Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Norfolk, cricket and round towers

Well, we enjoyed a long anticipated Summer holiday last month.  I've never been to Norfolk and anticipated marshy sea fronts, big skies, interesting local vernacular and flat countryside, I was correct on all counts and in small doses! Norfolk is indeed very diverse and we literally only scratched the surface of the north of the county.

Marshy sea front and flat countryside - check

Big skies - check

Interesting local vernacular - double check!

We stayed in a little brick built chalet in the village of Weybourne, on the North Norfolk coast. The chalet was semi detached but the neighbouring chalet and the one opposite were both empty for the whole week, so it was very, very quiet, blissful in fact.

We travelled on a Saturday, when I always think we will hit congestion and shoppers, we didn't!

Sheringham sea front

Our first full day, therefore, was a Sunday, and after a visit to the nearest supermarket in Sheringham, and a quick walk along the front where we watched a chap painting a mural for the lifeboat station we set off to find a Sunday lunch.

Sheringham lifeboats through the ages

Steering clear of the coast and associated tourist tat, we came across a beautiful church with a cylindrical tower.

Although this was a first for me, I've since found out there are lots and lots of round tower churches in Norfolk

Soon after stopping to visit the round tower, we stumbled upon a quintessentially English village green, with a pub at one corner. We were in Aldborough.

The pub, The Black Boys, was threatened with closure a few years ago but had a stay of execution and now serves traditional English food, roasts on a Sunday and fish and chips on Friday nights.

We were happy to indulge in not only a large roast lunch but puddings as well! 

 Afterwards, we waddled outside and sat on a bench under a tree to relax in the warm air.  The locals were setting up the cricket pitch and soon a steady stream of players arrived in their whites. So we settled back to watch.

 We stayed for what seemed like hours, in reality it was just one. I'm sure this little scene has taken place most Sundays in this village for many years.

Back to the car and map out, we looked for somewhere interesting close by to visit.  I spotted Baconsthorpe castle a previously fortified manor house now under the management of English Heritage and free to visit.

Baconsthorpe is a grade I listed building and scheduled ancient monument, built by an ambitious local family in the late 1400's, headed at the time by John Heydon, who made his money in wool and switched his political allegiances during the War of the Roses as often as he changed his socks, it seems! 

Over the next 200 years the house grew to reflect the family wealth.  After the English civil war and a family row about ownership, the property was abandoned and fell into ruin.

There are no upper floors or decent remains of steps to be seen at Baconsthorpe, but it is still grand, even in it's present state of decay.

 There is still a lake to one side and a water filled ditch surrounds the outer walls, implying fortification.

Close up, and you can see why these late medieval walls are so strong, the flint is still as razor sharp as the day it was constructed over 500 years ago.

We had to run from Baconsthorpe, a sudden thunderstorm engulfed us and we fled back to the safety of the car and a flask of tea!

We drove back to the chalet through Holt, a rather posh little town with some ridiculously priced charity shops. One was open, well it was Sunday, and we couldn't resist having a look. £15 for a second hand jumper? no thank you! 

Never mind, Holt is very pretty and we meandered around the tangle of little streets for a while to amuse ourselves.

OH made this property look like a child's playhouse, he could reach the upstairs window!

Love the sign on this shop door, we went back when it was open and it just said... open!

This had us wondering, what was the connection with Nelson?  we found out later in the week!

Back at our cosy little chalet we had a light tea and wandered down to the beach, although it was pebbled and steeply sloping, it was fine to walk along (we both noticed aching knees and calves for a few days then got used to it)

I'm not overly fond of the sea but we came back to this little beach with its ever changing sunsets every night during our stay and loved every minute of it. 

More tales from Norfolk to follow soon...

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The stream in the sky and other tall stories

On our visit to North Shropshire, I was excited to see some fabulous architecture  just over the border in Wales.

Our first stop in Wales was the aqueduct at Pontcysyllte, built by engineer Thomas Telford, and completed in 1805. It carries the Llangollen canal over the river Dee and valley below. Interesting to note that the trough which carries the canal is made of pieces of iron bolted together then the gaps are filled with Welsh flannel soaked in tar, a technique which was repeated recently when the aqueduct underwent repairs. The aqueduct is the longest navigable aqueduct in the UK and the highest in the world at 126 feet to the ironwork, the trough is 11 feet 10 inches wide and 5 feet three inches deep. There is a handrail on one side of the aqueduct only, the towpath side.

We didn't walk across it!

  We weren't up to tramping about in the river valley below to get the best viewpoint so I snapped this as we drove over the river. See the narrowboat on the aqueduct to the left?

The aqueduct is fed with water from the river Dee, we drove several miles to the horseshoe falls and found the very start of the Llangollen canal.

The falls are set in spectacular scenery, in fact the whole area is stunning

 Thomas Telford designed the horseshoe shaped weir to draw water from the river to feed his new canal

This little inlet of pure sparkling (and slightly tea coloured, think that's down to the peaty soil) water enters a meter house below

and comes out as the Llangollen canal.

The meter house measures how much water is being taken from the river, currently around 12 million gallons a day.

We had passed through Llangollen on the way to the falls, and went back to enjoy lunch at the corm mill pub, which has a balcony jutting out over the fast flowing river.

There is a lot of birdlife on the river, the rocks create shallow areas and little pools and lots of different birds came to feed and drink while we watched the flow.

The corn mill is on the left of the photo, we were able to watch steam trains come in to the station on the other side of the river.

OH catching a bit of sun whilst waiting for his lunch!

We popped in to a local country park, which happens to be partly underneath another industrial construction, the Cefn viaduct. As the viaduct carries trains, there is no public access. No matter, we were able to park almost underneath it and wander along the river Dee to a lovely vantage point to admire the architecture.

OH drinking his tea.

The viaduct was built in 1848 by Thomas Brassey to carry the Shrewsbury and Chester railway across the river Dee valley.

The river was easily accessible from the country park, and made for a lovely stroll.

Further downstream we found picnicers and lots of dog walkers.

At the end of our walk we found a shop and other facilities and a gorgeous view across the valley.

I love the bit of foliage peeking over from the track!
Last stop on the bridge front was Chirk. Here they have both an aqueduct and viaduct in close proximity.

The viaduct was built after the aqueduct and higher, to denote the superiority of the railway over the canals. 
At this point I am in Wales, but halfway across is the border with England

On the Welsh side the canal enters a long tunnel, 461 yards long to be precise.  The tunnel entrance, like the aqueduct and viaduct are grade II listed  

There is a towpath along the whole of the tunnel and walkers are advised to use a flashlight or torch as it's pretty dark in there. Helpfully, the towpath has a handrail along it's length so you don't fall in!

All of the above are free to visit, there is a small parking charge at horseshoe falls for non National Trust members of £1 and Llangollen town centre, which is pay and display and the local authority controls car parks and on street parking.

Free parking is available in Chirk outside the Police station, a short walk from the bridges and tunnel entrance 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Flower Power!

Today we did something a little different.  We took a stroll through a field of delphiniums in Worcestershire. 

The field is part of a farm where natural confetti is grown and harvested by the Real Flower Confetti Company. The flowers reach their peak in late June/early July and the field is open to the public for ten days. We visited on the first open day and were surprised at how many people were there. Several photographers and their subjects were lurking in the flowers too!

Thankfully it was a dull and overcast kind of day, as we were able to appreciate the beautiful  and vibrant colours.

There is an entry fee to walk around the field, £2.50 per adult, but children are free. You can buy confetti, cut flowers and a confetti cafe has been set up where drinks and cakes can be purchased at a reasonable price.

 I have to say it was almost a surreal experience being surrounded by colour as we walked through the thickly planted bands of flowers

I love delphiniums, and used to grow them in my garden in Birmingham, until they decided they no longer liked the soil and stopped growing!

I was in heaven strolling around the field, and the raised platform provided an interesting angle over the field, unfortunately not high enough to view the Union Jack flag planted at one end.

Half a Union flag

The other half!

Beautiful colours as far as the eye can see!

The field is located in Wick near Pershore in Worcestershire, and is open from 30th June until 9th July from 10am till 5pm. Parking is on a field and free, entry is £2.50 per person, children are free.