We had to go to Ludlow recently and Amanda wanted to see what Christmas Cards were available in the parish church. We have been to this church before and it is featured on the web site in the Ludlow pages. However on our last visit I posted only one picture of the Misericords in the Quire so I thought that I would improve upon that this time.
The Church of St. Laurence in Ludlow is the largest parish church in Shropshire and the photograph below gives an idea of its size looking along the Nave, through the crossing and Quire to the East Window. It is, basically, huge! Walking around this church is like walking around a cathedral.
The Crossing looks very impressive as one passes under it to reach the Quire and the tower is 157 feet high and was rebuilt between 1433 and 1471.
After passing through the Crossing we reach the Quire entrance which, itself, is pretty impressive.
The Quire has stalls along each side which is where one will find the Misericords.
Misericords, as you will know, are small folding seats, just a simple flap of wood that folds down, and there are 28 of them of which there is a good sample below. Each one has carving on the underside and they are 26 inches long, 12 inches deep and 6 inches thick. 16 of the misericords are older than the rest dating from around 1425. Eight have an unusual carvers mark in the form of an uprooted plant and a distinctive profile to the moulding running round the edge of the corbel. The remainder were carved around 1447.
Finally we get to the title of this piece. There used to be a phrase ‘What a carry on’, used in the vernacular, which was used to describe a commotion or loud noise and this is where the gadget below becomes relevant. It is a Carillon which is a device for automatically ringing the church bells and, as it is french, the pronunciation is very similar to ‘Carry On’ which is what the ordinary people thought it was. The carillon consists of a huge wrought iron cylinder which is turned by the church clock mechanism and the projecting pins cause hammers to strike the church bells rather like a giant music box. It has been used in this church since 1683.
Well, that was an interesting visit and Amanda did get her Christmas Cards.
Our travelling this year has been severely curtailed because of Covid-19 so no surprises there. When Covid-19 first appeared and the country went into lockdown we were able to only walk locally. Then restrictions on driving eased a little, although we weren’t able to travel far, but eventually those restrictions were also eased to the point that we considered going away for a few days. So when a few days of sunny weather were forecast we decided to bite the bullet and off we went.
We booked accommodation in the Forest of Dean and set off in the sunshine.
Our first port of call was Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire just a short way from our final destination. I had been to Ross-on-Wye about 65 years ago and could remember nothing at all about it so it was like a first visit.
This next picture shows a general view of the town taken from the banks of the River Wye with the famous church spire showing well above the rest of the buildings. There is, of course, a riverside walk here.
When we arrived we parked in a car park in Edde Cross Street then walked back to the junction with High Street . A short distance along High Street brought us to the Old Market Hall at the top of Broad Street. This was built around 1650, and replaced what was probably an earlier wooden building, and markets are still held in it today. It does look rather impressive.
Having had a good look around the Market Place we walked the short distance to the church and, at 205 feet, that is what I call a spire! Although the spire was rebuilt in 1721 the church itself was built in 1316 and is one of the largest churches in Herefordshire.
The attractive interior is certainly spacious and features a number of monuments.
Outside in the churchyard is the Plague Cross which was erected to mark the graves where the three hundred or more townsfolk were buried by night and without coffins during an outbreak of the plague in 1637.
To one side of the church is a small, but beautiful, public park called ‘The Prospect’ which includes some fine trees and also provides an impressive view looking down over the River Wye and the surrounding countryside.
After looking around the church we wanted some lunch so, going back to the Market Square to look round, we found a nice little cafe at the top of Broad Street quite close to the Old Market Hall.
There is a small outside sitting area, seen in the picture below, but we ate inside. We had a small but satisfying, and very tasty, lunch.
After lunch we spotted a few more items of interest on our way back to the car. A rather quaint alley, some old almshouses and a very ancient timber-framed building now used as an antiques shop.
After leaving Ross-on-Wye we drove the 8 miles to our hotel which was not in any town or village but in the middle of the Forest of Dean.
Having registered we moved in to our room, unpacked and went outside to explore the forest .
I took this photograph of the Speech House Hotel before we started walking.
There was a path nearby called Spruce Ride so we started with that and noticed on the map that it went past a lake and decided to walk as far as the lake and back. The forest off to the side of the track looked very pleasant.
We spotted a little stream where the water was very brown. This area, surprisingly, had a lot of mines in the past, some of which were for iron, so it’s not surprising to find water coloured by the iron ore in the ground.
It didn’t take very long to reach the lake which looked very picturesque in the sunshine and it was lovely and quiet.
We were on the lookout for things other than trees and lakes and eventually came across a number of interesting fungi.
On our way back we saw this tree which was covered in moss. Not something one sees every day. A ‘Moss Tree’ perhaps.
The marker on the map below shows our path to the lake and the light area by the junction is the Speech House Hotel. You can zoom in and out using the plus and minus icons.
After returning to the hotel it was time to freshen up and go down to dinner. We had a choice of restaurant and this evening we chose the more formal dining room which, I have to say, was rather nice.
We started off, before ordering our meal, with cocktails. Amanda had an Espresso Martini which was coffee flavoured, which she rather liked, and mine was a Passion Fruit Cocktail. If Amanda’s head looks a little odd it’s the ultra wide angle lens I used to take this photograph.
Our meal turned out to be very nice and afterwards we retired for the night.
Ross -on-Wye was a lovely little town and we do like the Forest of Dean. So there endeth our first day. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?
Today is our last full day in Tenby as we leave in the morning to go back home. We are going to look at the Merchants House (National Trust) in Tenby then we will explore the area around South Beach (our hotel is on North Beach).
On our way we pass through some more of Tenby’s narrow, picturesque lanes.
I had to crawl through this next one as my head wouldn’t fit in the narrow bit. Surely they can’t get any narrower than this can they?
Tenby was never built to accommodate motor vehicles and, in consequence, there are sometimes traffic jams to be had. In Tenby a traffic jam might consist of only a half dozen vehicles, because of the narrow roads, and it doesn’t usually last for long. Because of those narrow roads the traffic moves very slowly anyway so it’s not a real problem.
We later passed this rather fine Victorian Post Box.
The Merchants House, run by the National Trust, is in the back alleys – that’s it facing the camera. It dates from 1500 which makes it the oldest house still standing in Tenby. The front part of the ground floor would have been used as a shop and the rear part as the kitchen.
This next picture shows the kitchen with its huge fireplace and the door to the small courtyard at the rear of the house. The courtyard is shown in the following picture.
Going up the stairs leads into the family’s living quarters. The wooden frame on the right is the banister rail around the stairwell.
On the top floor are the sleeping quarters and everyone would have slept in this room.
We left the Merchants House and walked to South Beach. I’m fairly sure that this beach is significantly longer than North Beach. Have you spotted the palm trees?
We found our way down to the beach and turned towards the town (I wasn’t prepared to walk all the way to the other end of this beach then all the way back again). We noticed this cave and went over to explore.
This was not an enormous cave but we were surprised at how far into the rock it went bearing in mind that it’s formed by the action of the sea.
Further along we noticed the section of the old town wall and tower still surviving.
There are some lovely bits of garden dotted about on the cliffs and this was one of them. Very pretty.
That picture should tell you that we have climbed up from the beach and are, once again, on the cliff top.
That was the end of our fourth day and although we are staying one more night we will be leaving first thing after breakfast and travelling home. Although we intend to call in at Dinefwr Park on our way back I had already mentioned our visit on the way here and used some of the photographs taken on our way back so there is nothing more to add.
There won’t be a ‘Day Five’ report so until next time.
Today is going to be an adventure. We are going to get the bus, travel to Pembroke and look at the castle. Pembroke is a small town with a very big castle.
We caught the bus in the morning and the journey turned out to be quite interesting. The journey is about 30 minutes and the bus goes partly along the main road but also diverts through a number of small villages served by even smaller roads. The bus filled these roads from side to side and it became even more interesting in the villages where there would be parked vehicles and very tight bends. We did, however, get to Pembroke and the bus stopped virtually outside the castle.
There is an entrance charge but it is certainly worth it and, having paid ours, we went in via the Gatehouse.
This gatehouse is big enough on its own to get lost in. I have not seen another castle with so many passages and spiral stairways. One can go along a passage in this gate house and spot a spiral stairway and if one ignores it there will come a point where there is a choice of passages and whichever passage one chooses there will be another spiral stairway. It was mind boggling.
Those stairs may look a bit wonky but that’s because they are a bit wonky. Notice how shiny and worn those lower steps look. We eventually found our way out into the daylight at a high level and began to realise just how big this castle was. That strange, rather incongruous, flat topped builing tucked into the wall on the left was a self-service cafe. It is partly sunken into the ground I suppose in an attempt to make it less obvious.
There is a very large map of Wales in the bailey showing where all the castles are and one can walk about on it or sit at one of the tables on the edge to consume one’s refreshments. The large round tower is the main Keep.
There are some good views of the town to be had from up here.
We did manage to finally leave the Gatehouse and walked along the wall to the tower shown below. There is a choice here of, if I remember correctly, going into the tower and eventually coming out the other side onto that further wall or going down the steps to a small landing then going up some more steps to end up in the same place as going through the tower. One can, of course go down to the ground or come up from the ground.
We were, by this time, flagging a little and so decided to go into their little cafe for lunch and, after lunch, having had some refreshments and a rest we were ready to go again (possibly a little more slowly).
In one of the halls on the side of the castle I found a small entrance door with a spiral stairway going down and this, remember, is starting at ground level. It is called Wogan Cavern ( I don’t know why ) and I counted about 55 steps down. Here is where I ended up.
It has been used for at least the past 12,000 years. The cave was a shelter for cave dwellers during the Paleolithic and Mesolithic Periods, possibly the Bronze Age, and during the Roman occupation of Britain, shown by left-behind Paleolithic stone tools, and a Roman coin hoard.
The steps back up seemed more like 155 but I did make it back. Then, being a glutton for punishment, I decided to climb the main keep.
I got about a third of the way up and decided it may possibly be too much so discretion became the better part of valour (I gave up).
That little tower peeking out from beyond the Keep is the Dungeon Tower. I say ‘little’ but it’s only a small amount shorter than the Keep but, as I’m not very bright, I decided to climb that.
No it wasn’t easy but I did actually make it and there were some pretty good views to be had.
By this time we had worn our legs down to the knees and the stumps were beginning to get a little sore so we called it a day – well almost. We had realised that our bus back to Tenby goes through a small village called Lamphey and in that village are the ruins of a Bishops Palace so, of course, we had to break our return journey there.
It was about a 15 minute walk from the bus stop and after a while we saw this wall which gave us a clue as to where we were.
We had found the palace and went in.
Dating from the 14th century it provided the medieval prelates with the privileged lives of country gentlemen, enjoying the luxuries of private accommodation, a grand great hall, first-floor chamber, fishponds, fruit orchards, vegetable gardens and 144-acre park. It must have been a hard life.
There is quite a lot to see here.
We were very tired by now and we had to walk back to the bus stop so we set off for the village. We had about 15 minutes to wait until the bus arrived so I took this picture of Lamphey Church whilst we waited.
Now that is a tower and a half! The churchyard, apparently, is possibly an Iron Age enclosure comprising of a circular outer ditch surrounding a rectangular mound and the building is early medieval in origin and in existence by the late 11th century.
Then the bus arrived and we went back to end another day.
That is the view from our hotel room this morning and it’s a beautiful start to a beautiful day. This is the outside of our hotel,
this is the inside of our room
and this is part of the hotel’s gardens which go down to the beach.
We were on our way into the town once again but we weren’t going via the beach mainly because the tide is only now going out and I think our passage along the beach would be blocked by the sea until later. This next view is a short way along the road from the hotel. You can see that the tide is still relatively high and that lump of rock from yesterday is showing on the right.
On our way we went past yet another of Tenby’s interesting narrow lanes.
We were on our way to see the ancient medieval town walls. Not all of the wall remains but there are some remaining substantial sections of which this is one. Couldn’t really miss it could you?
These next two pictures show one of the old town gates – first from the outside and then from the inside.
This gate looks heavily fortified to me. I wonder who they were expecting. We soon found ourselves walking along yet another of those attractive narrow lanes.
We were heading for Castle Hill and, as it is a relatively large lump, we thought that it would be obvious but it was so well masked by the surrounding buildings that we had to resort to looking at the map. That put us on the right road.
Here you can see Amanda staggering up the hill. That doesn’t imply that I wasn’t staggering it’s just that I was staggering slightly faster than she was.
Well here we are at the top showing the only remaining tower of the medieval castle, the cannon trained at the French coast and a rather good view of the town.
Our next target was St. Catherine’s Island. It’s an island only at high tide but now the tide was out enough for us to walk across the beach to reach it. That tower on the left in the picture below is part of the old town walls.
One does have to pay a small entrance fee but we thought it would be worth it so we set off passing through this archway, a remnant of the old town wall, to reach the beach.
We paid our fee to a young lady on the beach at the foot of the stairway that gives access to the island and started up the steps.
Then along a short path.
At the end of that path we have to cross a small bridge over a chasm in the rock and Amanda couldn’t help bragging by stopping above the chasm to have her photograph taken.
We did get to the top and found this rather large Victorian fort built to counter a perceived threat of invasion by Napoleon.
We left the fort and St. Catherine’s Island and decided that that was the end of our day so we went back to the hotel.
We struck lucky with the weather on this trip although the first part of the first day was cloudy (no sun, sea or sand) but after that it was sun all day every day.
We left home at about 9.00 AM for a two and a half hour journey so decided to break it up by visiting a National Trust Property at about the one and a half hour mark.
We stopped at Dinefwr Park and, for those of you that don’t know, Dinefwr is pronounced “Din ever”. It consists of Newton House (a stately home), the ruins of a medieval castle (Dinefwr Castle) and lots of parkland which is home to a herd of deer.
As I mentioned above this morning was cloudy but I took the following picture anyway.
However we called in here again on our way home when the weather was better and I photographed it again. Which picture do you think is better?
Inside the house it didn’t matter what the weather was like outside so I carried on taking photographs.
Those rooms, as you might expect, look rather grand. The Dining Room in the top picture and the Sitting Room in the bottom picture. The interesting thing about this property is that nobody minds if you touch the furniture or walk on the carpets or even sit on the chairs.
I did go out to the back of the house where it overlooks the Deer Park and surprise, surprise I saw some deer. They were quite a long way away so even using my telephoto lens to its maximum this is the best that I could achieve. You should, at least, be able to see their antlers.
I took that photograph above from the small formal garden shown below which is at the back of the house. That is the only gardens they have here.
We also had a look at the castle both times we stopped here so as the weather was better on the way back these photographs are from then.
There is a reasonable amount to see in this castle ruin even extending to a few medieval spiral stairways which can be tricky to negotiate because the height of each tread can vary as can the width.
It is possible to see Newton House, together with some lovely views, from some of the high points of the castle so it is worth the scramble.
We had some lunch here at Dinefwr then headed off to our final destination. We booked into our hotel and after sorting out our parking space (they have only 10) which we had reserved we went outside and this is the first photograph I took of Tenby from outside the hotel.
Here in Tenby at 4 o’clock we now have sea and sand but no sun yet but we set off to explore anyway. The hotel has gardens at the front that are terraced down the steeply sloping cliffs to the beach and that is where we went.
It is now 5 o’clock and look, the sun has appeared! So now, finally, we have sun, sea and sand. What a change in just an hour.
We were able to walk along the beach as the tide was out and went to have a look at that lump of rock sticking through the sand. You can see that the rock bedding is steeply inclined and, as we later discovered, that applies to most of the rock on this coast. That tiny bit of head together with a splash of red on the right-hand edge is Amanda.
We walked along the beach until we found some steps up into the town. This is a view back the way we came from town level. You can see that lump of rock that we stopped to make friends with and just to the left of it is a small cream building. Our hotel is directly above that.
It is now 5:30 PM and you may notice that the cloud is dispersing rapidly.
Now I have to ask – have you ever seen a fat seagull?
Well you have now. As you can no doubt work out it is a little cafe so we went in for some coffee and cake.
It was a nice little place and the cake was good. That’s Amanda over on the right against the wall. Having finished our refreshments we went back into the town. Want some colour? We can find you some colour!
This is just one of the many narrow lanes in Tenby. There is plenty more to see but we are calling it a day and are going back to the hotel until tomorrow.
It may be that this may not quite match your vision of Paradise and, in fact, it probably doesn’t match ours either but it’s there in writing so it must be true.
This trip was to be a test to see if it was going to be practicable to visit Birmingham as a number of day trips by train rather than staying there for a number of days.
We left home at about 9:00 AM and walked to the station and caught the 9:23 AM train for Shrewsbury. It was an uneventful journey of about 50 minutes and we waited at Shrewsbury for about 20 minutes for our train to Birmingham New Street Station and after another uneventful journey of about an hour we arrived in Birmingham.
This was going to be an ‘Indoors’ day, as it was quite cold out, so we were aiming to go to Victoria Square first and visit the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. We found our way to the exit nearest to Victoria Square and emerged into what I think was Navigation Street. Brrrr! We then walked north along Pinfold Street, right up Ethel Street then left at the top which led us to Victoria Square. It was all rather confusing because the centre of Birminham is like a building site at the moment with hoardings and diversions everywhere.
We found the museum quite easily and went inside (entry is free). The travelling time taken to this point is approximately 3 hours although it didn’t seem too onerous.
One has to then go upstairs to the next level where the museum starts at the Round Room. The museum itself is a 19th-century Grade II listed building.
The structure of the Round Room, like many of the other galleries, is worthy of observation especially the large glass-domed roof. The passage to the right of the central figure is ‘The Bridge’ which crosses the street below and this is that same bridge from outside.
The first gallery we visited was the Industrial Gallery which was mostly wood, jewelry and ceramics related items but the gallery itself is certainly worth examining. The construction features a lot of metal, which I assume is cast iron, and note the circular metal decorations at the top of the support columns.
The large columnar structure hanging down in the centre of the picture is one of a number of Victorian gas lights and it has not yet been determined how they functioned.
Needless to say we found our way to the Edwardian Tea Room just beyond the Industrial Gallery as it was now about lunchtime.
This view was taken from the upper galleries that follow on from the Industrial Upper Gallery and it’s also worth showing you this gallery and its roof.
Typically Victorian with more ironwork and the same gas lamps hanging from the roof as in the Industrial Gallery. Rather attractive don’t ya think?
We had lunch here and found it to be very comfortable with very good food. We ended up sharing a table, as it was busy at one o’clock, and had some very pleasant conversation with two very nice people from Suffolk. The conversation included, as one would expect, on how to ride a penny farthing bicycle.
After lunch we moved on through the Round Room into the main part of the museum and, let me tell you, one could get lost in here. After going down one level we found ourselves in the Gas Hall and, no I don’t know how the name is derived. We weren’t particularly interested in the exhibits but, again, it’s a rather nice Victorian building.
Going back upstairs into the maze of galleries we found an amazing choice of subjects.
In that picture above you can see the arch into the next gallery and on the far side is another arch ad infinitum. It is easy to get lost unless, perhaps, you carry a floorplan with you ( they are downloadable on the web).
Amanda specifically wanted to see the Staffordshire Hoard; one of the biggest finds of gold objects in this country and we did actually manage to find the gallery. This is a picture I took later on from the Egyptian Gallery on the floor above.
The helmet above is a replica of the original which was discovered as a multitude of small fragments. The person who deduced its original form must have been an expert on jigsaws.
In the picture of the gallery taken from above you may have noticed in the top left corner there was a small fragment of a freize showing; this is more of that freize.
The frieze is a replica of the Parthanon frieze in the British Museum and is otherwise known as the Elgin Marbles. It can be seen from the Egyptian Gallery.
We had now decided that it was time to move on to our next location and as we were leaving we spotted a small case, near the Friends of Birmingham Museums desk, no more than 2 feet square.
It was a single small pot as seen above but the image is repeated multiple times and is known as an Infinity Box.
This particular box is an ingenious piece of fine craftmanship made from a variety of beautiful woods, including burr walnut, Indian rosewood and white maple, surmounted by an illuminated glass box containing mirrors that enable the viewer to see Infinity from all directions.
It also works if one walks 360 degrees round the case; a fascinating experience.
We finally left the museum to locate our next building. The building in question is that very distinctive one in the centre of the next picture – the Birmingham Library.
The exterior is certainly unique but I can’t decide yet whether I like it or hate it. I do know, however that I like the interior.
For those of you who dislike modern buildings look away now.
That picture gives you an idea of what the interior is like. The building has 9 floors with a lift serving all floors or escalators from the 4th floor down to the ground floor.
Going up to the very top floor gives access to the roof viewing platform.
This platform is on one side of the building only i.e. it does not go all the way round. This time of the year is not the best time for this sort of photograph as the sun is very low and the lighting rather contrasty plus the fact that the place is covered in cranes.
However this platform does give access to this:
This is the Shakespeare Memorial Room.
The Shakespeare Memorial Room was created and designed to house the Shakespeare Memorial Library by John Henry Chamberlain in 1882. He was responsible for re-building the old Central Library after the original building was gutted by fire in 1879 and the Shakespeare Memorial room opened off the new wing of the that building.
The room is in an Elizabethan style with carvings, marquetry and metalwork representing birds, flowers and foliage. The woodwork is by Mr Barfield, a noted woodcarver; the brass and metal work by Hardmans. The ceiling decoration is stencilled.
Controversy surrounded plans to demolish the Central Library in 1971 so this room was re-built as part of the Library of Birmingham.
The next level down, Level 8, is, so I understand, not accessible to the public. Going down to Level 7 gives access to the Secret Garden.
This is one of the Roof Terraces and not the best time of year to see a garden but we cannot change that. We will try and visit again during the summer months. It does however give another high level viewpoint and one with fewer cranes.
There is another roof terrace further down, about Level 3 as I remember, shown below.
So back inside which is a lot warmer than it is out here.
There are an awful lot of books in here. Apart from the shelves you can see in the pictures there are further galleries radiating from the central space which are lined both sides with book shelves.
We decided it was about time we made our way back to the railway station but just opposite the station we spotted something worth inspecting.
That is the Piccadilly Shopping Arcade which was originally built as a luxury cinema in 1910 and was later converted to a shopping arcade in 1925. Nice hand-painted ceiling.
We went back into the station and bought something to eat on the train from Shrewsbury to Knighton then discovered that we had a choice of three trains; one just after 4:00 PM, one just after 4:30 PM and one just after 5:00 PM. Whatever train we choose we cannot afford to miss that last one otherwise we miss the last train from Shrewsbury to Knighton and wouldn’t be able to return home until tomorrow.
All good so far. We decide to get the earliest train which would get us into Shrewsbury in time to have a leisurely coffee before catching the Knighton Train. That was the theory until we saw the train – it was packed with lots of people standing and we didn’t want to be standing for an hour. Bummer!
We decide to get the second train which leaves from a different platform. We find the platform and wait in the cold. The train arrives and that one is also packed. In fact it is so full that we not allowed to get on. Double bummer! One of the local commuters tells us that this happens every weekday.
This is getting serious! We cannot afford not to get on the next train. We go back to the original platform and we wait in the cold again. When the train stops everyone on the train gets off and we are reasonable near the doors that we get on to the now empty train fairly soon and actually get some seats. Whew! The train soon fills up as much as the one we first saw but at least we aren’t standing.
There are no more problems and we arrive in Shrewsbury on time with 10 minutes to catch our next train which is waiting in the platform and, as usual, there is plenty of room.
Well I said this was a test trip and it taught us that day trips to Birmingham are not a good idea. To avoid the rush hour we would have to leave before 3:30 PM which would make our sightseeing day unacceptably short. If we go again, and we hope to, we are going to have to stop for at least two nights. So we now need to find a nice hotel near the centre of Birmingham that provides dinner as well as breakfast.