Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve at Dudley

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.
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Jewellery Quarter Birmingham

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.
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Moseley and Edgbaston

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.
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Saturnia

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.
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Sorano

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

Orvieto

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

Warsaw

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.
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