint ice cream and small merengue cookies filled with lemon curd. Lady Penelope was at a charity luncheon today and could not join us. Our host : Lord Giles. How can I describe our host...a friendly, welcoming, funny, very rich entertaining man. He welcomed us with a “refreshment” while he gave a brief history of the house.

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Conversation at the table included his estate, of course, .on the River Eden in the heart of an estuary, the gardens, the organic farm and his cattle, we touched briefly on Brexit and we learned that he asked Nancy Reagan to dance “at some party” but she turned him down.

Lord Giles then took us for a tour of the gardens...take a look!

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Moving on to a popular village in Cumbria called Grasmere we learn that this was William Wordsworth town. This is where he wrote some of his famous poems. He is also buried here. The next place (and the touristy thing to do) in this town is to visit The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. Sarah Nelson invented this recipe in 1854.

If you’re interested in reading about Sarah Nelson: www.grasmeregingerbread.co.uk

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It’s been quite a long day. “A funny thing happened” back at the hotel where one of my favorite questions was asked: “what is with all the bathrobes?” as clearly there are many guests walking around in the Low Wood Bay Spa robes and slippers. Well..you know who you are and I still laugh everytime I think of
It. A funny moment to remember!

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 09:41 Archived in England Tagged bay wall low wood estate lord castletown giles hadrian’s hotel/spa Comments (2)

Edinburgh

Murphy’s Law

overcast

It’s the hot month of August ... when the Fringe Festival and the Military Tattoo take over Edinburgh! I’ve done my homework and have a to-do list of things we’d like to see on our first day in town. The old charm of this city pulls you into the street...so they say but “Murphy” sometimes throws out a challenge every now and then and today is one of those days.

Long story short our shuttle to our international flight is cancelled and there is no way we can make the connection to catch the flight to Scotland today! No other flights are going out due to weather conditions at our connection. The best option I can get is to be rebooked from Newark Liberty International tomorrow evening! I decide to take it as I still have a chance to catch up with our tour. We are disappointed about missing the first day in Edinburgh but determined to get there for the Tattoo. We call every number for every mode of transportation to Newark we can and everything is booked. We go to bed without knowing if we can get to the airport ...sadly I start thinking we may have to cancel this trip.

At 4:00 am after a sleepless night I get up and call several more numbers for different car services and viola!!!! The gent on the phone tells me there will be one car available after a drop off and could come to get us and bring us to the airport....".. at the bargain price $390. "You gotta do what you gotta do” right???!!!

Our car arrives and comes zigzagging up the driveway, stops midway and exerting much effort our driver gets himself out of the vehicle. Rick and I look at each other and I instantly feel like I’m about to cry...I’m not feeling confidant that this will go well. I take a deep breath and tell myself to have faith. He loads our luggage, we hop in and we are finally heading toward Newark! Our driver .... Joshua. Age: prob. 85 dapper little man...black suit, white shirt, little spectacles...and a Fitbit (sky blue) turns the corner down the road and our luggage goes flying out the back of the car. “What’s that noise ?” he says. “Oh I forgot to close the back of the SUV!” We hear 2 loud thumps and as I turn and look back I shriek...”our luggage!!!” as it lays approximately 300 feet from the car in the middle of the road! I jump out and start running for the luggage. Rick comes to help me screaming “lookout! he's backing up! “ As I look back I see the SUV with the back up zigzagging backwards toward us. Rick and I put the luggage back in the car, shut the back door and off we go zigzagging toward the thruway! So far it’s a bit of a shaky start but I’m still holding out hope that we’ll be on the plane on time.... but....time will tell.

Ok...so I’m making idle chit chat with Josh...

me: where do you live
Josh: Newburgh/POK
me: do you drive to Newark often?
Josh: yes, my kids travel a lot
Me: Have you been doing this long??
Josh: No
(Off to another great start as I keep glancing back to make sure our luggage is still in the vehicle. )

We’ve arrived! ( Tears of joy!!! ).

A word about Newark Airport..it’s a very busy place...as is every airport but very well organized! Organized chaos! And...no cash is used here. Anywhere. Everything is done on tablets. Tablets are screwed to tables and all kinds of food and shopping, movie and game selections are available. You pick up your order, it is scanned with a barcode at self checkout.

This flight to Edinburgh is also delayed by almost 2 hours. Technical problem.
They bring in a new plane and off we go! Our ride in Edinburgh is at the airport waiting for us and gives us a little commentary on our way to the hotel! Our guide has left a note for us to contact her when we get in, she said to catch a cab to the castle. When we arrive there we ask a woman who works in the gift shop to call our guide Michelle so we can meet up with the group! And so...although we’ve missed last evening which was a big miss, and the morning tour and part of the castle tour — more big misses... we are here! Hallelujah!

Edinburgh Castle...A few fun facts:

-The Castle sits on Castle Rock ... a volcanic rock 250 ft above the city
-Research done in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100 year-old history
-It is THE most besieged place in Great Britain
and one of the most attacked in the world
-It is Scotland’s most paid tourist attraction @ 2.1 million visitors per year

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On to the Royal Yacht Britannia:

The Royal Yacht Britannia sailed over one million miles on a thousand Royal visits during 44 years of service. World leaders like Nelson Mandela, President Bill Clinton and celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra were entertained here.

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Oh look...!!! Anyone you know???

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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Definition: Military Tattoo:
“The term comes from the early 17th century Dutch phrase doe den tap toe ("turn off the tap"), a signal sounded by drummers or trumpeters to instruct innkeepers near military garrisons to stop serving beer and for soldiers to return to their barracks.”

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We really enjoyed the Tattoo...definitely a highlight...!!!

Fringe facts:

“The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the world's largest arts festival, which in 2018 spanned 25 days and featured more than 55,000 performances of 3,548 different shows in 317 venues”. Everyone is invited, any art form accepted. The idea of this festival is to provide little bits of free art on the street in hopes people will enjoy it and then come to their venue and pay to see a show. There are shows going on in every establishment in Edinburgh from art to music, dance, comedy etc.

What I love in Edinburgh:

Our hotel “The Waldorf Astoria” formerly The Caledonia a.k.a The Callie

The continuous refill of the candy dishes in the lobby ...buttery caramels all you can eat!

The pens

The porters and hotel staff dressed in plaid

The old architecture in the city

All the chimney tops on every building

The Scottish brough

The friendly smiles

Meeting the people on our tour group

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Challenges:

The heated towel racks and trying to avoid flooding the bathrooms (some of these shower stalls !!??!!)

But......
we're glad to be here and looking forward to our trip!

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 02:55 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh festival tattoo yacht royal britannia fringe miliary Comments (2)

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