Framlingham Castle

This year, we decided that we wanted to  explore as much of England as we possibly could  (especially if the weather was sunny and bright, or even if just drizzling!) and since hubby and I are both amateur history buffs, we decided to go for an annual  membership of English Heritage…. and if you`d like more information, access their site here.

We found this an excellent way to delve into bygone times and learn about this fantastic land and very often, there are family activities, so if you have little ones and furry friends, you could take them along and they will not get bored…and as a bonus you can take a picnic and feast in the same place as royalty did in the past!

Framlingham Castle is situated in Suffolk, once a grand symbol of the imposing power of the Dukes of Norfolk. Originally built by Roger Bigod, a Norman and Earl of Norfolk in the 12th century and remained in the hands of the earls and dukes of Norfolk for around 400 years.

Queen Mary Tudor, the Catholic Queen, first female to ascend the English throne and also first daughter of Henry VIII, and sister of Queen Elizabeth I, also owned the castle for a short period and resided at Framlingham Castle; indeed, it was here that she discovered she had become England`s first female queen.

Framlingham Castle: Across the Mere

Framlingham Castle: Across the Mere

This castle, though mostly a ruin, still retains it`s majestic appearance.

The gatehouse is situated on the side of the ticket office  and this leads to essentially a large open space which nowadays, only houses the poorhouse.


The Gatehouse

The castle was sold in 1635, by Theophilus Howard, descendant of the Howard family who was heavily indebted, to Sir Robert Hitcham. Sir Robert was a rich and successful lawyer and politician, who although visibly very prosperous and purchased the castle for the hefty sum of  £14, 000, a considerable sum at the time, was known to have had humble origins.

He left  this property to Pembroke College in Cambridge with express orders to build a poorhouse. This poorhouse still stands within the castle walls, surrounded by the imposing 13 towers.


The Poorhouse

Castle Walls- View from one of the towers in the castle

The castle is surrounded by a park, used as fertile  deer hunting grounds during it`s years of glory. Often, in these grounds, one would find poachers (including priests!) who could face hefty fines and even imprisonment.

Close-up of the imposing Framlingham Castle facade

Close-up of the imposing Framlingham Castle facade

Finally, if you liked this post, watch out for more….we`ve visited several other places recently and I will be bringing you news and photos of these incredible places, in the next few posts! Have a great week everyone!


Destination Warwickshire- Part 1

The castlemania continues…so last month I planned a surprise birthday treat for dear Mr M. I was very discreet of course, so he never had the slightest clue…..until I presented him with the following plan:





In order to be part of the activities you must pack an overnight bag and once you have done as instructed, relax, abandon your woes and take up your knight`s armour and helmet and think about where you`d like to be…

CLUE 1: Let`s travel together to the Reign of  Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of King Henry VIII…this is where the journey will take you on your first activity!

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle

Then, once your explore the land, you will relax fully in a quaint place and have a nourishing meal and the day will end as you wish it to!

Once you are fully rested, refreshed and ready to affront a new day, we shall journey together once more to another place, (CLUE 2 ) further in time than Elizabeth I`s Reign, and considered the seat of a family who changed British history and played a major part in the War of the Roses…somewhere where only the very strongest and wealthiest in England lived..…have you guessed?


…………………………THE END or just the beginning?




So, can you guess where the first clue took us to?

The answer to the first clue is Kenilworth Castle and the Elizabethan Gardens in Warwickshire.

Elizabethan Gardens

Elizabethan Gardens

Unfortunately most of the castle has been destroyed, but there is still plenty to see and Leicester`s Gatehouse is still intact and there are several rooms and exhibitions which you can explore as well as the garden.

Leicester Gatehouse

Leicester Gatehouse

Further information can be found via this link:

As we were walking to the castle, I couldn`t help taking a quick photo of the facade of this cute little cottage!!

Tudor cottage

Tudor Cottage

Woburn Abbey

We recently decided to set out to explore England`s castles…perhaps watching regular historical movies or reading historical novels by Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory, may have something to do with it! 🙂

This is why, a few weeks ago we decided to set out on a Sunday outing to Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire.

Beautiful Scenery at Woburn Abbey

Beautiful Scenery at Woburn Abbey

The history of this great palace starts in 1145, when Hugh de Bolebec founded a religious house for a group of Cistercian monks and this remained a monastic building until King Henry VIII took over the building after executing Abbot Robert Hobbes for treason.

In 1547 Woburn Abbey was given to Sir John Russell, by Henry VIII`s son Edward VI for services rendered to his late father, Henry VIII and Sir John  then became the first Earl of Bedford.  The earldom became a dukedom from 1700.

The family tree can be traced to the present day to the Fifteenth Duke of Bedford, Andrew.  Although the family`s accomplishments are many, one cannot help but mention the Flying Duchess who was the wife of the 11th Duke of Bedford, Herbrand. He was an aide-de-camp for the Viceroy of India and there he met and married Ms Mary Tribe (who became Duchess Mary), returning to Woburn soon after, due to the death of his father the 10th Duke, Sackville.  When the 1st World War broke out in 1914, the Duke and Duchess converted the Cottage Hospital in Woburn Village and the riding school and tennis court in the Abbey grounds into military hospitals.

Duchess Mary became a qualified surgical nurse and a radiographer and dedicated here entire life to the patients who came to Woburn to be treated. She was a phenomenal woman who also had a passion for ornithology and  for flying planes, thereby gaining the nickname: The Flying Duchess and it was through this passion that she unfortunately lost her life.

When you visit Woburn Abbey you cannot help being awed by the vast meadows and land surrounding the palatial building…and as you drive in, you will  spot several deer species, originally imported by the 11th Duke.

The Grand Woburn Abbey

The Grand Woburn Abbey

The building itself is exquisitely well-maintained and as you walk around the estate, you will undoubtedly pass through the Book Room, the Fourth Duke`s Bedroom, corridors such as Paternoster Row full of paintings, one of them a painting of Malta`s grand harbour, and the Grand Staircase. Rooms exuding particular charm include Queen Victoria`s Bedroom and Dressing rooms, the State Saloon and the Dining Room, the latter adorned with typical sights of Venice, by Canaletto and finally the gold and silver vaults which will not fail to enthrall!

The Chinese Diary

The Chinese Dairy


Venice Break!

I`ve been missing from the blogwaves for a while now…the reason is purely that I recently changed my job…and from one, I am now trying to juggle 3 part-times (which generally tend to eat up the weekend) and of course on top of that, actually strive to be a model wife too! : )

However, as you may imagine, this is not  very simple  to achieve, so in order to manage, I  sometimes have to give up my ‘me time‘ which this blog is part of…but I`ve now returned, and hope to be able to post a bit more often…

Ah, a big thanks to those of you who are still following me and also I see there are some newcomers too! Welcome On Board!

So, last month, in an attempt to ensure that I don`t lose my sanity with this continual working mode, and also, as a very belated Christmas pressie to my other half…..we decided to take a very brief vacation in Venice! I`ve never been before, though hubby had visited with his parents as a child…so I was really looking forward to the very brief four days.

On arrival, we sped off from the airport in a water bus which takes you directly to the city of canals, majestic buildings, gondolas (technically, in Italian, this should be gondole) and fantastic masks…

Here are some of the best shots we took..enjoy and let me know what you think!!

ge of the prisoners entered the dungeons.

Bridge of the prisoners entered the dungeons…you can still hear them faintly!

Magnificent Venice

Magnificent Venice!

Take me on a gondola ride please!

Take me on a gondola ride please!

Doge`s Palace

Doge`s Palace

Lovely Array of Venitian Masks

Lovely Array of Venetian Masks and Murano Glass…

Kill the Routine!

So lately, hubby and I have decided to embark on a new project. Since we both love to travel and discover new places, we decided to start exploring the counties around which we live in, by visiting a ‘new’ village or town every week.

Swans having fun in St.Ives

Swans having fun in St.Ives

Admittedly sometimes, we don`t manage to go anywhere  during the weekend but when we do, it`s a great feeling, as one has that anticipation… in “Where do we go?”, then ensues some active discussion and after the Decision: “We`ll go that place!” and then the excitement of  finding the map on internet (hubby`s job usually) and driving out into the ‘unknown’…, unfamiliar roads…pretty, little houses clustered together, a stream or river running parallel to the B road  we`re travelling on…little, maybe insignificant things for some, but for us, it`s a break from the usual routine…it`s another place on earth we have discovered!

And in the post you can see two photos of St. Ives, a little market town in Cambridgeshire, taken on a bright, crispy, Sunday early afternoon, just 2 weeks ago.

Tree in the Middle

Tree in the Middle

Wishing summer never ends!

As I write this and gaze out of the window…I can see the sky….an ashen-grey hue and hear the rain….foretelling the months to come..….autumn and winter!

So I ask myself, what is the best method to counteract this feeling of foreboding, the imminent gloom which forecasts the dark months ahead??….

And here we go, let me tele-transport myself to a few months ago….my summer holidays in the sun…in Taormina, Sicily, last July 2012…3 days of absolute bliss with two special ladies, bathing in the ice-cold water and lying in the Mediterranean sun, basking in the golden rays!

And here are the highlights!!

Taormina is perched upon Monte Tauro, hence the name. It`s an explosion of historical architecture, culture, bustling Italian life, good food and breathtaking views.

An Iron Gate

An Iron Gate. Copyright

Some picturesque views which remained imprinted in my mind…

View from the cable car approaching the beach. Copyright

Another View from the cable car approaching the beach. Copyright

Cultural highlights…..Palazzo Corvaja, a mediaeval castle…

Palazzo Corvaja. Copyright

Palazzo Corvaja. Copyright

I Buratini...Copyright

And a fine close-up…observe the details…

I Buratini...a close-up view

I Buratini…a close-up view. Copyright

And finally we reached the beach…

The Bay of Mazzaro`. Copyright

View from my deck chair…

View whilst sunbathing...Copyright

And of course, I can`t forget the imposing Piazza del Duomo (where Italian VIPs, mostly from the  film industry tend to flock by night…)

Piazza del Duomo. Copyright

Sea- view from Piazza del Duomo. Copyright

And a final farewell from our hotel window…

Final Farewell from our hotel window! Copyright

Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen, Denmark

In the last few blog posts, I had been complaining that I needed to have a holiday….and indeed most of June into July, I had the pleasure to visit several countries, one of these was Denmark, hubby`s homeland.

So, when you`re in Denmark, it is customary to eat a ‘frankfurter’- similar to a hotdog (I am told that there are different types, some much lengthier than the bun they are presented in). It is served with the characteristic crispy fried onion, as well as the customary dollop of ketchup!

Danish-style Frankfurter!

Danish-style Frankfurter!

Our visit coincided with the Diamond Jubilee long weekend….and having missed all the fun in the UK, we decided to capture some royalty spirit, with a visit to Rosenborg Slot or Rosenborg Castle. It is right in the middle of Copenhagen, within walking distance of the Nørreport station and very worth a visit if you are ever around there.

Rosenborg Slot

Rosenborg slot was built by  King Christian IV (King of Denmark and Norway) as a summer house in early 1600s. There are 3 floors which include the ground floor, first floor and second floor. The latter  is mostly the Knights` Hall, used as a ballroom.  The castle is quite small and can be easily seen in 1- 2hours. Take your ifone/Android phone as all the exhibits have a QR code and there`s free WiFi too.

An exquisite highlight of the visit was seeing the Crown Jewels and other fascinating jewellery pieces.

The Crown Jewels

And some lovely jewellery pieces:

Some lovely jewellery pieces

Some lovely jewellery pieces

And an amber chandelier!

An Amber Chandelier

An Amber Chandelier

As you go through the Stone Passage on the ground floor, don`t forget to look upwards at the magnificent ceiling. This leads to the Kings Chamber.

Detail of the stone passage

Detail of the stone passage

And here is the King`s Chamber:

The Kings Chamber

My special favourite room was the The Knights’ Hall or Throne Room, on the second floor. Note the silver lions gurading the thrones!

Throne Room

And I couldn`t resist taking a pic of the royal WC- fascinating!!!

The Royal Loo!

The Royal Loo!

And here are some details of the tiles!!

Tile details

Tile details

If you want further information, do visit the official site:

Finally a  special thanks to dear hubby who took most of the photos for this post but did not enjoy taking a photo of the loo!! 🙂

Honeymoon Twist

James Bond Island..the only good pic we have of this trip!

James Bond Island..the only good pic we have of this trip!

I am in a desperate need of a holiday fix!!! Since my last holiday was my honeymoon, now more than 6 months ago, I cannot help thinking about sun, sea and pina coladas!!

Speaking of our honeymoon, well, during our honeymoon, we wanted to visit as many beaches as possible and as part of our itinerary, painstakingly planned months before, we planned a romantic day trip to the Phi Phi islands. We scrutinized the weather forecast for the entire week when we were residing near Kata Beach and went for Fri 25th Nov 2011. We went for a Super-deluxe Plus speedboat trip (paid our monies before the trip of course)!! So the day arrived and I was up at 6 am, prancing around and deciding what bathing suit to wear & what to pack and read all the internet reviews about the places we were to see, I was so excited I just couldn`t wait! At 8.30am sharp, the tour people picked us up in van (which I noticed was quite packed) and off we went to the harbour. On getting there it was obvious that there were different tours going on at the same time, so we found our guide for the day and we were asked to go off and change into our bathing suits. Oops! I thought, that`s strange..why should we change now before leaving? However, I did as instructed and for those who have seen or been in a Thai public bathroom, I`m sure you can visualize that it would take a queue of 20 women quite a while to disrobe without landing in some suspicious-looking matter…but anyway I managed and joined hubby and the rest of our tour comrades. The little Thai guide called Jane told us that the wind was 60km/hr and she needed us to sign a paper to say that we were happy. I looked at the sea…it seemed OK, just a bit choppy, so I thought nothing of it. We boarded the speedboat…now you recall I said a Super-Deluxe Plus trip? Well, we were 19 people in all, wedged together in a speedboat, which did show evident signs of overuse and was not in my opinion anything like a super deluxe class! If I was secretly hoping for champagne and caviar…there was no sight of even a fridge, only a lonely battered picnic-cooler!

Then the engines roared to life and off we went…my gosh!!! The speedboat headed straight into giant walls of sea and the ride was a continual sequence of horrendous bumps. Some ladies actually turned grass-green and people who were sitting in the front sought refuge at the back until the crew told us all to make sure there aren`t too many people on one side, otherwise we could capsize! Gosh!! I was really livid but also incredibly scared that if the captain took a wrong turn we would be lost at sea and probably never to be found and we were in the hands of the captain who could only communicate through the guide.

The adrenaline was shooting out of my veins and I felt like I had taken 12 cups of coffee in one go.I held onto my seat, as if my life depended on it (probably it actually did!) and my hubby`s hand (who kept to asking me whether I was OK). Anyway, after an hour of agonizing bumps, and sea-spray spatters, and observing the ashen faces around me, we made it to the first island which was Coral Island where for 45 minutes we were released from the speedboat and we tried to enjoy a quick swim and a stroll around the beach- however we were warned that the tide was coming up real fast and we had to keep to the time, which of course no one thought of doing otherwise. We then headed off to Maya beach and also Monkey beach (where we were not allowed to berth due to the ferocious biting monkeys (they seemed innocuous to me!) but before that we passed by James Bond island.

Maya beach (where The Beach was filmed)which was so congested with tourists that it was impossible to place a towel on the beach and just relax unless you wanted someone`s foot to be thrown in your face. Also, the clouds gradually started acquiring a greyish hue and a few drops of rain fell too. So we were called back to our speedboat and off we sped (by now poor Jane had emptied her first aid box as everyone wanted travel sickness tablets). I do not normally get sea-sick but due to this unique occasion, I decided to be wary and took a couple just to be sure! So off we sped again, now to a little island, owned by the tour company for lunch.

Unfortunately, the lunch was fish-based so poor hubby (who doesn`t like fish) could only take rice! Also the food was not very appetizing (or maybe we had all lost the will to survive really!). Then another diabolic queue for the bathroom!! So when my turn came I noticed that there was a draught, so I looked up and guess what? There was no ceiling and the rain suddenly started falling heavily, in huge drops! I joined hubby and the rest of the tour comrades, all shivering and wet and sprinted across the coral-spiked sand back onto the boat. We were taken briefly to another island and asked for our feedback about the trip- I couldn`t stop writing and after a few minutes, Jane came back to me with a pained expression saying, ‘Oh I am sorry that you didn`t enjoy yourself…are you sick?’. I was bewildered really! Apparently none of the other tour comrades had given a bad review except me!! I couldn`t believe this and was totally disappointed at the lack of support!

Soon after the embarrassing confrontation, we were taken back to a different harbour (as it was too dangerous to go to the first one from which we had originally departed) which took another hour and during this last trip, the sky was a menacing leaden-grey, the rain continued to fall incessantly (so we had to place our beach towels over us to shield us). The waves heaved and tumbled and the thunder rumbled all the way back to a harbour, where after alighting onto the jetty, we were picked up in a van with a cracked windscreen and taken back to our hotel!!

Dreaming of holidays in the sun…

February has now begun- have to say have nothing really to look forward to…of course, there`s Valentine`s Day, but now we`re happily married, I don`t think there will be any surprises!

Indeed, I can`t help but fantasize about my next holiday…again, sun and sea is what I`m always up for…there`s nothing which beats that soft sunny glow on your skin once you`ve made it to the sea- it makes you feel alive and full of life! However, a nice city like Venice or Milan would be cool, or maybe an East European city destination too would be lovely, but I  don`t really fancy anything cold and frigid…although snow is magical but its so cold and wet and we have enough of that (I mean the wet and dull weather) in the UK and what`s more, the forecast is -10 oC for this week!!! Gosh!!

Realistically,  at the moment, there is no hope of any holidays, and I`m not being dull myself here but merely factual.. so all I can do really is just imagine myself sipping cocktails on a deserted beach with the waves lapping up the shore… or re-live the scenes of our honeymoon!!

My special place!

My special place