Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Walking in the Shambles

After leaving Edinburgh, we drove to the Scottish Borders,

and crossed over into England.
(Globus tour bus in the background).
We made a quick stop in Heddon on the Wall to see a portion of Hadrian's Wall (ordered built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 122 after his visit to Britain to mark the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire).

From the Wall, we traveled to York, were we would be staying that night. 

York still has parts of its medieval wall
which we walked past on our way to the Shambles.

We also passed this building.

The Great Hall, where medieval merchants gathered to do business and have feasts.
Our tour group next stopped at the Shambles itself, a medieval town center that, in its current form, dates to about 1400.

Land cost a great deal in medieval times, which led to many of the buildings being smaller at the bottom (thus taking up less land) and expanding out into the street in upper levels, giving the shambles its closed in look.

Katherine and I walked up to York Minster, a medieval church in the Gothic style, the largest such church in Northern Europe.

York Minster had beautiful stained glass windows, in fact, York itself is known for stained glass:


The King Screen, a choir screen, was impressive.  It includes 15 nearly-life-size statues of English kings from William the Conqueror to the time of the screen creation in the reign of the child king Henry VI.  Most likely, Henry VI ruined the symmetry when his statue was added at the last minute when Henry V died unexpectedly in 1422.


The Chapter House, an octagonal room separated from the main church, was magnificent.


(a couple panels of the stained glass that surrounded the room)
Now on to tea!  York had a few tea rooms that I would have loved to try, including this branch of the famous Bettys Tea Room.

Katherine and I walked into Bettys and took a quick look at the first level, but, even though Katherine was willing to stay, I decided that we should keep walking so we could see more of York before we had to walk back to the hotel to meet up with the group.
I did, however, get a fat rascal before leaving Bettys, which is a local scone that the tea room was famous for.

 Katherine and I tried it but neither of us were fans, and I normally love scones! It would have been better with clotted cream and jam, but still, very disappointing.

As we continued to walk around, we spotted yet another tea room--the Earl Grey Tea Room.  I loved the name and in the window it looked like the store had a cute little gift shop, but it had, unfortunately, already closed for the day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fancy China and Edinburgh

Edinburgh was my favorite day of the trip--the Royal Mile had all the "big ticket" items I wanted to see within, well, roughly a mile, and I ended the day with a new three piece set.  
We started the day at Edinburgh Castle, which has been a fort and royal residence since the 11th Century, and has served, in more recent times, as a military garrison.
 The castle included a display of the Scottish crown jewels (which are older than the English jewels and date to 1540) and the Stone of Scone (the stone of destiny),

The Royal Palace, where Scottish royalty would have lived

(Fireplace in the Great Hall)

(Great Hall with its display of arms)

(Scottish National War Museum)
 (St. Margaret's Chapel.  St. Margaret was a Queen of Scotland who lived in Edinburgh castle, which is also where she died in 1093.  For a long time it was believed that St. Margaret worshipped here herself, but now it is believed that the chapel was founded by her son, King David I of Scotland)

(St. Margaret stained glass window in the chapel)

(Robert the Bruce stained glass window also in the chapel)
After leaving the castle, we started down the Royal Mile

We stopped into Gladstone's Land, a merchants home dating from the 16th century to the 17th century.  This house was interesting to see how the different tenants added on through the centuries.

We eventually reaching St. Giles Cathedral

The Cathedral had beautiful stained glass windows:
(St. Margaret)

(Unicorn & White hart)

 (close up of stained glass window in memory of Robert Burns)
Here is a bit of a poem by Robert Burns to Edinburgh:
Edina! Scotia's darling seat!
All hail thy palaces and tow'rs,
Where once, beneath a Monarch's feet,
Sat Legislation's sov'reign pow'rs:
From marking wildly scatt'red flow'rs,
As on the banks of Ayr I stray'd,
And singing, lone, the lingering hours,
I shelter in they honour'd shade.
From the Cathedral, we continued down the Royal mile, stopping for lunch in a pub, and then passing by (and into) stores full of wool and cashmere, shortbread, and other fun gifts, until we reached the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which has stood at the end of the royal mile since the 14th century.
(Holyroodhouse Palace)
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures in the Palace (which was the preferred home of Mary Queen of Scots, and is currently one of Queen Elizabeth II's palaces).
Also on the grounds of the Palace are the ruins of an abbey originally founded in 1128.

(view of the Abbey from the park around the palace).
So in one day we saw a castle, an example of a 16th-17th century merchant's home, a cathedral, a palace, and abbey ruins.  That in itself was enough to make for a wonderful day...and then I stepped into the gift shop at Holyroodhouse and saw this:

There was a whole set of the china.  I was drawn to the luncheon plate

Here is a close up of the beautiful design in the middle:

If you look closely at the crest, there is a rose, the symbol of England, under the lion, and a thistle, the symbol of Scotland, under the unicorn.  This set is from the Royal Collection by Old Durham Road and is made in England.  This particular pattern is based on a highly embellished version of the Coat of Arms of King George IV and King William IV, found in the pantry of Buckingham Palace.

Just a quick note on the lilacs.  These lilacs are from my father's cuttings of lilac bushes from my grandparents' home (which had been the country house of my Great-great Aunt before them) in upstate New York.  The original bushes were huge and 100 years old; there was a tall hedge of them along the road that we would pass before reaching their house.
I'll leave you with one last picture from Edinburgh that supports my choice of china pattern:
(The gate at Holyroodhouse Palace with the royal Unicorn).
Today I've joined:
Friends sharing tea at Bernideen's
and Tea Cup Tuesday at Martha's favorites and with Martha's co-host Terri

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dublin to Belfast, North Ireland

I've already featured my first day in Ireland (here),  but, in addition to that day, I spent one whole day in Dublin and then passed through North Ireland with a quick stop in Belfast before boarding a ferry to Scotland.

Our day in Dublin started with a visit to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells (an illustrated Gospel believed to date to 800 A.D.).

After seeing the book of Kells, we visited the old library of Trinity College.

From Trinity College, Katherine and I left the tour group and walked to Christ Church Cathedral.
Here are a couple of the best pictures I took inside the cathedral:

After leaving, we stopped for lunch at a festival that happened to be going right outside of the cathedral.  Katherine and I were both amused by the "Cranky Yankee" Corn Dog sign.  We sat on the grounds of the church and ate while watching the people go by--it was Katherine's idea to stop and it was a great little break.

After lunch we walked down towards St. Patrick's Cathedral. 

 Below are some of my favorite pictures from St. Patrick's:

 (St. Patrick stained glass window)

(burial place of Jonathan Swift.  On the way to St. Patrick's we passed plaques on some of the buildings quoting from Gulliver's Travels).

(colorful floor tiles)

(This is believed to be the spot where St. Patrick preached)
From St. Patrick's we began to circle back to our hotel, but first stopped in Merrion Square, a somewhat wild park in Dublin.  It is appropriately the home of a statute of Oscar Wilde, who lived in Dublin across the street form the park.

After the park, we started the walk back to our hotel, and crossed the River Liffy.

The next day we left and drove to Belfast, North Ireland for a very brief stop...
(Belfast City Hall)
(Titanic Memorial--the Titanic was built in Belfast)
and then we caught a Ferry to Scotland.

(My lunch of porridge.  It wasn't sure whether it liked the Ferry ride)
Now for a quick tea anecdote.  I spent the entire trip accumulating teabags from the different hotels we stayed at.  I had quite the collection by the time we left: