Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Happy St Davids Day

Happy St Davids Day

 

March 1st is Saint Davids day(Welsh: Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant) and is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales. The date of March 1st was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David on that day in 589, and has been celebrated by followers since then. The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century.

 Daffodils St Davids Day, Wales B&Bs

To celebrate this day, people wear a symbol of either a leek, or daffodil. The leek is patriotic, arising from an occasion when a troop of Welsh were able to distinguish each other from a troop of English enemy dressed in similar fashion by wearing leeks. An alternative emblem developed in recent years is the daffodil, used and preferred over the leek by the British Government as it lacks the overtones of patriotic defiance associated with the leek

 

Dewi Sant - St. David was born towards the end of the fifth century, less than a hundred years after the last Roman legions had marched out of Wales. He was a scion of the royal house of Ceredigion, his mother was Non, daughter of Cynyr of Caio, remembered by numerous churches and holy wells in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. Educated at Henfynyw (Old Menevia) in Ceredigion, where he 'learned the alphabet, the psalms, the lessons for the whole year, the Masses and the Synaxis', he founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosin (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Sir Benfro, at the spot where St. David's Cathedral stands today. The spot may well have been the site of a very early religious community, for it is also associated with St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who may have been born in Wales and is said to have spent time at Glyn Rhosyn before embarking again (this time voluntarily) for Ireland from Porth Mawr nearby.

 

David's fame as a teacher and ascetic spread throughout the Celtic world. He earned the curious nickname Dewi Ddyfrwr - David the Waterman - no doubt reflecting the harsh bread-and-water regime of Celtic monks. Many traditions and legends are associated with him. When he rose to address to a great crowd at a synod at Llanddewi Brefi in Ceredigion, the ground rose under his feet forming a little hill so that all could hear him speak. Again, a golden-beaked dove is said to have landed on his shoulder as a symbol of his holiness.

 

His foundation at Glyn Rhosin became one of the most important shrines of the Christian world, and the most important centre in Wales. Roads and tracks from all over the nation led to it and in the Middle Ages two pilgrimages to Menevia was equal to one to Rome (Dos i Rufain unwaith, ac i Fynyw ddwywaith - Go to Rome once, and come to Monmouth twice). Over fifty churches and innumerable holy wells were dedicated to him in Wales alone.

 

The religious centre of St David's thus became a focus for the religious aspirations of the Welsh nation and as Gerallt Cymro (Giraldus Cambrensis) relates: The Bishopric of St Davids became ... a symbol of the independence of Wales ... and that is why David himself was exalted into a Patron Saint of Wales.

 

The date of Dewi Sant's death is recorded as March 1st, but the year is uncertain - possibly 588. As his tearful monks prepared for his death St David uttered these words: 'Brothers be ye constant. The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfil' and as he died 'Lords, brothers and sisters, be cheerful, keep the faith, and do those little things which ye have seen me do and heard me say.'

 

Public celebrations of St. David's Day are becoming more commonplace. In many towns an annual parade through the centre of town is now held (see above). Concerts are held in pubs, clubs, and other venues.

 

Many Welsh people wear one or both of the national emblems of Wales on their lapel to celebrate St. David: the daffodil (a generic Welsh symbol which is in season during March) or the leek (Saint David's personal symbol) on this day. The association between leeks and daffodils is strengthened by the fact that they have similar names in Welsh, Cennin (leek) and Cenhinen Pedr (daffodil, literally "St Peter's leek").

Happy St Davids Day snowdrops

Posted by David Martin on Wednesday, 1 March 2017 10:07

Monday, 20 February 2017

Hiking Holidays in Sussex

Hiking in Sussex – a walkers paradise

Hiking holidays in Sussex

 

image courtesy of istock.com (artist name Credit:AmyLaughinghouse ) 

 

The county of Sussex offers visitors a famous snapshot of the course of British history. This region, however, is less well known as a hikers paradise.

 

So where do you start?

 

Hastings and the surrounding area

 

Hastings may not be the first place you think of when you dust off your walking boots and hiker's backpack. But think again. Hastings and its environs boast some of the most fascinating and enjoyable walking territory in Britain. 

Steeped in history, this is the land of Saxon invasion, a land littered with the remains of Roman fortifications, as well as the exposed coastline where William the Conqueror landed at Anderida, ready to do battle in 1066.

 

The Saxon Shore Way

 

Follow just a small section of the 260 km pathway known as the Saxon Shore Way, which in its entirety extends from Hastings along the coastline to Gravesend. But be warned, even the 17 km hike, described here, is not for the seriously unfit. Of course, if you prefer to take a more relaxed approach, you might be better off spreading this walk over two days.

The starting point is Hastings Country Park, at the East Hill funicular above Hastings. Take the footpath along the cliff tops for approximately 5 km. Then descend through wooded glades to a village called Cliff End.  From here, the path takes you across Pett Level towards the historic town of Winchelsea.

Signage along the Shore Way can be a bit "hit and miss", but as long as you keep your eyes peeled for the red circle signs with the horned helmet logo, you're unlikely to get hopelessly lost. Even if you do take the occasional detour, you won't regret it; there are many picnic spots in peaceful settings and numerous glorious vantage points, along the way, inviting you to pause and take in the magnificent scenery.

Or how about following the same path as the Normans, in 1066, from Pevensey, where the warriors first went ashore? Take the route along the Pevensey Levels and onward through woodland and undulating countryside. As with the Saxon Shore Way hike, this even longer 30 km trek is best split into two days, unless you happen to be in peak condition and prepared to get up at the crack of dawn in order to cram it all into one day! But why bother, when there's so much to see and do, en route?

This walk starts at Pevensey and takes you across the Pevensey Levels, where if you're lucky, you'll glimpse herons gliding above the Levels. The path continues through wooded glades and on towards Battle, with imposing views of Battle Abbey.

Pause along the way to take in the splendours of the reconstructed Elizabethan castle, at Herstmonceux (on the first part of the walk); and, on the second leg, to soak up the ambience of the many charming hamlets, as well as the fascinating natural habitat. The entire route, however, offers such a delightful mix of history and natural beauty, that it's not surprising that this particular walk is becoming increasingly popular with walkers from far and wide. This route has something to offer everyone, regardless of interests (and levels of fitness!).

 

Chichester

If you're looking for another agreeable place to go walking in Sussex, the Chichester area has much to offer.

A rewarding walk, which is not too arduous, is the 9 km path that takes you from Chichester Harbour and Fishbourne Roman Palace, with its marvellous Roman mosaics, across marshland and meadows towards the picturesque village of Bosham.

Chichester Cathedral bed and breakfast

(Chichester Cathedral pictured above)

 

The walk starts at Fishbourne, the site of Fishbourne Palace and the remains one of the most impressive Roman villas in Britain. Then follow the path along the peninsula, through marshland and on towards the Saxon settlement of Bosham, with its attractive seventeenth and eighteenth century cottages. The scenery along this route may be less dramatic than the previous two walks, but the peaceful atmosphere is unrivalled. 

Whichever route you follow, you're guaranteed to breathe in some history along with the invigorating fresh air. Above all, you'll feel incredibly smug that you've taken the time to explore these havens of British tranquillity and scenes of historic significance.

Posted by David Martin on Monday, 20 February 2017 01:18

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Visiting York

York - The Capital of the North 

For a snapshot of English history, head straight for the city of York.

York Minster bed and breakfasts

The famous words of King George VI, who stated that 'the history of York is the history of England', still hold true today. Ask any of the city's modern day inhabitants and they will proudly tell you that if you 'walk a hundred yards in York and you don't look where you're going . you could miss a thousand years'. 

York was originally constructed as a fortress by the Romans, in 71 AD, and named Eboracum. This stronghold later became a city and was renamed Jorvik or Yorwik by the Vikings. But it was not until the Normans made their mark upon the city that York became one of Europe's most important centres of commerce, government, religion and communication. By the eighteenth century, the city of York was also recognised as a stylish resort, frequented by the well-heeled and genteel.

York, however, is not all about history. It is also one of the most exciting, forward looking cities in Britain. Of courses it oozes historic interest, wherever you happen to be in the city, from its famous landmarks to the myriad mediaeval streets (many named after ancient trades), with half-timbered overhanging houses and well-preserved Georgian architecture. Reminders of the past are everywhere.  But this is history with a twist; this is not the yawn-inducing type of history so coveted by culture vultures. York, like no other city in Britain, has somehow managed to make history come alive with a fascinating blend of old and new that attracts visitors in their droves from around the world. Even shopaholics cannot escape the grim realities of York's notorious past, for that bastion of British lifestyle, Marks & Spencer, now stands on the spot where public executions once took place!  

If you only have time for a whistle-top tour of York, make sure that you visit York Minster, first. The largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, York Minster is also the largest mediaeval edifice in Britain. It took over 250 years to build and was finally completed in 1475. Stained glass enthusiasts will have a feast day, as the Minster has the largest area of mediaeval stained glass, in the world. A visit to the Central Tower is a must, if only to get your bearings. This is not an easy climb, but the panoramic views of the city, from the top, make it well worth the effort. 

Other must-see-and-dos in York:

 

Jorvik Viking Centre (Coppergate): Step back in history, to a reconstruction of life in Viking times. Experience the unforgettable sights, sounds (and smells!) of a typical alley way in York, under Viking rule. The reconstruction is based on archaeological findings unearthed at Coppergate, the current site of the Jorvik Viking Centre.

 

National Railway Museum (Leeman Road): The largest collection of railway exhibits in the world, the National Railway Museum covers everything from Stephenson's famous 'Rocket' to modern day Eurostar. 

National Railway Museum York 

York Castle Museum (The Eye of York): Housed within the city's former prison (graffiti still extant!), York Castle Museum is one of the best museums depicting everyday life in Britain, throughout the ages. 

York Castle Museum 

York City Walls: Although fragments of the original Roman walls and ramparts still exist, the three-mile length of carefully preserved walls date back to mediaeval times. The walls encompass the city, with access via the famous 'Bars' or gateways.

York City Walls 

Clifford's Tower (Tower Street): Originally a wooden structure erected by William the Conqueror, Clifford's Tower was rebuilt during the reign of Henry III, in the thirteenth century, as a keep for York Castle. The original wooden tower was destroyed in 1190 when Jews who sought refuge in the city were burnt alive in a mass suicide pact, having refused to be baptised.

Cliffords Tower York 

York Dungeon (Clifford Street): Not for the faint-hearted, York Dungeon recaptures the grim realities of torture and punishment, including drowning, boiling, branding, and beheading, in centuries gone by - scarily realistic!

 

YorkRacecourse: York Racecourse is the third largest in the country and attracts 100’s of visitors year on year to their events.

 

The  Shambles - Visit one of the oldest shopping streets in Europe. 

Visit the Shambles Shopping in York

 

Finally, if sightseeing just seems like too much effort, why not hit the many specialist shops or relax in the attractive cafés, tea rooms, pubs and restaurants which York boasts in abundance. Tempting?

 

Find your York Bed and Breakfast or hotel and start exploring this wonderful area.

 

 

Posted by David Martin on Tuesday, 7 February 2017 03:57

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Explore the Scottish Borders - past and present!

Explore the Scottish Borders - past and present!

 

The beautiful Scottish Borders have a tale (or two) to tell. 

Who could imagine that in mediaeval times this 1,800 square mile expanse, from the Southern Uplands of Scotland to the Berwickshire coast, was once the site of many a bloody clash between the marauding English and the determinedly defensive Scots?

Holy Island Bed and Breakfast

 

Image of Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island, Berwick upon Tweed

 

Today, the tranquil, undulating landscapes of the Scottish Borders belie the region's turbulent and brutal past. Yet, history tells a different tale - one of grim Anglo-Scottish conflict. These were times when the English tried to encroach upon the Borders of Scotland and when the feisty Scots, predictably, rose to the challenge and refused to take things lying down. 

And let's make no bones about it (no pun intended), some of the modern inhabitants of the Scottish Borders aren't too keen to forgive and forget either! But nowadays, it's all about fun and friendly jest, celebration and national spirit, as well as welcoming visitors in search of more peaceful pursuits! Passions, for instance, run high at English/Scottish rugby matches, when the blue and white crossed flag of Scotland reigns supreme over the Union Jack. The popular annual pageant called Common Ridings is another example of national pride, when local inhabitants gather to 'patrol' their territory against 'cattle thieves' (or 'reivers') from across the border, as they did in days of old. This enactment, of course, is always perfectly amicable and a great spectator attraction for all concerned. 

But why not find out for yourself what the area has to offer. Next time you fancy a break, head for the Scottish Borders and enjoy some of the local colour; base yourself in one of the many peaceful B&Bs dotted throughout the region. Start by delving deeper into the Borders' colourful past and explore some of its famous historic landmarks. Evidence is everywhere, with fortified houses, castles and mediaeval abbey ruins all hinting at more tempestuous times. For a real flavour of the past, visit the ruins of the four great mediaeval abbeys: Melrose Abbey, Kelso Abbey, Jedburgh Abbey and Dryburgh Abbey, all located within a small radius of one another. Each bears the scars of former warfare. Much of the church of Dryburgh Abbey, for example, was destroyed during borderland skirmishes, although its cloisters and living quarters are amazingly well-preserved. Then, there's the foreboding fortress, Hermitage Castle (on the B6399, south of Hawick), where Mary Queen of Scots is supposed to have galloped on horseback to see her wounded lover, the Earl of Boswell.

In complete contrast, one of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of the Scottish Borders is to take the circular literary tour that starts from the seventeenth century spa town of Moffat (by the A701) and then follows along the Tweed Valley.  This tour takes in some of the most stunning landscapes of the Scottish Borders, while examining the region's connections with literary greats such as John Buchan (1875 to 1940), Sir Walter Scott (1771 to 1832), William Wordsworth (1770 to 1850) and James Hogg (1770 to 1835). Here we have the hills and rivers immortalised in literature by these famous poets and novelists. Immerse yourself in the scenic feast that fired the imagination of some of Britain's greatest writers. 

Perhaps, however, you simply want to let sleeping dogs lie and prefer to put history to bed. If all you want to do is enjoy what the 21st century Scottish Borders have to offer, then you will not be disappointed. Activities with a contemporary slant include golfing, hiking, cycling and fishing. The Borders are also well-known for their quality woollen and textile products. Check out the mills that have factory outlet shops, in towns such as Peebles, Hawick and Selkirk; pick up a bargain.

All in all, the Scottish Borders make a great place to visit for those who wish to escape to the countryside for a guaranteed relaxing break. So, just chill out and take in the wonderful scenery of this increasingly popular tourist destination.

Posted by David Martin on Thursday, 12 January 2017 03:15

Thursday, 1 December 2016

World Aids Day

1st Dec is World AIDS Day, and is an opportunity to be inspired to respect and protect the health and wellbeing of ourselves and those around us through knowledge, action and consideration.

World Aids Day 

The number of people living with HIV in the UK has trebled in the last 10 years.

 

NAT is the UK's leading charity dedicated to transforming society's response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources. We campaign for change.

 

Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.

 

Our vision is world in which people living with HIV are treated as equal citizens with respect, dignity and justice, are diagnosed early and receive the highest standards of care, and in which everyone knows how and is able to protect themselves from HIV infection.

 

HIV is a virus that attacks the body's immune system - the body's defence against diseases. The latest research suggests that between 70 and 90 per cent of people may experience symptoms of infection a few days after having been infected. Three symptoms occurring together: fever, rash and a severe sore throat should always be considered a potential indicator of HIV infection. These symptoms usually disappear within two or three weeks. Other people may not have symptoms to start with. In all cases, without effective treatment the immune system will eventually become very weak and no longer be able to fight off illnesses.

 

Are HIV and AIDS the same?

No. When someone is described as living with HIV, they have the HIV virus in their body. A person is considered to have developed AIDS when the immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off a range of diseases with which it would normally cope.

 

I don't know anyone with HIV... do I?

There are approximately 80,000 people living with HIV in the UK and about a third of these don't know that they are infected. The epidemic is still growing in the UK with around 7,000 new diagnoses every year. Even if someone you know is living with HIV, they may not feel able to tell you.

 

Is there a cure for HIV?

No, but treatment can keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. People on HIV treatment can live a healthy, active life, although they may experience side effects from the treatment. If HIV is diagnosed late, treatment may be less effective in preventing AIDS.

 

What's it like living with HIV?

If people with HIV are diagnosed early and respond to treatment they can be healthy, work and have relationships like anyone else and have a long life expectancy.

 

Coming to terms with an HIV diagnosis and getting used to treatment can be very difficult however, and people living with HIV will often need support from healthcare providers, friends and family, employers and support organisations.

 

Why do people find it hard to tell others they are HIV positive?

People living with HIV may find it hard to tell others about their condition as they worry that people will reject them, or they will experience prejudice from friends, family and colleagues. People living with HIV can also experience discrimination in their workplace, in healthcare settings (e.g., GPs and dentists), from members of their local community and through the media.

 

HIV prejudice is often the result of ignorance about how HIV is passed on and unfounded fear of becoming infected. Encouraging those around us to talk about HIV and find out the facts can help overcome this.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT: www.WorldAidsDay.org

Posted by David Martin on Thursday, 1 December 2016 02:53

Monday, 14 November 2016

UK Christmas Markets Guide

Christmas Market Guide for the UK.

hyde park B&B 

Christmas is such a magical time of the year, made even more festive by the amazing selection of Christmas Markets that happen all over the UK.

 

We’ve put together a comprehensive list of all of the Christmas Markets happening in the UK, and some useful links to find a Hotel or Bed and Breakfasts so you can enjoy the Gluhwein or two!

 

Why not take this opportunity to have a little city break with family or friends, and enjoy all the festivities and perhaps get some Christmas shopping in at the same time.

 

Below is a list of all the dates for around the UK -

 

London

 

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park – 18th November 2016 – 2nd January

Winter Wonderland B&B 

Christmas in Leicester Square – 11th November 2016 – 8th January

 

Kingston Christmas Market – 19th November – 31st December

 

Belgravia Christmas Market – 3rd December 2016 – 4th December

 

Taste of London Winter at Tobacco Dock – 17th November – 20th November

 

Hyper Japan Christmas Market at Tobacco Dock – 25th – 27th November

 

Tate Modern Christmas Market – 19th November - 23rd December

 

Winter Festival at Southbank Centre – 11th November – 25th January

 

Christmas by the River at London Bridge – 30th November – 3rd January

 

Christmas Fair at Chelsea Physic Garden – 26th November – 27th November

 

Greenwich Market at Christmas – 23 November – 24th December

 

Christmas at Camden Market – 17th November – 22nd December

 

 

London Bed and Breakfast & Hotels

 

Manchester

 

Manchester Christmas Markets 10th November – 20 December

 

Manchester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Leeds

 

Leeds Christkindlmarkt Traditional German Christmas Market – 11th November – 18th December

 

Leeds Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Glasgow

 

Glasgow Christmas Markets – 10th November – 29th December

 

Glasgow Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Bath

 

Bath Christmas Market – 24th November – 11th December

 

Bath Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Bath Christmas Market Bed and Breakfast

Edinburgh

 

Edinburgh Christmas fair – 18th November – 7th January

 

Edinburgh Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Edinburgh B&Bs and Hotels

Winchester

 

Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market – 18th November – 20th December

 

Winchester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Skipton

 

Skipton Christmas Market – Sunday 4th December and Sunday 11th December

 

Skipton Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Exeter

 

Exeter Christmas Market – 19th November – 18th December

 

Exeter Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Birmingham

 

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market – 17th November – 29th December

 

Birmingham Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market B&B

image © Birmingham City Council

Brighton

 

Brighton Christmas Market – 18th – 24th December

 

Brighton Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Bristol

 

Bristol Christmas Market – 11th Novmeber – 24 December

 

Bristol Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Oxford

 

Oxford Christmas Market – 8th December – 18th December

 

Oxford Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Nottingham

 

Nottingham Christmas Market and Ice rink – 19th November – 24th December

 

Nottingham Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Worcester

 

Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre 24th – 27th Nov

 

Worcester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Chester

 

Chester Chrismtas Market – 18th Nov – 18th Dec

 

Chester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Bury St Edmunds

 

Bury St Edmunds Christmas fayre – 24-27th nov

 

Bury St Edmunds Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

  

Chichester

 

Chichester Christmas market – 3rd – 11th December

 

Chichester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Cheltenham

 

Cheltenham Christmas Market – Nov 24th – Dec 17th

 

Cheltenham Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Portsmouth

 

A Victoria Festival of Christmas in Portsmouth – 25th – 27th Nov

 

Portsmouth Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Lincoln

 

Lincoln Christmas Market – Dec 1 – 4th

 

Lincoln Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Gloucester

 

Gloucester Quays Victorian Christmas Market – 17th – 20th Nov

 

Gloucester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Harrogate

 

Harrogate Christmas Market – 17th Nov – 20th

 

Harrogate Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Newcastle upon Tyne

 

Newcastle Continental Christmas Market – 18th Nov – 11th Dec

 

Newcastle upon Tyne Bed and Breakfasts

 

St Albans

 

St Albans Christmas Market 24th Nov – 18th Dec

 

St Albans Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Llandudno

 

Llandudno Christmas Fayre – 17th Nov – 20th

 

Llandudno Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Chatsworth House

 

Chatsworth House Christmas Market – 12th Nov – 30th Nov

 

Bakewell Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Southampton

 

12th Nov – 23rd Dec Southampton Christmas Market

 

Southampton Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Ipswich

 

Ipswich Christmas Market – 9th – 11th December

 

Ipswich Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Salisbury

 

Salisbury Christmas Market – 24th Nov – 18th Dec

 

Salisbury Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Stoke on Trent

 

Stoke on Trent Christmas Market – 30th Nov – 24th December

 

Stoke on Trent Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Cardiff

 

Cardiff Christmas Market – 10th Nov – 23rd December

 

Cardiff Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Durham

 

Durham City Traditional Christmas Festival – 2nd – 4th December

 

Durham Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

Bournemouth

 

Bournemouth Christmas Market – 17th Nov – 31st December

 

Bournemouth Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels

 

 

For more help finding a place to stay, check out our Christmas Markets Quick link search

 

Have a great time enjoying all of the festivities!

Posted by David Martin on Monday, 14 November 2016 04:55

Friday, 4 November 2016

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day

 

The first World War ended in 1918 ...on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Civilians wanted to remember the people who had given their lives for peace and freedom. An American War Secretary, Moina Michael, inspired by John McCrae's poem, began selling poppies to friends to raise money for the ex-Service community. And so the tradition began.

 

 

In Flanders' Fields by John McCrae, 1915

 

In Flanders' fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high,

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders' Fields.

 

 

The first official Legion Poppy Day was held in Britain on 11 November 1921, inspired by the poem In Flanders' Fields written by John McCrae. Since then the Poppy Appeal has been a key annual event in the nation's calendar.

 

Some of the bloodiest fighting of World War One took place in the Flanders and Picardy regions of Belgium and Northern France. The poppy was the only thing which grew in the aftermath of the complete devastation. McCrae, a doctor serving there with the Canadian Armed Forces, deeply inspired and moved by what he saw, wrote the verses written above.

 

 

<a href='http://www.britishlegion.org.uk' target="_blank">The Royal British Legion</a>  is a charity that supports the serving and ex-Service community, and their families, as well as being one of the country's largest membership organisations. We are probably best-known for our role as the nation's custodian of Remembrance and for the Poppy Appeal which we organise annually

 

Poppy Support is the new name for all our welfare services. It is split into six categories: Poppy Advice, Poppy Funds, Poppy Breaks, Poppy Homes, Poppy Travel and Poppy People. Nearly 10.5 million people in the UK are eligible for our help, so if you or someone you know is serving, ex-Service or a dependant and in need, please call Legion online on 08457 725 725. We'd like to be able to help.

 

Show Your Support

There are many ways to support <a href='http://www.poppy.org.uk'/a>The Poppy Appeal </a> either individually or as a company. And now you can show your support digitally - by email, on your mobile and on <a href='http://apps.facebook.com/login.php'>Facebook</a> or call the Supporters helpline on 0845 854 1945

Charlie and Harry at the Remembrance service 

Posted by David Martin on Friday, 4 November 2016 01:21

Friday, 28 October 2016

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Bed and Breakfasts Guide

 

image courtesy of istock.com (artist name RomoloTavani )

 

Ever wondered how Halloween came about? Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

 

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

 

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

 

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.  The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

 

 

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

 

The American tradition of "trick-or-treating" probably dates back to the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives.

 

The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as "going a-souling" was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighbourhood and be given ale, food, and money.

 

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter!

Posted by David Martin on Friday, 28 October 2016 11:24

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Warwickshire - The Heart of England

Situated in the Heart of England, Warwickshire is an unspoilt county with plenty of opportunities for great day trips or longer visits

 Kenilworth Castle

Below is few ideas for places yo visit on your next holiday to Warwickshire. 

 

Coughton Court

If you travel to Alcester, you will find the magnificent Coughton Court (pronounced Coat-un) which has been the home of the Throckmortons from Tudor times to present day. The magnificent central Gatehouse, built in 1530, and the Tudor courtyard are complemented by an Elizabethan Knot garden. There is a new one-and-a-half acre Flower Garden in the old walled garden by the lake and a Bog Garden plus river and lake walks.

The house has a fine collection of family portraits, furniture and memorabilia with close associations with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

 

Ragley Hall

Built in 1680, Ragley is the family home of the Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford and houses a superb collection of 18th century paintings, porcelain and furniture. Set in 27 acres of beautiful formal gardens and a Capability Brown park (400 acres of parkland), this elegant 17th century house contains a stunning mural by Graham Rust 'The Temptation' and also England's finest Baroque plasterwork dated 1750 by James Gibbs can be found in the Great Hall.

The Hall was used as a location for the BBC production of Scarlet Pimpernel. Ragley Hall is situated off the A48/A435, south of Stratford-upon-Avon, and is open from March 22nd until Sept 30th - OAP's £4.50

 

Stratford Upon Avon

Situated in the 16th century Shrieves House Barn in Sheep Street (in the centre of Stratford upon Avon), is a 'living museum' well worth a visit.  Theatrical settings depicting the history of this site, complete with all the sounds and even the smells of the past. It is an educational, yet fun attraction for all the family. From the glorious to the ghastly, the hilarious to the haunting, it is an experience like no other, and will live on in your mind long after your visit.

The Falstaffs Experience (in the Shrieves House Barn) is also believed to be one of the most haunted properties in Britain, and holds lantern lit Ghost Tours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. For the more serious, fearless explorer, 'Midnight Vigils' are also held, where an experienced medium will help you explore the building by night. For more information, please call or visit the website.

New Place was the home which Shakespeare purchased in 1597 with his London earnings, and where he died in 1616. The original estate is now preserved as a picturesque garden space. Nash's House was originally owned by Shakespeare's granddaughter's first husband and the interior of the property reflects the style in which New Place is likely to have been furnished.

The Teddy Bear Museum in Greenhill Street, Stratford Upon Avon is open daily 0930-1730

Shakespeare's Birthplace Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeares Birthplace B&B

This is the childhood home of William Shakespeare which contains both original and replica artefacts depicting the house as Shakespeare would have known it as a child. During your visit from 2007 the housewife or her maid will introduce the family rooms furnished with original and replica items similar to those which would have adorned the property when Shakespeare was a boy. In the recreated glover's workshop a glover and his journeyman will be carrying out the trade of Shakespeare's father from over 400 years ago.

 

Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Shottery, (1 mile from Stratford-upon Avon) This was the childhood home of Shakespeare's wife and remained occupied by the Hathaway family until 1899. The beautiful thatched farmhouse contains many rare items of family furniture original to the house and the house itself is set in stunning grounds with quintessential English cottage garden, orchard, sculpture garden, romantic willow cabin and maze.

 

Mary Arden's House and the Shakespeare Countryside Museum, 3 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. This was the childhood home of Shakespeare's mother. From spring 2007 you can experience the Elizabethan pace of life and interact with the daily domestic routine of a working farm in Shakespeare's time. You can enjoy the rare breed farm animals, enjoy a flying display by Heart of England Falconry, children can dress up as an Edwardian or Tudor and much more. A great day out for all the family.

 

Hall's Croft, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon. This is an elegant 17th Century House which belonged to Shakespeare's daughter Susannah and her eminent husband, Doctor John Hall. The house includes Doctor Hall's consulting room, an exhibition of early medicine and many elegant rooms with exquisite furnishings and paintings.

 

Stratford Butterfly Farm

Wander through a lush landscape of exotic foliage where over a thousand multi-coloured butterflies sip nectar from tropical blossoms. Stroll past bubbling streams and splashing waterfalls and feed the Koi Carp. In addition to the caterpillars, Stratford Butterfly Farm also has an amazing range of other animals. There is an insect room where weird and wonderful creepy crawlies reside. The braver amongst you may wander into Arachnoland, a spider and scorpion exhibit. The largest and most dangerous spiders from across the world can be found here including the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider and the Black Widow - all safely behind the glass thank goodness.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Royal Shakespeare Theatre Bed and Breakfasts

Situated on the banks of the river Avon in the heart of Stratford. Why not indulge in an evening of culture, pre booking recommended 

 

 

Charlecote Park

Take time out to discover the beautiful and tranquil setting of Charlecote Park, set alongside the Avon, amongst the Warwickshire countryside between Warwick and Stratford. This quintessential English park was home to the Lucy family for over seven centuries, the spacious parkland landscaped by 'Capability' Brown. The Tudor house known to both Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare, was lovingly updated in a rich early Victorian manner.  Wander through the formal gardens and visit the unspoilt Tudor Gatehouse. Visit the Kitchens and the shop in the Old Servants Hall to purchase a reminder of a relaxing day at a timeless English Park.

Baddesley Clinton

Beautiful Tudor timber framed building with a moat around it, and stunning Elizabethan interiors. 

 

Warwick Castle

Bursting to the towers with tales of treachery and torture, passion and power and above all, fascinating people, time and events, Warwick Castle is so much more than simply a castle. Experience preparations for battle in 'Kingmaker', feel the weight of a sword in 'Death or Glory', see the lavishly decorated State Rooms and watch as a household prepares for a Victorian party in 'A Royal Weekend Party', discover how electricity was generated in the Mill and Engine House and explore 60 acres of grounds and gardens. 

Throughout the year there is a fantastic programme of events including jousting tournaments and the world's largest seige machine in action.

Accessibility: Access to the Castle is limited - April - Sept: 10am - 6pm

Oct - March: 10am - 5pm

 

If you are interested in dolls, then a visit to the Warwick Doll museum in Oken's House, Castle Street Warwick, is a must.

 

Hatton

Based in the heart of Warwickshire, Hatton Country World consists of two side by side attractions - Hatton Shopping Village and Hatton Farm Village. Hatton Farm Village is a fun-packed paradise for children and adults, with a unique mix of animals, adventure and all-out activity.

 

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Bed and Breakfast

Constructed between Norman and Tudor times the castle ruins are well worth a visit.

 

Leamington Spa

Discover beautiful Regency architecture in this stunning town in Warwickshire. There is so much to see and do in Leamington with shops, bars and restaurants in abundance so you wont be disappointed. 

Posted by David Martin on Tuesday, 11 October 2016 01:53

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Ski Breaks in Scotland

You don’t have to budge from Britain to enjoy a few days skiing! So why head like lemmings for those cram-packed ski resorts in far flung places, when you can chill out and enjoy the real snow experience closer to home, often at a fraction of the cost?

 

Although you can ski in the Lake District in Cumbria when there's enough snow. Scotland, and the Cairngorms natural ski resort, in particular, is the place to be if you're looking for somewhere more snow-dependable. The Cairngorms is the highest land mass in the UK and therefore the nearest you'll get to predictably reliable skiing conditions, in Britain. The vagaries of British weather aside, the ski season in the Cairngorms usually runs from December to early April.

 

Located amid the glorious Highland scenery of Strathspey, the Cairngorm Mountain range lies between Speyside and Braemar. The highest peak, Ben Macdhui, rises to a height of 4,296 feet; the three other main peaks stand at: Braeriach (4,249 feet), Cairn Toul (4,242 feet) and Cairn Gorm (4,085 feet). Once a quiet railway village, the region's main ski resort, Aviemore was developed in the 1960s to cope with the booming skiing industry. Today, Aviemore is the largest ski centre, in the Cairngorms offering conveniently located accommodation and a broad choice of tourist amenities. Facilities include a funicular railway, east of Aviemore which travels up the flank of the Cairn Gorm terminating at the highest restaurant and shop in Britain.   

 

Skiing aside, the Cairngorms and the surrounding area is also a great all-year-round tourist destination. For a start, the Cairngorms National Park (designated Scotland's second National Park in September 2003) also offers spectacular scenery - moors, forests, hills, glens, lochs, rivers, alpine plants and rare wildlife. The remote corries, throughout the region, are home to golden eagles, ptarmigan and other rare species. In late August and September, the hillsides are a mass of purple heather and the forests in autumn time form swathes of rich golden, russet hues. In addition, the area is well-known for its wide range of sports including fishing (the River Spey is famous for its salmon), walking, hiking, golf, biking and pony trekking. So, if taking to the slopes is not your bag, take the chairlift to the top instead and simply enjoy the breathtaking views.

 

But above all, the Cairngorms are seen as a trendy ski destination for those who dare to be different. So go on - give it a go! The Cairngorms is Britain's prime ski centre and is fast becoming a viable alternative to other European ski destinations.  Book up a flight on one of the budget airlines that fly to Inverness; check out the available B&B deals in the area (Grantown-on-Spey, Carrbridge, Newtonmore, Aviemore (the main ski centre) all make good bases); create your own ski package; have fun. At least, this year, you can keep up with the Joneses when they're banging on interminably about their annual skiing holiday in that same old European resort.

 

Don't be put off if you've never been skiing before; newbies fear not. If you would like to get a feel for things before venturing onto the natural snowy slopes of Scotland, why not have a trial run - first - on one of the seventy- seven real snow and artificial slopes conveniently located around the UK? Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

 

Find your perfect Bed and Breakfast in The Cairngorms National park and grab your ski's (or snowboard)

Posted by David Martin on Thursday, 29 September 2016 12:07