Tilbury Fort

“I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you on a word of a prince, they shall be duly paid.”

Linked from English Heritage.

That was perhaps the most famous words uttered by the first Queen Elisabeth, in front of her troops while expecting the Spanish armada in 1588, wearing a plumed helmet and a steel cuirass over a white velvet gown. What a scene that would have been to see!

IMGP0957 (2)We went to Tilbury by train on a very nice and sunny day. We have never been out that way before; Tilbury was the fort that defended the mouth of the river Thames, and London. It was built in the 14th and 15th Centuries, and the Tudors shaped it the most. It wasn´t demobilized until 1950, and now it is a museum in the care of English Heritage. It´s quite a way out from London, and I was surprised to see so many visitors there, particularly young girls and young families. It´s a real gem, though. Lots of space to run around and nothing terribly precious.

IMGP0878I tried to relax with the pen in hand, defying the impulse to try and see it all. I´d like to learn to just sit down and work the scene onto paper without thinking about time or anything else. Looking at my drawings now – from the entire vacation, really – I find much fault, and either I was still in too much of a hurry, or I have become a better sketcher since. Possibly it´s a little bit of each. I think most, if not all these photos were taken by the husband.

You can take a bus almost to the gates, but we walked; it´s not that far.
You can take a bus almost to the gates, but we walked; it´s not that far.
I love the windturbines, and yes, you have probably seen all these drawings before.
I love the windturbines, and yes, you have probably seen all these drawings before.
The entrance of the fort.
The entrance of the fort. More 19th Century than Tudor, is my guess.

 

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I think I drew this gun just because it was hard.
I think I drew this gun just because it was hard.

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The husband started exploring.
The husband started exploring.

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A ravelin.
A ravelin.

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This interesting rooftop in Gravesend, across the river, belongs to Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, a Sikh temple.
This interesting rooftop in Gravesend, across the river, belongs to Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, a Sikh temple.

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We had dinner at the local pub, which was a real, non-touristy place where working class people go after work.
We had dinner at the local pub, which was a real, non-touristy place where working class people go after work. I just read that a couple of weeks before we visited, a man was stabbed there!

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Apparently,Pepys mentions this place in his diary! It has all kinds of interesting paraphernalia on the walls.
A bit blurry, but a nice, no-nonsense dinner: a curry for the husband and a shepherd´s pie for me. Yum!
A bit blurry, but a nice, no-nonsense dinner: a curry for the husband and a shepherd´s pie for me. Yum!
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Avebury Stone Circle

A lot of people have told us that there is one stone circle in England that is much more interesting to visit than Stonehenge, and that is Avebury. Of course, as we were in Wiltshire and in Stone Age mode, we had to go. Ironically, going by public transport from Salisbury to Avebury was not possible, if we wanted any time at all at the stones – 3½ hours one way! Instead, I discovered that with the London train (which is fast) and a bus from Swindon, going from Bristol was much quicker, so that´s what we did.

So, why is Avebury so special? Direct access to the stones is not restricted like at Stonehenge (which is open to the public only at the solstices), one is free to walk around in the circle, and considering the stones enclose the village of Avebury, or parts of it, anything else would be silly. There is a museum there (which we both missed to snap), lots of activities for school children, and a great pub at which we had a lovely dinner after a long walk around the Avebury landscape.

I will not say this was better than Stonehenge, or not as good. It was different and I wouldn´t want to have missed out on any of those sites. What a great day!

From the bus we saw a white horse again, this one is called the Marlborough horse.
From the bus we saw a white horse again, this one is called the Marlborough horse.

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The big trees along the circle were full of carvings and little notes and ribbons, well wishes and prayers.
The big trees along the circle were full of carvings and little notes and ribbons, well wishes and prayers.

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It was pretty windy so I combined the hat with a scarf. Not as elegant as it would have looked on Jackie Onassis or someone as glamourous as that!
It was pretty windy so I combined the hat with a scarf. Not as elegant as it would have looked on Jackie Onassis or someone as glamourous as that!
After walking the circle, we ventured out in the countryside beyond the circle.
After walking the circle, we ventured out in the countryside beyond the circle. This is another so called “avenue”.

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First stop was the henge.
First stop was a henge called the Sanctuary.
This is what they think it looked like in the day. Now all that is left is the postholes.
This is what they think it looked like in the day. Now all that is left is the postholes.
We then went looking for the West Kennet Long Barrow, and got kinda lost.
We then went looking for the West Kennet Long Barrow, and got kinda lost. Our own fault for not bringing a proper map (which is completely unlike me).
In the end, after having given up on ever finding it, there it was!
In the end, after having given up on ever finding it, there it was!
A birdsnest orchid.
A birdsnest orchid.
Inside the barrow, we found small offerings in every little space; mostly flowers and candles.
Inside the barrow, we found small offerings in every little space; mostly flowers and candles.
I sat on top of the barrow and drew the view of Silbury hill, which is the largest man-made mound in Europe.
I sat on top of the barrow and drew the view of Silbury hill, which is the largest man-made mound in Europe.
This is not the drawing I made at the time, I posted that earlier.
This is not the drawing I made at the time, I posted that earlier. It´s an intriguing view, I like to work with it.
More tree offerings on the road to the long barrow.
More tree offerings on the road to the long barrow.
So, one is not supposed to go up Silbury hill, but obviously, believers (and I understand England is full of pagans) does not let that stop them.
So, one is not supposed to go up Silbury hill, but obviously, believers (and I understand England is full of pagans) does not let that stop them.

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We ended up, after several hours walking through this wonderful landscape, at the Red Lion, which is probably the coolest pub I ever had a meal at.
We ended up, after several hours walking through this wonderful landscape, at the Red Lion, which is probably the coolest pub I ever had a meal at.
And it is beautiful, too.
And it is beautiful, too.
They have their own ale.
They have their own ale. (It is ale, in spite of the name.)
I had to try it, naturally, and it tasted very, very well.
I had to try it, naturally, and it tasted very, very well. (Well, get it? 😉 )
I had a steak & ale pie, which is probably my favourite meal.
I had a steak & ale pie, which is probably my favourite meal.
I did some drawing, but didn´t come home with anything to show for it.
I did some drawing, but didn´t come home with anything to show for it.
And followed up with a sticky toffee pudding.
And followed up with a sticky toffee pudding.

Bristol

I collected some odd photos from our stay in Bristol. It was a bit of a contrast coming there from Salisbury, which is such a quaint little town. Bristol has its charms, is considered one of the best British cities to live in, but it takes some exploration to find that charm.

This charming breakfast place was found by the husband online. It lived up to expectations and got us exploring an area we might not have seen otherwise.
This charming breakfast place was found by the husband online. It lived up to expectations and got us exploring an area we might not have seen otherwise.
This outbombed church in the middle of town has been saved as a war memorial.
This outbombed church in the middle of town has been saved as a war memorial.

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This grand house caught my eye, first I thought it was a hotel or something...
This grand house caught my eye, first I thought it was a hotel or something…
... but I guess not!
… but I guess not!

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Cabot tower, on Brandon Hill.
Cabot tower, on Brandon Hill.

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This is a planeterium; we didn´t go, but what an eye catcher!
This is a planeterium; we didn´t go, but what an eye catcher!
We didn´t go to this either, it´s Isambard Kingdom Brunel´s wonderful ship "Great Britain", which was a transatlantic passenger steamship.
We didn´t go to this either, it´s Isambard Kingdom Brunel´s wonderful ship “Great Britain”, which was a transatlantic passenger steamship.
The old town, of which not much remained after World War II.
The old town, of which not much remained after World War II.

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A cormorant, the seabird that does not have water-repelling plumage and have to dry out after his dive.
We went looking for Isambard Kingdom Brunel´s famous Clifton suspension bridge. On the way we found this.
We went looking for Isambard Kingdom Brunel´s famous Clifton suspension bridge. On the way we found this.

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Looks kinda closed down, don´t you think?
A winding path in the brush lead us up on the cliffs over the Clifton bridge.
A winding path in the shrubbery lead us up on the cliffs over the river Avon.

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The view up there is amazing!
The view up there is amazing!
But clearly, not everyone comes up here to admire the view.
But clearly, not everyone comes up here to admire the view.
I did a bit of drawing.
I did a bit of drawing.
Of the bridge, naturally.
Of the bridge, naturally.
And a house downtown, across from where we had drinks later.
And a house downtown, across from where we had drinks later.

 

Harnham Water Meadows

IMGP9709 (2)Our last day in Salisbury we walked across the water meadows to the Harnham Mill pub. What a lovely day that was! As I was taking photos of the cathedral, an elderly couple stopped behind me to tell me that this is from where Constable made his famous painting – or one of them. I have seen one or two in museums, but I´m not sure which ones. I did have the idea of going more in depth with Constable before this trip, but I guess in the end I had other things on my mind. Anyway, we had a nice chat about art and travel (the couple had seen the Constable in New York!) and they called me “young lady”, which of course cheered me up immensely!

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We then went to Salisbury museum, where we saw many interesting things, like an exhibition with Turner paintings. This is also where you can see the Amesbury Archer.

We don´t do shopping, but I do admire some of the shops themselves. This one is amazing!
We don´t do shopping, but I do admire some of the shops themselves. This one is amazing!
The river Avon, which we crossed to go to the meadows.
The river Avon, which we crossed to go to the meadows.

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This amazing kestrel was hovering for several minutes and I got a whole series of photos of it. Times like these, I wish I had a really good tele lens.
This amazing kestrel was hovering for several minutes and I got a whole series of photos of it. Times like these, I wish I had a really good tele lens.

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The pub´s beer garden, a nice place to end up on a hot afternoon!
The pub´s beer garden, a nice place to end up on a hot afternoon!
With a pint!
With a pint!
And a sketchbook!
And a sketchbook!
By the mill there were lots of dog owners exercising their pups. I saw one confused German shepherd - I guess they are no retrievers.
By the mill there were lots of dog owners exercising their pups. I saw one very confused German shepherd – I guess they are no retrievers.
But this one was the real deal, a very enthusiastic player of catch and run!
But this one was the real deal, a very enthusiastic player of catch and run!

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Let me end with three of the husband´s; he likes to find natural frames and I really like all of these.
Let me end with three of the husband´s; he likes to find natural frames and I really like all of these.

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There is something eerie about the light in this one - it´s like the cathedral is made of paper, it looks absolutely flat!
There is something eerie about the light in this one – it´s like the cathedral is made of paper, it looks absolutely flat!

The Barons of Salisbury

If Bristol had Shaun the Sheep, Salisbury had its barons. Same idea: artists paint the barons, they are displayed during the summer around the city, and are auctioned off in the fall to benefit charity, this time the Trussels Trust, which feeds the poor, both in Britain and elsewhere. The town of Lincoln had them too, and you can find out more here.

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Everywhere we saw one, we also saw children (and adults) admiring them. It´s a charming idea and one I would love to see in Luleå.

Old Sarum

IMGP9444 (2)The day after we visited Stonehenge was a sunny, warm day. We had realized that Old Sarum was just up the road, about 1,7 miles, which is a fairly leisurely walk. We had also realized that breakfast at the pub where we were staying was not worth the money, so we picked up some sandwiches and things at Tesco and walked up the hill. Old Sarum was built on top of a series of old hill forts (from as early as 3000 bC) by William the Conquerer and what a sight it must have been to see! This is a photo of a model I saw at the Salisbury museum.

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Unfortunately, Old Sarum was located in an unsuitable spot. There was not enough water up there, and the soldiers in the castle were constantly in conflict with the clergy at the cathedral. In the 13th Century the whole town moved to the plain where Salisbury now is, and Henry VIII finally sold the land. Its owners still had representation in parliament and it was what was called a rotten borough, through which some could buy themselves parliamentary influence. The Pitt family bought much of its influence by “pocketing” Old Sarum.

Old Sarum is next to a small airfield and crafts came in for landing over our heads the whole day, to the husband´s delight (he loves airplanes).

This is what we saw as we came nearer to it. It was also clearly visible from the tower of Salisbury Cathedral.
This is what we saw as we came nearer to it. It was also clearly visible from the tower of Salisbury Cathedral.
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This is the husband´s 180 degree panorama of the whole castle (or what is left of it. You can see me to the right, drawing at our breakfast table.
It wasn´t easy capturing the grey stone walls, it ended up a rather shapeless mass.
It wasn´t easy capturing the grey stone walls, it ended up a rather shapeless mass.

old sarum fort

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I don´t know why flintstone fascinates me so much. Perhaps it´s the glass-like strukture and the fact that its usefulness named such a long period of human history.
I don´t know why flintstone fascinates me so much. Perhaps it´s the glass-like strukture and the fact that its usefulness named such a long period of human history.

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The motes were impressive, to say the least.
The motes were impressive, to say the least.
You could see the "new" cathedral, where we had been just a couple of days before.
You could see the “new” cathedral, where we had been just a couple of days before.
The ruins (what little is left of it) of the old cathedral.
The ruins (what little is left of it) of the old cathedral.

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I sat at the roof of the loos for a while (they were dug into the earthworks around the old town.
I sat at the roof of the loos for a while (they were dug into the earthworks around the old town) to draw the old castle, while the husband took the camera for a walk.

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He started chasing a marbled white butterfly.

He started chasing a marbled white butterfly.

While I drew this.
While I drew this.
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And since I started drawing, I have really come to understand how the camera lens distorts what we see, and how it affects what we remember.
On our way back to town, we met a rook.
On our way back to town, we met a rook.
And his family.
And his family.
We walked along the beautiful river Avon.
We walked along the beautiful river Avon.
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A moorhen and its chick.

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Stonehenge

IMGP9394 (2)I am terribly slow in posting our travelphotos from this summer, but I guess I have all winter to do it. This is, in a way, the climax of this trip, since Stonehenge is one of those must-have-seen places in England that we have somehow never managed to get to. Actually, we checked several must-see boxes this summer, like Bath, Avebury, Old Sarum.

Yes, there were fellow tourists there, plenty of them. One had to book a time slot in advance to go to the Stones, to avoid unmanagable crowds. The museum is new, I believe it was opened in 2013, and it is not located at the Stones, but rather functions as an entrance to the entire Stonehenge landscape, which is a vast holy land, full of henges, barrows and mysterious ditches (or earthworks, as Stewart Ainsworth would say). Much of it I didn´t understand, and perhaps no one will fully understand the meaning of it all, but it seems that the current interpretation is that Stonehenge was a kind of healing centre. The so called Amesbury Archer, a skeleton on display with its gravegoods at the Salisbury museum, has, after being subjected to DNA analysis, been found to be a migrant from northern Italy. It could be that he came to Stonehenge in the hope of healing some old wounds he had.

I saw a documentary some time ago that said there are springs in the area that has a very interesting microorganism living in the water. It attaches itself to rocks and turns into a magenta colour when it dries; this may have been part of the attraction. Or perhaps the eeriness, as Eddie Izzard has amusingly pointed out.

The centre is very attractive architecturally, and has some amazing exhibitions about the history (as the archeologists imagine it) of the Stones and the surrounding area.
The centre is very attractive architecturally, and has some amazing exhibitions about the history (as the archeologists imagine it) of the Stones and the surrounding area.
Behind the centre is a Stoneage village and an example of how they think the stones were transported, on wooden sleds.
Behind the centre is a Stone Age village and an example of how they think the stones were transported, on wooden sleds. There are helicopters hovering above, coming from nearby military bases – Salisbury plain is much used as practice ground.
I had lots of space when I sat down to draw, it was good timing as there was a light rain passing.
I had lots of space when I sat down to draw, it was good timing as there was a light rain passing.
It didn´t take long before I was surrounded by curious people. Not that I notice; I am entirely engrossed in what I am doing, but the husband is amused and captured some of the attention on camera.
It didn´t take long before I was surrounded by curious people. Not that I noticed; I am entirely engrossed in what I am doing when I draw, but the husband is amused and captured some of the attention on camera.
We were transported to the Stones by bus. Some elected to walk, but we didn´t, as we had planned to see Old Sarum that same day.
We were transported to the Stones by bus. Some elected to walk, but we didn´t, as we had planned to see Old Sarum that same day.
It really looks nothing like one imagines. The landscape is not as flat as I had thought.
It really looks nothing like one imagines. The landscape is not as flat as I had thought.
In fact, the Stones are situated in something of a slope! (The robed figures are not druids, but Buddhist nuns.)
In fact, the Stones are situated in something of a slope! (The robed figures are not druids, but Buddhist nuns.)
There are plenty of birds on the site. The jackdaws are most famous, but I found the rooks most charming.
There are plenty of birds on the site. The jackdaws are most famous, but I found the rooks most charming.
Perhaps because they are less cautious; one can get really close to them.
Perhaps because they are less cautious; one can get really close to them.
I must have taken a hundred photos, every step one takes offers a whole new view!
I must have taken a hundred photos, every step one takes offers a whole new view!

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There were guided walking tours passing us, walking along all those exciting features one really must have a guide to see. Perhaps some other time. I think it would be easy to spend a week walking back and forth here, why not with an easel under the arm?
There were guided walking tours passing us, walking along all those exciting features one really must have a guide to see. This is called “the Avenue”, and there used to be a road crossing it (but it is no longer there).  Perhaps some other time. I think it would be easy to spend a week walking back and forth here, why not with an easel under the arm?

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We did walk around a bit, exploring some barrows on a hill nearby. In the end, the rain made us go back to the bus, and we never got to Old Sarum that day. Still, a wonderful experience!
We did walk around a bit, exploring some barrows on a hill nearby. In the end, the rain made us go back to the bus, and we never got to Old Sarum that day. Still, a wonderful experience!

Salisbury Cathedral

IMGP0212I had long been wanting to visit Salisbury. This was a very good year to do so, with the 800 year celebrations of the Magna Charta; Salisbury Cathedral is in possession of one of the four original documents, which was a treat to see! The cathedral build was begun in 1220, and I guess a cathedral is never really finished; much work has been made on the tower as late as the 1990´s. We had to go up there, naturally, where one could see far and wide. They have an amazing website, in case you are interested.

Salisbury Cathedral has the largest and most open close of all cathedrals in England -or so we were told. Certainly, it was impossible to get as good a view of the cathedral in York, with the town right next to it.
Salisbury Cathedral has the largest and most open close of all cathedrals in England – or so we were told. Certainly, it was impossible to get as good a view of the cathedral in York, with the town right next to it. This is one of the entrances.
The large, beautiful lawn has lots of artwork on display.
The large, beautiful lawn has lots of artwork on display.

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There were lots of graffiti, old and new.
There were lots of graffiti, old and new.

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All the faces are unique. Who were these people?
There were generations of reinforcements in the tower, it was pretty easy to see where the Victorians had been at it, with huge iron bars.
There were generations of reinforcements in the tower; it was pretty easy to see where the Victorians had been at it, with huge iron bars.
Compared to other old towers we have climbed, the stairs were comfortable and new. No old, narrow stone stairways!
Compared to other old towers we have climbed, the stairs were comfortable and new. No old, narrow stone stairways!
Lots of steeplejacks have made their marks on the walls of the tower.
Lots of steeplejacks have made their marks on the walls of the tower.
These are some of the names of people who contributed with funds to save the tower, at one time at considerable risk of collapsing.
These are some of the names of people who contributed with funds to save the tower, at one time at considerable risk of collapsing.

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Some of the logs in this building are over 1000 years old!
Some of the logs in this building are over 1000 years old!
The view north.
The view north.
In front of the café, you can see the marks in the ground where the old belltower used to stand; it was demolished in the 18th Century.
In front of the café, you can see the marks in the ground where the old belltower used to stand; it was demolished in the 18th Century.

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Far away, one could even see Old Sarum, where the first cathedral stood. I´ll show you in a later post.
Far away, one could even see Old Sarum, where the first cathedral stood. I´ll show you in a later post.
We were not allowed out in one direction because peregrine falcons were nesting there. I was lucky enough to get a snap!
We were not allowed out in one direction because peregrine falcons were nesting there. I was lucky enough to get a snap!

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I can get quite entranced by details like this.
I can get quite entranced by details like this.
This figure seemed quite modern to me.
This figure seemed quite modern to me.
Another shot of the falcon from the ground.
Another shot of the falcon from the ground.
And the entire (well most of it) cathedral from below. A truly amazing place.
And the entire (well most of it) cathedral from below. A truly amazing place.
And the husband´s 180 degree view of the chapter house, where the Magna Charta was on display in the little tent. You can see me on the far right.... and if you click on the photo, you can see it in more detail.
And the husband´s 180 degree view of the chapter house, where the Magna Charta was on display in the little tent. You can see me on the far right…. and if you click on the photo, you can see it in more detail.

I confess, there is much, much more to this place that I just can´t show without becoming very, very tedious: a fabulous café inside the cathedral as well as one outside in the close, a fascinating old clock (that does not show the time, oddly enough), cloisters, artworks, and so many things we didn´t even have time to see. If you ever go to England, forget London, spend a few days in Salisbury instead…

Shaun in the City

Did you know Wallace & Gromit has a children´s foundation? Yes, and this summer they raised money by letting artists paint their own versions of Shaun the Sheep, exhibiting them in London and Bristol, and in October they will be auctioned off, hopefully for millions of pounds. There were maps of the Shaun trail in Bristol, but we had our own plans and couldn´t spare the time to go find them all. However, we did come across quite a few.

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My favourite: Shaun Brunell!
My favourite: Shaun Brunell!

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