Tag: place

15th Century Pub and A Domestic

Years ago when we first moved to Cornwall, we did lots of day-trips out and most of them were decided on a whim, the sun is out, c’mon let’s go for a drive sort-of-thing.  It was easy to do that of course because we didn’t have little T with us yet, and since we’ve just arrived from Africa, the husband wasn’t working yet and therefore we could do as we please, i.e. go down driving in search of pubs that did their own brewing.  We’ve heard of one in Helston, so that was our destination for the day.

It was a lovely spring day.  The sky was blue and all the flowers and trees were out in full-bloom of every kind and colour.

Lovely isn’t it?

The Blue Anchor is one of the oldest Inns in the UK and is said to have been brewing their own beer over 600 years!  We were told that it was originally a monks resting house where they made strong honey based mead.  Today, they make a variety of “Springo Ales” made of traditional recipes.  The pub has retained its original features, so it’s definitely well worth a visit even if you’re not much into beer.

It was an early lazy afternoon when we strolled into the pub.  The husband (who was then my boyfriend) ordered a couple of pints (probably half for him since he was driving).  Don’t ask me what it was like, because I wouldn’t be able to tell you.  To me, they all taste alike!  What I remember though is the drama that unfolded right before our eyes and that’s what I really want to write about.

A couple, probably in their late 50s came in.  The man actually looked like an ageing rock star, a bit like  Bill Nighy’s character in the movie “Love Actually” so it didn’t come as a surprise when he strolled in and headed straight for the piano and started playing and singing! His voice was good, aged, and infused with probably too much alcohol, late nights, cigarettes and maybe even drugs.  His lady-friend/wife or girlfriend was probably of the same age, though she looked even more wasted and more of a sorry-sight than him.

It was all good, for a while they were both laughing/singing and joking with the barman (which made us guess that they were probably locals).  Then all of a sudden the woman started hurling expletives at him.  It was one of those domestic rows that were uncomfortable to witness.  It takes me ages to finish a pint and as I was trying to gulp my glass down, hoping to do a hurried exit, they thankfully stormed out of the pub. And as they left, everyone heaved a sigh of relief.  The barman said that yes, it was a familiar scene.  Before he could even say another word, the faded “rock-star” came in and hid under a table not far from us!  Then the woman came back and shouted “Where is he?”  She looked around and didn’t wait for anyone to reply and went out again.

What’s even more depressing was that we saw her slumped on the pavement with her head in her hands and muttering to herself.  Sad sight really.

Have you ever been in an uncomfortable situation like the scene mentioned above?

Then before driving away, I spied this lovely red cab and just had to take a photo of it.

This post is linked-up with PODcast’s #WhatsTheStory


Have a great week!

A Visit to Salisbury

Salisbury City is known as the city in the countryside.  Perhaps because it is surrounded by the beautiful English countryside, I bet if you live here, it won’t feel like you’re living in an urban area at all.  This medieval cathedral city with its old timbered buildings, world-famous Gothic cathedral and home to the magna carte is an absolute-must-visit when in  the UK.  So it isn’t surprising that after our trip to Stonehenge, a visit to Salisbury was on our next agenda.

Pub Lunch

We were ravenous after our busy morning spent in the ancient stones of Stonehenge.  So as soon as we drove into Salisbury, we were on a hunt for a place to eat.  Lucky for us, the Cloisters, a mid-14th century pub was close to where we parked.  Not knowing anything about this pub, we didn’t know what to expect at all.

What can I say about The Cloisters?  Four words:  good food and great service.  In fact, we would rate this restaurant with a five star rating.  It was way past lunch-time on a Sunday when we visited.  It was busy, but we still managed to find a nice cosy corner to plant our weary selves in.

You’ll see a lot of the lovely exposed beams and other 14th century features inside this lovely pub.  Since it was a sunday, the husband and J were able to sample their sunday roast which they absolutely loved. As for me, I had a mouthwatering chicken dish and T had fish fingers which were obviously made and not store-bought, so was really pleased and impressed by that.

But what really struck us was not the delicious food, there are loads of pubs and restaurants out there that serve really good food too.  What really impressed us was the outstanding service!  The lovely man who served us whom I think was the manager (though the husband had this feeling that he was also the owner of the pub) made us absolutely feel like important people.  After the meal, while on our way to the loo he asked T if she enjoyed the meal.  T said: Yes I did.  But I need a wee now.

It’s just a lovely feeling to go to a restaurant or a pub and there you are made to feel really, really welcome, as if they themselves personally invited you in.  That is priceless!  Wouldn’t it be great if all pubs and restaurants were like that?

So if you’re anywhere in Salisbury and want a lovely meal with superb service, do drop by The Cloisters for a visit.  You won’t regret it.  If you’re lucky enough, this nice man might be there to serve you. If you have an FB account, please like their page here and you’ll also find directions on how to find them on their page.  If not their address is: 83 Catherine Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2DH or phone them at 01722 338102.  If you do get to visit, please tell the lovely man that T sends her regards.  It won’t be difficult to find him, he has white hair and will greet you with a lovely warm smile.  Yes, that’s him.

Around Salisbury

There are loads of things to do and see around this ancient city.  If you’re a National Trust member like us, you can drop by and see the elegant 18th century Mompesson House which was used in the movie Sense and Sensibility.

Mompesson House seen from afar.

And for those Military history enthusiasts, you will enjoy the Rifles Museum which highlights the actions of the regiments over the last 270 years.

If you’re not much into history like I am, walking around this city in the countryside will be enough to give you pleasure.  You will find an interesting building almost in every corner, like this one:

Don’t you just love old buildings with their quirky walls and designs?

And here’s a very old drain pipe.  I wonder what year it was installed?

Ancient door and walls … If they could speak, what would it tell us?

Novelist and Nobel Prize Winner William Golding used to be a schoolmaster in this former school-building.

And I took a photo of this one because I liked what it said “Life is but a walking shadow” and also liked that it was set against a grey sky.

Salisbury Cathedral

And of course, a visit to Salisbury wouldn’t be complete without stepping inside it’s ancient Norman Cathedral.

There it is!  

To be continued…

St. Michael’s Mount – Revisited

The first time I visited St. Michael’s Mount in Marazion was sometime in 2008.  When we got there, the tide was just out so it was possible for us to walk to the island.

By the time we reached the top of the castle, the tide rolled in, but you could still see the stone path that connects the island into the mainland.

Fast forward to the first week of September 2013 when we came with our American friend J, the tide was already in, so instead of walking, we had to ride a boat to get to the island, which in itself is also a nice experience.  Little T loved it.

For those who aren’t familiar with St. Michael’s Mount, it is a small tidal island in Cornwall.  A lovely romantic castle dating back centuries ago, stands on the top overlooking the island.  It’s really like a scene straight out of a movie or a Barbara Cartland novel.

Legend has it that St. Michael the archangel, appeared to local fishermen on the mount sometime in the fifth century, hence the name.  It is also believed to be the site of a monastery in the 8th to early 11th century. The monastic buildings were built during the 12th century, although an earthquake destroyed some buildings in 1275, which was rebuilt sometime in the 14th century.  Parts of that ancient bit, is still standing today.

Here’s my T posing in front of the romantic castle.

In 1659, the mount was sold to Colonel John St. Aubyn.  At the present day, while the National Trust owns it now, the same St. Aubyn family remains tenants of the famous mount.  In fact, some rooms are closed off to visitors and there are many portraits of the family hanging on the castle walls and also some personal photographs.

If you read a lot, the name St. Aubyn may sound familiar to you, that’s because English novelist Edward St. Aubyn author and Man Booker Prize winner comes from the same family.  (I love the way he writes.)

For the record, there were no Edward St. Aubyn novels were found in the library.

Can you imagine dining in a room like this where there is so much history around you?

Intricate plaster frieze detail depicting hunting scenes from long ago.

Lovely Stained glass window with Dutch, French and Flemish origins.

And this is where the gentlemen retired after dinner – the Smoking Room.

Top of the castle.

Lovely 14th century chapel, this may be the oldest bit of the castle.

And you can see the boats below, ready to take the tourists back to the main-island.

The gardens were off-limits to the visitors when we visited the second time around, which was a pity because it is also a must-see when visiting the island.  You’ll be surprised to see subtropical plants flourishing in the garden, must be the lovely Cornish air.

And of course, when writing about St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, one must not forget to mention the one in France which is bigger, older and some say grander than the Cornish one.  I have yet to visit the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy.  For now though, I’m just really pleased that I’ve visited this one – twice!  And would gladly visit again.

For more information on St. Michael’s Mount click here.

Photos of Brighton

We’ve enjoyed our Brighton visit so much and I feel that the collage I posted on my previous posts here and here – did not really show  how lovely Brighton is.  So I decided to post bigger photos here.

If you’re planning a trip to England, I think visiting Brighton is a must.  It has a lot of the amenities London has to offer and yet has a seaside and more relaxed vibe to it.  Click here to know more about Brighton.

The Charm of Arundel Castle

We were lucky our good friend who hosted our stay in Brighton also happened to live near an 11th century castle named Arundel in West Sussex.  Don’t you think it sounds very Arthurnian or like a place in a Tolkien book?  It certainly is grand.  And inside, you would imagine a medieval castle to look dark with small rooms and look dingy.  Arundel isn’t like that at all.  It is as impressive inside as it is outside.  Large stately rooms, the only dark room was the library with centuries old books.

The castle has also been owned by the family of the Duke of Norfolk for over 400 years now.  In fact, some of the rooms are closed-off to visitors because they are being used by the family members. You’ll also see some personal photos of the family scattered in the many rooms in the castle.  Going through the rooms, left me wondering what it’s like to live in a medieval castle in the modern age?   A bit eerie I guess.

It’s also interesting to note that the castle had (still has) a Catholic chapel.  Imagine being a Catholic during the time when it was actually illegal to be one in England?  This was during the reign of Henry the VIII during the English Reformation.

 Arundel castle is a lovely place to visit, not just for adults but for children as well.  As you enter, you will see a few tents up with a story-teller, a pirate’s tent and an archery tent for children who wants to try out archery.

Storyteller’s tent

Duel with a pirate.

And of course, exploring the castle’s rooms one-by-one is a wonderful experience.  For safety and privacy reasons, visitors weren’t allowed to take photos inside, so all the photos I took were taken outside.

Just a small bit of the castle’s wing.

Visitors enjoying the medieval castle’s view.

The keep of the tower, one of the oldest parts in the castle.

I sneaked my camera out of my pocket to take this photo of T looking out the many windows of Arundel Castle.  Notice how small the windows are?

And that’s T playing in Arundel’s garden with her wooden sword, purchased from the Castle’s souvenir shop.

If you’ve just visited Brighton and you’re still in the area, visiting Arundel Castle is a definite must, especially if you are into history and also have children in tow.  For more information about the castle, click here.

A Brighter Day in Brighton

The second day proved promising indeed.  The sun was up and shining and we were able to explore the many interesting shops in Brighton.  Went in a lot of toy shops because T wanted to look for a Wallace and Gromit toy (she absolutely loves them).  But sadly, we just couldn’t find any.  There were lots of interesting book shops both second hand and new ones, lots of thrift shops and lovely restaurants.  I certainly had my fill of shops that day!  Went back home still in love with Brighton.  Sorry didn’t take much photos, was too busy enjoying the place.

A Rainy Enjoyable First Day in Brighton

T enjoying the train ride to Brighton.  She loves riding trains!  (See the dreary weather outside the window?)

We took a train from Worthing where our friend lives.  It was about a thirty minute train ride into Brighton. As expected, we first saw and experienced Brighton under a persistent rain.  It wasn’t a downpour, more like a steady-heavy drizzle.  The plan was to explore the very colourful, interesting and bohemian streets of Brighton.

Just a few of the lovely street art found all over Brighton.  Take note of the two policemen kissing, a famous Banksy mural in Brighton.

As you  can see, I did manage to take a few photos.  However standing and walking in the rain with a two-year-old who has a bad cough and cold isn’t ideal at all.  So we decided to dive in a cafe and the grown-ups had a lovely cup of tea and coffee.  T had a delicious cake to go with her fruit juice.

No, she didn’t eat all that on her own.  We had to help her of course.

Since it seemed to us that the rain wasn’t really going to ease off, we decided to head for the Brighton Sea life Centre.  We figured that it would be the best place to hide from the rain and at least, T will be happy.  She was … for a few minutes that is.  We’d wander from one aquarium to another, within a minute or so, she would say “I’m done” and head off to another aquarium.  Before we reached the tunnel, she was already exhausted and a little bit whingy.

See the lovely ceiling on the first photo?  Apparently that is the original ceiling of the centre which was built in 1872.  If you peer closely in photo number 2, you’ll see the dates on the wall.

It was a bit manic inside the Sea Life Centre with lots of children and tourists.  The fish and other sea creatures were amazing though.  I enjoyed seeing the manta ray and the sharks.  It was a bit creepy standing under the tunnel with the sharks and manta ray swimming above you.  I kept imagining something happening, you know like in the movies, glass crashing, sharks eating the tourists.  Yes, the kind you see in B movies.  So we headed out after awhile and lo and behold, the sun was also out!

We were all tired and a bit hungry and decided to do one of the things on my list as mentioned here – eat fish and chips!  We didn’t do it on the beach though, instead we ate it on the pier. Feeling better, we went on to explore the rides.  I felt bad for T though because she wanted to try some of the rides, but she was too young for any of them!  She kept saying – But I’m a big girl now!

It was an exhausting first day, especially since I was silly not to wear sensible shoes.  I ended up having blisters on my feet and limping the whole day!  However, that didn’t stop me from having fun and enjoying my first day in Brighton.  I know now why it is a popular tourist destination.  If we lived nearby, we would keep coming back too!

Brighton – Here we come!

We’re going on a trip to visit a close friend. Woohoo! I’m really looking forward to driving off later as if it were a trip abroad. He lives near Brighton, where I’ve never been. Apparently, the place has been popular with tourists, especially Londoners ever since the railways opened there sometime in 1841. My friend tells me it’s very bohemian and arty.  I intend to be a full-pledged  tourist next week.  Yes, I’ll be that annoying woman who stops in every corner, bumping into people all because she wants to take a picture of something.

I want to see the West Pier that is the only pier in England which is Grad 1 listed (meaning, very old), before the rest of it crumbles to dust or is swallowed up by the sea, like what happened in 2002 (a section of the pier collapsed).  I know it’s still off-limits, but it would be nice to be able to take a picture of it.

Picture credit here.

I also want to go to the Brighton Marine Palace pier, I hear it has a fun fair, restaurants and those annoying loud arcade halls.  I’m sure T will also love it.

Picture credit here.

And since I want to do the tourist round, it won’t be complete without stopping by the Brighton Royal Pavilion, though admittedly, I’m not really sure that’s a good idea with a two-year-old in tow.  But you’ll never know…

Photo credit here.

And then maybe ending the day with a relaxing moment on the beach, preferably eating fish and chips or ice-cream.  T will of course will be covered in sand or will head straight for the water.

Picture credit here.

But of course, since this is England, everything depends on the weather.  I don’t like sight-seeing in the rain.  It’s not fun.  So let’s see how things go.  Hope everyone has a great week ahead of them too!  Now before we drive away, we’re off to attend a children’s party first.  Yes, T has a social life, which is nice, because her parents don’t have one.