Sundays: Greenwich Park

A Sunday in the park is probably the epitome of relaxation and restoration for a week ahead. As I’ve touched on here before, Greenwich is one of my favourite places all year around. It will always have such a special place in my heart and I just love it. The pavilion is the perfect place to duck into for some tea and chips -not your typical Sunday lunch but so so good!

Cheerio for now!

Highgate Cemetery | East Cemetery

Oof, I don’t know where to start with this beautiful place – yes, yes I just used the word beautiful to describe a cemetery. You’re thinking I must be mad, but give me chance to sway you. I should start at the beginning and in a way, explain myself.

I’ve always been drawn to the darker, more macabre things of history. I love reading about the more gruesome parts of history, especially anything to do with the concept of death and how people from different cultures or time periods honoured their dead. With this in mind, when I first came across the site Atlas Obscura I instantly fell in love but when I came across the cemeteries, specifically London’s Magnificent Seven it was like I could hear the angels singing to me (metaphorically).

Now this was all a few years ago, before even Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (filmed there) came out and it plucked a bit more interest. Highgate along with so many other places in London, had slipped off our radar for a while. We kept saying we needed to do more days out in London but for some reason or another, time slipped by and nothing happened. Until November when bearded boyfriend booked a day off work and we were soon on the train to Highgate, ready to explore every inch of it.

East Cemetery

We booked ourselves on a tour of the West Cemetery but got there a little early to explore the East Cemetery, where we knew Karl Marx was waiting for us. While this part of the cemetery wasn’t as impressive as West Cemetery it was still impressive and I think we definitely made the right decision by heading here first.

East Cemetery was simply a sea of headstones and sculptures mixed with nature taking over but on a scale that I’d never seen before, even in photography. Like the West Cemetery, the east is laid out with pathways as well as still having the older, original pathways winding between graves; rippling up and rotting in areas from age. The majority of these were camouflaged in ivy and other foliage with only a danger sign to warn of their presence. I mention these pathways as even the path land was utilised, being used as common graves and marked with a simple wooden cross.

The East Cemetery was added as an expansion of the West in 1854, which then formed the East and West labels. The road dividing the two sites became an issue with the chapels being in the gatehouse on the West site. The victorians however, found a dignified way to get around this and transferred the coffins after funerals through an underground tunnel using a hydraulic lift that was built in 1855. This has since gone.

Among the many at East Cemetery, there are some more well-known names. One of the most famous is Karl Marx, the philosopher and socialist whose body was exhumed from his original place and moved by the communist party in 1954. You can still find him in that same spot, where you’ll also see his bronze bust along with his words in gilded lettering ‘Workers of all lands unite‘ and ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways – the point however is to change it‘. What also struck me about Marx’s marble plinth was how it was still adorned with flowers from his admirers today, and how many were visiting there just for him. It’s also the resting place for Mary Ann Evans, more commonly known under her male writing name George Eliot. She’s best known for her classic novel Middlemarch as well as her unconventional home life of living with her partner for over twenty years while he was still married to another woman before moving on to marry a man twenty years younger than her –such scandal! Some other famous names include the civil rights campaigner Claudia Jones who fought against imperialism and racism throughout her life, and Malcolm McLaren who aptly has the engraving of his own words ‘Better a spectacular failure, than a benign success‘.

I think what is worth noting is that of the original ‘Magnificent Seven‘ cemeteries, Highgate is the only one owned and organised by a charity, while the rest have all been taken over by local councils. While it’s a great thing for all of these sites to still be around and accessible to the public, I wanted to highlight this fact about Highgate because as much as it is a bit more of an alternative ‘attraction’, it’s through their tours and admission that this site is maintained; and can ultimately remain open to the public.

I would recommend this to pretty much anyone. As I’ve said, at face value it does sound like an odd day out and some would say a pretty morbid thing to do but it was truly fascinating. Even my own mother (whose ideal day out is at the shopping centre or even zoo) found it interesting as I raved about our tour there. I found the whole experience so fascinating and will happily talk about this place for hours to whoever will listen to me.

I do have a post coming on the West Cemetery – a much longer, detailed post so brace yourself and stay tuned for that!.

Cheerio for now!

Whitby | 17

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After our few days in Nott’m, we headed up to stay with some friends in Middlesborough and then to Whitby on my birthday. Now the weather at Whitby was pretty grim. It was on and off drizzling and a van went through a puddle, soaking my boyfriend -not ideal (I briefly mentioned in my Wales posts that he gets crabby in the rain, they just don’t mix well). But despite this, we had a great day. 

Whitby is one of my favourite places. I love the harbour, the cobblestone streets with wonky old buildings and alleyways with shops poked here and there. I love the fact that everyone up’t Nor’ is so friendly, and you can chat with anyone without having weird looks thrown your way.

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We headed towards the Whitby abbey steps straight away. (Side note: wheelchairs and cobblestones do not mix well -they give you the worst back pain ever!). We actually picked up a bike lock in Nott’m for my wheelchair and used it a few times before abandoning my wheelchair at the bottom of the Whitby Abbey steps. I knew I wanted to give getting up the steps a pop, but I also knew I wouldn’t be able to walk to them and then do the stairs, so using my wheelchair was necessary. Conveniently enough, the steps have benches to the side of them every 10 stairs or so: the perfect rest breaks to not only rest my legs but also check out the amazing view of the harbour town. 

Once at the top, we went through the churchyard, taking in the ornate old tombstones and the view of the North Sea. We then headed on up to the Abbey, reading a little bit about the ruins before heading up to them. 

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Whitby Abbey is so pretty. It’s the type of place you wander around while wondering how it would have looked centuries ago and what people would have thought about it back then. What’s left of the abbey is essentially part of the shell of the original building. There are signs and illustrations showing what it may have looked like in the 13th Century, and they tell you quite a bit about how it would have been used too. 

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After a quick trip to the gift shop and a lot of spent pennies, we headed for some food and went to some shops before heading home. Whitby was an amazing day, and I’m so glad we got to go there on my actual birthday. 

 
Cheerio for now! 

Nottingham | 17

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In mid-October, we took a trip up’t Nor’ for my birthday. We planned to stay with some friends in Middlesborough and then head to Whitby on my actual birthday, but with my birthday falling on a Wednesday we decided why not extend the trip and go up a few days earlier. Trying to find a halfway point we landed on Nott’m for our destination and spent a few days there exploring before heading further north for my twenty-second birthday.

While in Nottingham we did a ton of things. We went to the Goose Fair, the Justice museum, saw the sky mirror, Lord Byron’s house, the Robin Hood statue, ate the worlds best pizza and doughnotts: as well as exploring some pretty cool shops and restaurants. Oh, and I got my nose pierced! …something I have wanted for such a long time but never actually gone through with it.

Nottingham was an amazing place, and somewhere I know I’ll want to revisit again and again. There were so many other places and restaurants where we didn’t get to explore or experience so another trip is definitely needed.

Cheerio for now! 
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Sunday | Dreamland, Margate

As I mentioned in my post, a colourful gem, a few weeks back we spent a day exploring the little lanes and shops of Margate ending up in Dreamland. Having never experienced it or any real arcades or seaside attractions, I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe some dodgy-looking rides that appeared to be anything but safe. Instead, it turned out to be an amazing day. Probably one of the best days of this Summer. 

There are many classic rides and attractions at Dreamland, including a Ferris wheel, half a dozen food trucks, and a roller rink. We only went on two rides; the Ferris wheel and Waltzer, but it was amazing. I have to admit, I was slightly spaced out after being on the waltzer but I managed to survive without throwing up so I’d deem it a success! 
 
I had never been on a Ferris wheel before so I was super excited to go on it but also really nervous. I never realised how sensitive the carts were to every single movement you make -so of course, I was slightly unnerved when my boyfriend started moving around. 
Each attraction, whether it be a ride, sculpture, or even just a piece of architecture, has a sign board informing visitors of the attraction, its’ origins and how it is used today. 
On our way out of Dreamland, we headed out on a less beaten track. A pathway heading around the outskirts of the attractions, taking us past some more historic elements of the resort which I assume many do not realise are even there. We passed by original architecture from the Victorian period, along with learning how, when and what the land was acquired for. I must admit, that the sign boards for each attraction within the park were something that I really enjoyed. You never find yourself wondering about the origins of funfair attractions, so it was refreshing to add a historical element to what is essentially a day of adrenaline and laughter. 
On the way out we also headed into the arcade and roller disco. This long room also holds a couple of eateries and a Morelli’s ice cream stall. There is a small seating area as well but it is, of course, not as large as the actual parlour in Broadstairs. Nevertheless, an extra lovely touch to the park. 
 
The main thing I loved about Dreamland was that it wasn’t overfull with new, modern techy attractions but rather normal fun-fair rides accompanied by post-war music and a kitschy decor which had my retro heart a flutter. I loved this restored, vintage vibe the park had about it and I think many others enjoy this quality too on their Summer days out. 
 
Have you visited Dreamland? What did you think? 
Cheerio for now! 

Sunday | A colourful gem

A few weekends ago, my boyfriend James and I, took an impromptu trip to Margate for the afternoon. I say impromptu, we knew we wanted to catch a certain event but what we anticipated to be the highlight of our day really wasn’t too great at all. Instead, we took a wander through the small roads of Margate, checking out hidden gems until we ended up at Margates’ Dreamland. 
 
Just as we parked the car, I noticed this colourful yard with all sorts of odds and ends from the fairgrounds hey-days. We had to check it out, and with my camera at the ready, we sauntered into the yard to explore. 
 
*Please note, this day I decided to try out the manual settings on my camera, therefore some these photos are a little overexposed or the colour settings aren’t quite ‘there‘; but ultimately, I’m happy I gave it a go. 
This place was without a doubt the most bizarre place I think I have been too, but also the coolest yard I have ever seen. Everywhere you looked there was something even more crazy and colourful than before. There were some amazing finds in there -which if I was at a point in my life where I had my own house with a nice garden, I’d totally buy a lot of kitschy things from this gallery. 
Yes, this place did have some creepier qualities but it was also full to the brim with quirkiness. It was the type of place I would have loved to play hide and seek in when I was a kid and it sent my nostalgia for fun fairs sky-high. And yes -it even had its’ own resident fortune teller! 

Ultimately, it was a great find and added to what became a great day exploring Margate. As I briefly mentioned above, we ended up visiting Dreamland where I, of course, took lots of photos. They will be up here soon, so stay tuned! 

Cheerio for now! 

The Shell Grotto, Margate

I first found out about The Shell Grotto in Margate through this post, from Sophie Davies at The Private Life of a Girl. Reading about it and seeing her images made me instantly want to visit this little hidden gem. I have visited Margate since I was young, and my beach hut is on the bay just round from Margate beach so I couldn’t help but wonder –how haven’t I heard of it before now? And then a special little Sunday rolled around and I got to finally experience The Shell Grotto. Okay, so it wasn’t special but it was one of those ‘no plan’ days which turned out to be a pretty great day.

The Shell Grotto is a picturesque cave around 100ft long, entirely adorned with shells. It was discovered in 1835 but to this day nobody knows when or why it was built. With no mentioning of it in any historic documents, we don’t even know who created it. The grotto consists of the North passage you use to enter the grotto, the Rotunda, the Dome, the Serpentine Passage, and the Altar Chamber. From the moment you enter the Rotunda, you are in the presence of 4.6 million shells (wonder how long it took to collect them all). Of course, since the Grotto was opened to the public in 1838, and the site is too small to prevent visitors from touching the shells, there are signs of wear and tear throughout the site; however, this doesn’t prevent you from enjoying the beauty of the site.

Although we do not know anything about its’ purpose, and at this point, we will probably never get any real answers, I do think this is what draws people to this attraction. Because of its’ unexplained existence, it is shrouded in mystery and I think that is what people find themselves drawn to. There is so much we know these days and very little in our world that is undiscovered. It’s nice to go somewhere, experience it, ask your questions and ponder over your theories; all while you wander through its’ chilly passages.