Newcastle, Eire

We left Edenderry early morning and headed for the east coast to embark on our counter-clockwise crusade of Eire. We had no accommodation booked, no firm destination. November in Ireland is not a popular time for tourists. We arrived at Warrenpoint around Guinness time and related our previous days escapades to the very friendly barman. He advised us to stick to the coast as, “there is nothing in the middle worth seeing.” Warrenpoint is in Northern Ireland, separated from the Republic by the Newry River. It was the scene of the deadliest attack on the British Army during the 30 year conflict between north and south. Eighteen British soldiers were killed and six seriously injured by two roadside bombs, aimed at their army convoy. The Warrenpoint ambush occurred on the same day, 27 August 1979, that Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb aboard his boat at Mullaghmore. The pervasive tranquility belies the violent history, the views across Carlingford Lough were stunning.

1.Warrenpoint looking west2.Warrenpoint Beach looking east

I wouldn’t mind living in one of these apartments.

3.Warrenpoint

The barman suggested staying the night at Newcastle, only twenty miles further up the coast. We called in at the tourist information office for some advice on accommodation. Most of it was quite pricey but there was one hotel that was awaiting star status so, for now, could only be considered one star. We were happy to have a look and found the Avoca Hotel, though not terribly attractive from the outside, was clean and comfortable and they served an amazing breakfast the next morning.

4.The Avoca Hotel

Overlooking Dundrum Bay and the Irish Sea, there were no complaints about the scenery, either.

5.Dundrum Bay

Newcastle became a popular seaside resort in the Victorian era following the arrival of the railway in 1869. The gorgeous buildings along Central Promenade are testament to that time.

6.Central Promenade

They all seemed well cared for, apart from one ‘renovators delight’ in the middle of the row.

7.Central Promenade

The Mourne mountain range, home to Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard, lends an impressive backdrop to the town.

8.Newcastle, Eire9.Newcastle, Eire10.Newcastle, Eire

As the sun was descending in the western sky,

11.Dundrum Bay

our thoughts turned to refreshments. We had passed a place on the promenade and returned to ponder the menu. O’Hares had a welcoming, rustic atmosphere

and after a Guinness, we advanced upstairs to enjoy a superb meal. On second thought, there may have been more than one Guinness.

15.O'Hare's Guinness

Elizabeth Quay

While in Perth, I spent a perfect pre-spring day with a very special friend. We first met thirty years ago when we worked together and hadn’t seen each other for seven years. The wonderful thing about lasting friendships is the years just slip away when you are together again. After a morning coffee and shopping in the city, we indulged in a superb lunch at Zafferano, overlooking the beautiful Swan River. http://zafferano.com.au  Replete and relaxed, we could have stayed all afternoon but some exercise was required to ease the conscience. We made our way to Elizabeth Quay, a waterfront precinct created between the city and the Swan River. Officially opened in January 2016, public opinion was divided on the $440 million development. Making our way from the car park, our first vision was the eight-story high sculpture, Spanda, designed by WA artist Christian de Vietri. Spanda is a Sanskrit word that means ‘divine vibration’ and the artwork represents ripples or orbits, connecting to the ripple design of the pavement. Some have unkindly named it the Big Paperclip.

1.Spanda

At the river end of the 2.7ha inlet, a 20m high suspension bridge connects the western promenade to an island, which then leads to the eastern promenade and back to ‘The Landing’ (and Spanda).

2.suspension bridge

The ferry terminal incorporates another interesting work of art. The Blue Waves depict the motion of the wind billowing around the sky coloured canopy.

3.Blue Waves

A little further on, at the end of the quay, a 5m tall cast aluminium bird in a boat glistened in the sun. ‘First Contact’ was created by indigenous artist Laurel Nannup and was inspired by the local Noongar When the first European settlers arrived in Perth, the local Noongar people’s first visions of the European settlers. From a distance, the sailing ships looked like floating birds bearing the spirits of their ancestors.

4.First Contact

The design of the suspension bridge is even more impressive close up.

5.suspension bridge

Crossing the 110m to the island, the views of the Swan River

6.Swan River

and the city of Perth were stunning.

7.Perth8.Elizabeth Quay

The glass spire of the Bell Tower was built in 1999, long before the conception of Elizabeth Quay. There are 18 bells altogether, the largest 12 are from the church of St Martins-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London. Quite an interesting story. In the early 1980s, St Martins planned to melt down and recast the ancient bells. A Perth businessman, who also happened to be a bell ringer, found out about the plan and campaigned to bring the bells to WA. After much negotiation, St Martins were given enough copper and tin to cast new bells in exchange for the old ones, which arrives in Perth in the late 1980s. After refurbishment and the creation of six new ones to complete the set, there was no tower big enough to house the nine tonnes of bells. After ten years in storage, the tower was built as part of Perth’s millennium project. Unfortunately, the 30m high copper sails enveloping the bell chamber are now dwarfed by new construction. With three levels of dining and a rooftop bar, The Reveley has prime position when those bells start ringing.

9.Belltower & The Reveley

We returned to our starting point

10.Spanda

with one more mission in mind. What better way to end the day than a handcrafted gelato? Using traditional techniques learned in the Italian town of Bologna, everything is made from scratch in small batches. It was the best gelato I have ever had.

11.Gusto Gelato

Thank you, Hilary, for a fabulous day and wonderful memories. I hope it isn’t another seven years before we meet again.

Shakespeare’s Stratford

Stratford-upon-Avon is a wonderful town and no visit would be complete without a slathering of Shakespeare. It seemed logical to begin at the birthplace of the brilliant bard. William was the third of eight children born to John and Mary who owned the largest house on Henley Street.

1.Shakespeare's Birthplace

The early 16th century building also housed John Shakespeare’s successful glove making business.

2.Shakespeare's Birthplace

William lived here with his wife, Anne Hathaway, for the first five years of their marriage. After John’s death in 1601 William inherited the house and leased part of the property as The Maidenhead Inn. Photos of the interior weren’t allowed but they were as beautifully restored and maintained as the gardens and exterior.

3.Shakespeare's Birthplace4.Shakespeare's Birthplace5.Shakespeare's Birthplace

Of course, we exited via the gift shop.

6.The Shakespeare Gift Shop

We wandered along Henley Street, the shop windows already shining with Christmas decorations.

7.Henley St

The magnificent Tudor buildings have stood the test of time, despite many of them being destroyed by fire four times between 1594 and 1641.

We turned into High Street,

10.High St

the intricate timber frontage of The Garrick Inn was stunning. Dating back to the 14th century, the oldest pub in town is reputedly haunted.

11.The Garrick Inn, High St

Next door, Harvard House had an equally impressive façade, adorned with various carvings.

Crossing over Sheep Street, High Street changed its name to Chapel Street. The 4-star Mercure Shakespeare Hotel dates back to 1637 and each room is individually decorated and named after a Shakespearian play or character.

14.Mercure Stratford upon Avon Shakespeare Hotel, Chapel St

Shakespeare’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas Nash in 1626 and they lived in a lovely Tudor house in Chapel Street

15.Nash's House

with a gorgeous traditional knot garden filled with herbs and aromatic plants.

16.Nash's House knot garden17.Nash's House garden

There were several sculptures depicting characters from the Bard’s plays and poetry.

18.statue Nash's House

I don’t know if Thomas enjoyed an ale or two but his house was conveniently close to The Falcon Hotel, built in the early 16th century with a second floor added in 1645.

19.The Falcon Hotel, Chapel St

Further on, the road name changed to Church Street where we encountered a row of almshouses. Built in 1417-18 by the Guild of the Holy Cross for old or needy members of the guild, they were transferred to Stratford upon Avon Corporation in 1553 and enlarged to provide 24 homes for the elderly. Following refurbishment in the mid 1980s, there are now 11 self-contained units .

20.The Almshouses, Church St

It wasn’t far before the Shakespeare story continued. William and Anne’s eldest daughter, Susanna (Elizabeth’s mother), married a local physician, John Hall in 1607. The rather impressive Hall’s Croft, built in 1613, was their home.

21.Hall's Croft22.Hall's Croft

We were running out of time and so, only briefly stopped at Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Anne was born here in 1556 and lived with her family until she married Shakespeare.

23.Anne Hathaway's cottage24.Anne Hathaway's cottage

It would have been nice to linger in the beautiful gardens but we were on a mission to visit Mary Arden’s Farm…. but that’s another post.

Lyme Park

Leaving the beautiful county of Yorkshire, we made our way south to the equally stunning county of Cheshire. We couldn’t resist a visit to Lyme Park estate. The largest house in the county, surrounded by 6 hectares of formal gardens, is set in a deer park of 550 hectares in the Peak District National Park. The entrance gate was impressive, I love the mysterious padlocked door.

1.entrance gate Lyme Park

The house dates from the late 16th century and has been gradually developed since then, with modifications made by Italian architect, Giacomo Leoni, in the 1720s. The sweeping circular drive approaches the north front of the house.

2.north facade

The west front dates from the 18th century

3.west facade

as does the magnificent south front.

4.south facade

You may recognise this as Pemberley from the TV production of Pride & Prejudice. Who can forget the scene where, after taking a bath (fully clothed) in the lake, Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy encounters Miss Bennet, attired in his soaking wet, white shirt?

5.Lyme Park

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the gardens. The formal gardens were created in the late 19th century,

6.Lyme Park

the intricate Dutch garden was initially laid out as an Italian garden and is usually bursting with colour. Unfortunately, the summer bedding plants had finished in late autumn. The four cherub statues represent the elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water.

7.Dutch garden

The Huntress, Diana,

8.statue of Diana

overlooks the Orangery Terrace

9. Orangery terrace

and an aged stone eagle majestically stands guard.

10.stone eagle

The Timber Yard is a cluster of buildings where we found a cosy café and quaint shops. Created in 1904, the café was once the joiner’s workshop and the ice cream parlour was the boiler house. During the war years, it was used as living quarters for the RAF. Some of the buildings are now residential cottages.

11.The Timber Yard

I can think of worse places to live.

York

Being the largest county in the UK, there were so many places we wanted to see in Yorkshire. Aware of our limited time, we had to make some difficult decisions. The town of York was an obvious choice. We entered the historic walled city, founded by the Romans in 71AD, along Micklegate. Once the most important of York’s four medieval gateways, we passed beautiful old buildings

1.Shops on Micklegate

on our way to the river.

2.River Ouse

There are nine bridges across the River Ouse within the city of York, the oldest being at the site of the present Ouse Bridge as early as the 9th century. The history behind the Ouse bridge is quite interesting. In 1154, the stone bridge collapsed when a large crowd gathered to welcome Archbishop William to York. It was considered a miracle that no-one drowned and the Archbishop was later canonised and had a chapel named after him. The replacement bridge was supported by six arches and was lined with houses, shops, a toll booth, a courthouse, a prison and the chapel dedicated to St William. In 1367, the first public toilets in England were installed on the bridge. In 1564, the river flooded and the bridge collapsed, the buildings were swept away. The next new bridge was built much higher and houses and public buildings were again built along its length. After 250 years or so, in need of repairs, the bridge was replaced. Started in 1810, the present day bridge took 11 years to complete.

3.Ouse Bridge

Across the river, we made our way to The Shambles. Dating back to the 14th century, York’s oldest street has some fascinating architecture.

4.The Shambles

Historically a street of butchers shops and houses, the name is thought to come from the medieval word Shamel, meaning booth or bench. Livestock were slaughtered at the back of the premises and the meat laid out on what are now the shop window bottoms.

5.The Shambles

The overhanging fronts of the timber-framed buildings almost touch each other in some parts of the street. This was deliberate to shelter the wattle and daub walls and protect the meat from direct sunlight.

6.The Shambles

The butchers shops of old have been replaced by quaint businesses more appealing to the tourists that flock to The Shambles.

7.The Shambles

There isn’t much left to see of York Castle. Built in 1068, there were originally two circular castles, this one known as Clifford’s Tower. The wooden structure was replaced in the 13th century with stone, suffered some damage during the Civil War and was then gutted by fire after a major explosion in 1684. It wasn’t restored until the 19th century and was then used as a jail until 1929.

8.York Castle Clifford's Tower

It would have been wonderful to have had two hours to spare to walk the 3.4 kilometres of beautifully preserved town walls. We had to be satisfied with the short section that took us back to Micklegate and our next exciting destination.

9.Town walls approaching Micklegate