Tag Archives: Places

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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Filed under Days Out, National Trust, Photography, Places, UK

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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Stratford upon Avon 

Hi all,

Just a quick post. Life is pretty busy (when isn’t it!) but I managed to sneak off for a couple of hours by the river. I took a couple of photos that I wanted to share with you all. 


It always amazes me how beautiful this town is. I feel so lucky that I am from here and I can experience this place with ease. The memories it holds for me makes it just as special. I love sharing them with people. 


This made me laugh. I just had to take a photo. Littering, yes. Humorous, absolutely. 

You never really realise how much a place can make you feel until it’s tested. Life throws things at us on a daily basis; small personal challenges or larger issues which require plenty of thought. I’d temporarily forgotten the sense of serenity and calm this place gives me. 

Whatever challenge you currently might be facing, find your place to think and feel personal peace. 

Big love xx

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The Big Wheel – Stratford upon Avon

Hey guys!

How are you all? Today was amazing because the sunshine came out so I finally got chance to get on the Big Wheel in Stratford. 

Firstly, the river and theatre looked beautiful. It really is quite breathtaking. 

I have to say, it was amazing. The views were stunning. Apologises about some of the glare on the photos. However, it doesn’t matter. It was just lovely. I genuinely have so much love for my home. For a price of £5 we spent about 5 or so minutes going around, taking in the scenery. 

I had the best time. There’s always so much to see. The town was thriving today as well. This Wheel caused a lot of controversy with the locals. Yet, I loved it. I see it as a positive to see the amazing views of our town. It made me incredibly humble for what I’ve got on my doorstep. 


Finally, my mum took this photo of me. It’s not horrendous but I wasn’t feeling particularly well as it was rocking at the top! A sunny but breezy day. 


I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures. I loved it I have to say! 

Big love all xx

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Filed under Photography, Places, Stratford upon Avon, UK

Made In Hull – UK City of Culture 2017


Hey guys! 

Happy New Year! I hope the first 8 days of 2017 have been treating you well. 

You may or may not know that Hull (where I currently live and work) is City of Culture for 2017. There will be a huge range of events happening over the year and I can’t wait! You may have even seen the firework display on the news. I have to say, it was very impressive! 

The first event was Made In Hull. Running for a week, it shows the story of a city and its people via a range of installations about the city. Lights, images, sounds, people. What has happened in Hull’s history and what is in store for the future. 

I managed to catch the last evening of the light show. There were thousands of people there; dancing, cheering, laughing, welling up. There just was a real sense of community. I’m not from Hull, but even I, the permanent tourist, got caught up in it. 

The light show on the City Hall was incredible. I genuinely do not have enough words to describe how moving, emotional and utterly awesome it was. So, I’ve got some pictures for you!


We are Hull! Bring it on!!!! 

2017. Hull’s story. Be a part of it. Make memories, wherever you are. Tell your story. We certainly are. 

Big love xx

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A Bookish Place

Hey everyone!

I’ve been on another exploration this week, this time with a book focus! I took a little trip to Hay-on-Wye with my lovely dad. It’s a little tradition we have, for the past three years anyway, to go and mooch about. He found out about this place because he knows how much I love books. It’s very special to me because of the memories I have made there. As I know there are a number of book lovers out there, I wanted to share this little place with you. 

Where is it?

Hay-on-Wye is just over the Welsh/English border. It’s a beautiful drive in via the scenic route, as there is luscious green everywhere. Even the car park is perched in front of beautiful scenery. 


What makes it so special? 

Everyone here is very friendly and the majority share a common interest: books. There are a huge variety of quirky little independent book shops. Some span over 3/4 floors. There are literally thousands of books, everywhere. 

Boz Books – This appealed to me because it’s a 19th century book shop. As a massive lover of Victorian Literature, I love going in to see all the cloth bound Dickens that line the shelves. There are other writers and time periods here. I managed to pick up a lovely boxed copy of Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. 

Addyman Books – Firstly, I love the building with the painted window outside. I bought a number of books from here, some I’ve never even heard of. This is the place I go to to find something different. Don’t be deceived by the outside. It’s huge shop! One of my favourite parts is this lovely reading room. I could definitely see myself sitting there engrossed in a good book. 


Murder and Mayhem – The outside of the shop always catches my eye. I think it is brilliant. A shop dedicated to a specific genre only is a brave and rare thing. Also, I love the little cat sitting at the bottom on the right. 


Richard Booth Bookshop – This bookshop is actually my Dad’s favourite in Hay-on-Wye. It’s where we go normally to buy beautiful copies of Folio Society Books. We always leave with one each. Again, it’s another quirky yet beautiful building. I particularly like the animal tiles down the sides. 


There are books on absolutely everything here. The Folio Society books were a little more difficult to get to because of an art display for the Hay-on-Wye festival. It was very interesting actually, but the part that caught my attention the most was the ‘Idiot Compression’. You can see part of it in the image above. In a nutshell, it consists of hundreds of sections of books cut into the spine. These parts can still be opened and read, but the meaning is irretrievably lost. Each part is around 20% of the original. This is to bring to mind the widely accepted idea that we only use 20% of our brain, and maybe only retain 20% of any reading. 

That statistic shocked me a great deal actually. Think about how much we all read, and to only retain a small amount seems a real shame. However, I do think this is quite a realistic percentage. Hmmmm. More thought needed I think. Nevertheless, it was visually stunning. More information here.



What I left with: 

Needless to say, I bought a lot. But, I wanted to get a range of books by different authors from different genres. I miss learning about new authors, so I tried to find books I’ve either never read but wanted to, or books I knew nothing about. I’m looking forward to read The Tale of Beatrix Potter being as it’s been 150 years since her birth this year. 


That’s it! Hay, you’ve been amazing as ever. My purse was much lighter by the end of the day, but my book collection (obsession?) has been increased again. 

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Big love xx

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Filed under Books, Days Out, Photography, Reading