We took a road trip recently to Cambridge , England. While there we did a chauffeured punt down the River with local company Scudamore’s Punting: https://www.scudamores.com/punting-quayside. As we sailed the river past the university colleges, listening to our very knowledgable chauffeur, I was reminded of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth’s ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge September 3, 1802…’ :
Earth has not any thing to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty: This City now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky; All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Never did sun more beautifully steep In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill; Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river glideth at his own sweet will: Dear God! the very houses seem asleep; And all that mighty heart is lying still!
The poem was about the river Thames, not the River Cam, however Wordsworth did study at St. John’s College Cambridge, so I felt my connection was valid.
Skegness (Skeggy) is a seaside town in Lincolnshire, England. On the Lincolnshire coast of the North Sea.
I went to the Butlins Holiday Camp in Skegness as a child. My partner played gigs on Skegness sea front in his early band career. Everyone I know has a Skeggy memory- work day trips, family holidays. Just a mention brings a smile to people’s faces.
Billy Butlin’s slogan was ‘Our True Intent is All For Your Delight’
It was originally a quote from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. Butlins feels a long way from Shakespeare- but maybe not. They both entertained the masses.
We didn’t go to Butlins on this occasion, but we were delighted in Skegness.
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.
For me there is nowhere like India- the vibrant culture, the amazing Himalayas, arid Rajasthan and the idyllic beaches of Goa. I absolutely love it and today is Indian Independence day – fifty three years of Indian Independence.
Which got me thinking beyond my Indian travels to my favourite books with an Indian setting. Here they are:
In Georgian times a day’s stage-coach ride could get you from London to Tunbridge Wells, thus The Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells was a major holiday destination for the gentry and royalty.
The discovery in 1606 of a Spring with distinctive reddish tinted mineral deposits led to the development of the Pantiles and Royal Tunbridge Wells. The practice of drinking from natural springs for health dates back to Roman times and the practice of taking these natural waters for health purposes became more popular among the nobility during the reign of Elizabeth I. Parties would leave the Court and travel to the established Spa towns of Bath and Buxton. Tunbridge Wells quickly became the most fashionable drinking spa as it was closer to London.
Away from Court they took advantage of the opportunities provided to establish relationships with individuals from different social backgrounds and the concept of a holiday as we know it today was born.
As there was no accommodation available at that time, the Royal entourage camped on the Common. It was not until the latter part of the 17th century that the first permanent lodging houses were erected in the area.
Today the Pantiles has a variety of specialist shops, art galleries, cafés, restaurants and bars. In summertime jazz bands play outside on the bandstand. It is a fabulous place to hang out with a chilled glass of white on a warm summer afternoon.
“We had seen an advertisement of her, and we reached her down an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane. At very first sight the Committee of Ways and Means [Mrs Kipling and himself]said ‘That’s her! The only She! Make an honest woman of her – quick!’. We entered and felt her Spirit – her Feng Shui – to be good. We went through every room and found no shadow of ancient regrets, stifled miseries, nor any menace though the ‘new’ end of her was three hundred years old…”
Rudyard Kipling on discovering Batemans, his future home.
Today we made our way along the South Coast from Eastbourne to Dungeness. Dungeness spans Dungeness Nuclear Power Station, the hamlet of Dungeness, and an ecological site at the same location.
The weather was hot, the top was down on the car and we hit the road.
Dungeness has one of the largest areas of vegetated shingle in Europe and is internationally important. It’s landscape is barren and wild with a mishmash of living accommodation made out of old railway carriages, mobile homes, sheds and old mobile homes alongside more traditionally built houses- wood and stone, all with beach sympathetic and inspired gardens . An artist’s paradise.
It’s bleak, unique, fascinating and one of my favourite places on Earth, whatever the weather.
The vividly painted architecture lining the Willemstad waterfront in Curaçao did not happen by design. The capital city developed after the Dutch claimed the island in 1634. The only materials available for construction, mismatched bricks scavenged from ship ballast, were finished with lime plaster made from crushed shells, which dried to a dazzling white facade in the intense Caribbean sun. Apparently a former governor of the island suffered from severe headaches and thought this was made worse by the sun’s brilliant reflections off the white buildings. He ordered that building exteriors be painted any color but white. Despite later discovery that the governor was a shareholder in the island’s only paint store, the tradition of painting in vivid colors has endured, making Willemstad’s Dutch and Spanish colonial style architecture a stunning Caribbean sight.
Willemstad, Curaçao, the last of the ABC islands to visit, was the final port of call on our Six week West Indies and American cruise. A cruise that had it’s ups and downs due to the start of Covid-19. Unfortunately although we could dock here, we didn’t get to go ashore. Another time, another cruise…!