Category Archives: England

List of articles with tips for things to do in England; top English attractions, sights and museums.

5 Great Reasons to Visit the New Forest National Park, UK

One of the UK’s 15 National Parks, set on England’s southern edge, the New Forest offers a wealth of things to see or do,and both coast and countryside to explore. Although it is growing in popularity with British visitors, it is still relatively off the radar to those living overseas. If you’ve never thought about a New Forest holiday before, here are five reasons why you should!

Walking and cycling

In the New Forest, you can leave the car behind as it’s one of the best places in the country for cycling and walking. There are hundreds of miles of trails and tracks to explore, and as the terrain is mostly flat, it’s suitable for all abilities. For the keen cyclist, several events also take place throughout the year for you to test your endurance. If you want to soak up the sights, the choices are endless,from treks over the open heathlands to riverside walks and a scenic stroll down the Rhinewood
Ornamental Drive.

Landscapes

With just a few towns and villages found with its boundaries, the New Forest is unrivalled when it comes to unspoilt landscapes and stunning views – just don’t forget to bring your camera. Miles of open heathland stretch out as far as the eye can see, while amongst the dense woodlands, tall tree tower above you. Alternatively, you can relax by the river or head to one of the pretty shingle beaches on the southern fringes of the National Park.

Wildlife

The New Forest is a haven for wildlife, thanks to its diverse habitats, which attract animals of many different kinds. It’s probably most famous for its wild ponies, which roam and graze the land freely, and can even be seen wandering through towns and villages, alongside donkeys, pigs and cattle. You’ll also find five different varieties of deer here, as well as several bird species and even a few reptiles.

Family-friendly attractions

If you ever grow weary of exploring the New Forest’s natural landscapes, there’s plenty of fun-filled attractions to keep the whole family entertained. Home to its own water park as well as a large theme park, Paulton’s Park, there are also many stunning New Forest gardens to visit, such as Exbury, which also has a charming steam railway. The village of Beaulieu is also packed with attractions, from he National Motor Museum to a monorail.

Places to eat

Making the most of the local ingredients found on their doorsteps, the New Forest’s restaurants will ensure you never go hungry on your holiday. Relax in a charming country pub, or stop for a light bite to eat at one of the many friendly cafes – there is something to suit all tastes. A Michelin starred restaurant, The Terrace, can also be found in Beaulieu, where you can have a truly decadent meal out.

Cultural Guide to Eastbourne

Eastbourne, in East Sussex, lies on the south coast of England. It takes around 90 minutes to reach Eastbourne by rail from Victoria Station in London. Eastbourne’s  packed events calendar ensures plenty to do and see at any time of year. Outdoor lovers can enjoy coastal or inland walks, in beautiful countryside with pit stops in pretty villages.

Coastal Culture Trail

The Coastal Culture Trail stretches for 18 miles from Eastbourne, heading east to Bexhill and then on to Hastings. You can walk, cycle or take the train along the route.

You could start the Coastal Culture Trail at the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne. The gallery was originally a collection of 22 paintings in a manor house in Eastbourne’s Old Town, donated by Alderman John Chisholm Towner. As the collection grew, it needed a new home. The new Towner, designed by Rick Mather Architects, opened in Eastbourne in April 2009.

As you start to head east, you’ll pass Eastbourne Bandstand, which was built in 1935. Events here include the 1812 Fireworks Concert, traditional afternoon concerts and a Eurovision Party.

In another few hundred meters, you’ll pass Eastbourne Pier, which is home to a Victorian tearoom, the 1901 Jazz Club and the Atlantis Nightclub.

In Bexhill, you can visit the De La Warr Pavilion. At the eastern end of the Coastal Culture Trail is the Hastings’ Jerwood Gallery.

Devonshire Collective

The Devonshire Collective comprises of five venues in Seaside Road and Seaside, all close to the Pier. At DC1, there is a cafe and a gallery. The other venues are studios and workshops.

Eastbourne Theatres

There are three theatres in Eastbourne; the Congress Theatre, Devonshire Park Theatre and the Winter Garden. Forthcoming performances include the comedy ‘One Man Two Guvnors’ and ‘Forever Eagles’, featuring the music of the US rock band.

Beachy Head

If you enjoy walking, you can head west from Eastbourne towards the chalk headland at Beachy Head. The village of East Dean, where you’ll find the Tiger Inn pub and the Hiker’s Rest tearoom, is close to Beachy Head. You can also sample some local ales, such as Legless Rambler and South Downs Ale, on the taster tours at Beachy Head Brewery.

Herstmonceux

You could have a great day out in the Herstmonceux area. The 15th century red brick Herstmonceux Castle is now the International Study Centre for Queens’ University in Canada, so tours of the interior are only available at specific times.

But the grounds and gardens are open daily from March to October.

The Observatory Science Centre is located a ten minute walk from Herstmonceux Castle. The Centre was the home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory between 1947 and 1990. When the Observatory relocated to Cambridge, many of the telescopes were left behind and the Observatory Science Centre was developed.

Italian Gardens

The Italian Gardens lie at the western end of Eastbourne Prom.

The site of the Italian Gardens was formerly a chalk quarry, which was transformed into the Gardens in the 1920s.

From 26 July to 5 August 2017, there will be evening performances as part of the Alfresco Shakespeare programme.

Michelham Priory and Gardens

The Priory was founded by Augustian canons eight hundred years ago. The site is surrounded by the longest medieval water filled moat, dating from 1229. After the destruction of the Priory and the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII, it was rebuilt as a country home.  You can purchase the organic flour milled in the water mill in the grounds.

Redoubt Fortress

The circular Redoubt fortress was built in 1805 as part of England’s defences during the Napoleonic Wars. It’s free to visit the gun tower and parade ground. If you wish to visit the interior of the fortress, you’ll need to buy a ticket.

The Pavilion next door has a cafe and an exhibition. The current free exhibition at the Pavilion is ‘Living on the Edge 8000 years by the sea’.

Pevensey Castle

Pevensey Castle started life in the 4th century as a Roman Saxon shore fort. It also was the landing spot for the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066.

More Information on Eastbourne

You can find out more on the Visit Eastbourne website and the Eastbourne Holiday Guide.

The Hepworth Gallery Wakefield

The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield opened in 2011. The gallery is named after the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, who was born in Wakefield.

hepworth wakefield exterior

The gallery is situated on the souther bank of the River Calder. Large windows afford great views of the river.

hepworth wakefield view to river

It was interesting to see a mock-up of Hepworth’s studio and watch videos about her work, particularly how she created enormous outdoor sculptures such as ‘Single Form’ which sits outside the United Nations Building in New York.

hepworth wakefield barbara hepworth studio

Hepworth used several different materials for her pieces including wood, marble, string and bronze. Below is ‘Two Forms with White (Greek)’ made with Guarea wood.

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You can see use of string in the model of ‘Oval Form with Sting’. I like the pattern created by the sting in the hole of the sculpture.

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A model of ‘Winged Figure’. commissioned by John Lewis for their Oxford Street store, is at the back of the photo below.

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Below are some more sculptures by Hepworth.

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There were several exhibitions of photos by Martin Parr when I visited.

The ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ depicted the production of early-forced rhubarb in West Yorkshire.

hepworth wakefield rhubarb triangle collection

Evidently, rhubarb craft beer which had been brewed in coincide with the exhibition was for sale in the gallery shop. As a teetotaller I wasn’t tempted.

hepworth wakefield rhubarb triangle

‘Autoportrait’ was a display of photos of Martin Parr in a variety of locations.

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Here are some photos of other pieces that I liked at the Hepworth.

In this piece the man had what looked like black rocks for brains.

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I thought that the Snoopy canvas was cute.

hepworth wakefield snoopy canvas

I liked the way that the Laburnum, visible through the window, provided a backdrop for the sculpture.

hepworth wakefield

I thought that the Hepworth Gallery was wonderful.

I’s free to enter. Opening hours are 10am – 5pm Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Monday). Late night opening until 9pm is on the third Thursday of the month.

Photo Tour of Highgate Cemetery London

Highgate Cemetery in north London was one of these places that I’d been meaning to visit for decades. One of the reasons I selected the Ramada Hotel Finchley for my London accommodation was that it was bus ride from the hotel to the cemetery.

I’d looked at the Highgate Cemetery to check opening hours before I visited. I was rather annoyed that there was a £4 entry fee, as it’s free to enter most cemeteries in the UK. Evidently the fee is charged as Highgate Cemetery used to be owned by a private company. When it folded in the 1970s, the cemetery fell into disrepair, until it was taken over by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery, a registered charity.

The most well-known grave in Highgate Cemetery is that of Karl Marx.

highgate cemetery karl marx grave

However for me the most striking gravestone was the one below, which looks like a woman clutching a body.

highgate cemetery sculpture of two people

Despair was the sentiment which came to mind when looking at the sculpture of the man with his head resting on a stone

highgate cemetery sculpture of man with head on stone

The full size piano sculpture was pretty impressive.

highgate cemetery piano gravestone

I liked the gravestone sculpture below of a young woman holding flowers; the folds in her dress made it look as though she were standing in a breeze.

highgate cemetery gravestone of young woman

The floral engraving on the cross of the gravestone below are beautiful.

highgate cemetery cross gravestone embellished wiht flowers

There were plenty of gravestone sculptures of angels in Highgate Cemetery,

highgate cemetery angel

highgate cemetery angel gravestone

highgate cemetery angel gravestone covered in ivy

highgate cemetery young warrior angel gravestone

highgate cemetery angel gravestone in sun

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At least the £4 entry fee contributed to the upkeep of the pristine toilets.

highgate cemetery toilets

I have to say that I was slightly disappointed by Highgate Cemetery. It’s described as “one of England’s greatest treasures with some of the finest funerary architecture in the country”. I’ve visited other cemeteries, such as the Old Town Cemetery in Stirling and the Howff Cemetery in Dundee, which I found more interesting and were free to enter.

Open Exhibition 2016 at Berwick Watchtower Gallery

The Open Exhibition is on at Berwick Watchtower Gallery until Friday 2 December 2016.

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I entered my Sheep in Heather at Dusk collage, pictured below, which was hung alongside Morag Eaton’s Julien’s Vegetables panorama.

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You can vote for your favourite piece at the exhibition. I cast my vote for the Three Tin Cans by David Stuart, pictured below.

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Here is a selection of my favourites from the Open Exhibition at Berwick Watchtower Gallery.

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Recycled Sea by Jane McComb

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White Rabbit by Kath Turnbull

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Lindisfarne Castle by Sue Littlefield

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College Valley by Ken Spencer

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Dancers in the Wings by Lisa Murray

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Disenchantment by Gill Walton

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Duddo Stone Circle at Sunset by Jancis Courtney

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Stag by Frank Doyle

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Having a paddle Coldingham by Hugh McGilvray

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Kio by Sakina Jones

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Loch at Dawn by Daniel Knox

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Mental Scars by John Cairns

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Parting of the Waves by Jill Arthey

The Berwick Watchtower Gallery is open Thursdays to Sundays 12 – 4pm during exhibitions.

 

The Laing Art Gallery Newcastle

The Laing Art Gallery is located in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne. Entry is free. Opening hours are 10am – 5pm Tuesday to Saturday, and 2pm – 5pm on Sunday.  It’s closed on Mondays.

Laing Art Gallery Newcastle entrance

I loved that the Gallery has several al fresco murals on one of its exterior walls.

Laing Art Gallery Newcastle exterior painting

Laing Art Gallery Newcastle painting on exterior wall

Close to the Gallery entrance, there’s a bench sculpture.

Laing Art Gallery Newcastle sculpture bench

One of my favourite parts of the Laing Art Gallery was the Arts and Crafts stained glass window.

Laing Art Gallery Newcastle Arts and Crafts stained glass window

The glass vases were beautiful shades of blue and green.

Glass vases at the Laing Art Gallery Newcastle

Below is a selection of paintings that l liked.

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Glass vases at the Laing Art Gallery Newcastle6

If you’re in Newcastle. I recommend a visit to the Laing Art Gallery.

First Light exhibition by Louise Cattrell at the Granary Gallery, Berwick upon Tweed

The First Light exhibition by Louise Cattrell is on at the Granary Gallery in Berwick upon Tweed until 29 January 2017.

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‘First Light’ was commissioned by Berwick Visual Arts as part of the International Print Biennale taking part across the north east of England in October 2016.

All my favourites in the ‘First Light’ exhibition were paintings. I loved the luminosity of the pieces.

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Fowlers Rest by Louise Cattrell

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Phantasie en Suisse I and II by Louise Cattrell

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Martinmas by Louise Cattrell

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Rock Isle by Louise Cattrell

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Sea Rock by Louise Cattrelll

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Silver Bass by Louise Cattrell

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Thames by Louise Cattrell

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Tower by Louise Cattrell

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Zephyr by Louise Cattrell

If you are in the the north of Nortumberland in the next three months, I recommend that you go to see Louise Cattrell’s ‘First Light’ exhibition in Berwick upoin Tweed. The Granary Gallery is open 11am –  4pm Wednesdays to Sundays. Admission is free of charge.

Photo Tour of Camley Street Natural Park London

The Camley Street Natural Park is located close to King’s Cross Station. I happened to spot a sign for it when I was in the area, and decided to take a look.

The park was created in an old railway coal yard which was saved from redevelopment in the 1980s.

camley street natural park map

The park has a visitor centre with toilets. In Summer, there’s an outdoor cafe

camley street natural park visitor centre

I liked the art on the exterior of the visitor centre. There was a ladybird.

camley street natural park ladybird art

It looked as though the bee’s wings were made from honeycombs.

camley street natural park bee art

One side of the Camley Street Natural Park is bordered by Regent’s Canal.

camley street natural park barge in canal

There’s a ‘Floating Forest’ garden on an old barge moored in the park.

camley street natural park floating forest

There are a couple of ponds in the park.

camley street natural park pond

There was a pretty blue and purple feathered moorhen with a red beak wandering around.

camley street natural park bird.

It was early Spring during my visit, so everything was a bit barren, and it was too cold to sit on the benches.

camley street natural park

The park is close to the rail tracks, which is reflected in the train mural.

camley street natural park mural

There’s an ‘Outdoor Living’ area which looked as though it could cater for a large party.

camley street natural park outdoor living area

The Camley Street Nature Park is open daily from 10am to dusk, or 5pm, whichever is earlier.

Visiting Alexandra Palace in London

I finally got around to visiting Alexandra Palace in north London this year.

alexandra palace

It first opened as an entertainment venue, known as the People’s Palace, in 1873. It was named after the Princess of Wales, Alexandra, But it burnt down in a fire only 16 days after opening. The rebuilt Palace opened in 1875.

I first heard of Alexandra Palace when I was a child. That’s because part of the building was leased to BBC, who made the first TV broadcast through the BBC Tower mast in 1936.

alexandra palace information board on first TV broadcast in 1936

The BBC Tower is a real landmark. I could see it from my bedroom at the Ramanda Hotel Finchley.

bbc tower alexandra palace

There are plans to turn the derelict former BBC studios into a visitor centre, and to reopen the historic theatre.

bbc tower at alexandra palace

Around the corner from the BBC Tower, there is an indoor ice rink. I tried to get in to take some photos, but there were entry barriers.

alexandra palace ice rink

At the opposite end of Alexandra Palace is Palm Court.

alexandra palace palm court entrance

There are public toilets and a bar/restaurant (open every day) which has seating in Palm Court, as well as in a large outdoor courtyard.

alexandra palace palm court

There are some good views over London down towards Canary Wharf from outside Alexandra Palace.

There’s an enormous circular stained glass window along the side of Alexandra Palace.

alexandra palace stained glass window

It was too cold for me to linger in the Alexandra Park, I only stopped briefly to look back at Alexandra Palace and the BBC Tower.

alexandra palace and the bbc tower

The Shibden Valley from Halifax: A Circular Walk

This walk is about 5 miles long, with some uphill sections.

From the centre of Halifax, you can choose to start either near the railway station (pay parking, free toilets) and walk through the shopping centre to Kirkgate (5-10min), or look for parking near Kirkgate.

The walk starts at Kirkgate. Right on to Bank Bottom; cross Hebbie Brook at the bridge and head uphill for about 200 yards, cross the road and enter a cobbled lane (Southowram Bank), from which you get a great view back to Halifax,

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Walk uphill, until the path forks onto another cobbled footpath, go right and emerge on a proper, metalled road.

Cross at the right of an industrial building (Aquaspersion) onto another cobbled path (Magna Via which is pictured below).

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Cross the gate and bear left, looking at Shibden Valley (in photo below) to your left and keep left at the next fork.

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113. Downhill path through Shibden valley
After about 100yards, a narrow walled track through hedgerows to the left leads downhill and eventually through a new housing estate.

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Cross the road and enter another downhill path, just by the entrance to a farm, on your right – this entry point is pretty easy to miss.

Eventually you walk under a railway line and into Shibden Park.

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This is a lovely space, complete with rowing lake, mini-railway and children playgrounds.

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A circular walk through the park, possibly stopping for a coffee, prior to walking up to the Elizabethan Shibden Hall, is highly recommended.

Shibden Hall

You walk uphill past the Hall, exit the park and meet a road. Turn right, walk on pavement to Lister Road Bridge.

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At the left of the bridge, take the steep steps downhill, then follow the pavement downhill. When you meet another road, you will be able to retrace your steps through cobbled Southowram Bank back to Halifax.