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The Stonehenge Adventure (Part 2) – Glastonbury, The Chalice Well and The City of Wells

By Adventures, Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, PaganismNo Comments

At the weekend my good friend Simon and I went on an adventure to see Stonehenge and other ancient sites nearby. This is part 2 of my Stonehenge Adventure, part 1 can be read here.

We stayed in this Travelodge hotel. It was super cheap, clean and located close to amenities such as the various restaurants/food places in Solstice Park. Our room had a double bed and a single bed. On the single bed I could feel every spring on my back. I complained to a member of Travelodge staff, who said that all the single beds were the same and gave me a double duvet to put on top of it. The double duvet made little difference.

On the Saturday Simon and I had all you can eat cooked breakfast at the Toby Carvery on Solstice Park before heading off to Glastonbury.

Glastonbury is like a pagan commercial mecca. There are so many shops that fit into the categories of new age, spiritual or pagan. There are at least two charming courtyards with little tiny shops in. Sadly many of the shops are over priced. Some were so significantly over priced that they could be called a ripoff and make a person’s eyes water.

Some photos from Glastonbury:

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Glastonbury town centre monument.

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Entrance sign to one of a few courtyards.

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A crystal shrine in one of the courtyards.

The Goddess and The Green Man shop deserves a special mention. Their products were fantastic with many unique items, the customer service was friendly and tremendous and to top it off their prices were fair and reasonable. It felt like The Goddess and The Green Man was the only truly pagan/witchy shop in Glastonbury.

I bought this stunning Horned God Statue and Spellcraft for Hedge Witches by Rae Beth book from The Goddess and The Green Man:

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A Horned God Statue purchased from The Goddess and The Green Man.

In Glastonbury I also bought a small wand from a street seller for a bargain price of £5.

Since coming home I’ve followed The Goddess and The Green Man on Facebook and saved their website.

Essential Info:

  • Glastonbury is a town with a rich pagan history.
  • Cautiously recommended. Be cautious about rip off prices in some shops.
  • Opening Times: Normal shop opening hours.
  • Parking: Pay and display carparks, £7-8 for a full day of parking.
  • Food, Drink & Toilets: Available in the various cafes and pubs locally.

The Chalice Well is a beautiful garden and well. The atmosphere at the Chalice garden and well is that of zen-like meditation. Here are some photos from the Chalice Well:

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The Chalice Well sign.

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Chalice Well.

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You can drink from the well.

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One of a few ponds within the gardens of the Chalice Well.

Essential Info:

  • The Chalice Well is a beautiful garden and well.
  • Recommended.
  • Opening Times: See Opening Times here.
  • Admission: Adult £4.30 (without gift aid) and £4.75 (with gift aid).
  • Parking: No parking on site. Pay and display carpark a short walk away.
  • Gift shop on site.

The City of Wells was alive with the hustle and bustle of a Saturday outdoor market. Simon and I looked for somewhere to eat, but everywhere was ridiculously priced. Then I spotted a burger stall on the outdoor market. We ordered a burger each. I have never ate a burger that tasted so good. If you’re in Wells and want an tasty treat, go to the outdoor market and order yourself something from the burger stall.

Here are some photos from our time in Wells:

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Gate/Entrance to The Bishop’s Palace.

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Garden at The Bishop’s Palace.

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A watch tower on the wall at The Bishop’s Palace.

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Apparently in Wells they have a swan that can ring a bell. I didn’t see a swan, but I did see this bell.

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Fireplace in the watch tower at The Bishop’s Palace.

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Me in a arrow slit.

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A big dancing event was taking place in Wells.

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Wells Cathedral.

Essential Info:

  • The City of Wells has a Cathedral, Bishop’s Palace and some shops.
  • Recommended.
  • Opening Times: Normal shop opening hours.
  • Admission: Vary depending on attraction/places of interest.
  • Parking: Various pay and display carparks.

In part 3, I’ll be blogging about Stonehenge and Woodhenge.

Write soon,

Antony



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The Hadrian’s Wall Adventure (Part 2) – Poltross Burns Milecastle, Walltown Quarry and Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum

By Adventures, Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Life, NatureNo Comments
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Simon & I had a coffee break at Birdoswald Roman Fort & Museum prior to getting back on the road.

This is part 2 of The Hadrian’s Wall Adventure, part 1 can be read here.

My good friend Simon and I stopped for a coffee and cake break at Birdoswald Roman Fort & Museum before getting back on the road.

4. Bridge over the River Irthing
We couldn’t find this. Unfortunately I didn’t have mobile phone signal to search for it on Google Maps. We could have asked a local, but decided to drive on instead. We had a number of places on a list we still wanted to see.

5. Milecastle 48
We followed the road along Hadrian’s Wall. We saw the good signage for Milecastle 48. We parked up in the free carpark. We followed the signs, the field was muddy and we’d recommend hiking boots. From the bottom of the hill we could see train tracks that blocked our access to Milecastle 48. There’s obviously another entrance to Milecastle 48, but we decided to move on to our next destination.

6. Poltross Burns Milecastle
Poltross Burns Milecastle is well sign posted, just drive slowly due to two sharp bends with immediate turns straight after. There’s a dirt track opposite at least one big house where you can park for free. It wasn’t on our list of places to visit, we more stumbled across it accidentally. It is the remains of a Milecastle set beautifully on top of a hill with good natural light. It is well worth the short walk. Below are Essential Info and photos:

Essential Info:

  • Remains of a Roman Milecastle.
  • Highly Recommended: beautiful and a good photo opportunity with the Milecastle wall.
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Opening Times: Always open. It is recommend that you visit in daylight. There is no street lighting and there are stairs that would be hazardous after dark.
  • Car Parking: Free on a dirt track.
  • Not suitable for wheelchair users due to stairs and no ramp access.
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Stairs to Poltross Burns Milecastle.

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A beautiful view on a bridge on the short walk to Poltross Burns Milecastle.

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Poltross Burns Milecastle is a great place to take a photo with a high wall behind you.

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Poltross Burns Milecastle Foundations/Ruins (1).

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Poltross Burns Milecastle Foundations/Ruins (2).

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Simon sat in the sun on Remains of Poltross Burns Milecastle.

7. Walltown Quarry
Walltown Quarry is a place of natural beauty. It does take you into Northumberland, meaning that any parking tickets you bought in Cumbria aren’t valid. It has a large natural duck pond, plenty of space to walk in nature (whether you prefer a short or longer walk) and a newly planted peace labyrinth.

The large duck pond is lovely. There’s lots of natural beauty to be admired. The peace labyrinth has been newly planted, but once the plants embed the walls will be about waiste height, full of colourful flowers and be reflective and peaceful. Below are Essential Info and photos:

Essential Info:

  • Walltown Quarry is a former quarry and now a place of natural beauty. It has a large natural duck pond, plenty of space to walk in nature and a newly planted peace labyrinth.
  • Highly Recommended: a place of natural beauty.
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Opening Times: Shop open 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday. Unsure of Sunday opening hours.
  • Car Parking: £4 for all day.
  • Facilities: Toilets. Reasonably priced gift shop that sells reasonably priced coffee and provides tourist information.
  • Caution: Stick to well worn paths. There are reeds covering some of the surrounding wetlands, which could be hazardous or even life threatening.
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Walltown Quarry, a bird came to visit Simon and I on one of the many picnic benches.

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View of the large natural duck pond.

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The newly planted Peace Labyrinth.

8. Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum
Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum is just passed the Roman Army Museum. We had originally decided not to visit Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum due to the admission price of £6.75 per person. We were looking for Sycamore Gap and decided to go into the reception of Vindoland for directions to Sycamore Gap. The reception staff were helpful and informed us of where we could find Sycamore Gap, showing us a map and informing us that it is a 45 minute walk from Vindoland.

Simon suggested that as it was four thirty in the afternoon that we should pop into Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum instead of walking to Sycamore Gap. I was reluctant at first, especially after our disappointing experience at Birdoswald Roman Fort & Museum. We decided to go for it and it was anything but disappointing.

Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum is a ginormous fort ruins with a surrounding town. It is well worth every penny of the admission price. There is free parking. To see and absorb everything at Vindoland will take you at least half a day. They are still excavating at Vindoland, so if you visit in another few years there’ll be even more to see.

Due to time of our arrival, we didn’t have time to see everything. So set at least half a day a side for Vindoland alone. We intend to go back next year, spend the morning in Vindoland and then the afternoon on the road continuing to follow Hadrian’s Wall and stopping at places of interest. Below are Essential Info and photos:

Essential Info:

  • Remains of a Roman Fort, Town and has a museum, cafe and gift shop.
  • Highly Recommended: It will take you at least half a day to see everything.
  • Things to do there: Walk the streets that the Romans did. Marvel at Roman architecture and planning including: sewage and drainage network (without the sewage thankfully) and under-floor heating. See both a wooden and stone turret recreation, visit the museum, listen to archaeology talks, have coffee in the cafe and checkout the gift shop.
  • Admission Fees: View here.
  • Opening Times: View here.
  • Car Parking: Free parking with a large carpark.
  • Has toilets, cafe and gift shop.
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A Roman-style Fountain in the courtyard of the entrance to Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.

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A statue of the Goddess Juno in the courtyard of the entrance to Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.

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Model of Vindoland Roman Fort and Town in Introduction room of Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.

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The path to the foundations and ruins.

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Romano-Celtic Temple Remains.

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Wells and Water Tanks.

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Wooden Turret.

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Stone Turret.

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The Mausolea foundations.

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The remains of a foundation that predates the Roman settlement.

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Bath House remains.

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Building Remains.

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We walked along the main street, probably part excavated and part restored.

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A photo of a heart shaped foot stone.

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Inside the Fort remains.

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The Fort Wall.

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Inside the Fort, looking out into the Town that built up around it.

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Remains of Temple to Jupiter Dolichenus.

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Back Entrance to Fort.

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HeadQuarter Building (Principia)

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Prefect’s House Well.

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Roman builders stone carving.

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Cook brick-work on Roman remains, probably for drainage.

We had a lovely day exploring Hadrian’s Wall. We will be going back, probably about this time next year to do Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum properly, to hopefully visit Sycamore Gap and explore more new places of interest in the Northumberland side of Hadrian’s Wall.

Blog soon,

Antony



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The Hadrian’s Wall Adventure (Part 1) – Lanercost Priory, Banks East Turret & Birdozwald Roman Fort

By Adventures, Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Life, NatureNo Comments

Recently my good friend Simon and I went up to Cumbria to visit Hadrian’s Wall and places of interest nearby. We planned to follow Hadrian’s Wall from Cumbria to the beginning of Northumberland. We deliberately missed out Carlisle Castle, as we felt that this would probably take up most of the time on our day trip and wanted to see as many places as possible. It was great weather and we set off at 07:45am, completing the drive from home to Lanercost Priory in about two and a half hours with a service station stop.

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Hadrian’s Wall Sign

Before I write about Lanercost Priory and the other places we visited, I want to say that most places were well sign posted and on Google Maps (providing that you could get a mobile phone signal). Two things should be noted:

  1. Romans like to build things on the top of hills – so good mobility is required. Carparks are short or long up-hill walks from places of interest. Some places have free car parking whereas others you have to pay. Once you’ve paid for parking in one carpark, you are covered in most others using the same ticket. But I would still encourage you to check that you are covered with your ticket. If in doubt, ask English Heritage Staff who will be able to tell you.
  2. Most sites are looked after by English Heritage, with some places being free entry and other places being paid entry. English Heritage don’t do an all-day ticket that covers the admission fees to all charged places of interest that they run. So you have to pay per place, and this means that the cost can quickly add up.

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1. Lanercost Priory

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Lanercroft gate entrance remains.

Lanercost Priory is an architecturally beautiful Priory complete with traditional working church. The Priory’s beauty is increase by the sunlight.

Inside the church I didn’t take any photos out of respect. But in the centre of the room is a ginormous plane-glassed window which gives a superb view of the priory.

Essential Info and plenty of photos below:

Essential Info:

  • A Priory & Church. Priory dates back to the 13th century.
  • Highly Recommended.
  • Admission Fee: £4.60 with gift aid (£4.10 without)
  • Opening Times: View Here
  • Cafe: It has a Cafe but it is expensive, so avoid.
  • Toilets.
  • Gift Shops: It has plenty of them which were overpriced.
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Lanercost Church

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The Priory (1).

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The Priory (2)

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The Priory (3)

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The Priory (4) – A Small Door with Lovely Brickwork

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The Priory (5) – Tomb

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The Priory (6) – Roof.

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The Priory (7 – Tomb Carving (close up).

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The Priory (8) – Another Tomb.

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The Priory (9) – Hand Carved Baby’s Tomb.

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The Priory (10) – Another Tomb.

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The Priory (11) – Another Tomb Carving.

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The Priory (12) – Door to ruins.

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The Priory (13) – Simon in a doorway.

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The Priory (14) – Courtyard remains.

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The Priory (15) – Side building that would have been the kitchen.

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The Priory (16) – An outside view.

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The Priory (17) – Rectory Undercroft from the 13th century.

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The Priory (18) – Me being silly with an open gate (1).

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The Priory (19) – Me being silly with an open gate (2).

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The Priory (20) – Inside the kitchen building, which would have been four floors up. The Ivy growing up the ruins of the building were beautiful, so I just had to take a photo of it.

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2. Banks East Turret
Along Hadrian’s Wall at each Roman mile was either a Turret, Milecastle or Fort (written in order of size from smallest to largest).

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Banks East Turret gives you a feel for how wide the wall was (about 8 feet wide).

Bank East Turret gives a good indication of the width of Hadrian’s Wall, being approximately eight to nine feet wide. Hadrian’s Wall would have stood at sixteen to twenty feet tall, but unfortunately there is no place where the wall remains intact. People took it down to build smaller walls and other buildings sometime after Hadrian had built it.

Out of all the turret’s we came across, Banks East Turret is the Turret that had most to see. It has free admission and parking and has an exquisite view of the landscape.

Essential Info and photos of Banks East Turret are below:

Essential Info:

  • A Turret that would have been on Hadrian’s Wall.
  • Has a exquisite view of the landscape.
  • Highly Recommended.
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Opening Times: all days & times.
  • Parking: Free
  • Gift Shops: It has plenty of them which were overpriced.
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    Banks East Turret remains (1).

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    Banks East Turret remains (2).

    [
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    Banks East Turret has free parking and an exquisite view of the landscape.

    From Banks East Turret we drove to Birdoswald Roman Fort. Along the road were a few tiny turrets that aren’t worth stopping for, just slow down the car and take a glance out of the window on the way past.

    3. Birdoswald Roman Fort & Museum
    At Birdoswald Roman Fort & Museum is were we saw Hadrian’s Wall at it’s tallest. It’s a good opportunity to get a good photo of the wall. It costs £6.80 with gift aid (£6.10 without gift aid) for entry to a tiny museum that we walked around in 5 minutes and is totally overpriced. It has a paid carpark, but the ticket can be used at other sites throughout the day. It has toilets and a reasonably priced Cafe. The place features foundations and although they are mildly impressive, they are nothing when compared to Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.

    Rather than paying for entry, you can walk around the outside of the fort for free and see the foundations over a small wooden fence. Below are Essential Info and photos:

    Essential Info:

    • Remains of a Roman Fort, mostly foundations only.
    • Cautiously Recommended: We would recommend walking around the outside of the Fort and looking in. Admission fee too expensive and not value for money.
    • Admission Fee: £4.80 with gift aid (£6.10 without)
    • Opening Times: View Here
    • Car Parking: Paid, but can use ticket across other sites throughout the day.
    • Cafe: Reasonably priced. Well worth stopping here for a drink and cake.
    • Toilets.
    • Gift Shops: One small gift shop.
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    Hadrian’s Wall View at Birdozwald Roman Fort.

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    Birdozwald Roman Fort – Photo Opportunities, especially on the outside of the fort.

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    Another View of Hadrain’s Wall.

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (1) – The Foundations, which for price of entry were disappointing.

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (2) – The Foundations, which for price of entry were disappointing.

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (3) – Remains of gate entrance.

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (4) – Remains of gate entrance house (1).

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (5) – Remains of gate entrance house (2).

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (6) – A beautiful view from outside of the fort.

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    Another view of Hadrian’s Wall.

    In Part 2, I’ll be writing about and sharing more photos of: Bridge Over River Irthing, Milecastle 48, Poltross Burns Milecastle, Walltown Quary & Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.

    Blog soon,

    Antony

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    Good Times

    By Friends & Family, Happiness & JoyNo Comments

    I’ve just had two weeks off work on annual leave. It gave me the opportunity to spend some precious time with family & friends and take some much needed time for rest & relaxation. The time off has been full of good times including:

    Alton Towers – For My Birthday
    For my Birthday Mum, Ian, Steve and myself went to Alton Towers for a day of thrills, frights and fun. I wanted to go as I’d never been.The weather remained dry all day, but had dark grey clouds in the sky and the temperature dropped in the afternoon. Steve and I managed to get on:

    • Th13Teen, my favourite ride. It was a thrill and fright ride. Loved it and would have liked the time to go on it again…and again.
    • Air, is a fast hurtling-towards-the-ground-to-your-death before quickly turning away type ride. I had this image of test dummies coming back without legs, arms and a head from some rollercoaster that I saw in the News ages ago. I didn’t like it.
    • Nemesis, a complete thrill ride. Loved it and would go on again.
    • Nemesis Sub-Terra (new for 2012) – really disappointing. If I’d have known it would be like that, I wouldn’t have bothered.

    In the afternoon we all visited Hex and illusion type ride which left me with a head ache. We also visited the aquarium, which I was personally disappointed by as it was too small and people were touching the fish even though there were signs asking them not too. Alton Towers is a massive place and we didn’t manage to get to see everything, even using the Sky Ride. So I’ve put together some tips if you’re planning a visit to Alton Towers…

    Alton Towers Top Tips:

    • When buying tickets, buy online. There are two reasons for this. Firstly you wont have to que when you get there. Secondly we saved loads of money by buying them a week before.
    • Download the Alton Towers app as it’s really useful for a map, live wait times and other info.
    • Take an extra £6 for parking. I was surprised to see they charged for parking.
    • Go on the ‘big’ rides in the morning. It will save a load of time queuing in the afternoon.
    • Take packed lunches, otherwise you’re going to spend about £20 each on lunch.
    • If you’ve got someone whose not going on the rides then they can hold your bags. If you’re all riding, the rides have luggage storage for while you ride. Plus there are some lockers near the Air ride.
    • We didn’t get to see everything, so consider two days at the theme park. You can buy a ticket for another day at a reduced price both online and on site.

    Baby Ethan’s Christening
    Baby Ethan is my Nephew and I was honoured to be asked to be his god parent at his Christening. Although I’m Pagan and it was a Roman Catholic Christening I like the concept of a god parent. Someone whose there to support the parents and be there for the child. Ethan was christened, sleeping through most of the service and then there was a celebratory party. It was a great day and although being a god father is a big responsibility, I hope to do Ethan and his parents proud.

    Chester Zoo & Tea in Chester – For Steve’s Birthday
    Steve, two of his friends and myself went to Chester Zoo for his birthday. Click on any photo for full size image. We had loads of fun:

    In the giftshop,
    we found masks :).
    Steve’s a Giant Turtle.
    I’m a Giant Turtle.

    I noticed a significant reduction of the animals in Chester Zoo, we started in the side of the park with the Zebra’s (all three of them) and there were a lot of empty enclosures. The enclosures were of a high quality (as always), even if we couldn’t see the animals because of poor design:



    (Spirit of the Jaguar Enclosure. Bushes made it difficult to see the Jaguar’s.)

    However here’s some photos of the animals we did see:

    Elephants.
    Zebra.
    Rhinos.
    Cheetahs.
    Flamingos.
    Tigers – sun bathing.
    Penguins.
    Mother and Baby Chimp.
    Giraffe’s.
    Ducks.
    We saw a lot of them,
    some exotic, some not.
    These Dinosaurs
    looked….plastic.
    Flying Bird Dinosaur.
    T-Rex Dinosaur and baby.

    We went for tea afterwards in The Slug and Lettuce in Chester town centre. We all had a great day, made more special because it’s was celebrating Steve’s birthday.

    Visiting Steve’s Family in Hastings
    For my last weekend off Steve and I went to visit his family in Hastings. It was lovely to see them all, and I would like to thank them for giving me somewhere to stay. We had a day out in town and I got to spend some time on the sea front. It was glorious weather and I had to walk up and down the entire sea front repeatedly to get a photo with no people on the beach, but I managed it:



    Lots of Sunbathing
    Throughout my two weeks, we’ve had some fantastic weather and I’ve used every opportunity I can to bask in the sun. The result: my face, neck and arms are lobster red. In a few days they’ll turn into tanned skin.

    Well that’s about it for my Summer Holidays.

    Blog soon,

    Antony



    I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:


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