Chez WW in England

Chez WW in England

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Archive for May 2011

Wroxeter Roman City, England

31 May 2011

Andrew and I sometimes think so alike that it scares me…really, really scares me. We were driving back from Powis Castle in Wales and had not planned on seeing another place. We had already had a very full day. We both must have been finding it difficult to just see one site. I was looking at our route on the map and noticed an English Heritage Roman City very close to our route. At the same time Andrew was noticing road signs for the same place and began to drive to our next adventure. We would have just enough time before the place closed. Wroxeter Roman City was the fourth largest town in Roman Britain. Only a tiny portion of the city is above ground but it is still an impressive place and provides wonderful in-sights into Roman life in Britain 1500 years ago. It is impossible not to notice the villa at Wroxeter. It was built in 2010 using the same techniques and materials that the Romans would have used. The villa is based on the designs of a Roman town house that had been excavated in 1913 – 1914. An audio tour guides you through the city and panels are in place which show how the town would have looked to the Romans. Wroxeter Roman City and the work of English Heritage show us an important part of the history of Roman Britain. I love the columns of bricks that can be seen. The ancient Romans had under floor heating 2000 years ago. And I thought that my uncle was all high tech when he installed in-floor heating a few years ago. We can learn a lot from the Romans.

English Heritage was doing a tasting of some of their yummy products whilst we were there. I thought that I had hit the food jack pot when I discovered clotted cream. And then I tasted lemon curd. A wonderful combination of cream and lemon (reminding me of the lemon pies my nan made). English Heritage makes the most yummiest lemon curd I have ever tasted. Scones with lemon curd. Crepes with lemon curd. Waffles with lemon curd. Lemon cured eaten out of the jar with a spoon. The possibilities are endless.

In the spirit of those ancient Romans, I will embrace steam rooms and hot baths. And in the spirit of all the lemon curd I see in my future, I will embrace time at the gym.

Powis Castle & Garden, Wales

30 May 2011

The alarm blasted at the crack of dawn. Well, not quite, but it sure felt like it. Grey clouds loomed and a light rain fell. We piled into the car and headed for Wales. I am having a not so secret love affair with Wales. It may have been that first visit to Wales (Hay-on-Wye) and a town filled with books that set my heart a flame. It may be the mountains shrouded in mist. It may be those tiny twisty roads that getting my heart pounding. From experience, we know that we need to add time onto whatever google maps or our sat nav tells us…a lot of time. Setting put early means that the roads are almost empty. Macs were packed and wellies were on. Powis Castle and Garden…here we come.

The garden at Powis Castle is a dream. A very fancy dream with terraced gardens. Real terraced gardens complete with giant yew trees and beautiful flowers. I had never seen a real life terraced garden before. To say that I was transfixed would be an understatement. I could picture the gardens at Powis Castle in Italy or maybe France…but not Wales.  The gardens were created in the late 1600′s when formal gardens were the height of fashion. These formal gardens were later replaced with the more informal gardens of open parkland. But, the gardens at Powis survived.

Powis Castle and Garden are being preserved by the wonderful hands of the National Trust. The 8th Earl of Powis still has an apartment within the castle. Each room is more spectatular than the next, filled with stunning furniture and art. No photography is allowed inside the castle. Powis Castle is home to the Clive Museum. Clive of India had an enormous collection of Indian and Far Eastern objects. His son married into the Herbert family of Powis Castle and brought the collection there. One is able to step back into time and see items that could have come from Aladin’s cave.. In 1774, Clive of India bought a Roman cat and snake marble statute for his wife from the 1st century BC – 2nd century AD. In a home full of stunning pieces of art work, it is incredible to see a work of art that is so beautifully carved from so very long ago. The history that this one statute has seen. Wars, electricity, computers, the plague. And this beautiful things was crafted with none of our modern tools. I was in awe and felt that anything is possible. It may be the same feeling one gets when viewing the Great Pyramids.

Yew wood have been used to make bows for years. Andrew was a little shocked that these beautiful trees would be cut down to make weapons. We have since bought a dining set made from Yew wood. It is stunning and I am so happy to have such a beautiful piece of furniture to remember our special time here.

Berkeley Castle, England

29 May 2011

During my first visit to Berkeley Castle I did not explore the butterfly house. Returning with Andrew this was a must see. We also explored the stunning gardens.

Broadway Tower, England

28 May 2011

Atop the second highest point in the Cotswolds is a beautiful folly. Capability Brown designed Broadway Tower for Lady Coventry who wondered if a beacon could be seen from her house. The folly was built on a beacon hill and yes both Broadway Tower and a beacon fire could be seen from her home.

William Morris rented the tower in the 1880s. Broadway Tower monitored nuclear fallout for England in the 1950s. A nuclear bunker was built and was continuously manned from 1961 until 1991.