Friday, 30 August 2013

Challenge Update - August

My 2013 challenges are:-

1) Watch one old film each month.

2) List five items on Ebay each month.

3) Have a date night with Mick each month.

From Here To Eternity is another film I've really enjoyed. I hadn't seen it before, but I shall certainly watch it again. I thought the acting was excellent and each character was so different, it held my attention right the way through. So much more than a love story.

I've got more items listed on Ebay at the moment, the auctions end tomorrow. It's great to see the back of some unwanted items whilst my Paypal balance is increasing.

Our date night this month wasn't very imaginative, another meal in the local pub. To be honest, we enjoy it there and it's so cheap, £5 for a meal and a drink is included, so it's such good value. It's all about the company anyway, and it's so lovely to have time to ourselves for an evening.

Mick's been on holiday this week, so we've enjoyed some lovely days out which I'll be posting about soon. We've also had a trip to York to look at the area surrounding the university so that Daniel could get his bearings before he actually goes at the end of September, and we've also done lots of shopping, mostly things which Daniel will need to take with him, but also some new school shoes for Eleanor as it's back to school for her on Tuesday. The end of the school holidays already, I don't know where the time goes.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A History Tour In Four Parts

Sandal Castle is a place we've been meaning to go since I read Anne's post about it on her Marmalade and Catmint blog. On Monday, we finally had a trip there.

The remains are of a castle built over 700 years ago, though the moats and castle mound were part of a castle which was built 200 years earlier.

A bridge is in place to enable visitors to cross the moat.

Conservation work in now being undertaken at the castle. It's hoped that there will be significant improvements and that it will be more accessible to visitors.

There are some fantastic views from the site, this is looking out across the city of Wakefield.

This is the view of the main lake at Pugneys Country Park.

The motte.

Steps have been installed to allow visitors to climb to the top of the motte. I'll take Mick and Eleanor's word for it that the views are spectacular from there. I don't have a head for heights.

The castle is best known for The Battle of Wakefield which took place on the fields below the castle in 1460. Richard, Duke of York, who was the owner of the castle was trying to seize the throne from his cousin, Henry VI. This led to a series of battles known as The Wars of the Roses. On a visit to Sandal Castle at Christmas, Richard was ambushed by Lancastrian enemies from Pontefract Castle. During the battle which followed, he was killed within sight of the castle.

It was a hot day so we decided to have ice cream before heading off to our second port of call, Pontefract Castle, to see where the Lancastrians had come from.

Pontefract Castle was built by Ilbert de Lacy in the late 1080's. The original motte and bailey castle would have been made of timber and earth but over the following century the castle was gradually rebuilt in stone. In the 14th century the castle passed to the House of Lancaster and later became a royal castle when the Dukes of Lancaster became kings of England.

The present remains represent the inner bailey of the castle containing the Keep, chapels, kitchens and Bakehouse and the late medieval outer bailey to the south-east, which contained farm buildings and workshops.

Here's Eleanor stood in what would have been the east oven in the bakehouse.

These are the remains of two chapels in the north eastern corner of the castle.

There's lots to see at Pontefract Castle, and the information boards about each area of the castle are excellent.

The motte.

The view from the top of the motte is superb, though the power station wouldn't have been there all those years ago.

The herb garden.

I loved these cottages right at the gates to the castle. Such character.

I can thoroughly recommend Pontefract Castle for a day out. The information boards are so interesting, there's plenty to see and there's even a large chess set for you to have a game and picnic tables dotted about. The grounds are kept immaculate and it's a place we'll definitely return to.

On to the next chapter in our history tour, Towton Battlefield Trail.

The year after The Battle of Wakefield where Richard, Duke of York was killed, the Battle of Towton took place between the Houses of York and Lancaster. It was probably the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil, and it took place during a snow storm on Palm Sunday, the 29th March 1461. Richard, Duke of York's son, Edward, had his revenge. His forces defeated the Lancastrians and he became Edward IV.

The start of the trail is just to the side of the main road, where a memorial cross stands. Known as Dacre's Cross, it's the site where wreaths are laid on the anniversary of the battle.

As you look around, it's hard to imagine that this was the site where up to 28,000 men lost their lives during the battle.

This area where sheep now graze is known as Bloody Meadow.

We didn't walk the whole trail as we were, by now, in need of sustenance, so off we headed in to the village of Towton to a pub we've visited on many occasions, The Rockingham Arms. The Rockingham Arms is also the headquarters of the Towton Battlefield Society.

A couple of bowls of chips were ordered to cure our rumbling tums, and they were washed down with a couple of halves of larger, or in Eleanor's case, Coca Cola. Very good it was too.

We're so lucky to have so much history on our doorsteps, and it's wonderful that it's being preserved so well for future generations.

Monday, 26 August 2013

A Day Of Culture

I've wanted to visit The Yorkshire Sculpture Park for some time now and we eventually got there yesterday. It's only a short trip down the M1 motorway, so I don't know why it's taken so long to visit.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is in the parkland of Bretton Hall in West Bretton, Wakefield and the sculptures are dotted around the grounds.

It's the most beautiful setting with such a wide expanse of land and the River Dearne running through it, which is dammed to form two lakes.

The grounds themselves are a haven for wildlife, we saw lots of small tortoiseshell butterflies amongst others, different moths, black hairy caterpillars which I can't identify, ducks and even a heron. You'll need to look hard to see it in this photo, it's right at the waters edge. I definitely need a zoom lens for my camera.

There were some beautiful trees in the grounds, just look at this one. It's branches stretched out so wide.

I think it's going to be a good conker year, this tree's laden with them.

On to the sculptures themselves then. My favourite is Sitting by Sophie Ryder. I don't know what it is about this sculpture that I like, perhaps it's the animal connection. It has the head of a hare and its body is modelled on Ryder's own.

It's a bit weird being cut in two as it is though.

Three Riace Bronzes by Elizabeth Frink. Archie didn't like these much, he growled at them.

Buddha by Niki de Saint Phalle.

Ten Seated Figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz. A bit weird as they have no heads.

One And Other by Antony Gormley. His other famous works are Angel of the North and Another Place on Crosby Beach. Many of his sculptures are based on moulds taken from his own body.

Monolithe by Lambert Rocour.

These are just a few of the sculptures dotted around the grounds, there's many more, and there's also five indoor galleries, though we didn't visit those as dogs aren't allowed inside and we had Archie with us.

It was a lovely day and we spent quite a while here. Just a word of warning though if you intend to visit, the car park charge is quite steep if you intend to stay any length of time, £7.50 for stays over two hours. We parked in West Bretton and walked, it only took about ten minutes.

Before coming home, we decided to travel on a little further to Elsecar Heritage Centre and have a look aroung the shops. It's located in the old ironworks and colliery workshops and is now an Antique, History and Craft Centre. The little shops there are interesting to look round.

Elsecar Heritage Railway is also here. Volunteers have restored a variety of rolling stock and undertaken a range of track work, a project which is ongoing.

We popped in to the old fashioned sweet shop to buy supplies for our journey home, cinder toffee and Pontefract cakes.

It was an enjoyable day out. Mick's on holiday from work now so we hope to have a few more days out this week.