Thứ Tư, 27 tháng 7, 2011

Up-along, Down-along, the Clovelly main thoroughfare

A visit to Clovelly located on the northern coast of Devon in England is like stepping back in time.  Clinging to a cliff face that drops 400' in half a mile to the harbour below, Clovelly's cottages, chapels, craft shops, galleries, the Kingsley Museum, and the popular New Inn meander downhill along its precipitous cobbled High Street. The Clovelly main thoroughfare is called Up-Along and Down-Along by the locals.

Because of the street's gradient, cars are banned. Goods, and that includes visitor's luggage and everyday household requirements purchased by the locals, are lowered Down-Along and dragged Up-Along on custom made sledges.

For those unable to negotiate the perilous terrain ... no problem. A Landrover takes a back route to and from the village. Walkers though should be warned. Slip-resistant shoes on the Clovelly precipitous main street are a wise investment.

For a peek at hidden treasures when exploring this fishing enclave, one has only to take off along any one of the Clovelly side alleys. Like a well orchestrated extravaganza, artfully placed wooden benches coax passersby to stop awhile for spectacular views along the North Devon coast. Some of the Clovelly cottages are embellished with carved fruits and flowers from the Bavarian Alps adding an Oberammergau aspect to these quaint homes. In a tumble of blossom, trailing fuchsia and petunias nestle in hanging baskets among tall sprays of lavender.

Sue Kelly's donkeys
A visit to the Clovelly donkey stable is essential. Huddled together companionably in a dim straw-fragrant interior, the cosmopolitan donkey clan; 10 English donkeys, 1 Irish and two French with names reflecting their origins; Donk, Sinead, Wellington, Pierre, Jakey Ted and two cute little fellows named Kiwi and Peter, live in semi-retirement.

No longer beasts of burden and in keeping with their dignity, their duties are now mainly tourist designated. Before the advent of the sledge, heavy loads comprising beer barrels, laundry and garbage bags were stacked on special pack saddles and carried to the top of the cliff by these stocky little animals. Today one of their more pleasureable pursuits is posing for photographs and standing in the sun on Down-Along, while their owner Sue Kelly weaves bright ribbons for their harnesses.

Festivals are heldthroughout the year in this fishing village and the Clovelly Herring Festival in November is one of the most popular. It's a grand event for foodies, with herring, kipper and bloaters on the menu. Shanty singing by “Shake a Leg” from Bideford, “Hanging Johnny” from Plymouth or Exmouth's “Shantymen” set feet a-tapping.

Fishing boat in the Clovelly harbour
Clovelly may feel like the Mediterranean, with its brilliantly coloured mural in the Methodist chapel behind the New Inn. Its cobbled streets with flower bedecked cottages could be in Spain or southern France. The fish-tinted smell of the sea as boats rise and fall with the tides is reminiscent of Portugal. But Clovelly with its wattle and daub cottages; among them Donkey Shoe Cottage, Crazy Kate's Cottage, Oberammergau Cottage and Rat's Castle, is in fact pure unadulterated Devon.

Posted by Anne Gordon on Wednesday, 27th July 2011

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Chủ Nhật, 10 tháng 7, 2011

Sites of London from St. James's Park

As Britain’s new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have now completed their cross-Canada tour, Canadians who missed seeing the couple on tour or those who couldn’t get enough can keep calm.There is always a chance of a Royal spotting in Britain – if you know where to look. VisitBritain, the national tourist board for England, Scotland and Wales, highlights the top 10 spots Canadian travelers might spot Kate and William on their next trip across the pond.
Portobello Road Antiques Market
Notting Hill, London, England
Remember little William in his red school tie, being dropped by his Mum at Wetherby School on Pembridge Square in Notting Hill? Stroll the pretty tree-lined streets with their white stucco houses, familiar from the 1999 film Notting Hill, and on Saturdays make your way west to Portobello Road Market for antiques, vintage clothes and posh food. At No 191 the Electric Cinema is famous for its courting seats, the two-seater sofas.

Windsor Castle, Windsor, England
Windsor Castle, home to the Queen several days per week (you can see when she is in residence at either Windsor or Buckingham Palace when the Royal Standard – rather than the Union flag – is flying from the flagpole), is where William had his 21st birthday party. It is open to the public and is home to the daily Changing of the Guard, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House (the biggest in the world) and the St George’s Chapel, built in the English perpendicular style and famous for its stunning fan vaulting.

Boys of Eton College
Eton College, near Windsor, England
William was at Eton College, a ten-minute stroll over the Thames from his grandmother’s place, Windsor Castle. The College, founded in 1440 by King Henry VI to provide free education for 70 poor scholars, conducts guided tours during the holidays, bookable through the Eton College Gift Shop on the High Street where you can also buy an Eton boater hat. Kate went to school further west, in the beautiful Wiltshire Downs, at another prestigious school, Marlborough College.

Clarence House guard
Clarence House, London, England
The couple’s engagement announcement was made from Clarence House, office of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, where Kate and William gave their first joint interview. It opens for tours in summer, but you can catch a glimpse of it by strolling up the Mall from Buckingham Palace to Admiralty Arch, passing on the way St James’s Palace, where the young princes have their office.

Chiswick, London, England
Kate dabbled briefly in the world of women’s rowing, when she joined a crew called The Sisterhood who practiced on the Thames between Chiswick and Hammersmith. Chiswick is one of London’s prettiest – and most expensive – riverside suburbs, home to Lord Burlington’s stunning neo-Palladian villa Chiswick House and Syon Park , London home of the Duke & Duchess of Northumberland. Hammersmith, meanwhile, is famous for its gorgeous riverside pubs: such as labyrinthine, 18th-century hostelry The Old Ship. Join drinkers sitting on the river wall in summer.

One of Princess Diana's favourite shops
Jigsaw and Garrard and Co, London, England
Kate worked for a while as a buyer at the popular British boutique chain, Jigsaw in Kew. The branch to visit, though, is at 126-7 New Bond Street, designed by the super-minimal architect John Pawson and still a haven of tranquility. Then take a stroll down London’s classiest shopping street, making a diversion onto Albemarle Street to see Garrard & Co, which claims to be the oldest jewelers in the world and was the source of Princess Diana’s famous sapphire and diamond engagement now – after being secretly carried around in William’s rucksack in Kenya – being proudly worn on Kate’s ring finger.

London nightclubs, England
Kate and William’s partying days moved effortlessly from discreet private members nightclub Boujis, handily placed just opposite South Kensington tube station, to Mayfair and the tropical ambience of Mahiki where Kate would have sat in a Princess chair sipping Lovers’ Cup or Honolulu Honey cocktails in the Aloha Room. Later, the young royal set moved to the bar du jour off Park Lane, Whisky Mist at 35 Hertford Street, W1.

St Andrews, Scotland
The University of St Andrews, founded in 1413, is the third oldest university in the English-speaking world, after Oxford & Cambridge. It sits right on the shoulder of the Royal Kingdom of Fife, on the eastern side of Scotland. A William & Kate Tour would have to include a peek from outside at their joint hall of residence, St Salvator’s, with its views over the Bay of St Andrews and famous foam-and-flour fight for new undergraduates. Also their shared student house on Hope Street and romantic strolls along the edge of the North Sea on West Sands. While you’re there, make a pilgrimage to the Old Course at St Andrews Links, Home of Golf.

Royal Warrant spotting, London, England
St James’s Palace and its environs make some of the most charming walking in London. Go Royal Warrant-spotting on some of the marvelous old shops, from Berry Bros & Rudd, the wine merchants, to Lobbs the shoemakers and Locks the hatters: shops that display one or more royal crests have been supplying the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or Prince Charles for at least five years.

Wales; the longest name in the world
Anglesey, Wales
While the prince completes his RAF training in Wales, the young Windsors live on the island of Anglesey. The island not only has some of the most stunning beaches in Britain – such as Trearddur Bay, white gold sand, rock pools and hardly anyone there – but is also home to the station with the longest name in the world at Llanfair, or Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, to give it its full name. Phew!

For more information on planning a royal trip to Britain, travelers can go to

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Post from Visitbritain

Thứ Tư, 6 tháng 7, 2011

The Bianca C dive site, Grenada

Diving into the beautiful Grenadian waters, you’ll not only discover spectacular Caribbean marine life, but for the experienced diver the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean, the Bianca C. This fall, the historic vessel will mark 50 years on Grenada’s sea floor.

One of Grenada’s most famous dive sites is the Bianca C. Justifiably known as the ‘Titanic of the Caribbean,' the Bianca C. is one of the top-ten wreck sites in the world. The 600-foot long cruise ship sank near St. George’s Harbour on October 22nd, 1961 and today sits upright on her keel in 165 feet of water.

The Bianca C. is an internationally recognized site for advanced divers, who come to explore the intricate details and swim in one of the sites well-known highlights, the swimming pool on the upper deck.

Grenada and Carriacou have more than 50 dive sites, varying in depths and complexity from 20 feet to 200 feet. Grenada is home to the World’s first Underwater Sculpture Park – created by Jason de Caires Taylor in Moliniere Bay. Whether you’re looking for a tranquil experience or something more adventurous, Grenada has something for all dive and snorkel enthusiasts.

“Diving in Grenada is an unforgettable experience. Our waters are home to many shipwrecks and abundant marine life, including large schools of fish and undisturbed coral,” said Simon Stiell, director of tourism for the Grenada Board of Tourism. “We encourage divers and snorkelers to visit and explore this beauty and history for themselves.”

Grenada boasts numerous dive sites, below are a few of the island’s most fascinating spots:

Veronica L - This much loved and highly photogenic wreck is festooned with colorful soft corals, sponges and marine life. The open hold, crane and surroundings of this 25 metre cargo ship are home to seahorses, moray eels and on occasion, frog fish. Shallow in depth, it can be enjoyed by divers of all levels. This wreck makes a fantastic night dive.

Purple Rain - Swim amongst barrel sponge, filefish, hawksbill turtles, stingrays and barracuda while on this breathtaking drift dive. This is an exhilarating opportunity to discover Grenada’s illustrious purple Creole wrasse.

Flamingo Bay - Plentiful marine life, including: elk horn coral, ball rope and bornel sponges abound in this site. Divers might also catch a glimpse of the yellow tail snapper, bar jacks and banded jaw fish. This site is perfect for all levels making it the most popular amongst divers in Grenada.

Boss Reef - Situated on the island’s southern most point lies this five mile stretch of reef, showcasing Grenada’s thriving marine life with lobster, spotted moray eels, trunk fish and crab.

Dragon Bay - The expansive sand channels will act as your guide through this spectacular reef, filled with multi-coloured sponges, reef fish, octopus, lobster and southern stingray.

Fisherman’s Paradise - Located in the rougher seas off Point Salines, where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic, this site is suitable for the advanced divers. Here divers can marvel at Atlantic spadefish and large grouper.

Buccaneer Wreck - Filled with octopus and barracuda, this magnificent site is conveniently located just 72 feet from Moliniere Reef. The Buccaneer Wreck makes for a quick and easy excursion.

Happy Valley - A part of Grenada’s Marine Protected Area is this stunning display of sponge as well as soft, black and whip corals. Here divers are privy to beautiful schools of angelfish, large grouper and an abundance of reef fish. Visitors to the site will also notice an old coral-covered anchor, delicately tucked away amid the reef.

Hema 1 Wreck - Rough seas were responsible for the sinking of this striking coastal freighter during a passage to Trinidad. Today the ship sits three miles off the Grenadian coast and serves as an advanced dive site due to the rapid currents and depth. Divers will spot numerous types of marine life including nurse and reef sharks.

Japanese Gardens - These colourful coral formations create a garden like display known as the Japanese Gardens. The shallow site demonstrates intricate reef arrangements intertwined with soft coral. The gardens are home to exotic marine life such as hawksbill turtles, porcupine fish, lobster and on occasion nurse sharks pass through.

Post from Grenada Tourism

Photo copyright Grenada Tourism