Friday 10 November 2023

Sham Castle

The rain stopped for a while, so we took the bus to Bath. Darren's request to me was to find something that we had not seen before.

After a quick flick online I decided on Sham Castle. 

It's a Gothic folly built high up on the hillside overlooking Bath. 

Actually it is just a very fancy wall, and was built by a Bath gentleman in 1762 so that he could see it from his own garden, and brighten up his view. 

He didn't really bother with the back so it is just quite flat. 

This side of the castle is next to the driving range of Bath Golf Course and was very busy when we were there, with lots of shots going off in surprising directions. 

That was the highlight of the day, but the journey there and back was pretty nice too. After getting off the bus we walked along the canal by the big locks that quickly raise it above the level of the town. 

This tall gate was particularly nice with all of the ferns growing on it. 

The canal goes through a very posh area called Sydney Gardens and initially the people living there were not keen on a working canal being built through their estate. 

To keep them happy the canal owner agreed to put in beautiful bridges across the water and also disguise a chimney as a lovely pillar. 

In the garden of Sydney Gardens was another folly, although this time it was more classical Greek. 

We walked back into Bath past the Holburne Museum, which is a gorgeous building at the end of Great Pulteney Street.

I have included this photo because it shows a poster for an exhibition that is currently on at the museum. It's Gwen John and that's the names of my mum and dad, so we need to go and see it next time we are in Bath. 

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Isambard Kingdom Brunel and other things

 We caught the bus to Bristol for a bit of history and culture.

Not sure what these giant ear trumpets are for on this bridge over the River Avon,but they looked nice. 

We followed a path west towards the sea and round a bend to see a first glimpse of the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, in all of its glory.

The first thing to notice is that it is very high, and it is going to take quite an effort to get up to it. In days gone by a funicular style railway used to take people up to the top of the cliff, but that shut in 1930s. All that is left is the sad boarded up front to it. 

Having no choice, we marched up the extremely steep zig zag path nearby and eventually got to the top, which is 74 metres above high tide level.

Interesting facts, the total length of the bridge is 412 metres and it spans a gap of 214 metres. It was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and work on the pillars started in 1831. It then stopped for over 30 years as they ran out of money, but after Brunel died in 1859 it was decided to finish the job as a memorial to him.

It is free to walk across, £1 to drive over and there is a very nice visitor centre all about the Bridge and Mr Brunel at the other end. 

We continued on our way to our next destination, Spike Island, enjoying the views of brightly painted terraces on the opposite bank. 

Just around the corner from this photo we stopped for a rest at a little coffee cart, and sat at the outdoor tables. As we left I asked the barista if she knew where the Banksy graffiti was. If we had turned our chairs around we could have sat and admired it from there!

It is called 'Girl with a pierced eardrum' after the famous Vermeer painting 'Girl with a pearl earring'. In the Banksy art the earring is actually a burglar alarm box. It has been there since 2014 and fortunately has only been slightly damaged.

Finally, we followed the waterfront back round and there is a well preserved railway line and trucks right alongside it.