Visiting Guy’s Cliffe House: A Hidden Gem in Warwick

Visiting Guy's Cliffe House in Warwick

The Bloke and I recently had a rare opportunity to explore Guy’s Cliffe House in Warwick. It is rarely available to public viewing, so when we saw that it was open for its Heritage Open Day (and on a stunningly beautiful day) we were really excited about it.

Guy’s Cliffe House is a Grade II listed building that stands on an artificially levelled terrace above a north-facing cliff. At the present most of the house is in ruins and unsuitable to walk through, with only the Grade II listed chapel and service quarters in use.

From humble beginnings as a secluded place of worship in the 5th century, the house has grown and changed with numerous additions in different styles. Sir Guy of Warwick reputably died in ‘Guy’s Cave’ in 970AD,’ and King Henry V ordered the establishment of a chapel in the 15th century. It has been owned by Plantation Owner Samuel Greatheed – Member of Parliament for Coventry – and later by the Heber-Percy family, it was used as a Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital in the First World War and  as a Boys Home by the Waifs and Strays Society during the Second World War… It is currently owned by the Freemasons and preserved by the Friends of Guy’s Cliffe Society. Continue reading

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Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik: Travel Tips and Suggestions

Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik

Open from 8.00am until 7.30pm every day, the Walls of Dubrovnik (Murrales de Dubrovnik) are one of the most spectacular ways to see Old Town and beyond, offering stunning views of the iconic terracotta roofs (added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Series in 1979), Fort Lovrijenac, neighbouring islands and Adriatic Sea. They are considered to be one of the greatest fortifications of the Middle Ages.

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Meet ‘The Bloke’ – Instagram Meet and Greet!

imageThose of you who follow the blog regularly will know about The Bloke – my partner-in-crime of the last 6 1/2 years. What you probably don’t know is that The Bloke, as well as being my best friend (and now my fiance after he proposed outside a 13th Century Scottish castle earlier in the year – the boy done good!), he is also a fantastic landscape, nature and urban photographer.

Meet Duncan – The Bloke. Duncan has been passionate about photography as long as I’ve known him, and I’m truly gobsmacked at the stunning pictures that he takes. He seems to have an eye for things that I can’t see, and can easily lose himself for hours with his camera whenever we visit somewhere… Continue reading

10 Things I Love About My Country #3: Architecture

I’ve teamed up with Steve and Jenny (I’m English, Steve is a Scotsman and Jenny is an American) to compile a series of lists of the things we love about our countries. This week is architecture.

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As an English woman I am blessed that my country has a long history, with buildings and monuments that demonstrate the many periods of our interesting and exciting past. While I am only allowed to choose ten (although I’ve cheated and chosen twelve), there are thousands of examples of outstanding architecture throughout the country that draw in millions of tourists every year from all over the world. I have tried to choose examples of architecture from all over the country rather than just focusing on London…

1. St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

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Despite visiting London many times over the last few years, I only actually went to this a few months ago. Designed by Christopher Wren and built between 1675 and 1720, it was part of the rebuilding programme in the city after the Great Fire of London in 1666, It is one of the most famous examples of English architecture and is still used for important services today. Whenever I see it, I think of Mary Poppins.

2. Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury

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Salisbury Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral that was built from 1220 to 1258 and has the tallest spire in the UK. It’s one of only three English cathedrals that doesn’t have a ringing of bells. In its construction, 70,000 tonnes of stone, 3,000 tonnes of timber and 450 tonnes of lead were used.

3. The Selfridges Building, Birmingham

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I live about ten minutes away from this building and I’ve always loved it, even though it reminds me of a Narwhal. It was designed by Jan Kaplicky and Amanda Levette and was completed in 2003 at a cost of £60,000,000. It is the home to Selfridges and is part of the Bullring shopping centre.

4. Stonehenge, Wiltshire

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Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument, believed to be created between 2400BC and 2200BC. It is the remains of a ring of standing stones and is a nationally legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument. While research in 2008 indicated that it served as a burial ground, how it was constructed and by whom remains a mystery.

5. Roman Baths, Bath

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The Roman Baths are a set of buildings that are designed around the hot springs that bubble up from the ground in Bath. The first shrine at the site was built by the Celts and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis. The temple was constructed in 60-70AD by the Romans after the invasion and the complex was gradually built but over the next 300 years. They have been modified on many occasions and now serves as a major tourist attraction, receiving more than 1,000,000 visitors a year. The water that flows through the baths was considered extremely unsafe for bathing, but newly constructed boreholes now allow modern day bathers to experience the waters without fear of becoming ill.

6. The Gherkin, London

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30 St Mary Axe is more commonly known as The Gherkin (because of it’s resemblance to an enormous gherkin) and is a commercial skyscraper in London’s Financial District. It was completed in 2003 at the cost of £138,000,000 and was designed by Fosters and Partners. It is a prominent feature in the London skyline – I think it’s a great example of modern architecture…

7. The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead Quays

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The Sage Gateshead in Gateshead Quays is a concert centre and centre for musical education. It opened in 2004 and was completed at a cost of £70,000,000. It contains three performance spaces – a 1700 seater, 450 seater and a performance hall. It is made of three separate buildings that are insulated from each other to prevent noise travelling between them. It’s often referred to as ‘The Armadillo,’ because it looks like… Well… An armadillo!

8. Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire

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Rievaulx Abbey is one of many stunning examples of abbeys that were dissolved by Henry VIII around the country. It is owned and maintained by English Heritage and is a major tourist attraction. It was founded in 1132 by twelve monks from Clairvaux Abbey as a mission for the colonisation of the north of England and Scotland. In 1538, Henry VIII, being the charming man that he was, ordered the buildings to be regarded uninhabitable and stripped of its valuables. The site was granted to the Earl of Rutland, one of his advisors, until it passed to the Duncombe family.

9. Battersea Power Station, London

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Battersea is a decommissioned coal power station located on the south bank of the Thames. It was originally built in the 1930’s and a second identical station was added in the 1950’s, and decommissioned in 1975. It is a Grade II listed building. Doctor Who fans will be familiar with this building as it has been used many times during the series…

10. Albert Docks, Liverpool

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The Albert Docks is a complex of dock buildings and warehouses in Liverpool, designed by Jesse Hartley and Philip Hardwick and opened in 1846. At the time of its construction the docks were considered revolutionary because ships loaded and unloaded directly to and from the warehouses. Two years after it opened it was modified to feature the world’s first hydraulic cranes. Today, the docks are a major tourist attraction, comprising of the largest collection of Grade I listed buildings anywhere in the UK. And for those of you who know what I’m talking about, Fred’s weather map is still there to the best of my knowledge.

11. Urbis, Manchester

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Urbis is an exhibition and museum venue in Manchester, it was designed by Ian Simpson and completed in 2002 at a cost of £30,000,000. It is made of concrete and glass and between 2002 and 2010 it hosted exhibits on pop culture themes. In 2012 it became the National Football Museum (he, my friends, that’s football, not soccer). I must admit, I’m not a fan, but I included it because of it’s unusual shape and design.

12. Windsor Castle, Berkshire

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No English architecture list should be without Windsor Castle. It’s a truly magnificent building with so much historical interest that an entire blog could be devoted to it. The original castle was built in the 11th Century after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. It was originally designed to protect Norman dominance around the outskirts of London and was built as a motte and bailey and has been extended and redeveloped countless times since then. It has survived a siege during the First Barons War at the start of the 13th Century, the English civil war, the Blitz and a fire in 1992. It is a popular tourist attraction, a venue for hosting state visits and is Queen Elizabeth II’s preferred weekend home. Nice. It’s one of the places that I have never been…

Of course, there are hundreds of buildings that could and should be included in the list – Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament,  Dover Castle, The Shard, One Canada Square, the BT Tower, Hampton Court Palace, the Liver Birds Building… I could go on forever!

What about you guys? What English buildings would you put on the list? Feel free to join in our little project!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

Joy in 2013 – A Photographic Review

As this is the final Weekly Photo Challenge of 2013, the theme being ‘joy,’ I thought I would make it special. I already had written a review of the year and included some of these photographs, but I thought that it would be nice to do a photographic review of my blogging year too – these photographs have been taken throughout the year after starting my blog in April, with either the subject itself or the finished photograph that has brought me joy.

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Wobbly surveying her territory, May

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How The Bloke and I celebrated Eurovision, May

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My sleepy little friends, May

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The start of a beautiful meal with mum, June

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The Bon Jovi stage at Villa Park, June

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The London Eye and Houses of Parliament, July

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Flats in London, July

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A side street in Birmingham, August

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A view of Birmingham from the new library, September

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A bench in the park, November

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The German Market, November

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A day in the Spa, November

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A stunning sunset, December

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Moon, December

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Wobbly is absolutely delighted with her Christmas present, December

I’d love to know what you think… Which one is your favourite?

You can also find me on Twitter @Suzie81blog

All photographs are copyrighted to Suzie81

Travel Theme: Architecture

http://wheresmybackpack.com/2013/08/09/travel-theme-architecture/

The Travel Theme for this week is ‘Architecture’ and I couldn’t be more excited about it. You may have seen some of these before, so I apologise, but I love these photographs, all of which I took on my travels over the last few years.

Concorde, Paris

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Eiffel Tower, Paris

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The Sacre Coeur, Paris

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Empire State Building, New York

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Flatiron, taken from the Empire State Building, New York

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The Guggenheim, New York

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The Met, New York

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The White House, Washington

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Jefferson Memorial, taken from Arlington Cemetery, Washington

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The Globe, London

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Houses of Parliament, London

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The Shard, taken well before it’s completion, London

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The view of London, taken from the London Eye

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Hope you enjoy!