Monday, 14 April 2014

Eastbourne Part 3.....

Our last day in Eastbourne dawned bright and not too cold and our plans were to explore the place itself and go to an exhibition that had been recommended to me by Hilary, a new blog friend who just happens to live in Eastbourne.

After breakfast we set off walking along the promenade

towards the pier
where we took some photos of the the promenade looking back from the pier,

before continuing our journey to the The Pavilion at the  Redoubt Fortress and Military Museum, where the exhibition was taking place. 

The Redoubt was built between 1804 and 1810 to support the associated Martello towers in defending against the threat of an invasion by Napoleon.   It has defended the Eastbourne coast for nearly 200 years. Like its twin Dymchurch it was built as a barracks and supply depot for the towers, and designed for 11 guns, although only 10 guns were installed. During the First World War the military police used the Redoubt as a headquarters and temporary jail.
 Redoubt Fortress & Military Museum
Following this, Eastbourne Borough Council purchased the Redoubt for £150 with the plan to turn it into a venue for leisure activities. During the Second World War army requisitioned the building to use for storage.  Canadian troops also spent time there in the build up to the D-Day landings. After the war, the Redoubt was home to a model village and an aquarium.  The model village was vandalised in the 1970s, and the aquarium closed in 1996.

After the mile and a quarter walk from our hotel to the Redoubt we were ready for a sit down and a coffee so we headed into the restaurant/cafe before going into the exhibition. 

The Eastbourne Ancestors exhibition follows the biggest project of its kind, which saw scientific analysis of human remains dating back to the Bronze Age.  With discoveries including a rare African lady dating back to Roman times, found nearby at Beachy Head, the exhibition includes 3D and 2D facial reconstructions and a chance to see their story, with scientific results telling us, where they resided, what they ate, what they did for a living, their social status and how they died. You can read more about it here.

Eastbourne Ancestors at the RedoubtAncestors Face Reconstruction

The Beachy Head Lady © Jarrold Publishing/Eastbourne Borough Council
The Beachy Head Lady

There was also the opportunity to dress as an Anglo Saxon, which MWM took advantage of, much to my amusement.

It was a fascinating exhibition and I would certainly recommended you see it if you happen to be in Eastbourne, it's on until November I believe.

After the exhibition we headed towards the shopping centre for a mooch round the shops before having lunch in a local hostelry, then more shopping followed by another walk along the promenade, sitting for a while enjoying the sun, then making our way back to the hotel for a rest before dinner.

After dinner we enjoyed the live entertainment and then it was time for the raffle draw, for which we had been buying tickets over the course of the week, and guess what? We won first prize, a £50 voucher off our next holiday with the travel company (which we use a lot)!

We enjoyed a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast the following morning before setting off on the long journey home.    We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Eastbourne and the surrounding area and can heartily recommend it.

Now I really must get back to telling you about our adventures in Canada before our next trip in a few weeks time!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Eastbourne Part 2......

Our second full day in Eastbourne dawned sunny and warm again and after a lovely breakfast we met up with our fellow travellers for that day's excursion which took us first to Beachy Head, a chalk headland close to Eastbourne. The cliff there is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, rising to 162 metres (531 ft) above sea level. The peak allows views of the south east coast from Dungeness in the east, to Selsey Bill in the west. Its height has also made it one of the most notorious suicide spots in the world.  

The name Beachy Head appears as 'Beauchef' in 1274, and was 'Beaucheif' in 1317, becoming consistently Beachy Head by 1724, and has nothing to do with beach. Instead it is a corruption of the original French words meaning "beautiful headland" (beau chef).   We walked up the hill (me not as far as MWM) to take some photos of the views.

MWM discovered this Compass Rose, if you click on the pic and zoom in you should be able to read the inscription.

There is also this World War II memorial. Beachy Head was the major operational route outbound from the UK for the airmen of the RAF Bomber Command.

The next stop was Arundel, famous for it's medieval castle.

The castle was established by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067. Roger became the first to hold the Earldom of Arundel by the graces of William the Conqueror. The castle was damaged in the English Civil War and then restored in the 18th and 19th centuries.

From the 11th century onward, the castle has served as a hereditary stately home and has been in the family of the Duke of Norfolk for over 400 years. It is still the principal seat of the Norfolk family and is a Grade I listed building.
 We found these interesting ruins as we walked into the town, Blackfriars Dominican Priory.

A nice view of the River Arun.

Time for lunch, so off we went to Chichester.

The area around Chichester is believed to have played a significant part during the Roman Invasion of A.D 43, as confirmed by evidence of military storage structures in the area of the nearby Fishbourne Roman Palace. The city centre stands on the foundations of the Romano-British city of Noviomagnus Reginorum, capital of the Civitas Reginorum.

The Chichester Cross, according to the inscription upon it,was built by Edward Story, Bishop of Chichester from 1477 to 1503; but little is known for certain and the style and ornaments of the building suggest that it may date from the reign of Edward IV (1442 - 1483). It was built so that the poor people would have somewhere to sell their wares, and as a meeting point. An earlier wooden cross had been erected on the same site by Bishop Rede (1369-1385).

After some lunch we made our way to the Cathedral
Founded as a cathedral in 1075, when the seat of the bishop was moved from Selsey it has fine architecture in both the Norman and Gothic styles, and has been called "the most typical English Cathedral". Despite this, Chichester has two architectural features that are unique among England's medieval cathedrals—a free-standing medieval bell tower (or campanile)

and double aisles. The cathedral contains two rare medieval sculptures, and many modern art works including tapestries and stained glass.

There are also lists and pictures of all the Bishops of Chichester adorning the walls.

 I found the story behind this Gothic "Arundel Tomb" fascinating

It shows the recumbent Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel (1313–1376), holding hands with his second wife, Eleanor of Lancaster (1318–1372), who by his will were buried together.  The armour and dress suggest a date near 1375.  The knight's attitude is typical of the time but the lady's crossed legs, giving the effect of a turn towards her husband are rare. The joined hands were thought to be due to restoration, but recent research has shown the feature to be original. If so this monument must be one of the earliest showing this concession to affection where the husband was a knight rather than a civilian. How romantic is that?

Another interesting feature was this glass topped tabled, which allowed one to take a photograph of the ceiling above,
 and this is a photograph looking up at the ceiling.

If you ever find yourself in Chichester do go visit the Cathedral, it has a lot of history and interesting features.

By the time we exited the cathedral we had to make our way back to meet the coach to return to the hotel.   We made it back with just enough time for a short rest before getting changed for dinner.

Please join me next time for Eastbourne Part 3, when I will show you Eastbourne itself.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Eastbourne Part 1.....

Interrupting my Canada travelogue to report on our week away in Eastbourne last week.  We left home at 8a.m. Monday 3rd March for the long journey by coach to our destination, stopping off at Banbury for some lunch on the way.  We arrived at our hotel at 6p.m., which gave us time to unpack and freshen up before dinner.

Here's our coaches outside the hotel where we stayed, right on the seafront in Eastbourne, on the first morning, waiting to take us on our first excursion.

Here I am on the short walk down to the seafront right opposite the hotel.
 The promenade
and with friends taking in the sea air before boarding the coaches.

After a hearty breakfast we headed into Battle!    Our journey took us through nearby Pevensey.  Pevensey Bay was where William the Conquerer  invaded England in 1066.   King Harold and his army were fighting further north when the invasion took place, as soon as word got through Harold and his army headed south to meet the invaders who were marching north.   They met at a place called Battle.   Contrary to popular belief the Battle of Hastings did not actually take place in Hastings but in Battle!

We arrived in Battle and took a walk through the town until we came to the Abbey.

Battle Abbey was founded to commemorate the battle, and dedicated in 1095. The high altar of the Abbey church was reputedly on the spot where Harold died. The Abbey gateway is still the dominant feature of the south end of the main street, although little remains of the rest of the Abbey buildings. The remaining cloisters, part of the west range, were leased to Battle Abbey School shortly after World War I, and the school remains in occupancy to this day.  The town of Battle was gradually built around the Abbey, and later developed a reputation for the quality of the gunpowder produced in the area. In the mid 18th century, the town supported five watchmakers in the High Street. Today, Battle is known as a tourist destination. Unfortunately we couldn't go in the Abbey as it was closed to the public until the end of March.

Battle is a lovely little town with quaint buildings,

and an interesting church.

St. Mary the Virgin, which has been at the centre of Christian life in Battle for nearly 900 years.  This beautiful Parish Church was founded by Abbot Ralph circa. A.D.1115. The Benedictine Abbey of St. Martin was built on the battlefield of the Norman conquest and established St. Mary's to serve the community which had grown up around the monastery. The church is a haven of peace and worship built on the battlefield where in 1066 both Norman and Saxon died and history was made.

As you can see from the photos it was a lovely day weatherwise, we headed back towards where the coaches were parked having a cup of coffee at a nearby cafe before enjoying the sunshine in a small square,

where crocus and daffodils were blooming.  Our next destination was Royal Tunbridge Wells for lunch.  The town came into being as a spa in Georgian times and had its heyday as a tourist resort under Beau Nash when the Pantiles, a Georgian colonnade formerly known as The Walks and the (Royal) Parade, it leads from the well that gave the town its name. The area was created following the discovery of a chalybeate spring in the early 17th century and is now a popular tourist attraction.   Chalybeate water was said to have health-giving properties and many people have promoted its qualities.  Dudley North, 3rd Baron North discovered the chalybeate spring at Tunbridge Wells in 1606.  Dudley North's physician claimed that the waters contained 'vitriol' and the waters of Tunbridge Wells could cure:
"the colic, the melancholy, and the vapours; it made the lean fat, the fat lean; it killed flat worms in the belly, loosened the clammy humours of the body, and dried the over-moist brain."
He also apparently said, in verse:
"These waters youth in age renew
Strength to the weak and sickly add
Give the pale cheek a rosy hue
And cheerful spirits to the sad."
The English physician Thomas Sydenham prescribed chalybeate waters for hysteria.  A cure-all apparently!

The above photo was taken as we walked back through the Pantiles after walking the length of the main street in the town and having lunch.    I don't know why but we didn't take any more photos in Tunbridge,  there were lots of antique shops in the Pantiles and little cafes and restaurants, and a pub which we just had to call in to sample the beer!

Unfortunately it was time to board our coach to go back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.   I hope you enjoyed reading about our venture into Battle, join me next time for Eastbourne Part 2 to see the legendary Beachy Head.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Canada Part 6......

After breakfast on Day 7 we boarded our coach for an orientation tour of Vancouver, our first stop being Stanley Park.

The park has a long history and was one of the first areas to be explored in the city. The land was originally used by indigenous peoples for thousands of years before British Columbia was colonized by the British during the 1858 Fraser Canyon Gold Rush.

For many years after colonization, the future park with its abundant resources would also be home to nonaboriginal settlers. The land was later turned into Vancouver's first park when the city incorporated in 1886. It was named after Lord Stanley, a British politician who had recently been appointed governor general.

We walked around the park taking in the beauty then moved on to Brockton Point to see the First Nation's Totems.

The view beyond one of the huge gateways to the park.

Lions Gate Bridge in the distance

The Girl in the Wetsuit -although some believe it was a replicate of Copenhagen's The Little Mermaid, the  creator stated:   I didn't believe we should have a copy of the mermaid. She is rightfully a symbol of Copenhagen... I proposed to have a life-size scuba diver seated there. At that time scuba diving was getting quite popular here in Vancouver and, just as important, I didn't know of any similar sculpture anywhere in the world, it was a new idea.

On our way through the park to Prospect Point and Lowden's Lookout this 600 year old Cedar tree was pointed out to us.

That wasn't the oldest tree we saw though, this next one was 1000 years old and had been hollowed out by lightening!
We arrived at Prospect Point, the highest point in Stanley Park.  Lowden's Lookout was originally the site of a signal station, which guided ships through First Narrows, the views were magnificent,

as was the flora.

We got a closer look at Lions Gate Bridge, opened in 1938, officially known as the First Narrows Bridge, it is a suspension bridge that crosses the first narrows of Burrard Inlet and connects the City of Vancouver to the North Shore municipalities of the District of North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver and West Vancouver. The term "Lions Gate" refers to The Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver. Northbound traffic on the bridge heads in their general direction.
If you click on the photo you should be able to see the stone lions on either side of the bridge.  Leaving Stanley Park behind we headed back into the city passing BC Place Stadium,

then we were taken to Dr Sun Yat Sen Park.

Built in 1985-1986. The outer park was designed by architects Joe Wai and Donal Vaughan, while the inner garden was conceived by Wang Zu-Xin as the chief architect, with the help of experts from the Landscape Architecture Company of Suzhou, China. Funding for the project came from the Chinese and Canadian governments, the local Chinese community, and other public and private sector sources, and it opened on April 24, 1986, in time for Expo 86.  

It is an oasis of calm in a busy city and I could have stayed there all day, however we had to return to our coach to be taken to the next place on the tour, historic Gastown,
where we were dropped off to get some lunch and have the rest of the day to ourselves.    Gastown was Vancouver's first downtown core and is named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area's first Saloon.

There was also this historical plaque

and a steam powered clock! 

Built to cover a steam grate, part of Vancouver's distributed steam-heating system, the clock was built as a way to harness the steam and to prevent street people from sleeping on the spot in cold weather. Its original design was faulty and it had to be powered by electricity after a breakdown. The steam mechanism was completely restored with the financial support of local businesses as it had become a major tourist attraction, and is promoted as a heritage feature although it is of modern invention. The steam used is low pressure downtown-wide steam heating network (from a plant adjacent to the Georgia Viaduct) that powers a miniature steam engine in its base, in turn driving a chain lift. The chain lift moves steel balls upward, where they are unloaded and roll to a descending chain. The weight of the balls on the descending chain drives a conventional pendulum clock escapement, geared to the hands on the four faces. The steam also powers the clock's sound production as Whistles used instead of bells to produce the Westminster "chime" and to signal the time.

After lunch in one of the many pubs/restaurants/bars we made our way to Harbour Centre. I'm not very good with heights but agreed to go up in with MWM as it promised spectacular views of the city.   The Vancouver Lookout located atop the Harbour Centre business building, was officially opened on August 13, 1977 by Neil Armstrong, whose footprint was imprinted onto cement and was on display on the viewing/observation deck until it was lost (or stolen) during renovations. Glass elevators whisk visitors 168 meters (553 feet) skyward from street level to the Observation Deck in 40 seconds, you can see them in the video below which we took before going in.  Before you ask, the beeping you can hear is the sound of the pedestrian crossing where we were standing to take the video.


The views are magnificent, though I tried not to look down and left the filming to MWM.


After all that excitement we called in a Costa for a coffee before heading back to our hotel for a short rest before freshening up to go out to eat.    We didn't want to go to far so we did a quick search online and found a restaurant/bar nearby with a decent menu where we didn't need to book.    When we arrived at the bar we were told it was $10 each to come in as they were showing live cage fighting on the big screens!   We told them we only wanted to eat and have a few drinks and promised not to the watch the TV and they let us in.   Once inside we understood why they were charging people to come in because a lot of people were neither eating or drinking, they were just watching the screens.    Anyway we enjoyed our food and a few beers and (don't tell them) the cage fighting!  LOL

I hope you'll join me for Canada Part 7 when we go to Victoria, Vancouver Island, for a two night stay.