Archive for Suffolk

Jan
01

Lavenham Medieval Market Town

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MedievalTimberBuildingsLavenhamIf you ever visit the heart of Suffolk, you will find a number of medieval market towns that prospered from the wool trade during the 15th and 16th centuries. Places like Bury St Edmunds, Long Melford and others all have a charm of their own but without doubt, the most enthralling is Lavenham.

At its height, Lavenham was among the top 20 wealthiest places in England as the it reaped the rewards of the wool trade paying more tax that the large centres of Lincoln and York. Today, many of the beautiful old buildings remain and it is a wonderful place to walk around at your leisure visiting the museums, tea shops and browsing the antique stores looking for a bargain.

De Vere House, Lavenham

De Vere House, Lavenham

In the early days, the estate was owned by a tenant-in-chief of William the Conquerer called Aubrey de Vere. One of the many timber buildings in Lavenham today bears his name – De Vere House. This 14th century cottage was used to create the fictional village of Godric’s Hollow in the film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part One”. If you fancy staying at De Vere House, it is a luxury self catering accommodation with two guest bedrooms.

Of all the wonderful medieval buildings in Lavenham, the best known is the Guildhall of Corpus Christi. This Tudor building has a number of museum rooms telling the tale of Lavenham’s history. The Guildhall was probably built in 1530 although the exact date is not known. The building has a chequered history and at one point in time was used as a prison. Some of the basement windows still have bars across them.

Guildhall of Corpus Christi, Lavenham

Guildhall of Corpus Christi, Lavenham

During World War II, Lavenham was home to one of the many American air bases and Station 137 was manned by the US Army Air Force 487th Bombardment Group between September 1943 and November 1945. Much of the base has been returned to fam land although parts of the runway still remain and the Control Tower is in the process of being restored. In the square in Lavenham, there is a plaque to the memory of the men of the 487th along with a more recent British casualty Lance Corporal of Horse “Jo” Woodgate who died in Afghanistan in 2010.

In all, there are over 300 buildings of historic significance in Lavenham which today is home to around 1,700 people. If you want to visit one of England’s finest examples of medieval history then Lavenham is the place to go. It is within easy driving distance of Colchester, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge and should be one the list of any itinerary if you are ever in Suffolk.

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Dec
27

My Favourite Photos of 2012

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The problem with writing about all the wonderful places I’ve visited in 2012 is that I simply couldn’t do them justice in a single blog post. Instead, I’ve chosen my favourite photos I’ve taken this year.

Donbass Arena

Donbass Arena, Donetsk

Donbass Arena, Donetsk

I travelled to the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine for the Euro 2012 match between England and France. It was a beautiful summers day and I had time to look around the city and soak up the sun. The game was played in the Donbass Arena, a magnificent, modern football stadium. As it as the summer, there was still a hint of sunlight after the game and I was able to capture this photo.
http://bbmexplorer.com/donetsk-euro-2012-host-city/

Blue Dragon Nudibranch

Blue Dragon Nudibranch

Blue Dragon Nudibranch

In April, we took a family holiday to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, a place where I have dived many times before. I’m not sure what was different about this trip but I seem very tuned in to find different nudibranchs and slugs whilst I was diving. I found this Blue Dragon Nudibranch on the wreck of the Yolanda at the very tip of the Sinai.
http://holidayblog.easyjet.com/dives-in-egypt-rob-atherton/

Oslo Harbour

Oslo Harbour

Oslo Harbour

Oslo Harbour is one of the main tourist areas of the city and is wonderful place to be during the long summer days. It is also the starting point for a number of short cruises around the many beautiful fjords and inlets.

Scallop, Aldeburgh

Scallop, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Scallop, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

There are some lovely towns and villages along the Suffolk coast. Aldeburgh is one of these places and although it is probably best known for its wonderful fish and chips the Scallop just to the north of the town has been the cause of discussion. This sculpture is dedicated to the composer,  Benjamin Britten who used to walk along this stretch of beach. Some people think it should be taken down as it is inappropriate for a man made object along such a beautiful setting.

Liverpool

Liverpool Skyline

Liverpool Skyline

I’ve been spending a bit of time in Liverpool recently and although the city is the butt of a number of jokes, parts of the city are absolutely wonderful. One evening I took the opportunity to head over to the Wirral on the other side of the River Mersey and took this picture of the Liverpool skyline at night. It shows the iconic towers of the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building, the Port of Liverpool Building, the Echo Area and in the distance, the Anglican Cathedral.

Avebury Stone Circle

Avebury Stone Circle

Avebury Stone Circle

The stone circles in the Wiltshire village of Avebury contains the largest stone circle in Europe and is one of the best known prehistoric sites in Britain. It dates back to 2,600BC during the Neolithic period and today is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Titan Triggerfish

Titan Triggerfish

Titan Triggerfish

I wasn’t sure whether to include a second underwater picture but I really like this picture of a Titan Triggerfish. These fish can grow up to 70cm long and are sometimes incredibly agressive. I’ve been attacked by them a few times although luckily, I’ve never been bitten. The thing I like about this picture is I was able to get so close to it head on.

Feb
13

Travel Adventures On Your Doorstep

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Whenever we think of travel, it usually conjours images of airports, exotic destinations, unfamiliar languages and the like. One thing we all tend to overlook are the travel adventures on our own doorsteps. I’m more than happy to admit I’m guilty of this and I’m sure a lot of you are too.

I live in the county of Suffolk in England and these are just some of the places people from far and wide come to see;

 

Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo Visitors Centre (Photo: Sharon Hall Shipp)

 

In 1939, a 7th century burial mound was discovered not far from the town of Woodbridge. A ship had been taken from the nearby River Deben and a burial mound, believed to be for an Anglo-Saxon king was constructed here. Many of the treasures that were discovered are currently on display at the British Museum in London. The visitors centre at Sutton Hoo is run by the National Trust and all the up to date visitors information can be found there.

Constable Country (Dedham)

Will Lott's Cottage, Dedham

This is on the Suffolk / Essex border but I’m claiming it anyway. The artist John Constable painted a number of wonderful works of art, the most well known being “The Hay Wain” (1821). Will Lott’s cottage which is featured in the painting can still be visited and its lost none of its charm over the years and the area has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

 

Southwold

Southwold Beach Huts

Southwold is a little town on the North Suffolk coast and is a wonderful place to visit. It has everything that one would look for in a quintessential English seaside town. The sandy beach is lined with colourful beach huts or you can take a stroll on the award winning pier. From the cliffs overlooking the North Sea are a number of cliff top canon and a working lighthouse. The town is popular with day trippers and those wanting to stay a bit longer.

 

Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle (Photo: topcastles.com)

The magnificent castle in the market town of Framlingham has over 800 years of history waiting to be explored. From its origins when it was built in post Norman England, Framlingham Castle has served various roles including a Poorhouse as well as forming part of the defences against any possible German invasion during World War II. The castle is looked after by English Heritage.

 

Newmarket

Newmarket Races (Photo: Jonathan_W)

350 years ago, the “Sport of Kings” was born in this Suffolk town. Today, Newmarket is still the home of British Horse Racing. It is home to a large number of training stables and the racecourse has two courses; The Rowley Mile Course and the July Course. Between them, they host meetings in Spring, Summer and Autumn. Entrance to meetings can be very reasonable leaving you a bit more money as you try to pick a winner or two. In addition to the races, music concerts are also held here and often feature leading artists.

 

Bury St Edmunds

Abbey Gardens (Photo: Running in Suffolk)

This historic market town is packed with history. At it’s heart are the cathedral and wonderful Abbey Gardens. There are a number of museums in the town including Moyse Hall Museum which dates back to 1180, Greene King Brewery Museum and the Suffolk Regiment Museum. If you are looking a great place to eat or stay, the Angel Hotel in the heart of the town offers superb food in a wonderful ambience. Whilst you are in town, you can also visit Britain’s smallest pub, the Nutshell. The bar measures just 15′ x 7′ and was first opened in 1867.

 

Clare

St Peter and Paul Church, Clare (Photo: Cuthbertian)

Hidden away in the Suffolk countryside is the old wool town of Clare. Some buildings date back to the time of William the Conquerer (it appears in the Doomsday Book as ‘Clara’) and there are many unique and charming structures including the 13th century Priory and more than 125 listed buildings. The timeless beauty of the village is all part of its appeal to visitors who can come here on a day trip or stay a bit longer in one of the local B&Bs.

 

Orford Ness

Orford Ness

The shingle spit of Orford Ness was for many years a top secret area under the control of the Ministry of Defence. One of the many projects believed to be run from Orford Ness was Cobra Mist, a beyond the horizon radar system. Today it is owned by the National Trust and is popular with bird watchers. Some of the old military buildings remain as is the lighthouse which some believe was the source of the strange lights witnessed in Rendlesham Forest in 1980. The well documented UFO incident is sometimes referred to as the British Roswell. If you do plan to visit Orford Ness, make sure you wrap up warm as the wind can be biting.

These are just some of the places within an hour of where I live. You don’t have to look too hard close to home to find interesting places to visit. If you fancy a day trip close to home, do a bit of research, you’ll be surprised what is going on right on your doorstep.

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