A Grand Interior……


Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire.

To be truly accurate the above is actually called the Little Castle.  So before I take you inside, let me explain.

The Little Castle is really a tower within the walls of Bolsover Castle.  Bolsover Castle stands high above the north Derbyshire Countryside.  Built on the site of a Medieval Fortification, Bolsover Castle was the dream of Sir Charles Cavendish.  Construction started in the very early 1600’s, with work on the Little Castle commencing in 1621. Work halted and some damage done when the Castle was occupied by Parliamentarians in the English Civil Wars of 1642/51.


It should be mentioned that the Castle was never intended as a Fortification.  After the Wars, it was restored and construction continued, to complete the Castle built for pleasure. So don’t be surprised at the sumptuous and lovingly restored interior of the Little Castle. So lets pop inside for a brief peak…


Pleasure was not just limited to the Little Castle.  The main Castle complex is more substantial, in terms of size, rooms, terraces and galleries, all spread along the hillside.  Today much of these buildings are only shells, but still convey the enormous size and complexity of the Castle.


Part of this complex was the concept of Sir William Cavendish who built a Riding School and Stables for the elegant horses he imported from as far afield as Turkey and North Africa. Today exhibitions of Cavalier Horsemanship is demonstrated for visitors.  Sadly I cannot illustrate this modern and exciting aspect as photography of the Demonstrations is not permitted.

I hope you have enjoyed our Saturday Tour…two castle in one cannot be bad.  Now don’t forget to shut the door when you leave 🙂


Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

10th April

(C) David Oakes 2021

The Navigators……


Padrao dos Descobrimentos

Lisbon, Portugal is a great Tourist destination.  There are Museums, Art Galleries, Churches and a great many Architectural Treasures recording and representing both Lisbon’s History, but also Portugal’s centuries of achievement.

One of Portugal’s most significant achievement, is perhaps, the period what was know as the Age of Discovery… the Age of Exploration  which ran across the 15th and 16th centuries.  A multitude of the adventures and stories are told in the Cities Museums and Galleries.

On the waterfront of Lisbon, overlooking the River Tagus, is a much more modern contribution to these achievements.  Created in 1960 and dedicated to recognise the five centuries since the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, the expeditions he lead, and those that followed, resulted in the discovery of  countries and continents, creating a map of much of the world, a world that we would recognise today.

A symbolic Sailing Ship, surrounded by its crew of explores, map makers and religious evangelists headed by their leader Prince Henry.

There is indeed much to see on any visit to Lisbon.  But do make time to view this modern Sculptural Tribute to Portugal’s Maritime achievements.  It is a great contrast to the more traditional Museums, that also have to be visited.

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

3rd April

(C) David Oakes 2021

Moody Monday…… and may be everyday ?


Hardknott Roman Fort, Cumbria 

I imagine that for the Roman Soldiers stationed here at Hardknott Fort, high on the Cumbrian mountains, it was possibly Moody Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on.   The Fort was built at the top of the Hardknott Pass at the head of Eskdale.  An idyllic place on a warm sunny day, but more likely windy, wet and at time worse, vastly different from the Mediterranean climate the Romans were used to.

The pass reaches its summit at about a 1000ft and is surrounded by much higher Cumbrian mountains.  The purpose of the Fort was to guard the Roman Road that ascended from Wrynose Bottom (honest that’s is name), a vital link from the Coast to their network of Forts across Northern England.

They could though look forward to Bath Time, just an 8-mile trek down Eskdale to the port of Ravenglass. Here they had established another Fort named Glannoventa complete with a large Hypocaust Bath House.

For those Roman Soldiers it must have been a bleak location….. for us it can still be moody but also dramatically beautiful


Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

5th October

(C) David Oakes 2020

A Shetland Metropolis



As you approach Lerwick,  your first views of the Shetlands, is that you are indeed arriving in a very special place.  I guess many of us have visions of an isolated group of islands to the north east of mainland UK and so close to Norway with whom the Islanders have an affectionate relationship. Then of course there are the many Wildlife and Travel documentaries that portray the Shetlands apparent remoteness, the lack of population (possibly in decline), the wild winters and the sometimes idyllic summers of  long days and ever so short nights…. and of course the abundance of wildlife, in particular seabirds.

But head to the south of the islands, in particular to Sumburgh.  OK., the Islands Airport is there, but to the west overlooking the West Voe of Sumburgh there is somewhere very special.

This is Jarlshof...


Jarlshof…  is old…very very old.  Historians and archaeologists reckon there has been significant human occupation here at Jarlshof for over 5,000 years.  They have discovered and dated Neolithic structures , Bronze Age and Iron Age.  Norse Longhouses and also Medieval Farmsteads and a 16th century Lairds House.  This indeed would seem to be a remote location,  it has though obviously been of great importance.  An area supporting human habitation and their culture over the millennia. Houses, a complete settlement, that would appear to have been built below ground level, perhaps ensuring that we can now see just how complex and solid these building once were.  Farmsteads and Longhouses now just outlines are etched on the landscape.  It is a complex mix and should you visit an expert guide would be a great help in interpreting the Jarlshof for you.  But let me show you some more highlights……

In timeline terms, Jarlshof was only a recent and accidental discovery.  A sever storm in 1897 swept away layers of sand and Jarlshof was discovered.  It may well be that local historians were aware of a settlement but from all accounts, what was uncovered by these forces of nature, was far beyond anyone’s imagination.

Talking of ‘forces of nature’…..   even if your visit is on a sunny day, take a warm waterproof.  Shetland weather can and does change quickly.  Our visit was in September last year.  The sun shone and it was warm, one wondered why we need bring our waterproofs.  Within an hour we had rain, heavy!…. more sun to suggest it had just been a shower.  Then we had snow…. so go enjoy, but be prepared for both the weather, and to be impressed with what our ancestors have left for us to discover.


But where ever you are……

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

8th September

(C) David Oakes 2020

………….. Tantalising Tantallon


Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock

To the east of North Berwick on the East Lothian Coast of Scotland, on a high sea cliff,  stands the ruins of Tantallon Castle.  Built in the 14th century from local Red Sandstone, it was for Scotland a rather unique build.  It comprises of  a strong outer curtain wall, basically in a semi circle, enclosing the Castle buildings, with the sea cliffs providing  an extra defensive wall.  During its history,  it has had to withstand several sieges, not totally unscathed, but for the most part it stood firm.   It may well now be a ruin (though well protected and preserved) but definitely worth exploring, from battlements to dungeons.

If you climb to the very top of the battlements you will also be rewarded with a view across the outer Firth of Forth to the famous Bass Rock.  Bass Rock was once a Hermits Sanctuary, then a Castle guarding the Firth., and even for a time a Prison.

Today it is the home of one of the largest island Gannet Colonies in the World…..hence its white appearance.  The Rock itself is a 320 million year old volcanic plug and at high tide stands at 107 meters  tall.

You can visit Bass Rock, many thousands of Bird Watchers and others do.  Boats from North Berwick provide the service.  However be warned, it is very much tide and weather dependant.  Over many years, at what should be good weather and conditions, the sea’s have conspired against us.  It is here that the outer Firth of Forth meets the North Sea, tides, turbulence and wind are the masters of the waterways.  It is still on my to do list.  

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

27th August

(C) David Oakes 2020