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Every British cathedral… that I’ve been to

The UK is a weird place. There are cities in this country that are about the size of a small town and large city sized towns which are not cities. Why is this? Well, city status in the UK relies on a few things. It helps if there’s a big cathedral in the area. There are many cathedral cities in the country- some are in big cities, others in small ones. I’ve only been to 6, but I hope to one day visit more- in particular, Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas Beckett was assassinated in 1120 after disputes with Henry II and Leicester Cathedral, where Richard III is buried. But for now, here are the cathedrals I’ve visited-

  • Winchester

This cathedral is about 15 minutes away from where I live. I have been to Winchester countless times and the cathedral is one of the most impressive aspects of the city. The city is historically important as it was the capital of Wessex, one of the ancient kingdoms of what’s now known as England. King Alfred ruled Wessex from Winchester and his statue is still in the city. Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest in Europe, with the longest nave in Europe and it’s the burial place of Jane Austen. It also contains the bones of King William II, who was shot and killed in the New Forest and who was taken to Winchester Cathedral but never buried. There’s so much history behind the cathedral and it’s a very impressive sight, and I’m not just saying that out of bias. Next to the cathedral is Wolvesey Castle, a ruined castle which was the sight of a battle in the 12th century between Stephen and Matilda during the Anarchy.

  • Truro

Image by Steve Parker via Flickr

I visited this cathedral during my trip to Cornwall last year. It is one of the only cathedrals in the UK to have three spires and the first Bishop of Truro became Archbishop of Canterbury. When it was completed in 1910, it was the first cathedral to be built on new ground since Salisbury. The organ of the cathedral is often considered one of the best in the country. Truro itself is a very small, but interesting city. It’s the southermost city in the country and has a wide variety of shops and attractions. It’s got a great museum detailing the history of Cornwall. I recommend visiting Cornwall as it is a very interesting area of the country.

  • Salisbury

Another very large and very important cathedral, with the tallest spire in the UK and the largest cloister. It also has one of the four remaining copies of the original Magna Carta from 1215. The cathedral has been around since 1258 and has historical importance. When I visited there a few days ago, I learnt that the cathedral was built on marshland and the water from the marsh can be reached with a stick in a hole in the cathedral. The Magna Carta is one of the most important documents in the world, as it has been called the foundation of democracy. It was written by the barons of the country to control King John, who they believed had gone out of control. It was signed in 1215 in Runneymede (which I visited earlier this year) and some of the clauses of Magna Carta still exist, such as the freedom of the City of London (different from London. It’s complicated) and the right for anyone to have a free and fair trial. The copy of the Magna Carta is held in the Chapter House of Salisbury Cathedral.

  • St Paul’s

You all know this one. One of London’s most famous landmarks, St Paul’s is an icon of Britain and survived the Blitz. It has been around for over 300 years and even to this day buildings in London have to be built so the view of St Paul’s isn’t blocked. The original St Paul’s was destroyed in 1666 during the Great Fire of London and got rebuilt with the iconic dome structure afterwards by Christopher Wren. One of the most famous parts of St Paul’s is the Whispering Gallery, where any noise made against the wall can be heard at any other point around the gallery. If you visit London, visit St Paul’s Cathedral as it is well worth a visit. Doctor Who fans like myself will obviously recognise St Paul’s as the location of two Cybermen invasions in 1968 and 2014.

  • Sheffield

Image by Andreas Mortonus via Flickr

I went to Sheffield very recently as part of my holiday to the Peak District. My first taste of Yorkshire was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there. The modern cathedral is a combination of many different time periods, with the oldest part being from the 13th century. The cathedral was large and very interesting and the city itself was very different to what I expected. It went through a major regeneration so there are lots of incredibly new areas and pieces of modern art. The Winter Garden, which is full of plants all around the world, was a highlight. There was also an indoor market that reminded me of the Fremantle markets in Australia. In conclusion, this was a great day trip, and the cathedral was a prominent part of that.

  • Lichfield

Image by Mark Ellam via Flickr

We visited Lichfield on the way back from the Peak District. We needed somewhere to stop and rest so Lichfield it was. This is another cathedral city where the city itself is very small, much like Winchester. The cathedral is huge and looks awesome. There’s statues of various kings and bishops on the ledges of the building and it’s the only cathedral built in medieval times with three spires. During the English Civil War, the cathedral was heavily damaged by several sieges on both sides, which resulted in the stained glass, roof and spires being destroyed. A major restoration project took place in the 19th century to rebuild the cathedral. The buildings around the cathedral are known as the Cathedral Close and are some of the most complete in the country. This trip was a pleasant surprise.

That’s only 6 cathedrals compared to the many, many cathedrals scattered around the country. Most of these cathedrals are ancient and stand as a reminder of the history of the country. I love visiting new places and exploring the history of this country through cathedrals and other areas is always a highlight of trips.


British cliches and stereotypes- and the truth

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Every country has a series of sterotypes and cliches associated with them, so today I’ll dissect a few surrounding the UK. Let’s dive into the land of James Bond, Shakespeare and good comedy-

  • Cliche: All British people live in London

architecture Tower bridge London

Truth: The majority of British people live all around the country. Yes, London is the biggest city in the country and is the capital city, but out of the UK’s population of roughly 65 million, only about 8 million reside in London. While that’s larger than any other city in the country by far, the fact is that London is not the only place in the UK where people live.

When the UK is shown in film, it usually has London first and foremost and pictures London as the only interesting or populated place in the country. The rest of the country either doesn’t exist or is a giant field full of quaint villages with Stonehenge in the middle.

In reality, the majority of people live in large cities with plenty of towns and suburbs surrounding them. Other major cities in the country include Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol, Belfast, Portsmouth and Southampton, which is the major city I’m closest too (I live in Chandler’s Ford, a place so unknown and dull barely anyone who lives in the country has heard of it, let alone people from abroad).

  • Cliche: Everyone loves tea and eats in pubs

British flag tea

Truth: Well, I don’t and I’m British. Though tea is a phenomenon here, not absolutely everyone is drinking tea 24/7. Other beverages do exist here, such as water, coffee and Coke.

Pubs, like tea, are very prominent, but restaurants and fast food chains are just as common. Pubs are for sitting down, eating an expensive meal and talking for a long time. A seriously long time. Most food in the UK is multi-cultural- my favourite foods come from Italy and Japan. I also adore Swedish meatballs. The British foods such as fish and chips are very commonplace and that cliche is true (though I personally prefer chicken nuggets).

  • Cliche: It rains all the time


Truth: Yeah, this is true. We actually have many words for rain. There’s drizzling, spitting, pouring, raining cats and dogs and pelting. To be perfectly honest the weather isn’t just rain, however it is very inconsistent. One second it’s pouring with rain, the next second it’s bright and sunny. When the weather is good, it is superb, but the constant rain is true.

On the plus side, recently the weather has behaved, so hopefully we won’t get another downpour anytime soon.

  • Cliche: Everyone speaks like Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch or the Queen
bramblypatch mumberdack

How awesome does Doctor Strange look?


Queen Elizabeth II

To most people, the English accent is the one used by the Queen or high calibre actors, which has led to the assumption that everyone in the UK is posh. While the accent used by the Queen is very common down here in the South (it’s called Received Pronunciation) the country is very diverse in the dialects. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish accents are very different in their own right, with different dialects of their own. In England there’s the Cockney accent, the West Country accent, the Yorkshire accent and the Scouse accent to name a few. Practically every county has a different dialect.

The reason Received Pronunciation is the most well known dialect is because whenever a British person appears in Hollywood, they usually use Received Pronunciation. Most villains of course have RP as most villains are British, including Loki, Magneto and Count Dooku. It makes them sound sophisticated and charming, so their evil deeds are intensified.

So those were four British cliches explained. There are a lot more I’m sure but these are four that seem to be the most common. Hopefully I have debunked several cliches surrounding the UK.


My Cornish holiday

This week, I had a holiday in Cornwall. It was a great and unique experience which I really enjoyed. Cornwall is a very interesting place with some complex history linking back to the Celts, and I loved learning about it and experiencing Cornish life.

We stayed in a B&B near Par, a small village near the largest town, St Austell. On the first evening, the village seemed pretty lifeless and quite deserted, with no nightlife to speak of. This was probably because it was early evening when we arrived. We never spent much time in Par, as we went to other towns around Cornwall. Read the rest of this entry

Southampton SeaCity Museum

This half term I went to Southampton and the SeaCity Museum. The museum is mostly about the Titanic, but there are other areas worth visiting. I’ve been to the museum twice now, and there were new things I noticed the second time I went there. So here I’m going to go through why the SeaCity Museum is worth a visit.

SeaCity Museum Southampton location Read the rest of this entry

Why does no one remember the 5th of November?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. My annual late October post where I write a cynical post about Halloween (though in my defence last year’s post wasn’t that cynical). But this year I thought I wanted to write about the other significant date around this time – Bonfire Night. While I have written about it before, this time I aim to go in depth and talk about why I believe November the 5th should be remembered this time of year instead of Halloween. Before that, let’s look at things more important than Halloween today.

So with that out of the way, let’s talk about Bonfire Night. Everyone knows the story of Guy Fawkes and the plot to bomb Parliament so I won’t discuss the events in detail. Nowadays the day is celebrated with fireworks and burning guys on a fire. But I don’t think that enough is being done to celebrate the event. Far more is done commercially in Halloween, a “holiday” which has no relevance to British history or culture. Read the rest of this entry

The London guide – Pop culture style

Ah, London. The capital of the UK, one of the most important and famous cities in the world and enough landmarks to fill an entire guidebook. But let’s tackle things a bit differently.

I got an inspiration for this post. When my friend came back from his holiday in New York, he showed me a map of the City as defined by superheroes. Seeing how London is arguably the second most famous and influential city in the world, I was surprised that there was a lack of attention there to the influence London has on pop culture. So rather than just listing off the London landmarks that are must see and others which aren’t, I decided to list off the landmarks – as told by films, television and books. So when you arrive in London, you can see what the capital’s landmarks have truly been through.

Big Ben

Read the rest of this entry

Three things I love about Chandler’s Ford

It’s 26 days till Christmas! So, to compensate for my lack of writing, I’m going to say what I love about my home town. (Or I’m just doing it for my pocket money). So, here we go…

1. The library

Easily the best thing about Chandler’s Ford is the library. I love going there and read, whether it’s the film section or a fictional science fiction novel (99% of the time it’s Doctor Who). There are also a wide range of audio books, and I spent many hours when I was younger listening to Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter (not personally of course, though I don’t think my mum would complain). If there was one thing that needs to be improved, it’s a wider array of film and television books. Cooking has more shelves than film, and for me, the selection of film isn’t enough. But apart from that it’s a great place to visit.

Chandler's Ford library is good.

Chandler’s Ford library is good.

Chandler's Ford library in Chandler's Ford, Eastleigh, Hampshire.

Chandler’s Ford library in Chandler’s Ford, Eastleigh, Hampshire.

2. The woods

I’ve already discussed this in a previous post, but Chandler’s Ford is full of woodland places. There are a couple of local woods such as Ramalley Copse and Flexford Wood, as well as the Hiltingbury lakes. These woods are great for walking and relaxing, and they are varied. Some are more spacious and remote, while others are full of twisty pathways. Whichever one, they’re always great to explore. My favourite is Hocombe Mead, which is a wood located in Hiltingbury full of sculptures. There are guided tours there and it leads out into some local shops, like newsagents Andersons and a coffee shop called Bay Leaves Larder.

Sculptures on the trunk of a fallen oak tree in Hocombe Mead in Chandler's Ford.

Sculptures on the trunk of a fallen oak tree in Hocombe Mead in Chandler’s Ford.

Enjoying a guided walk in Hocombe Mead.

Enjoying a guided walk in Hocombe Mead.

3. Local shops

I often walk to the local area to buy sweets, newspapers or restock on cheese. What’s great about this is that there are a variety of shops, even if I only go to the newsagents. Further up Chandler’s Ford is a small array of shops with a relatively new sweet shop, and a pizza place, with the Central Precinct only a traffic light away, which has fish and chips, coffee shop and more. There is a huge variety and it means it is sometimes worth just staying in Chandler’s Ford rather than go out.

Our local Fish & Chips shop at the Central Precinct in Chandler's Ford.

Our local Fish & Chips shop at the Central Precinct in Chandler’s Ford.

Kandy Kingdom - sweet shop near where I live in Chandler's Ford.

Kandy Kingdom – sweet shop near where I live in Chandler’s Ford.


So those are three things I love about Chandler’s Ford. What do you like doing in it?

The Scotland debate – Stay or leave?

Tonight is Burns night, where Scottish people everywhere will celebrate the great poet Robert Burns. But this raises a thought about some recent Scottish news – the debate about whether Scotland will stay as part of the United Kingdom or become its own separate country. I’ve compiled a list of arguments for and against why Scotland should stay part of Britain (also, as I’ve never been to Scotland, I might get some facts wrong. But I think I know enough facts from the news).


uk flag

At this current time, Scotland is one of the four countries which make up the United Kingdom, along with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Despite this, Scotland has its own education system, money, government and football team. So, if that’s the case, why be independent? You could argue that any major changes that the Prime Minister of England decides is best for all the country that Scotland has to agree with it, and that any major changes that the Scottish government want to do has to be decided by the English government, but they still have lots of freedom within the country. Not everything Hampshire County Council decides has to have Downing Street approval, and Scotland is still allowed lots of freedom as part of another country.


scottish flag

Alternatively, if Scotland do become independent, there would be a lot of benefits. First, all the oil and other resources used to make the whole of Britain rich would just be for Scotland, which could let them have lots of money and richness. Scotland will also be able to call their culture completely unique, without having to share their culture with Britain. They will also be able to host their own sporting events such as the Olympics (2024 perhaps?) and the World Cup. They can change their government and make laws without having to consult the rest of the country. They can hold their own identity and run their country however they want and choose whether to join the EU and other global organisations.

The Scottish government will have a referendum later this year to decide if they’re going or staying, so only time will tell. But I hope that they take these considerations into their vote. What do you think? Should Scotland stay with the UK or split to be their own country?

Monarch 101: William II

Hello! Time again for that special time of the day- MONARCH 101!!!!!!!

Today it’s William II’s turn to be in the spotlight where you will learn about a red king, battling brothers and silly barons! (By the way, 101 means the basics for something- it’s an American term I learnt about when I watched Youtube clips).

So, on with William II, also known as William Rufus (Find out why soon!)

william ii

William Rufus (so called because of his red hair) was the third son of William the Conquerer (don’t get too confused. Bill Conq dies soon). William’s older brother Robert got the throne of Normandy when Dad died (told you) and his second brother Richard died in a silly accident when he crashed into a tree (idiot). So, William got the throne and crown of England while little Henry got 5000 silver coins (his sister Adela got nothing. Poor her.)

BUT there were problems. Barons in Normandy wanted Robert to rule Normandy and England, as they thought he was more capable of ruling a country than William. Only one thing to do… WAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

William and Robert then started fighting for each other’s thrones. In 1088 a revolt by the Norman barons would have succeeded this much in Strictly Come Fighting:

all 0's

That’s right! Robert and his silly barons got their noses kicked off (not really having their noses kicked off. You know what I mean). After that it was WILLIAM’S turn to snatch the Norman throne and he launched several campaigns against Robert which failed most of the time. BUT in 1097 Robert fought in the Crusades and, in one of the strangest deals of all time, Robert let William loan Normandy for 10,000 marks. 10,000 marks! (He should have settled on a fiver and some Maltesers!)

So, how did William get this money? By TAXING ENGLAND’S SOCKS OFF! This made him so unpopular that our judges can’t vote how unpopular he was!

After that William fought against Scotland as Malcolm III invaded some English towns and got obliterated COMPLETELY by WIlliam’s forces. Malcolm then paid homage to William and William got some Scottish lands as well.

My infant and junior schools were both on Kingsway- a long road where William II’s body was carried on its way to Winchester Cathedral.

This plaque in Romsey is near where I live.

This plaque in Romsey is near where I live.

How he plopped off

Once again, good old Horrible Histories has given us an entertaining video to explain exactly how William plopped off.

Monarch 101: William the Conquerer

Hello! As you may notice, this post is about William the Conquerer, 1066 and all that!

In this post you will find out about evil Guys, the Battle of Hastings, an exploding king and what happened if you didn’t sign the Domesday Book!

King William I


Anyway, I’m doing these “monarch 101s” because I want to tell history in a fun AND informative way (Not the Horrible Histories “everything was rotten” attitude. Once again, I mean the books are disappointing. However, there’re some HH clips about Will Conq at the end of this post.)

So, William the Conquerer…

He (don’t ask who) was born in 1027 OR 1028. Just seven (or eight) years later, he became Duke of Normandy (a region of France). A guy called Guy (yes, Guy) tried to nab the throne from Will in 1047 but got defeated. Bad Guy! (chortle).

NOTE!!! IMPORTANT BIT COMING UP!!!! In 1051, Edward the Confessor back in England was having a big problem with Harold Godwineson, his brother-in-law. (Harold wanted the throne for himself!) William, Eddie’s best friend, did what friends should do in a crisis and he sent soldiers to help Eddie fight naughty Harold and banish him. Eddie then promised the throne to Will. What a nice guy!

eddie and will

Butttttttttttt, it wasn’t that simple. Harold and Harald the Viking both wanted the throne after Eddie plopped off in 1066 (ring a bell?) So, problems arose, especially when Harold is declared king on 4th of January 1066 and kicks Harald the Viking’s socks off (basically killing him).

William then marched to England with a strong army in Hastings and kicked Harold’s socks off (killing Harold as well). William was then crowned at Westminster (where I’ve been) on Christmas Day.

Just two years after he was crowned, a revolt was started in Northumbria. The revolt was started after a relative of Eddie, Edgar the Eathling, attacked William because Edgar said that he had a stronger claim to the throne. The revolt was crushed but Northumbria was still a problem. So, William attacked villages in north-east England in what was known as “the harrying of the north”. Revolts continued in the 1070’s but after the Revolt of the Earls in 1075, the revolts stopped after they all failed… MISERABLY!

William then went back to Normandy where his eldest son Robert was rebelling. William fought many battles against Robert but got his ankles and butt kicked in 1079. Despite this, after William died, Robert became next Duke of Normandy.

William later returned to England and did a lot of important things, like naming the New Forest, commissioning the Bayeux Tapestry (embroidery!) and introducing the Domesday Book. This is a book where everybody had to reveal what land and livestock they owned, or a big knight would come and kill them. William also brought castles to England.

How he plopped off

William, aged 59 or 60, was attacking the French king because the naughty king stole some of William’s land! William was campaigning against the king but then fell off his horse and his abdomen was crushed. He was dying for several weeks in Normandy before he had a SILLY funeral! Watch the HH video below to find out just HOW silly!