Sunday, June 30, 2019

Berwick Church ~ Sussex ~ England

So many beautiful old churches to see in England and although we’ve seen several on our visits, we had to see this one with the paintings.  We were on our way to visit Berwick Church with my sister and bro-in-law and it turned into a bigger adventure than first expected.   

End of the road

The ‘navigator’ was using an outdated GPS system and it took us up into the fields of old country roads.  Church gone?  Thankfully a sole cyclist appeared.  No, it wasn't gone but the road we’d need to use from here to the church was only accessible by ATV.  We were lost……lol..... left this country road to get new directions.

Entrance to Berwick Church

The countryside we saw as we enjoyed our ‘adventure’ taking the long way around to the church was well worth seeing so no harm done there and when we did get to the church, this entrance way was there to greet us.

St. Michael and All Angels Church

Berwick Church dates back to the 12th Century and been restored in the Victoria period.  It sits quietly amid many grave sites that surround the church.  We are truly feeling like we are walking back in time.

12th Century construction

The church’s exterior is built with flint, a material used from very early days as a material for building stone walls, churches, houses and other buildings, using lime mortar.  It was most common in parts of southern England as no good building stone was available nor brick making known until the later Middle Ages.  Flint is quite common to see in Sussex.

Berwick Church Graveyard

There are many unkempt graveyards that we’ve seen in England, quite contrary to what we see at home.  So many of those headstones are extremely old and we have to wonder if they are supposed to be maintained by family, who are no longer there.  Some areas are maintained, and some headstones are from current years.

Beautiful interior

As like many churches, the ones we have visited in England have stained glass windows that are featured in arched frames throughout the building.  They tell a story and are most beautiful to see on a sunny day. This church is no exception.

Painted Mural

Once inside, we see what we came to see.  There are paintings that were commissioned by Bishop Bell in 1941.  Local artists from Bloomsbury, Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell adorned the walls as well as the pulpit and both sides of the Chancel Arch with their amazing talent to create these exquisite paintings. 

Berwick Church mural

The church is of national, if not more cultural significance because of the murals it features.  This is something we’d not seen elsewhere and why we made a point of coming here was to see these murals in this church that represents “a national treasure”.  

The Annunciation

This mural called ‘The Annunciation’ is deteriorating and they are now looking for support to conserve it as well as all the murals in the church at Berwick.  They hope to keep the church and the murals available for all future generations to see.  They’ve done a wonderful job so far, wishing them well.

Centuries of headstones

We visited on a weekday, and there were a few others enjoying the church, too.  The church may be unavailable to visit at times when being used for special events and services but otherwise welcomes visitors.  They do still hold services in Berwick Church every Sunday.

We are on to more adventures and will share those with you soon.  Now we visit Firle.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Green Ireland ~ Dunluce Castle ~ Antrim Coast Road

We had finished our walk to the Giant’s Causeway and while waiting to board our coach again, had the pleasure of enjoying this view.  It was in front of the Causeway Hotel that sits beside the Visitor’s Centre at the Giant's Causeway and although the rain and wind were creating havoc with taking photos, I was happy to get a couple.

View of North Atlantic Ocean
Ireland does get a lot of rain and they don’t deny that fact but looking at the lushness of their fields, we see the benefit of the rain.   I would have loved to have blue sky and sunshine for this visit but I won’t complain, the sights were still beautiful.
In front of Causeway Hotel
There is no shortage of sheep in this country.  We’ve seen many herds of sheep, far more than any cattle, although there are some of those, too, just not near as many.  It is springtime so there are likely babies in this crowd, too.

Dunluce Castle
We only stopped to see the medieval Dunluce Castle from this distance.  It is surrounded by steep cliffs, which was likely to protect the Christians and Vikings during early days.  The first castle was built in the 13th century and this one later.  There is a bridge to connect to it now, enabling it to be a location for several films.  The most recent would be for Game of Thrones, as the Seat of House Greyjoy, the castle of Pyke. 

Bushmills Whiskey Distillery
This was apparently a highlight for some.  If one likes whiskey, I can understand but not being one of those, it was a good spot for lunch so it worked.  The Bushmills does have a great reputation, and have been around for centuries, which proves just that.  They are still winning awards. 

Bushmills Whiskey shop
And if nothing else, this will show that they are serious about their whiskey.  I doubt this large vat is still used but it looks like it surely was!  They have walls lined with whiskey bottles and note the chandelier of empty ones.  One can buy a selection of four samples for ten pounds that also includes a small chat to explain the different whiskeys.  Then one takes them to a table and samples.  This ‘one’ choked on the first sip, nothing like proving I’m a not a whiskey fan, and kindly offered the rest of my share to Keith.  We enjoyed our lunch, though. 

Village in Northern Ireland
We passed by several villages on our way back to Belfast.  We were following the Antrim Coast Road most of our return but the misty wet day didn’t allow many views on that side of the bus.  It is pretty hard to say there is a typical village to show but look closer, could this one feature some Game of Throne characters?  

Farmland in Northern Ireland
The views never got tiresome.  Although the raindrops covered the window, we were still able to enjoy the countryside and I wasn’t going to sacrifice some pictures just for some raindrops!  In our own vehicle I would have had the window open but that is not an option in a coach with others.   

More Sheep
The white dots in the distance are sheep, between the rain drops on the window!   We drove through several miles of farmland like this.  It did make me think of a quilt design, might be a good idea!

Quiltwork fields
It was so impressive looking at the way the fields were laid out.  They are so neat and tidy and green.  The guide said we were in the “49 Shades of Green” country.  The sun did try to shine during a moment of time but not long enough to get a photo with it.  It was a great day, though, even without the sun.

The next day we were on our way back to England but we’d seen some beautiful sights and learned some amazing things about Belfast.  It is a special place and well worth a visit.  You’ll enjoy it, too, I’m sure.

To see more, click on here for Belfast and here for Giant's Causeway.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Giant's Causeway ~ World Heritage Centre ~ Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway……... what an interesting name.  Knowing that Ireland is one for legends and myths, this is perfectly understandable.  The giant, Finn McCool carved out the coast and left behind the ancient folklore for us to enjoy, and that we do.  We are off to see the sights.

Giant's Causeway Path

Science may have another explanation for these intriguing shapes of rocks.  Approximately 60 million years of cooling and shrinking of successive lava flows have created over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns.  The Giant’s Causeway has been designated a UNESCO World’s Heritage Site, and deservedly so.  It was amazing to see.

Amazing rock formations

There are miles of beautiful scenery that are all part of the Giant’s Causeway that we did not see, other than photos.  We were limited in time as we were on a coach tour but also the weather was making it a bit difficult.  The rain and wind made it almost impossible to use the camera, especially when the umbrella kept turning inside out!  The photos do not do it justice but hopefully you can see what nature provides in Northern Ireland.

Geological activities results

We had trails that were hills and rock steps which wasn’t making it easy for us ‘old folks’, especially fighting the wind.  They do have shuttle service for the first part of the Causeway, which took visitors as far as we were to go given the time but we chose to walk to take photos.   The Grand Causeway was a short distance from the Visitor Centre given the trails available but it could take hours to walk the complete Causeway.  

Columns at Giant's Gate

This is at the Giant’s Gate, which shows the depths of these shaped columns.  The path continues and somewhere in this neighborhood is where they film some of the Game of Thrones shows.  That can be included in the tour but we’re two of the very few who have never seen that show so no need to visit their site.

Visitor's Centre

Arriving back to the Visitor’s Centre was when we recognized the significance of the building with structure resembling the Giant’s column formations!  How clever and it also includes a grass roof.  Inside they have a large video screen that shows the mythical story of the Giant and how the Causeway happened, fun for kids to see.  A very nice gift shop, as all sights have, but with plenty of interesting information. 

Shores of the North Channel

Plenty of beautiful shoreline to see.  Another stop on the tour was the swinging bridge that I wasn’t really looking forward to crossing.  Still plenty of wind and some rain on this one kilometre walk, although it felt a lot farther than that! 

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

I’ve never been able to cross a swinging bridge easily.  I have done it but with great difficulties and maybe even some bad language.  I didn’t go to Ireland thinking I would cross this swinging bridge after seeing some promo pictures of it but once we were there, my thought was that I would make it happen.  Why would we go all the way and not cross that swinging bridge? 

Proof of crossing

And I did!!  Woohoooo!  It was worth it, and I was so glad I did it.  Keith stayed back to get this proof shot of me, and kept the others back so I didn’t get the ‘swinging’ part of the crossing which is the worst of it.  In all fairness, it is a very sturdy bridge without a lot of swing but I saw other faces that showed they felt the same as I did.  
Leading us back

I got a 'High 5' from the swinging bridge gatekeeper before my shaky knees took us back to the coach on more hills and rock steps to climb.  We had one hour when leaving the coach to do the swinging bridge and return, we were one of the last to get back, and likely the oldest but we made it!

We were on the lookout but during our visit, we did not see one leprechaun.  Where could they be? 

Click here to see the sights of Belfast.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Belfast ~ Ireland

Ireland has always been on my ‘bucket list’ because of family connections.  With names like Hughes and Devlin in the family, there is no doubt there is some Irish heritage here.  So we made a visit to Belfast and it wasn’t in search of any family but there sure was a lot of ‘family’ names visible in the city!

Belfast City Hall
The population of Belfast proper has a population of over 300,000 and we found anyone we encountered to be friendly and welcoming.  It did have a big city appearance but a smaller city atmosphere.  We stayed in a hotel with great staff and very nice facilities.  Belfast has good Irish Guinness, pink city buses and delicious fish and chips, too!  I almost felt at home. 

Donegall Street
We spent only four days there but managed to see plenty.  We were staying in a downtown hotel so we had several walks around, rain (lots of that) or shine (not so much), to see the sights and churches.  Most days clocked over 8500 steps, even though we also spent time in buses and a cab on tours.

Bonbay Street Memorial
We took a Black Cab tour with Pat.  He has lived in Belfast all of his life and being of the age that he is, was there when the years of battles were happening, he was able to tell stories and incredible tales of what did happen during those days.  As much as we were aware of fighting going on back then, we sure did not have any way of knowing how fearful it was like to live there at the time.  We visited a memorial park on Bombay for those who lived there and lost their lives.  We’d recommend this tour to all who visit Belfast.

The Peace Wall
There is still a ‘wall’ in Belfast, called the Peace Wall and this we found not to be the most shocking but very interesting to learn about and see it is still there.  It was built to protect people that were being bombed and burned out of their homes back then and to this day, separating the Catholics and Protestants.  There is talk that this wall should be taken down but with controversy over that, it still stands. 

Peace Wall Gate
This was the shocking part, the gate is still closed and locked every night!  There is still a lot of animosity amongst them. Although as tourists we did not feel this, learning more will indicate that it hasn’t gone yet, and recent events have brought history to the fore again.  Hopefully history does not repeat itself. 

Parliament Building
The parliament building is often referred to as Stormont because it is located in the Stormont Estate.  We were admitted through the gate of the grand entrance leading up to this incredible building, which has sat empty without a sitting government for over two years now, holding the world record for this.

Lord Carson Statue
Just below this grand building is a statue of Sir Edward Carson, an Irish unionist politician as well as a barrister and judge.  He was the party leader between 1910 and 1921.  To some, this statue “symbolizes the widely held perception that Northern Ireland is Carson’s creation”.

The Titanic Museum
The city was known for the linen production, being the largest one in the world in the early 19th century, and was often called ‘Linenopolis’.  It was also the world’s largest major ship building center and built the RMS Titanic which sank on her maiden voyage in 1912.  Belfast is still a ship building center.  The Titanic Quarter is where the shipyards and the Titanic Museum are located.  Our time schedule just did not allow us time to visit the Titanic Museum but it sounds pretty impressive.

Murals with meanings
We took a bus tour around the city.  The Hop on Hop off bus tour has a real guide (lol) who tells the stories and history of the city as we made our way around. Many tours like this have the recordings to explain what we might be seeing so this was definitely much nicer to listen to and entertaining with some personality, too.  The city has a zillion murals to see and each one has a story. 

More murals

Just another sampling of the murals we viewed while riding the bus around Belfast.  We were on the top level of the bus so not easy getting good photos but you will understand when I say there were zillions of them.

We did spend a day out in the country and visiting the Giants Causeway and that was something to see!  More on that .

Monday, June 17, 2019

Wings Museum ~ West Sussex ~ England

June 6, 2019 marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day.  This special day was celebrated by many war veterans who survived those days and were in England to sail to France.  We were in England for this time; we saw several celebrations for them and many of them emotional.  Our dad was there 75 years ago so the occasion holds special meanings to us.

Wings Museum
During our stay in England, we visited the Wings Museum.  It is Remembrance Museum for World War Two and began as a family project, founded by Daniel and Kevin Hunt with their father, Brian Hunt’s support.  It is an incredible tribute to those who gave so much for our future.

Hawker Hurricane 11B
I’ve never been too keen on knowing the details of war that kills the young men who fight so valiantly for their countries, but seeing this museum certainly brings home the stories of these men.  It is quite an emotional visit just reading so many personal stories included in the Wings Museum.

Soldier's stories
Families have donated the memorabilia of many of these fallen soldiers and tell their story for them. The ages of so many was so very young and one cannot imagine what they faced unless we’ve walked in their shoes, but these stories do give us some ideas of the struggles they faced fighting this war.

Japanese battles

They have an enclosed “Dora” room, which included Hitler’s artifacts and the story of the Holocaust, with images and artwork from those days.  The name ‘Dora’ is in memory of a young Jewish women who was killed by German soldiers because she was Jewish.  They tied a rock around her neck, threw her into the river and shot her.  I chose not to go into that room.

Propeller Hub
We were surprised to learn that the propeller hub was wooden!  Looking closely it was basically several pieces put together rather than one big pole.  Amazing!  This tells the story of the plane this was taken from.

Ghost of the Tundra
Aircrafts have been recovered from the Russian front where they were shot down 75 years ago. They are displayed depicting actual crash sites.  Story boards describe the remains of these aircrafts and what they were before the crashes. 

Lilly Bell 11
We were able to walk inside a Douglas C-47 Dakota, made famous because of its’ D-Day landings.  The plane was for carrying paratroopers so there was no fancy seating inside this plane.  The authentic sounds and images add to the experience.  There was a hole in the side of the plane, so glad they have no plans for flying this one anymore.

Cockpit of Lilly Bell 11
Volunteers are an important part of this museum and the displays, as well.  They have been involved in building this to what it has become and are there to offer information about displays.  They were rebuilding an old plane while we were there, too, which must be an ongoing part of the museum as new things appear.

Not to be forgotten
Videos can be seen and music of the era can be heard over the sound system, carrying us back in time. Even if we weren’t there then, it evokes memories of those times, as only music can do.  This museum was developed so that the war and their soldiers would never be forgotten.  I hope this continues as time passes by.

Learn more about the Wings Museum by clicking on here.


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