When Is A Walk Not A Walk?

Exploring England #17

With the forecasters predicting sushine and record breaking warm temperatures, the day seemed ideal for a trip to Liverpool. Rather than braving the traffic and trying to find a car park, we decided to travel by train and spend the day on a self guided walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage listed city centre and docklands. That was the plan…

It was overcast when we arrived – not the sunshine we were expecting, but perfect for walking. Lunch was our first priority and the menu at the busy Pump House restaurant was enticing. A local lady dining at the next table gave us some friendly advice. “Have the fish and chips,” she said. “They’re the best in town.” We did, and she was right.

20160913_135434

We weren’t so sure about her next statement. “It’s going to rain this afternoon,” she said. “It’s going to pour at 2 o’clock.” That’s not what the weather forecast said, we were thinking, although we were too polite to say so.

Fortified by our delicious lunch, we set off to explore Albert Dock. Opened in 1846, Albert Dock was once the centre of a bustling port for sailing ships from around the world. As these ships were replaced by modern vessels, the docks and warehouses became redundant and they finally closed in 1972. After a restoration project lasting six years, Albert Dock reopened in 1988 with cafés and restaurants, galleries, shops and museums bringing people back to the old warehouses along the River Mersey.

p1140045

This part of the river is more than a kilometre wide and the buildings on the opposite bank looked like doll houses. Undeterred by the heavy, grey clouds gathering low in the sky, we wandered along Kings Parade where hundreds of engraved love locks decorate the path by the river.

p1140041

p1160432

Even on this dull day, tiny ferries were busy on the river and we thought a cruise would be a pleasant way to see the city. But just as we turned towards the ferry terminal, it began to rain. Our lunch time companion’s prediction was correct. It wasn’t just a light shower – it was pouring!

p1160442

Even with our raincoats walking was no longer enjoyable, so we decided to see Liverpool from a different perspective and boarded a CityExplorer bus. We sat downstairs, where the view wasn’t as good but the seats were dry. The driver’s live commentary was as entertaining as it was educational and for the next hour we listened to his stories of Liverpool and her beautiful buildings.

Eventually the rain eased enough for us to start walking again. We left the bus on Victoria Street and went around the corner to Mathew Street, home of the Cavern Club, where the Beatles performed nearly 300 times in the early 1960s. One benefit of the rain was the lack of people and we walked straight in…or down, as the steps went below street level to the basement. It was warm and dry and a great band was playing Beatles music – it was fun to stop for a while and enjoy  the vibrant atmosphere.

p1160458

p1160476

p1160467

After browsing in one of several Beatles shops, we headed once more towards the River Mersey.

p1160459

The city’s maritime history is commemorated at Liverpool Parish Church where a weather vane in the form of a golden sailing ship sits on top of the tower. In the Church gardens, the Liverpool Blitz Memorial depicts a young mother taking her children to shelter during a bombing raid. On the roof of the Royal Liver Building, once the tallest building in Europe, sit two mythical Liver birds, medieval symbols of the city.

Our last stop was St John’s Garden, a terraced sculpture garden featuring statues of well-known Liverpudlians including Prime Minister William Gladstone and a memorial to the King’s Liverpool Regiment.

p1160505

p1160506

We arrived back at the train station just as the leaden skies opened again. We’d had enough of walking in the rain and, as the Beatles would say, we had tickets to ride!

 

Go for more Monday Walks with Restless Jo.

Someone’s Coming

Exploring England #16

More than 10 million people visit the Peak District National Park every year. Many of them were at the picturesque village of Castleton with us. Try as I might, it was impossible to take people-free photos. Even when I thought I’d got one, someone was always there!

20160911_133206

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Shadow

The Name of the Game

Exploring England #15

name: a word or set of words by which a person or thing is known, addressed, or referred to

There are names on chairs in the Red Café,

p1160343

20160912_113601

and names on shirts in the dressing rooms.

20160912_134414

There are names on trophies,

20160912_124202

p1160345

and statues,

p1160337

names inside the stadium

20160912_133259

and on the outside.

p1160341

What’s in a name?

20160912_135709

Take the Manchester United Museum and Stadium Tour at Old Trafford and you’ll soon know. It’s all about pride and passion, honour and glory, memories and mementos.

20160912_110148

Poldark is Everywhere!

Exploring England #14

We couldn’t go anywhere in the south of Cornwall without seeing the handsome face of Ross Poldark. From cushions to coffee cups, his presence was unavoidable. I wasn’t complaining. I’ve read Winston Graham’s wonderful historic tales of the Poldark family, and I enjoyed watching both the original 1970s and new 2015 television productions as much as anyone.

So did my sister-in-law, who asked for a souvenir. When I purchased a key ring for her, I made sure to tell the shop assistant it wasn’t for me. He laughed – it wasn’t the first time he’d heard that story!

The Poldark name doesn’t just belong to the fictional family though. Close to Helston on the Lizard Peninsula is the Poldark Mine, and you’d be mistaken if you think it’s a television set left behind after filming.

p1160089

Tin has been mined in this area since the Bronze Age and records show it was being processed here in Tudor times. As the oldest surviving complete tin mine in Cornwall, it’s part of the UNESCO Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.

The mine shafts visible today date from the 18th century. The only way to see them is on a guided tour; wearing protective helmets, visitors go underground to explore the old tunnels and shafts on several levels. The walls are slick with moisture and the sound of water still flowing deep in the mine fills the dark spaces.

p1160094

p1130706

While modern access is via metal steps, remnants of the old ways remain in place and veins of ore-bearing granite left untouched make a dark tracery across the rock walls.

p1160103

p1160096

So what is the connection to the Poldark name? Winston Graham launched the last book in his Poldark series here in 2002 and underground mining scenes in both television shows were filmed in the mine. According to our tour guide, the author was a friend of the mine owner and gave his permission for the mine to be renamed in honour of his much loved characters.

Fact or fiction? I don’t know, but it makes a great story!

p1160110

A Secret Place

Exploring England #13

Many attractions in Cornwall, like the Eden Project and Land’s End, are well-known and easy to locate. Carn Euny Ancient Village is different. We only learned of its existence from a map of English Heritage sites. It’s free to visit; the only cost is the effort required to find this hidden gem. With no local knowledge, we relied on our GPS to show us the way.

After negotiating narrow Cornish lanes lined by tall hedgerows, the road ended abruptly at a small car park. A dilapidated sign was the only indication we were heading in the right direction. It was as if we were searching for a secret place, known by just a few.

p1130349

We set off on foot on a wide track lined by green fields, where the local inhabitants watched in silence as we walked past. On the opposite side, the hedges were laden with fruit and tiny flowers.

p1130343

p1130344

Even though we saw a couple of homes tucked away behind high hedges, barking dogs were the only signs of life. The mystery deepened when the track ended, replaced by a narrow path leading down into a shaded wood.

p1130354

We passed the remains of a old chapel and a sacred well dedicated to St Euny, almost hidden by a jumble of fallen stones.

p1130350

p1130378

We knew we must be close and, as suddenly as we had entered the wood, we were out in the open again. Before us was the ancient village of Carn Euny. The area was occupied from as early as 800 BC until around 400 AD, and the stone foundations visible today date from the 2nd century AD. An information board showed us how the settlement may have looked around 300 AD.

p1130355

p1130369

The structures were stone courtyard houses, built in a style unique to Cornwall. As we explored the site, we found the entrance to an underground passage.

p1130360

p1130358

The passage, known as a fogou, is one of just a few found only in this part of Cornwall. The purpose of the fogou and the large underground chamber to which it leads is unknown, although archaeologists think they may have been used for storage or religious ceremonies.

p1130359

p1150931

Standing inside the fogou, the sense of mystery enveloped us and we wondered about the people who once lived here. Even with our GPS and mobile phones we felt alone in this place. Would they have felt as isolated 1700 years ago as we did in the 21st century?

p1130370

Join Jo for more Monday Walks.

The Gardens of Eden

Exploring England #12

Everything about the Eden Project in north west Cornwall is large, including the statistics.

Every year 850,000 people visit the 13 hectare sustainable gardens. More than two million plants grow in the outdoor gardens and bubble-like biomes, which now fill what was once a disused clay china pit.

p1130590

It’s typically warm and humid in the 16,000m²  Rainforest Biome. Lush, tropical plants overflow into every space. Slender palm trees almost touch the roof, 50 metres above the floor, and beautiful flowers bloom in profusion. Delicately formed or bright and brash, they all compete for attention.

A walkway leads from the forest floor high into the canopy and then to a lookout suspended from the roof. When the temperature and humidity rise, the lookout is closed for safety reasons.

p1130485

Covering an area of 6,540m² and rising to 30 metres, the Mediterranean Biome is smaller but the garden is just as spectacular. It seems appropriate that red, orange and yellow are the dominant colours, from the potted pelargoniums at the entrance to the large variety of exotic tomato plants in the edible garden.

p1130521

More than 3,000 plants from the temperate zones of the world fill the 8 hectares of outdoor gardens surrounding the biomes. Many are native to the region and encourage local fauna to make their home in the open sunlit spaces.

p1130572

p1130576

Twenty large artworks reflecting the Eden Project’s philosophy of community and sustainability are placed across the site. Driftwood horses greet visitors at the entrance to the gardens. A biodiversity chandelier decorates the roof of the Rainforest Biome. In the Outdoor Garden, a giant bee is a reminder of the importance of pollinators.

p1130409

p1130478

p1150964

If you’re one of the 850,000 visitors to the Eden Project, be prepared. Whether you spend a couple of hours or stay the whole day, you’ll see and learn plenty. Just don’t try counting anything!

Someone I Know

Exploring England #11

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is passionate about beer. He brews his own at home and enjoys sampling local beers when we travel. It’s easy to imagine how excited he was when he discovered there are 1,424 breweries in England. In a country of 130,395 km² that’s one brewery for every 91 km². He was a happy traveller!

He enjoyed visiting quaint local pubs, tasting new beers and posting his photos and reviews on Facebook.

14390667_746555495485024_8305562203793158337_n

20160907_112247

Often, he chose a beer purely for its name.

We wondered if the brewers had a particular person in mind when they came up with these humorous labels.

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Names

In case you’re wondering, here are my husband’s thoughts on these three beers.

Coniston Brewing Co. Old Man Ale – 4.8% Ruby red ale with a mild hop taste. Smooth drinking. Just the drink for the old men out there prior to their afternoon nap

York Brewery Guzzler – very nice, tasty and light. A refreshing easy-to-drink brew

Skinner’s Ginger Tosser – Just couldn’t go past the label. It reminds me of someone I know. You can taste the ginger mid-palate and honey on the back of the tongue. Ginger aftertaste. 3.8% lowest brew yet.