On our way to Ludlow a couple of weeks ago, we passed through the town of Shrewsbury on the train, and thought it looked interesting. When we learned that it has over 660 listed historic buildings we decided it would be a good destination for our final adventure before we head back to London tomorrow.
Continue reading Shrewsbury
Although the Romans knew about the spring at Lamintone (meaning farm on the River Leam), it was lost again until 1784 when William Abbotts and Benjamin Satchwell, inhabitants of the village by then known as Leamington Priors re-discovered the medicinal qualities of the water in a well outside the local church.
Continue reading Royal Leamington Spa
We’ve been for a couple of long walks this week that I’m going to combine in this post. The first was near Northampton, and the second not far from Birmingham.
Continue reading Salcey Forest and Lickey Hills
This weekend stayed with friends in village of Lower Failand (near Bristol). They had invited us to join them on a walk in Wales, just across the Severn River from their home.
Continue reading Clytha and Coed y Bwnydd walk in Wales
About 430 million years ago during the Silurian period, the Midlands area of the UK was covered by the shallow Iapetus Ocean. Because it was near to the equator the tropical waters saw the development of coral reefs, shellfish and other invertebrate creatures.
During this time, most of the earth’s dry land was concentrated in the Gondwana supercontinent, which covered the south pole. In the northern hemisphere, three smaller continents named Baltica, Laurentia and Avalonia drifted towards each other and eventually collided. At the junction of the last two, a ridge of limestone was pushed up out of the sea creating a line of hills that can still be seen near the town of Dudley.
Continue reading Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve at Dudley
Another town we were told we shouldn’t miss is Warwick, on the banks of the Avon River about 15 km upstream of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is about a 30 minute train ride from Birmingham so we arrived by mid-morning yesterday. Continue reading Warwick
One of Felicity’s colleagues told us that we shouldn’t miss the Black Country Living Museum, and it turned out to be excellent advice. We took a local train to Tipton, and walked for about half an hour to the museum entrance.
Continue reading Black Country Museum at Dudley
About half an hour’s walk along the canal from our apartment is an area of Birmingham known as the Jewellery Quarter. We walked around it soon after we arrived, but did not visit the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter when we saw it was going to cost us NZ $15 each. After reading some reviews we realised this may have been a mistake, so after a morning spent working on our computers, we walked over to check it out.
Continue reading Jewellery Quarter Birmingham
Since it is only half an hour’s train ride from Birmingham, we went to visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare today. The photo above is his actual childhood bedroom. As there is a £5 per person walking tour we decided to start with that and learn a bit about the town.
Continue reading Stratford-upon-Avon
Ten points for any reader who can guess the connection between these two areas of Birmingham without scrolling down the page. Felicity had a 10 am appointment in Moseley, so we decided to catch the bus instead of walking and arriving hot and sweaty. We wondered how we would pay the fare, and were impressed to discover that any credit or debit card can just be touched on the card reader. This technology is coming to NZ over the next few years.
Continue reading Moseley and Edgbaston
When we heard that the medieval town of Ludlow on the edge of the Shropshire Hills is one of the most attractive in the country, it shot to the top of our list for a day’s outing. We had to change trains at Shrewsbury, so it was nearly lunchtime by the time we arrived. Continue reading Ludlow
When we told people where we were planning to base ourselves in the UK, the reaction was almost universal: “Birmingham? Why on earth would anyone want to go there?” After our first few days here, our conclusion is that the city’s biggest problem is its public relations, because it is a attractive and interesting place.
Continue reading Birmingham Central City
We arrived in Pisa by train just after lunch, and quickly realised that we could have seen most of the sights with only one night’s stay. We spent the afternoon exploring the section of town that doesn’t have the leaning town and the cathedral. Continue reading Pisa
Our walk today began in the small town of San Martino sul Fiora, about half an hour’s drive from the previous night’s acommodation. We had just enjoyed one of the best breakfasts of the trip so far – fresh melon, muesli and yoghurt followed by the most vivid orange eggs I have ever seen. The taste reassured me that it was due to the quality of their feed rather than some chemical additive.
Continue reading Saturnia
Our route for the day started by heading out of Pitigliano down the now familiar Via Cave di Poggio Cane, but when we reached the highway we turned in a new direction and followed a couple of roads until we reached the beginning of the Via Cave di San Guiseppe.
Continue reading Sovana
Today’s walk was mercifully quite short, as we are spending a second night in Pitigliano. The town has a population of about 4000 people, and although it was once another Etruscan settlement its name dates back to Roman times.
Continue reading Pitigliano
Vitozza was one of the largest cave settlements in central Italy, and has over 200 dwellings excavated from the volcanic tuff stone. It was inhabited from Etruscan times (around 800 BC) until the end of the 18th century.
Continue reading Vitozza
We were dropped off at the end of a small country road near San Valentino in the early afternoon, so we only walked a kilometer or so before stopping under a shady oak tree to eat lunch. Soon after we set off again, the road petered out into a grassy track and eventually we came to a sign advising us that we were at the beginning of the Via Cava di San Carlo. Continue reading Sorano
Our instructions for getting from Orvieto train station to our accommodation were to take a taxi, because the town is over a hundred meters up on top of a steep cliff. When we asked a taxi driver to take us however, he told us that the road was closed for the day because of a “celebrazione”. Fortunately, there is a funicular railway as an alternative. Continue reading Orvieto
The capital of Poland is a very different scale to any of the other cities in the country, all of which are under a million people. The population of “Varsharva”, as the locals pronounce it, is over 3 million. This makes it the 8th biggest city in the European Union, and it has one of the highest numbers of sky-scrapers.
Continue reading Warsaw