East Midlands: Derbyshire & Shardlow: Canalside Village & Marina

April 2015 – July 2015

It’s been a while since my last entry!

Since my last entry, there has been quite a few changes in my life.

I am now working in Nottinghamshire and living in Shardlow, a rural historic canal-side village in Derbyshire in the East Midlands.

Here is a bit of history of Shardlow. In the 18th century Shardlow was an important 18th century river port for the transshipment of goods to and from the River Trent to the Trent and Mersey Canal. During its heyday from the 1770s to the 1840s it became referred to as “Rural Rotterdam” and “Little Liverpool”

The decline of the Canal business brought different uses for the warehouses but the area remains unchanged. Today Shardlow is considered Britain’s most complete surviving example of a canal village and a large number of surviving pubs.

I’ve been here since April, and I currently reside on Shardlow Marina and Caravan Park, a large marina site with bar/restaurant facilities, situated on the Trent and Merseyside Canal.

Shardlow is roughly 6 miles from the city of Derby and 11 miles from Nottingham. Here is a picture of the Caravan Park. :)

Over the last couple of months I have travelled into the city of Derby a few times.

Derby lies upon the banks of the River Derwent. It is considered a birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, home to Lombe’s Mill, the first factory in the world. With the arrival of the railways in the 19th century, and due to its central location, the city grew to become a foremost centre of the British rail industry.

Today, Derby is an internationally renowned centre for advanced transport manufacturing, home to the world’s second largest aero-engine manufacturer, Rolls-Royce, and Litchurch Lane Works, the UK’s only remaining train manufacturer.

The city is the gateway to the Peak District and Derbyshire Dales which both attract high levels of tourism. :)

Landmarks include Derby Cathedral, Derby Gaol, Derby Industrial Museum, Pickford’s House Museum, and Derby Museum and Art Gallery, which collection includes many paintings by Joseph Wright, and displays of porcelain and Royal Crown Derby.

I’ve visited most museums already including Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby Industrial Museum and Pickford’s House.

The Derby Industrial Museum is situated in Lombe’s Mill; a historic former silk mill beside the River Derwent. Between 1717 and 1721 the mill housed machines for twisting silk into thread.

Pickford’s House Museum is an elegant Georgian town house built by the prominent architect Joseph Pickford in 1770 for his own family. The ground floor is furnished as it might have been in Pickford’s time together with displays of 18th and 19th century costume

Derby has a number of public parks such as Markeaton Park, which is the city’s most used leisure facility, and also features its own McDonalds Ha ha. :).

Shopping in Derby is awesome! :)

Shopping in Derby is divided into three main areas; the St Peters Quarter; the Cathedral Quarter and Intu Derby.

The Cathedral Quarter includes a large range of shops, boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants.

Intu Derby is a large indoor shopping centre in the centre of Derby. Attracting over 25 million visitors each year, it is named as one of the top shopping destinations in the East Midlands. It features around 200 shops, a supermarket, a theatre, a 12-screen cinema, many eateries, and contains the UK’s largest indoor market, the Eagle Market. It’s my favourite place to shop! :)

Since April I have been here looking for work.

Sixty job applications later in June, I finally had my first interview, and a week later I started my first day of work. :). Finally! After more than 4 years of travelling and volunteering projects, I am now working full time  on the outskirts of Nottingham. Yay. :).

Travel wise it’s only 20 minutes to travel by car. However, by public transport it takes just over 2 hours! It’s insane! :(. Luckily, so far I have been able to receive a lift to work and back. But there may be times when I am going to have to use public transport, which means I would have to leave at 5:50am, with the possibility of not returning until around 8pm. :(.

So that’s it now for the next 30 years of my life, 8 to 5, work, eat, sleep and of course drink! Shockingly within half a mile of my location, there are 8 pubs/bars!! So next time you hear from me, I might have become an alcoholic! Ha ha. ;)

I’ve included a few photos below of where I live and the surrounding area. If you want to see more, check out my photosets. I’ll be updating them every so often.

Shardlow Marina & Shardlow; (Where I live)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157654321029365

Derby, Derbyshire (Nearest City)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157651980550374

Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland 2014; The City Of Shopping Arcades; Mermaid Quay; Wales Millennium Centre; Cardiff Bay & National Museum Of Cardiff

Monday, 29th December – Wednesday, 31st December 2014

Monday, 29th December, 2014

Today I travelled to the city of Cardiff with my girlfriend Liann.

Cardiff is the capital and largest city in Wales in the historic county of Glamorgan. The city is on the south coast of the country, and is the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom.

A small town until the early 19th century, Cardiff’s ports were once amongst the most important in the world, and was a major port for the transport of coal.

In 1905 Cardiff was made a city, and in 1955 it was proclaimed the capital of Wales. Though it had a reputation of being an industrial city, Cardiff has changed in recent decades. The city centre has seen huge development over the last decade and is now considered to be one of the top ten shopping destinations in the United Kingdom. :)

Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with more than 18.3 million visitors annually. It is also the country’s chief commercial centre, the Welsh national media, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales.

Cardiff has a reputation as a city of castles, having 5 different castles within its surroundings including Cardiff Castle, a major tourist attraction in the city.

Cardiff is famous for St David’s Hall, Llandaff Cathedral and the Wales Millennium Centre. There are also many landmark buildings such as the Millennium Stadium, the Pierhead Building, the Welsh National Museum, and the Senedd, the home of the National Assembly for Wales.

After a two and a half hour journey by train we arrived in Cardiff. As soon as we arrived we made our way to our hotel, checked in and then started exploring Cardiff’s Arcades.

Known as the City of Arcades, Cardiff has the highest concentration of Victorian, Edwardian and even contemporary indoor shopping arcades of any British city. :)

The arcades still retain many of their original features and are home to dozens of unique stores and cafes. The total length of Cardiff’s city centre arcades is 797m (2,655 ft).

We started in the Morgan Quarter, home to the Royal Arcade, Wyndham Arcade and Morgan Arcade.

Wyndham Arcade opened in 1887, this Edwardian arcade is home to restaurants, cafes and specialist shops.

The Royal Arcade is the oldest of Cardiff’s arcade, having been built in 1858. It features some of the original shopfronts, and is home to a number of independent shops such as Wally’s Delicatessen, who have been in the arcade for 60 years, and Melin Tregwynt who sell Welsh-made blankets, throws and cushions.

Morgan Arcade opened in 1896. It is the considered the best preserved of Cardiff’s arcades, featuring first-floor Venetian windows and original slender wooden storefronts.

Next I came across Cardiff’s Castle Quarter, home to the High Street Arcade, Duke Street Arcade, the Castle Arcade and Cardiff Central Market.

Opened in 1891, Cardiff Central Market is a Victorian indoor market. A farmers’ market is known to have existed at the site since the 18th century. The market consists of two shopping levels, a ground floor and a balcony level which wraps around the market exterior walls on the interior. Traders in the market offer a variety of fresh produce, cooked food and durable goods.

High Street Arcade opened in 1886. It is renowned for its range of boutique fashion stores which include designer clothes, quirky and individual fashions, jewellery, vintage clothes and a New York Deli.

Duke Street Arcade opened in 1902. It links with High Street Arcade, and is situated opposite Cardiff Castle. This arcade is lined with stores including hairdressers, bridal shops and Welsh gift shops.

Castle Arcade (my favourite) opened in 1887, and runs from opposite the Castle to High Street. It is one of the longer of Cardiff’s famous Victorian arcades. It features a variety of small boutique shops, cafes, delicatessens, and fair-trade and organic shops.

After exploring Cardiff Arcades, we walked around an area called The Hayes.

The Hayes is a major shopping strip in the city lined with designer boutiques and department stores including Wales’ biggest department store, John Lewis.

It is also the location of St David’s Shopping Centre, now one of the largest shopping centres in the UK with over 200 shops and 25 restaurants and cafés. :) :) :).

Inside the centre, St David’s joins internally with Queens Arcade, and also includes the

Grand Arcade, home to some of the centre’s most contemporary stores. It also links with the Hayes Arcade, home to many jewellery and accessory boutiques.

After a busy day shopping we had our evening meal at Wagamama, a restaurant chain serving Asian food in the style of a modern Japanese Ramen bar. It was delicious! :)

 

Tuesday, 30th December, 2014

Today we checked out of our hotel, and checked into another one near the city centre.

After a day of shopping in Cardiff, we spent the evening in Cardiff Bay, location of the Wales Millennium Centre and Mermaid Quay.

The Wales Millennium Centre is an arts centre housing theatres for musicals, opera, ballet, dance, and comedy. The site comprises one large theatre and two smaller halls with shops, bars and restaurants.

After checking out the entertainment at the Wales Millennium Centre, we stopped for a meal in Mermaid Quay, a waterfront shopping and leisure district with a mix of restaurants, bars, cafés, and shops.

We had our evening meal at a restaurant called ‘Mimosa Kitchen & Bar’. The restaurant was named after a Tea Clipper named Mimosa, which in 1865 set sail on a two month journey to South America from South Wales.

After the meal we went to the cinema and watched ‘Dumb and Dumber To’, which starred Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. :)

 

Wednesday, 31st December 2014

Today was our last day in Cardiff.

For lunch we enjoyed a buffet at a restaurant called ‘Red Hot World Buffet’, which offered a huge range of dishes from around the world, some of which is prepared at live cooking stations by chefs. :)

Afterwards we visited the National Museum Of Cardiff. :)

The National Museum Cardiff is part of the wider network of the National Museum Wales, which was founded in 1907 when it inherited the collection of the Cardiff Museum.

The museum houses Wales’s national art, natural history, archaeology and geology collections. The natural history galleries contain the world’s largest leatherback turtle and a huge skeleton of a humpback whale.

The art collection is one of Europe’s finest, and contains over five hundred years of paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world, including one of Europe’s best collections of impressionist works.

Afterwards we stopped at Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland.

Similar to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, there was an open air ice ring, a fairground, and a singing Christmas moose! :). There was also an area called ‘Alpine Village’ serving festive German food and drink such as bratwurst and Gluwein. :)

After a festive Gluwein, we started our journey back home. If you’re interested I have added a few photos to the following photo album. Enjoy. :)

Cardiff @ Xmas (2014)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157650060662532/

London’s Winter Wonderland 2014; The London Dungeon; M&Ms World; Rainforest Cafe; Camden Market; Westfield, V&A & Natural History Museum…

Sunday, 7th December – Friday, 19th December 2014

During the month of December I enjoyed a couple of weeks visit to the capital city of England, London, with my girlfriend Liann. :)

London is located on the River Thames, and has the largest urban zone in the European Union. It has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium.

London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, research and development, tourism and transport.

It is the world’s leading financial centre alongside New York City, and has the largest metropolitan area in Europe. It is the world’s most-visited city and has the world’s largest city airport system measured by passenger traffic.

London has a diverse range of peoples and cultures, and more than 300 languages are spoken within its boundaries. In 2011, London had an official population of 8.1 million making it the most populous city after Berlin with 3.5 million in the European Union.

London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey, and the historic settlement of Greenwich.

Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and Wembley Stadium.

London is home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sporting events and other cultural institutions, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, British Library, and West End theatres.

Another famous landmark is the London Underground, also called the Tube, the oldest underground railway network in the world, which opened in 1863. :)

 

Sunday, 7th December 2014

After a two and a half hour journey by train we arrived at Paddington, a central London railway terminus.

As soon as we arrived we purchased a 7 day travelcard which gives us unlimited travel within London, and then made our way and checked into our hotel in South Kensington. :)

South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is the location of some of London’s major museums and institutions such as the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, Imperial College London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and more.

Next we made our way to London’s West End in the City of Westminster.

First we stopped at Picadilly Circus.

Picadilly Circus is a road junction and public space. It was built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly. Today it has become a busy meeting place and a tourist attraction. It is particularly known for the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue, and its video display and signs mounted on the corner building.

Starting in the early 1900s, Piccadilly Circus used to be surrounded by illuminated signs, but only one building has them today due to an increase in rental costs. The earliest signs used incandescent light bulbs, which were later replaced with neon lights and moving signs. During the 2000’s these have been replaced with a state-of-the-art LED video display. :)

Next we walked to Leicester Square.

Leicester Square is a pedestrianized square in the West End of London.

Leicester Square is the centre of London’s cinema land. It is the prime location in London for world leading film premieres, and contains the cinema with the largest screen and the cinema with the most seats (over 1,600).

Afterwards we walked around Chinatown in the Soho area. The Soho area has been at the heart of London’s sex industry for over 200 years. By the early 1960s the area was home to nearly a hundred strip clubs. 

For many years Soho had a reputation for sex shops. However over the years it has undergone considerable transformation. It now is predominantly a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants and media offices, with only a small remnant of sex industry venues.

Chinatown, which is also part of the Soho area, contains a number of Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, and souvenir shops. The area has over 80 restaurants showcasing some of London’s finest and most authentic Asian cuisine. :)

 

Monday, 8th December 2014

Today, in the morning we visited Camden Town, stopping briefly at Marble Arch.

Marble Arch is a 19th-century white marble faced triumphal arch and London landmark. The design of the arch is based on that of the Arch of Constantine in Rome and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in Paris.

After a quick stop at Marble Arch we caught the bus to Camden Town and explored the markets. :)

Camden Town has a rich and unusual variety of sights including colourful markets, shops, restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, theatres and cinemas.

The area around Camden Lock in Camden Town was first developed in 1791 by the Earl of Camden, with the famous Regents Canal opening in 1820. Today, Camden’s group of markets complex is now the fourth most-visited tourist attraction in London. It is also the largest street market in the UK, and attracts around 500,000 visitors each week.

The complex is composed of six general sections Camden Lock Market, Stables Market, Camden Lock Village, Camden Buck Street Market, Electric Ballroom, and Inverness Street Market.

First we walked around Camden Lock Village and Camden Lock Market which is situated along the canal. It was established in 1975, and was the first market to set up in Camden.

Today the market has more than 500 independent shop-units selling a varied range of products including designer clothing, alternative & vintage clothing, accessories, furnishings, antiques, jewellery, records & CDs, bookshops, collectables, arts & crafts, paintings and prints and international food.

Next we explored Camden Stables Market.

Stables Market is the largest section of the complex with more than 700 shops and stalls, some of which are set in large arches in railway viaducts.

Here you can get almost everything such as alternative fashions, street and casual wear, vintage clothing, footwear, antiques, collectables, crafts, furniture, piercings, tattoos, international food and much more.

After exploring the markets in Camden, we travelled to Westminster.

Westminster has a large concentration of London’s historic and prestigious landmarks and visitor attractions, including the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey.

Once we arrived in Westminster, we walked to Parliament Square, which sits at the end of the Palace of Westminster, also known as Houses of Parliament, the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The exterior of the palace, especially the Elizabeth Tower, which is often referred to by the name of its main bell, “Big Ben”, is recognised worldwide, and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in London. :)

Next we walked across Westminster Bridge over the River Thames and joined the Queen’s Walk at South Bank, an area forming part of the London Borough of Lambeth and Southwark.

The Queen’s Walk is a promenade located on the South Bank of the River Thames between Lambeth Bridge and Tower Bridge. The route spans several miles starting at the London Eye, past numerous attractions to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

The London Eye, also called ‘The Millennium Wheel’, is a giant Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames. At 135 metres (443 ft) tall, it is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe.

Other attractions around South Bank include the Southbank Centre, Europe’s largest centre for the arts, the National Theatre, BFI Southbank, and the Southbank Winter Festival. :)

Further along the River Thames towards Tower Bridge are a number of attractions including the London Millennium Footbridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Tate Modern Art Gallery, a replica of the Golden Hind, and Hay’s Galleria shopping centre, which in the 1850s was a landing spot for deliveries where tea clippers from India and China would dock.

We also saw the HMS Belfast museum ship, which was originally a Royal Navy light cruiser, and also ‘The Shard’ skyscraper, which is the latest addition to the London skyline completed in 2012. Standing at 309.6 metres (1,016ft), it is currently the tallest building in Europe :), and the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom. The tower has 72 habitable floors, with office space, a 200-bed 5-star hotel, three floors of restaurants, ten apartments priced at approximately £50 million each, and a public viewing platform with the UK’s highest open-air observation deck.

At the end of the walk was Tower Bridge, an iconic symbol of London.

Tower Bridge is a combined drawbridge and suspension bridge over the River Thames.

The bridge connects the London Borough of ‘Southwark’ to the ‘City of London’. Its construction started in 1886, and was officially completed and opened in 1894. It consists of two towers tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways. The bridge’s present colour scheme dates from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen Elizabeth II’s silver jubilee.

It is close to the Tower of London, a historic castle founded in 1066. Nearby are also St Katherine Docks, which was one of the commercial docks serving London. Today the area now features offices, public and private housing, a large hotel, shops and restaurants, a pub, and a yachting marina.

 

Tuesday, 9th December, 2014

In the morning we travelled into the historic centre of the City of London and visited the Leadenhall Market.

The Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest markets in London, dating back to the 14th century.

Originally a meat, game and poultry market, it stands on what was the centre of Roman London. Today it is open weekdays and primarily sells fresh food. Among the vendors there are cheesemongers, butchers and florists.

The market has cobbled floors and an ornate roof structure, painted in green, maroon and cream colours. It was used to represent the area of London near The Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. :)

Next we travelled to London’s West End and stopped for lunch in Covent Garden. :)

By 1654, Covent Garden was once associated with the former fruit and vegetable market in the central square.

Gradually, both the market and the surrounding area fell into disrepute, as taverns, theatres, coffee-houses and brothels opened up. By the 18th century it had become a well-known red-light district, attracting notable prostitutes.

Today, Covent Garden is one of the main shopping and entertainment districts in London. It features around 13 theatres, the Royal Opera House, and over 60 pubs and bars.

The central building in Covent Garden is known as the Covent Garden Market Piazza, a covered shopping mall with cafes, pubs, small shops and a craft market called the Apple Market. Another market is held in the adjacent Jubilee Hall.

Street performances take place at Covent Garden Market every day of the year. Performers audition for timetabled slots in a number of venues around the market

After an entertaining lunch at Covent Garden, we walked towards Seven Dials.

On the way we walked through Neal’s Yard, a small alley which opens into a courtyard containing several health food cafes and New Age retailers.

Seven Dials is a small but well-known area near Covent Garden. The area was home to the punk rock club The Roxy in 1977, and the area remains focused on young people with its trendy mid-market retail outlets.

Next we visited M&Ms World in Leicester Square. :)

M&M’s World is a retail store that specializes in M&M’s candy and merchandise. The most famous and first location is on the Las Vegas Strip. There are also stores in Orlando Florida (2005), New York City (2006) and London (2011)

The London store is the world’s largest candy store at 35,000 sq ft :). The store contains a giant wall of chocolate where you can create your own M&M’S selection from over 100 choices.

After a fun visit to M&Ms World we stopped for a meal in the Rainforest Cafe. :D

The Rainforest Cafe is a themed American restaurant chain. Each cafe restaurant is designed to depict some features of a rainforest, including plant growth, mist, waterfalls, and animatronic figures of rainforest animals, including elephants, frogs, gorillas, jaguars, and tigers. There is also the tradition of yelling “volcano!” when somebody orders a “volcano” sundae! Lol. :)

 

Wednesday, 10th December 2014

First we travelled to South Kensington and visited the Natural History Museum.

The Natural History Museum is one of the three major museums on Exhibition Road in South Kensington. It was originally part of the British Museum, and called British Museum Natural History, until 1963 when it became an independent museum.

The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 70 million items within five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology. The museum is a world-renowned centre of research, specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Darwin.

Highlights at the museum include the popular Dinosaurs gallery for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons, and the spectacular Central Hall, home to the Museum’s iconic Diplodocus skeleton. :)

After a quick walk around the museum, we stopped for lunch in the cafe. Afterwards we made a brief visit to the Science Museum.

The Science Museum is the most visited science and technology museum in Europe. It has been in existence for about a century and a half. It was founded in 1857 as part of the South Kensington Museum, and gained independence in 1909.

Today the Museum is world renowned for its historic collections, galleries and exhibitions. The museum contains hundreds of interactive exhibits and holds a collection of over 300,000 items. Some of the highlights include the Launch Pad gallery, which explains basic scientific principles, Puffing Billy, the oldest steam locomotive in the world and the actual Apollo 10 capsule.

Next we travelled to Knightsbridge, which is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Knightsbridge is an exclusive residential and retail district. It is home to many expensive shops, including the department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols, and flagship stores of many British and international fashion houses, including those of London-based shoe designers Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik, and two Prada stores

Once at Knightsbridge, we visited Harrods. :)

Harrods is an upmarket department store. The store occupies a 5-acre (20,000 m2) site and has over one million square feet (90,000 m2) of selling space in over 330 departments making it the biggest department store in Europe. :)

Several of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas department and the Food Halls, are world famous

The shop’s 330 departments offer a wide range of products and services. A representative sample of shop services includes 32 restaurants, a personal shopping-assistance, a watch repair service; a tailor; a dispensing pharmacy; a beauty spa and salon; a barbers shop; Harrods Financial Services; Harrods Bank, private events planning and catering; food delivery; a wine steward; bespoke picnic hampers and gift boxes; bespoke cakes; bespoke fragrance formulations

Up to 300,000 customers visit the shop on peak days. More than 5,000 staff from over fifty different countries work at Harrods. Since October 2009, Harrods has started selling gold bars and coins that customers can buy “off the shelf”.

After an exhausting walk around Harrods, we travelled to South Bank and visited the London Dungeon. :)

Opening in 1974, it was initially designed as a museum of macabre history, but has evolved to become an actor-led interactive experience with special effects and rides.

The London Dungeon features 18 shows, 20 actors and 3 rides.

Visitors are taken on a journey through 1000 years of London’s history where they meet actors performing as some of London’s most infamous characters, including Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd.

Shows are staged on theatrical sets with special effects, and incorporate events such as the Black Death and the Gunpowder Plot, and includes characters such as “The Torturer”, “The Plague Doctor”, and “The Judge”

The experience also includes a “drop ride to doom”, a free-fall ride staged as a public hanging. :)

 

Thursday, 11th December 2014

Today we travelled to South Kensington and visited the Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A), the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. :)

The museum houses a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects, spread out over 145 galleries. It was founded in 1852, and named after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, who opened the museum on 22 June 1857.

The museum is split into four collections departments, Asia; Furniture, Textiles and Fashion; Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass and Word & Image.

These departments whose combined collection numbers over 6.5 million objects, are further divided into sixteen display areas. However given the vast extent of the collections only a small percentage is on display.

Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day.

The holdings of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest, important and most comprehensive in the world.

The museum possesses the world’s largest collection of post-classical sculpture, and the holdings of Italian Renaissance items are the largest outside Italy. The museum also houses the largest and most comprehensive ceramics and glass collection in the world.

The museums East Asian collections are among the best in Europe, with particular strengths in ceramics and metalwork, while the Islamic collection, alongside the British Museum, is amongst the largest in the Western world.

After an enjoyable visit to the museum, we visited Westfield Shopping Centre in White City a district near Shepherd’s Bush in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Westfield Centre is noted for its size. It has a retail floor area of 150,000m2, the equivalent of about 30 football pitches. :)

At the time of its opening it was reported to be the second largest commercial centre in the UK. It features around 372 stores and includes a high-end retail area called The Village.

 

 

 

Friday, 12th December 2014

Today we checked out of our hotel in South Kensington, and checked into another one in Wembley

Wembley is an area of northwest London, and part of the London Borough of Brent. It is home to the famous Wembley Stadium, Wembley Arena and also the London Designer Outlet Wembley Park.

After we checked in, we travelled to London’s West End.

First we visited Burlington Arcade, a covered shopping arcade.

Burlington Arcade opened in 1819. It was built for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand. The arcade features smart uniform shop fronts under a glazed roof. Present tenants include a range of clothing, footwear and accessory shops, art and antique dealers and the jewellers and dealers in antique silver.

Next we visited Fortnum & Mason.

Fortnum & Mason is a department store, recognised internationally for its high quality goods.

Founded as a grocery store, Fortnum’s reputation was built on supplying quality food, and saw rapid growth throughout the Victorian era. The store has since opened several other departments.

Today Fortnum & Mason is famed for its loose-leaf tea and its world-renowned luxury picnic hampers, which contain luxury items such as Stilton cheese, champagne, quails’ eggs and smoked salmon. At Christmas time these can cost up to £25,000!

Afterwards we stopped for lunch in Nordic Bakery, a Scandinavian-style cafe offering Nordic bakery products.

After lunch we walked to Carnaby Street.

During the sixties Carnaby Street proved popular for followers of hippie styles. Many independent fashion boutiques and designers were located in Carnaby Street as well as various underground music bars. Today it is home to numerous fashion and lifestyle retailers, including a large number of independent fashion boutiques.

On the way we stopped at Kingly Court, which features three floors of shops, cafes and restaurants set around an open courtyard.

Next we visited Liberty.

Liberty, founded in 1875 is a department store on Regent Street.

The department store sells a wide range of luxury goods including women’s, men’s and children’s fashion, cosmetics and fragrances, jewellery, accessories, homeware, furniture, stationery and gifts. Liberty is known for its floral and graphic prints.

After Liberty, we walked to Hamleys.

Founded in in 1760. Hamleys is the oldest toy shop in the world, and one of the world’s best-known retailers of toys. Its flagship store in London is the world’s largest toy store spread across 7 floors with more than 50,000 toys. :) It is considered one of the city’s major tourist attractions, receiving around five million visitors per year.

Next we walked to Oxford Circus, the busy intersection of the major shopping streets, Regent Street and Oxford Street.

We walked along Oxford Street, Europe’s busiest shopping street, home to a number of major department stores and numerous flagship stores, as well as hundreds of smaller shops. :)

On the way we stopped at St Christopher’s Place, and also Selfridges, one of world’s best department stores.

Selfridges on Oxford Street opened in 1909. With 540,000 square feet of selling space, the store is the second largest retail premises in the UK, half as big as the biggest department store in Europe, Harrods.

Selfridges has a history of bold art initiatives when it comes to the window designs. Its 27 street windows have become as famous as the store itself, attracting tourists and designers to marvel at the current designs and fashion trends.

 

Saturday, 13th December 2014

Today we visited Hyde Park.

Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in central London, and one of the Royal Parks of London, famous for its Speakers’ Corner.

Since 2007, Hyde Park has hosted “Winter Wonderland”, one of the UK’s most popular winter events. :)

The event features an array of traditional and thrill-seeking Fairground Rides and attractions including two Circuses ‘Christmas Circus’ and ‘Cirque Berserk’, the iconic Giant Observation Wheel, the Angels Christmas Market, the Yuletide Market and Santa Land.

In addition to the numerous bars, restaurants and cafes, the event features the popular Bavarian Village serving bratwurst and mulled wine. :)

Other attractions include the Magical Ice Kingdom, an ice and snow sculpture exhibition, unique to the UK. Surrounding the Victorian bandstand is the UK’s largest outdoor Ice Rink illuminated with more than 100,000 lights! :)

 

Sunday, 14th December 2014

Today we checked out of our hotel in Wembley.

Before we left London we stopped by the London Designer Outlet at Wembley Park for lunch.

Before lunch we stopped at a place called Chaboba.

Chaboba specialises in Bubble Tea, offering refreshing authentic Bubble Tea from Taiwan, the birthplace of Bubble Tea in the early 1980’s.

Bubble tea is very popular in Asia. It is a tea based drink, served ice cold or piping hot, mixed with fruit, or fruit syrup and/or milk, and contains small chewy balls, known as “pearls”, which are made of tapioca starch.

Afterwards we stopped for Dim Sum at a place called Ping Pong. :)

Dim Sum is a style of Cantonese food prepared as small bite-sized portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates.

Dim Sum restaurants have a wide variety of dishes, usually several dozen.

A traditional dim sum brunch includes various types of steamed buns such as cha siu baau (steamed buns with roast pork), dumplings and rice noodle rolls (cheong fun), which contain a range of ingredients, including beef, chicken, pork, prawns and vegetarian options.

Many dim sum restaurants also offer plates of steamed green vegetables, roasted meats, congee porridge and other soups. Dessert dim sum is also available and many places offer the customary egg tart.

Next we travelled to Euston, a central London railway terminus. Just before our journey to Birmingham we stopped for dessert at Ed’s Easy Diner, a retro-American diner offering classic burgers, hotdogs, fries and shakes. :)

After dessert we caught the train to Birmingham, a city in the West Midlands.

Birmingham is a major international commercial centre, and an important transport, retail, events and conference hub.

The city’s main railway station is the busiest station outside London. It is also the most populous British city outside the capital London with over a million residents!

Birmingham city centre is the UK’s third largest retail centre, with the country’s busiest shopping centre, the Bullring, which contains the largest department store outside London.

 

Friday, 19th December 2014

Today was our last day in Birmingham.

Over the last few days I have been visiting my girlfriend Liann’s family.

We also visited the German Xmas Market, (apparently) the largest authentic German market outside Germany and Austria. The market features more than 180 stalls selling gifts, jewellery, decorations, handmade toys, German food and of course Gluhwein!

If you’re interested I have added a few photos to the following photo album. Enjoy. :)

Christmas In London (2014)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157649502830097/

Xmas Festivities: Exeter’s Winter Wonderland Xmas Market & Taunton Xmas Lights Switch-On 2014

The Christmas season has arrived and it’s time to embrace the twinkling lights, festive drinks and the Christmas markets. :)

Friday, 21st November, 2014

Today I travelled into Exeter with my girlfriend Liann for the annual Christmas Market.

The market located on the Cathedral Green featured around 50 traditional wooden chalets offering unique, handmade and unusual gifts, decorations and food items.

The market offered a great mix of food. :) Foods on offer included Belgian chocolates, Baklava, crepes, speciality cheeses and meats, plus traditional Christmas crafts and foods such as Gluwhein and Bratwurst. They even had Chocolate wine! :)

What a great atmosphere! The sound of choirs singing carols, colourful decorations, dazzling lights, and aromas of mulled wine and cinnamon in the air. :)

 

Sunday, 23rd November, 2014

Today we joined thousands of people in Taunton for the annual Christmas light switch on.

Throughout the day was various entertainment. The event included musical acts, street entertainment with jugglers and stilt walkers, a farmers’ market, food and craft stalls and a fairground.

I didn’t witness the switch on myself, but I enjoyed a walking around the market and food stalls. :)

Exeter & Taunton’s Xmas Market & Festival
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157647135032494/

Somerset’s West Country Carnival: North Petherton’s 65th Guy Fawkes Illuminated Carnival 2014

Saturday, 8th November 2014

Today I attended the 65th North Petherton Guy Fawkes Illuminated Carnival.

As with the Bridgwater Carnival, this annual celebration dates back to the Gunpowder Plot, the failed assassination attempt against King James I of England by a group of provincial English Catholics in 1605.

As years passed, the annual celebration became more elaborate, involving costumes and music, until it developed into a large carnival procession.

The celebration features marching bands, majorette troupes, and a parade of illuminated themed floats.

Each of these floats includes both music and costumed people to complete their theme. The floats are up to 100ft in length, 16ft high, and 11ft wide, and some can have up to 30,000 light bulbs.

This year the North Petherton Carnival featured more than 100 entries, including 50 illuminated carnival carts. It was reported that there were around more than 30,000 spectators.

What a great evening! The dazzling lights, pumping sounds and electric atmosphere. It was fun. :). If you’re interested I have added a few photos to the following photo album. Enjoy :)

Somerset Illuminated Carnivals (2014) (162 photos)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157649214526575/

Somerset Illuminated Carnival Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyiGx5vWZX067/

Guy Fawkes Night Celebrations Fireworks Festival 2014; Butlin’s Entertainment Resort Minehead, Somerset

Wednesday, 5th November 2014

As part of the Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night Celebrations in the UK, I attended the Fireworks Display in Minehead.

Bonfire Night is an annual event dedicated to bonfires, fireworks and celebrations. The event is associated with the tradition of celebrating the failure of Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot on 5th November.

The Gunpowder Plot is the failed assassination attempt against King James I of England by a group of provincial English Catholics in 1605.

Guy Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder that was stockpiled beneath Westminster Palace. However he was caught by the authorities on the 5th November guarding the explosives. Since then, the 5th November has been called Guy Fawkes Night.

Today, and throughout the week, thousands of people will be enjoying Bonfire Night celebrations.

During the celebrations, bonfires are lit, and sometimes a Guy Fawkes effigy is burned on the bonfire. Fireworks are usually part of the celebrations. :)

Fireworks were invented in ancient China in the 800s, by filling bamboo shoots with gunpowder and exploding them at the New Year. According to tradition, Marco Polo brought this technology back to Europe in 1292. Today, China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world. 90% of all fireworks originate from here.

Today, I attended the Fireworks Display at Butlins Resort Minehead, a holiday camp operated by Butlins.

Butlins is a chain of large holiday camps in the U.K. It was founded by Billy Butlin to provide affordable holidays for ordinary British families. Between 1936 and 1966, ten camps were built, including one in Ireland and one in the Bahamas. However, tough competition from overseas package holiday operators forced many of the camps to close in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, only three of the original camps remain open including Bognor Regis, Minehead, and Skegness.

Fireworks Festival Minehead (2014) (13 photos)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157648735910467/

‘Seeing Is Believing’ Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Illuminated Carnival 2014; Europe’s Largest Illuminated Procession

Saturday, 1st November 2014

Today I attended the 409th Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Illuminated Carnival, the largest illuminated procession in Europe. :) :)

This annual celebration dates back to the Gunpowder Plot, the failed assassination attempt against King James I of England by a group of provincial English Catholics in 1605.

Guy Fawkes was a member of this group, and was placed in charge of the gunpowder that was stockpiled beneath Westminster Palace. However he was caught by the authorities on the 5th November guarding the explosives.

Since then, the 5th November in Britain has been called Guy Fawkes Night. To celebrate the King’s escape from assassination, bonfires are lit, and a Guy Fawkes effigy is sometimes burned on a bonfire. Today this is usually accompanied by a fireworks display.

As years passed, the annual celebration became more elaborate, involving costumes and music, until it developed into a large carnival procession. :) Today the series of processions in each town in the South West of England now form a major regional festival which aims to raises money for local charities.

The celebration features marching bands, majorette troupes, and a parade of illuminated themed floats.

Each of these floats includes both music and costumed people to complete their theme. The floats are up to 100ft in length, 16ft high, and 11ft wide, and some can have up to 30,000 light bulbs!!! Some of these floats cost in excess of £20,000 to build and are the result of thousands of hours of work throughout the year!

This year the Bridgwater Carnival featured 130 entries, including 50 illuminated carnival carts. Over 2,000 people were part of the parade, and there were over 150,000 spectators from around the UK and globally.

Distance wise, the carnival is just over 2 miles long from the first entry to the last entry in the parade, and it takes around 2.5 hours to pass any one viewing point Afterwards and for the finale was Squibbing, an ancient tradition unique to Bridgwater and the finale to the Bridgwater Carnival.

Squibbing is the simultaneous firing of lots of large fireworks (“squibs”). The squib itself is strapped to a block of wood attached to a pole, known as a cosh. The Squibbers holds the squib at arms length above their head with the firework facing toward the sky. As the squibs catch light the entire street is bathed in a golden light and a cascade of golden sparks fills the air.

What an amazing evening! :) As always I enjoyed watching all the illuminated themed carts and costumed people. It gets better every year! It was great to see everybody enjoying themselves and having a good time. :) :)

I’ve also made a short compilation video of the carnival, which you can watch on YouTube. Quality is dependent on your connection. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyiGx5vWZX0

Below are a few photos. If you want to see more,I have uploaded everything into the new photoset below. Enjoy. :)

Bridgwater Illuminated Carnival (2014) (129 photos)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157646772549653/

Bridgwater Illuminated Carnival 2014 Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyiGx5vWZX0

 

Here is the video clip. :)

Bridgwater Illuminated Carnival Video (2014)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyiGx5vWZX0

 

Burnham-On-Sea Autumn Food And Drink Festival 2014, Somerset

Saturday, 25th October, 2014

Today I travelled to the Victorian seaside town Burnham-On-Sea for the Food & Drink Festival.

The Burnham-On-Sea Food and Drink festival is a free one-day festival.

At the festival were over 90 stalls showcasing quality food and drink from across Somerset. The stalls were spread out through five indoor venues and a huge open-air street market connects them all.

There was so much food on offer! :) I saw Caribbean, Italian, French, Thai, Japanese and Spanish cuisine. There was also different types of cheeses, breads, meats, pork pies, spices, jams, chutneys, jerk chicken, stone baked pizzas, BBQ ribs, chilli, sweet & savoury crepes, chocolates, ales, ciders & wine, and much more.

Throughout the day the festival held workshops, demonstrations by local chefs, and baking and home brewing competitions. This year the competition was a chilli-eating contest.

I enjoyed the festival. Live music filled the streets, and there was plenty of busking pitches and seating to sit back and enjoy the atmosphere.

It was busy! According to sources, a crowd of around 10,000 people attended the event. Some stalls were so busy that they had sold out by lunchtime, but I managed to get a few items of food. :). It was much bigger than the previous food fairs and festivals I have visited. It’s probably the best one I have visited.

Hopefully I will be able to visit again next year. :)

Exploring The Mendips & West Somerset: Dunster Castle; Porlock’s Dovery Manor; Wells Cathedral; Glastonbury; Minehead; Bristol & St Matthew’s Bridgwater Fair

September / October 2014

Throughout September and October I have been travelling around The Mendips and West Somerset with my girlfriend Liann. Here is a photo of the two of us :)…https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15362410775/

During September and October we have been to various places including Dunster Castle in Dunster, Dovery Manor in Porlock, Wells Cathedral, Glastonbury, Minehead, Bristol and St Matthew’s Fair in Bridgwater.

One day we explored the medieval village of Dunster, and took advantage of ‘Heritage Open Days’ and visited Dunster Castle for free. :)

Dunster Castle is a former motte and bailey castle overlooking the village of Dunster, dating from the 11th century.

The castle lies on the top of a steep hill called the Tor, and has been fortified since the late Anglo-Saxon period. During the early medieval period the sea reached the base of the hill, offering a natural defence and making the village an inland port.

After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Dunster was granted to the Mohun family who built many things here including Dunster Castle. At first it was made of wood but later it was rebuilt in stone.

At the end of the 14th century the Mohuns sold the castle, manor and the extensive estate which surrounded them to the Luttrell family. The castle was expanded several times by the Luttrell family during the 17th and 18th centuries. At the end of the English Civil War, the castle walls were mostly destroyed following the siege of Dunster Castle.

Following the death of Alexander Luttrell in 1944, the family was unable to afford the death duties on his estate. The castle and surrounding lands were sold, and the family continued to live in the castle as tenants. In 1954 the Luttrells bought back the castle, but in 1976 Colonel Walter Luttrell gave Dunster Castle and most of its contents to the National Trust. :)

Today the castle is now a country house and operated as a tourist attraction by the National Trust. The key features of the castle include the original 13th-century gates and several pieces of art including a sequence of leather tapestries showing scenes from the story of Antony and Cleopatra. Here is a photo inside the castle :), https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15227881595/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15224629971/

Afterwards we continued exploring the village of Dunster. Here are a few photos :), https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15139492305/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/14952402208/

Another day we travelled to the coastal village of Porlock and visited Dovery Manor Museum.

The Dovery Manor Museum also known as the Porlock Museum, contains a collection of artefacts, photographs, press cuttings, paintings, and displays of local interest.

The museum is housed in a late 15th century Manor house. The Entrance is a Victorian addition and was for some years the caretaker’s cottage. It contains a collection of photos of Porlock Hill and a map of historical sites.

The Great Hall contains paintings and artefacts related to the area and information about the poets and painters who visited, lived and worked in Porlock. In the Upper Room there is a natural history cabinet, household, school and trade artefacts. Just off this room is the ‘garderobe’, an early lavatory. Here are a couple of photos, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15119793600/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15306641095/

One day we travelled to Wells, a cathedral city in the Mendip district of Somerset, also labelled as England’s smallest city.

While we were there, we visited Wells Cathedral. Wells Cathedral is a Church of England cathedral dating primarily from the late 12th and early 13th century. It is the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who lives at the adjacent Bishop’s Palace.

Built between 1175 and 1490, Wells Cathedral has been described as “the most poetic of the English Cathedrals”. :).

The first church was established on the site in 705. Construction of the present building began in the 10th century, and the west front was completed around 1250. The structure is in the early English style. The west front is said to be the finest collection of statuary in Europe as it contains almost 300 medieval statues carved from the cathedral’s yellow Doulting stone. It’s amazing! :). Here is a photo, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/9178145413/

The cathedral contains tombs and monuments to bishops and noblemen and many architectural features that date back hundreds of years including the Wells Cathedral clock.

The clock is famous for its 24-hour astronomical dial. It is the second-oldest surviving clock in England. The clock has a 24 hour dial reflecting the motion of the sun and the moon. It represents a geocentric view of the universe, with sun and moon revolving round a central fixed earth. When the clock strikes every quarter, jousting knights move around above the clock.

The cathedral has featured as a location for several movies including the movie Elizabeth The Golden Age.

The cathedral is situated next to natural springs rising up from beneath the Mendip Hills, and stands adjacent to the medieval Bishop’s Palace and Vicars’ Close, the oldest continuously inhabited street in Europe. Here is a photo of Vicars Close, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/9419517143/

On the way back from Wells, we stopped for a few hours in the small town of Glastonbury.

Glastonbury is a centre for religious tourism and pilgrimage. It has been described as a New Age community which attracts people with New Age and Neopagan beliefs, and is notable for myths and legends concerning Joseph of Arimathea, and the Holy Grail.

Since at least the 12th century the Glastonbury area was frequently associated with the legend of King Arthur, a connection promoted by medieval monks who asserted that Glastonbury was Avalon.

The town has a variety of New Age shops covering a range of spiritual themes such as Crystals, Olympian Gods, Goddesses, Angels, Fairies, Indians, Wizards, Witchcraft, Druids and much more. As the town is a New Age community it has attracted a number of practitioners and therapists offer all sorts of services, treatments and therapies. These include Reiki Masters, Holistic Therapists, Healers, Counsellors, Shamanic Practitioners, Yoga Masters, Clairvoyants, Psychotherapists, Massage Therapists, Nutritionists, Body Workers, Lightworkers and other practitioners. Here is photo of Liann in Glastonbury, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15032521677/

At the end of September we travelled to the town of Bridgwater to visit Bridgwater Fair.

Bridgwater Fair, also known as ‘St Matthew’s Fair’, is the largest Funfair in the South West, and the second largest in England after the Nottingham Goose Fair, which dates back more than 700 years.

Fairs have operated in Great Britain since medieval times. The first Funfair in Bridgwater was held in 1249 and there has been a fair held annually here for over 600 years.

Originally held in the centre of the town, by 1404 it had grown so large as to be moved to St Matthew’s Field. It was a one day fair until 1857 when a local act was passed to make it three days. Then in 1919, the weather was so disastrous that a fourth day was granted to help the traders, and it has remained as four days ever since.

Today it is a funfair but it once served as a hiring fair at which large numbers of sheep and ponies were sold, many of these having been rounded up from the Quantock Hills.

Until the mid 1800s, the fun side of the fair was limited to travelling entertainers. Amongst the many forms of entertainment were performing bears, wrestling, freakshows, striptease acts, and other acts including a strong woman act where the lady would lift a horse!

By the 1860s, rides were a regular feature with swing boats and roundabout horses, which were propelled by ponies or young lads. Mostly the amusements were the penny peep-shows and rather poor theatrical offerings inside canvas tents. In the 1890s electricity began to appear, and in 1905 new rides appeared included the Big Wheel.

It was fun. :). The fair featured a number of rides, hoopla stalls and a large number of market traders selling their wares. :) We went on a couple of rides, the rollercoaster and the carousel. Here is photo, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15339569976/ :)

Another day we travelled by train to Bristol, England’s sixth most populous city in South West England.

We visited Broadmead, Bristol’s shopping quarter and explored the shops at both ‘The Galleries’ shopping centre, and ‘Cabot Circus’, Bristol’s state of the art shopping complex.

While we were there we enjoyed Ramen, a Japanese noodle soup dish in Wagamama :). It was delicious, so here is a photo, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15263704469/ . We also had a Bubble Tea, also known as pearl milk tea, a Taiwanese tea-based drink. The term “bubble” slang for the large, chewy tapioca balls added to the drink. :)

After our meal we walked to Bristol’s harbourside and had a Frozen Yoghurt, also known as a Froghurt in Angelberry. :). Here is photo of the harbourside, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15447671061/

Numerous days we have been in the coastal town of Minehead.

Minehead is lined with a promenade of cafes, bars, amusement arcades, and shops. It also has a long sandy beach, and pebble beach near the harbour, offering views across the Bristol Channel to Wales.

Across from the promenade is the West Somerset Railway, the longest preserved railway in the country offering day trips on restored railway engines and carriages. On the seafront is the futuristic skyline pavilion, home to Butlins Holiday Park.

When the sun was shining we took advantage of the park :), https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15215239121/

If you are interested, I have uploaded photos into the following albums.

Mendip & West Somerset (137 photos)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157647114660619/

Dunster Castle & Dunster (74 photos)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157647154346280/

Doverhay Manor & Porlock (33 photos)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157647799239996/

17th Century Yarn Market; Dunster Museum & Doll Collection, The Memorial Hall, Dunster, Exmoor, Somerset

Tuesday, 2nd September, 2014

Today I spent the day in the village of Dunster with my girlfriend Liann. :)

Dunster is a small medieval village situated on the coast of the Bristol Channel.

The history of Dunster dates back at least as far as Saxon times. It’s believed to have been settled around 700AD, although prehistoric earthworks suggest earlier activity. During the early medieval period the sea reached the base of the hill, and several Iron Age hillforts were built.

By the 13th century, Dunster had become a centre for woollen and clothing production. The market here was were merchants displayed a particular kind of kersey or broadcloth known as ‘Dunsters’.

To shelter traders from the rain, Dunster Yarn Market was built around 1590 by George Luttrell.

The octagonal structure of the market has a central stone pier which supports a heavy timber framework. The structure is topped by a slate roof with a central wooden lantern surmounted by a weather vane. One of the roof beams of the market has a hole in it, a result of cannon fire in the Civil War, when Dunster Castle was a besieged Royalist stronghold for 160 days under the command of Colonel Wyndham.

Following the damage, it was restored in 1647 to its present condition. By the 18th Century, the textile industry was under pressure and Dunster’s economy was in collapse. Here is photo of the Yarn Market, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/15139492305/

Today the village contains many 17th and 19th century buildings along a long and wide high street.

Other major attractions in the village include ‘Dunster Castle’, a former motte and bailey castle dating from the 11th century. There is also ‘Gallox bridge’, a 15th century narrow stone packhorse bridge, and ‘Dunster Watermill’, a restored 18th century watermill.

After an enjoyable walk through the village, we ended up at Dunster Memorial Hall, home to the Dunster Dolls Museum! Ha ha.

The museum exhibits all kinds of dolls from around the world. A dolls house, furniture and model garden are also on display.

The collection was started by Mrs Mollie Hardwick in her cottage in 1957. Failing health had prevented her from getting about or travelling abroad, so the world and its dolls came to her as relatives and friends collected them on their travels.

On her death in 1970 the collection was given to the Memorial Hall Committee to form a museum. Since its opening in 1971 the collection has grown to over 1,300 dolls with about 800 dolls on display.

In 1992, thirty-two of the dolls were stolen during a burglary and have never been recovered. :(.

Throughout the day I took quite a few photos, but this one is probably the most silliest, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/14953670500/ . If you want to see the rest, I have uploaded them into the following new photoset.

Dunster Doll Museum & Dunster (73 photos)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrajohn/sets/72157646818678917/