Benidorm Cross.

Took a drive up to the Benidorm Cross yesterday evening. A long, winding drive in a sweltering 32 degrees brought us within a quarter of a mile of the Cross. The rest was walking. It was worth the effort.

‘At the end of 1961, at the request of Father Salvador Perona, people from Benidorm, in an evangelizing mission in order to redeem the city from its frivolous reputation, carried a
huge cross on their shoulders from San Jaime and Santa Ana church to Sierra Helada. Over the years, the Cross has become another of
Benidorm’s beautiful tourist attractions.’

Carrying the cross up the hill.

Derby Wanders.

The Old Silk Mill Derby.

I had a couple of hours to kill in Derby today and stumbled across the Old Silk Mill.
The Derwent Valley mills are recognised by UNESCO as the birthplace of the factory system. The Silk Mill forms the southern gateway to a World Heritage Site running
15 miles along the River Derwent to Matlock Bath.
The valley contains unique mill complexes, settlements,
waterways and the remains of one of the earliest railways. The Silk Mill, operating on this site from 1721, employed workers and produced thread on a scale never seen before. Fifty years later, Richard Arkwright built his famous water-powered cotton spinning mill at Cromford. Arkwright organised machines
and workers in new ways. The Derwent Valley mills and the ‘Arkwright System’ influenced factories worldwide.

The Old Silk Mill is now a museum of making- including a mixture of the industrial past, present and future

So that was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain. What’s the next step? The museum laid this out clearly.

‘The next episode or the Industrial Revolution will be the growth of Automation and Artificial Intelligence (Al).’

‘The demand for digital and advanced technological skills, and emotional skills such as leadership and managing others, will grow. Creativity and critical thinking will be essential as our workplaces change.
Our future challenge will be to create a society that has a workforce with
the right skills to complement new technology, and also to keep pace with demographic change as people live longer. There will be equal demands for highly technical and creative skills, and empathetic and caring skills.

It was an interesting morning and really enjoyed learning the local history of the area.

New Forest. Hampshire.

Day two of our Christmas Road Trip to Dorset and Hampshire. The New Forest in Hampshire.

There are lots of waymarked walks and trails on the Forest, all starting at different car parks. Routes are circular. We started with the Wilverley Wander walk, from one of several carparks in that area. The trail winds through diverse and working woodland and was about 4.5K over gravel paths.

Next stop was the Heritage Centre, where we learnt about the Forest, it’s management and history.

Forest management.
The New Forest ponies .
The New Forest in WW2.

Time for another walk and this was a short 0.25 mile stroll to the Knightwood Oak- one of the most famous trees in the New Forest, believed to have been planted before 1600.

A December view.

There was also the much younger (1979) Queen’s Oak…

Last stop of the day- it is December and the light was fading- was the Blackwater Arboretum Trail 0.75 km, past tree species from around the world.

It was a wet, cold December day, but we discovered a winter Forest. A Forest resting. Hibernation and decay was the theme, brown and grey the predominant colours. Nevertheless beautiful in a different way- rugged and raw. We had a great day!

Ponies and dogs!

Lastly a big shout out to The Forest Inn at Ferndown Forest Golf Club. We had a delicious evening meal, the staff were friendly and they welcomed our three dogs.

Wimborne Minster. Dorset.

Friday’s whistle stop road trip was Wimborne Minster.

Wimborne Minster is a market town in Dorset in South West England, and the name of the Church of England church in that town.

King Ethelred, the brother of Alfred the Great, is buried here in Wimborne Minster.

A late lunch was at The White Hart, in the Square.

Scallops highly recommended at thus lovely cosy, friendly pub.

The main reason for the trip?

Live at The Tivoli, Wimborne.

Wimborne and The Tivoli Theatre – you were great!

Plymouth, Devon, England.

We had a quick road trip and overnight stay down to Plymouth in Devon this weekend, approximately a five and half hour journey from East Sussex.

Plymouth is a port city in Devon, known for its maritime heritage and historic Barbican district with narrow, cobbled streets. We stayed at the Plymouth Travel Lodge:

View from Travel Lodge window.

We were there to see a friend in the touring production of Dolly Parton’s Musical starring Louise Redknapp at the Plymouth Theatre Royal:

Post performance meet-up was at The Bank:

The Bank, Plymouth

The next morning we walked down to the harbour catching up with family.

It was a whistle stop trip, but a city we will definitely return to in the future.

Nottingham. England.

Great road trip to Nottingham last weekend.

There was the lace quarter.

And Robin Hood of course…

Lord Byron had a presence apparently .

We wandered the Christmas market , the canals and some great vintage shops.

There were buskers- good and bad…

Best purchase? Moonshine

Iconic moment? Meeting up with football legend Brian Clough.

Although I had never been, I had never rated Nottingham. How wrong I was. We had a fabulous day!

The Bike Circus Clonakilty.

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
John F. Kennel

We need this in Eastbourne…

The ethos of the Bike Circus is to create a community-centred space with a focus on education and inclusivity; it is modelled on some of the many community bike workshops that the founders have visited internationally, including ‘B!ke’ in Canada and ‘La Cicleteria’ in Spain, and will rely on membership, rather than retail, to keep the doors open.

Matchmaking Festivals and Tidy Towns.

These were two events I was intrigued by when I was in Southern Ireland.

Starting with the Matchmaking Festival: Apparently if you want to find love, all you have to do is visit Ireland, in particular , Lisdoonvarna, a tiny, rural town in County Clare. Every fall, this little town is home to a huge matchmaking festival, where thousands of people flock to find “The One.” The festival mostly targets rural farmers who don’t have great access to singles bars or Tinder — but it’s been a local tradition for 150 years.

Then there is the Tidy Town competition: this national initiative was launched in 1958 by the Irish Tourist Board: Bord Fáilte (now Fáilte Ireland). It was originally part of ‘Tostal’, a nationwide festival celebrating all things Irish.

From the start, the primary focus of TidyTowns was to encourage communities to improve their local environment and make their area a better place to live, work and visit. The competition aspect was an important element in developing friendly rivalry that would help boost standards across the country. However, the emphasis was always on participating rather than winning as the very act of taking part brought benefits to the community- a focus on long-term results.

So this finishes my series of posts detailing my road trip across the West Coast and the Ring Of Kerry. The West of Ireland is all about the stunning, awe inspiring and breathtaking landscapes and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Apparently the East is all about the myths and legends, so that will be my next Irish trip.