Sunday, June 14, 2009

Walking round the Lovelace Bridges

We decided that we should take to our feet for another walk and picked a trail that took us by the Lovelace Bridges of East Horsley. The bridges were built in Victorian times by William King, the first Earl of Lovelace and son of the 7th Baron of Ockham. He had an illustrious ancestor who became Lord Chancellor of England under George I from humble beginnings as a West Country grocer. He also married the only legitimate child of George Gordon, Lord Byron, Ada who brought not only wealth but also connection to the family in the form of her cousin, Lord Melbourne. Through the Whig Prime Ministers influence with Queen Victoria, William King was made Viscount Ockham and 1st Earl of Lovelace, a name which owed its creation to Ada’s family connections with the Barons Lovelace of Hurley. In 1840 William became Lord Lieutenant of Surrey and bought the East Horsley estate from the banker, William Currie, plus as much of the surrounding land, houses and cottages that he was able. William then spent six years preparing East Horsley Park as his family seat.
Many of the buildings he created used the bricks from the Ockham Brickworks and he had decorative details incorporated into the buildings made from his and his wife’s family crests. His forests provided timber for the brickworks and in order to get the timber to the works, William had fifteen horseshoe shaped bridges constructed across the valleys in the woods. These spans range from six to eighteen feet, and now there are only ten remaining with their distinctive red brick and flint style. We hoped to see as many as possible, but only later realized that five are able to be seen by the public; five are in private estates; and of the other five there are barely remains to be seen.
We parked in the Green Dene car park, and with our Trail map in hand, crossed the road to the path that joins the bridges together. This trail is signposted by The Horsley Countryside Preservation Society, but you need to be very observant as there are lots of trails and bridleways that could lead you astray.

Our first sighting was the site of Falcon Arch at the edge of the uniquely named lane, Honeysuckle Bottom. Then we headed up hill, coming across Raven Arch, a little of the forest track we were following. As we walked under this arch, we followed the trail up and up and wondered if we were on the right track, only to be rewarded with the view of Briary Hill West and then BH East quite close by. Further along the trail we came across several remains before reaching Stony Dene Bridge. This is the first bridge to be renovated by The Horsley Countryside Preservation Society, and work is ongoing. It is a splendid sight and really shows the outstanding work of William, Lord Lovelace all those years ago. From here we made a circuitous route to find the Dorking Arch, which is an eighteen foot span across a main road known as Crocknorth Road. This bridge has decorative arrow slits built into the parapet and is a huge surprise after the other smaller bridges. This marked the last of our bridge sightings and we followed the forestry road back down passing Raven Arch and the site of Falcon Arch to our car at Green Dene, again.
It was a very interesting walk, which was also full of the wildlife of the forest, including a fleeting glimpse of a deer, many birds, flowers and butterflies.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dinner at Fennel

  Our second trip to Fennel has proved to be a great success compared with the first, when a certain amount of disorganisation lead to a less than satisfactory evening. This time, four of us ventured in to sample the culinary delights of this Japanese restaurant in Guildford.

 While choosing our dishes, we nibbled edamame pods with salt, and with ginger and chili, which were delicious. We were advised to order a selection of sushi, shashimi and maki rolls to share rather like tapas, before launching into main courses. This was a great way to start, and we enjoyed the various fishy flavours as well as some Wagyu beef. I recently discoverd the 'truth' about this from reading Raymond Blanc's A Taste of my Life'. (Not true that Geishas massage the pampered Wagyu cattle and said cattle are given sake and beer to drink.)
We then ordered two main dishes with three smaller side dishes - we had duck and venison, along with some tuna, sweet potato, and broccoli and courgette tempura. It was all very scrumptious and filling, so we hardly touched our rice - which is as it should be. A ordered some Chablis to accompany the meal, which complemented the flavours very well.

Well done Fennel for such an enormous improvement in service. The food was always good, the staff just needed to get their act together, which they have.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Powerscourt Waterfall

Managed to turn this video thru' 90 so the water actually flows down instead of horizontally!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Wicklow Weekend, Monday

Our last day and once again we started with the now famous Ballyknocken breakfast. We were a little earlier starting as we planned to spend the time we had in Dublin. Once we got within the city boundaries we realized it was the day of the Dublin Ladies half marathon and that roads were gradually being closed off. We managed to get within seeing distance of the Guinness factory before asking direction, and then we were quickly there. Some women directed round the corner to the safe parking – all the luggage was in the car, and we were soon paying to enter the Storehouse ‘experience’. The self guided tour takes you wandering up to the seventh floor bar with panoramic views of the city, around a central atrium in the shape of a Guinness glass. We were taken through the whole process of brewing that rich dark pint and eventually reached the pinnacle where you could exchange your ticket for a pint. Lots of people were there supping away and admiring the view on the hot sunny lunchtime. But we couldn’t linger too long as we wanted to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College Library. We moved to a car park in town, and rushed off to Trinity College. On the way we saw lots of people dressed up to run in the half marathon – athletic outfits and silly costumes! Then we were in the courtyard with its Victorian campanile and hurrying towards the Library. It was very hushed inside and we walked through the first part of the exhibition, which explained the origins of the Book of Kells. It is very interesting and included many large reproductions of various manuscripts leading up to the book of Kells. The Book itself is displayed upstairs in a room of its own, lying open at one page. It would be wonderful to be able to turn the pages and view all the amazing calligraphy and illuminated pages. After seeing this, we had to ascend to the Long Gallery, which dates from 1732. At 64m long and with its spectacular vaulted ceiling, it is said to house 200,000 antiquarian books that can be borrowed by members of the Library.
Now we had to get to the airport as flights were calling us home. We managed the one way system and were soon handing over our car and catching the shuttle to T1. Check-in procedures were completed and we said goodbye as M & N and D & S went off for their flights; ours was a little later. It was a wonderful weekend and we all said a big thank you to S for her great generosity and organisation.