Weekend away, and other bits

Hey everybody!
I’m recently back from a weekend spent in the south of England, which was quite simply splendid! I went to Oxford for a long weekend, somewhere I haven’t been for years now, but it’s one of my all-time favourite places to be, so I was looking forward to that quite a lot! In the event, while I spent most of Sunday there, I don’t feel like I got to see enough of the place, having spent most of my time at the Ashmolean Museum, but even so, it’s a wonderful place, and I’m hoping that I can go back very soon!

I also went to Winchester, which has been on my to-do list for years now, but unfortunately was caught in the torrential rain on Monday, so didn’t hang around half as long as I should have. I managed to see the cathedral, and the statue of Alfred the Great, but sadly that was that! Thoroughly soaked, I abandoned the trip for another time – hopefully July!

I’d hoped to fit in so much while I was down there, but was sadly rained off. Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being back there. Winchester looks like a lovely place, and Oxford is almost a spiritual home for me, so I’ll be planning that return soon, anyway!

While I was there, I also finished reading Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, which I actually posted about yesterday. It’s a tremendous book, and following my Heir to the Jedi excitement of last month, I feel on something of a Luke kick. Perhaps surprisingly, there aren’t that many stories that really showcase him, though, so I’ve resumed by reading with Darksaber, which will feature here soon, no doubt!

I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t really been playing many games lately. In fact, I haven’t done so at all this month! Perhaps explaining the somewhat rushed game day blog yesterday. I’ve arranged for another game of X-Wing on Friday, though, so if nothing else, there’ll be that to look forward to.

There hasn’t really been a great deal of news on the boardgame front lately – not that much that interests me, at any rate. Except, perhaps, for this:

Call of Cthulhu Mark of Madness

FFG are churning out the Call of Cthulhu deluxe boxes, that’s for sure! The Hastur faction’s box, looks like a lot of exciting stuff will be coming from this one when it arrives in the autumn! I enjoy running Hastur/Silver Twilight, so definitely looking forward to this one!

FFP have a new ad for the upcoming Caverns of Cynder expansion for Shadows of Brimstone, which is looking really nice! Only one new enemy for the world, though apparently the hellbats from the Jargono box will be usable as “lava bats”, so that’s interesting.

But yeah, otherwise it seems to have been a quiet time on the game front lately…

My trip to Durham

Ah, Durham! I do love it up there. As I mentioned in a previous blog, my trip this year was slashed short, but I’ve been up there quite a few times, so here’s a pictorial record of my trip from three years ago.

Durham

I suppose the Cathedral is one of the biggest draws of the northern city. It’s absolutely stupendous – especially when you think it was built in just forty-odd years.

Durham

Durham

Durham

Durham

Durham

100_2149 100_2156

For more of the history of the city, check out an earlier blog I wrote!

Durham

 

 

My trip to Peterborough!

Okay, so Peterborough probably isn’t the first place you’d think of when thinking of holiday destinations in the UK. But I did, for precisely that reason, actually! And let me tell you, it was definitely worth heading over there. No, actually – let me show you…

Peterborough Cathedral

The mighty Peterborough Cathedral! It’s a truly awesome sight, I have to say.

Peterborough Cathedral

To my lasting chagrin, I didn’t actually go in when I was there. Peterborough is about a five and a half hour drive straight across the country from me, so by the time I actually got there, I was pretty tired. A brief wander around the outside, and then it was an early night! But I believe Catherine of Aragon is buried here, and Mary Queen of Scots used to be, too.

Peterborough Cathedral

In addition to being a handy base from which to explore into Norfolk and Cambridge (both of which I did while there), there are a lot of other places nearby that are of immense interest to heritage hunters such as myself! Perhaps most importantly, Fotheringhay Castle:

Fotheringhay Castle

Not much to look at now, is it? It was a fairly important castle during the middle ages (Richard III was born here), but saw its moment of stardom as being the place where Mary Queen of Scots was tried and executed in 1587. Hence her burial at nearby Peterborough, until her son James became king of England, and moved her to Westminster Abbey.

Fotheringhay Castle

The castle is almost entirely destroyed, save for this small lump of masonry. Today, the remains sit peacefully beside the River Nene, with a caravan site close by (in case you’re interested!) Also, buried in the church at Fotheringhay (seen in the picture below) is Richard, duke of York, the father of Richard III and Edward IV, and the man who started the Wars of the Roses. Again, for the more historically-inclined among you!

Fotheringhay Castle

There’s a lovely little village called Lyddington not far from Peterborough, in the neighbouring county of Rutland, where the charming Lyddington Bede House can be found:

Lyddington Bede House

This is a wonderful little place, originally a palace for the Bishops of Lincoln (in case you were wondering, the medieval diocese of Lincoln was HUGE, stretching from the modern county right down to Oxfordshire).

Lyddington Bede House

 

Post-reformation, it was converted into a private house, then alms houses. It’s a fascinating little place, with lots of little corners to explore, including the little rooms for the poor that were part of the alms houses conversion:

Lyddington Bede House

Ah, delightful!

Lyddington Bede House

Much closer to the city centre, though, is Flag Fen, a nationally-important site of prehistoric interest, where the great Dr Francis Pryor found the preserved remains of a timber trackway through the fens here in 1982:

Flag Fen

The timbers themselves are a bit of a jumble, as you can see, but they formed what is believed to have been a ceremonial trackway through the often dangerous fens, and many artifacts have been discovered around the area, left as if in ritual offering. I don’t know about you, but I often find this explanation of “ritual” etc a bit too convenient. It’s a bit of a standing joke that the archaeological label for things not understood is “ritual/funerary”, but anyway.

Flag Fen

The big draw, for me, to prehistory is precisely the fact that we don’t know a lot about the time period. There is an air of true mystery about it that we will most likely never discover. Nevertheless, Dr Pryor has written a truly excellent book on the subject, Britain BC, which I can definitely recommend to you if you’re interested in this sort of stuff!

Flag Fen

I’ve saved until last what is one of my all-time favourite English Heritage places, Kirby Hall.

Kirby Hall

An Elizabethan mansion built in 1570, it is now largely roofless, with parts in ruin. However, there are still some rooms that are serviceable, leading to it being often used as a film set.

Kirby Hall

 

Kirby Hall

The formal gardens are absolutely stunning, and I spent a great deal of time reclining in the shade and enjoying the views.

Kirby Hall

Kirby Hall

Unlike a lot of historic houses that are now shells, there was no great catastrophe at Kirby. Instead, the house was largely neglected throughout the eighteenth century as previous owners had died childless, their estates passing to already-landowning relatives. By the early nineteenth century it was popular with the Romantics who toured the country to visit such places, and I think you’ll agree, it’s easy to see the attraction! I have a great love for ruins, as I’ve already discussed, but I find something altogether wonderful about houses which aren’t crumbling ruins, but are rather just skeletal remains to full gable height. There’s something almost otherworldly about them, without wishing to get too philosophical about it!

Kirby Hall

 

Kirby Hall is definitely worth a visit, anyway. Indeed, Peterborough itself should be more of a destination that is appears to be! I’m definitely making plans to go back soon, at any rate!

Kirby Hall