Oakham Castle in Rutland, England

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Oakham Castle is located in Oakham in Rutland, England. It was inhabited before 1066 as a motte and bailey castle, but the Normans built the first stone castle on this site; it is considered one of the best examples of Normal architecture. In the 1200s, the castle (manor) was surrounded by a wall and gatehouse. Today, the Great Hall and earthworks containing bricks for part of the wall are all that remains of the castle. Other buildings to keep the castle running existed within the walls but were demolished at different stages.

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The Great Hall dates from the late 1100s. It has survived so long because it functioned as a courtroom until recent times. Oakham Castle received funding in 2014 for restoration work and reopened at the end of May this year.

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One of the different facts about this castle are the horseshoes. Aristocratic and royal visitors to the castle have a tradition to honour if visiting the castle. The tradition is to provide a horseshoe. The reason for this is that the castle was owned by the Ferrers (ferrier) family, and their symbol on their coat of arms is the horseshoe. The oldest one is Edward IV's, presented in 1470. Recent ones include the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) and Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla).

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Oakham Castle may not look like the traditional example of a castle, but it is. Many of the Great Halls would have looked similar, and some of the earth banks remain around it. Have you been here to see the horseshoes?

A Visit to Bolingbroke Castle

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Bolingbroke Castle is an important historical castle and was the birthplace of Henry IV and was taken over by Parliament during the Civil War. The castle itself was surrounded by a moat and contained large towers and a gatehouse. It was white-washed, and traces of this limewash can still be seen on the stones on the outer wall. Bolingbroke Castle was made out of weak stone, however, and considered to be in a bad state in the early 1300s. (The lime may have been used to try to protect it.) Part of the wall collapsed in the mid-1500s.

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The castle was built in the early 1200s and then owned by John of Gaunt, father to Henry IV. The castle was never used as a royal residence after Henry IV became king, but it was under Royalist control. The Battle of Winceby took place a couple of miles north of the castle, and the Parliament forces won and ruined the castle. A lot of the stone was later taken from it.

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Part of the grassy mound that encased the castle remains was unearthed in the mid-1900s and escavated. The Great Hall and kitchens were buried again to preserve them.

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Have you been to Bolingbroke Castle?

Newark was one city in England that I had never visited before this September. The main reason of the visit was to see Newark Castle, which is located in the centre of the city. Newark is a city in Nottinghamshire that has a rich history and was a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War, and there's a trail and museum dedicated to it in the city. While visiting the castle, we decided to walk into the centre of Newark to see what the town had to offer. I was already impressed with a few old buildings near the castle. The market square was sign-posted, so we followed these signs into the centre to take a look and to find brunch.

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The side streets from the castle opened up into the main market square, which contained covered tents. The stalls were not very busy, and many of them were empty on the Saturday morning when we visited. We found a couple of vans selling cooked food in the square, and I had a cheese and onion toastie from one of them while the bloke has a bacon roll from another.

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The market square also contains a water pump with an emblem of the city's coat of arms. Bear and bull-baiting also took place in the square until it was outlawed in the 1830s.

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Many of the buildings in and near the square were very old. I wish we could have stayed a little bit longer for tea in the timber-framed building below, which appeared to be a popular tearoom.

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The city also has an art gallery and small museum off the square, and these can be visited for free. There's also a few niche shops and the chain stores, but the city is quite a small one and can be visited with lunch in a couple of hours. (To visit the museums, do plan a little longer.) Have you ever been to Newark? What did you like the best?

A Visit to Newark Castle

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Newark was one town in England that I had not yet visited, but as we were staying the night in Rutland, we decided to drive a little further in order to visit it. Newark Castle was on my list of places to see, and we found parking across the road and paid the castle a visit. Although it looks imposing from the river, there's not much left of the castle after it was destroyed in the Civil War. The castle was free to visit.

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The city of Newark suffered a lot in the Civil War as troops loyal to the king were stationed here at the castle and at private houses (thus increasing the size of the town), and the town only surrendered after the king did first. The town does have a museum and a Civil War walk.

The castle gardens were landscaped in Victorian times and opened in 1889. Additional landscaping was done in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Right inside the gardens is a model of present-day Newark, which was created in 2005.

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Newark Castle was built in 1130 by a powerful bishop Alexander the Magnificient, but the site was the location for a timber and earth castle and was also used by the pre-historic, Romans, and Saxons. King John died at the castle in 1216 (possibly due to being poisoned), and early in October marks 800 years since he died.

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As Newark was a strong loyalist centre, the castle became a stronghold. After the surrender, the castle buildings were destroyed and left to ruin. The stones were eventually stolen, and there's not much left of the castle itself except for the areas that are a little harder to reach. Damage by cannon fire can be seen on the river-side of the castle.

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The main wall of the castle is against the river banks. On the side of this wall (in the picture above), timber-framed buildings were constructed which formed the Great Hall and Bishop's Hall. These contained the large windows to let a lot of light in, and the large windows looked over the river.

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Tours of the upper rooms of the castle tower and the dungeon are possible, but these only happen on select days and times. Unfortunately, my visit was outside of those times.

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I also had a wander across the river to get some photographs of the imposing-looking structure.

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Have you ever visited Newark Castle?

'Lip Love' by So Susan is a monthly beauty subscription bag. The subscription contains four make-up items and comes in a useful make-up bag. The theme for September is 'I love autumn', and the front of the bag has an illustration of cats and a quotation from Albert Camus: "Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower." The products that I received are listed below.

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Mesmer-Eyes waterproof liquid eyeliner: This long-lasting liquid eyeliner promises to survive rainy and sweltering days. I don't currently own a product like this, so it's a welcome addition to my make-up stash.

Lip butter by Jelly Pong Pong in 'Hot Air Balloons': This pale shade of lipstick comes in a cute pink tube that is decorated with hot air balloons. I have recently received a couple of similar shades, and unfortunately it looks too pale on me.

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Cheek Rethink blush duo by So Susan: This blush contains shea butter and leaves a subtle glow which also promises to give a glow that lasts most of the day.

Sweet Strobe by Trifle Cosmetics: This illuminator helps to define and illuminate areas where its used.

What did you think of this month's beauty subscription bag by So Susan? I liked the products but was not keen on the lipstick. This should also be my last bag in the subscription now. I have a lot of lipstick, blushes, and eye shadows to get through, so I will be focusing on using them up.

A Visit to KERB Street Food Market in Camden

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One beautiful and hot day toward the end of August, I left work in the afternoon to have a wander around London's newest street food markets, KERB market in Camden. KERB is chain of street food market vendors who currently sell at King's Cross and Paddington. Their newest venture opened in the middle of August at Camden, located by the canal and on the edge of the Stables market in the same space where there were previous street food vendors. KERB promise 35 street vendor stalls trading daily in Camden, and there are some real gems in the street food line-up.

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When I visited, the market was busy, and this was a weekday and during time when many people would have still been at work. (I remember visiting this area on a Saturday at the end of last year, and it was too busy to even walk around.) In terms of street food, options are endless: pizza, Mexican, Asian/Indian/Oriental, middle eastern, vegan sweets, ice cream, lemonade, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, vegetarian, grilled cheese, game, salads, American/South American, steak, seafood, burgers, and more.

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My first stop was to Blu Top. Blu Top sell ice cream, and ice cream wedged between cookies (an ice cream sandwich) is one of their offerings. I was lucky to get the last ice cream sandwich of the day. The milk used in the ice cream is produced from Jersey cattle in Ireland. The cookie was very good and went well with the ice cream.

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Next up, Oli Baba's and their famous halloumi fries. I love fried halloumi. They were light and tasty and served with Yogurt, pomegranate seeds, mint, sumac, and chilli. I'm not a fan of yogurt, so I opted for the pomegranate seeds, chili, and mint, and the combinations with the hammoumi worked perfectly. These were so delicious that I am craving these again after writing about them.

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Afterwards, I went to get a drink at Soda Bar, owned by Square Root. They are a Hackney-based vendor who create soft drinks. I had the raspberry lemonade, and this was delicious. Again, I am craving one of these right now.

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Finally, the last stop was to The Mac Factory. They are famous for their different flavours of NYC-style macaroni and cheese (an American staple food) topped with parmesan, sourdough and thyme crumble. I had the original 'nastalgic' cheese edition, which was described as a blend of three different cheeses. This was good but very filling as the containers are large.

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Visit KERB, and I guarantee that you will not go hungry as there is something for everyone here. I hope to visit again soon in order to try out additional street food, so watch this space.

The official website for KERB street food market in Camden can be visited here: http://www.kerbfood.com/camden/ 

Zabou's 'Cabinet of Curiosity' Street Art

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French street artist Zabou has been painting regularly in London for the past couple of years, and I have published a couple of posts with her work here and here. Her newest piece is titled 'Cabinet of Curiosity', which is located on Goulston Street (Petticoat Lane). This replaced a previous mural by the artist that featured Jack the Ripper. This new piece features a Sherlock Holmes-esque character with a magnifying glass.

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In addition to the piece above, I managed to capture more work by the artist over the past few months.

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The below is a self portrait of the artist with colourful splashed of spray paint and a mask.

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I always enjoy seeing new work by Zabou as it's often clever, eye-catching, and some of her work is also funny. 

Street Art: St8ment

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St8ment is a paste-up street artist who has been on the London scene for awhile. In fact, the images below are from a few years ago. Like many street artists and paste-up artists, the information about him (or her) is not available. I do know that it appears that he/she has taken a variety of photographs of random people on holiday and pasted them around various places in London. They appear to be lost figments going about their own business in their own countries/cities and have been transported to the middle of London.

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St8Ment

More work can be found on the artist's website at https://st8mentart.wordpress.com/tag/st8ment-street-art/

Earlier this month, the bloke and I went to see "Charlier & the Chocolate Factory" at the theatre. Before our visit, we went to the Chesterfield Mayfair to try their "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed" afternoon tea. I still had my golden envelope from my Christmas visit last year that I wanted to use, and I was impressed with the afternoon tea on that visit; their afternoon tea is award-winning. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" are going to be going to New York next summer, but it has been shown in London for a little while now.

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We were shown our seats, which was located in the main indoor part of Butlers restaurant inside the hotel. (Last time, I was in the conservatory of Butlers, which was beautifully decorated for the holidays.) The afternoon tea was accompanied with live piano music and ranged from classics to more modern rock music. 

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We received a welcome drink, which was a combination of popping candy and a sweet fruit juice. It came in a cute bottle, and I loved the taste of this. I was then able to open my golden envelope to reveal the prize - two glasses of champagne.

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We selected our choice of teas first. I selected the "Willy Wonka Tea", which is a blend of black teas and cocoa to provide a sweet aftertaste. The bloke ordered one of the flowering teas. The flower bud was placed into a clear teapot with hot water poured inside. We could watch as the tea was infused from the flower.

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The "Charlie and the Chesterfield" afternoon tea includes the following sandwiches: honey roast ham with mustard and tomato chutney, roast chicken with mustard and almond, smoked salmon with cream cheese, cucumber and cream cheese, and egg mayonnaise.

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These were then followed by a selection of scones; we received two chocolate scones and two fruit scones. Clotted cream and strawberry jam were included with the scones. They tasted fresh and were crumbly. I find scones to be filling, and the scones served are in smaller sizes. (Visitors can ask for more scones.)

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The pastries included the following: blueberry macaroon, bubblegum eclair, fruity tart, Oompa Loompa cupcake, Fizzy lifting cake, white chocolate golden egg with mango, and a crispy Wonka chocolate bar. I really liked the chocolate bar and the fruity tart. The bubblegum eclair was different. White chocolate lovers will love the golden egg filled with a mango sauce.

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At the end, we could pick a large ever-lasting gobstopper from a Willy-Wonka hat and two new golden envelopes that could reveal a prize. We were also told to take some of the sweets away by the exit, and we were given a few items to take away as we were in a little bit of a rush to go to the theatre.

Turning up at the theatre last-minute was great for getting a great bargain to see a show. We had top seats for just under half of the price if we had booked in advance. The seats at the Theatre Royal (Drury Lane) are not as staggered as other theatres in the stalls, so smaller viewers may struggle to see. The set design was amazing and done cleverly in some places.

Adnate Street Art in London

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Adnate is a street artist from Australia who is inspired by works of Renaissance painters and who started out as a grafitti artist in order to create artwork using spray paint as his medium of choice. His paintings often use bright colours and feature portraits. He recently painted a couple of murals in London, which I have photographed below. His work is stunning and realistic, catching the eye of visitors who pass by it. The first work is painted on Sclater Street, and the other piece is near Bethnal Green.

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The artist had also previously been to London and left behind additional artwork, which does not exist any longer.

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