Cromford Canal

The week before the late May bank holiday was glorious – hot, sunny and perfect for getting outside. Except I was in the office all week… so on the Saturday I decided to enjoy the last of the sunshine by walking along the Cromford Canal from Whatstandwell to Cromford. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place, sheltered by trees reflected in the water, lovely views across the valley in places, and very few people around.

I’ve been trying to practice my sketching and water colours recently so I took my sketchbook with me along the canal, and painted my sketches later on at home. I’m not much good at trees and lots of vegetation at the moment but I’m not doing too badly on more man-made features.

Earls Hill views

 

Earls Hill and Pontesford Hill are located near Pontesbury, Shropshire. It’s a steep climb for amazing views across Shropshire and over to Wales. There are 2 Iron Age hill forts up there, a perfect position to defend yourself against the neighbours, and the earthworks and embankments are still clearly defined.

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Ordnance Survey/ Bing maps

Look at the contours on that! I’m so unfit, it was really hard work to get up there, but definitely worth it 🙂

Palma de Mallorca

At the beginning of April I spent a long weekend in Palma de Mallorca for a relaxing break and some sunshine. A destination mainly chosen due to the cheap Ryanair flights from East Midlands airport, I didn’t realise the city is so beautiful or that there’s be so much to see and do, we easily filled 3 days. I’m not much of a travel blogger but here’s a quick breakdown some particularly nice places.

Where to go and what to see

The old city centre is fairly compact and easy to explore on foot – the map makes it look much bigger but nothing is too far apart. It’s a lovely city to just wander around finding hidden churches, little squares and surprise views. There’s a lot of nice Art Nouveau and early 1900’s architecture to admire, nice bars to relax at with a drink, and some very tasty bakeries 🙂

Some of my favourites places…

Le Seu (the cathedral)

A huge elaborate structure reflected in the water of the Parc de la Mar, built on a staggering scale with stunning stained glass, definitely worth a visit. There’s usually an admission charge but for about an hour over lunch between services on Sundays it’s free to wander around the main cathedral. The buildings are so crowded around the cathedral that it’s impossible to get a full view of the front of the cathedral, in the alley ways around the back you lose sight of it completely, quite an achievement for a building that size! There’s a section of old city walls near the Modern Art museum with good views across the roof tops, go in the afternoon for the sun to be shining onto the facade, or later on to watch the sun set behind the hills.

Castell de Bellver

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The aptly named ‘Beautiful View Castle’ is on a low hill to the West of Palma, reached by a set of steps from the edge of the city or up the road by taxi or the City Sightseeing bus. We took the bus, it looks like a bit of a hike on foot. The castle is a lovely structure constructed all at once using mathematical principles and contains a few nice museum sections. The best part is the view from the roof across the harbour, city and mountains. And free entry on Sundays 🙂

Hort del Rei

A small park at the base of the palace the far side from the cathedral, it’s a calm oasis that’s stayed in my memory for the wonderful smell of the orange blossom and as a lovely place to sit and enjoy the sunshine.

Where to eat

The 5th floor cafe of El Corte Inglés on

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View from the El Corte Ingles cafe

It’s probably because at the start of April the tourist season hasn’t really begun but we didn’t find a lot of restaurants open late. There’s a cluster of nice restaurants in the Plaça de la Llotja, next to the stunning Llotja (the old merchants hall which is open until 11 and looks wonderful inside when lit).

Beyond the city

A popular day trip from Palma is the old train ride to Sóller, followed by a tram ride down to Port de Sóller. At €30 for a round trip it’s not the cheapest day out but I had a great time. The old train used to transport oranges and lemons through the mountains to the city but now gets packed full of tourists – even in early April the train was nearly completely full. There’s not a lot of legroom but in the front carriage there’s a first class section with sofas which we ended up in by climbing into the nearest compartment as massed tourists attempted to board the train home, all much more luxurious!

The town of Sóller appears to be mainly the church, a few shops and cafes, and some wonderful views of the nearby mountains. Port de Sóller is a small beach resort and harbour reached by a tram that travels along the sea front. There’s a few view points around up the hills and some nice fish restaurants by the harbour. I suspect in the summer the beach will be packed but in April it was fairly quiet and a wonderful place for a stroll along the edge of the water. I had a great day out – fun transportation, lovely views and a relaxing time by the sea.

I’ve properly got the travel bug at the moment, I seem to be surrounded by people heading for exotic places… I need to start planning to next trip now!

London

Today seems like a good day to share my photos from last Saturdays trip to London. My brother lives down there now, and although it’s not a cheap journey it’s only 1.5 hours to get there and it’s slowly occurring to me that it doesn’t have to be a major event to go to the big city.

Yesterdays news was heartbreaking and incomprehensible, like all such events. I can’t stop myself from feeling a little nervous but I refuse to let a few hateful and destructive people stop me from enjoying living and travelling. London is a wonderful city to explore and with my irregular visits there’s still so much I haven’t seen, so I’ll definitely be heading back soon. And out to see the world too, I believe there’s still a lot of good out there.

From the top: view over Greenwich to Canary Wharf, Buckingham Palace from St. James Park, Big Ben viewed from Westminster Pier, the Tower of London, the Shard, and Tower Bridge.

A sunny day out

Today I travelled North and Space_wolf (hello!) travelled South to meet up in York, somewhere in the middle. And a good day out was had by all 🙂 It’s a beautiful city, I always enjoy visiting, and I have so many photos of York Minster by now but here’s a few more!

I have also gained some cake from Betty’s tea room’s, another favourite place 🙂

Month of Letters day #4:
This postcard of York city walls and Minster is headed to a postcard pal in India…
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Down in the big city

London is only 1.5 hours from here but it still feels like a big adventure. It’s everyday life for so many people but I’m not used to the crowds and noise and size of the city. There’s so much there that I’ve never seen, and I could have a great shopping trip if I ever go without other plans that keep me busy!

I spent the afternoon of the Friday by myself in the Victoria and Albert museum – there’s some amazing displays of world art and culture, fashion, jewellery, sculpture, antiquities… It’s easy to get drawn in for hours!


From left: V&A Museum entrance hall, Natural History museum, V&A Museum courtyard

Of course it’s getting dark so early now. Unfortunately the full Christmas lights weren’t lit when I was there, but Christmas is definitely approaching. I love visiting Liberty’s – I can’t afford much in there, I now have my diary for next year but I managed to resist the fabric this time 🙂 We also did a lot of wandering around some of the more well known areas. Sometimes I just need to be somewhere different, and London has plenty of distractions!

From top left: Liberty’s, Carnaby Street rebel Christmas lights, Leicester Square Christmas market, Covent Garden market