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Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire – dreams of a ruin

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Always a favourite castle of mine Kenilworth is a magnificent, imposing and dignified ruin . The short walk to Kenilworth castle from the car park is enough to set the scene, close your eyes and soak in the special atmosphere ,imagine the hustle and bustle of Tudor castle life ,the horses hooves ringing and the excitement that must have ensued when Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester ,entertained the queen  (Elizabeth 1) here for 19 days of festivities in 1575.

Beautifully set out, the formal gardens have been tastefully and thoughtfully researched and reconstructed to show how they would have been in the castle’s Tudor hay day. An Aviary at the bottom of the gardens,complete with colourful little birds , is nestled amongst delightfully scented  roses and artfully arranged topiary.

The very fact you can climb in and out of the partially ruined rooms makes it a romantic and fascinating place to explore for adults and children alike. It is so wonderful to allow children to run, explore and climb , developing their wonderment and imagination as they become knights and ladies in times past. 

Views from the top of battlements of Kenilworth Castle are simply stunning, with so much space and freedom there is room for everyone to have a little piece of the castle to themselves for a while.

The  Old Stables have been transformed into a spacious and lovely tea room. The obligatory cream tea , ice creams and plenty of other tasty goodies are perhaps a little pricey but there is plenty of space to bring your own picnic and enjoy a shady spot whilst letting your imagination  have free reign on who else must have sat in the same very spot since the castle was  first established in the 1120s by the royal chamberlain, Geoffrey de Clinton,.

Facilities are clean, cared for and plentiful, lots of loos, places to sit and a lovely little souvenir shop where you can buy all the usual gifts and mementos from mead ( so potent!) to mice ( beautiful iron forged ).

The Importance of Kenilworth Castle

You will not find the usual state rooms,dressed and resplendent, as this is of course a ruin however it is special in its own way and allows you to imagine how grandiose the castle must have been  with its impressively high ceilings, Gothic windows, vast and sweeping views next to  the beautiful Elizabethan garden.Every part of the castle is presented carefully  with lots of informational plaques so take a chance to wander around and discover nooks ,crannies and ancient walls infused with so much history. 

In the early 13th century King John added an outer circuit of stone walls and a dam to hold back a great lakeland so created one of the most formidable fortresses in the kingdom. Kenilworth was  considered so important  that in the 14th century John of Gaunt, son of King Edward III, developed the castle into a palace, building the great hall and lavish apartments.A romantic place, Kenilworth was granted  in 1563 to Elizabeth’s favourite Robert Dudley who set out to impress the Queen and so tempt her into marriage.

It became famous thanks in part to Walter Scott’s 1821 novel Kenilworth, which romanticised the story of Robert Dudley, his wife Amy Robsart, and Elizabeth I.One day I plan to take this book ,a picnic and sit against one of the castles solid strong walls and read until the sunsets and the bird songs fade. 

This is a huge castle which has played a large part in English history and deserves to be savoured and enjoyed at your own pace. Not hurried or rushed allowing your imagination free reign. 

I'm a slightly deranged middle aged widow, living in the Cotswolds with two fabulously funny little dogs. A mother, grandmother, sister and friend. Determined to survive by writing to remember, to forget and to cope with grief. the memory of my husband supporting me, guiding me and probably laughing at me if there is a ‘somewhere’

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Stowe House a large building from the 17th century

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Stowe House, an old country house is located near the abandoned village of Stowe in Buckinghamshire. It is now a private school, but is open to the public during the school holidays along with the magnificent gardens and park.

The house was built in the late 17th century with the help of the great architect Christopher Wren who seems to have participated in the construction of most of the buildings in the second half of the 1600s. The palace was later modified,perhaps during the 1700s although the latest changes they were made in 1779. All the famous architects of the time such as John Nash, James Gibbs and Robert Adam worked to improve the building.

The palace belonged to members of the Temple family who made money and became members of the small aristocracy thanks to the sheep and wool trade. They bought the house and land here at the end of the 1500s but only a century later they decided to rebuild a home.

 

The Temple family produced several counts, viscounts and barons and their humble abode became a reference point for the nobility of half of Europe. The parties in this house were famous because they could last for days and days.

Now even if you manage to visit the villa, you will only see a limited number of rooms but it is worth going there only for the magnificent gardens which are managed by the National Trust, also during the course of the year there are always seasonal or artistic events. The gardens have several structures and statues and will keep you busy for a whole day.

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Morlaix in France, a medieval centrewith dreamlike houses

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Just look at a couple of photos of Morlaix in France to immediately understand that it is a city to visit, especially for those who love old medieval houses. But not only that, it is also a great base for exploring Brittany and the coast overlooking the English Channel and the Atlantic.

The thing you will notice right away is the incredible viaduct that dominates the city, it was built in 1861. The nice thing is that you can go up (at least up to the first level) and walk over it admiring the view, admission is also free.

There are also some of the old wooden houses that can be visited. One of the best known is the Maison dite de la Duchesse Anne which dates back to the 1400s and is a real beauty built in the style of the area. La Maison a Pondalez is another beautiful house from the 1400s, recently renovated that houses the city museum.

The beauty of Morlaix is also to wander aimlessly through its medieval streets and discover it in this way. You will also find a lively market every Saturday and a harbor which also hosts several yachts.

You will have no problem finding food, go around the Rue Ange de Guernisac to find excellent restaurants, if your wallet is low on funds you can always live on cider and galettes, Breton crepes made of buckwheat and also suitable for those who do not tolerate gluten.

If you have time ten km from Morlaix you can find the Cairn de Barnenez, a huge cemetery from Neolithic times, the largest in Europe

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Herm Island – a little hidden paradise

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Years ago I was introduced to Herm island by my dad. He loved Islands and discovering new places. He would investigate and learn all about strange places and make it his mission to visit them.

Herm is a tiny little Island with no cars motorbikes or roads to worry about, located in the Channel Islands it is only 3 miles from Guernsey. Perfect as a place to relax and forget the hustle and bustle of modern life. The fabulous unspoilt beaches and quiet sandy paths that wind around the whole island are a wonderful way to spend magical hours in splendid isolation.

Shell beach was one of  most amazing natural places I have ever experienced. The whole beach stretches for miles and is unlike anything else I have ever seen. Made up entirely of millions of minute, perfect, and wonderful , exquisite shells rather than sand that explains the name. 

Belvoir bay is a wonderful little cove  for bathing and it feels like you have discovered it all for yourself especially if you stay on the island and can enjoy it after the day trippers have left in the afternoon. A puffin-breeding colony is also located on the far end  of the island,the comical little birds are fabulous to watch.

Herm Island

 

Staying on Herm Island

There is only one hotel on Herm Island and it is pure quality, The White House Hotel is set in stunning  gardens and has captivating sea views. There are also a few holiday cottages and  a large field equipped with ready set up tents for families so you don’t have to bring all the equipment.

The only way to reach Herm is via boat, either aboard a private yacht or on the passenger ferry. Which takes just 20 mins to reach this paradise island. Boats operate all year round from St. Peter Port with an hourly ferry from May to Sept.

I spent many holidays over the years exploring and falling in love every time with this unique little place which I hope you will discover for yourself one day.

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