Felbrigg Hall and the Norfolk coast


The kitchen is often one of the most interesting places in great houses and the one at Felbrigg is no exception, with its massed copper pans. While the rest of the house is interesting and the guides are great, it was the garden, not surprisingly, that gained most of our attention. The chickens roaming there have particularly splendid accommodation.

The following day was fine and the coast called. Turning away from the busier spots, we hit on Snettisham, which turned out to have an almost empty car park and a stunning beach.


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Seahouses 4

All kinds of weather up along the Northumberland coast, from silvery calm to misty and bleak. Atmospheric Holy Island and Dunstanburgh Castle jostle for a place in our album with the wave lashed Farne Islands…

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Farne Islands 3

Top of the inland attractions must be Barter Books in Alnwick. Not only do they have a huge selection of second hand books and a great cafe, but also a top-of-the-bookcase model railway and the best author mural in the UK.

Barter Books 2

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Southern Comfort: Bristol, Brighton and beyond


Our sweep across the Southern Counties took in Bristol (see above), Southampton, Brighton, Overton and Staines. From Southampton we visited the New Forest (not new and mainly not forest but heathland) and Beaulieu, where donkeys guard the entrance to the pub/hotel:


What kind of clients are they expecting? After Brighton’s bracing promenade, we were refreshed at the White Hart, a lovely pub in a beautiful setting. You can see the old stone bridge in this Google Earth photo:

White Hart

Warm Southern welcomes everywhere, plus good food and drink, of course!

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Helmsley and Hampton Court


Helmsley Castle as seen from the Walled Garden.  Even in October, the garden is great to explore and has come on a long way since our previous visit a few years ago. The cafe there is another attraction – so good we came back the next day for more!

In November, most gardens are losing their zing but at Hampton Court the formal gardens are still interesting and attractive. The Great Vine is worth a visit on its own; it must be quite something when it’s grape time. This just shows its starting point…

Hampton Court Gdns 06

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All the way to America

IMG_8285And here we are, minus photographer Joe, at the Ships, Clocks and Stars exhibition in Mystic, along with two of the key organisers, Jeff and Elysa. Nice to see John Harrison celebrated all the way across the Atlantic. Mystic Seaport is a big heritage site with everything from coopers and smiths to ropery and repair yard – as well as two fully rigged sailing ships. From Mystic, we visited the Catskill Mountains and on the way in a little place called Norfolk…


…which just happened to have one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen:


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hoist 2house of colours 5


Guedelon – the making of a castle. Having seen it on TV, we happened on the site almost by chance – it was a few miles from La Catanque campsite at St Fargeau. What an amazing place: the castle is slowly and painstakingly being constructed using medieval methods, funded by visitors and staffed by paid workers, apprentices and volunteers. The ‘squirrel wheel’ really does its job of hoisting heavy loads of stone up the towers. This is a one-person version. There is another two-person wheel. Among the working areas for masons, carpenters, rope-makers and potters we were particularly taken by the dyer’s cottage.

So many other things to see… the amphitheatre and mosaic at Grand, for example, the pottery at Ratilly, the chateau and gardens at Joinville…  And some beautiful campsites, our favourite being La Forge de Ste Marie near Joinville, seen below at night.la Forge 5

Mosaic 6


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IMG_7856Here’s a nice peaceful picture from a nice peaceful garden near Montreuil, visited after we found that our intended garden in St Valery was closed on Mondays. So, this newly discovered gem was a delightful surprise. Just a private garden that happens to be open to visitors for five euros.  A few days earlier we returned to Maizicourt, a very much larger place but also very relaxed, rather like the geese in one of the many areas that are there to explore.

Maizicourt 30


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