Tom's Britain - Exploring places of interest and things to do in England, Wales & Scotland

8 November 2014

Tour York Minster

When as a youthful undergraduate your author struggled with a taxing piece of work or needed inspiration for a difficult essay, the best solution always seemed to be to go for a wander around York Minster. For even the most cynical visitor would fail to find the Minster interesting, dominating the skyline of the historic city of York, and though your author is Godless the fact that nearly a thousand years ago people could manage to build such a huge and beautiful place for someone or something they had never seen and couldn't be sure existed helped to see that the minor trials of higher education could easily be overcome.

Begun in the 11th century on the site of a church that had first been constructed in wood around 627AD to baptise King Edwin of Northumbria, the Minster wasn't officially deemed complete until 1472, when it was formally consecrated. Since then, it has survived a siege of York during the Civil War, an attack by the Non-Conformist arsonist, Jonathan Martin, in 1829 and a fire in the 1980s after it was struck by lightning. It remains as inspiring as it always has been.

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^Picture © andyspictures used under a Creative Commons license^

20 July 2014

Climb the Naze Tower

The Naze Tower at Walton on the Naze is an 86 foot tower built in the 1720s by Trinity House to aid ships navigating along the Essex coast, and to line up with Walton Hall as a guide for ships passing through a gap in the offshore shoals known as Goldmer Gap.

Today, visitors can climb the tower for a very reasonable £2.50 and there is also a tea rooms on the ground floor, and 1st and 2nd floors, as well as plenty of art for sale and fantastic panoramic views into the Walton Backwaters, and area of creeks, islands and marshes made famous by author Arthur Ransome in his book ‘Secret Water’. When your author visited earlier in the week those working at the tea room also firmly recommended boat trips to see seals in the backwaters with Tony Haggis on the boat Karina, which they had recently taken.

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8 July 2014

Visit the George Inn, Norton St Philip

Yes it's another pub - this time in the wilds of North Somerset - but the George Inn in Norton St Philip is worthy of mention for so much more than being a simple pub. One of so many that claim to be England's oldest your author has stopped counting, it was probably built in the 14th century, originally as a wool store and inn for travellers in a village that held annual wool fairs, with a license to sell alcohol as early as 1397.

Quite apart from its history, the George is a beautiful building and arriving by bicycle downhill from Hinton Charterhouse it is a sight for sore eyes. It's staying power as a village pub in an age where people would seemingly often rather stare at a screen in the corner of a room while mindlessly necking cans of cheap larger than have an interesting conversation with friends in a fascinating place is evidenced by the presence of another across the road and as a result it seems like a particularly fine place to stay the night, as others have before, for this was once an important stagecoach route used by the likes of Samuel Pepys.

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19 April 2014

Have a break

It's good to have a break every now and again, and for the next week for the third Easter in a row your author is off to various islands off the coast of Scotland - possibly for the last time before it votes to leave the Union - for some fine landscapes and interesting places. As such, a brief break in things to do in London will be enforced until at least next weekend. If you are seeking inspiration, you might consider planning your own Scottish trip, taking in some islands, some pubs, and some big landscapes.

Opportunist thieves should note that flatmates remain to keep the house secure (and are, of course, trained killers), and without such trivialities as mobile reception and computers there is no real chance of any updates here. If you're in need of inspiration, do consider visiting Londonist, IanVisits & Diamond Geezer

8 March 2014

Stay at the Anderton House

A perfectly formed 1970s Modernist house in the Devon hills just outside Barnstaple, the Anderton House designed by Peter Aldington of Aldington & Craig for Ian and May Anderton in the 1970s. Now in the care of the Landmark Trust, the house differs from many of the other houses in the Trust's care, which tend to be older, but is recognised for its architectural merit, which has earned it Grade II* Listed status.

The house was designed to make the most of the views across the valley, and to allow Ian Anderton to work close to his family without them having to put up with his clutter of papers. Staying here really helps to see how Aldington made this work, with the large glass windows doing a fine job of keeping the rain out when your author visited for a family birthday.

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