Sunday, March 19, 2006

Brighton and Beachy Head

After a few months of sight-seeing around London, we managed a weekend away out of the bustle of the city. It seemed fitting that after breaking the shackles of winter that we take a trip to the seaside. We borrowed the car from Karen (many thanks!) and went for a drive down the Brighton.

The Brighton Pier.
The pier has its charm, but with an overpowering waft of tackiness. Think of the Sandgate Pier... now add your local country show's side show alley (including the ball-swallowing clowns, ring toss, etc) at the end... put a fish and chip restaurant in the middle... add some souvenier shops... oh, don't forget the fortune tellers. It does, however, have a good view of the coast.

One of the more bizzare sights of Brighton. I'm not sure how the van made it here (if anyone wants to make suggestion, leave a comment), but it has recent Queensland plates. It is also an Australian model, so it drove here somehow.

The boys school in Brighton.
It is a lovely old building that is perched up on the cliffs, overlooking the Brighton harbour.

Brighton beach.
The beach mainly consists of rocks, there are no waves, at least not on the day we were there. The rocks drop off quite quickly, so it may not be the best place for a swim.

More Brighton beach.
This time from the pier.

The Royal Pavillion.
The pavillion was built by the Prince Regent George, son of George III. He used it as a party palace for all of his friends. The palace is decked out with the most decadent taste. The outside has an Indian influence while the inside decor is all East Asian influence.
William IV also used the pavillion as a royal residence. Queen Victoria didn't like the gaudy palace so much, so she sold it back to the Brighton town in 1850. Before handing it over though, she did strip it of all furnishings, which took 143 wagons to transport back to London.

Brighton beach rocks and boats.
You can see the West Brighton Pier in the background. Obviously no longer in use, since a fire ripped through it.

Beautiful old church building on the side of a cliff that overlooks the Brighton region. We had to drive along a sweet little english country road to get there.

Lewes Castle.
The main tower gates to Lewes Castle.

Lewes Castle
Our first English castle. There is not much left these days, most of it is in ruins. The town surrounding the castle is like an English version of Maleny.

Beachy Head.
This stretch of cliffs is similar to the Twelve Apostle's region of the Great Ocean road. Much of the cliffs is unfenced and, unsurprisingly, there are a few places that are more dangerous than others.

Understandably there are signs showing the dangers of the cliff edge. Strangely though these are at places where there is also a fence. Along most of the cliffs there is no fence and also no signs. The cliff edge errodes away at approximately half a meter a year.

The cliff edges have quite a sheer drop!

The Beachy Head lighthouse is quite amazing. It stands dwarfed by the cliffs and with waves pounding it.

Us and the cliffs!

Well here it is - Pooh Corner. On the way back from Brighton, just off the A22 there is a town called Hartford. This is Pooh Bear country - where him and all his friends were created - not Disney Pooh, the real one. The shop in the photo is full of original style Pooh parphenalia. Unfortunately we were coming through on Sunday night so it was shut.
We had also hoped to find the Pooh Sticks Bridge, which is a few fields away. It was getting quite dark though and after running through unknown fields for 20 minutes we decided to head back to the car while we could still find it. We'll find Pooh Sticks Bridge next time.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

St Patrick's Day

The St Patrick's Day parade in London isn't quite as big as some other city's, but it is still a good excuse to get out of the house.

This puppy was the highlight of the parade for Kelly.


Hello, giant beer. I think this was Tipsy and Surly. (Queasy and Remorseful weren't far behind)

Something had to be green during the celebrations. It wasn't quite so effective, but the fountains of Trafalgar Square had a green tinge.

Save the Planet - release 10,000 green, orange and white balloons.

Covent Garden

In London there are are always plenty of new places that we can meet up with friends. Kelly works just down the road from Covent Garden, but I had never been there. Covent Gardens is an old fruit and vegtable market that has turned into markets and series of streets with funky one-off shops intermingled mainstream stores.

The crossroads of seven streets in Covent Garden are marked with the seven dials 17th century monument. The monument was removed in the 19th century because it had become a notorious meeting place for criminals. The replica, which still stands, was installed in 1989.

St Paul's Church. Covent Garden has its own.

The church has some gardens that provide a very calming place to escape from the bustle of the markets. Kelly sometimes has lunch here.

One of the halls that has shops, cafes, buskers and markets.

Monday, March 06, 2006


A few Sunday's ago, Liam, Kelly, Dave and Karen set off on a grand adventure to Greenwich. The long difficult journey started off with two train rides, followed by a long walk under water (through a tunnel of course!) and then a quick sailing trip on the boat pictured below.

Just kidding! The last time this boat was in the sea was 1938.

But we really did go to Greenwich! As you can see by the photos it was a beautiful day and there were lots of people out enjoying the sunshine and history of Greenwich.

After a short pit stop at the Visitors Centre to gather supplies (ie food and coffee!) we set off down the tree lined paths.

The first place we saw was the Old Royal Naval College. This is the site where Mary I, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were born. The above building houses the Painted Hall (see the picture below). These paintings were originally done in the early 1800's. As well there was beautiful chapel dating back to the late 1700's. We couldn't take any photos, but the history, detail in the art and stone work and peacefulness of this place was stunning.

We also walked past the Trinity College of Music and as we walked though the court yard we were treated to some beautiful piano playing.

This is a picture of Queens' House. It was built for one Queen who died before it was finished, so the next one got to live in it and she fell in love with it. Even though it doesn't look like much of a royal residence it is quite spacious and beautiful inside. Next it became a boarding house for the Royal Naval College. It is now a museum / art gallery; and next it will become the site for the equestrian events for the 2012 Olympics. A very versatile house indeed!

Good old Captain Cook striking a pose for all to see!

The building at the top of the hill is the Royal Observatory. This is where Greenwich Mean Time was originally measured from.

Liam is in the western hemisphere and Kelly is in the eastern hemisphere! The clock behind us is an atomic clock that shows the exact time, in hours, minutes and seconds.

A close up view of the Royal Observatory.

This the main street of Greenwich, looking back towards the main church.

The pub we had lunch in was literally the first pub in the west!

Photos that didn't make it:

  • The clock that has 24 hour marks on it - very different!
  • The markets that Karen and Kelly manage to sneak through and make a purchase or two!
  • The amazing views of the city from the top of the hill!
  • The very old astronomy tools used to chart the skies.
  • The four crazy tourists running full speed down the grassy hill without falling over! (Rolling down like you did when you were a kid was an option considered but luckily not followed through with!)