Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dartmouth, England

On the cruise-ship Ocean Princess we traveled through the night, sailing 129 miles from St. Peter's Port, Guernsey to arrive in Dartmouth, England in the early morning hours.  We begin our third day looking forward to seeing more of charming, beautiful England.

The ship anchored out a good distance from shore while "tenders" were again used to very efficiently transport passengers into the beautiful town of Dartmouth.

Dartmouth is a town in the English county of Devon and sits on England's southwest coast.  They enjoy moderate weather conditions with an average of 66 degrees in the Summer and an average of 48 degrees in the Winter.

The port of Dartmuth was used as the sailing point for the Crusades from 1147 until 1190.  The city was officially incorporated in the year 1342.

Dartmouth's frequent rains and fertile soils have created a lush, 
green picture-book countryside with rolling hills,  as seen in the below photo.

Dartmouth, England

The Pilgrims put in at Dartmouth's port, in route from Southampton, England  to America.  They rested here and waited for ship repairs before setting off again on their journey in the Mayflower and the Speedwell on August 20 1620.  The Speedwell was forced to turn back because of severe leaks.  The Mayflower continued on crossing to Cape Cod, USA. 

Some of the locals giving arriving guests a warm welcome.

An amazing amount of sailboats in port.

We were scheduled to ride the local Steam Train along the scenic Devon coast on our way to Paignton which is the home of Buckfast Abbey which is an active Roman Catholic community of Benedictine Monks.

Our Steam Train with vintage old seats took off and we enjoyed the interesting countryside as we traveled along.

As our train left the station our guide told us to look up on the hill to see a huge building which was the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.  She continued with the story that when Queen Elizabeth was 13 years old in 1939, she and her sister and parents visited the College for a tour.  Someone by the name of Philip was chosen to escort them around.  The story continues that Elizabeth fell in love with Philip and they began to exchange letters.  In 1946 Philip asked the King for  his daughter's hand in marriage.   And, we all know the rest of the story.   How very sweet!

Passing an English neighborhood.

Passing by lots of folks out on a beach.

Passing by a pretty English home.  Love all those windows.

Passing by what looks like apartments.  This building reminds me of the movie "Mary Poppins" with all those chimneys.

Passing by beautiful, rolling countryside.

Someone told us the lighter colored sections of farmland is barley growing in the fields.

I love this pretty little Methodist Church with the beautiful hydrangeas growing out front.

Arriving at Buckfast Abby which was founded nearly a thousand years ago and stood for five hundred years before it was closed by King Henry VIII.  Monks returned in 1882 and rebuilt Buckfast Abby finishing the church in 1938.

Today Buckfast Abbey is home to a community of Benedictine monks who lead a life dedicated to prayer, worship, work and hospitality and they attract and welcome thousands of visitors from around the world.

Such beautiful wordworking.

Even this beautiful cross was carved from wood.

The Abby is self-supporting with a farm where vegetables are grown and bees, pigs and cattle are kept.  Their Monastic Produce Shop has one of the most extraordinary collections of gifts made by nuns and monks from across Europe.  Select books, soaps, honey, fudge, cosmetics, jams, biscuits, wines, candles, linens and devotional goods are available in their shop.

The monks themselves created this beautiful stained glass window in a side chapel of the church.  For
over 50 years the monks have designed and produced stained glass windows for over 150 different churches.

Pretty flowers outside in the Sensory Garden.

A lovely statue in the garden.

More flowers out in the side gardens.

This time we are traveling on a tour bus back to Dartmouth.  Again I snapped photos along the way while traveling on a bumpy vehicle.  I love this beautiful green lush countryside of England.  It is as I always pictured it to be.

I love the simplicity of design of many of the buildings in England.

I imagine these are old country farm-houses have been here for many years.

 I loved the beautiful, colorful flowers we saw just about everywhere.

 Arriving back in Dartmouth.

My husband and I found a wonderful old English Sandwich Shop as we walked along the streets of Dartmouth. While enjoying our delicious sandwiches the folks sitting next to us in the restaurant were very friendly.   They were locals and had lived here all their lives.  It was a pleasure to talk to real Englishmen.  I could listen to them talk all day with that beautiful English accent .... So completely charming!

How could I have forgotten to take a picture of that restaurant!  Too hungry to think about it I guess.

 More beautiful English buildings with the interesting fireplace chimneys.  Also, we saw a lot of very small cars on the road similar to that little red car in the below photo.

 This was a nice little museum with a collection of costumes, 
swords, ships-in-bottles and vintage toys.

 Again, the below building is so "English" looking with all those beautiful flowers.

 One of the most famous residents in Dartmouth was Agatha Christie.  She lived at Greenway which is a 34-acre estate down the Darth River in Dartmouth.  Our day did not allow any more time for sight-seeing and we were unable to visit what surely must be a beautiful estate.

The last "tender" was scheduled to leave at 4:00 PM and the ship was due to sail shortly after.

There we go pulling away from the Dartmouth Port, the same port the Mayflower visited so many years ago.   It was so peaceful to move along heading back out into the English Channel saying good-by to Dartmouth, England.

From the balcony of the ship we move along through the peaceful waters traveling this time on toward our next adventure and the town of Waterford, Ireland

Thanks for coming along with us to the charming English town of Dartmouth.  Hope you will join us next time as we begin our next adventure.

Wishing you a very special end of your week and a very nice Labor Day Weekend wherever you may be.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Island of Sark, United Kingdom

We begin the second day of our journey aboard the Ocean Princess cruise-ship.  After sailing 227 miles from Dover, England during the night, we arrived at the Channel Islands in the English Channel.  Our boat docked early in the AM off St. Peter's Port,  the second largest Channel Island of Guernsey.

St. Peter's Port is not a large enough port for the ship to pull into the dock.  They have it all figured out, and from the boat they very easily transport passengers by "tender boats" which are of course much smaller and able to dock at the Port.
Below is a photo of the Ocean Princess Cruise-ship anchored at sea, close to St. Peter's Port.

As you can see in the below map we have traveled from Dover, England through the English Channel on over to the Channel Islands seen in the lower portion of the map to the left.  

I hate to say this, but I did not know my geography enough to know about the Channel Islands.  I can't believe how beautiful these islands are and I did not even know they existed.

St. Peter's Port, Guernsey, England

The British Island of Guernsey is just eight miles off the coast of France.  It is the second largest of the Channel Islands.  It has a peaceful and unspoiled atmosphere and it is a popular destination for British and French vacationers.  They say it is one of the prettiest harbors in Europe.

From Guernsey we boarded a transport ferry which would be taking us on to the Island of Sark, which was a six-mile trip,  taking about 45 minutes.  Below is the ferry boat coming into the Island of Sark dock.

The day started out very rainy.  Thank goodness for big umbrellas.

Even in the rain it was very picturesque approaching the Maseline Harbor.  
Notice the light-house at the top of the hill.

It appears to be a very rocky island.

Sark is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands, located about 80 miles south of the English coast.  The island is only 3 miles long and a mile-and-a-half wide and has a beautiful scenic coastline.

Amazingly the Island of Sark does not have any cars or any night time street lights. The only vehicles allowed are horse-drawn vehicles, bicycles, tractors, battery-powered buggies or motorized bicycles for the elderly or disabled residents.

As we walked through this tunnel there was a tractor bus waiting to take everyone into the village of La Maseline.   

When we arrived in the village we were split into three groups.  Each group boarded a horse-drawn carriage for a drive around some of the island.  

We were bumping along in the cart and it was not possible to get a clear photo as you can see in the photo I  took of the horse-drawn cart behind us,  in the below photo.

We hopped down from the cart when we arrived back at the village.  It was quite chilly and rainy out. You can see the blankets our nice driver supplied for all of us to use.  

How about that beautiful horse.  I always wonder how animals feel and what they think.  There were about 12 of us loaded into that cart.  I bet he was glad when we arrived.  I wanted to talk to him, but he looked like he was being serious at the moment and just wanted to rest!

By now we were looking forward to finding a charming little place to get a bite to eat.  We did find a very nice and very busy lunch restaurant.  Both my husband and I ordered some very delicious warm soup and some nice hot coffee.....What a treat!

Sark is a thriving community, with a resident population of around 600.  There are several shops, a post office, a small little prison,  a parish church, a school, a Doctor,  and,  of all things, a volunteer policeman.  The local fire-engine and ambulance are pulled along by a tractor.

Sark is politically independent from the UK.  Residents elect representatives on their behalf making it the smallest self-governing parliament in Europe. Today Sark's economy depends primarily on tourism.

Bicycles are one of the main modes of transportation on the Island of Sark.

The bank of Sark.

In the below photo is La Seigneurie, the home of Sark's hereditary lord since the 18th century.  La Seigneurie was built on the site of the 6th-century monastery of  St. Magloire.  The present house has been altered and extended over the years with a large Victorian watchtower built to facilitate signaling between the island of Sark and Guernsey.  Apparently La Seigneurie is not open to the public but the beautiful gardens next to this beautiful structure were open.

Even though it was cloudy the rain stopped and we were able to walk around and really enjoy seeing this walled garden.  It is said the wall was built originally to give protection to the plants from the wind.

The gardens as a whole employ one full-time and three part-time gardeners.  Due to limited time we did not go out beyond the flower garden to see the vegetable gardens.

Cute little things.

This old Victorian glasshouse shelters some of the plants used in the gardens.

This white flowering plant was about seven feet tall and has the look of a Rose of Sharon, but the flowers are more cupped.  So pretty!

One of the gardeners can be seen in the below photo working away in the garden.

A pretty Clematis Vine.

I am unable to name most of the plants growing here in the garden but we sure enjoyed seeing them.

How special it was to see this charming village of La Maseline.  We decided to walk back down toward the harbor to meet our ferry boat that would be arriving before too long.

We were told that during the Springtime these hills in the below photo are covered in bluebells, thrift and daisies.  Can you just imagine how beautiful that must be!

There was a walking trail going down toward the sea.  As much as I would have loved to see the view on down toward the ocean I had to turn back because the wind was blowing and it was really chilly.

We arrived back down at the Maseline Harbor before our ferry arrived ... better to be early than late!  As beautiful as it is on this little island we sure would not want to miss the boat back to St. Peter's Port.  In the below photo you can see the ferry boat approaching on the right.

We arrived back to St. Peter's Port on the Island of Guernsey, an island only 24 miles wide.  We told ourselves we could not see everything on this trip, but it sure would have been interesting to explore the Island of Guernsey also.

You have probably heard of Guernsey cows, and this is where they originally came from.  The milk from the Guernsey cows is golden and regarded as the world's healthiest and most delicious.  The milk has an unusual amount of healthy beta-carotene. 

Another claim to fame for the island of Guernsey is that the very famous literary giant Victor Hugo lived here for 15 years.   This is where he wrote his best-known novels,  Les Miserables in 1862 and earlier in 1831 he had written the very well known novel,  The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The last "Tender" boat from Guernsey back to the Ocean Princess was scheduled for 4:30 PM.  Then the ship would continue on, sailing through the night, on it's way this time to Dartmouth, England.

Thanks for coming along with us as we went sight-seeing around those beautiful islands tucked away in the middle of the English Channel ... What a surprise to even find out they were there!   It really would take a lifetime to try to see all of the amazing beauty the Good Lord has given us on this beautiful earth. 

Wishing you many blessings wherever you may be.