Bantry House, Bantry County Cork.

First port of call on the penultimate day of our tour was Bantry House, a private estate and the ancestral home of the Earls of Bantry- still lived in by the family. Set in magnificent Italian gardens , inspired by the travels of the second Earl, this was a highlight of the trip for me.

Visit, have afternoon tea, stay a night or two, or get married. Whatever you do, you cannot fail to be moved by this beautiful, slightly ramshackle house and gardens. I was instantly smitten with the experience, enhanced by the knowledgeable and charming guide that took us around.

https://www.bantryhouse.com

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/irelands-beautiful-south-west

Cobh, Western Ireland

The departure town for over three million Irish Emigrants and final port of call for the RMS Titanic. We visited the Cobh Heritage Cente, which tells the story of Irish emigration through to the 1950s and traces the history of Cobh over the centuries. Starting with the indentured servants who were transported to the colonies to work on the plantations in the 17th century, to Annie Moore, who with her two brothers were the first emigrants to be processed on the newly opened Ellis Island in New York in 1891.

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/ring-of-kerry-and-wonderful-western-ireland

The Kerry Bog Village. Western Ireland.

Located on the Ring of Kerry, the village gives a fascinating insight into how people lived and worked in Ireland in the late 19th Century.

So what is Bog? Undrained bog is 95% water and 5% solid material. The solid part is made up of partially decayed vegetation i.e. trees, grass, roots, moss etc. Bogs were a major source of fuel for Irish homes.

A key member of an Irish Bog village would be the Irish Wolf Hound.

An ancient breed of Irish dog these were used for hunting.

The Kerry bog ponies are a native breed to Ireland and were used for transport and farm work, such as bringing home turf from the bog, seaweed from the beach and milk from the creamery.

Spent an interesting hour wandering around this true to life reconstruction. Life was certainly harsh.

Home

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/ring-of-kerry-and-wonderful-western-ireland

Clonakilty, Timoleague and Kinsale. Western Ireland.

Timoleague, Western Ireland.

Day one of my Western Irish tour started in Clonakilty, birthplace of Micheal Collins (1890-1922), Irish revolutionary, soldier and politician who was a leading figure in the early-20th century struggle for Irish independence.

Next stop was Timoleague, a small village where the ruins of a thirteenth century Franciscan abbey stands picturesquely at the waters edge.

Kinsale, a harbour town with a maze of narrow streets and an eclectic mix of bars, restaurants and shops was the next stop.

Kinsale, Western Ireland.

It was raining hard during my visit here, but it’s Western Ireland and it’s October… It took nothing away from the beauty of the location.

Last stop of the day was Charles Fort, just outside of Kinsale. A star-shaped military fortress that has stood firm for centuries. It was raining even harder by now, but the fort was totally worth getting drenched for.

Despite being partially ruined, you could imagine the soldiers and their families living in this fortress.

https://heritageireland.ie/places-to-visit/charles-fort-national-monument/

Charles Fort.

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/ring-of-kerry-and-wonderful-western-ireland

Nymans. West Sussex.

Nymans’s-National Trust property in West Sussex- dramatic architecture is part Regency, part pseudo-medieval – and now part ruin, following a fire in 1947. Nothing is quite as it seems…

Been there a few times but last weeks visit had added interest after watching Netflix’s drama The Crown and realising it was the ancestral home of Anthony Armstrong Jones, lord Snowden, husband of Princess Margaret.

It’s beautiful!

The Journey of the Magi by T.S. Elliot.

I love this poem. The nitty, gritty of the journey to see Mary and Joseph’s baby. The feeling of ‘I could be somewhere else other than on this damn journey’:

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Famous writers and Active Service.

Found an article in a National Newspaper a month or so ago. We are familiar with the war poets such as Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen, but I was interested to read about other writers that saw active service.

Tolkien: served as a lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers and saw action at the Battle of the Somme. He was hospitalised with trench fever.

CS Lewis: saw action in the trenches arriving in 1917 aged 19. He took German prisoners and was wounded by a shell blast.

AA Milne: Winnie- the- Pooh creator. The famous bear was named after a real bear that had once been the mascot of a Canadian Infantry that Milne joined up to in 1915. He was injured at the Battle of the Somme.

Ernest Hemingway: was wounded by mortar fire as an ambulance driver on the Italian Front, where he fell in love with a nurse.

We tend to forget our famous writers have lives apart from their books, so I was really interested to read about these classic authors in the Great War.

Saint Andrew’s Day.

Today (30 November) is Saint Andrew’s Day- the feast day of Andrew the Apostle and Scotland’s national day.

Saint Andrew the patron saint of Scotland,was born between the years 5 AD and 10 AD in a place that is now part of Israel. According to Christianity, he went on to become one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ. Andrew’s brother, Simon Peter, was also one of the disciples. They both lived in Galilee, where they were fishermen.

St Andrew never actually stepped foot in Scotland his whole life! So why is he their Patron Saint? One story says that in the 9th Century, King Angus in Scotland was preparing for a battle against the English. St Andrew appeared to King Angus in a dream promising him victory and on the day of the battle, an X symbol appeared in the sky, which was the symbol of St Andrew. He vowed that if they won, St Andrew would be made the patron saint of Scotland – and that is exactly what happened.This is why the Scottish flag has the X-shaped cross on it, as it is St Andrew’s symbol.

Happy Saint Andrew’s Day Scotland.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, which occurs on the fourth Thursday in November, is based on the colonial Pilgrims’ 1621 harvest meal. The holiday continues to be a day for Americans to gather for a day of feasting, football and family.

Unfortunately due to the 2020 Pandemic things might be a bit different this year. However there is the virtual option.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

Hastings, East Sussex.

View from East Hill

Today was a trip down the coast to Hastings. The town lies between two hills- East and West. It was attacked by the French during the Hundred Years War. The architecture is a fascinating mish-mash of styles ranging from Medieval to Victorian times.

The old town high street (George Street) is a diverse mix of antiquity and modern cosmopolitan. There are cute narrow twittens running off the Main Street up into the cliffs.

Enjoy a game of open air chess in the Old Town square.

Hastings has a thriving fishing community. It’s fleet is the largest in Europe that is launched from a beach as opposed to a quay or harbour.

A local character?

Bench on the East Cliffs.

Lastly Hastings was the birthplace of Grey Owl, a pioneer Of Canada conservation- said to have saved the Canadian beaver from extinction.

The Long Man of Wilmington.

The Long Man of Wilmington

The Long Man of Wilmington situated on the South Downs in Sussex.

Formerly thought to originate in the Iron Age or even the neolithic period, a 2003 archaeological investigation has shown that the figure may have been cut in the Early Modern era – the 16th or 17th century AD. The Long Man is one of two extant human hill figures in East Sussex; the other is the Litlington White Horse, also in East Sussex.

Another autumn walk for us on a bright Sunday on the Sunshine Coast.

Goblin Market

By Christina Rossetti.

Goblin Market (published in 1862) is a narrative poem which tells the story of Laura and Lizzie who are tempted with fruit by goblin merchants. It is one of my favourite poems generally and my favourite Rossetti poem in particular.

Evening by evening 
Among the brookside rushes, 
Laura bow’d her head to hear, 
Lizzie veil’d her blushes: 
Crouching close together 
In the cooling weather, 
With clasping arms and cautioning lips, 
With tingling cheeks and finger tips. 
“Lie close,” Laura said, 
Pricking up her golden head: 
“We must not look at goblin men, 
We must not buy their fruits: 
Who knows upon what soil they fed 
Their hungry thirsty roots?” 
“Come buy,” call the goblins 
Hobbling down the glen. 

“Oh,” cried Lizzie, “Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men.”
Lizzie cover’d up her eyes,
Cover’d close lest they should look;
Laura rear’d her glossy head,
And whisper’d like the restless brook:
“Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds weight.
How fair the vine must grow
Whose grapes are so luscious;
How warm the wind must blow
Through those fruit bushes.”
“No,” said Lizzie, “No, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us.”
She thrust a dimpled finger
In each ear, shut eyes and ran:
Curious Laura chose to linger
Wondering at each merchant man.
One had a cat’s face,
One whisk’d a tail,
One tramp’d at a rat’s pace,
One crawl’d like a snail,
One like a wombat prowl’d obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel tumbled hurry skurry.
She heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather.

… (extract)

It’s a fairytale world of temptation and mystery, exploring themes of temptation, sacrifice and salvation.

Ancient themes magically visited in beautiful lyrical language.

Bodiam Castle.

We spent Bank Holiday Monday at Bodiam Castle on the Kent/ Sussex border. It was built by Sir Edward Dallingridge c. 1385.

Sir Edward was born into the minor gentry c. 1346. Lady Elizabeth, sir Edwards wife, was a key figure in the castle’s history. She was heiress to the land of Bodiam and considerably wealthy to boot! Upon marriage Sir Edward was entitled to her land and money, which helped him to build the castle. A castle the size of Bodiam was large enough to house up to eighty servants.

On a natural note the castle plays host to bats, particularly the largest Daubenton maternity roost in England as well as well as a maternity roost of Natterer’s bats.

The castle stands alongside the River Rother and there is a beautiful walk following the river. The Tenterden to Bodiam railway also runs alongside the Castle stretch. There is nothing nicer than walking alongside the river with the castle on one side and the steam train passing by on the other. East Sussex is diverse and beautiful.

Rural villages. Northiam, East Sussex.

Today we did a rural village walk. Our route around the village of Northiam was taken from East Sussex Walks. In and around the rural villages by Sandy Hernu (ISBN 1857700597)

Our three and a half mile walk was quintessentially English on this late summer day.

An unexpected point of interest was Queen Elizabeth’s Oak. The remains of this huge oak tree is where Queen Elizabeth I chose to sit beneath and rest on her journey to the nearby town of Rye on August 11th 1573. She was served a meal under its branches brought from a nearby house. She then changed her shoes , leaving behind the original green damask ones as a momento of her visit. Apparently they still exist.