Category Archives: Days Out

Birmingham Back To Backs 


Hey guys! 

I’ve got another post about a place I’ve visited. However, I never normally post on the same day. I like to take time to sleep on my thoughts, as it were, but this place is just too incredible to keep to myself. 

Birmingham Back to Backs is a place that my dad was desperate to see and it’s taken most of my summer holiday to get a booking slot. Yet, today was the day we finally got to step back in time and visit a piece of our history. 

Back to Backs centres around Court 15, the last remaining court of back to back houses. It wasn’t until 1830 that it actually became a court of backs to backs. Originally, in 1789, it was a handful of workshops. 1802 brought the start of the house building. 


Today, the houses have been restored and conserved to show examples of the similar houses that were build around shared courtyards, for the rapidly increasing population of Britain’s industrial towns. You can imagine three main things: the air, the smell and the noise. 

The first thing you notice is the courtyard. Naturally, this would have been quite communal area; children would be playing here. There wasn’t really any privacy or alone time; everyone was part of everyone business. In this area were the toilets and wash houses. 



House 1: The 1840s

This house is a representation of the Levy family. Lawrence was a watchmaker and it is highly that he used part of the house as a workshop. The family business was carried on by his sons. Nevertheless, what this house shows us how life used to be. There were small rooms (you only had one if you were poor which the Levy’s were not) but it was a time before electricity, heat and entertainment: iPads, games etc. What I adored about this house was the stencilling on the walls. 


However, this family did have a little money. They left behind and inventory of all the furniture they owned, of which a fancy bed was listed. 



House 2: The 1870s

It was in this second house the homes of the Oldfields were reproduced. Birmingham was a city of many trades and Herbert Oldfield definitely lived up to that reputation as a glassworker. Both he and his son made eyes for toys and animals as well as the occasional glass eye for people. As with the first house, Herbert used part of this house too as a workshop. They also had two lodgers with them, resulting in 6 people sleeping in one room! 

It is in this house where you can see what the court and back to back houses were like before the restoration. They did find huge layers of wallpaper, some of which were on display. 



House 3: The 1930s

House three showed the home of the Mitchells. This family stayed here for almost a century. When they arrived there was no electricity. When they left there was. It is families like this that really experienced the changes of our own social history. Their family trade: locksmiths, something which his sons continued after his death. 

It is here we see signs of wallpaper still on the walls. Wallpaper during the Victorian period was incredibly expensive; seen as flamboyant and extravangent. How it was produced meant that it was taxed. (Another hint that the previous family did have money; others were not so lucky!) Now, mass production was in place. The houses were getting slightly larger, electricity was becoming more available and living was getting slightly easier. 



House 4: The 1970s

The final house showed the residence of George Sanders, a tailor originally from the Caribbean. He made a huge number of suits as well as pieces for the the Horse Guards. He was hugely successful and popular, after he spent time building up his reputation. What was amazing here was there are original items that had been left. The history really was alive. 



Finally, the 1930s Sweet Shop

It’s been standing there since 1910 and it was amazing. Naturally we got some sweets to take home. Back in the 1930s all of the famous brands would have been there: Cadbury, Rowntrees. Everyone deserved a little treat! 



What makes this place to special me and the reason why I’ve been writing this post since I got in the car home is because of my grandma. My grandma’s grandparents used to live in backs to backs in Birmingham. My lovely Nan was telling me all about it today, the cold, the one room, the lack of money, the best memories. “It’s true history! It’s my history.” It is this that resonates with me most. My dad also was animated when he was walking around because of this. My mum could see numerous things from her grandma’s house. There’s even items my grandma has that she uses every day now. It’s so special. We are very lucky because we have heating, space, electricity. Life is so different now. This little time capsule keeps our history alive. I absolutely loved it. 


Big love all xx

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Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden

Hi Beauties! 

I hope you’re having a great summer. It’s a mixed bag for me really! I still feel as busy as ever and I’m still in search of a rest. Nevertheless, I have managed to visit some lovely places. Today I wanted to share my visit to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens with you. This place genuinely left me speechless. I felt incredibly overwhelmed for the whole day. 



The Abbey:

These ruins are the largest monastic ruins in the country and boy they did not disappoint. The Abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks from St Mary’s in York, seeking to live a devout and simple lifestyle. 

Three years later, the settlement at Fountains had been admitted to the austere Disrercian Order. This itself brought an important development, the introduction of the Cistercian system of the lay brothers. 


The lay brothers (labourers) relieved the monks from rounding jobs, consequently giving them more time to dedicate to God. Fountains became wealthy because of the wool production, lead mining, cattle rearing, horse breeding and stone quarrying. 

However, the 14th century brought challenges as the monks had to cope with bad harvests and raids from the Scots which led to an economic collapse. The Black Death in 1348 also added to this pressure. 

Despite the financial problems, the Abbey remained essential. The abbacy of Marmaduke Huby marked a period of revival. The Great Tower, built by him, symbolises his hope for the future of the Abbey. 

Sadly, in 1539 the Abbey was closed down in the Dissolution of the Monasteries ordered by Henry VIII. They were all sent away from the Abbey without pensions. The estate was sold by the Crown to a merchant, where it remained private until the 1960s. The National Trust bought the estate in 1983. 


I have to say, this place is amazing. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe it. I honestly walked around in complete awe. It’s so difficult to comprehend. I tried to imagine the lives and the challenges. If only walls could talk! 


Studley Royal Water Garden:

John Aislabie inherited the Studley Royal estate in 1693. He was the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1718, thus being an incredibly ambitious man. However, his career was halted in 1729 due to his participation in the South Sea Bubble financial scandal; expelling him from Parliament. Consequently, he returned to Yorkshire and focused his attention to this incredible garden. 


The garden has everything: flowers, waters, statuses, follies. It is literally the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. 


In 1767, William Aislabie purchased the Abbey ruins to complete the garden and create a utopia. Today, over 200 years later, it is a World Heritage Site, with little differences being made. 


Honestly, this place is just amazing. I loved walking around, seeing the water, imagining the history and the lives here. I really need to go back and see it all again. Thinking back, I probabaly had my mouth open in complete shock the whole time. It’s that kind of place. 

Keep enjoying August and have a fantastic Bank Holiday weekend. 

Big love xx

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Canons Ashby – National Trust

Hey guys! 

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying this week. 

Yesterday, I went on an exploring spree with my family to Canons Ashby in Daventry. I’d researched and recommended here so I did feel a bit of pressure, I have to say. Thankfully, it was amazing. It’s turned out to be one of my favourite places. 


The H shaped Tudor house was built by the Drydens using the remains of a medieval priory. The house, mainly, has remained unchanged since 1710! The things that building has seen, the people and the history really fascinates me. The house is presented as it would have been during Sir Henry Dryden’s time. He was a Victorian antiquary who was passionate about the past. Over time, other Dryden relatives have added to the house, making it what it is today. 

I knew I knew the Dryden name from somewhere and of course it is from my literary background: John Dryden. I was intrigued to find out more about his family home. His creativity in writing also helped with the creative decoration of the house. 

However, like with many other properties, the house began to decline in the 20th century, resulting in it being given to the National Trust. 

As always, I want to share anecdotes and photos of my favourite parts with you. Firstly, The Tapestry Room. I absolutely loved this room because of the story behind it. The sofa you can see in the picture was originally sold. However, by pure chance, a watercolour painting by Clara Dryden was found showing what the room originally looked like. It was from here that one eagle eyed person spotted the sofa for sale at an auction and informed the trust. Thankfully, it’s now in its rightful home. 


The next feature I loved was the fireplace and ceiling in The Drawing Room. It literally caught me off guard because there is nothing else like it in the building. Commissioned in the 1590s, it really has stood the test of time. The family have again added this over the centuries, for example, in the 18th century, Henry Dryden had to add cast iron columns to support the chimneypiece because it was sagging. Naturally, there has been some conservation work completed by the trust along the way. 


Another literary link now: Spenser’s Room. This room was named after the poet Edmund Spenser, author of The Faerie Queen. He was first cousin by marriage. Anyway, it is in this room that I saw something I’ve genuinely never seen before. Original murals are still there today showing the danger of worshipping false gods. It is thought that Sir Erasmus painted these himself. I genuinely cannot believe they have stood the test of time. It’s incredible really. 


This property also has a church attached, just across the grass and over a little road. I enjoyed sitting there for a little while just thinking. I’m not a religious person but I always find churches very calming and restful places. As you can see, this one is incredibly old. It was an insight to see the graves of the different Drydens too. 


My final favourite piece here is a statue in the garden of a shepherd boy and his dog. There’s quite an emotional story behind this as he was killed for protecting the family. Therefore, his statue is there, always watching and guarding the house. I make no apologies for the photo of me by him. Sadly it was raining! It’s not like we expect much else for a British summer to be fair. I always find a raincoat very useful in this country. 


There’s a lot more to this house than meets the eye and I will definitely need to return to learn and retain all of the historical knowledge. I also don’t want to spoil it for you if you decide to visit. However, I really found this place quite enchanting and fascinating. 

For more information visit The National Trust – Canons Ashby

Big love to you all! Xx

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Croome – National Trust 

Hey guys!

It’s the last day of May and more importantly for me, my Dads birthday. As you probably know, we are huge National Trust fans so a birthday was excuse to visit a new place today: Croome. 

As soon as we arrived and saw the view, I could literally feel my breath leave my body. It was just stunning. It was a shame it was a cloudy day, but we could just see the Malvern Hills in the background. 


There’s a lot to discover at Croome. This used to be a secret wartime airbase where thousands of people used to work. You can relive the memories in the museum which is full of interesting, historical features. I loved seeing the uniforms and the emotional telegrams as seen below. 


The property, Croome Court, lies in the centre of the woodland. This used to be the home of the Earls of Coventry but it tells the tale of huge loss. Nevertheless, the outer of the building was visually impressive. Yet due to debt, the majority of the rooms were empty. This place requires imagination to recreate this in your minds from its hay day. My favourite features are the fireplaces. These are a couple of my favourites. 


The parkland was the best part. Green land everywhere, with lovely spring flowers. The smells, the fresh air – perfect for blowing the cobwebs away. The path leads to a beautiful lake with a fascinating Chinese bridge. 

I felt completely at peace today. There really is nothing better than walking around, at your own pace, soaking the freshness in. 


Really this place needs another visit just to see the rest of the land. For today it was just perfect to have family time. 
For more information please visit: National Trust Croome

I hope May has treated you all wonderfully. Yet again I feel like it’s flown by. 

So, here’s to June: sunshine, memories, happiness. 

Big love! 

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Coughton Court

Hey guys! 

I hope you’re all doing well. It’s the last weekend of my Easter holiday and the sun was shining again! I had to make the most of this so I took my parents to Coughton Court. 


We’ve visited here a number of times so we didn’t focus on the house. Instead, because it was so sunny, we took the opportunity to go on a number of walks. The first part we went to see was The Walled Garden. 


I suffer from hay fever so sometimes I get really sneezy. However, today I could smell the beautiful flowers. I love this time of year! 

Another walk we did was The Riverside Walk. Being near water always makes me feel tranquil and calm. I have no idea why, but I always feel better by water. We had some lovely ducks accompanying us. 

Sometimes I feel like I really take these places and family time for granted. Time is always moving and I really miss days out and time with those who mean the most because I’m working. However, this makes up for it! Making memories! 


For more information on this beautiful, historical venue please click here

Have an amazing weekend lovely people!

Big love! Xx

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Chedworth Roman Villa


Hey everyone! 

Hope you’re all having a great weekend. I took one last opportunity to go exploring, this time with my lovely Mum and Dad. We all work ridiculous hours, like many families, so we always try and make our time count. 

Followers of my blog will know how much we love our National Trust membership; this time we visited Chedworth Roman Villa. 

What blew me away was the fact that it was literally tucked away in the middle of nowhere. How did the Romans find it? Why that spot? So many unanswered questions. 


The biggest fascination I had was with the  fact that there’s still more to be discovered. Inside the museum, which was added in the Victorian period, parts of mosaic and stone were being still being found last year. It’s always quite inspiring to know there’s secrets hidden beneath the earth. 


The mosaic they have found so far are so beautiful. It’s incredible what has been preserved so far. 

Places like this require imagination. There are only parts left. But, I find that quite magical really. It’s giving you an active piece of history that you can interpret yourself. My favourite part: the bathhouse rooms and the outdoor water shrine. 

I enjoyed getting my geek on in terms of history this weekend. I hoped you enjoyed my photos! If you’d like more information, check out The National Trust Website


Big love to you all xxx

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Brockhampton Estate


Happy Sunday everyone!

I’ve survived my first week back of a new term! However, I wanted to hold onto one last little piece of my holiday, a visit to the Brockhampton Estate. 

What I loved about here is there are two gorgeous, timber framed, medieval buildings surrounded by a moat. These date back to the 14th century. Imagine the comings and goings these buildings have seen. It fascinates me! 


It’s a shame it was fairly cloudy when I visited; it’s still rather impressive though.

The house is surrounded by 1000 acres of farmland and 700 acres of woodland. It’s a place where you can walk around and not bump into anyone. It’s rather peaceful for a working farm. 

 
Inside the house, there’s a lot of solid wood furniture, fires and glorious beds. You could even try out fashions of that period. (I had to of course!) 

I don’t want to ruin anymore surprises for you, but I would definitely recommend a visit. 

For more information check out The National Trust website. 

Big love! Xx

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