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On my recent visit to Belfast, we spent a day exploring the Titanic Quarter of the city. There are several sights to see here, including the SS Nomadic, the Titanic museum, and the Titanic Dry Dock and Pump House. Additionally, we walked past Titanic Studios, where the television series Game of Thrones is being filmed, and we caught views of the two massive yellow cranes nicknamed Samson and Goliath. We arrived straight from Belfast City airport and dropped our luggage off at the hotel on the far side of the city centre before walking to the Titanic Quarter and exploring this area of Belfast. 

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The Titanic Museum and SS Nomadic in Hamilton Dock

One of our stops was to Titanic Belfast, a museum dedicated to the RMS Titanic. The museum opened in 2012 and is a new addition to Belfast and explains the story of the Titanic and shipbuilding in Belfast. The exterior of the building is meant to mimic a ship, and it is placed between the slipways used by the Titanic and its sister ship the Olympic, and others refer to it as "The Iceburg". The height of the building mimics the Titanic's height.

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Titanic Belfast

The bronze figure (pictured below) in front of the museum is meant to represent the figures that were placed on the front of ships. 

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Titanic Belfast 

Inside the museum is a museum is an interactive ride through a fabricated shipyard that explains how the ships were built. There's also stories about some of the notable people aboard the Titanic when it sank. There's also a viewing gallery where you can see video of the wreckage, and just below this is a representation of how the Titanic currently looks on the bed of the sea, but there were some technical difficulties with this when we visited.

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Viewing gallery (video of the Titanic wreckage)

There are also replica rooms for first, second, and third classes in the museum as well as the White Star Line cutlery and plates that would have been used in the Titanic. There's also a first class menu of the final meal that they had the evening that the Titanic sank. The grand staircase used in the 1997 Titanic film is also in the museum, but sadly general visitors cannot access this; it is only accessible with booked afternoon tea.

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Menu, replica dishes and a first class cabin on the Titanic

Just behind the new Titanic museum is the Olympic Slipway, where the RMS Olympic was built alongside RMS Titanic. This whole area (known as the Titanic Quarter today) used to be busy with ship-building.

At least 4,000 men were involved in building RMS Olympic. Three White Star line ships were built here: Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. Olympic was the first of the three. The Olympic was also a luxurious ship and contained a swimming pool, Turkish spa, a palm garden, and several different first class cabin decor styles.

We also visited RMS Titanic's little sister ship and the only surviving White Star Line ship, SS Nomadic. The SS Nomadic was based in Cherboug, France. It was used to ferry passengers from the harbour to cruise ships (like RMS Titanic) that were too large to come into the harbour. The ship was used to ferry passengers, luggage, and other items to the Titanic when it stopped to collect passengers at Cherbourg before heading off to its fateful voyage to America. (It also stopped in Queenstown, Ireland; Queenstown cannot be found on a modern map as it has changed its named to Cobh.) One of the famous passengers that boarded this ship for the Titanic in Cherbough was Molly Brown.

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SS Nomadic

We had a guided tour of the ship and were told that the different classes never mingled in that day. First class passengers would never see third class, and even the third class area was considered grand for the time. First class used expensive floor tiles, panel decorations, and a grander staircase. 

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First class passenger area

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First class bar

Considering this ship was passed around and a restaurant and a casino at one point, it is amazing that it has survived as much as it has. They also had done a great job of restoring it and souring any bits that were missing from the original suppliers, such as the windows. The rennovation had taken awhile, and there was an exhibit on this, and the ship only opened to the public last May.

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SS Nomadic

The decks were also separated for each class of people; we were told on the tour that different classes just did not mingle in those days. And the passengers would never see the crew working below the decks. We went up onto the deck and saw the wheel and Titanic Belfast museum.

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On board the SS. Nomadic with Titanic Belfast in the background

SS Nomadic is moored in a dry dock, Hamilton Dock. It is near to Titanic Belfast museum. The dry dock's gate (known as a caisson) has been kept and detached and is also located in this dry dock and in front of the SS Nomadic. This was a gate that closed off the dry dock. It is shaped like a ship's hull and is hollow inside so that water can be pumped out of the dock once sealed or drawn back in.

We also went to see Titanic Pump House and Dry Docks, which is located about a fifteen minute walk from Titanic Belfast, and this is where we walked past Titanic Studios where Game of Thrones is partially filmed. The real name of this dock is Thompson Graving Dock, but the Titanic used this dry dock, and the name of the famous ship is used to publicise it. Visitors can imagine the scale of the Titanic by looking at the scale of the dry dock.

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Titanic Pump House and Dry Dock

The Thompson Graving Dock was the largest dock in the world in 1911. The length of the dry dock is over 850 feet, and the Titanic and other large cruise ships used this dry dock when they were being fitted out. The pump house could drain the dock (23 million gallons of water) in about 100 minutes. The first ship to use the dry dock was the Olympic.

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Titanic Pump House

We took a tour of the the Pump House, which is Victorian in architecture, and watched the video shown inside it to understand how the Pump House works. The video also showed scenes of Titanic in the dock.

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Pump House

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Pump House

Thompson Graving Dry Docks would have been very busy, and when we walked around the docks, we could hear 'sounds' of an audio recording coming from the dock to try to get a feeling of what it would be like to be there when the docks were a working place.

Belfast was the fastest-growing British city from 1821 to 1901, and the city's population grew three times larger than it was to over 21,000. Linen manufacturing and ship-building were popular industries. In fact, the River Lagan's course was straightened in the 1840s, and this increased ship-building. 

The iron keel blocks that the ships would rest on while in the dry dock remain to this day and are on display. There was a sign next to them, and one block would weigh as much as three cars.

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Thompson Graving Dock

There is another dock near to Thompson Graving Dock. It is known as Alexandra Graving dock. Inside this dock is another ship, the first World War cruiser HMS Caroline. It is the second oldest commissioned warship in the Royal Navy; the first is HMS Victory. She was the fastest ship ever built; it took 9 months to build. Most of her time at war was spent in the North Sea and Scapa Flow (Orkney islands) where she was in the Battle of Jutland and is the only surviving ship.

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HMS Caroline

Have you visited Belfast and the Titanic Quarter? Let me know what you thought of it, and what was your favourite attraction?

A Visit to Windsor Castle

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I first visited Windsor Castle in the spring of 1998 with a group of fellow university students and instructors from Ohio University where I was taking courses to get my Bachelor of Science in Visual Communications. Earlier this summer, my parents had come from the states to visit so we decided to make a visit to the castle as they had never been there. I remembered some of the rooms in my last visit all of those years ago, but I don't remember some of other areas and exhibits.

There was a little bit of a wait to get into the castle, and we had rain. We waited patiently under umbrellas as the queue slowly moved. (Yes, tickets can be booked in advance but I did not want to make a booking as I was not sure that we would visit as we also had the boat tour booked: A Boat Trip and Wanderings Around Windsor.)

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Front of castle from the street

When we finally were able to get inside, there were views of the castle towers and gardens in the outer area. It was raining off and on, but it did not spoil our visit.

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Windsor castle flowers

There are good views of the castle tower.

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Tower

Around the tower were beautiful gardens with some nice views. We also visited a couple of other exhbitions, such as Queen Mary's doll house. The items are beautiful, and some of them are custom made and very expensive. The doll's house was built in the 1920s. Photographs are not allowed here, the same as in all of the other interior parts of the castle.

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Gardens at Windsor Castle

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Gardens

We visited the cathedral within the castle walls, and this is where some of the royal family are buried. We could not take any photographs inside this area, though, or inside the castle. However, we saw views and saw the areas closed to the public where the royal family live, such as the the building below.

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Royal family rooms

After the visit to the castle, we walked around the corner to 'The Long Walk' and snapped a few photographs of the front of the castle.

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Windsor Castle from 'The Long Walk'

At the end of the day, we decided to have a drink and a snack. We opted for tea on the high street in "The Crooked House" as it was toward the end of the afternoon. We sat by the window and watched the reactions of many tourists who happened to just chance upon the leaning timber-framed house and then reached in their pockets or handbags their camera or mobile phone out to take a photograph of it. I had a hot chocolate and a Victoria Sponge Cake.

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Hot chocolate

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Victoria sponge cake

We had a fun day out, despite the poor weather, and we managed to see a lot in the castle and in the town. Windsor and Eton (Eton is simply across the river) is a pleasant place to visit. I last visited in mid-December of 2012 when I went to see the Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime and explored the Christmas market and city/town of Windsor in snow (covered here: Wintery Windsor).

I visited Aqua Shard to indulge in afternoon tea and appreciate the views. I had some visitors (my parents), and they wanted to go up the Shard to see the views. I suggested afternoon tea, so this was booked in advance to enjoy before we headed off to the Royal Albert Hall to see Star Trek ("Star Trek" at the Royal Albert Hall - Jenikya's Blog). Last year for my birthday, we made a visit to The View from the Shard (the top viewing platform), and pictures from the top can be seen here: 310m Above London: The View from the Shard

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Aqua Shard

The views are good, but unfortunately they did not honour my request for a seat next to the window, so we were sat in the middle of the room and could not enjoy the views. That was the first failure. The second was poor service. I kept having to signal to the staff to take our initial order, for top ups on our tea, for extra water for the tea, and for the bill. (Note that it also was not very busy at the time as our reservation was toward the end of the afternoon tea sitting and tables were either empty of becoming empty.) 

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We received the sandwiches and got a selection of salmon, chicken, ham, and cucumber. These were served with edible flowers (pansies) and looked pretty. The sandwiches tasted okay. We also had our tea, and I had the Royal Air Force tea. It was alright but not my favourite choice of tea and I wished that I had picked another type.

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Sandwiches

After sandwiches, we got the three-tier stand filled with scones, pastries and other sweets.

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Afternoon tea Aqua Shard

The scones were fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The pasty selection included lemon meringue tart and fruit mille-feuille, and out of everything, the lemon meringue was my favoutie. The pastries tasted a little dry, and they were nowhere near the best that I have had during my visits to other afternoon tea venues.   

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Fruit pastries

The main treat featured Shard-shaped opera cake, made with white chocolate and a flakey pastry. Also included were pots of chocolate-coffee with a mousse-like texture. Both of these sweets tasted like coffee, and as I dislike the taste of coffee, I could not finish them. They were disappointing but looked yummy. It's even more disappointing when the food looks nice but doesn't taste nice.

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Mini Shard

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Afternoon tea sweets

After the afternoon tea was finished, we went to the windows to enjoy the views. We did feel a little like we were intruding around others, but we did request a window seat when I made the original booking and we did want to enjoy the views; in fact many of the seats were empty by this time as it was the end of the afternoon tea sitting.

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We also went to the toilets, and these are probably the best views from toilets that I have ever seen. The toilets were located on the south side, so we had views over the southern part of London.

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Toilets at Squa Shard

Unfortunately, although the views and food looks nice, I do not recommend afternoon tea at Aqua Shard. We experienced poor service, less-than-average food, and they also did not honour requests when I made the booking. The afternoon tea is expensive for what it is (when compared to other venues), and I did not feel that it was good value for money when compared with other venues.

For those who want to visit to enjoy views, better value would be to go to the viewing platform on the top floor. (I will note that I would try one of the restaurants in the Shard, but I would avoid the afternoon tea and bar area at Aqua Shard, and judging by reviews on TripAdvisor, others have also noted the same issues with the service and the food so I am not alone in these thoughts.) 

A few weeks ago, I visited Windsor. The weather was not that great, but we managed to take a boat ride on the river Thames and saw some nice views of the castle. Our journey started off with a quick walk and waiting around at the pier where we watched a large group of swans. On our boat tour, we had various places of interest pointed out, such at the Eton school boys' swimming spot, a race track, and expensive houses where celebrities live. There was also a bridge designed by Brunel, who built the famous Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol, but this was covered in scaffolding so I did not get any photographs. We went down as far as the locks and then went back. I saw some nice views of Windsor Castle.

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We had lunch in the royal station and also walked into the fudge shop (opposite the castle walls) where we chatted to the guys making fudge and got to sample some of it. We saw the fudge being stirred in a copper pot and having its temperature checked before it was poured onto the marble worktop to be cooled. The fudge was delicious. They were making salted caramel, and they have a type of salted caramel and dark chocolate fudge called "Andrew", and this was exceptionally tasty. The chilli chocolate fudge was also delicious and spicy. (Most of the times they sell chocolate chilli fudge, it is not spicy, but this is and that's good!)

Launceston Castle: A Visit

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I visited Launceston Castle this spring on Easter Sunday, after I paid my visit to Okehampton Castle (Morning Visit at Okehampton Castle - Jenikya's Blog). Launceston Castle is in the village by the same name, located in Cornwall, England. The castle was  was used as a prison from the mid-1600s and was demolished because of poor and cramped conditions in the mid-1800s.

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Berries

The castle is accessible through the town centre, and we parked in the middle of the town, more or less opposite the old Gatehouse. Then, we climbed up steep steps to the High Tower, the highest point of the castle. 

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The High Tower and Gatehouse

There were beautiful views over Launceston from the High Tower, and I took some photographs.

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Castle and views over Launceston from High Tower

Inside the interior of the High Tower, there was not much to see. The High Tower was intact and consisted of a circular wall with another circular wall inside. The inner circle contained a winding staircase that could be climbed a little further.

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High Tower interior

The views from the top of the tower were equally amazing.

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Launceston views from castle

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Launceston views from castle

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View from the top of High Tower

After having a quick look around the castle, we descended and admired the view of where we had just been.

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Castle

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Gatehouse exiting the castle

The conditions were wet, but we enjoyed our trip to Launceston Castle. We visited it on Easter Sunday, and it was a rainy Easter Sunday this year. We had the castle to ourselves.

This spring, I had a trip to Dartmoor to go walking and completing a few letterboxing trails. (I covered my walk around Sourton Tor a few weeks ago here: Walking Sourton Tor in Dartmoor - Jenikya's Blog.) One of the walks was located around the vicinity of Little Links Tor. The trail stuck to the lower areas of the tor and did not go all the way to the top of the tors. Walking this area was difficult as there were several boggy areas.  The walk started at a public car park behind Okehampton Inn near Sourton. We walked down the trail and crossed a stone bridge in the stream.

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The start of our walk...Arms Tor in the distance on the left

The trail took us around the west of Arms Tor, where we saw a railway bridge walkway (though we did not go too close to this). We also passed over a settlement of some sort, where we saw manmade mounds of dirt and a lot of large stones. Some of these had been half-buried by vegetation.

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Settlement 

We also came across a couple of natural springs near the settlement, and the water looked quite deep. A lot of the area coming off of the tors was boggy, and we sometimes walked around as much of this as possible, though this was difficult to do. We were not wearing our walking boots as our feet had blisters from wearing them the previous day.

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This may be Arms Tor

We travelled between Arms Tor and Great Nodden, a very large loaf-shaped brown hill that pokes up from the land. In the photograph below, Great Nodden is on the left. We are fairly high up on Arms Tor in this photograph.

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Great Nodden from Arms Tor

Of course, we were hunting letterboxes. We had a charity letterboxing trail. The stamps were all designed as sheep.

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Letterboxing stamp

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A spring and Great Nodden

One of the areas around the tor (Arms Tor) had a spring, and I did not notice that the spring had carved out a large passage hidden underneath rock and clitter. My foot fell all the way down to solid ground. It was as deep as my thigh. Luckily, I did not get hurt. Now I know why people use walking sticks.

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Views over Dartmoor

The views from the tor were pretty.

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More views of Dartmoor

On one stop for the letterbox clue, we were not too far from Dartmoor ponies. They were a few hundred yards away, but it was still a little too close for my liking. We tried to hurry as they seemed to be a little curious. I suspect that they were hungry and wanted food, but something did not seem quite right. We then saw one pony run and attack another one. We moved on pretty quickly after that. After we were on our way, I looked back and the pony was sniffing the ground where we had sat to press the stamp in our book. I think that the pony was hungry and wanted to fight or warn off the other one. However, the pony would have been disappointed as we did not eat anything or leave any food.

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Dartmoor ponies

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Great Nodden and a spring

We have another trail that goes around the top of the tors here, but we did not get to complete it as we wanted to get going as we had to go to work the next day. I plan on going back to Dartmoor before autumn to complete a couple other trails. I am hoping that the bogs dry up a little bit; this was not my favourite place to walk as there are so many bogs.

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Tor

On the way out, I took a photograph of Widgery Cross on the top of Brat Tor.

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Widgery Cross on Brat Tor

We were lucky with the weather on Dartmoor again, and I am hoping that we choose a good long weekend next time we venture over to the area to complete some additional walking trails.

Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea

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I recently went to Suka at Sanderson's hotel off Oxford Street (near Tottenham Court Road) to indulge in afternoon tea with an Alice in Wonderland theme for my birthday. The afternoon tea is known as "Mad Hatter's" to mimic the tea party scene in Alice in Wonderland. There were several surprises along the way, and this is certainly one of the most unique afternoon tea experiences that I have been to in London.

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Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea

Our afternoon tea experience started out with choosing our tea from a selection of four small bottled samples placed on the table in front of us. (You can start out with one type but can switch this later on with another type.) The types of tea were all infused with a different flavouring, including: mint chocolate chip, strawberry and cream, apple pie, and rhubarb and custard. I tried the rhubard and custard first and had the apple pie one later, and these were both delicious. My partner stuck with the mint chocolate chip tea.

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Flavours of tea

The first item we commented on when we arrived was the unique designs of the glassware. These were developed by London design agency Luna & Curious, and the plates and teacups completed the image when placed in the correct position. My plate included circus arobatics jumping to catch each other. My partner's had a circus zebra, and other table settings included a clock and an old-fashioned birdcage. The teapots were also designed; they reminded me of playing cards. One side contained an image of a king, and the other side contained an image of a queen. 

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Tableware by Luna & Curious

The napkins were also wrapped with riddles, but we got two of the same one. I won't spoil it for anyone, though. 

To add even more of a quirky surprise, the menu for the afternoon tea was placed inside an old book. The menu is stuck behind two pages and placed in the middle of the book.

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Menu in an old book

We ordered champagne first. Our tea came in the decorated teapots with paper crowns on top.

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Afternoon tea

Another surprise awaiting us was the white box placed on the table. This is, in fact, a music box that plays the song "Over the Rainbow". The little ballerina twirls around as the music plays, and the box is filled with sugar cubes. The music played each time we got a sugar cube out. I really liked this idea.

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Music box sugar cube holder

After a short while, our afternoon tea stand came, piled with sweet and savoury treats over three tiers.

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Afternoon tea

The savoury snacks included the following types of sandwich: smoked salmon on dark rye, ham and mustard on a tomato and herb bread, egg on lemon bread, and cucumber on spinach bread. In addition, there was a mushroom quiche and a sweet scone and a savoury scone. The savoury scone included olives and came with a herb butter to spread on it. The normal scones included a small pot of strawberry jam and clotted cream.

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Savoury treats

The sweet treats included Victoria sponge cake decorated like a clock, a mango cheesecake with white chocolate coating, and a green tea and dark chocolate mousse. These tasted nice, but neither of us care for cheesecake, so we did not finish them. I noted that the mango sauce inside the cheesecake looked like an egg yolk and egg when dipping into the white cheesecake, and the mango portion of the dessert did taste nice. My favourite was the green tea and dark chocolate mousse.

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Sweet treats - Mad Hatter's afternoon tea

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Sweet treats - Mad Hatter's afternoon tea

After the second tier was finished, we braved the top one. The mushroom marshmallows were nice and light, and the meringue carrots were similar. The meringue carrots were nestled inside a teacup with peashoots so it looked like they were growing in a garden.

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Mushrooms and meringue carrots

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Mushrooms and meringue carrots

And last of all, we had a "drink me" potion in a little brown bottle to consume. This tasted of cream and passionfruit. 

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'Drink me' potion

At the end of the afternoon tea, visitors could help themselves to jelly from old moulds. Pineapple, pear, and strawberry were the flavours on offer.

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Jelly moulds

Have you been to Sanderson's Hotel and had the Mad Hatter's afternoon tea? If so, what did you think of it? Leave a comment.

Morning Visit at Okehampton Castle

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I visited Okehampton Castle on a wet and rainy Easter Sunday. I had the castle to myself for the time that I was there. We were briefed in on a history of the castle and had an audio tour. The castle is also rumoured to be haunted, and the ghost story probably inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write the Hound of the Baskervilles. Okehampton Castle is located on the edge of Dartmoor National Park in southwest England.

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View of the High Tower from the main Gatehouse - Okehampton Castle

I walked up the cobbled road past the main Gatehouse, learning about the castle from the audio tour as I walked around.

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Okehampton Castle Gatehouse

The castle is ruins, and with a little bit of imagination and drawings on boards around, I could envision how it used to look. The Great Hall is one of the ruined rooms, and this led through to a hallway through to kitchen rooms. 

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Service room and the Great Hall area

There are three main kitchen rooms. One of these contained a hole in the ground, which was used as refridgeration. (This can be seen in the photograph below.) The kitchen room at the back contained the ovens for cooking. The larger oven can be seen in the foreground (circular stone area) in the photograph below. The smaller oven was used on a day-to-day basis, and the larger oven was only used when there were plenty of guests.

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Okehampton Castle Kitchens

After viewing the kitchens, I started to climb the steep hill up to the High Tower. From here, I could see the ruins of Okehampton Castle more clearly. In the photograph below, the chapel remains can be seen on the right. Behind those are lodgings for guests.

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Okehampton Castle chapel and lodgings

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A view higher up from the High Tower

The views from the High Tower were stunning, even in the foggy and wet weather. The High Tower remains are left in a strange formation as the remaining wall pointing upward looks like a splinter. It is impressive.

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High Tower

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High Tower doorway

I walked around the High Tower. The grounds, which were used for hunting in the older times, contained small creeks and woodland. Guests to the castle can walk around the woodland trails and have picnics, but it was quite wet, so I did not do this.

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Woodland from Okehampton Castle

In various places throughout the castle, the remains of the latrines were still visible. The latrines emptied out the exterior of the castle, such as the one below on the High Tower.

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Latrine exit - Okehampton Castle

After descending the High Tower, the tour continued to the chapel remains. The chapel was rennovated and used as a kitchen a long time ago (1600s), after the castle was abandoned for some time. A mill was also put on site. However, some remains of the building's original function was noticeable in the typical large windows and a small chapel built into the wall. I could almost imagine the stained glass window panels that would have filled the windows.

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Okehampton Castle window

I had a quick look at the lodgings for guests, and in one of these rooms, the latrines were more intact although the floor and ceilings were no longer in place. The holes for the latrines and a washbasin could be seen inset into the wall. 

After the lodgings, I walked back down the castle walkway and had a quick look up at the castle from the garden area where there are picnic tables. Of course, no one was going to have a picnic in the weather on that day. I was the only one at the castle at the time, but a small family turned up just as I was leaving.

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Okehampton Castle from the grounds

I was happy to see the trees starting to obtain their leaves after the really wet and harsh winter that we have had in England. 

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Tree buds with raindrops

Have you visited Okehampton Castle? Let me know what you thought of it by leaving a comment below.

Walking Sourton Tor in Dartmoor

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I visited Dartmoor this spring and went on a couple of charity letterbox walks. (For those who do not know, letterboxing is basically like a treasure hunt; clues are given to find plastic boxes containing stamps that finders collect. I scanned some of the better stamps and wrote an article here: Letterboxing Rubber Stamp Designs). The charity letterbox trails are a short walk around 2.5 to 6 miles long in Dartmoor. 

The first walk completed this year was nearly five miles long and covered the area around Sourton Tors. The walk commemorated a couple of plane crashes that happened in World War 2. The stamps featured World War 2 planes.

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Bottom of Sourton Tor

The walk went up around Sourton Tor, Branscombe's Loaf, and Corn Ridge before heading back down Sourton Tor. Before climbing too far up Sourton Tor, there is a gentle walk up through pasture with several small springs and streams.

I found one of the letterboxes near a tree. (For those interested in the charity walk, I can provide the information where you can send off a couple of pounds for the clues. Note that charity walks typically remain on the moors until the autumn, and there are new walks every year.) The rubber stamp is inside the pill box, and I took a break to get my coloured ink pads out so that I could make a stamp in my book.

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A letterbox on the moor

I walked further up Sourton Tor. There are amazing views here with a lot of rocks. The majority of the rocks are at the tops of the hills. There are so many places to hide letterboxes.

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Sourton Tor

The walking can be steep in some places. Make sure that your boots are very comfortable; mine were not comfortable or flexible enough for me so I got a couple of blisters on my heels where shoes always tend to rub. 

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A steep path up Sourton Tor

There are sheep and ponies roaming the tors on Dartmoor, and new lambs were walking around with their mothers. The sheep pose no problems, but I am a little bit wary of the ponies as they can be unpredictable. 

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Sheep and lambs on Dartmoor

I stopped to enjoy the view over the hills from Sourton Tor. Below is a photograph of Sourton church.

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Sourton Church

When arriving to the top of the tors, suddenly there's a little bit further to go to get to the top and the next large pile of rocks.

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Sourton Tor

Ponies scattered across the moors and tors make a pretty photograph with the countryside and lower hills in the distance.

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Pony on Sourton Tor

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Dartmoor Pony

The walk continued around a steep valley between Corn Ridge and Sourton Tor, and we walked around this to Branscombe's Loaf. In the distance we saw Yes Tor and High Wilhays, and a couple of the plane crashes happened near here.

Branscombe's Loaf gets its name from an old story about Bishop Branscombe who was walking on Corn Ridge and was stopped by another traveller who offered him bread and cheese. Branscombe noticed that the other traveler had hooves for feet (and hence the devil), so he threw the cheese and bread on the ground. The cheese and bread turned to into the granite rocks known as Branscombe's Loaf.

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Yes Tor and High Wilhays from Branscombe's Loaf

Walking further around Branscombe's Loaf and Corn Ridge, there are nice views of Meldon Resevoir and this bridge (below) near it. I've walked around this area in the past. Near the area is The King's Way, an ancient road that linked Okehampton with Tavistock.

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Looking toward Meldon Resevoir

I walked around the other side of Branscombe's Loaf, and I captured the following view of Corn Ridge and Sourton Tor.

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Sourton Tor

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Dartmoor Ponies

After completing the walk, I drove back to Belstone and had a well-needed drink and meal at The Tors Inn in Belstone. I often stay in Belston when I visit Dartmoor. It is easy to get to and the tors are not far. In fact, Belstone Tor is simply a quick walk away from here (behind the pub in the below photograph).

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Belstone Tors Inn

Belstone has a few historical buildings, such as this "Telegraph Office" and iconic red phone box and in-wall post box.

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Belstone

I took a photo of some beautiful tree blossoms.

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Blossoms

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Belstone cottage and moors

Have you walked around Sourton Tors or in any of these locations mentioned?

A couple of weekends ago, I took a walk from Haggerston overground station along the canal to Broadway Market. It was a Saturday morning, so I decided to take a peek around the market. For a Saturday, it was quite early, but there were others who were also up as well and cycling or running along the canal path. 

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I passed underneath a couple of arched bridges with pieces of street art on them. Some of the walls along the canal are covered with mosaics featuring aspects of the area of London.

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I took a few photographs of the canal and various canal house boats. I wondered what it must be like to live in a canal boat moared on the canal.

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A little further along and near to the exit of the canal path (to Broadway Market) are locks. I did not see any boats passing through the locks.

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I took another photograph of the locks last summer when I visited the area and caught some rowboats on the edge of the canal. Although it was not as sunny or warm this time, it was still a lovely walk.

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On the top of the locks are a couple of houses. I am not sure that I would personally like to live near a canal, but it is alright for a view, and this must not be too common in London.

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Not long after I started walking along the canal from Haggerston station, I noticed a large building covered with fading portraits. This is the "I Am Here" art project.

"I Am Here" Art Project

Not too far from Haggerston station and along the canal is a housing estate. A series of photographs have been placed in the windows by a group of artists (known collectively as Fugitive Images) occupying flats in the estate. This estate was managed by Hackney Council, and when tennants left the property, the council simply placed orange boards over the windows of the flats that were not occupied. This made the building look like an abandoned eyesore, but the artists photographed portraits of the residents and placed those over the orange boards. "I Am Here" challenges themes of urban decay and aspect of 'home' and 'living'. See the below photographs of the estate.

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"I Am Here"

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