With the weather turning for the worse, we jumped up at the first sign of a non-rainy day, threw our big coats on and jumped in the car to have a little trip to look at the local Wentworth follies. I talked about the follies on THIS blog post a while back, but hadn't really had a chance to check them out until now.
I love autumn. The colours, the leaves - everything is a photographer's dream.
The first stop was Hoober Stand.
Hoober Stand is a pyramidal tower that stands just shy of a hundred feet on a little hill at roughly 157 metres above sea level. Construction was completed in 1748 and was to commemorate the quashing of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.
And it looks awesome.
I love pyramids and angled buildings. Shooting this from the side reminds me of one of my favourite buildings in New York - the Flatiron Building. The setting where it sits is also quite nice. My kids love the woods and there was a nice little bit of woodland here for them to go crazy in.
Next stop - Needle's Eye.
The Needle is just down the road from Hoober. A quick 150 yard walk up the footpath from the roadside brings you right to it. It looks pretty bizarre, a sandstone pyramid just sitting at the top of a little rise on it's own.
I do love a pyramid though!
The story behind this one is a little vague. It was apparently built in the mid-18th Century for the Marquis of Rockingham to win a bet that he could drive a horse and carriage through the eye of a needle. Measurements confirm that it would have been possible - so that brings a little bit of merit to the story. Rich folk have far too much time and money on their hands if you ask me!
There's also a little part that made my missus get a good case of the goosebumps - along one side of the pyramid are a grouping of musketball holes at head and torso height, suggesting that this may once have been a site of an execution by firing squad.
Next stop - Keppel's Column.
On the way we happened across a field of Highland cows, so obviously had to stop for a few snaps. A snorting big shaggy cow is a pretty awesome sight when it's a foot away from you. I'm glad there was a gate in the way!
The Column is a 115 foot tower built to commemorate the the acquittal of the court-martialled Admiral Augustus Keppel after the Battle of Ushant.
The tower sits on another hill, not quite as high as Hoober, but still a pretty good viewpoint.
The tower is in a bit of a sorry state. Not open to the public anymore, but it still stands tall and impressive on the rise.
This one is basically 'park at the side and take a photo'. The kids didn't even get out of the car.
And that's the follies! Here are a couple of snaps.
Gear used: Fujifilm X70 with the WCLX70 fitted.
Everyone has been stuck in the house for a few weeks - with non-stop runny noses, sniffles and all the other little general things that go round and round making everyone feel rubbish. So the other morning, while mummy was seriously under the weather, we tucked her back into bed and went for a little walk in the local woods - to get some fresh air back into the lungs.
The boys wanted to take their toy guns to run around with - but as you can see, Alfie went full on Assault Team Ginger...
Sometimes that bit of fresh air is all it needs to perk you back up. And it's always beautiful in the woods this time of year.
The sun was shining this morning, so we jumped in the car and headed down the road to Wentworth Woodhouse.
Wentworth Woodhouse is the largest privately owned house in the UK. It's a pretty impressive view at over 600 feet long on the frontage of the East Wing.
But, unless you want to pay for a private tour, you'll be looking at that front from a fair old distance from the footpath that runs down alongside the house and into Wentworth Park.
That's fine by me - I like to look at stuff. And this is definitely a place where you can only look at stuff. The first thing that you see when you enter the grounds are lots of 'don't' signs. Keep off, no entry, private, keep out... That's all fair enough, as it's private grounds, but why keep off the grass? My kids just wanna run round trees, pick sticks up and roll down hills!
Anyway, enough moaning.
The first thing you see when you walk in (after passing the cool little gatehouse) is the eyesore that is the old college campus on the left. Forget that and look to the right and look at the awesome old stable block and courtyard. This is still used today, but looks like a place that time forgot - and, I do love abandoned stuff, so it's right up my street! The gates were closed today though, so we didn't get chance to have a nosey inside. Just a bit further down on the left is a little gravestone. This marks the resting place of the racehorse 'Whistlejacket' - a horse of Charles Watson-Wentworth (AKA The Marquess of Rockingham, Lord Rockingham and the Prime Minister of Great Britain!). There is also apparently a large painting of the horse in the house.
Carrying on down the path and you soon see the main house on the right. Also, the impressive Roman-looking cenotaph of the Rockingham Mausoleum can be seen peeping through the trees further down the path and to your left. There are 3 other follies around the estate - I think a little tour of them all may be in order!
We walked through and wound our way down to a couple of lakes in the middle of the grounds - one a fishing pond and the other with the terrible name of Dog Kennel Pond. The kids didn't care what they were called - they happily threw stones in the water, waved twigs around and enjoyed the fresh air. Although, it was getting a bit nippy at this point!
Me and the missus strolled hand in hand while they played. Although, I did get told off for holding the wrong hand - apparently getting steps to count on your fitbit is more important than a bit of romance!
All in all, a nice bit of family time.
And, if you want to get married here then give me a shout - it would be awesome!
More info on the house HERE and the Mausoleum HERE.
While we were down in Leicester, we decided to have a little explore. We had initially planned to go visit Ashby de la Zouch Castle, but the weather was a bit too grim for that!
Our first stop was the New Walk Museum where we went to have a nosey at the dino bones and the Egyptian mummies. Freddie was a bit scared of the Egyptian bit, but enjoyed looking at some of the animals - especially the owl. His favourite bit was playing with the gemstones in the gift shop! For more info on the museum, click HERE.
After the museum we drove up to Notts, had some scran at the very nice Badger Box and then went to have a nosey round an old Church built in 1356 (the site is older though, the present church replaces an older one on the same site).
The church was pretty cool, a few nice old details left and lots of gravestones from the 17th and 18th Centuries in the yard. The coolest bit though, was the old Hall and the gatehouse to the rear. Built in the mid 1300s, it was once home to Mary Chaworth, who was the lover of the poet Lord Byron. Lord Byron's uncle actually killed (the then) Lord Chaworth in a duel in the gardens of the house. Very cool place with a lot of history - the home of some very powerful families in Nottingham. Wouldn't mind a revisit to get into the grounds!
Here are a few snaps.
We decided to make the most of the sunshine on Valentine's Day and made a roadtrip to the coast.
We jumped in the Adventure Mobile™ and headed up to Saltburn-By-The-Sea to walk on the beach and eat chips on the pier. After a few hours it was time to jump back in the car and head further down the coast to Robin Hood's Bay where we walked down the steepest hill known to man, through the little windy streets and quaint little shops to the little slipway at the bottom where we stood and watched the waves crashing in. And slowly froze half to death! It was a good job we'd all brought flasks full of hot chocolate to warm us back up again!
It was an awesome day spent with the family. The fresh air and a bit of sunshine almost made us forget it was still wintertime for a minute or two!
As usual, I took far too many photos - here are some of em.
The weather has been a bit pants lately. Everyone in the family has been ill on and off for weeks and it seems as though it's been forever since we've had a decent family walk. So, this afternoon we donned our big coats and boots and whizzed across to the YSP.
Alfie has been doing a home education project on America and one of the topics he chose to look into was Native American art. Once we found out that a genuine Totem Pole was carved at the park (by Tim Paul, an artist of the Nuu-chah-nulth people) it was deffo time for a visit.
It was cold, damp, muddy and, after about an hour of walking, it started to snow!
Our oldest lad, Joshua, moaned most of the way - in a typical teenage whine, our middle boy, Alfie, had a great time with his camera, and ran around as only someone with 11-year-old-boy energy can and our little monkey, Freddie, absolutely loved the colourful octopus and also jumped in everything that looked like a muddy-puddle that he could find! (That Peppa Pig has a lot to answer for!)
The YSP is a cool place. It's pretty much out of season at the minute, so there's lots of work going on and lots of paths closed due to the weather etc. There's lots of installations and exhibitions - some I like and some I'm kind of 'meh' about. But that's the beauty of art I suppose - if we all liked the same thing, it'd be a boring world! For more info on the park click HERE.
I had a new camera to test, so took far too many photos.
Here are a few.
We thought we'd make the New Year a little different this year, so we headed up to the Lakes for a few days.
We booked a little log cabin through Airbnb and used it as a base to have a little travel around the area. We stayed at Lowick Green, just 5 minutes away from Coniston Water, so we spent most of our time exploring around the lake.
The weather was a bit grey and cold, so we had to restrict the walks a little bit due to the little monster. He's usually a good little rambler, but the cold was going straight through to his bones.
Our nights were spent chilling out in the cabin. We played poker and Pictionary, watched Rom-Coms and scary movies, cooked microwave TV dinners, ate lots of snacks and chocolate and drank a bit of booze. (Well, we did - the kids just got hyper on hot chocolate and fizzy pop!)
It was a perfect way to welcome in the New Year. It was also nice to have some time off work and get in some special family time.
Happy New Year folks, here's a few snaps from our trip.
P.S. If you want a bit of money off an Airbnb booking, just clicky HERE.
We had a lovely little explore in the woods. My littlest enjoyed throwing stones in the water, collecting as many sticks as he could possibly carry and generally being a little mucky monster.
His big brother Alfie enjoyed searching for acorns, conkers and pine cones, whilst trying to spot the local wildlife.
I obviously spent the time pretending I was one of the Goonies, or recreating one of my favourite boyhood movies - Stand By Me. One day I'll grow up...
Here's a few snaps.
We had a friend's wedding to attend on Saturday up at Gretna Green, so we made a weekend out of it and turned our journey into a little road trip!
Our first stop was The Angel of the North up in Tyne and Wear, near Gateshead.
This 66 feet tall, 200 tonnes steel sculpture stands proudly on a little hill, arms outstretched ready to embrace it's visitors.
It's a pretty impressive thing to stand underneath, but I must admit - I was looking for something standing taller when we were looking for it on the drive up. I was pretty surprised when it finally appeared behind the bushes just ahead of us at the roadside.
We sat, had a cuppa, took some snaps and selfies like the rest of the visitors, then it was back in the car.
Our next stop was Hadrian's Wall.
We parked up at the Twice Brewed Inn and had some food (and a sneaky pint of ale for me). After we were finished stuffing our faces, we trekked over the road and up the hill to the wall.
We had a little explore round Milecastle 39 and the famous Sycamore Gap (featured in the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Movie).
The wall now stands about a metre and a half high in most places - imagining it as it once would have looked standing at 20 feet high is pretty impressive.
Walking along and sitting on the rocks that have sat here for nearly 2,000 years was a pretty humbling experience. Well, I thought so - my kids just wanted to jump off things!
All the walking did the trick though - once we got to our Travelodge for the night, the little monster was zonked!
Here are a few snaps.
On Friday I took my little lad for a quick overnight camping trip in the Yorkshire Dales. We set up camp at a little site near Richmond - just between the villages of Muker and Thwaite in Swaledale.
After pitching up and a quick cuppa we went on a little explore. We nipped down to the local river and did a little riverwalk. We spotted birds, stepped over riverstones, climbed hills, looked for rabbits and dodged lots (I mean LOTS) of sheep poo!
After a couple of hours the sun started dropping so we went back to camp and knocked up some hotdogs for dinner. Alfie helped prepare everything and watched the stove like a little miniature version of a quiet Gordon Ramsey. He swears less too.
The sun soon went down, so we wrapped up and sat under our tarp and read and talked and drank tea by the light of our lanterns until midnight. I may have had a little tipple of whiskey too.
I woke just after 4 and stood outside the tent with a cuppa and listened to the dawn chorus. It was completely silent apart from the birds, without another soul in sight (with the exceptions of a few other campers nipping out of their tents for a quick trip to the toilets).
The morning was too misty for any sunrise shots, so when the local church bells rung five, it was back to the tent for a bit more kip.
We woke a few hours later and had a mug of hot chocolate to warm us through, followed by some Spam sarnies. We kitted up and had a little walk across to the village of Thwaite and visited a few little waterfalls on the way. We dodged a thousand cyclists on the roads, walked a few paths and then headed back to take down our camp.
It was awesome.
The site where we stayed was the Usha Gap Campsite. It's a working farm with a few fields used for camping and is perfect for families. Really quiet and peaceful and also has the most clean facilities I've ever seen on a campsite! Phone signal is rubbish though - I didn't get a signal until I was a few miles from the village. There is a payphone in Thwaite if you need to make a call, but it is card only and doesn't accept coins. So - if you want to get unplugged from the world for a few days, this place is perfect.
For more info on the Usha Gap Campsite, click on the link - Usha Gap Website.
Here are a few snaps from our trip.
Thought I'd start this little blog to let people know what we get up to. Some personal stuff thrown in the mix too.