Posts Tagged With: history

Cambridge – Colleges and Cold

The last two nights of our trip were spent in Cambridge.  We had visited Cambridge during our last trip in the northern summer of 2014 and took a punt tour on the River Cam on a glorious sunny day (you can see the photos here) so the focus was slightly different this time.

It was about an hour and a half trip  from London on the train.  We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and had time to arrive at our accommodation, change and freshen up before setting out again.

Our destination was King’s College Chapel as we wanted to attend Choral Evensong.  The service was scheduled to begin at 5.30pm, by which time it is dark at the end of November.  We had a brief wait in  short queue in the quadrangle before we were ushered into the chapel.  This was most welcome as the weather was cold and drizzling with rain as well as being dark.

King’s College Chapel is the venue for the annual BBC program “A Festival of  Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College” which is also broadcast in Australia so I was familiar with the view and layout of the interior of the chapel, however, nothing prepares you for the reality of actually being there.  Naturally, there are no photos permitted, however, here are a few that I took of the exterior during daylight hours.

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We also managed to squeeze in a couple of meals at beautiful historic pubs.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos.  The first one was The Free Press which is tucked away in a quieter corner of Cambridge.  It was the perfect spot for dinner after Evensong at the chapel.  Since it was well after dark I could not take a photo of the exterior of this historic pub so here is one with compliments of the internet.

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Grantchester is a tiny village outside Cambridge which we visited the next day.  We caught a bus to the urban fringe of Cambridge and then walked a couple of kilometres to Grantchester where we had a late lunch at the Red Lion.  Once again, I had to resort to the internet for an image as I had chosen to take a break from photos.  The thatched roof was of particular interest.

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On our final day we had a real taste of winter as the temperature struggled to 3C.  We rugged up and took a stroll around a few streets in the heart of Cambridge.

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There was even an historic windmill in the backyard adjacent to the rear of the property where we were staying.  Apparently it is over 300 years old and had fallen into disrepair but is being restored by the current owners.

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It is also worth noting that the temperatures dropped significantly during our 4 week trip with the second half of the month barely reaching double digits and the last few days were particularly cold.  It was time to go home!  In fact there were very light snowfalls in London within 12 hours of our departure.

The short days and cool weather were part of the reason that we chose November to visit London.  It was a completely new experience for us as each of our previous trips to the northern hemisphere have been during the summer.  As with everything, research and planning are the keys to success.  We were not bothered by the shorter days because most of our plans for for indoor activities such as galleries, museums and shows. The few outdoor activities were easily accommodated in daylight hours on a number of bright, sunny days with which we were blessed.

This is the penultimate blog entry for the trip with a final one tomorrow with the all important financial wrap-up.

Thanks for coming along for the ride and I hope you have enjoyed reading about our experiences.

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The Dead Centre

I guess that cemeteries are not high on the must-see list for many visitors to London, or any other city for that matter.  However, there is so much history to be found, especially in a very old cemetery like Highgate Cemetery.

Yesterday began very quietly after our long day in Paris on Wednesday.  We set out after lunch on the Underground and then a strenuous uphill walk followed by a stroll through Waterlow Park where we enjoyed the colourful autumn scenery.

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There are 2 parts of Highgate Cemetery – the East and West sections and there are separate admission charges for each. The older West section may only be visited as part of a group tour so we opted for the East section.  This was a self-guided walk with the aid of a small leaflet which highlighted some of the more well-known graves, including that of Karl Marx.

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Almost directly opposite is the grave of a Mr Spencer.  A quirky play on words – Marx and Spencer!

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The naturalised woodland, which in places is quite wild, lends an interesting air to the surroundings.

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Cardiff – City and Castle

We had a bare 24 hours in Cardiff but managed to see quite a bit in the available time.

The forecast was not looking good but we checked out of our accommodation (luggage left at reception) and braved the drizzly rain while we went in search of breakfast.  We found Crumbs Kitchen which provided the gluten-free options I was looking for.  It was tucked in one of the many beautiful arcades which criss-cross the city blocks.

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We arrived just before 9am so had to wait until opening time.

Here is another view of Morgan Arcade.

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I did see a sign announcing that Cardiff was the ‘City of Arcades’ which I think was quite accurate as I have never seen so many memorable arcades in one city.

On the northern edge of the city retail precinct is the imposing Cardiff Castle so we decided that we had sufficient time to make a visit worthwhile.

This was our first view of the keep atop the motte.

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The castle precinct apparently dates from Roman times with parts of the perimeter wall built by the Romans.  Various structures were built and re-built during successive centuries, including the Normans and again , much later in the late 19th and into the early 20th century.

The view from the top of the keep.

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Part of the interior of the keep, including the very steep staircases we climbed to reach the top.  It was quite treacherous in the wet weather.

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The inside of much of the perimeter wall is surrounded by earth embankments.  This, combined with the massive thickness of the walls meant that this was a perfect place for air-raid shelters during WWII.

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Finally, we toured the Victorian house on the estate.  The opulent interiors were a sight to behold.

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A Change of Pace

Yesterday we drove along the southern side of the St Lawrence River from Riviere du Loup to Levis where we caught the ferry across to Quebec.

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The ferry provides the best view of the Chateau Frontenac which is perched atop the cliff within the confines of Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  This imposing hotel opened in 1893 and is regarded as the most photographed hotel in the world.

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It has been a quantum leap from the rural areas of the maritime provinces to the bustle of a city.

We are staying in a quiet, residential area, a few narrow streets away from Rue Saint-Jean.  Although this street is several blocks from the walled city and its cobblestone streets, it is no less historic and interesting.

This is the oldest grocery store in North America – it opened in 1871.  We delved in and bought a few goodies.  The interior is absolutely amazing.

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Today we walked to the old walled city and took in some of the sights, along with hundreds of others.  A cruise ship in the harbour must have helped swell the numbers even further.

Part of the steps leading down to Lower Town.

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Some of the crowds on Petit-Champlain.

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Flowers are everywhere.

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An amazing mural – the front of the building really is brick and the bricks on the end are part of the mural.  Even from quite close, it is almost impossible to pick the difference.  I love the detail.

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After taking in the sights, we headed back to the Upper Town where we attended an organ recital in the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame.

The exterior is not particularly fancy.

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But the interior is a different story entirely.

We are here for 5 nights so there will be plenty more photos to show you in the coming days.


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An Historical Perspective

We spent 2 nights in Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick with no particular plans in mind.

One of the first priorities was to locate a dentist who could take a look at a tooth which I had chipped a night earlier.  That proved to be relatively simple and with the jagged edge smoothed I could happily continue the holiday and make an appointment with my dentist when we get home.

Officers’ Square seems to be at the heart of the historic precinct in Fredericton and we happened to arrive there a few moments before the scheduled Changing of the Guard enactment which happens each day during July and August.  However, the drizzle decided to turn to rain and there was an announcement that it was cancelled.

There was still time to fire the muskets, though.

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The display boards offer some additional information.

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Unfortunately, it was too wet for much sightseeing so decided on a quiet afternoon.

The next day dawned overcast but fine and we set off for King’s Landing Historical Settlement which is about 20 minutes from Fredericton.  This village showcases life in New Brunswick during the period from about 1780 – 1910 and includes farms, a school and various commercial activites such as the printery, sawmill and the inn.  Seeing the sawmill in action was undoubtedly the highlight of the visit.

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The wheel that drives the sawmill with individually cut wooden cogs.

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The exterior of the mill showing the dam wall and the water wheel.

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Kitchen duties

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And the runaway oxen

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Once again, the drizzle turned into rain so we decided it was time to adjourn to the King’s Head Inn for lunch.

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A quick visit to the cottage by the lake and then it was time to say goodbye to John and Shari with whom we had spent the day.

Thank you for a lovely time and it was great to meet up with you again.




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A Boston Legacy

If a brewery tour was a change of pace from the Bunker Hill monument, then the next day in Boston was completely different yet again.

We headed off to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum.  Apparently, there are 13 presidential libraries and this number will continue to grow with the completion of each successive administration.  The idea was conceived by Eleanor Roosevelt.

The JFK Museum is located next to the University of Massachusetts on the shores of Boston Harbour.

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This was the view from the entrance gallery through the pavilion to the water.

The first stop was a 20 minute movie which documented the life of John F Kennedy from his childhood up until his nomination as the Democratic Party candidate for the 1960  presidential race.

This is followed by multi media galleries which bring to life every moment from election night 1960 until his untimely death in 1963.

The admission cost was $14 per person and we felt that the experience was worth every cent.

Photography (no flash) is encouraged, however, I felt that photographing individual exhibits did not really do justice to the museum.  I chose some words which I would would like to share with you.

We could all do with a little hope and perhaps it is time for each and every one of us to take some responsibility.

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A reminder not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.  Let us just get started…now.

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And finally, from his 1961 Inaugural Address, my personal favourite.

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I believe that this is what each and every one of us should be doing every day.

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Man-made and Natural

We are staying at Lakes Entrance so today we took a drive which encompassed a variety of scenery.

Trestle bridge at Nowa Nowa

This is a disused trestle bridge at Nowa Nowa.  It is deteriorating and I do not know when it was built but it is an amazing piece of engineering from days gone by.

Ninety Mile Beach at Lake Tyers

This is the eastern end of Ninety Mile Beach near Lake Tyers.

Here are a couple more images from our travels yesterday when we drove from Wilson’s Promontory to Lakes Entrance.

Jetty at Port Welshpool

This jetty at Port Welshpool is another construction from earlier times.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to walk along it.

View on Wilson's Promontory

This view was taken at Wilson’s Promontory looking across Glennie Bay to Mt Oberon in the distance.

The photo below was our first glimpse of Ninety Mile Beach.  We were at Woodside Beach which is at the western end.

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The dune vegetation was pretty.

Dune vegetation

Unlike the first part of the trip, the last couple of days has been uncharted waters for us.  We had never travelled east of Melbourne so this has all been new to us.

We will continue to traverse roads we have never driven tomorrow when we head further east to Cann River before heading north to Canberra, the national capital.

More about that tomorrow.

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Please Come to Boston

Following the lyrics of the song, we did come to Boston.  It was really only a short trip and like some many other areas we will visit we have barely scratched the surface.

It was a 4 hour train trip from New York which I enjoyed.  Much of the time the track hugs the coastline so we saw a variety of coastal, semi-rural and city scenery.  You learn all sorts of things if you keep your eyes open and have access to the internet.  As we pulled into Bridgeport I noticed a ferry which was named “P T Barnum” and when I googled the name and read the comprehensive entry in Wikipedia I found out all sorts of information about Barnum and his close association with Bridgeport.

We are staying in a studio apartment which is close to the shops and transport.  Yesterday we went to both Trader Joe’s and Wholefoods to buy a few provisions.  While it does not sound particularly exciting I was fascinated to see them in real life as I have read mention of both stores at times in other blogs.

Today we continued our lesson in early American history when we walked most of the Freedom Trail – a marked trail of historic buildings and sites.  One was the Old State House, where the Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony for the first time to the citizens of Boston.

The Union Oyster House is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the USA.  It has been in existence since 1826 but the building dates back to the early 1700’s.

Tomorrow morning we are picking up a hire car and beginning a new part of our holiday.  We will be driving through parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York State (a small portion) as well as Connecticut, Rhode Island and back to Boston over the next 12 days.

Come along for the ride as we search out craft breweries, farm-gate stalls, scenic views and covered bridges.  I had hoped to see some early fall foliage but am not sure about that as it has been a long, hot summer here and was 33C in Boston today.


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