Occasionally, we go for a drive in the car for our walk. Usually, only once every few weeks and I get excited about a little outing. It is amazing how thrilling a small outing is now which I suppose doesn’t do us any harm. Anyway, the outings below are rare and over the past few weeks
Recently, we wandered around Barden Lake in Tonbridge. A glorious spot and an easy walk. There were a few people but the paths are wide for the 2 m rule so you feel quite safe. Who finds it weird how we walk in the road now to avoid other walkers? You walk along the pavement and wonder who is going to go on the road first. Must be confusing to children who are always told not to do this!
Anyway, it was great to see all the birds flying around. We saw mallards, geese, kingfishers and lots of dog walkers and families escaping the cabin fever. Is it me, are all the birds singing louder now? Probably me! I’ve heard people blame the lack of traffic but I’m sure they are louder and braver. A robin came up to me recently, and I thought I’m sure that wouldn’t have happened before.
We decided to walk around the above thirty-acre lake and soon found this challenging because the area is fairly wild in places and without paths. However, we enjoyed the ramble around the whole area.
About two-thirds of the lake area forms a nature reserve providing places for fishermen and yachting.
We started the walk by passing the Leigh Barrier which is used to prevent Tonbridge from being flooded. It is high up so provides excellent views of the surrounding area too.
Now the UK lockdown restrictions have been eased this week, I’ve seen a couple of people and briefly visited the south coast.
The weather wasn’t great but dry. We drove to Beachy Head near Eastbourne. The cliff is the highest in England rising 162 metres (531ft) above sea level. You have a magnificent view of the east coast and is quite uplifting at this challenging time. (See top pic.)
Funnily enough, the name has nothing to do with a beach but is derived from the French words Beauchef (13th Century) and Beaucheif (14th Century) meaning “beautiful head(land)” which of course, it is.
Luckily, in 1929, Eastbourne bought the 4,000 acres of land for £100,000 and saved the area from development and is part of the South Downs National Park. David and I thoroughly enjoyed our wind blown walk and even the gales were invigorating. We did eat our sandwich in the car though. Certainly not picnic weather but it is great to enjoy an outing and glorious environment.
The cliffs are eroding every year so it is vitally important not to walk too close to the edge. The white cliffs are quite bright because of the erosion revealing the chalk.
The lighthouse is 43 metres high and electrified in 1920 and automated in 1983. The wild and natural environment is truly wonderful and worth a trip. We walked all around the headland from a nearby car park so we got our exercise in.
Just a few weeks ago, my friend and I visited the Shard, London and then the Bermondsey Gin Distillery. It was a birthday present from last year. You know, one of those things that you have to book months in advance but is worth the wait. It was such enormous fun and I haven’t blogged about this wonderful day out, so here you go.
The idea of The Shard was to create many diverse areas for the public to experience including magnificent London views. The building is a vertical city, which you see when arriving at London Bridge. It is operating 24 hours a day and includes a hotel, retail area, restaurant, viewing floors and of course, offices. The building finally opened officially on the 5th July 2012 after a 12-year project to build a significant landmark on the London skyline. It seems to have worked and the modernity of the building is striking although I always think it looks unfinished.
“THE VISION FOR THE SHARD WAS TO CREATE AN ARCHITECTURALLY STRIKING VERTICAL CITY INCORPORATING RETAIL, OFFICES, HOTEL, APARTMENTS, RESTAURANTS AND A PUBLIC VIEWING GALLERY.”
The Shard developer and joint owner Irvine Sellar
Around the late 90s, Irvine Sellar, the owner-developer had lunch with the award-winning architect Renzo Piano, who, incidentally informed Sellar about his dislike of tall buildings! However, during the lunch meeting, the architect was sucked in by the energy of London, the railway lines and the swirling beauty of the Thames and turned over his menu and started to draw the future Shard. This is said to look like The Shard today.
Elaine and I visited the viewing galleries, 240 m above street level. It is certainly unlike any other place in the world and the views are truly magnificent. When I first arrived, I feared we wouldn’t be able to see much because of the fog but it cleared intermittently and was great for photography too. The spectacular views improve when you experience the outside floor and feel the wind on your face. You can then look up and see the glass and steel spires poking into the rainy clouds and tapering off into the sky.
The panoramic view of London is even better than expected. We watched the Thames river meandering its way towards the outskirts of London. You are above the snaking London Bridge station railway lines which reminded me of childhood memories of toy train tracks. Across the city, you can see many iconic buildings such as Waterloo Station, Big Ben and the historic Tower of London. Parts of this building go back to William the Conqueror. Then there is the Globe Theatre and a distant London Eye. As we saw all this during an afternoon in January 2020, we had the joyful vista of a darkening London and gentle light show as all the lights came on. The rain seems to add to the excitement as London became dimmer and dimmer and more reflective. Truly wonderful.
Bermondsey Gin Distillery
We walked to the above as it is easier than traipsing through the ever-winding tunnels of the tube stations. We did get a little lost on the way and appeared to go around in circles (thanks Google Maps) but got there in the end! Upon arriving at Bermondsey we visited a bar under the arches area called Ropewalk. I enjoyed the strong cocktail as the train thundered overhead. We arrived at the gin place feeling rather merry.
Oh, those were the days.
Bermondsey in the mid-19th century was a notorious slum and the centre for trade and industry. These days the wharves and warehouses have been turned into bars, restaurants and shops. We were given a chat about the history of gin which was most enlightening. I had no idea that in recent years, the law was challenged and subsequently changed and that is why you see so many new gins now. We were both fascinated by this fact alone which explains the abundance of flavours and brands now. Oh, and we thoroughly enjoyed trying our the Jensen’s Gin too!
What an absolutely fabulous day.
Above is a selfie with London Bridge behind (oh dear)!
Recently, I’ve returned from a trip to Scotland and Northumberland. What surprised me about the North of England and Scotland is just how much empty space there is. Fields upon fields of land and yet everybody seems obsessed with building copious schemes in the south of England. Ridiculous. Ok, I knew this just by looking on the map, but was still shocked how quiet and empty the area is in real life.
Having made this controversial statement, I must admit to being grateful that I live in the south without the interminable grey, cold weather. However, many people enjoy the wilderness of this area and it is great if you want to ingratiate yourself in a calm, quiet region, away from it all. Of course, there is a lot to see and do in Scotland too…
This post concentrates on the main places I visited but I enjoyed many walks, road trips and curious cafes too that are not all mentioned here. One of these was walking to see the Falls of Foyers which was quite exquisite. Burns and Wordsworth wrote fondly about the falls and beautiful scenery. I suspect the walk was more precarious in their time. People were friendly and welcoming during my tour of Scotland and it was an excellent trip. The start of a long list of places to visit, across the world!
ps://mishmashmediablog.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/dsc_0022.jpg”> Foyers Waterfall and walk
Firstly, I visited Edinburgh and enjoyed the bustle of the city with a great array of pubs, eateries and atmosphere. I stayed in a Bed and Breakfast near the city which wasn’t extortionately expensive, although the room was circa 1970s and the hardest bed I’ve ever attempted to sleep in. On the plus side, the breakfast was delicious and after a twenty minute stroll, I was in the centre of Edinburgh.
One of the first things I did, was go on the open top bus, hop on and off facility. You have a great view of the city and go at the pace you want hopping off, as necessary. Many historical places are on the tour and as you listen to the tour guide, you obtain snippets of local information, that you may not hear otherwise. Palace of Holyroodhouse is an impressive building and founded as a monastery in the 12th century which is now used for state and official entertaining. The Royal Mile is famous because it goes up towards the Edinburgh Castle. This castle has seen many sieges and battles with royalty having died within the walls. The guide also points out famous pubs and restaurants which are worth visiting. I can recommend the Dome which is a magnificent, grand building with a beautiful glass domed ceiling, pillared arches and has a great selection of food, including afternoon teas and cocktails. A real treat.
One of the humorous tales, as told by a lively and loud tour guide, is often it took so long to travel from Edinburgh to London, with the poor people precariously perched on top of the horse and carriage, that the proprietors of the coaching company insisted you had to have a valid Will before travelling! This is where the “Where there’s a will, there’s a way…” famous quote comes from. I’d wrongly assumed the “will” meant tenacity or similar.
log.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/20180607_131701.jpg”> The Dome….
After Edinburgh, I drove north to Perth and then Inverness. This is known to be the cultural capital of the Scottish highlands and has an impressive castle overlooking the the River Ness. The red sandstone castle was built in 1836 by architect William Burn and on the site of an 11th-century defensive structure. This is a lively and interesting town and of course, a great base for sightseeing the local area and the infamous Loch Ness.
I drove around the Loch Ness and took the boat trip on the loch itself. The views are heavenly and this was my favourite landscape in Scotland. Exploring the area is fun and the scenery is spectacular.
Plenty of places to eat and drink, although I find the pubs up north rather male orientated but a special mention must go to the fabulous Black Isle Bar which sells a great selection of craft beers, ales and yummy pizzas. I’m not a fan of pizza, but even I enjoyed it.
After this I decided it would be a clever idea to reach John O’Groats because, well, I’d got this far. All the driving during this adventure was exhausting but it is great to reach to top of the UK. Something you look at on the map and never expect to reach there. It is great to say you’ve been!
However, contrary to popular belief, it is not the UK’s most northern point, Dunnet Head is, and this is much more inspiring. The rugged peninsula in Caithness has a wild landscape with spectacular vistas, coastal grasslands and a long list of birds including puffins, razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes. Now, this is worth a visit.
8/08/dsc_0074.jpg”> Dunnet Head
Next back towards the Ben Nevis area, Fort William. Unfortunately, I didn’t really realise how far it was and managed to find a place to stay in Fort Augustus for the night. This was a last minute find. I drove up a drive expecting a room and over chatty landlady, and was shown a large caravan with instructions to drop the key in the letter box by 10am the next day. Brilliant. I was exhausted and could chill out in the caravan. What luck! I don’t mind being sociable but not after driving forever and a day haha.
Fort William is a pleasant town, but the heavens opened for the three days I was there and so the scenery did dissipate into a foggy mass. Never mind, onwards to Glasgow.
9303519.jpg”> Broad St. is used for American movies because of its likeness! Source: Google
This was a great city. Yes, I was surprised to
This was a great city. Yes, I was surprised too. My favourite experience on this trip around Scotland. Full of vibrancy and interest although still cold and miserable. I was able to enjoy the glorious architecture, and immerse myself in the culture too. The city has so much to offer.
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a must do. I was lucky enough to be there when the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Exhibition was on and was incredibly fascinating. Before I left, the following morning I visited the Mackintosh House. A great way to finish my visit to Scotland.
During the above visit to Scotland I did a few detours to such sights as the Forth Bridge/s and the Falkirk Wheel.
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Yesterday, caught a bus to Tenterden to visit the above festival. We enjoyed a ride through the Kent countryside which was truly glorious and helped by the late summer sunshine. Yes, now it is the 1st October, I have come to terms with the fact that it is now autumn.
Upon arriving, we walked to the pub, William Caxton pub and listened to a folk sing around with intermittent participation of groups singing and playing various instruments.
The enthusiasm of the participants was truly inspiring and some of the voices were beautiful with little or no accompaniment.
After this session we wandered around the town and I managed to buy some posh, high quality chocolate for hubby’s birthday. The festival is on all weekend and we may return.