travel around Wales

wales110

VK4ION

To Wales & UK in 2016

Traveling light


16W01

Travelling with a small bag and a backpack... let's get this party started.

A note about my luggage; I travel with an 'International Carry On' wheeled bag made by Tumi, which I check in. It's the perfect size that I can handle with ease.
This bag size is hard to find as they are larger than the small carry-on but smaller than the bag you find in a 3 luggage set.
I love Tumi, the brand, and purchased my wheeled bag in 1994. Expensive? yes, but it's been well used in the 20 years without a problem.

It's March 2016

That's early Spring in the UK, and everyone said I'd be cold, wet and miserable. Cheery aren't they?
I'm in search of Turners... the paintings of JMW Turner and I'm looking for the ancient trails of pre-Roman Wales & the Castles of the Welsh Kings who kept the Normans at Bay... lots to see.

After 24 hours, on Qantas QF1 (17 to Dubai then another 5 to Heathrow)... I was thrilled to still have my senses and could find the trains to London.

16W02

It was a strange grey sky... with a silver disc in the sky, which I figured was the sun but I made it to Paddington Station.

WEST to WALES

Heading west on the GWR (Great Western Railway) Cardiff train

Economy class ticket cost 43GBP

16W03

Being a Sunday the rail network was under repair, so we were diverted to some minor rail lines, following farmland and canals... I saw my first canal boats and tranquil fishermen sitting along the banks.
I noticed how different the trees look, giant old trees and not a gum trees in sight, and lots of narrow waterways with long skinny boats and people fishing away their Sunday.

The red dragon leads the way

Cardiff - Capital of Wales

16W04 16W05

It took 4 hours from London to Cardiff, due to the rail diversions but was well worth the time. Cardiff railway station is a monument to the Great Western Rail company and it's right in the centre of the city. It was easy walking to hotels or buses.

16W06 16W07

It was an easy walk from the station, past the Millennium Stadium, over the Bridge on the River Taff to BnB - Austins Guest House, with the cutest little single room.

Hmmmm jet lag - HUNGRY at 4am... So up early next day for a wander about Cardiff City.

16W08

Following the River Taff, and the Daffodils begin to appear everywhere... little did I know they'd follow me on my entire journey. The city is a wonderful mix of old and new. Tucked between new brick and glass you find carved arched walkways.... very few straight lines in the old parts of town so navigating takes time. I'm heading for the waterfront... I'm on a mission.

16W09

Doctor WHO alert.... This is the RIFT... The Millennium Centre with the famous carved message in Welsh and English - These Stones Horizons Sing.

The gleaming silver tower and the sunken courtyard... officially it's the Roald Dahl centre (he being Cardiff's famous son) but to me, it'll always be the place where the TARDIS comes to recharge by sitting on the Rift - a split in the fabric of time and space!

Doubt not - I know in my heart it's true.

16W10 16W11

Things you see when you walk about, with your eyes open. Like this Antique carousel and truly weird statue in a park... Dahl inspired maybe?? It wriggled its way around the park.

Doctor Who Experience

I shouldn't have to explain what this very old, blue box is... or tell you that's a Weeping Angel

16W12

We all know the TARDIS and how important it is NOT TO BLINK! and that there's no word for water or translation of Melody Pond... other than River Song!

Now, you're either with me or you're not. So moving on.
It was my dream to visit this exhibit so now it's ticked off my list, and I have the T-shirt to prove it. [This experience isn't in Cardiff any longer, lease ran out... they closed it down. How sad]
Time for pub lunch and to catch up with my journal... oh and half a pint of bitter... hmmm yum.

16W13 16W14

This is Cardiff Castle - and the tourists flock here... daft buggers... get out and see some real castles why don't ya :-)
But strangely the WALL of this castle caught my eye... look at the eclectic architecture, built and rebuilt... some parts look ancient, others like a Disneyland tower.
Now take a look at the outer wall and these wonderful animal sculptures.

16W15

These animal sculptures are a later addition to the wall because old photos show just smooth stone.
They are quite wonderful and appear to be making their escape over the wall.

16W16

Lot's of old churches, magnificent gardens... and DRAGONS everywhere... The Red Welsh Dragon being the symbol of Wales.
Finding pubs and friendly locals to sit and chat with... To while away the hours in warm pubs with nice beer and cider, after a day of exploring... sounds like a plan.

Off to find the National Museum

It's also an Art Gallery and the original home of the Turners

16W17

A magnificent building in its own right. Impressive columns at the front and immensely tall metal doors.

And inside - I feel I know this building already...
Ok, ok - it has been used in Doctor Who episodes - what a brilliant showcase of Cardiff and Wales.
I asked the locals, in the pub, what they thought of Doctor Who being so identified with their city.. they said the traffic is hell on days when production shuts down streets but for the excitement of international filming and all the kudos it brings to Wales; they love it!

Good job BBC Wales!

16W18

The gallery has some wonderful art; amongst the classics is the Monet and the Renoir of the Girl in Blue - which is gigantic - it stands over 2 metres tall.
But of course the Turners!
These caused trouble in the artworld, being thought to be fakes and not exhibited. Once authenticated as being Turners, they're on display.
So I've seen them... Not disappointed at all... I stood spellbound... I really like Turner.

IT WAS TIME TO MOVE ON

Headed off, only reached Penarth

It looked quite a distance on the map

I took a bus which dropped me about 10 miles from Cardiff! Oops, oh well, I checked into the Cefn Mably Hotel, lovely hotel, great food & cheap beer.
I decided to take photos from my bedroom windows on the trip... this one is quite pleasant, narrow back gardens of people's houses, very neat and tidy.

16W19 16W20

I picked up my car, a cute little Toyota it was only 1000cc, less than my motorcycle at home.
Tip. I required an International Driver's Licence to rent in the UK, might have been an EU requirement?
I'd planned to drive around Wales in a clockwise direction following the ins and outs of the coastline. The entire country is only 400km long.
First stop Barry.
And I begin to take photos of what I thought were castles... and old villages and buildings... What a dope, I had no idea of what lay ahead.

16W21

This was Llantwit Major on the Bristol Chanel.

The villages were cute and the narrow roads were interesting and take some navigating with oncoming traffic - I appreciate my tiny car!
The rolling hills with wind turbines were everywhere in the south... There was a hazy mist most mornings and it gave the land mystical appeal.

16W22

I thought New Zealand was post card material... well so is Wales.

Each time you think it couldn't get more picture perfect, another ocean village comes into view.

16W23

My first ruins... I was so excited I had to post it on Facebook. It was at Bridgend and I had my first Bara Brith at a little community tea-house nearby. Yum.

My favourite Inn - The Angel Inn at Mawdlam, where I passed a great night. David was mine-host and made me feel welcome. I could have been persuaded to while away some time there... but I stayed on track and left the next morning.

The food was outstanding along with some empowering graffiti on the walls.

16W24

The view from my window at the Angel Inn - across the bay you can see Swansea. Time to make tracks.

16W24

NO, I'm not a Christian or religious but the churches and churchyards will figure heavily on my journey.

Apart from Castles it's the churchyards which tell much of the story of Wales. So many of the churches don't even get a mention in the history guides... they're only 400 years old... not 'old enough' to be historical... being an Aussie I find that funny as our oldest building can't be more that 250 years old... we think 19th century is OLD!

CAREW Castle & Mill

16W26

It all begins to look a little 'Game of Thrones', thick walls, turrets, arches and slit windows.
The one in the lower left is a Private residence now - In ages past somebody built a Castle Keep on a rocky outcrop and in modern times they've added glassed-in areas to make it comfortable.

16W27

And you come over a hill and another magnificent coastal view. I don't think I'll ever tire of this weaving in and out, following signs that pop up.

I didn't have a real travel plan but there were a couple of places that are on my 'must see' list. Places like Aberaeron and Aberdaron.

Luckily I can pull off the road and take my photos... wish that truck hadn't had the same idea.

Pentre Ifan burial chamber - 3500BC


Forget Stonehenge... with the roped off area and the thousands of tourists

16W28

I was alone in the wilderness, with only the sheep in the paddocks.
To walk around and touch these stones and wonder who did the same for the last five and a half thousand years - now that's 'the past'.

Driving along a lonely, narrow country road a sign says, 'Ancient Celtic Monument', get out and wander a few hundred metres through farm land, and this awaits you.

So understated - I think this is my favourite memory of Wales.

The area is Pembrokeshire - and this site is about half way between Fishguard and Cardigan. The closest little town is Newport. Ok, so it's hard to find but make the effort.

Aberaeron


I finally reached Aberaeron and began looking for a place to stay when I notice a tiny BnB sign on a Steak house... so I rang their bell.

16W29

Above the steak house were some family rooms which they let out as a BnB... truly the strangest room I've ever been in... entered via the public toilet.... which I could lock off!... went into a tiny room with shower and made a sharp right into an equally tiny bedroom... with bed too big for the room.

See that roof above- that's the view from my window... things are getting scruffier... but I'm loving this diversity.

16W30

Just another roadside church with a fascinating cemetery... I wander for ages, looking at the headstones for dates and stories of different families.

16W31

I told you it was postcard material... over the hill and the Atlantic Ocean or Irish Sea awaits, with a tiny village hugging the shoreline.

So many rivers run to the West coast and as I'm so far from civilization and the Motorways I get to cross these really old stone bridges.

16W32

My journey is a series of run-along-the-coast and then dart inland, so I can cross the river - to get back to the coast.

ARGH... it's so beautiful, single lane roads... stone wall fences on the farms and very old ruins that just appear out of nowhere.

16W33

Farming right down to the seashore


16W34

How many years did it take to pick up the stones in the fields and make the fences?

And they still build the walls in this manner... two Rows of horizontal stones, topped with vertical stones - and repeat!

I mentioned how many river estuaries there were and sometimes it's a long drive to go inland to find a bridge - someone had this brilliant idea...

16W35

Build a private bridge and a wooden deck just above the water... and charge 70pence to cross!

Brilliant! and it's such a thrill to find this funny little toll bridge, near Dolgellau. The man was so lovely and pointed me on my way, to Barmouth. I'm actually in the Snowdonia National Park now.

I have no idea how it can be private property, perhaps it's an ancient charter or right to put a toll there. There are gates they can close, so it is theirs and not a public access road.

Want a grave with ocean views... isn't this the most wonderful church and cemetery... the land must be a little unstable as the headstones topple in all directions but I guess the residents don't care!

16W35

The cemetery is built right on the cliff and slopes quite steeply, it's a wonder it hasn't slid over the edge... Daffodils make their presence felt once again.
So now I'm used to the fact of coming around a corner into a village and seeing a mighty castle or fortress towering high above. You can imagine why they built on the heights, to keep an eye on the sea and a lookout for invaders.

16W37

Castle ruins at Harlech and Criccieth

Penarth Fawr - 15th Century Medieval Hallhouse

16W38

Once again a simple roadsign showed "ancient site"... so I swerve off the road and took some really rough country tracks and then come across this Medieval hallhouse. Very Game of Thrones, central cooking fire and you expect furs and swords a plenty.

Talk about the hidden treasures, things you would not see if travelling to cities or via the motorways. I'm loving these country roads.

Aberdaron - my favourite village

Welcome to the end of the world

This was my must see destination, something was drawing me here.

I wound my way out onto the peninsular and there was the most beautiful old village down by the water's edge. This 'double church' built so close to the ocean was so beautiful.
I checked into my hotel (The Gwesty Ty Newydd) and the view from my window was this old church. I could hear the waves crashing onto the beach all night.

16W39

This was the view out of my bedroom window

16W40

This bird flies in each morning and sits on the stone wall waiting for someone to come and give him treats.

Everything about Aberdaron is romantic and historic... it was a place for pilgrims as people came to Bardsey Island, called the Island of 20,000 saints.
The origin of the place is lost but some say it's the "Isle of the Bards," a sacred place of the ancient Celtic Druids of pre-Roman Wales.
Another ancient legends says that Merlin the Magician is buried there and some identify the island as Avalon where King Arthur died.

16W41

A walk along the beach and up onto the cliffs... it was cold and windy but I was so in my element. So few people have walked where I went that day.


On the road again....


16W42

And no ARAF doesn't mean it's dog friendly.... although the whole of Wales is dog friendly.... ARAF means SLOW DOWN!
They've never heard of men with stop signs here, for roadworks they stick up a traffic light and get on with it. Everyone is polite and waits patiently... such lovely gentle people.

I'm in the really remote Welsh speaking part of the country. The locals don't speak English to one another, although they will to you of course.
All signs are in Welsh first... then English.... Isn't that fun coming up to a big roundabout, and trying to find your way... with words so long they hardly fit on a sign.


The Church of St. Beuno Clynnog Fawr

Founded in 630 by Beuno and until 1796 it was his tomb

Beuno founded a 'Clas' (a cross between a monastery & a college - very common in Celtic church history) and it became a famous centre.
The church as it stands now dates from around 1500 and different church groups have added to the old original building.

St. Beuno's Chest - that's a hollowed out solid piece of wood. There was a custom that calves & lambs with the mark of Beuno (a natural slit in their ears) were brought by farmers to the Church on Trinity Sunday, sold, and the money put in the chest.



16W43

These stone slabs with Coat of Arms of the gentry are memorials to local knights, and are dated 1676 & 1780.

Canarfon Castle


The famous castle which encloses a whole town

It's the site of the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales by his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

16W44

The old walls are still in tact in many places... I drove for a long way and I was STILL inside the castle walls! Amazing.

On to ANGELSEY - home of the Druids

Pre-Roman burial chamber

16W45

Words just cannot describe finding this amazing mound, with a circular ring of stones.
Once again, just driving along, and small sign says 'Celtic monument' so I stop and wander for a long way through fields and sheep paddocks until this opens up in front of me.

The sun on the stones told ancient people when to plant crops and various other yearly functions. The tall rock at the front is positioned absolutely North-South (this one is a replica now as they had to take the original away for safe keeping - it was so unique & precious.)

There is a front & rear entrance to the mound... What can you say about sitting where ancients walked and wonder what they did and how they built this.

Take a close look at the big stones at the entrance, forming the doorway. Now if you go back and look at the photo of Pentre Ifan. You can see that it's the same basic stone structure - a couple of big upright stone with a huge lintel stone on top. That's how they know Pentre Ifan once was a burial mound like this one.

An even older settlement - Caer Leb


16W46

It might not be much to see, just a mound, with a couple of deep trenches and a mound of earth, but... the artifacts found here show it was a big deal. It was a structured community with defences and housing.


On to HOLYHEAD


Famous crossing point for the Ferry to Ireland

16W47

My view from the window of my BnB.

What an amazing place and hardly anybody knows about it's treasures. Everyone seems to be rushing in to catch the Ferry but it's an amazing place with great history and a lighthouse!
There is a rich pre-Roman history; then it became a Roman Fort; then a Castle for the local Lord to keep an eye on those pesky Irish.

You can see that each successive 'owner' built over the top of the one before but parts of the Roman wall and guard house still remain.

16W48

Really good fish and Chips... sitting in a pub with some really nice locals - I had a great night.

16W49

South Head - the lone lighthouse looks out to Ireland.
A walk along the cliffs and down to this beautiful lighthouse. My phone switched to Ireland ! It thought I'd crossed over !

16W50

Moving on and one scene more beautiful than the next.

Penmon Priory in the Isle of Anglesey.


Penmon or Glannach, situated in the North East part of Anglesey was a Priory of Black Canons of the Order of St Augustin, dedicated to St Mary, founded by Gwynedd King of the Britains about A.D. 650.

16W51

It is awe inspiring with stone fences surrounding an enormous settlement which survives from the 6th Century.
The old Celtic crosses which had stood outside are now protected, inside the building.

16W52

Conwy Castle at top and the lower ruins are Rhuddlan Castle


16W53

Moving along the north coast of Wales, I can see England across the water at times.

Passing through truly ancient cities, built as fortresses to keep back invaders... and each new group, building on the past.

The City of Chester in England

I crossed into England and went to Chester

I wanted to see the old walled city and the Cathedral... my foray into the English territories.

16W54

Walking around the city, looking down on the River Dee and the ancient Roman ruins.

16W55

The Cathedral at Chester



16W56

This art installation is GOLGOTHA by David Mach, it's gigantic and quite amazing. It's made of metal coat hangers and has travelled to several of the big Cathedrals around England since 2011.

16W57

And the view from my hotel room window in Chester. I wonder at the eclectic nature of the buildings, old, built upon old.

Following the River Dee


I found this place by mistake

16W58

I would never be able to repeat the journey but I found an ancient bridge that I was able to walk and drive over.

I could see where Follett got his inspiration in his 'Pillars of the Earth' books - about how to build a bridge into a market town - it was the lifeblood of the village.

WOW! That's all I could say.

16W59

I'm back in Wales and heading south.

The Mott and Bailey Castle at Montgomery


I spotted something strange on a hill and had to investigate - This castle is known as the Key to Wales.

16W60

I stand and look East into England, this place was perfect to defend the Welsh border.
The original buildings were built by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, around 1070, it was destroyed in 1215 but subsequently rebuilt as this stone castle.

In 1267 Montgomery was the meeting place for treaty negotiations, where King Henry III granted Llywelyn ap Gruffudd the title of Prince of Wales. That didn't last long as they double crossed him and that's why he's known as Llywelyn The Last (the last King of Wales - before it's conquest by Edward I of England).

After 1295 and the final Welsh War, the castle became more of a military backwater and prison than a front-line fortress. Montgomery was granted a Royal Charter by the king in 1227, making it the oldest borough in Wales.

16W61

OK so the view out of my window in Newtown is pretty sad, and it was a strange B&B but cheap and clean.

St Anno's Church Llananno


On a back road in a tiny valley that most people would drive right past is this beautiful church dating from the medieval period, dedicated to Anno, a virtually unknown saint.

16W62

Much of the current structure has been restored but the superbly carved late medieval rood screen is one of the finest in Wales and is just breathtaking.

The tiny stream running beside this quaint church is the river Ithon - I absolutely felt at peace in this tiny pocket of tranquility.

Old Radnor Parish Church

16W63

In the 13th Century walled town formerly called Radnorshire is this 21 metre tall monument (for a mid 1800's politician). I'm thinking I might consider something similar for myself when the time comes hahaha.

When the Normans came to Old Radnor and found a church already here, dedicated to a Welsh saint St. Ystyffan, they thought it meant St. Stephen and the name stuck.

16W64

The enormous font, standing on four squat feet is very much pre-Norman.
It has been dated to 8th Century (St Ystyffan was 6th Century - and was a member of the royal family which ruled Powys c600-850).
This is another church which has had many re-builds but still evokes the memories of medieval through to modern styles.

The Church of St. Meilig Llowes


It was 6th C St. Meilig (son of Romano-British chieftain Caw Prydain) educated by monks in Anglesey, who came to Llowes and founded a monastery.

It's believed he's buried beneath the old stone building, which has been built time and time again on the same spot.

16W65

The Celtic Cross, a monumental cross-slab housed inside the church (was originally outside) used to be known as the Moll Walbee stone. Folklore says a giant threw it there from across the river (geological tests show the stone is the type found 'over the river').

So while the stone has origins lost in the mists of time, the carving on the slab is relatively modern - 12th Century!

Note how they can trace the Vicars of Llowes back to 1475 on that board, and this large stone reads like the Last Will of John Hugh - makes interesting reading and a reminder that he will always pay his debts, because... it's written in stone in the Church.

St. David's Gate & the Bishops House


It is just a gate but it was built in the 12th century and inside the grounds are ruins of the Bishops 6th Century residence. Bishops certainly lived well and it must have been a fine structure.

16W66

I just loved this willow tree. So old, I wonder what it's seen. The well was half inside the Bishop's wall and half outside so the townspeople could also partake of clean water.

Llanddewi Brefi, St David's Church

St David's is a large medieval church, founded in 1187 by the Bishop of St David's, on the site of the Synod of Brefi in 550 AD.

Inside the church is a collection of 6th-9th century Celtic stones.

16W67

The current building is 12th century but fragments of much older carved stones are embedded in the walls. The church was restored in the Victorian period.

The link with the past is emphasised by a collection of Celtic crosses, some dating as back to the 6th century.

The 6 stones range from the 6th to the 9th century, and there is a 14th century font bowl in the chancel.

Brecon Cathedral

From Agincourt to Doctor Who

16W68

The magnificent stained glass window, an ancient Celtic cross with stuffed toys from the Children's play area - such a fabulous juxtaposition of ancient and modern.
The Cresset Stone held varying amounts of wax so each 'hole' would burn longer - this gave light in the Cathedral when monks had to come stumbling in during the long nights.

It seems that the history of this cathedral is tied closely to the Battle of Agincourt 600 years ago. In the South Transept is a stained glass window showing Sir Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine- a knight in full armour - he was the local nobleman who fought for Henry V and took local archers with him. Their names are also commemorated on a plaque.

There is even the stone on which the archers sharpened their arrows... so strange to find the story of Agincourt coming alive in this cathedral

Doctor Who Alert!

16W69

YES, another Doctor Who reference. This Cathedral was used in the filming of an episode, so guess who signed the guest book?

I kept moving on and found this amazing round tower - Tretower Castle. The farmer wouldn't allow access but how wonderful to have this in your sheep pen !

16W70

Tretower Castle


Abergavenny

Now admit 'that' song popped into your head

16W71

The view from my hotel room in Abergavenny was an Aldi. so I felt quite at home. And yes, I had that Abergavenny song going in my head.

16W72

The roads were extremely narrow and rough, with small passing pockets every now and then.

In Search of Patricio Church, Powys


I was determined to find one particular shrine - a Hermits well

16W73

I drove for so long on dirt roads and in really rough terrain, without mobile coverage or GPS and finally found - the Hermits well.

It's named for St Issui of Patricio at Patrishow and the old church further up the hill was built for the pilgrims.

For me the second most powerful site/memory of old Wales was this old well. It's too old to know when it was first used but there is record of Pilgrims coming in the early 6th Century and if you can find it, come and leave "something" in the tree and stones.

It felt like a Pagan place where people came, were moved, and left something of themselves so I left something too.


Up the hill was the wonderful old Church - Patricio's

16W74

Open for all to enter; renowned for the pictures on the whitewashed walls, the old font stone, timber rood screen and timber chest for the keeping of treasures.

16W75

Then there was the graveyard with the Celtic monuments and stone memorial slabs leaning up against the building... and of course the daffodils.

16W76

What a nice thing to write on a gravestone.

Imagine how old the tree trunk is, in the image below. What must that tree have witnessed in the valley below?

16W77

The Skirrid Inn - the oldest Inn in Wales.

m16W78

Augustinian Priory at Llanthony


Beautifully preserved 12th century ruins


Llanthony; the priory begun by 2 hermits late 1000's... amazingly huge and the architecture is astounding.

16W80

Note the RED markers... you can see the building began to sink away to the side.. it tore the brickwork, so to remedy the problem they built a leaning support strut.

Those who have read Folletts books will understand the significance of your Cathedral falling away... it shows the fine detail of his research in writing his epic tales.

Absolutely gorgeous grounds and not another soul in sight.


16W81

Raglan Castle from the 15th Century; it was a fortified castle with a large hexagonal keep.

USK Castle, Monmouthshire

A strange blend of ancient ruins, private ownership and modern chain-saw art! Oh and Meadow Burials.

Yep, that's right. If you've ever wanted to be buried in a whicker basket in a meadow, overlooking the misty Usk valley... and be allowed to decay naturally into the land, then Usk is the place for you. They will even transport you there by horse and buggy!

The family who own this wonderful property also run this thoughtful alternative to some burial customs and I found this fascinating.. take nothing with you that won't recycle back into the earth. Neat huh?

16W82

As for the castle, it's wonderful... again it's a mish mash of cultures, building over the top of each other and there are amazing chain saw sculptures around the place, created by Adam Humphreys, the son of the owner.

16W83

Usk Castle is a place that invokes medieval folklore and these statues fit in quite well.

This was Coal Country


That giant statue down in the valley is the Guardian.
It is the largest mining memorial in Wales and commemorates the Six Bells mining disaster in 1960 which killed 45 men and boys in an underground explosion.

16W84 16W85 16W86

Now I know where Thomas Thomas is buried, after he helped Straxx in Doctor Who ! So perhaps I was guided by Tom Tom around Wales.

My last Castle in Wales

Caerphilly Castle

16W87

Back to Cardiff to drop off my car - trying to recall the Beers I've tried: Gower Brewery - Swansea, South Wales. The Hopfather from the Wye Valley.

ON TO BATH SPA AND LONDON

it was time to leave Wales and head East

Train from Cardiff with a ticket to Bath Spa

16W88

If I was searching for the Roman influence in this part of the world, everyone said I had to see the Baths.
What a disappointment of a town. Expensive tourist trap!

The cathedral was impressive and I did walk up the hill to see the Circus - semi circular building.

Very long queues to get into the Roman Baths to be expected in a tourist town.

16W89

There's not much of ancient Rome here. These are the only Roman figures on display... All the rest are fakes built in 18oo's.

In a way it's just another old site which has been built over and over again. The statues around the so called Roman Baths are all fairly modern. The pools with the dressed actors are for tourists who think they're visiting history but they're seeing the England of Jane Austin's time, and how they imagined the Romans to have lived.

16W90

Down below there are a few lasting reminders of the ancient world but most tourists don't go down underground to see... they sit around the pool up top.

I decided that Bath wasn't for me so didn't bother to stay the night after all. I wandered back to the railway station and jumped on a London train.

I found a great small hotel in Bayswater, just off Hyde park. An easy walk from Paddington Station with the smallest I've ever had in all my travels around the world. 1.5m wide & 3m long.
This was my local pub, The Leinster Arms, owned by a Kiwi.

16W91

The Tyburn Martyrs


The Congregation of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of Montmartre, Order Of Saint Benedict

This is an order of nuns generally known as THE TYBURN NUNS because the site of the MOTHER HOUSE is the TYBURN CONVENT, London.

The Foundress Mother Marie-Adele Garnier died and is enshrined here and it's also the centre of pilgrimage in honour of the TYBURN MARTYRS who shed their blood for Christ here between the years 1535 and 1681.

What does all that mean? Well tucked neatly into the walls of a street beside Hyde Park is this small chapel.

16W92

When Henry VIII was forcibly breaking up the Catholic religious institutions and implementing a Church of England - some resisted and died for their faith - this is a small monument to the Martyrs - those who defied the King Henry and kept their Roman Catholic Faith.

Their coats of arms and family names are displayed and venerated by the order of nuns who maintain this chapel.

16W93

Magnificent statues, Marble Arch & street art that goes largely unnoticed by passersby.

The British Museum

Everyone knows this iconic building in London

16W94

Where to start? I went back to the ancient peoples and traced the story from there.

Ancient Rome, Assyria & Babylon

The cradle of civilisation. In the photo of reliefs below left, is a commemorative plaque of a Palmyrian (Syrian) man who marries his slave and mourns her when she dies.

16W95

The famous relief carvings and tablet from the stairs at the Palace of Darius - the inscription written by King Artaxerxes III in around 350BC.

The first library to contain all knowledge.

16W96

The great Assyrian king Ashurbanipal amassed all knowledge on these clay tablets around 688BCE. Medical, Mathematical & Literary works including the Epic of Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia.

The ancient world lives on through the collections


16W97

Ancient statuary, brought to the National Gallery for safe keeping.

It wasn't all about art, here is the remains of a waterwheel used in roman times - it could drain a mine almost 100feet (30m) deep.

16W98

These are the famous Elgin marbles

Statues and freezes taken from the Parthenon in Athens

16W99

And before you decide what should be done with these treasures... here's what the British Museum says..

Built 2500 years ago as a temple to Athena it was also converted into a church of the Virgin Mary in 6th Century, then a mosque and finally became an archaeological ruin.
The building was altered many times and the sculptures damaged over the course of the centuries.

In 1687 the city was under siege by Venetians and the Parthenon was used as a gunpowder store.
A huge explosion blew the roof off and destroyed a large portion of remaining sculptures, and the building became a ruin.

Archaeologists agreed that the surviving sculptures could never be re-attached to the structure.

By 1800 only about half the sculptures remained and Lord Elgin, British ambassador to Ottoman Empire - removed half the remaining sculptures and transported them to Britain - with the permission of the Ottoman authorities.

They are now housed in a permanent display and available to the public for free.
The majority of the sculptures are roughly equally divided between Athens and London. Important pieces are also held in other Museums around the world.
In the meantime, those left in Athens continued to decay and in 1970s were removed from the Parthenon to the Acropolis Museum. The work to preserve them began 200 years after Elgin.

So that's the story - you decide !

More Treasures in the Museum.

Every school child learns of the famous Rosetta Stone. A story repeated in Egyptian hieroglyphs and Greek allowed scholars to crack the code of ancient writings.

16W100 16W101

I left the museum full of wonder and Wandered through the city, finally walking home through Hyde Park.

The National Gallery

16W102

From the ancient looking dinosaur skeleton... complete with LED display on its ribbon - to the interior of this magnificent building.

The art is just too stupendous to describe so I went on a journey from the medieval, through the renaissance until I found my Turners.

Some of my favourites

16W103

Lorenzo Monaco 1407 coronation of Virgin with adoring saints : Francesco Pesellino 1445 Story of David & Goliath

Jan van Eyck 1434 Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini & his wife : Leonardo da Vinci 1491 the Virgin of the rocks.

16W104

Sandro Botticelli 1485 Venus and Mars : Andrea Montegna 1495 The vestal virgin with a sieve AND a woman drinking
Andrea Montegna 1505 the Introduction of the Cult of Cybele to Rome.

Bottom right is part of Bacchiaccia's 1515 'Joseph pardons his brothers' just to show the still vibrant colours of the oil paint, after all this itme.


The Art continues

John constable 1833 Cenotaph to the memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds : Claude Monet 1899 Water Lily pond

Theo van Rysselberghe 1892 Coastal Scene.(in the pointilliststyle of Georges Seurat) : Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1876 At the Theatre (La Premiere Sortie).

Jean-Louis-Andre-Theodore Gericault A shipwreck

16W105 16W106

TURNER! The most famous, Fighting Temeraire and Ulysses deriding Polyphemus

16W107

And more Turners: Calais Pier, An English Packet Arrviing : Dutch Boats in a Gale : Rain, Steam and Speed

16W108

When I left the National Gallery, what did I see tucked in between buildings? St Martins in the Fields... Naaawww

It was off to Paddington station... I had to find a Paddinton Bear (for Xavier)

Then the train Heathrow and Qantas in Terminal 3 to catch my flight - QF2 - London to Dubai

I switched over to Emirates Airlines for the Dubai - Brisbane final leg home

favourite

Hope you enjoyed the tour

More Travels

To New Zealand

Driving both islands in search of beer

project8 Link to NZ Beer Tour

Scotland & City of York

Coast and Highlands a travel journal from 2022

kelpies Link to Scotish travels

To the USA

Still in search of good craft beeers

proj9 Link to USA travels

Contact Me

contact