Review: Tregenna Castle, St Ives

Review: Tregenna Castle, St Ives

After a day spent exploring Cornwall’s craggy coastline from Lizard Point to Land’s End via Kynance Cove and the Minack Theatre we arrived at our final destination, a Tregenna Castle in St Ives. Feeling wind-blasted and hungry we were ready to relax and Tregenna was the perfect place.

We’d got just a day and a half to explore the pretty Cornish harbour town of St Ives before heading back home to Sussex. A cheeky add-on to our trip to Truro for a family wedding and my very first taste of Cornwall.


Tregenna Castle Resort Entrance

 A Cornish Castle


The Tower of London Poppies and a tribute

The Tower of London Poppies and a tribute

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the art installation at The Tower of London, will be completed on 11 November when the last of the poppies are set in place. The poppy installation, by Paul Cummins, commemorates the centenary of the start of the First World War in 1914. 

Over five million people visited the display of 888, 246 handmade ceramic poppies ‘planted’ in the moat surrounding the Tower of London. The poppies have now all been sold with proceeds going to Service charities.

The Tower of London Poppies

Tower of London Poppies

Tower of London Poppies

I visited the installation in October and quietly pondered the sea of red around the Tower. People gazed solemnly at the poppies and many shed a quiet tear or two. 

The thought that every poppy represents a British, Australian, or Commonwealth fatality from the First World War made the waves of poppies a powerful sight.

Tower lf London Poppies and Tower BridgeTower of London Poppies and Tower Bridge

I hadn’t realised until this year that my grandmother lost two uncles during WW1. My Dad and brother, while researching our family tree, have found out a little about them so I’m going to share a small piece of our own family history with you today in my own tribute to them this Remembrance Sunday.

Brothers Jasper Botting and George Botting  died whilst fighting in France in 1915. We know little about Jasper except that he served with the Royal Sussex Regiment and lost his life on 31 July 1915. He has a memorial in Houplines Old Military Cemetery in northern France. I’m told that my grandmother, now long gone herself, remembered her Mother being inconsolable when the news broke of the loss of her two brothers.

The Battle of Loos, France

We know a little more about George Botting, known as ‘Sim’ to his family. He served with the 7th Battalion East Surrey Regiment and died during active service aged 29 at the Battle of Loos on Friday 8 October. 

A Letter Home

He’d already had a near miss, as described in a letter home, and had endured the terrible mud in the trenches.

Letter home from WW1Letter from Great, Great, Uncle Sim (George)

Transcript of part of George’s letter home…

Dear Min and Chas

Just a line in answer to your letter which I received quiet safe and to say that I am still able at present.

Sorry that I have not answered your letter before but I have been back in the company for a while to let some learners get used to the guns. We have had a good lot of rain lately and there was plenty of mud about, I am really fed up with it, shall be glad when it is all over.

I have had one narrow escape, had a bullet through my hat, plenty close enough; it really made me drop a bit.

Thank Chas for the tobacco. I always look forward to your letters because you are the only one that sends a few cakes.

From your loving brother Sim xxx

George’s name is inscribed in the Loos Memorial in France.

George Botting

Private George Botting who died in active service in the Battle of Loos 8/10/1915

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Poppy Installation Tower of London

The Weeping Window and Wave segments of the exhibition will remain in place until the end of November 2017 before touring the country. They will then be placed in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum until November 2018.


The best things to do in St Ives, Cornwall

The best things to do in St Ives, Cornwall

St Ives is a captivating Cornish town built around a small crescent. Colourful fishing boats bob in the bay and fishermen unload their catches onto the quay. The Tate St Ives overlooks Porthmeor Beach and a multitude of galleries display art and artisan crafts.  Quaint fishermen’s cottages, pubs and restaurants are just a cobbled saunter from the granite quayside.

Boats at St Ives Harbour


Seven Sisters Country Park – an epic day out in East Sussex

Seven Sisters Country Park – an epic day out in East Sussex

Seven Sisters Country Park is a beautiful East Sussex hotspot. The iconic coastguard cottages, Cuckmere Haven and the clifftop walk to Birling Gap make for an epic day out.

Seven Sisters Cliffs in East Sussex viewed from Seaford HeadView of Seven Sisters, East Sussex

Updated April 2020

The towering white cliffs, near Brighton, in East Sussex are part of England’s South Downs National Park. The cliffs stretch along the Sussex Heritage coast from Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap in the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It’s somewhere every Brit should visit at least once.

The South Downs roll along one side of the cliffs and the English Channel reaches into the horizon on the other. If you love stunning coastal views, meandering rivers and dramatic chalk cliffs then you should spend a day at Seven Sisters Country Park, in East Sussex.


The Meeting Place, St Pancras Station

The Meeting Place, St Pancras Station

The Meeting Place is a 30ft statue, by artist Paul Day, which stands under the station clock at St Pancras railway station in the International Eurostar terminal.  The piece is intended to reflect the romanticism of train travel and is reminiscent of a scene from the film Brief Encounter.

Meeting Place Statue St Pancras Station London

Meeting Place Statue St Pancras

The base of the statue encompasses a high-relief frieze which depicts scenes from the history of Tube and train travel.

The 20 tonne, bronze sculpture is a solid focal point amid the comings and goings of a busy station and, for me, serves to remind that within all the hustle and bustle of arrivals and departures some families, friends and lovers are experiencing poignant personal moments.  Is this couple reuniting or saying au revoir…?

This post is part of the Weekly Photo Challenge theme ‘Kiss’

If you’d like to know more about St Pancras Station and its history check out this excellent post from Lucy at On The Luce

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London – the view from the Shard

London – the view from the Shard

London’s skyscraper, The Shard, designed by architect Renzo Piano is an amazing visitor attraction.  ‘The View from the Shard’ on floors 69-72 is the only place where it is possible to see all of London at once. The 360 degree panoramic takes in the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Battersea Power Station, Wembley Stadium and the Olympic Park. I visited the Shard on a grey and mizzy opening day to see how many London landmarks I could spot.

The Shard from London Bridge

I love looking down on the world from way up high – be it from a hot air balloon, a plane window or the highest of buildings.  I’ve viewed Paris from the Eiffel Tower, Toronto and its islands from the CN Tower, New York from the observation deck of the World Trade Centre and Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon and Rio de Janeiro by helicopter.  Obviously I don’t suffer from vertigo.  When I heard about The View from the Shard I knew instantly that I had to see my capital city from its highest point.

Check out the views from the time I looked out over Dubai from the Burj Khalifa


What’s it like to visit the Shard

The Shard Map of LondonWe started our visit in the lobby before going through security where coats and bags pass through x-ray machines and people through a scanner – much like airport security only friendlier.  We’re directed to the first lift through an area with a map of London covering the walls and floor with cryptic clues marking each landmark.  The Shard experience is ‘queue free’ because visitors choose the time and date of their visit so with a limited number of tickets available per slot we didn’t have to wait.

The first lift, one of 44 in the building, went up the first 33 floors at a rate of 6 metres a second.  We shooshed upwards smoothly and quietly feeling nothing but a small tummy flip as we came to a halt. The lift attendants were chatty and gave out random facts like that 95% of the building’s construction materials are recycled.  The second lift whisked us up the next 35 floors to level 68, the cloudscape, and as we stepped out my ears popped. Onwards and upwards and a short flight of stairs and we’re at floor 69 home to the triple-height main viewing gallery.  The ascent took no more than a minute; to take the stairs – all 306 flights – doesn’t bear thinking about…

The Shard - Floor 69

The day had started wet and grey but luckily the rain had cleared and the sun even put in a brief appearance although raindrops still speckled the glass.  On a clear day the epic views stretch for up to 40 miles.

View of the Thames

View of Tower Bridge from The Shard

We picked out many of the capital’s major landmarks – with the help of twelve interactive telescopes you can pinpoint up to 200 famous buildings and monuments.

The view from the Shard

Shadow of The Shard

After half an hour on this level we climbed up another short set of stairs to reach floor 72. This is the highest viewing point of any building in Western Europe at a spectacular height of 244 metres.

The Shard - Open-air viewing platform, Floor 72

Partially open to the elements this level is surrounded by massive shards of glass. These gradually taper up to a peak making up the spire. This takes The Shard to a full breathtaking 1,016 feet.

Top of The Shard

Looking up to the peak

Cleaning The Shard's Windows

11,000 panes of glass to clean

View from The Shard towards Westminster

View from The Shard

View from The Shard

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Shard and I’d love to return and view London at dusk. Afternoon tea at The Shard sounds pretty good too.  A stay high up at the hotel in the Shard, The Shangri La, would be an experience too.

The Shard

What’s to know…

How much time did we spend at The Shard?  Set aside 1 to 2 hours – we were there around 1.5 hours and we weren’t rushed through the visit.

Shard Tickets

Prices – In Advance: Adults: £25.95, Children: £19.95  On the day: Adults: £30.95, Children: £24.95
These Prices for General Admission at April 2017

Operating Hours
Daily 9am to 10pm except  25 December. Timed tickets every 30 minutes until last entry at 8.30pm. The Shard closes at 10pm.

Getting there – Tube London Bridge (Northern Line, Jubilee Line) Overground/Network Rail London Bridge

The Shard Viewing Gallery
Bermondsey Street
London SE1

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