Road Trips Revisited: The Big Sur

a rugged and mountainous section of the Central Coast of California between the Carmel Highlands and San Simeon, where the Santa Lucia mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently praised for its dramatic scenery. The Big Sur has been called “the longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States”, a “National Treasure that demands extraordinary procedures to protect it from development” and “one of the most beautiful coastlines anywhere in the world, an isolated stretch of road, mythic in reputation.” Wikipedia

With a description like that is it any wonder that I wanted to drive along this road?

Bixby Bridge

Leaving Carmel behind we continued down the PCH heading for Deetjens where we had a delicious late breakfast at the Big Sur Inn. The scenery along the way is stunning. Despite cloud and rain and fog enshrouded cliffs it was still stunning.

What are you waiting for? Get into the car and lets explore the Big Sur

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Road Trips Revisited: The Pacific Highway

Once upon a time and not so long ago I was a much more adventurous spirit. On my first trip to the wonderful state of California I decided that instead of flying between San Francisco and San Diego we should hire a car and drive down. I say ‘we’ but in fact it is me as I am the only driver. Looking at a map I also decided that the fun way to do this would be to travel along the original Pacific Highway and not the new and quicker route the 101.

The PCH (Pacific Highway) is one of those iconic drives that should be done in a pink Cadillac convertible with the top down making the most of the azure blue skies and brilliant Californian sunshine with plenty of Beach Boys and Mamas and Papas CDs on board. In reality this was February and an open top car was not an option.

I planned several stopovers along the route so we didn’t have to rush down and could have the opportunity to stop along the way and visit places, admire views. I hadn’t really taken into account the February weather. Even in California the sun don’t shine all the time.

Pelicans flying over Halfmoon Bay

So, if you fancy a road trip then fasten your seatbelt and let’s get going to Carmel, where once Clint Eastwood was the mayor. San Francisco to Carmel

Small Courtyard
Small Courtyard at the Carmel Mission

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Little Italy: Part One

Many cities around the world have areas that have been created by immigrants and where you can get a flavour of the culture and cuisine of a nation. Famously, ‘Chinatowns’ spring to mind, but there are also Italian, Greek, Asian and many more where the inhabitants recreate their homeland.

One such area that I have had the pleasure to explore on several occasions is Little Italy in San Diego which was originally a fishing village based around the tuna industry. Now it is still a vibrant ‘village’ with lots of Italian restaurants and upmarket boutiques. I have quite a few photos from my visits so I shall split this into three photo posts, the first being a general wander around the area.

It’s also a very floral place as you can see.

~wander.essence~ | photography

Just Back From…. South Devon

I booked a week away in south Devon in December when it was cold and dark and I needed something to look forward to in the spring months. We have always taken a spring break since we got together and as a teacher the Easter holidays were the first chance to get away. Even after leaving teaching the habit has stuck with us. In recent years we would return to the West Country and carry out research into where we would like to live. Now of course we have moved down to Cornwall so we can enjoy spring here without going very far.

Dartmouth

One of my projects is to visit every county in England (and possibly Wales and Scotland), preferably to stay a few days, but at least to have driven through other than on a motorway. So for these ‘at home’ breaks (I refuse to use the word staycation), I look for somewhere where I haven’t been.

South Devon is only a couple of hours drive from us and a region I haven’t been to since I was 12 years old and on holiday in Buckfastleigh with my parents and dog. It was the year when we were supposed to be having a week in Devon and a week in London, but the car broke down shortly after Exeter and we found ourselves spending extra time in Devon. I do remember an amazing farmhouse breakfast where we stayed overnight and also stopping off at Stonehenge and running around the stones (you could do that in those days), but I recall absolutely nothing about London! My mother had a friend living in Orpington, then in the Kent countryside, now just another part of the Greater London sprawl. Continue reading Just Back From…. South Devon

Historic Uphill Lincoln

Our arrival in Lincoln was rather fraught, after a road closure in the centre of town disrupted our route to the Castle Hotel up in the Cathedral Quarter. Fortunately the SatNav (AKA  Florence II ) got us out of difficulty and we arrived in plenty of time to have a stroll around the neighbourhood and choose a restaurant for the evening.

The Castle Hotel
Westgate

From directly outside the hotel, where we had booked a ground floor room in the former stables block, we had a glimpse of both the cathedral and the castle.

Cathedral
Cathedral
Castle walls
Castle walls

And a five minute stroll took us to Exchequer Gate (header image) and Castle Hill the medieval space which forms the setting across which the Cathedral and Castle face each other, dating from 1072 and 1068 respectively.

There is something I find so appealing about towns and cities where the streets have names such as Bailgate, Eastgate, Westgate, Pottergate, Michaelgate; you just know you are in a place steeped in history. Continue reading Historic Uphill Lincoln