Places

Each of these places has a story to be told. Some of these (from 2012 — 2015) originate from our old teaching website in France (with its less complicated language).

Some of these posts are vehicles for pixels, some for words; some posts have both working in harmony. (Most of these posts use small thumbnail photos which, when clicked, will pop up larger versions.) These places can also be viewed on a map.

words and pixels

October 21, 2021
The Isle of Coll

Just a hundred miles north-west of Glasgow, where the COP26 conference is being held in November, lies the Inner Hebridean Isle of Coll.

February 3, 2020
Ightham Mote

The name Ightham Mote — whose four-consonant apparent tongue-twister contributes to the surprisingly easy Item Mote — may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon words eyot and

November 9, 2019
Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln’s majestic cathedral dominates the surrounding plain from its spectacular perch atop Lincoln Cliff.

November 8, 2019
Stokesay Castle

Climb to the top of Stokesay Castle’s south tower and you are rewarded with a 360 degree prospect that could be one of the loveliest in all England, the gently rolling hills of Shropshire, Houseman’s “blue

November 3, 2019
Sezincote

Sezincote near Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire, was an early 19th century attempt to replicate the architecture of the Mughal Emperor Akbar who ruled from 1556 to 1605 and was known for his conscious mingling of...

October 20, 2019
St Botolph's Church, Hardham

The white-washed St Botolph’s Church in Hardham, West Sussex, was almost certainly built before the Conquest.

October 10, 2019
Haddon Hall

When the rain of Derbyshire falls on the Peak District, the stones of Haddon Hall are scoured by it and progressively rounded.

May 24, 2019
Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges

Some of this country’s finest houses are perched on a hilltop, others tucked away in woodland, some dominate a landscape with imposing intent, others block uninvited entry with obvious fortification.

October 2, 2018
The Uig Sands Chessmen

The oldest rocks in Britain are found in the Outer Hebrides. These are twisted Lewisian gneisses which were formed up to 3,000 million years ago, two-thirds of the known age of our planet.

August 30, 2018
House for an Art Lover

On the inside this might be just another sugar-coated wedding venue — for which purpose it can indeed be hired — but the grey flanked House for an Art Lover in Glasgow’s Bellah

June 28, 2018
The Hill House

Try for a moment to imagine the noisy industrial clamour of Glasgow at the very start of the twentieth century, when shipyards and their associated engineering works made the Upper Clyde the ship-building centre of...

June 27, 2018
Lacock Abbey

Be prepared to be overwhelmed when visiting Lacock Abbey (even on a heavily overcast day, as it was when we visited it).

June 22, 2018
Kew Gardens and the Temperate House

Kew Gardens, June, first sunny day for a while, first visit and one is weak-kneed and pea-brained at the scale and splendour of the place.

June 19, 2018
The Kintyre peninsula

A separate post on this site marks the joy I feel about parts of the Kintyre peninsula in western Scotland.

June 16, 2018
The Kintyre shoreline

Kintyre, not too unlike a finger of home-made shortbread on the map, leaves Argyll behind by bending a knuckle at Tarbert and then pointing nearly due south towards the shores of Northern Ireland, leaving at its tip...

May 28, 2018
Great Chalfield Manor

Browning’s “Oh, to be in England now that April’s there” tugs with even greater poignancy as May moves on and the season’s heat builds under blue skies.

May 18, 2018
The Giant's Causeway

I‘d not be troubled if above the entrance to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre it said “Here be Giants” because everything about this place is, well, gigantic, whether stamped into being by Finn McCoo

April 27, 2018
Belfast's Murals and Peace Walls

When faced with another couple of tourists saying how welcoming and kind they found everyone in Belfast, our driver Danny said, “Well, yes, that’s it really. Belfast people are very kind to everyone.

April 21, 2018
Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island is Northern Ireland’s only inhabited offshore island. It lies 15 miles from Scotland’s Kintyre Peninsula and is a 6 mile ferry hop from Northern Ireland’s Ballycastle.

May 2, 2017
Casa Batlló, Barcelona

Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia would have been a competitive whirl in the years between 1870 and 1914, with wealthy residents vying with each other to build or renovate homes on this fashionable city centre avenu

April 24, 2017
Casa Milà, La Pedrera, Barcelona

Casa Milà was Antoni Gaudí’s fourth project on Barcelona’s main avenue Passeig de Gràcia and was to be his last civil work before he devoted himself entirely to...

April 8, 2017
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Judged by almost any standard you choose, Barcelona’s Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is extraordinary.

July 26, 2016
Standen House

Standen House near East Grinstead was the home of a successful Birmingham solicitor and his family.

April 19, 2014
Trapeharde's wheel of time

There’s a finger of land that stretches out from Trapeharde and continues on through the woods, emerging in a valley on the other side of the trees.

pixels

January 15, 2022
The Collector Earl’s Garden

Arundel’s castle looms over the town and the River Arun. Its massive bulk — a mix of round and square towers with a curtain wall — dominates the skyline.

January 9, 2022
The Spanish Chestnut Avenue at Croft Castle in Herefordshire

Croft Castle in Herefordshire in the Welsh Marches, occupies a site of rising and falling fortunes that has been home to the Croft family since the Norman Conquest (save for an interval of just under 200 years).

January 8, 2022
Old Soar Manor

Old Soar Manor in Kent is a miniscule portion of a small 13th century manor house. Save for a couple of glazed windows, the buildings are open to both weather and birds.

January 7, 2022
Carlyle's House

A painting by Robert Tait in the front parlour of 24 Cheyne Row dated 1857 shows Thomas and Jane Carlyle in their front parlour — at 24 Cheyne Row.

January 1, 2022
Penshurst Place

The Baron’s Hall is the older and smaller of two great halls at Penshurst Place in Kent. Completed in 1341, it uses chestnut for the roof because it is lighter but stronger than oak.

December 31, 2021
Claydon House

Externally Claydon House in Buckinghamshire is a rather sober place.

December 31, 2021
The Queen's House Greenwich

The Queen’s House at Greenwich was built for Anne of Denmark, the queen of King James I. Work started in 1616, but Anne died in 1619 and never lived there.

December 30, 2021
The Old Royal Naval College's Painted Hall

Downriver from central London’s more eye-catching historic buildings, the Greenwich ensemble known collectively as Maritime Britain is one of Britain’s 33 cultural UNESCO World Heritage sites.

December 30, 2021
Oxburgh Hall

Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk is a magnificent brick-built, moated house of great charm. It has been home to the Bedingfield family since the 15th century.

December 30, 2021
Chastleton House

Chastleton House in Oxfordshire is a compact Jacobean gem of faded surfaces, bumps and blemishes. Since the early 1600s, its occupants aspired to a status above county gentry but habitually fell short.

December 29, 2021
Broughton Castle

Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire is a moated, fortified Tudor manor house.

June 24, 2021
Petworth House

Petworth House in West Sussex is a place of superlatives. It is a Grade I house (meaning a property of exceptional interest).

November 25, 2019
The i360, Brighton

It has been difficult not to glimpse the Brighton i360’s pencil-thin outline from the South Downs, showing it black against the sea below it or flashing sunlight off its aluminium and glass surfaces as the coast...

November 9, 2019
Hardwick Hall

Hardwick Hall exudes the ego of Bess of Hardwick — its builder — as much as it is today buffeted by the constant drone of traffic from the nearby M1 motorway, both equally transient and fleet

September 8, 2019
St. Celynin‘s Church at Llangelynnin

Sloping down to the seashore and pointing towards distant Bardsey Island, which appears as a smudge of shadow shaped like a jockey’s cap on the far horizon, is the medieval St.

May 12, 2018
Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple

What a mouthful, a place called “Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple”. What a puzzle that the person who built it was called “the Earl-Bishop”, an earl or a bishop, well both actually.

December 9, 2017
The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2017

A shimmer of sub-Saharan warmth alighted in central London earlier this year when the Serpentine Gallery’s 2017 Pavilion was opened to the public.

October 31, 2017
Lancing College Chapel

Dominating the lower stretches of the River Adur as it flows towards Shoreham, and perched imposingly above the A27 Shoreham Bypass, is Lancing College Chapel.

June 22, 2016
Barrington Court

But 10 miles away from Montacute House, Barrington Court is another fine Somerset manor house.

June 22, 2016
Montacute House

If you saw the BBC 2 serial Wolf Hall, you will have seen a little of the inside of Montacute House in Somerset.

July 1, 2015
Simorre

In a nearby village here in the Gers is a church that would not be out of place in north Africa. It has six towers, four of which are topped with pyramids as if they were minarets in a mosque.

August 22, 2014
Auch cathedral

Our nearest big town is Auch and, although Auch Cathedral is not spectacular, is has some truly spectacular stained-glass windows and choir stalls.

November 24, 2013
Lewes Crescent, Brighton

Some of our visitors have heard of the English seaside city of Brighton (where we lived before we moved to France in 1998).

September 25, 2013
Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges

An hour south of us, the foothills of the Pyrénées mountains provide a majestic backdrop for the commune of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges and its former cathédrale Sainte Marie.

July 11, 2013
Le Lac du Pêcher

If you enjoy comfortable surroundings, fine food, nature at its best and peace and quiet, then we can highly recommend the superb instants d’Absolu Ecolodge and Spa at Lac du Pêcher nea

July 10, 2013
A late spring in France's Patagonia

As it did nearly everywhere in Europe this year, spring arrived late in this region, the Cantal. We enjoyed a brief stop-over there this June and it was as if spring had just started.

November 22, 2012
Prieuré de Mimizan

On the outskirts of the town on Mimizan on France’s Atlantic coast there’s a fascinating bell tower which is all that remains of an extensive medieval priory, l’ancien Prieuré de Mimizan

November 21, 2012
Solférino

Running almost from Bordeaux to Biarritz — and spreading inland to form an area of perhaps a million hectares —  in the south-west of France, the forest of Les Landes is the

November 15, 2012
La Romieu

Up in the north of the Gers, some distance from Trapeharde, is the beautiful bastide village of La Romieu.

September 27, 2012
The Maquis de Meilhan

Not far from us here in the Gers is a monument that marks a battle that took place between a group of French Resistance fighters and a battalion of German soldiers on the night of July 6th and 7th 1944.

August 4, 2012
Bostah Iron Age Village

The Isle of Lewis is the most northerly island in the Outer Hebrides and therefore lies in the path of the wild Atlantic Ocean.

August 3, 2012
The Glasgow School of Art

Scotland’s Outer Hebrides — where we recently took a few days’ break — are a long distance away so a night-stop in the fascinating city of Glasgow is well worth it

words

June 16, 2018
The Glasgow School of Art

Shed tears today that the beloved Glasgow School of Art has yet again been enveloped by flame and gutted by fire. Shed tears that an icon of the Glasgow skyline is again a source of black smoke.

December 1, 2016
The dance in moonlight

This post is not just about a place. It is about an event.

June 16, 2016
East Coker

East Coker, a small village on the border of Somerset and Dorset, placed its mark on my mental map when I first read T.S. Eliot’s long poem Four Quartets.