There is a brand new Wallace and Gromit sculpture trail, Gromit unleashed 2 running in Bristol from 2 July to 2nd September with over sixty sculptures dotted around the city and surrounding areas to raise money for the Wallace and Gromit Grand appeal for Bristol Children’s hospital and the St. Michael’s hospital special care baby unit. Bristol children’s hospital treats more than 100,000 patients every year and cares for patients from Bristol and the South West of England. Continue reading “A grand day out. Gromit unleashed 2 in Bristol”
I belong to a meetup group called “A walk in the past “. This combines two of my loves history which I studied at University and walking. Normally we meet in Bristol or surrounding areas but last week I ventured further afield to London in search of Roman Londinium. I was able to combine this with a visit to see my son who was happy to join me on the walk.
Our group met at a suitably classical location, Trajan’s statue by Tower Hill tube station. This is close to a surviving section of Roman town wall. Roman walls can often be spotted as they have a tile level every couple of feet. We were able to follow the wall for some distance and I was surprised by how much survives. We even found one section in a car park with the brown tile levels clearly visible.
Roman London is buried under modern London and much of it remained undiscovered for centuries. However during the second world war the blitz destroyed many buildings revealing Roman remains. One such building is the London Mithraem, the remains of a temple to Mithras. It has been lovingly preserved and is now in the basement of the Bloomberg building, the European headquarters of the American corporation. It is beautifully present with a sound and light show. It can be visited for free by prior arrangement. The London Mythraem They also have an interesting display of Roman artefacts found at the site including part of a collection of over 400 wax writing tablets. Another important building in any Roman town was the amphitheatre. The London amphitheatre remained hidden until 1988 when developers rebuilding the Guildhall discovered unusual curved walls. The remains can now be seen for free in the basement of the Guildhall.
Originally Colchester was the capital of Roman Britain but Londinium soon became more important. Boudica led the Iceni on a raid which resulted in many wooden building being destroyed and it was decided to build a fort and walls to strengthen the town. Londinium became more important under the emperor Hadrian who used his own money to build civic buildings. The Romans were able to build a bridge across the Thames near the site of the modern Tower Bridge and it became an important trading port. Lead from the Mendips and copper and tin from Cornwall were traded for olive oil , wine and other luxury goods. I was shown the site of the London arena, where soldiers would have trained which was discovered about forty years ago and the enormous forum basilica. which is now under Leadenhall market. We ended our walk by looking at Roman artefacts in the excellent museum of London. This is also free and is well worth a visit. I particularly liked the model of the original London bridge.
When I retired I joined a U3A French group. For those people who have not come across it before the University of the third age is a voluntary organisation that provides classes and social groups for retired people. Our group is unusual that we run without a tutor. We meet in members’ houses and play games like scrabble and taboo in French. We also meet up with other French groups for activities such as talks and petanque.
One member of our group noticed a request in the U3A magazine from a similar French group in Nantes in north west France who wanted to do an exchange and as Easy Jet has just opened a route between Nantes and Bristol we thought it was a good opportunity to practice our French and see a new city. The French equivalent of the U3A is the University Permanente. It is different from the English version as it is attached to the main university and classes meet in the University. Continue reading “A visit to Nantes”