Blooming Beautiful

6 May

It is probably easiest to start with an overview of the logistics for the week and let the photos do their work plus a few added comments.

The week started on Monday 29th April with us checking out of Kitley House and heading towards Woolacombe on the North Devon coast.  On the way we visited Buckland Abbey, Tavistock and Sticklepath.  We were again relying solely on the iPhone and Apple maps to get us from place to place and it did not let us down.  There are no options available like ‘only use main highways’ so at times the routes are more interesting than anticipated.  On the last 40 miles towards Woolacombe we wove our way through some country lanes that you might have thought would lead to a deserted clearing and a chainsaw murderer.  But it all worked out fine and added to the adventure, you just need to have faith, and sometimes a reasonable amount of it!

The reason for venturing to this corner of Devon was to find some of Leanne’s family history.   We had a family history book describing some places that we wanted to find, namely Bradwell Mill and the graveyard at West Down.  So that was Tuesday’s task plus a visit to Arlington Court which is also the site of the National Trust Carriage Museum.  On Wednesday we left Devon and drove through Somerset, crossing Exmoor National Park, to an overnight stay in Redditch.  On Thursday we got to Radcliffe, near Manchester, where we had some more graveyard work to do on Leanne’s family history, following up information in a Kay Family History book we obtained last year.

On Friday we visited Lyme Park on the edge of the Peak District National Park and ended the day in Barnsley.  On Saturday we visited York electing to use the park and ride from outside the city and that worked out well.  After York we returned to Barnsley for the night via the King’s Arms on Heath Common and Hemsworth (more about that later).

On Sunday night we needed to end up near Bishop’s Stortford ready to catch a 7am flight on Monday morning.  We left Barnsley about 9am and were in Cambridge before noon.  And what a difference three weeks and some nice weather makes!  Spring has transformed the city and it looks crisp and vibrant.  We got to Bishop’s Stortford by 5pm and met Dave and Carolyn for a beer before disappearing to our hotel to re-pack and get an early night.

When we first entered the grounds of Buckland Abbey we though this was the side of the old church.  Turned out to be the barn.  Seems that the monks only had one way to built things.

When we first entered the grounds of Buckland Abbey we though this was the side of the old church. Turned out to be the barn. Seems that the monks only had one way to built things.

This is the front entrance to the house that is built inside what was once a church.  It was the home of Sir Francis Drake once he had become reasonably wealthy from his expeditions (he was born into a poor family so inherited nothing).

This is the front entrance to the house that is built inside what was once a church. It was the home of Sir Francis Drake once he had become reasonably wealthy from his expeditions (he was born into a poor family so inherited nothing).

The weather was great and the rhododendrons were looking magnificent.

The weather was great and the rhododendrons were looking magnificent.

Our route took us along the edge of Dartmoor National Park.  We could see the wild horses from the road and when we pulled in at a picnic spot this little guy was grazing with his mother.  Not too shy either.

Our route took us along the edge of Dartmoor National Park. We could see the wild horses from the road and when we pulled in at a picnic spot this little guy was grazing with his mother. Not too shy either.

Tavistock is a market town on the border of the Dartmoor National Park.  Not especially remarkable but a nice place to stop for refreshments.

Tavistock is a market town on the border of the Dartmoor National Park. Not especially remarkable but a nice place to stop for refreshments.

Looking quite similar to National Park in New Zealand or Central Otago, this is just one view of Dartmoor.

Looking quite similar to National Park in New Zealand or Central Otago, this is just one view of Dartmoor.

Turning 90˚ this was the view - a ruined mill and farm land.

Turning 90˚ this was the view – a ruined mill and farm land.

I did walk a couple of hundred metres along the inside of this fence line looking for that elusive 'perfect shot'.  The ground underfoot was very spongey and uneven.

I did walk a couple of hundred metres along the inside of this fence line looking for that elusive ‘perfect shot’. The ground underfoot was very spongey and uneven.

Finch Foundry, its given name, is a National Trust property in the village of Sticklepath that is the oldest water driven forge still operating in England. In fact its name is a misnomer since it is actually a forge rather than a foundry. This is a snapshot of one of the guys who operated the forge for visitors. I got talking to his colleague afterwards, a guy who was born in the village and spent his entire life farming about a mile from the village and at 83 years old had not been more than 5 miles in any direction!

Finch Foundry, its given name, is a National Trust property in the village of Sticklepath that is the oldest water driven forge still operating in England. In fact its name is a misnomer since it is actually a forge rather than a foundry. This is a snapshot of one of the guys who operated the forge for visitors. I got talking to his colleague afterwards, a guy who was born in the village and spent his entire life farming about a mile from the village and at 83 years old had not been more than 5 miles in any direction!

Woolacombe in North Devon is a family beach holiday town.  This was the view from our room - a long way from the beach but a nice view.

Woolacombe in North Devon is a family beach holiday town. This was the view from our room – a long way from the beach but a nice view.

This is the beach complete with everything a holidaying Englishman needs - sand to lay on and turn lobster coloured and a van from which to buy beer and hot chips.  All while under the supervision of a Union Flag.

This is the beach complete with everything a holidaying Englishman needs – sand to lay on and turn lobster coloured and a van from which to buy beer and hot chips. All while under the supervision of a Union Flag.

This is the mill house that was bought by Leanne's Great-great-great-great-grandfather in 1825 in the village of Bradwell in North Devon.  It appears to be in the process of some renovation work.

This is the mill house that was bought by Leanne’s Great-great-great-great-grandfather in 1825 in the village of Bradwell in North Devon. It appears to be in the process of some renovation work.

The church cemetery at West Down was home to the graves of a number of Leanne's ancestors on her mother's side of the family.

The church cemetery at West Down was home to the graves of a number of Leanne’s ancestors on her mother’s side of the family.

Arlington Court is a National Trust Property in North Devon that was once the home of the Chichester family.  This part of the house was remodelled in the late 19th century.

Arlington Court is a National Trust Property in North Devon that was once the home of the Chichester family. This part of the house was remodelled in the late 19th century.

Also at Arlington Court was the National Trust Carriage Museum.  It housed the golden 'Speaker's Coach' but no photos were allowed.

Also at Arlington Court was the National Trust Carriage Museum. It housed the golden ‘Speaker’s Coach’ but no photos were allowed.

So courtesy of Google, here is the Speaker’s State Coach on exhibition at Arlington Court’s Carriage Museum in North Devon, UK. The coach which has been used for state occasions since the early 18th century was last used at the Royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and is seen as a symbol of power and status of the Speaker of the House Of Commons. The gold painted and gilded coach is believed to have been made in 1698 for King William III and will be on display for 6 years at the National Trust property.

So courtesy of Google, here is the Speaker’s State Coach on exhibition at Arlington Court’s Carriage Museum in North Devon, UK. The coach which has been used for state occasions since the early 18th century was last used at the Royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and is seen as a symbol of power and status of the Speaker of the House Of Commons. The gold painted and gilded coach is believed to have been made in 1698 for King William III and will be on display for 6 years at the National Trust property.

This controversial sculpture called Verity is on the harbour entrance at Ilfracombe in the North Devon coast.  The light was impossible but you can find out more about it here: http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/17/whats-20m-high-pregnant-and-wields-a-sword-damien-hirsts-latest-masterpiece/

This controversial sculpture called Verity is on the harbour entrance at Ilfracombe in the North Devon coast. The light was impossible but you can find out more about it here: http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/17/whats-20m-high-pregnant-and-wields-a-sword-damien-hirsts-latest-masterpiece/

On the edge of Exmoor National Park I was struck by the red colour of the soil.  Reminiscent of Provence.

On the edge of Exmoor National Park I was struck by the red colour of the soil. Reminiscent of Provence.

Another churchyard cemetery, this time in Radcliffe.  Here we located several headstones belonging to ancestors of Leanne's on her father's side.

Another churchyard cemetery, this time in Radcliffe. Here we located several headstones belonging to ancestors of Leanne’s on her father’s side.

I also had to take a few shots of this squirrel posing on a tree.

I also had to take a few shots of this squirrel posing on a tree.

Lyme Park, in the Peak District National Park, is another property that was only used as a retreat during the summer and a hunting lodge a few times a year with its 1,300 acre estate.

Lyme Park, in the Peak District National Park, is another property that was only used as a retreat during the summer and a hunting lodge a few times a year with its 1,300 acre estate.

We crossed the Peak District National Park en route from Radcliffe to Barnsley.  The sky was darkening, it was cold and the wind was about 70kph.  Not a place to hang around.

We crossed the Peak District National Park en route from Radcliffe to Barnsley. The sky was darkening, it was cold and the wind was about 70kph. Not a place to hang around.

I realised at last that I had not taken any pictures of the row houses so common in the UK.  So here is my first step at putting that right.

I realised at last that I had not taken any pictures of the row houses so common in the UK. So here is my first step at putting that right.

The reason for stopping in Barnsley was to visit York and Hemsworth the next day.  The weather was on the dull side but York was still charming, even if a little challenging to photograph - bright glary skies with dark buildings and alleys.

The reason for stopping in Barnsley was to visit York and Hemsworth the next day. The weather was on the dull side but York was still charming, even if a little challenging to photograph – bright glary skies with dark buildings and alleys.

A view along the Shambles.

A view along the Shambles.

Streetscape.

Streetscape.

York Minster.  Because the leaves were not yet out on the trees I could get views of things that would usually be obscured.  This was also a big plus when driving around the countryside - we could see through the hedgerows and across the landscape.  Even a week later this view has become more filtered.

York Minster. Because the leaves were not yet out on the trees I could get views of things that would usually be obscured. This was also a big plus when driving around the countryside – we could see through the hedgerows and across the landscape. Even a week later this view has become more filtered.

The Treasurer's House a few metres from York Minster was the home of a Frank Green whose grandfather patented 'Green's Economiser', a method of recovering energy from exhaust gases to pre-heat the boiler feed water.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economizer

The Treasurer’s House a few metres from York Minster was the home of a Frank Green whose grandfather patented ‘Green’s Economiser’, a method of recovering energy from exhaust gases to pre-heat the boiler feed water. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economizer

Frank Green also funded the restoration of this building, St Williams College, and...

Frank Green also funded the restoration of this building, St Williams College, and…

the adjacent Gate House which now houses the National Trust Gift Shop.

the adjacent Gate House which now houses the National Trust Gift Shop.

The walls around York are open for walking and the daffodil displays were vibrant.

The walls around York are open for walking and the daffodil displays were vibrant.

Alan and I visited the King's Arms on Heath Common near Wakefield in 1982 and I wanted to track it down again.  Here is an extract from their own website: Hidden away on the outskirts of Wakefield, the village of Heath is a living monument to a bygone age. The village consists entirely of buildings dating from the 15th to 19th centuries. Inside the Grade II listed pub you will find a delightful maze of cosy rooms, and still entirely lit by gas lamps. A fully working Yorkshire range is another wonderful reminder of days of old

Alan and I visited the King’s Arms on Heath Common near Wakefield in 1982 and I wanted to track it down again. Here is an extract from their own website: Hidden away on the outskirts of Wakefield, the village of Heath is a living monument to a bygone age. The village consists entirely of buildings dating from the 15th to 19th centuries. Inside the Grade II listed pub you will find a delightful maze of cosy rooms, and still entirely lit by gas lamps. A fully working Yorkshire range is another wonderful reminder of days of old

The other mission I had in this area was to take a look at the house where Alan had grown up and I had stayed with him and his parents in 1982.  As soon as we parked in the street near number 8 there were folk watching us!   One of the neighbours approached me as I walked about with my camera and asked if he could help me.  We got talking and then his wife joined us.  I couldn’t get away for 45 minutes.  The first couple then called out another neighbour and stories started to be told.  If there had been a beer keg handy I would probably still be there!  On a sad note, it turned out that the new owner of number 8, an elderly lady, had fallen about 30 minutes before we arrived and broken her ankle. The ambulance was coming along the main road as we left.

Great St. Mary's Church.  The last time we visited Cambridge the weather chased us home early.  Not this time and now the Spring flowers added to the scene.

Great St. Mary’s Church. The last time we visited Cambridge the weather chased us home early. Not this time and now the Spring flowers added to the scene.

A sneak peak in through the main entrance to King's College.

A sneak peak in through the main entrance to King’s College.

Looking form 'The Backs' towards King's College.  In the mid-ground of the picture, in the grass, you might see some people.  They are not walking along a path but punting on the River Cam.

Looking form ‘The Backs’ towards King’s College. In the mid-ground of the picture, in the grass, you might see some people. They are not walking along a path but punting on the River Cam.

Fairies in the meadow at Cambridge, The Backs.

Fairies in the meadow at Cambridge, The Backs.

Another view of the back of King's College showing the punters more clearly.

Another view of the back of King’s College showing the punters more clearly.

Mathematical Bridge on the River Cam.  Here we watched with amusement as the amateur punters tangled with the pros who were trying to run their tourist routes.  We waited for a while but were not rewarded with an involuntary dismount into the river.

Mathematical Bridge on the River Cam. Here we watched with amusement as the amateur punters tangled with the pros who were trying to run their tourist routes. We waited for a while but were not rewarded with an involuntary dismount into the river.

The gates of Trinity College.

The gates of Trinity College.

The main gates of St. John's College.

The main gates of St. John’s College.

None of these beautiful blossoms were here three weeks ago.  It was wonderful to see.

None of these beautiful blossoms were here three weeks ago. It was wonderful to see.

Do you remember my story about the car and its cruise control/indicator foible?  Well I bought the WD-40 as planned and it is amazing stuff.  It worked perfectly.  I didn’t even have to open it from the blister pack.  There has not been any misbehaviour since.  If the problem does come back I might even open the WD-40 and see if that fixes it again.  Here’s hoping.

2 Responses to “Blooming Beautiful”

  1. chapels March 11, 2014 at 08:20 #

    bookmarked!!, Ӏ likе your blog!

  2. Nicole May 13, 2013 at 02:19 #

    Hey Brian. A few of those photos would make good 2500 – 5000pc puzzles! 🙂

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