31 August 2016

When To Fight

"He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

I don't really like conflict. But sometimes, you simply have to fight for what you believe. You have to stand your ground. Or else, you'll end up losing that ground.

So, if I seem to be picking a fight, it's got to be because it's something I feel quite strongly about...

And yet, it's really difficult to work out when to fight and when not to fight.

Because I always seem to get it wrong. Or so I keep being told. Either I'm too 'laid back' or I'm too 'uptight'.

So, bear with me. And forgive me. Because I'm trying to get a balance. I'm trying to get it right. (sigh).

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Colossians 3:13 New International Version (NIV)
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

29 August 2016

Should I Say Hello?

Find more doodles here: http://introvertdoodles.com/

The author of this website also has an Introvert Doodles book (currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble; on shelves December 2016).

27 August 2016

My Wife And I

My wife and I have been married now for 24 years. Christine and I tied the knot way back in 1992.

There have been good times, and there have been not so good times, between then and now. And a whole lot of things that have happened that we didn't reckon on all those years ago. In fact, surprises around every turn.

We've raised two children together, and I don't think we've done too badly, all in all.

We're not the young lovers that we were all those many years ago.

But we are still together.

And I'm very happy about that.

26 August 2016

Z is for Zouch

Zouch is a hamlet in south west Nottinghamshire. The nearest town is Loughborough. It only has a population of 53 people. There is a pub in the hamlet, the Rose and Crown.

The meaning of the name derives from the Old English term for "poor ground".

But how many other options did I have for Z?

25 August 2016

Y is for Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth, often known to locals as simply Yarmouth, is a coastal town in Norfolk, 20 miles (30 km) east of Norwich. The town has been a seaside resort since 1760, and so has a terrific maritime heritage. Admiral Lord Nelson was a frequent visitor to this busy port, where wealthy merchants built their houses.

Travel inland from the port and you will find mile after mile of slow winding rivers and unspoiled waterways. The rivers Yare, Bure and Waveney are an important part of the Broads National Park, which stretches for 125 miles over parts of Norfolk and into Suffolk.

24 August 2016

X is for Exeter

Exeter is a city in Devon, situated about 37 miles (60 km) northeast of Plymouth and 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Bristol.

The city dates back to Roman times, so there's plenty to see here, including its mysterious Underground Passages, the magnificent Cathedral, and the historic quayside. It's also a great place for food, with a thriving farmer's market and a variety of restaurants. The city is also only 10 miles from the coast, with a good selection of sand or pebble beaches to choose from.

23 August 2016

W is for Whitstable

Whitstable was recently christened 'Islington-on-Sea', reflecting its popularity with trendy Londoners who want to get away for the weekend. It's a seaside town in north Kent, situated 5 miles (8km) north of Canterbury.

Whitstable is famous for its oysters, which are celebrated at the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival. A variety of other seafood is also readily available. The town is a treasure to explore, with wonderful bookshops, art galleries, delicatessens and gift shops. There are a whole host of cafes, restaurants and pubs in the town.

22 August 2016

V is for Victoria Coach Station

Victoria Coach Station is the largest coach station in London, located right in the centre of the City of Westminster. It was opened in 1932 by London Coastal Coaches, a consortium of coach operators. The building is currently owned and operated by Transport for London.

It serves as a terminus for many long distance coach services in the United Kingdom. I still fondly remember using the station when I was younger, when I would set off around the country (cheaply!), exploring and meeting up with friends.

21 August 2016

U is for Uxbridge

Uxbridge is a town to the west of London, the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Hillingdon. It's some 15 miles (24.1 km) from the centre of the capital. Historically, the town was part of the parish of Hillingdon in the old county of Middlesex, and was 'swallowed up' into London during the 20th century, finally forming part of Greater London in 1965.

Despite all the changes, the town remains a centre for working, shopping and entertainment. It is also the home of Brunel University (which is named after Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the greatest British engineers of the 19th Century).

20 August 2016

T is for Truro

Truro is Cornwall's county town and only city - in fact, it is the most southerly city in mainland Great Britain. Its most striking feature is the Cathedral, dominating the local skyline with 250 foot high towers and Victorian stained glass windows.

As a market town, it's worth a look, as there are many lovely small shops to be found down its narrow streets, complementing the usual high street chains. 

19 August 2016

S is for Shaftesbury Avenue

Shaftesbury Avenue can be found right in the centre of London. The street itself is named after Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, and was built in the late 19th century to provide an important connection in the heart of the capital. It's generally considered to be at the heart of modern London's West End theatre district.

However, during the last century, the area has also seen a considerable growth of Chinese residents, who set up their businesses in order to cater to Chinese sailors who were frequently in the docklands. Today, you can find London’s 'Chinatown' off of Shaftesbury Avenue, with over 80 restaurants offering London's finest and most authentic Asian cuisine - Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Malaysian and Taiwanese.

18 August 2016

R is for Royal Tunbridge Wells

Royal Tunbridge Wells (often shortened simply to Tunbridge Wells) can be found in west Kent, approximately 40 miles (64 km) south-east of central London.

The town first came to fame as a spa (do you notice a bit of a  trend here? It wasn't intentional when I started this year's list!) and the town remains a popular place to visit, deriving 30% of its income from the tourist industry. The town is often thought of as the stereotypical conservative "Middle England" town. Is this fair? Why not visit the place, and find out...

17 August 2016

Q is for Queenborough

Queenborough is a small town on the Isle of Sheppey, part of the county of Kent. Two miles (3.2 km) south of Sheppey's main town of Sheerness, the town soon developed as a port, as it is close to the Thames Estuary, where it joins the River Medway.

Queenborough Harbour still offers boat owners a useful base for cruising to or from the East Coast, London, Ramsgate or the Continent.

16 August 2016

P is for Portmeirion

Portmeirion was designed and built by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925 to 1976, in the style of a Mediterranean village. He wanted to show how a naturally beautiful site could be developed without spoiling it. The results are truly spectacular.

The site has served as the location for numerous films and television shows (including Doctor Who), but is probably best known for being "The Village" in the 1960s classic television show The Prisoner.

The whole site is now a tourist attraction and is now owned by a charitable trust. It's located near to Porthmadog, in Gwynedd, North Wales.

15 August 2016

O is for the O2

The O2 is a large entertainment complex on the Greenwich peninsula in London. It was built largely within the former Millennium Dome, thus The Dome remains a name in common usage for the venue.

The site comprises an indoor arena, a music club, a cinema, an exhibition space, piazzas, bars and restaurants. The Arena alone has a capacity of up to 20,000 depending on the event, and is reportedly the busiest music venue in the world.

14 August 2016

N is for Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is one of three major museums on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London. As the name suggests, it is home to some 80 million specimens, covering botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology. That means it covers everything from dinosaurs to massive mammals, and even the smallest insect, so you really get a chance to explore the whole diversity of life on Earth.

The museum is recognised worldwide as a centre of research in these fields. However, remarkably, it does not charge an admission fee...

13 August 2016

M is for the Millennium Centre, Cardiff

The Welsh Millennium Centre is an arts centre in Cardiff. The 7.5 acre site contains a 1,900 seat lyric theatre, designed for opera, large scale musicals, ballet and contemporary dance – as well as a studio theatre, a dance house and orchestral hall.

The Centre has made numerous appearances in film and television including Doctor Who, as the latest series is produced locally by BBC Wales. The spin-off series Torchwood also features the Centre - in seasons 1 and 2 of the series, the team had their headquarters underneath the Water Tower in Roald Dahl Plass.

12 August 2016

L is for Llanberis

Llanberis is somewhere we only discovered last year. The village is right at the foot of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. It's the home of the Snowdon Mountain Railway, a narrow gauge rack and pinion mountain railway that takes you right to the summit. It's a popular centre for walking, climbing, mountain biking and pony trekking as well as water sports.

However, my breath was taken away by the magnificent Llanberis Pass, a unique glaciated valley and world class climbing spot. The valley is narrow, straight and steep-sided, with rocky crags and boulders on either side of the road.

11 August 2016

K is for Keswick

Keswick is located in the Lake District, a mountainous region in North West England, which is renowned for its lakes, as well as its forests and fells.

The town originally became famous for its association with the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. As you might expect, the town has since become a major centre for tourism, with a wide range of attractions for visitors.

10 August 2016

J is for Jersey

Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, but that just means it's 9 miles by 5 miles (14km by 8km). Although not strictly part of the United Kingdom, it falls under UK jurisdiction and the UK is constitutionally responsible for its defence. It is self-governing, with its own financial, legal and judicial systems, and the power of self-determination.

It's situated off the coast of Normandy, and as such is closer to France - 14 miles (22km) - than England - 100 miles (160km). The island's official language is English, and the cash machines dispense sterling - yet the streets are named in French. The island is a fascinating mix of English and French culture, and that makes it such a fascinating place to visit. Places to visit include the Durrell Wildlife Park and the Jersey War Tunnels, a former World War 2 underground military hospital...

9 August 2016

I is for Inverness

Inverness is a city in the Scottish Highlands, the northernmost city in the United Kingdom. It boasts a number of historic buildings and a good selection of shops in the town, the Victorian Market and the new Eastgate centre.

Dominating the City Centre's horizon, Inverness Castle (see picture) is impressively placed on the hillside, with the River Ness flowing immediately below it. There's been a castle on this site since the 12th century. The present castle is in fact used as a courthouse.

8 August 2016

H is for Harrogate

Harrogate is a town in North Yorkshire. For centuries, visitors have flocked here to experience the local spa waters, a fact that has contributed significantly to the wealth of the town. Today, many also come to experience the local tea rooms, the scenery, the art galleries.

Something is obviously special about the place. Apparently, opinion polls have consistently voted the town as "the happiest place to live" in Britain.

7 August 2016

G is for Greenwich

Greenwich has played a significant role in the history of navigation and astronomy. The town was originally the site of a royal palace and was the birthplace of many Tudors, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The Royal Observatory that was established there in 1676 was commissioned by King Charles II for the special purpose of “rectifying the motions of the heavens and the places of the fixed stars and in order to find the desired longitude of places in order to master the art of navigation.”

The place gives its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and consequently to Greenwich Mean Time. The whole site is now maintained as a Heritage Centre and tourist attraction.

Being a mere 5.5 miles (8.9 km) from the City Centre, Greenwich is now a suburb of Greater London.

6 August 2016

F is for Fort William

Fort William is a major tourist centre in the Scottish Highlands. The town gets its name from William of Orange, a British king who ordered a garrison to be built here for the purpose of controlling the Highland Clans.

The town is a centre for climbing due to its proximity to Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK. It also claims to be the UK's ‘Outdoor Capital’, boasting many long-distance hillwalking routes, woodland and canalside walks. It even has a downhill mountain bike track.

5 August 2016

E is for Enfield Town

Enfield Town started out as a small market town in the county of Middlesex. It was on the edge of the forest, about a day's travel north of London. As London grew, so did the town, and it has subsequently become a residential suburb, with fast transport links into central London.

The town is situated close to the A10 road (known locally as the Great Cambridge Road), that runs from London City Centre all the way to the Norfolk port of King's Lynn. Adjourning this important thoroughfare are a number of large retail outlets and a multiplex Cineworld cinema.

4 August 2016

D is for Dudley

Dudley is a large town in the West Midlands of England, 6 miles (9.7 km) south-east of Wolverhampton and 8 miles (13 km) north-west of Birmingham.

Dudley is sometimes known as the capital of what was known as "the Black Country", as the area was one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution, developing as an industrial centre in the 19th century with its iron, coal, and limestone industries. One of our favourite local attractions is the Black Country Living Museum, pictured above.

3 August 2016

C is for Canterbury

Most schoolchildren in the UK will be aware of Canterbury because of the city's reputation as a place of pilgrimage - many of us still remember struggling with Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as part of our English Literature studies...

Today, the Kentish city is still alive and bustling thanks to a variety of international visitors. It's less than an hour from both Central London and the Channel Tunnel. It boasts four universities, a modern theatre (named after local playwright Christopher Marlowe) and an art museum, plus so much more....

The jewel in the crown is of course Canterbury Cathedral, which dominates the medieval streets within the city walls. Today, the Cathedral is still an active place of pilgrimage; nearly 2,000 Services are held in the building each year, in addition to countless private prayers made by private individuals.

2 August 2016

B is for the Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons is a beautiful and rugged area of  South Wales. It's a tremendous place for walking, with some spectacular views across the countryside.  The highest peaks in the area include Fan Brycheiniog to the west and Pen y Fan in the centre. The whole area is steeped in folklore - the Lady of the Lake legend from the story of King Arthur is said to come from Llyn-y-Fan Fach, the lake below the peak of Black Mountain, to the west of the Brecon Beacons National Park. One the biggest draws is due to the fact that the whole area has been granted Dark Sky Preserve status. 

Due to the relative remoteness and harsh weather of some of its uplands, the National Park is also used for military training. UK Special Forces, including the SAS and SBS, hold demanding selection training exercises here.

1 August 2016

A is for Africa Alive!

Africa Alive! is one of our favourite zoos.  Formerly known as Suffolk Wildlife Park, it was purchased in 1991 by the owners of Banham Zoo, and both sites now form part of the Zoological Society of East Anglia, a registered charity.

The idea was to create an animal park close to the original zoo, without having to transfer animals over too long a distance. There are lions, giraffes, rhinos, cheetahs, hunting dogs and many more animals and birds, all from the African continent.

It is situated off the A12 at Kessingland, 2 miles (3 km) south of Lowestoft, in Suffolk. The park is a firm favourite with my family.