Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

A week ago I visited the southeastern region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in France and stayed in Cavalaire-Sur-Mer in the department of Var. With a hire car and a camera, I explored what the region had to offer and I was not disappointed. This was my second visit to the region and it was just as beautiful the second time around as it was the first.

 

Bonporteau Beach, Cavalaire-Sur-Mer

 

 

St-Tropez

 

I couldn’t visit Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur without making a trip into St-Tropez. Saint-Tropez is a town about 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Nice and is located on the French Riviera. After the war it became an internationally known seaside resort, well known for its influx of artists of the French New Wave and it also became a resort for the European and American jet set with the occasional chance to do a bit of celebrity spotting.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the ports, boats and the busy high streets, you can take a stroll in the side streets where you feel like you have been transported back in time, being surrounded by beautiful old buildings.

 

 

Castellane & Gorges du Verdon

 

Taking a drive to the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, I decided to revisit Castellane. Castellane is a charming place to visit, very scenic and a very peaceful place. Here you can visit La Chapelle Notre Dame du Roc…if you can handle the climb!

 

 

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

 

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages of France and I have to say that I agree. The views are simply breathtaking.

It lies at the western entrance to the Gorges du Verdon. The village has been a centre of the pottery trade, especially faïence, for centuries. A spring flows out of the cliff and creates a waterfall in town, providing water power. The village was built on platform terraces a hundred or so metres up the side of a limestone cliff.

 

The Gold Star

“Moustiers evokes a Nativity scene: confined between two rock ledges, a star dominates the village from a great height…”

According to Frédéric Mistral, the star is an ex-voto dedicated to St. Mary. The knight Blacas decided to hang a star there as a homage to the Virgin on his return from the Crusades.

Other versions talk about love stories, the Three Kings or Chivalry… Although many versions exist about the origin of the star none have been verified to date. The mystery remains total on the origin and meaning of the star above Moustiers… The size of the star we see today dates from 1957. It is the eleventh to hang above the mountain road. In 1995 it was covered in gold leaf before returning to its vigil over the village. The size of the star, which originally had five points has changed over time from 1.80 to 30 cm. Today, the chain is 135 m long, weighs 150kg and the star covered in gold leaf measures 1.25 m.

(Office de tourisme Moustiers Sainte-Marie – Gorges du Verdon, 2016)

 

 

 

Lac de Sainte-Croix

 

 

Domaine du Rayol

 

Towards the end of the trip I visited the Domaine du Rayol, also known as the Jardin botanique du Rayol and the Parc botanique à Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer, a botanical garden and arboretum located on the Avenue des Belges, Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer.

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and can’t wait until I return again sometime next year.

 

Au revoir France, à bientôt…

 

 

 

References

Domaine du Rayol. (2016). Le jardin des méditerranées. [online] Available at: http://www.domainedurayol.org [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

Office de tourisme Moustiers Sainte-Marie – Gorges du Verdon. (2016). The legend of the star. [online] Available at: http://www.moustiers.eu/?Legende-de-l-etoile&lang=en [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

Wikipedia. (2016). Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpes-de-Haute-Provence [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

Wikipedia. (2016). Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provence-Alpes-Côte_d%27Azur [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

Wikipedia. (2016). Saint-Tropez. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Tropez [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

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Devon & Cornwall

What better to do whilst the sun is shining, than visit Devon & Cornwall. I visited the Eden Project and some National Trust sites during my stay and took plenty of photographs. Please enjoy!

 

The Eden Project

 

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© Google Maps 2016

 

 

Lanhydrock

 

 

Lydford Gorge

 

 

Buckland Abbey

 

 

Cotehele

 

 

References

Eden Project Cornwall UK. (2016). Eden Project – Home. [online] Available at: http://www.edenproject.com [Accessed 14 Sep. 2016].

National Trust. (2016). Buckland Abbey. [online] Available at: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/buckland-abbey [Accessed 14 Sep. 2016].

National Trust. (2016). Cotehele. [online] Available at: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele [Accessed 14 Sep. 2016].

National Trust. (2016). Lanhydrock. [online] Available at: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lanhydrock [Accessed 14 Sep. 2016].

National Trust. (2016). Lydford Gorge. [online] Available at: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lydford-gorge [Accessed 14 Sep. 2016].

Trentham Estate

The Trentham Estate is a great place to visit all year round, especially the gardens. The new-look gardens have matured into some of the finest in Britain according to Alan Titchmarsh, where he is quoted as saying “one of the UK’s must-see gardens”.

There has been a contemporary revival of the famous Italian Gardens which was led by renowned designer and multi-Chelsea gold-medal winner Tom Stuart-Smith.

To the east of the Italian Gardens are the Rivers of Grass and the adjacent Floral Labyrinth. Both these schemes were designed by eminent Dutch plantsman, and Chelsea gold-medal winner, Piet Oudolf.

At the centre of Trentham Gardens is the mile long, Capability Brown designed, Trentham Lake. There is a circular lakeside walk all the way round as it takes you aside the River Trent.

Trentham Gardens is a photographers dream, with lots to photograph.

 

trentham

© Google Maps 2016

 

Walk around the lake

 

 

Flowers

 

 

Dandelions by Amy Wight

 

 

 

References

Trentham Estate. (2016). Trentham Estate – Home. [online] Available at: http://www.trentham.co.uk [Accessed 12 Sep. 2016].

Moseley Old Hall

Moseley Old Hall is a National Trust property which is located in Fordhouses, north of Wolverhampton. It is famous as one of the resting places of Charles II of England during his escape to France following defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

A variety of 17th-century plants, a fruit orchard and a striking ‘knot’ garden adorn the graceful gardens.

 

Location of Moseley Old Hall

 

moseley

© Google Maps 2016

 

The inspiration for knot gardens

 

“Knot gardens are based on Renaissance designs used in many forms of indoor decoration such as fabrics, carpets, cushions and wall coverings.

Some gardens were intricate patterns involving low hedges intricately knotted together on a gravel base. These were small in scale and complete in themselves and were known as ‘closed knots’.

Others were simpler but more extensive and always enclosed and inward looking. These ‘open’ knots, like the one here at Moseley, were usually intended as a place to grow plants as well as an exercise in geometry.”

(National Trust, 2016)

As usual, during my visits to the National Trust properties, I took along my camera and captured some images.

 

 

 

 

References

National Trust. (2016). Moseley Old Hall. [online] Available at: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/moseley-old-hall [Accessed 9 Sep. 2016].

Clumber Park

For those who like walking and the great outdoors, Clumber Park is a great place to visit. Consisting of a beautiful expanse of parkland, heath and woods that cover more than 3,800 acres, it is easy to loose yourself here whilst exploring. In addition there is also an impressive lake. Clumber Park is host to a variegation of habitats which are home to an amazing array of wildlife and it is also a great place to admire it.

 

Location

clumberpark

© Google Maps 2016

 

On and around the lake

 

 

Squirrel 

 

 

References

National Trust. (2016). Clumber Park. [online] Available at: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clumber-park [Accessed 8 Sep. 2016].

Brittany & Pays de la Loire

10 years after my last visit to Brittany, I felt it was time to visit this beautiful part of France again. My first visit to Brittany was rather different, staying in a cheap hotel and eating fast food but my second visit was much more pleasant, this time staying with family in the comfort of their home and being treated to home cooked meals…what could be better? With a hire car I explored what the Côtes-d’Armor had to offer.

 

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Château de la Roche-Jagu

 

Pontrieux

 

Binic

 

Île-de-Bréhat

Bréhat is an archipelago composed of two main islands, separated only at high tide and many smaller ones. It is well known for its pink granite rocks, very mild micro-climate and Mediterranean vegetation, due to the warm Gulf Stream coming from across the Atlantic.

Visitors come to Brehat every day by the ferry service (les Vedettes de Bréhat) to visit the main tourist attractions which include the Paon & Rosedo lighthouses, the St-Michel chapel, the Guerzido beach, the Birlot water-mill and the Verrerie of Bréhat.

I took a trip to the island and was not disappointed. It is great for walks and escaping from it all.

 

 

Fort-la-Latte

 

Cap Fréhel

 

Nantes, Pays de la Loire

Nantes is a city in western France, located on the Loire River. The city is the sixth largest in France, with a metropolitan area of about 900,000 inhabitants.

Nantes is the capital city of the Pays de la Loire region and the Loire-Atlantique département, and it is the largest city in traditional Brittany and in the whole Grand-Ouest (northwestern France). Together with Vannes, Rennes and Carhaix, it was one of the major cities of the historic province of Brittany and the ancient Duchy of Brittany. Nantes is still widely regarded as its capital city.

 

Nantes & Brittany

The city of Nantes and the Loire-Atlantique département, were formerly part of the historic province of Brittany. Nantes was one of its traditional capitals, along with Rennes. Depending on who you talk to, Nantes is still considered to be a part of Brittany and there is still much debate on this topic. Despite this, Nantes is a fantastic place to visit with beautiful architecture and many sites to observe.

 

 

After visiting Nantes, it was nice to head back to the Côtes-d’Armor where the pace of life was less hectic. Brittany is a great region of France to visit, no matter what your interests are. For me personally, I love the countryside and the small quaint towns and villages. I look forward to returning in the not to distant future, as there are more places that I would like to visit.

 

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Chapelle Notre-Dame de l’Espérance

 

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Saint-Quay-Portrieux

 

References

Castle la Latte. (2016). Fort la Latte – Monument historique classé. [online] Available at: https://www.castlelalatte.com [Accessed 6 Sep. 2016].

Vedettes de Bréhat. (2016). Vedettes de Bréhat. [online] Available at: http://www.vedettesdebrehat.com [Accessed 6 Sep. 2016].

Wikipedia. (2016). Île-de-Bréhat. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Île-de-Bréhat [Accessed 6 Sep. 2016].

Wikipedia. (2016). Nantes. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nantes [Accessed 6 Sep. 2016].

 

 

Bourne Mill, Essex

Not wanting to waste an opportunity of soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the great outdoors during this glorious spell of weather that we have at present, I decided to visit Bourne Mill in Colchester. A quaint water mill with a history dating back over 1000 years. A great retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the historic town of Colchester.

 

Bourne Mill

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Inside the Mill

 

Outside

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Then a quick drive to Copt Hall Marshes…

 

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References

National Trust. (2016). Bourne Mill. [online] Available at: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bourne-mill [Accessed 20 Jul. 2016].

National Trust. (2016). Copt Hall Marshes. [online] Available at: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/copt-hall-marshes [Accessed 20 Jul. 2016].

Iceland

Last week I visited Iceland for the very first time and I was not disappointed, it was everything I wished it would be and more.

With a population of around 332,529 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe which makes it a pleasure to drive around. Compared to the U.K, the roads seemed empty and it was a delight to take in the surroundings, from the sand, lava fields, mountains and glaciers.

My camera went into overdrive during my 1 week visit and I have decided to put a selection of the images onto this blog.

The Blue Lagoon was my first port of call, great for relaxation and unwinding after a flight.

 

“The Blue Lagoon was formed in 1976 during operation at the nearby geothermal power plant. In the years that followed, people began to bathe in the unique water and apply the silica mud to their skin. Those with psoriasis noticed an incredible improvement in their condition. Over the years, Blue Lagoon has been innovative in harnessing this gift of nature to develop different spa services and products. Today, Blue Lagoon is recognized as one of the wonders of the world.” 

(Blue Lagoon, 2016)

 

Reykjavík

 

Geysir

 

Gullfoss

 

Þingvellir National Park

 

Kerið

 

Seljalandsfoss

 

Eyjafjallajökull

 

Skógafoss

 

Reynisfjara

 

One of my favourite parts of the trip to Iceland was visiting Jökulsárlón where I took a boat tour onto the glacier, it is an experience I shall remember for a very long time.

 

Jökulsárlón

 

Glacier Lagoon in Iceland | icelagoon.is

Pit stop on the way back from Jökulsárlón. A field full of Lupin(e)s and a stream. Great place for a picnic!

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Valley of Reykjadalur

 

It was a great experience visiting Iceland and I am looking forward to returning in the near future…maybe in the winter months so that I can try and catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

Rutland Water

For the last few days I have taken advantage of the splendid weather that we have been experiencing by partaking in scenic rural walks, before heading off to a cooler climate in Iceland.

 

Here are some images that I took…Enjoy!

 

 

Manchester

Recently my work took me up to Manchester, where I stayed for a couple of nights. It seemed that I had made the right decision to travel north. As the south suffered with the cold, wind and rain, I sat on the Salford Quays enjoying the sunshine and a nice cold pint. As always, I brought along my travel companion…my trusty Nikon!

 

The Victoria Warehouse

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Some of the sites I encountered on my way to the Salford Quays.

 

 

I just couldn’t resist visiting the new “Coronation Street” Studios along Trafford Wharf Road.

 

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BBC Manchester, ITV and MediaCityUK