Saturday, October 31, 2009

Castles, Gardens and All Hallow’s Eve

Heather - Saturday 31 Oct 2009. Kenilworth Castle is amazing. Building was commenced in around 1200 and has been extended in 3 stages over the next 500 years and occupied by Kings until it was ordered desecrated by royalty in 1700’s in order to keep out the Welsh. Talk about the bill for renovation. Well worth seeing the ruins which are remarkably in tact. The strange thing was that while the castle was destroyed the Gate House next to it was not and has kept farmers graziers comfortably homed for the next 300 years. The manor house is currently occupied however it was open on the day we visited and contained displays of the visit of Queen Victoria, the Earl of Leicester and the untimely death of his wife including original documents. 

Kenilworth CastleKenilworth Castle
Kenilworth Castle

The gardens have been restored if not the castle and they are really lovely. A shame we are not seeing them in spring or summer. We have plenty of pictures for mum of the knot garden created by the Earl of Leicester for Queen Victoria and her privy garden. 

The tapestries, beddings and curtains are original and the fabrics are in remarkable tact. Green seems to have been the colour in the Victorian age. The lady of the house generally appears to be the one who tapestries the curtain. We also found out that the reason for the small windows in the castle was to keep the castle warm. No double glazing).

Following the castle ruins, we went to Warwick to see an functioning castle. It turned out in fact to be a version of Disneyland. At least the money will assist with the upkeep. We were there rather late and so only walked around the outside.

Whilst in Warwick we also visited the museum of the local regiment, the Warwickshire Yeoman, the Teddy Bear Lancers. Information of this regiment has only recently been gathered with World War II gentlemen now in their eighties. A large amount of memorabilia, uniforms and historical accounts have been gathered. They were certainly a force to be reckoned with from the Boer War to today.

Two things of note for me in Warwick were the air raid shelter and the public lavatories. The first rather speaks for itself as it appears to be rather forgotten and neglected. It was well built for the speed at which it would have needed to be constructed to protect families and loved ones etc.

As for the hand washing system in the public lavatories, you had to push a button for soap, one for water and one for hot air. They were not in order however and a kindly American lady happily demonstrated the facility as she herself had dried soap on her hands before finding the water button which enthusiastically splashed you with water rather than your hands.

All Hallow’s Eve seems to be a notable event in England as everywhere we went we saw families dressed up in various costumes from the very early morning. As one person stated, this has occurred only recently with American influence.

Being All Hallow’s Eve, we arrived late in the evening at our accommodation at Shenstone, near Lichfield only to find they had no record of us and their internet system was down. 

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Laundry, Vegetables and Shakespeare

Heather - Friday 30 Oct 2009. We did our laundry at the local launderette, had a great chat with the girl who worked there and also had a brief wander around Kenilworth. We found the allotments. There was about a mile of worth of garden plots, greenhouses and sheds. This would really be worth seeing in spring, as these were being harvested and prepared for the next veggie seasons. In the background was a windmill and we are planning to take a closer look.

Shakespeare's BirthplaceWe went to Stratford upon Avon, to see Shakespeare’s birthplace. His house in uniquely Tudor. We also toured quite a number of the houses of his family and went to their burial place at the local Holy Trinity church. The geese were great.

The houses comprised Shakespeare’s son-in-law – John Hall who was the first doctor to write case notes and published. (Only of the patients who lived). Very opulent by Tudor standards. The house is now having problems with borer beetles and needed half a million pounds to restore. They need to locate suitable timber 300 years old and in the correct lengths. At the same time they shall replace the wattle and daube with authentic materials including, straw and dung. We did get into conversation with one of the volunteers, a Scottish gentleman (Alistair) who advised that the church are still looking for any Shakespeare’s relatives as they are beholden to contribute to the upkeep of the church etc. as part of the estate from Shakespeare and Dr Hall.

A Guild Chapel Gargoyle at Stratford upon AvonWe spent about an hour hearing of cases etc and learning all about the casting of water. (Urine watching).

……., you will be interested to know that we saw a Tudor Knot garden. Unfortunately autumn is not the best time to see it but it was beautiful. We also saw holly in bloom. I do think the native flowers in the UK blossom in their cottage gardens better than in Australia.

After two days I have managed to completely confuse the GPS. We are heading to Lichfield tomorrow (40 minutes away) and will see Kenilworth castle (ruins) and Warwick castle (a modern, working castle) on the way. I am hoping we don’t end up at Dover.

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Arriving in London

Thursday 29 Oct 2009. England was great. I met up with Paul in Heathrow and collected the hire car. Paul was given a GPS for the trip so with directions from two reliable sources, we circled Heathrow twice in an effort to leave and made for Windsor in order to give our respects to the Queen. It was rather late when we arrived so we only walked around the outside of the castle and grounds. These were amazing.

Windsor Castle from the Long Walk

The only way to describe Windsor is as a tourist trap. By the way, small street signs are half way down the streets. It does seem strange to drive on cobblestones. We got lost and found a replica of the Queens steam engine so we are keeping an eye out for steam trains for dad. We are planning to go to Trent Valley Railway this week.

Windsor Castle

Having been in the UK for only 3 hours, I was amazed to see one England’s exotic animals - a squirrel. They are lively and very cute little creatures.

We travelled about a fifth of the length of England in an hour and a half and stayed my first night in the UK outside of Coventry in a small suburb called Kenilworth. It’s rather like holidaying in Abermain.

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heather - Wednesday 28 Oct 2009. I do think the only way to describe the Budapest is grand, splendid etc and to wax lyrical. Not to put you any further to sleep however, the South Africans ladies shopped for shoes and handbags. I think I’ve been to every shoe and handbag shop in the city. There are only one or two sizes of shoes available in the shops. A left over from communism?

There were also furs and wraps and all sorts of winter items that only mother would wear. The rest of us would die of heat exhaustion in the winter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paul arrives in England

Paul - Tuesday 27 Oct 2009. Arrived at Heathrow Terminal 4 at 5:05am. It didn’t take me long to clear Customs as it appears I was the only person not travelling on a UK/EU passport. I  found a young lady who looked at my passport took my entry card and through to baggage claim, then walked though an empty Customs hall and out. I checked my Mobile Phone and found it still didn’t work. Damn you Optus. 

Off to the underground to buy an Oyster Card, a quick trip to Houndslow to the Etap Hotel,  a chain known for cheap, clean no-frills rooms, staffed by overworked, disinterested staff. I was told my room would not be ready until 10:00am so I watched the BBC read The Daily Telegraph, sent Heather and Issy, our friend who kindly to be cat sitter, an email. At 10am the staff had changed and I was informed my room would not be ready until 12 noon, but I could use the Luggage Room. I went for a 2 hour explore of Houndslow and had lunch at MacDonald’s (a Big Tasty) back to the hotel, checked in and had a very welcome shower and change of clothes. Suffering little Jet-lag I decide to go into London.

London IconsThe Great Clock of Westminster

The northern tower of Palace of Westminster is the Great Clock of Westminster, which houses Big Ben, the name of the largest bell. I was lucky to have clear skies on the day.

Known as the London Eye, or Millennium Wheel a 135-metre (443 ft) tall Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames. One of the left over photos from our 2009 UK trip.

Ex Serviceman

Poppies being sold to commemorate Armistice Day by a member of the The Royal British Legion

Changing of the Guard

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Leaving Sydney

Paul - Monday 26 Oct 2009. Yesterday I saw Heather off at the airport now it’s my turn to travel.

Here come my plane

Heather is on her way to attend a seminar in Budapest as part of her work. Once the seminar is over we will meet up in London and spend some time touring the UK.

It was not possible for Heather and I to travel together as her tickets were booked by the client and mine were purchased using Heather's Frequent Flier points. 

Off to the airport and flying British Airways to Heathrow, via Singapore. The flight was great, the service excellent, food was quite palatable with a glass of red wine and I had three seats to myself. 

The sun sets and I had a nap before arriving at Singapore.

The only hiccup was the discovery of a lack of Mobile Phone International Roaming during the first leg stop in Singapore, thank you Optus for turning it off. This could of presented problems if either one of us needed to contact the other. 

I managed some sleep on the Singapore to Heathrow leg and had the company of a couple who had visited their son and daughter-in- law in Broome QLD.

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Heather in Budapest

Heather - Monday 26 Oct 2009. Budapest is an absolutely beautiful city, made up of two separate cities on each side of the river – Buda and Pest. I stayed in the Marriot hotel (on the Pest side – no comments thanks Adam) and had a splendid view looking the Danube and the palace on the other side of the river (the Buda side).

The buildings are tall and limestone in the city. There are people everywhere. I went into the Hungarian office straight after arriving to get some work done so I could then start to enjoy the visit. I left my mobile in the taxi and was promptly advised that if something is dropped, it is lost forever.  The taxi driver did however return my mobile. The manager I visited in the office did exactly the same thing that night on the way to the dinner with the sponsor. Nothing like starting a trend.