Dover

February 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Travel, UK, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Ages ago now I went to Dover. Quite possibly nothing is still relevant but hey let’s give it a go.

While I didn’t go to the cliffs I did take the day to explore the fascinating Dover Castle.

It’s walkable from the station on the way you can visit the Dover Museum (notably the bronze age boat) as well!

The castle complex is large and easy to wander around where you’ll learn about the different periods (from medieval to world war two).

There are some interesting exhibits, particularly the new (at the time) ones dealing with Operation Dynamo and the evacuation of Dunkirk. The downside is that due to space restrictions if mis timed with the arrival of a tour bus(es) you may find getting into some of these exhibits more of a challenge.

Otherwise a great day out and recommended!

Photos at Flickr.

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Windsor Castle

July 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Posted in General, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 3 Comments
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My university offers a number of tourist activities throughout the year, including reduced price tickets to see Windsor Castle. That was the excuse I needed to see one of the Queen’s residences in the town of Windsor (about an hour from Waterloo, London).

However, it did have the downside of putting me into a tour group situation which meant I didn’t really get the experience to explore Windsor (and Eton) or savour the castle as deeply as I may have wanted. On the plus side I met some great people. On the other downside, forgot my camera. So…. sorry about that.

After ascending the spiral road from the station we arrived at the visitor centre and being a group we were fast tracked past those waiting in line. Once through we picked up our audio guides (free with the ticket and absolutely essential for appreciating the castle). The normal caveat about audio guides and the unfortunate consequence of pacing around waiting for the dialogue to finish comes into play here.

You do get a few options as to which route to take, this is particularly advantageous as it acts to split the tourists up and hopefully making your progress through more pleasant than trudging in a sea of people.

After a view over the fields and town near the castle we entered the building proper. Our first sight was of an enormous and intricate dolls house, this then lead through a few other rooms housing special exhibits and some of table sets the Queen has received. Afterwards you make your way up a set of stairs into an imposing entry chamber with suits of armor and weapons on the walls. From here you proceed into a number of the state apartments, each with their own histories and artwork from the royal collection. Lastly you’ll go through sections dealing with the fire and reconstruction of the castle, some of the UKs military traditions and the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Also within the castle grounds is a chapel which is very ornate. Although by this point I/we were flagging so opted to do a quick view before heading out to lunch.

Would I recommend Windsor Castle? It’s difficult. I certainly think it’s interesting and has a dramatic history and setting but conversely the adult entry price (even with audio guide) makes me shudder a little at £16. I was certainly happy to pay the discounted rate £13.05. Yes it’s only £3 but exceeding £15 for a ticket is a strong psychological barrier.

However if that price isn’t too bad for you should go!

Cardiff – Cardiff Castle

October 19, 2008 at 4:30 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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In the centre of the city is arguably Cardiff’s most memorable feature – Cardiff Castle.

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As you walk along the city centre’s main roadways you will eventually come across the Castle. Surrounded by a high wall, sitting above the former Roman defences.

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Entry is only £8.50 and you’ll get a highly informative audio guide for use in the grounds and a tour of the main house. The castle was donated to the city so city residents have free entry to the grounds.

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The tour of the house is interesting and if you’re in a small group (as I was, it’s a trend for me this trip) you’ll receive the opportunity to ask more questions and have more time in each room to look at the architecture.

The main keep in the centre of the grounds besides the usual audio tour information about defences and history offers a great view over the city.

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The information centre has an audio – visual history of the Castle but it’s somewhat abstract with references to events such as the Romans and civil war without directly explaining them. Perhaps they anticipate people will read the display panels in the centre before being ushered into the AV centre or just know the important historical periods.

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One of the comments made during the tour is that the castle was rebuilt as a “rich man’s folly”, which the family rarely spent any time in. It is fascinating that the city’s premier attraction was made as little more than a hobby. Possibly Cardiff needs to develop some other attributes as well?

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Newcastle – Castle

October 16, 2008 at 8:37 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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Newcastle’s Castle is an absolute steal to visit.
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For only £1.50 this is a great deal and climbing onto the roof of the keep provides excellent views of the city – well it would if it wasn’t raining.

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The rest of the castle provides a history of its (re)construction, which provides the city with its name. Not very original obviously. Granted it’s no Edinburgh Castle or Tower of London but the castle has seen the Normans, civil war and Scottish invasion before being left in disrepair and now being revitalised.

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The masonry and depth of the walls was fascinating.
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Overall, it is quick, cheap, has views and offers a snap shot of local history. If you’re in Newcastle you should visit, well, it’s castle!

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