Monday 29 August 2011

Favourite Views of Britain . . .

A few years ago they had a television program over here on the telly called Britain’s Favourite View. On it, famous British celebrities took us to their favourite British View, and we got to visit it with them, as well as the surrounding local areas. They showed four different places every week, and every week we got to vote on which of those was our favourite one. I cannot remember which place in Britian won the program as being Britain's favourite view, but I do remember really enjoying watching it. We are great armchair travellers in this house, but I guess we are also great real time travellers too, having taken in many beautiful areas together over these past almost 11 years! I thought it would be great fun to share with you this morning Todd and my top favourite views of this beautiful country thus far! So here we go!

The Willow Man

A number of years back, we were on our way down from Chester to Devon for a few days break, when on the right hand side of the car this amazing vision appeared in a field, along side of the M5 near Brigwater. A complete and striding man, racing across the field, made completely from willow. I was totally amazed and enthralled. Standing approximately 12 meters high it is possibly the largest willow sculpture in the world. It sure got my attention, and I fell in love with him immediately. It was at once intriguing and a bit frightening at the same time I suppose, but also very beautiful. I was totally entranced!

Llangollen, Wales

Nestled within the beautiful Dee valley in North East Wales, lies the small town of Llangollen. An ancient market town on the banks of the River Dee, Llangollen lies under the watchful gaze of Dinas Bran Castle. Todd and I often drive there on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and just walk around, stopping of course for refreshments at one of the lovely tea shops. (Impossible to resist!) It is such a beautiful little town and I fell in love with it from the very first time I visited. Aside from it’s lovely little streets and shops it is home to the International Musical Eisteddfod every July. It also has a wonderful steam railway that you can take a tour on if you are so desiring. It’s just a special place and it holds a corner of my heart.

Clovelly, Devon

About nine years ago when we went down to Devon, we went to this wonderful little village. It had been raining the whole time we were in Devon, and despite that, I was still in awe of the county’s breathtaking beauty. Devon is probably one of the most beautiful counties I have ever seen. Fortunately on the day we were at Clovelly, the sun shone down upon us in abundance, at least for the first part of our visit. Set into a steep Devon hillside, Clovelly is one of the most famous villages in the world. The single cobbled high street winds it’s way down the hillside, through whitewashed cottages festooned with beautiful hanging baskets of flowers. Every nook and cranny is full to the brim with it's quaint and pristine beauty. It was quite simply gorgeous, and let me tell you . . . just to walk down it’s high street and back up again was a workout of gargantuan proportions! Not to mention, the heavens opened and it started raining cats and dogs on our way back up to the top. We were totally soaked through to the bone, by the time we got back up to the visitors centre, and had to completely change our clothing, but it was worth it!

The Lake District

From the minute our car rounded the bend on the roadway towards Lake Ullswater, I was completely enthralled and utterly in love. I had never seen such beauty . (and as an airforce brat of long standing, I have been to quite a few places in the world) It was completely charming. The Lake District, also known as The Lakes or Lakeland, is a rural area in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous for its lakes and its mountains (or fells), and also its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth and the Lake Poets. The central and most-visited part of thearea is contained in the Lake District National Park — one of fourteen National Parks in the United Kingdom. It lies entirely within Cumbria, and is one of England's few mountainous regions. All the land in England higher than three thousand feet above sea level lies within the National Park. I actually fell in love with the whole of Cumbria while we were there, and it was very easy to see what inspired Wordsworth to pen his sonnets and prose. We are going back for the third time in just two weeks now and I can't wait! Bring on the Sticky Toffee Puddings and the Cumberland Sausages!!

Long Meg and Her Daughters

The first time we holidayed up in Cumbria, one of the fascinating things we discovered while we were there was an ancient stone circle called Long Meg and her Daughters. We had to drive for what seemed like miles and miles into the middle of nowhere, and it seemed we'd never get there, but when we finally did, we were totally amazed by what we saw. (Can you see her face in this the largest stone?) Second only in size to Stone Henge, this stone circle lies in the wilds of Cumbria next to a field full of softly lowing cattle and hidden down a long country lane, amidst hedgerows and brambles. I think Keats said it well:

“Old Meg she was a Gipsy,

And liv'd upon the Moors:

Her bed it was the brown heath turf

And her house was out of doors.

Her apples were swart blackberries,

Her currants pods o' broom;

Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,

Her book a churchyard tomb.

Her Brothers were the craggy hills,

Her Sisters larchen trees--

Alone with her great family

She liv'd as she did please. “

The Lighthouse at Beachy Head

Beachy Head is the most famous part of the Eastbourne Downland. Rising 162 metres (530 feet) above the sea below, it is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain. The main reason for Beachy Head's popularity is the wonderful panoramic view which can be seen from the cliff top. If you look east you can see the beaches and town of Eastbourne, the Pier and the Harbour, and then on to Pevensey Bay and Hastings and, on an exceptionally clear day, Dungeness in Kent, nearly 40 miles away. One of the most stunning views from the cliffs is the lighthouse.

It is said that as early as 1670 a light shone to guide passing vessels from the top of the cliffs at Beachy Head. In 1902 under the direction of Sir Thomas Matthews, the Trinity House Engineer-in-Chief, the present lighthouse was brought into service, sited about 165 metres seawards from the base of the cliffs. It took two years to complete and involved building a coffer-dam and a cableway from the top of the cliffs to carry materials down to the site. 3,660 tons of Cornish granite were used in the construction of the tower. It is quite simply amazing to see and on a clear day with the waves crashing at it’s feet, I would call it truly stunning.

Scotney Castle and Gardens

Scotney Castle and Gardens were not very far from where we lived down in Kent. We often went of a Saturday and wandered around the gardens. We never ever tired of it no matter how often we saw it. It was beautiful and peaceful and a wonderful place to walk. I loved the Castle, even though it was largely a ruin. The gardens were beautiful, no matter the time of year that you went . . . and parts of the main house are now open for viewing as well. I always thought it was a very lovely spot to visit. Beautiful really.

This was an early spring view from the Sitting room window of the Manor where I used to work down south, Brenchley manor. The gardens were some of the loveliest that I have ever seen. We were surrounded by beauty there, and the gardens were breathtaking no matter the time of year. This was one of my favourite views looking down onto the Elizabethan Lover's Knot Garden at the front, just behind the ancient Stone Gate that stood along the front drive. This gate was one of the oldest existing examples of stone masonry work in the UK, having been comissioned by an acquaintance of Michaelangelo. It certainly was a marvel to be sure!

To have been able to live and work amongst such beauty was a special blessing and experience. We live a completely different life now though . . . no lessed blessed or beautiful I think . . . it's beautiful and blessed in different ways . . . Chester City is certainly a beautiful place to visit and view . . . and really . . . you can make everywhere you are a beautiful and special place can you not??? I like to think that wherever I am at any given moment is my favourite view! This is such a beautiful country and there is beauty all around us here, in every corner and hidden nook!!

So there you have it, some of my favourite views of Britain that I have been blessed to take in during my eleven years over here. God willing there will be many, many more!

Here’s another tasty dish for a zucchini loving friend. They say variety is the spice of life and this delicious dish certainly is different, and spicy too!



Serves 6

Printable Recipe

This is a Tex Mex dish and a great way to use up some of that glut of courgettes we all have in our gardens this time of year. Courgettes are one of those lovely vegetables that gladly take on the flavour of anything you cook them with. I don’t think there’s anything that you can’t do with them, from tasty and savoury casseroles to delicious moist cakes and breads. This is just another way to showcase their incredible versatility!

1 onion, peeled and chopped

4 tsp olive oil

4 medium courgettes, unpeeled and cubed

½ cup seeded and chopped green chillies

2 cups sweet corn kernels

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup whole milk

½ cup grated medium cheddar cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the oil. When it is just shimmering add the onion and sauté it until it is softly translucent, stirring the whole time. Add the courgettes and chillies. Turn the heat down to medium low and cook, stirring from time to time for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are just crispy tender, but still retaining their lovely green colour.

Add the corn and seasonings and cook for about 5 minutes longer.

Finally add the milk and the cheese, stirring constantly to help prevent the cheese from sticking, cooking and stirring until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. I could eat the whole pan myself and nothing else!

There's a delicious Croissant Brunch Bake over in The English Kitchen this morning!

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