Sunday, 19 May 2019

Chipping Campden - Gloucestershire

Chipping Campden is a quintessential Cotswold town. Located towards the northern edge of the region it nevertheless has all the beautiful Cotswold stone buildings. It boasts a wide main street lined with shops, hotels and eating places. We had passed through on numerous occasions, and even met for a family occasion some 10 years ago, but this was the first time we spent enough time there to explore.

The impressive church of St James turned out to be well worth a visit. It attracted quite a crowd on the day we were there, and the church's guide book states:

"There was a Norman church on this site before AD 1180, though it was 
much smaller than the present one. It consisted of a squat tower, a nave
about the same length as today, but without aisles, and a lower, shorter
chancel with a pitched roof. Around AD 1260 the Norman church began a
slow transformation that was to last nearly 250 years.

The chancel was rebuilt, the North aisle constructed with arches to
balance the Thirteenth century south aisle and the south porch was 
added together with the windows and battlements of both aisles.  About 
AD 1490 the nave was reconstructed with its magnificent arcading built
on the foundations of the old Norman nave.  The great window over the
chancel arch was added, a rare feature of church architecture, which 
provides wonderful light for the nave. 

Around AD 1500, the noble West tower was built, adding much grace and 
proportion to the whole. At 120 ft. in height it ensures that the Church is a 
landmark from whatever direction Campden is approached.

There is a peal of eight bells, whose dates vary from AD 1618 to AD 1737, 
they were recast and rehung in 1987.  The clock mechanism, dated 1695, 
is now stored under the arch of the tower, having been replaced in 1962."






Saturday, 18 May 2019

Hidcote Gardens - Gloucestershire

Hidcote Gardens was a big surprise. 

Situated at the Northern edge of the Cotswolds, Hidcote became the home of Lawrence Johnston. He was an America, born in France. His mother remarried and moved to Britain, buying a manor house and large park in the Cotswolds. Johnston became a British citizen and enlisted in the Army. He served with distinction in both the Boer War and WW1. When he was injured he returned to Hidcote to convalesce. Whilst there he began to develop his love of landscape gardening and turned a large area around the house into what we see today.

Hidcote is under the control of the National Trust, and they have maintained it impeccably. It rivals the best that the Royal Horticultural Society can offer, and that is saying a lot. Hidcote is worth a visit at any time, and certainly more than once a year, so that the changes of the seasons can be appreciated.







GL55 6LR


Friday, 17 May 2019

Athena Pallas Village - Greece

Despite my extensive travelling in Europe, we had never taken a holiday on mainland Greece, only on the islands. The only reason we chose this one was because the offer was too good.

Our flight from Gatwick landed at Thessaloniki and from there it was a 90 minute journey south and then east to Elias Nikiti on the Aegean coast. We travelled passed fields and hedgerows abundant with wild flowers, plus there was the odd vineyard and hundreds of olive groves.

Everything about the Athena Pallas was better than we had expected. Every aspect of the village was pristine. The facilities were first class and the service and attention from the staff was excellent.

Guests stay in apartments spread over the complex, separated into three sections, each with an attractive swimming pool with bar service. The hotel offers more than most people could experience in a week, especially if the sun is warm and encouraging of a stint by the pool, with the ever eager bar service on hand.







Thursday, 20 December 2018

Botanical Gardens - Birmingham

The Botanical Gardens are one of those places that you can visit any number of times and always find something different. Designed by J C Loudon in 1829 it took just three years to establish and open to the public. It was intended to serve as an attraction for local people and an education centre for the universities and schools.


The gardens cover 15 acres close to the centre of Birmingham. A range of exotic plants are featured in the four main glasshouses: Tropical, Sub-tropical, Mediterranean and Arid. In all, there are more than 7000 different plants in the glasshouses and across the flower borders in general.


There is also a large lawned aviary that houses many exotic birds, but some are also allowed free range of the gardens, and tend to stay there.


Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 
B15 3TR

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Aston Hall - Birmingham

Sir Thomas Holme commissioned the building of the impressive Aston Hall in 1618. John Thorpe was the chosen architect and it took 17 years for the house and grounds to be completed, though Holme moved in in 1631.


There were moments to regret, especially when the Parliamentary Troops attacked in 1643. Some of the damage caused by cannon balls is still evident today.


In 1817 the Holme family sold the hall and parkland to James Watt Jr, son of the famous James Watt. In 1858 he could no longer manage to hold on and the hall was sold to a private company in 1858. They also struggled and in 1864 it was bought by the Birmingham Corporation.


Part of the parkland was hived off and is now the site for Aston Villa Football Club. Later a lower stretch of the parkland was taken to allow the construction of the A38 link road between the M6 motorway and the Birmingham City centre.


The hall in now a museum. For a while it housed most of the exhibits now in the new Birmingham Museum but now there are different themes on view. The hall is open to the public during the summer months. The gardens are ornate and well maintained.

Aston Hall

Aston Hall Gardens

B6 6JD



Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Dinton Pastures Pleasure Park - Berkshire

Some parks go a step or two beyond the norm. That is what you will find at Dinton Pastures.


Apart from the boating lakes and wildlife trails, plus the extensive play areas, there are also activities designed to suit all ages, from toddlers, through teens to adults, mature or otherwise. There is organised swimming and boating, playgroups and well structured courses on a wide range of rural subjects and pastimes.


Worth a visit if you have an hour or two to spare.


Dinton Pastures Pleasure Park

RG10 0TH


Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Chaddleworth - Berkshire

A few short miles from Brightwalton is the village of Chaddleworth, boasting a population of 500.


There is little doubt that the village has Saxon origins. Claims that it might be even older have not be proved emphatically. The main focus in the village for hundreds of years was the Priory that stood where Chaddleworth House stands today. Like many other such establishments, it fell foul of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and became the property of the Nelson Family.


The Nelson's were happy enough for around 250 years, but in 1809 they replaced the priory with the current Chaddleworth House.


Chaddleworth House

St Andrews - RG20 7DT