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Witches, kings and whispering knights!

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My favourite place in the world is only minutes from my home and has always been a place of extreme importance to me. The Rollright Stones. A haven of peace , magic and calm  in this busy difficult world.

Set in a field next to an ancient ridgeway nestled in a beautiful wood  these prehistoric stones exude an air of power and mystery. Strong yet friendly, calm yet buzzing with life and myth they lie shrouded in trees, obscured from the busy B road that passes by as if in another time altogether.

Visit at any time of day and in any season and you will find offerings adorning the stones themselves, in the centre of the circle or draped from the trees.

Holly, berries, flowers and ribbons,  ivy, pine cones, ,feathers,  all are evidence of some sort of ceremony  both public and private, proving how special this little site is to so many from so many walks of life. 

People find themselves walking the steps of countless ghosts of the past around the inner circle of the King’s Men and then visiting the Whispering Knights and the King Stone.Each peron on his or her own journey but collective in their peace and tranquility the area exudes. 

 The stones are actually made up of three groups which were all built at different times between the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. The largest group, known as the King’s Men were erected in 2,500BC, whilst the solitary King Stone was placed some 1000 years later and finally the three Whispering Knights, are the eldest of all, believed to be erected in 3,800BC. 

They are made of the same honey colour Jurassic oolitic limestone that many Cotswold villages are built from and it is believed the boulders used to create the site were probably collected within 500m. 

 

The unhewn stones are all different sizes and shapes each with its own little hole or crevice ,often stuffed with an offering ,with some being only a few inches off the ground and some standing 7 feet high.

There are many theories of the reason for The Rollright Stones, perhaps a religious significance or connected with the changing seasons or astronomy, a place to exchange goods for tradesmen, or a location to seal tribal agreements or perform marriage ceremonies. 

As with any stone circle, the Rollright Stones are steeped in local legend and myth, to see the man you will marry run naked around the stones at midnight on Midsummer’s Eve!  To aid fertility, visit the stones at midnight and give any stone in the circle a hug.In the 18th centuary local women believed they could help fertility and would touch the King Stone in particular with their breasts.

It is said that if you walk round the Rollright Stones three times, you’ll never count the same number each time. But if you do manage it – you’re entitled to one wish. Be careful what you wish for however! The Fairies that are said to emerge at midnight and dance among the stones are said to be tricksy and might grant you something with a twist!

The most famous story as to the presence of the stones is that a king and his army were marching over the Cotswolds when they met a witch who challenged the king saying,

 

 

“Seven long strides shalt thou take,

And if Long Compton thou canst see, 

King of England thou shalt be.”

 Obviously confident and eager to take all of England the  King stode off saying 

“Stick, stock, stone, 

As King of England I shall be known.” 

 On his seventh stride the ground rose up before him in a long mound obscuring his view.  

The witch cackled and declared: 

 “As Long Compton thou canst not see,

King of England thou shalt not be, 

Rise up stick and stand still stone, 

For King of England thou shalt be none,

Thou and thy men hoar stones shall be, And I myself an elder tree.”

Legend has it that one day the spell will be broken and the King and his men will return to life and continue with their conquest. 

My special place is so wonderful because the stones are completely accessible – there is no Visitor Centre, no ticket office. They are there, in the field, as they have been for thousands of years, and anybody can visit them at any time. 

The Stones are looked after by an independent trust, so a donation to the charity either via the handy QR code tacked onto the entrance signpost into the tin on the post. Suggested donations is £1 per adult and 50p per child

Dogs are allowed on a lead 

How to get to the Rollright Stones

 Address: Rollright Road, Little Rollright, Chipping Norton OX7 5QB

 Parking for the Rollright Stones is limited – it includes two wide official laybys along the main road. The entrance to the path to reach the Stones is situated about half way along the laybys. 

 And please abide by this sentiment 

Take nothing but photographs and memories. Leave nothing but footprints.

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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Travel

Visit Blenheim Palace where Winston Churchill was born

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Blenheim Palace is the official residence of the Dukes of Marlborough from beyond 200 years, it is called Palace, although it does not belong to the royal family, a unique case in the UK.

Since 1987 it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in Oxfordshire , approximately one ‘hour and a half from London. Besides being a kind of national monument it is also the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

The history of its construction was troubled, it had to be built in honour of John Churchill the first Duke of Marlborough , after his victory at the Battle of Blenheim against the French and the Bavarians. For this reason, Queen Anne gave the Duke an old property that was falling apart but also gave him a considerable sum of money to rebuild it.

The construction of the new Blenheim Palace

The John Churchill’s wife, Sarah, wanted the architect Christopher Wren , who had built the new St Paul’s Cathedral . While her husband called Sir John Vanbrugh who was a playwright and not an architect. But then many were trying to build buildings, even if they were not architects by profession.

For all the peace of the construction of Blenheim Royal residence, Sarah, who could not stand Vanbrugh, put the legendary stakes in the wheel and made life impossible for the playwright. The Duchess not only wanted a monument to her husband, but also a house to live in and Sir Vanbrugh’s project was not exactly suitable.

Sarah and Queen Anne were good friends, in a way that nowadays would seem suspicious, Sarah had a strong personality and the two often quarrelled even in public.

The Duchess was also worried about finances and how much money was needed for this project. Alla great succeeded in banishing Sir Vanbrugh and the project was completed by architect Nicholas Hawksmoor after the death of the Duke in 1722.

The American hereditary

Like many other British aristocratic families at the great del 1800 the Dukes of Marlborough also had financial problems and saved their property, which was then their only residence, by marrying American heiresses . Jennie Jerome , a wealthy American heiress, became the wife of Sir Randolph Churchill and later mother of Winston Churchill. In 1896 the 9th Duke of Marlborough also married a wealthy American, the eighteen year old Consuelo Vanderbilt, who arrived with a dowry of 2.5 million dollars. Marrying rich Americans became a fashion among the declining British aristocracy, and it was also prestigious for these wealthy American families to join old aristocratic families.

In any case Blenheim Royal residence was built in English Baroque style , one of the few buildings in this style of short duration.

The idea was to create an austere monument to the Duke, a palace that can be seen from miles away.

It was not a great success, grandmother part of the people hated this palace, including Winston Churchill (cousin of the Duke of Marlborough at the time) who was born there and spent part of his childhood there.

What to see at Blenheim Royal residence

You have to look at Blenheim Royal residence even from a distance, Sir Vanbrugh had played a lot with the perspective, and along with the park and gardens. The views that you can admire are all well choreographed.

Inside the building you will have a beautiful collection of art, objects and furniture of the past centuries, there are several halls and also the apartments of state.

There are representative rooms such as the central hall, a representative dining room used by the family once a year on Christmas day. There is also a library and a corridor connecting the next room, you can look at the tapestries celebrating military victories.

The palace has beyond 200 rooms and 1000 windows, when it was built for the first time, the size of the window period based on the importance of the personality who lived in the verse. The servants had smaller windows, while the family members of the duke and duchess obviously had huge windows.

Blenheim Royal residence became a convalescent home for wounded soldiers during WWI and WWII, more than 400 boys were evacuated from Malvern University to live here. They were in the state rooms, wandering around the lower terrace. While the lake and the palace park were used for price training for the Normandy landing, Several movies and dramas were shot in this well-known palace, including the Order of the Phoenix. Harry Potter.

Blenheim Palace Gardens

After the death of her husband, the Duchess was not very interested in the gardens, left abandoned until the book Duke of Marlborough who decided to hire the famous gardener Capability Brown

Both part of the house and the gardens are open to the public, although they are still the home of the Duke of Marlborough (we are now at 12th Duke, from 2014 in fact Charles James Spencer-Churchill is Duke, famous for a long history of drug addiction and other problems). Numerous events are also held throughout the year. A miniature train connects the palace to the gardens, where, among a variety of activities for children, there is the Marlborough labyrinth , a triumphal arch, the home of the butterflies, the lavender garden and various exhibitions.

How to get to Blenheim Palace?

The palace is  near Oxford, you can include it in a tour of this city, or go there directly from London. There are direct buses from Victoria Train Terminal on certain days of the year. Otherwise National Express always offers you cheap bus travel.

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Cirencester: the old Roman town in the Cotswolds

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If you are in England, there are many reasons to visit Cirencester, a town in Gloucestershire of Roman origin, first it is in the Cotswolds, the magnificent area of ​​homes and hills. It offers a great starting point for exploring the area, and it is not for nothing that it is often referred to as the capital of the Cotswolds

Despite being a relatively small disadvantage approx. 20 thousand inhabitants, it’s a kind of centre for local public transport, from here you can go almost anywhere in the Cotswolds by bus. It is approximately 20 kilometres from Cheltenham, in an area famous for its beautiful English countryside. It does not have a very exciting evening and nightlife, as you can imagine given the size of the town, but you will find many typical and interesting clubs.

Cirencester has an ancient history, period one of the first Roman towns together with Chichester, London and St Albans Actually at that time it was the second-largest city after London. The Romans called it Corinium Dobunnorum. An important period during the Roman period but also in the Middle Ages when, like so many other places in England, it became rich by trading wool.

The Roman amphitheatre remains, at least in part, with its unmistakable shape even if covered by grass. You can visit it for free whenever you want.

It is said that it could contain 8000 spectators and therefore period, from what we know, the largest in Roman England. It was abandoned for centuries after the Romans left, but it seems that it was used in the Middle Ages for fights between bulls.

If you are interested in Roman history and art you can visit the Corinium Gallery You will find reconstructions, video clips and interactive shows that bring history to life. Among the highlights are some beautiful floor mosaics, found in the area and including a mosaic from the 300 created by the inhabitants of Roman Britannia, depicting the mythical lyre player Orpheus. For more information, you can consult the website

There are also a couple of old Roman villas and other Roman artefacts in the Cirencester area that you can visit, although unfortunately, no trace remains of the Roman Forum and basilica.

 

cirencester

Historic buildings in Cirencester

Later the Anglo-Saxons took possession of the town until the arrival of the Normans in 1100.

The Middle Ages were a good period for Cirencester, which became an important centre for the trade-in wool and textiles. In that period, it was built a large abbey, which Henry VIII  later had destroyed. Now you can only see some ruins. The beautiful Gothic-style church still remains.

Cirencester continued to thrive as a stopping place for carriages and travellers and later connected to the rest of the country by canals it continued to see a continuous passage of goods and people.

Cirencester is home to the oldest agricultural university in all English-speaking countries and the oldest Baptist church in the UK. You can also visit the vast park with the rental property of the Bathurst family, an old noble family of counts. You can visit the park for free (although now they intend to introduce a fee for non-residents) and see the tallest hedges in the UK.

This small Gloucestershire town is located not far from the River Thames, but it is not the only river in the area, in fact, it is crossed by the River Churn which is a tributary of the river that passes by London.

Now if you want to go there for tourism it has the advantage of not being full of tourists like some nearby places, despite having a nice centre, medieval and Victorian situation. For some strange reason, it still hasn’t been discovered by mass tourism.

Cirencester has so many interesting and unique shops and getting on purchasing here is a real pleasure. Only exploring the narrow streets of the centre with the many small shops can make you spend hours.

The courtyards with their individual style and the numerous historic streets radiating from the city centre. Cirencester is renowned for its very special shops, individual stores, charming antique shops and artisan shops, as well as national chain stores. Try to get off the main streets and explore the old historic streets, don’t miss The Woolmarket located off Dyer Road and Secure Lawn, accessed via the delightful Black Jack Road. You can also discover some hidden coffee shops or tearooms.

How to get to Cirencester?

National Express has frequent and cheap bus services from London and other cities in England. It is advisable to stay there at least 3 days to be able to explore the Cotswolds area a little.

Booking.com



 

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Food

Do you want to eat? Go to Budapest!

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Budapest is a city that is full of food, both traditional Hungarian cuisine and international dishes,  food here is sophisticated and very tasty.

Traditional Hungarian food: This is the staple of the Hungarian diet. It consists of dishes such as gulyás (a soup with vegetables, beef or pork and paprika), gombóc (stuffed cabbage), halászlé (fish soup), lángos (deep-fried bread).

Lángos is a Hungarian food that is traditionally cooked on a wood-burning stove. The dough is made of flour, salt, and yeast. Lángos dough is then deep-fried in canola oil until it becomes golden brown.

International cuisine: a wide variety of international foods are available in Budapest’s restaurants. Street stalls and markets offer authentic fare from Hungary’s neighbors including Turkish doner kebabs, Serbian ćevapčići, Greek gyros, and Polish zapiekanki.

There are a few dishes you really must :

Goulash is a Hungarian dish, consisting of meat and vegetables, usually served with noodles. It is a popular dish in many Central and Eastern European countries. The word goulash derives from Hungarian “gulyás” meaning “cattle drover”, but it is unclear as to whether the dish originated with Hungary’s cattle-driving Székely people or Transylvanian Saxons.

Sólet is a dish that consists of pieces of beef, bacon, onion, and garlic stewed in paprika, salt, and water. It is a popular main course in Hungary although originally it was a Jewish dish. Hungarian cuisine has been influenced by the cultures which have inhabited the Carpathian Basin over the centuries.

Rakott krumpli is a traditional Hungarian dish that can be translated as “Hungarian potato dumplings”. The main ingredients are potatoes, sausages, onions, flour, salt and eggs. They are wrapped in a cloth and boiled.

Lángos can be topped with sour cream, sugar or honey for sweetness and ground walnuts for texture. For added flavour you could add cinnamon or cardamom. Today’s version sees it fried in boiling oil and seasoned with sour cream and cheese You can find it in this and many other variations, including sweet ones.

Pörkölt is a Hungarian dish which means “roasted” in English. It has nothing to do with pork, the meat is often beef or lamb. It consists of beef and vegetables mixed with different spices such as garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, crushed caraway seeds and sweet paprika. This mixture simmers for hours to create a rich broth that infuses into the meat and vegetables to make it delicious.

A full article should be devoted to Hungarian cakes and sweets, influenced by both the Viennesse patisserie tradition and the sweets of Eastern Europe. A tasty mix

 

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