The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was written by Herodotus (484 BC – ca. 425 BC). But all those wonders were man-made masterpieces and magnificent monuments of art. In 1976 a BBC television program introduced “The seven natural wonders of England”. One of these wonders was a place called Lulworth cove in the county of Dorset in South-west England. Continue reading →
Land’s End with its ancient Cornwall name of “Penn-an-Wlas” is the most westerly point of Britain and is located in the South-western county of Cornwall. The jagged granite rocks that surrounding this area, have been carved out by huge Atlantic waves and rise to a height of two hundred feet above sea level. There is an observation area with a lamppost showing the various distances to the nearest most distant cities such as “3500 miles to New York”. Throughout the centuries this small area of the Penwith peninsula in Britain has attracted many tourists. The land once belonged to one family dynasty since the 10th century, then, for the first time ever it was sold to David Goldstone in 1978, today this now tourist site belongs to a private business company.
The nearest village called Sennen, which is not far from the coast at Land’s end, has an Inn called “The First and Last Pub” where tourists usually stop and walk along a path to the now famous viewpoint at Land’s End. In the 16th century this pub had a very bad reputation with tales of thieves and smugglers. A small building next to the pub housed donkeys in days gone by, these were used to carry lanterns across the cliff top in order to entice seamen in freight ships on to the rocks to wreck them and plunder their valuable cargo from the sea. Brandy, silk and tea were the most sought after goods that were normally brought over from France. Secret tunnels and ditches were dug along this coast to escape detention by government officials. Locals were so intimidated by the smugglers that nobody would say anything about the events occurring in the village. Lots of local people were also involved in these profitable yet illegal businesses. Many secrets and stories have been lost in history over time but one known legend about Annie still exists today.
Once upon the time this “first & last pub” was managed by a married couple named Joseph and Annie. One day they decided to blackmail the owner of the pub, a man called William who was involved with the smugglers so as to get some privileges and free accommodation but William rather than give in to blackmail, expelled the couple from the pub. The angered Annie decided to denounce the smugglers and William to the government officials, later more inhabitants of the village were implicated and all ended up in prison. As many locals were engaged in the same illegal business, they decided to take revenge against Annie; she was taken down to the sea and staked out on the beach at low tide. When the tide came in, waves covered Annie and she eventually drowned among the fishing nets. Annie was buried in a cemetery next to the Inn. Her soul still bothers any guest who stops in her room overnight. This “Annie” ghost is said to disturb guests by touching their hair, creating the feeling that fishing nets are covering them. Cats and other animals have also been found dead in boxes and cupboards in this room. (If I was the owner of the pub, I would also find ways to perpetuate the legend and make it even more amusing). Yet all the other rooms at the Inn are cozy and welcoming to tourists. The Inn also has a restaurant serving visitors with traditional English cuisine. This “First and last pub” is still the first and last one in Land’s end.
From the village of Sennen you can easily walk or drive to the newly built tourist center which has a very large car park, an observation deck, a restaurant and a hotel, one of the buildings now a large shop selling souvenirs was reconstructed from the first building on the peninsula, which used to be a shelter for animals. Magnificent views framed by sharp rocky cliffs, small islands and the infinite open spaces of the Atlantic can be enjoyed from here.
Finally, there is the lonely Longships Lighthouse on a small rocky island which radiated light for the first time in 1873. The Lighthouse used to be operated by three men using semaphore a long time ago but since 1988 it is managed automatically. In a century of scientific and technical progress with computers and navigation systems a lighthouse still points the way to seamen reminding them of danger and that there is a coast nearby where somebody is probably waiting to welcome them.
Theater as a form of art was derived from the ancient Greek dramas and has not changed much to the present day. People’s feelings towards a theater have always been the same since ancient times, only the scenery and the landscapes change. A theater stage sometimes appears in the most unexpected places. One such theater that exists in an unusually beautiful and mystical park is in Scotney castle, it evokes a fairy-tale setting with elves and fairies. Another unique theater built on a rocky granite cliff which juts out into the sea above a picturesque azure bay, is the Minack Theater of Cornwall, in South-west England.
Rowena Cade moved to Cornwall after the First World War and designed a house on a steep point above this Atlantic bay. The idea to turn her garden into a theater came to her in 1929, when theater-lovers from the local village had staged Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in a meadow of the village. The next Shakespeare play “The Tempest” was performed in the garden of Miss Cade. Her gardener had created a terrace overlooking the bay and subsequently for many years after a summer open-air theater was held there.
In the winter months it was continuously being improved and a granite stage was eventually established, where in the summer months theatrical life was being enacted. Up until her death (in 1983), Miss Cade had devoted herself to the theater arts, reinforcing and improving the theater parterre with stone chairs and floral terrace.
The extraordinary theater with its fabulous views over the bay and beaches near the village of Porthcurno became world famous. The amazingly beautiful cove with turquoise clear water and glistening shining sand of crushed white seashells is easily visible from the Minack Theater. Even the most unromantic traveler cannot help falling in love with this magical landscape and the breathtaking granite cliffs, which tower 70 meters above the sky-blue sea creating a miraculous atmosphere.
The beach at Porthcurno has been listed among the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world. Also, the cliffs and coastline around Porthcurno is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). A third of Cornwall has the same protection as a National Park, with twelve unique nature reserves included in the list of AONB.
During the time when no performances are taking place, the theater is open to visitors. During the summer season theater-lovers from around the world come to experience the plays at the Minack Theater. The delightful harmony of nature intertwined with the emotions of human passion, makes every moment there for the visitor an experience that will never be forgotten or likely to be repeated in their lifetime.
The British Isles are made up of 1,374 islands, England has wind, heat waves and cold spells. The English weather, along with its geography and geology, shapes England.
The weather has stayed the same for centuries, the climate is temperate, rainy and dictates the national character, the way people look, the way they dress, the way the country looks. But it is also very accommodating to a huge variety of plants, animals and humans.
The Gulf Stream is key to the climate.London shares the same latitude as Irkutsk in Siberia and Calgary in Canada yet the climate is not sub-Arctic.
The warming influence of the Gulf Stream is largely the reason why England is so compressed with villages every few miles. The wonderful weather conditions have allowed people to settle just about anywhere they wanted for thousands of years. The geology of gentle landscapes and quality agricultural land has encouraged widespread settlements all over the British Isles.
There are incredible variations in geology over relatively small areas; no other country in Europe packs so many types of stone into such a small area. There are granites, slates and sandstones in the West Country, while in Yorkshire there are lime stones. There are honey-yellows and browns in the Cotswolds and the Oxford colleges are made from Jurassic limestone. England is a small, over-populated island that’s why the people are reserved and private who generally recoil from foreign intrusion.
It is only when one is somewhere other than England that one fully realises the uniqueness of the place. Other people live in places with more extreme weather. For example in New York the summers are hot and the winters very cold.
In many countries, you have to change tyres on your car in winter and summer, you have to dress properly to go cycling instead of cycling to the office in your suit, you cannot simply go for a walk whatever the weather. Finally, nowhere is very far from anywhere, no one in England is more than 70 miles – or two hours’ drive – from the sea.
London only gets 1,500 hours of sunshine a year. Northumberland gets just 1,350 hours whereas Rome basks in 2,500 hours of annual sun. It only rains, on average, once every three days in Britain. London is dry 94% of the time. The city is drier than Istanbul and south-east England has less water available per person than Sudan or Syria.
Chalk provides the best foundation for sporting pursuits. The down land grass of the chalk downs of southern England is ideal for horse racing and training.
The English country garden has the potential to be more ecologically diverse than the rainforests of West Africa, Malaysia or Brazil. Sheffield has the highest number of trees per head of any city in Europe and the south bank of the Thames in London is so marshy, that is why the north bank was settled first and now has all the major administrative and commercial buildings.