Sunday, 25 March 2012

Ely Cathedral - Cambrideshire

The Ely Cathedral is one of the finest Norman Cathedrals in Europe. Located just north of Cambridge, it has been a site of religious worship since around 630 A.D. Most of the building occured between the 11th and 16th centuries. It is an uplifting experience, perhaps better described in photos than words.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Oxford England - Architectural Paradise

Oxford is an unparalleled centre of scholarship and an architectural paradise.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

My first trip to Cornwall in 1970

My first visit to Cornwall was over forty years ago. I was poor, short on experience and long on wonder for the world. Cornwall was an inviting place for a such a person. For the sea does not charge admission for those willing  to listen to the tales of the waves as they break upon the rocks - the treasures they have carried from distant lands, the loved ones they have delivered - and sent, the invading armies and navies they have chosen to bless or curse. All of this to be told to any soul willing to sit for hours on the green Cornish cliffs with the sun at his back and the sea as his companion.

St. Ives is strange concoction of fishermen, artists and tourists. They may have little in common but they have a workable symbiotic relationship, each understanding that there is no understanding what attracts us to people and places, or why the Creator fancies to run these little circuses of humanity - although quite likely simply for His amuzement.

I took a room in a modest bed and breakfast, not fancy at all, but as neat and tidy as Edy, the elderly owner. She was not one for small talk - straight to the point, "Let me make you a cup of tea, Love, so I can read your leaves, I think you need some help."

The most immediate help I got turned out to be from her brother, though when we met neither of us knew the other. He was a short, bent over fellow, limping with cane. He was dressed in black with a cape and fedora. He approached me as I was passing an amuzement shop with slot machines.

"Don't you think you should give it try?" he asked.  

"I am not a gambler," I replied, catching a twinkle in his eye.

"Oh mate, it wouldn't be a gamble at all with me and I think you could use some money. Surely you have a shilling."

"I suppose I do," not sure of what I was getting into, but eager to strike up some interaction with the locals and with such an intriguing character at that.

So the old guy took my shilling and won me twenty. He was howling with approval as I raked in my "earnings."

He caught my curious stare as I stared to reflect on what had just happened.

"You know I never win for myself, I can only do it for someone in need," he  explained.

"Well," I said, "you certainly seem to be enjoying yourself nonetheless, would you like to try it again?"

"Oh no, my friend, let's not be greedy. That is the lesson here, isn't it?"

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Cambridge University

Cambridge University has been one the leading universities in the world for many centuries. Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are among its many famous graduates. However it is not so much on that account that tourists flock to Cambridge. They come because it is quite likely the most beautiful campus every built. King's College, St. John's College and Trinity College are each architectural masterpieces of ornate medieval splendor.
Cambridge is one of things that is right about this world. It is stately and reserved, yet so attractive to the senses that one feels immediately at home and at peace. This is the first of many posts that we hope  to share about Cambridge.

Buckingham Palace - London

Buckingham Palace is Queen Elizabeth's London residence. The palace was built in 1705 for the Duke of Buckingham. Since 1837, it has been the home and official headquarters for British monarchs.

The Palace has 775 room, including 19 state rooms and 92 offices. Although a private home, its collections equal most national museums and galleries and it hosts 50,000 invited guests a year.

It is located between Green Park, St. James Park and Hyde Park, which is to say it is surrounded by lovely public open spaces with gardens and ponds - a truly wonderful place to stroll amidst one of the world's largest cities.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Covent Garden Market - London

Covent Garden is one of London's most popular venues for shopping and dining. It is fashionable, yet casual and located centrally with easy easy train and underground access. It opened in 1654 when market traders set up stalls against the garden wall of the Bedford House. In 1670 the Earl of Bedford opened a fruit and vegetable market. In 1830 a neo-classical market building was commissioned in the heart of Covent Garden. In 1904 the Jubilee Market for foreign flowers was opened.

In 1974 the market relocated to its new site, New Covent Garden Market, about three miles (5 km) south-west at Nine Elms. The central building re-opened as a shopping centre in 1980, with cafes, pubs, small shops and a craft market called the Apple MarketAnother market, the Jubilee Market, is held in the Jubilee Hall on the south side of the square.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is arguably the finest example of the English countryside, although there are so many lovely areas in England that such a claim is bound to set off a spirted debate. Suffice it say that the The Cotswolds is simply gorgeous with wonderful ochre colored stone villages that sprung up during a time when wool was king. The sheep are still here but probably today they are more likely to end up on the table of the area's many fine restaurants and hotels.

The region extends from Oxford to the east, Cheltenham to the west, Bath to the south and Stratford-Upon-Avon to the north. Given that Oxford is only 60 miles from the London city centre, that means The Cotswolds are easily added to a visit that might include London, Oxford, Bath and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The list of towns and villages in The Cotswolds worth seeing is rather extensive, however to name a few - Chipping Camden, Broadway, Stroud, Stow-On-The Wold, Moreton and Bourton-On-The Water.

The Cotswolds is one of those places that is as much an attitude as it is a location and you need to be sure to take the time breathe deeply and soak it up. It is worth visiting year around but make sure you are dressed warmly in the winter as temperatures are typically around 5 degrees (45 fairenheit). During the spring and summer be sure to visit Hidcote Manor Garden, one of the best English gardens. It is located just north of Chipping Camden and is a must for any garden lover.