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  • Ride tall on this Airbnb Experience

    Cycling has with each year become more and more popular around the world. However, you may not be aware that if you took a DeLorean back in time over 200+ years you simply would not find a man or woman on this contraption. They simply did not exist before 1817 and what existed in 1817 was certainly not worthy of your morning commute. More on that later! I'm an avid cyclist - granted I’m no Bradley Wiggins (British born cyclist who has more Gold than Mr-T on a Friday night) but I did take Norman Tebbit at face value when he said "Get on your bike!" - so I did. Whether I'm riding a bicycle for leisure, exercise or commuting there's always been a bike near to me. However, it was not until recently did I get to try a legendary bicycle out thanks to Airbnb advertising it as an Experience. The Penny Farthing London Experience popped up on my screen and I thought to myself "I must try this!" It was certainly on my bucket list. However, before we delve into the Penny Farthing or High Wheel to the Yanks where did it come from? A Brief History on the Bicycle that would lead eventually to the Penny-Farthing. The "Dandy horse", also called Draisienne or Laufmaschine, was the first human means of transport to use only two wheels in tandem and was invented by the German Baron Karl von Drais. It is regarded as the first bicycle, but it did not have pedals; Drais introduced it to the public in Mannheim in 1817 and in Paris in 1818. Its rider sat astride a wooden frame supported by two in-line wheels and pushed the vehicle along with his or her feet while steering the front wheel. It was effectively an adults balance bike made of wood. The first mechanically-propelled, two-wheeled vehicle may have been built by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a Scottish blacksmith, in 1839, although the claim is often disputed. However, as I’m part Scottish I’m going to believe the Scot beat the world to the invention. And in typical feisty Glaswegian fashion, he is also associated with the first recorded instance of a cycling traffic offence, when a Glasgow newspaper in 1842 reported an accident in which an anonymous "gentleman from Dumfries-shire... bestride a velocipede... of ingenious design" knocked over a little girl in Glasgow and was fined five shillings. In the early 1860s, Frenchmen Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement took bicycle design in a new direction by adding a mechanical crank drive with pedals on an enlarged front wheel (the velocipede). The French vélocipède, made of iron and wood, developed into the "Penny-Farthing" (historically known as an "ordinary bicycle", a retronym, since there was then no other kind). It featured a tubular steel frame on which were mounted wire-spoked wheels with solid rubber tires. The pedals were still attached directly to the front wheel, which became larger and larger as makers realised that the larger the wheel, the faster and farther you could travel with one rotation of the pedals. Solid rubber tyres and the long spokes of the large front wheel provided a much smoother ride than its predecessor, the Boneshaker. This type of velocipede was the first to be called a bicycle (“two-wheel”) and its shape led to the nickname Penny Farthing in the UK. They enjoyed great popularity in the 1880s, at least by those that could afford them. Although the trend was short-lived, the Penny Farthing became a symbol of the late Victorian era. Its popularity also coincided with the birth of cycling as a sport. Now as a keen cyclist who has a sense of wonder if one can do things. I made an enquiry via the Airbnb experiences website to see if I could ride with the Penny-Farthing Club. Thankfully, they ride regularly so they were able to accommodate my desire to learn all about Penny-Farthings and test my balance. If you have a spare £100 in your pocket you might be tempted to enjoy a London Tour on a Penny Farthing! I can honestly say it's well worth the time and money and should be tried by anyone who has a sense of wonder about the world. The Penny Farthing Club, founded in 2013 by Neil Laughton who was intrigued by these Victorian-era bicycles. The PFC has developed into a community of enthusiastic riders, racers and polo players! The Club has two dozen modern replica bicycles of various sizes and offers rider training, events throughout the year - including private hire, corporate team building and film/photo commissions. Those on the experience will be introduced to the Penny Farthing and its history before being helped up to the lofty height of the bicycle. You will then head out onto the streets where you will learn to safely mount, ride and dismount. A few hours spent with the Penny Farthing Team one Sunday morning was enough for me to feel I had mastered the art of riding these splendid contraptions. Once you feel competent and able to hop on and off these tall relics, the Penny Farthing Club will take you on a tour through Westminster and central London. Once riders are confident on the Victorian invention they will be leisurely guided around the Westminster area, past many iconic locations such as the Palace of Westminster, Parliament Square, Churchill War Rooms, the gardens of 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. It helps to be fearless and confident with your balance this is not for the overweight and those who aren't very fit. As the Bikes have only one fixed gear it does require you to exert more energy than a usual bike. However, the view and attention that you get from being up so high make up for these extra calories burnt. I’ve never had so many people wave and smile in my direction while on the road in London. Everyone either stood and took pictures, waved or cheered. Of course, this being The Wondering Englishman Blog - I've of course included a video to go with this post - do check out the video on the day I spent with The Penny Farthing Club. Tours and lessons can be booked in London, Bath & Brighton. As always videos can always be found on YouTube & LBRY. I use both as sadly YouTube is now censoring content whereas LBRY is for Free-Speech. If you do decide to ride tall through London, Bath or Brighton on the Penny Farthing Bike Tour please let me know in the comments below! I can’t recommend it enough, it should be done by everyone! Happy riding! One last thing - if you aren't from London and you are planning on visiting London for the weekend or even longer. I highly recommend booking yourself an Airbnb to go with your Airbnb Penny-Farthing Experience. Pick one that suits your needs and in your location - there is an array of choice in London and something for everyone's budget. If you have not used them before (you have probably been living under a rock). But if you use this referral link you will get many Dollars, Euros or Pounds off your first booking and I'll get a very small referral kickback. This link will give you $50-$60 off your first booking.  If you are a new customer. I am not sponsored by the British Government or any Travel Group, I simply have written this post as I enjoy travelling. Please do check out this blog for more independent travel ideas and my YouTube Channel. If any of this information has been useful to you and you fancy buying me a Coffee please do click the link below to buy me a Coffee via Ko-Fi.com. Thank you - Alex van Terheyden AKA The Wondering Englishman

  • A London day out - Bexhill-on-Sea to Hastings

    When the suns out and one has time on their hands a perfect day out from the stresses of London is to head to the British Coast. On a recent, such a day, I took it upon myself to venture to East Sussex and take in the coast between Bexhill-on-Sea & Hastings. Both can be reached on a direct train from London in under an hour and if you book your ticket in advance via Trainline.com a considerable saving can be found in getting you there and back. I decided to take the train to Bexhill-on-Sea and then walk East along the coast to Hastings. Google was calculating without stops that it would take me a couple of minutes over 2 hours. This walk would be considerably tamer compared to the walk I had done between Eastbourne & Seaford taking in the mesmerising seven sisters coastal walk. Bexhill or Bexhill-on-Sea is a seaside town and an ancient town, Bexhill is home to a number of archaeological sites, a Manor House in the Old Town, an abundance of Edwardian and Victorian architecture. Bob Marley's first-ever UK gig was at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill in July 1972. The De La Warr Pavilion is now home to an array of art exhibits and the occasional gig at least in pre-COVID days. During the Norman Conquest of 1066, it appears that Bexhill was largely destroyed. The Domesday survey of 1086 records that the manor was worth £20 before the conquest, was 'waste' in 1066 and was worth £18 10s in 1086. The town was almost laid to waste again in the second world war. The Second World War caused the evacuation of the schools and substantial bomb-damage to the town. Many schools returned to Bexhill after the war but there was a steady decline in the number of independent schools in the town. The break-up of the British Empire and in particular the Independence of India in 1947 hastened the process. Most of the schools were boarding and catered largely for the children of the armed forces overseas and of the colonial administration. Although the number of schools decreased, many of the parents and former pupils had fond memories of the town and later retired to Bexhill. As a tourist in the 21st century, you could enjoy the various pubs dotted around the sleepy town full of retirees enjoying their peaceful lives. Sample the seafood which I decided to do in the form of oysters while contemplating if I deserved an ice cream just yet. Walking away from Bexhill I walked up a hill known locally as Gally Hill. I couldn’t help but notice the parked cars that had retirees relaxing by the side of the road. The peacefulness of the elderly population was to a Londoner very noticeable. It still had an English feel to it, something which is sadly gone from large swathes of London and most cities that have felt the impact of the mass importation of people from around the world. Stroll down the other side of Gally Hill and past the look out posts that once kept watch for small french men hoping to invade you get to Stoney beaches - very typically found on the south coast of England. If you are lucky you will witness the tide being out. If this is the case, you will be able to walk out to sea - for a good hundred metres or so before you get to any depth of water at your shins. In the old days before the world was overpopulated and the seas were able to replenish themselves from what we took from them it wouldn’t be strange to see an array of sea life looking back at you. Now the South coast of England due to dredging and overfishing by all European nations is lacking in any sea life. Catching crabs and observing life in the rock pools that dot this area of coastline I think may now be a thing of the past. The day I was there, I saw no signs of life other than a few small sand worms hiding away in the muddy sand. Like the Native American who sheds a tear when he sees the damage to the land he once new this is how I look upon our oceans in 2020. Critics will sneer and say I best scurry along and join the Extinction Rebellion folk with their protests. And yet these folk may be annoying and cause disruption but they are sadly right - the world around us is dying. Especially the Oceans and we as a species are simply watching it wilt right in front of us. As I walk away from the beach like an Anemic Native American pondering when the humans will wake up to their destruction I approach the town of Bulverhythe, also known as West St Leonards and Bo Peep. Bulverhythe is translated as "Burghers' landing place". It used to be under a small headland called Gallows Head, which was washed away by flooding. In 1749 a Dutch Ship was washed up to shore called The “Amsterdam” that set sail to Java but ended up running aground on the sandy strip in 1749. The remains can still be seen today at very low tide. I failed to really notice them despite the tide being out! Walking further East along the coast you will notice an array of beach huts of various different sizes. Some on the beach and some slightly inland. Each beach hut jostling for the land it now possesses. Beach huts came into existence in early Edwardian days and since then have been a fixture on the British Coast ever since coming in and out of fashion every 10 years or so. With the current COVID Plandemic, the staycation for Brits has made them more popular than ever before. In trying to find out more about these bizarre sheds on the beach I discovered huts can be rented by the day and also week. Rental can range from £20-£100 a day depending on the hut and the week obviously a lot more. I’m not affiliated in any way to this company but if you are curious about renting a hut for a day you can visit the website beach-huts.com Leaving the Beach Huts behind and still heading East you will encounter the town of St. Leonards on Sea. The original part of the settlement was laid out in the early 19th century as a new town: a place of elegant houses designed for the well-off; it also included a central public garden, a hotel, an archery, assembly rooms and a church. Today's St Leonards has extended well beyond that original design, although the original town still exists within it. And today's residents are with the greatest respect anything but well off. Of course, some of the big houses remain and I’m certain there are many who sip their lattes while nodding along to the wretch of a newspaper the guardian but a huge chunk of the people who now live in St Leonards are on the poverty line. Crack & Booze have replaced Victorian pursuits of grafting and leisure. Bottle Alley may have gotten its name from the wall made of bottles but the floors all year long I’m told are strewn with bottles of booze. Asylum seekers, drug addicts & the homeless are shipped down from London to stay in the numerous HMO’s that scatter the landscape. The old and retired who used to think this place was quaint and idyllic now avoid going out at night because of the Anti-Social behaviour by the dregs of society who are native & foreign-born. I have to admit the contrast here to Bexhill & later the manicured Hastings was telling. And as Queen Victoria’s statue looked on as life going by if the lady could see what was here today I think she might shed a tear in the winter months. The glorious sunshine can make anything presentable I do wonder though what winters must be like here. Leaving St Leonards behind you connect with Hastings - In reality, due to the growth of the two towns, you wouldn’t know where one ended and the other began until you saw the sign. Both merge into one. However, it does become noticeable as you leave the Pier and the amusement rides behind Hastings becomes very picturesque and beautiful especially in the oldest parts of the town. Money is very clearly here and neighbours keep up with the Jones by keeping their gardens as neat as can be making their miniature castles as presentable as possible. Hastings gives its name to the Battle of Hastings, which took place 8 mi (13 km) to the north-west at Senlac Hill in 1066. It later became one of the medieval Cinque Ports. In the 19th century, it established itself as a popular seaside resort, as the railway allowed tourists and visitors to reach the town. Today, Tourism has dwindled but Hastings remains a fishing port with the UK's largest beach-based fishing fleet. It has an estimated population just shy of 95,000. The start of the Norman Conquest was the Battle of Hastings, fought on 14 October 1066, although the battle itself took place 8 mi (13 km) to the north at Senlac Hill, and William had landed on the coast between Hastings and Eastbourne at Pevensey. It is thought that the Norman encampment was on the town's outskirts, where there was open ground; a new town was already being built in the valley to the east. That "New Burgh" was founded in 1069 and is mentioned in the Domesday Book as such. William defeated and killed Harold Godwinson, the last Saxon King of England, and destroyed his army, thus opening England to the Norman conquest. William caused a castle to be built at Hastings probably using the earthworks of the existing Saxon castle. Hastings was shown as a borough by the time of the Domesday Book (1086); it had also given its name to the Rape of Hastings, one of the six administrative divisions of Sussex. As a borough, Hastings had a corporation consisting of a "bailiff, jurats, and commonalty". By a Charter of Elizabeth I in 1589, the bailiff was replaced by a mayor. Muslim scholar Muhammad al-Idrisi, writing in 1153, described Hastings as "a town of large extent and many inhabitants, flourishing and handsome, having markets, workpeople and rich merchants". And as I ended my leisurely walk in Hastings having climbed the hill to the top of the castle and then in a local pub I pondered that hastings was still flourishing and it’s inhabitants were all on fine form despite being so close to its poorest neighbour who will one day have a lift and sort its act out. If you are considering making a weekend out of it or simply think it wise to stay at least one night in the town of Hastings, Bexhill or one of the many villages that dot the East Sussex. There are a number of options to choose from to suit all budgets. Over the years, I've had the fortune to stay in an array of hotels, apartments and various forms of accommodation while travelling. For the majority of travellers, I recommend Booking.com - yes there are hotel comparison websites such as Trivago and Kayak. However, from my years of travel experience, I've discovered both of these comparison websites do not have all the hotels, hostels and apartments listed. The reasons behind this could be some premises simply do not pay the comparison sights a fee or the reason could be something else. If you know of the reason do leave a comment below. However, I have discovered no matter what the location Booking.com will 9/10ths of the time have the most competitive deal and generally the most choice. However, if you are super keen to get the best deal- use Booking.com, Kayak, Trivago, Lastminute.com and Hotels.com in separate browser windows. An alternative which I do recommend for your accommodation is Airbnb. The authorities still allow Airbnb in the UK (it hasn't been banned just yet). I've booked a number of apartments via Airbnb. If you have not used them before (you have probably been living under a rock). But if you use this referral link you will get many Dollars, Pounds or Euros off your first booking and I'll get a very small referral kickback. I'm an Airbnb host as well as a frequent Airbnb traveller. I love Airbnb because not only does it make travelling more affordable but it also allows you to stay off the beaten track. Staying with a local or in your own cottage is far more unique than staying in a generic hotel you could find anywhere in the world. Use the map below to search for the perfect Airbnb stay within walking distance of Bexhill-on-Sea, St Leonards & Hastings. Let me know if you do walk the same route or you do actually make it inside the castle! I am not sponsored by the British Government or any Travel Group, I simply have written this post as I enjoy travelling. Please do check out this blog for more independent travel ideas and my YouTube Channel. If any of this information has been useful to you and you fancy buying me a Coffee please do click the link below to buy me a Coffee via Ko-Fi.com. Thank you - Alex van Terheyden AKA The Wondering Englishman Of course what blog post would be complete without including the video to the adventure. As always videos can always be found on YouTube & LBRY. I use both as sadly YouTube is now censoring content whereas LBRY is for Free-Speech.

  • Boating on the River Thames

    On typical cloudy day south-west of London, I looked up at the clouds and hoped for sunshine. Thankfully my wishes were granted intermittently as the day went along - radiant sunshine would make for the perfect day. My journey began in the little town of Weybridge, a quaint but humble town by the River Wey in the Elmbridge district of Surrey. It is bounded to the north by the River Thames at the mouth of the Wey, from which it gets its name. It is an outlying suburban town within the Greater London Urban Area, situated 16 miles (25 km) southwest of central London. Those window shopping for a new home in Weybridge will find property prices are well above the national average - so much so that six of the ten most expensive streets in South East England are to be found in Weybridge. In H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds (1897), Weybridge was the location of a battle in which a Martian fighting machine was destroyed. The title of chapter 12 of the book is: "What I saw of the destruction of Weybridge and Shepperton". The battle also featured in the track "The Artilleryman and the Fighting Machine" from Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds (1978), and in a graphic novel by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli (2006), adapted from Wells' book. It was also the location that a ship carrying refugees from Southern England, sailed out of the Harbour protected by several vessels including the ship "Thunderchild". It was this ship that was involved in the battle and also managed to destroy one of the Martian Fighting Machines (only to be destroyed itself) One last mention before we move away from Weybridge - John Lennon and Ringo Starr lived in Weybridge for short periods of time over their lifetimes. However, this post is about Boating on the Thames and the delights that can be found while bobbing up and down the world's shortest most famous river. By European standards, the river Thames is seemingly insignificant. At only 215 miles (346km) from source to mouth, it is not only dwarfed by the major waterways of the continent, but it is not even the longest river in the United Kingdom. The Severn River is the longest river in the United Kingdom, covering a distance of 220 miles. Nevertheless, its location has ensured that it has held unparalleled importance to the country, as it flows through key places of national influence, such as the university city of Oxford to the west, past the royal castle at Windsor then on to the capital of London and then a tidal section to the east. It is not without reason that it has been dubbed ‘the shortest famous river in the world’, ‘an open-air museum of English culture’ and even ‘liquid history’. The River Thames History The water of the river Thames has been utilised by settlers since Palaeolithic times and there is an on-going discussion about how the complex processes of silting, geomorphological change, and human intervention impacted its use. Although widespread canal-building (mainly in coastal areas) occurred in Britain during Roman times, it was the building of mills from 950 AD onwards that is thought to have accidentally encouraged trade further inland, as they required the construction of dams and weirs with flash locks. These were built on the steeper section of the waterway below Oxford and helped to break up the river into a succession of deep slow-flowing pools, which made travelling on the river by boat easier (and in both directions). By the eleventh century, the Thames was an important transport artery, as is shown by the network of landing places (hythes) and salt ways that punctuated it, as well artificial channels that were built for trade on or by it, most notably a section by Abingdon dug in the 1050s to by-pass a section of the river that was difficult to navigate. Boats would have been used for both local and long-distance transportation and it is thought that the medieval heyday of the latter, which would have been much cheaper than travelling by road, was between 1100 and 1300. Certain carrying goods, like grain, wool, cloth and minerals, were transported to London – presumably with passengers occasionally conveyed too – whilst some items, such as pottery and herrings, would have been taken back on the more difficult and laborious upstream journey. The Thames was a contested resource though, as mill-owners, boat operators and fisherman all wanted to use the water for different purposes (and according to different seasonal rhythms), whilst local populations also needed to be able to cross the waterway on fords, ferries or bridges. Indeed, from 1100 onwards, the building of new bridges and causeways also altered the physical appearance of the Thames. Furthermore, these human activities could be affected by natural processes like drought and flooding. The latter could have a damaging effect on property, but it could also protect the river from development, thereby helping to maintain the river’s appearance. A symbiotic relationship developed between the different groups using the river that was ‘normally contentious’ and ‘occasionally creative’. Travelling by boat on the river was a slow process, as craft not only had to be towed by horses that had to evade any obstacles on land but passing through the locks could be dangerous. Boats had to wait for the miller to come to draw his paddles (for a fee), which produced a rapid release (‘flash’) of water, which enabled the boat to pass through, either by ‘shooting’ through with the flow or being hauled up against the stream (once the water levels were close to one another). The release of water could be so great that sometimes a boat operator travelling upstream had to wait until the levels of water had built up again and they would sometimes face charges from the riparian landowners. Although the weirs are believed to have initially helped the passage of boats, they could also potentially cause difficulties, because (1) they could obstruct the river, (2) they could adversely affect the level of the water and (3) they could be both slow and costly to pass through. Indeed, we know that the former was a persistent problem, as there were recurring legal attempts to try to keep the waterway clear of obstructions from the twelfth century onwards, such as the Magna Carta’s injunction to clear fish weirs from the waterway. Although control of the river was sold by the Crown to the City of London in 1197, there was no effective management of the river above Staines, where the new jurisdiction extended to. Furthermore, the number of weirs on the river above Henley grew to such a number that it became increasingly time-consuming and less cost-effective to travel on it. This led to a ‘spiral of decay’ that eventually led to the section between Oxford and Burcot becoming unnavigable for larger craft by the end of the sixteenth century. Boating on the Thames On this reasonably sunny day, I found myself on a very nice speed boat - although you can't exactly speed on the River Thames. Due to River laws, you can only go 5mph on the Thames so the roofless boat should really be defined as a leisure boat. The history of the River Thames is best experienced while on the River itself. For those of you not lucky enough to have a mate with a boat this shouldn't stop you. There are an array of boat companies up and down the River willing to rent you a boat for a few hours to a few weeks depending on your preference. To make a holiday of it you could even sleep on the boat or stay in one of the nearby hotels or B&Bs in the local area. My journey was from Weybridge to Hampton Court and then back, of course, you could boat any part of the Thames and depend upon Time restraints you could do all 215 Miles if you were so inclined! Let me know if you do that! Chugging along at 5mph and passing a through a variety of locks it took around 2 hours to get to Hampton Court - I think we could have got there faster but we stopped in various places to admire the scenery along the way. Hampton Court Palace is a Grade I listed royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, 12 miles (19.3 kilometres) south-west and upstream of central London on the River Thames. Construction of the palace began in 1515 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII. In 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the cardinal gave the palace to the king to check his disgrace. The palace went on to become one of Henry's most favoured residences; soon after acquiring the property, he arranged for it to be enlarged so that it might more easily accommodate his sizeable retinue of courtiers. Along with St James' Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many the king owned. The palace is currently in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II and the Crown. Today, the palace is open to the public and a major tourist attraction, easily reached by train from Waterloo station in central London and served by Hampton Court railway station. Of course, you could always stay in an Airbnb or a hotel right by the Palace and bask in the shadow of Royalty. Apart from the Palace itself and its gardens, other points of interest for visitors include the celebrated maze, the historic royal tennis court and the huge grapevine, the largest in the world as of 2005. The palace's Home Park is the site of the annual Hampton Court Palace Festival and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. My river journey from Weybridge to Hampton Court & then back again was of course documented. Do check it out and remember to click subscribe it helps the YouTube Gods decide if a channel is worthy of their platform. An experience similar to this experience would be via the Airbnb Experiences which you will know I'm a big fan of. I have included the best experiences below and will update this article when I discover new experiences worthy of your time. My Recommendations for boating on the Thames: Boating on the Thames at Hampton Court Speedboat through the heart of London If you appreciated this information It takes a lot of Coffee to make these videos. If you would like to buy me a Coffee I use the wonderful people at Ko-fi. Many thanks - The Wondering Englishman - Alex van Terheyden

  • I gotta have more Cowbell!

    Before SNL turned hard woke. The very American "Saturday Night Live" comedy show used to be worthy of your time. Especially when Will Ferrell was to be seen. One notable show was way back in the year 2000. When life seemed a little more innocent. The "More Cowbell" sketch was presented as an episode of VH1's documentary series Behind the Music that fictionalizes the recording of the song "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult. The sketch featured guest host Christopher Walken as music producer "The Bruce Dickinson", and regular cast member Will Ferrell, who wrote the sketch with playwright Donnell Campbell, as fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkel, whose overzealous playing annoys his bandmates but pleases producer Dickinson. The sketch is often considered one of the greatest SNL sketches ever made and in many "best of" lists regarding SNL sketches. As a result of its popularity, "more cowbell" became an American pop-culture catchphrase. I was reminded of this magnificent comedy sketch bizarrely as I found myself out walking in the South of France on the Plateau de Beille. Why on earth would this obscure place in the northern peaks of the Pyrenees cause me to think about Walken & Ferrell at their finest? Well, there's a lot of cows on this plateau and each one has a Cowbell round its neck. Bruce Dickinson would be very pleased I found myself thinking as I took in the sound and the beauty of the landscape with the happy cows that would regularly trot by. Plateau de Beille is a ski resort in the Pyrenees. It is situated in the Ariège department, and in the region of the Occitanie. The winter sports resort lies at a height of 1,790 m (5,870 ft). For a long time, this plateau was only a place of livestock, especially cattle. It has recently become the site of a large winter sports resort of the Pyrenees, mainly dedicated to the practice of cross-country skiing, with tracks between 1,650 and 2,000 metres (5,410 and 6,560 ft) altitude. Since 1998, the ascent from Les Cabannes to the plateau has regularly been used as the final ascent of a stage in the Tour de France. On the first four such occasions, the stage winner at Plateau de Beille also emerged as the winner of the general classification of that Tour. Since its discovery by the Tour de France in 1998, the Plateau de Beille has served as stage finish five times (in 1998, 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2011). The ascent is ranked as hors catégorie in the mountains classification. The Tour de France returned to the Plateau de Beille for stage 12, on 16 July 2015. On the first four occasions, the stage winner has gone on to win the Tour: Marco Pantani in 1998, Lance Armstrong in 2002 and 2004 (although now stripped of those titles), and Alberto Contador in 2007 who won the Tour de France as a result of the exclusion of the Danish Michael Rasmussen. And as you have come to expect from this Blog - I've made a brief video about my recent outing at the Plateau de Beille. Obviously, if you choose to visit in the Winter the place will look exceptionally different. Stay tuned to this Blog & the YouTube Chanel to maybe see a glimpse of this place one day in the winter. A place for walkers, skiers, Cyclists and of course all those who love Cowbell! The Plateau de Beille or the Ski-Resort of Beille can be reached from overseas by either flying into Perpignan, Toulouse, Barcelona, Carcassonne and Girona. The quickest transfer to Beille from the Airports is in exactly that order with Perpignan being the fastest route to Beille, however, all are achievable airports to fly into if exploring the area. If you are in the lucky position to be taking the scenic route while travelling through this part of the Pyrenees in Southern France there are plenty of beautiful hotels and chalets you could stop at in the nearby area. Airbnb is always an alternative option as it gives you a real taste of the local area and is generally far better value than a Hotel in Southern France. Of course, Breakfast is not always included but does this matter with the money that will be saved! I'm an Airbnb host as well as a frequent Airbnb traveller. I love Airbnb because not only does it make travelling more affordable but it also allows you to stay off the beaten track. Staying with a local or in your own cottage is far more unique than staying in a generic hotel you could find anywhere in the world. Use the map below to search for the perfect Airbnb stay within this charming part of France. I hope you have a great adventure in and around the Plateau de Beille should you ever visit. I am not sponsored by the French Government or any Travel Group, I simply have written this post as I enjoy travelling. Please do check out this blog for more independent travel ideas and my YouTube Channel. If any of this information has been useful to you and you fancy buying me a Coffee please do click the link below to buy me a Coffee via Ko-Fi.com. Thank you - Alex van Terheyden AKA The Wondering Englishman

  • Who are the Best YouTubers?

    If I can ignore the fact that the YouTube offices have been taken over by Social Justice Warriors who are intent on slaying a fictitious Dragon - YouTube is a product I very much love. I haven't watched real Television in years. I simply see no need for it. YouTube has all the content I could possibly need all in one place. I really hope the company sees the light and doesn't continue down the path of banning YouTubers because they think differently to the Thought Police. Only time will tell. It should be noted before I reveal my favourite YouTubers that there are alternative Platforms to YouTube and everyone should be familiar with those platforms if they value Free Speech. They include - Bitchute, Vimeo, Vevo, DailyMotion & my personal favourite LBRY. Although it appears LBRY may be changing its name soon. So watch this space. All signed up Users to the YouTube platform have the ability to Subscribe to whomever they like. YouTubes Algoythm will then try to learn what you like as well as manipulate what you like by sending you down a rabbit hole of content to keep you on the platform for as long as possible. I've been on the platform since 2006 so I have a pretty good idea what I like. Here are my favourite YouTubers. Mouthy Buddha One man does in one video what an entire production team could only wise they did in a year-long project. He produces a video usually every 6 weeks and I have to state his videos get better and better with each new video he releases. John Canales is the Mouthy Buddha and I take my hat off to his well put together videos. Tacking subjects the mainstream news would rather you didn't know about. A small selection of some of his best videos. Maceo Plex The worlds greatest Techno DJ has his own YouTube Channel. Granted not all his work is on this channel - I wish he would change that but I guess he is too busy being Maceo Plex and producing some of the finest music in the world. Highlights include him occasionally doing LiveStreams from his studio. Worthy of your time and attention - go click subscribe Techno style! Jordan B. Peterson Canada's greatest export right now by 10,000 miles and author of the bestselling book The 12 Rules for Life. For some reason, this well-spoken, reasoned academic seems for no good reason ruffle the feathers of those on the far left. The answer can only be they have their heads so far up their arses they haven't taken the time to listen to anything he has to say for himself. Peterson has clearly used his years to think through his thoughts and with that dissects life, philosophy and psychology with finesse. Any time you are willing to enjoy his lectures his YouTube Channel should be worthy of your time. A sprinkle of some of his highlights is below, however like all the channels mentioned on this page - I urge you to Subscribe to get the best value. Joe Rogan - The Joe Rogan Experience The most successful Podcaster in the world. This outstanding all American chap won't be on YouTube for much longer. YouTube Management failed to see the value of this podcasting talent so Spotify decided to snap him up for $100million. Only time will tell if the Mega Bucks means his down to earth persona speaks that from the heart attitude gets impacted by lawyers who intervene and say you can't say this about Chicks with Dicks. The perfect show to listen to if you are out for a 2-3 hour walk. Always insightful and always something brought to the table. A couple of outstanding shows to watch if you haven't already - but it looks like we will be watching him on Spotify come December 2020. Bright Insight This channel should actually be a show on terrestrial Television. His videos are so well researched with amazing insight. However, there's a reason why the Networks haven't picked him up. It is because his subjects don't mesh with their agenda. Bright Insight provides academic insight into the wonders of the world NPCs refuse to look at. Discussions on where Atlantis could have been to possible life on the Moon. Worthy of anyone's attention who is curious about the Wonders of the World and the Universe. Some highlights I have posted below. Bald and Bankrupt This YouTuber started his Eastern European Travels after me but despite this, his growth has been x1000000 bigger than my growth - but like my Murphys, I'm Not Bitter! Mr Bald is immensely watchable and this is his secret. He speaks Russian which comes in handy with his many encounters with Babuska's and Relics who might still think the Soviet Union is still together. Mr Bald to his viewers but known as Benjamin RIch to his family. The slight irony that his last name is Rich and his Channel started because he was declared Bankrupt. And yet it's clear now with his great success he is no longer Bankrupt. He has over 2 million subscribers and his videos rake in the cash and are very worthy of anyone's attention. Highlights from his travels: Computing Forever The name of the channel doesn't exactly make you want to click on it unless of course, you love computers. However, this channel clearly started along the lines of covering all things computers but gravitated over time to be much more. Computing Forever is a channel dedicated to politics, social commentary and technology. I visit the channel for the discussions about politics that you won't hear that often on the MSM. The channel challenges the cancer that is social justice, political correctness and hyper-consumerism. Worthy of your time and a Subscription. Pursuit of Wonder Maybe I was drawn to this channel, to begin with, because it has "Wonder" in its title. I'm glad that word was able to draw me in - what a wonderful channel that tackles some of the most interesting subjects a man or woman could ever engross themselves with. Their content makes you curious, inspired, and feel good in life. Wonder is the feeling of curiosity and/or appreciation inspired by something that is beautiful or unfamiliar. Their content creates that feeling that's for sure covering a range of topics related to things like social, emotional, and intellectual wellbeing. Worthy of your time and subscription - here are a couple of highlights. Black Pigeon Speaks Rex is known as Black Pigeon Speaks but in reality only his friends know his true identity. Very wise in this world where people can get cancelled for having the wrong opinion. This channel packed with well-researched insight into word current events has been banned by YouTube once before so may not last much longer but I hope the Woke Police don't take it down. It truly should be watched/listened to by all those looking for wider insight into the world we live in. Those worthy of a mention that I haven't included in the list include the very watchable Indigo Traveller. The mischievous David Bond who seems to reside between the USA and Thailand most days. Mark Dice hated by the Liberal Media but always very clickable and worthy of 5minutes of your time each day. Paul Joseph Watson a regular on the most banned network in the world (Infowars) but still producing amazing content for YouTube. And do check out my friend James Hibbert he recently started on YouTube and he is likely to overtake me in no time - most people do these days! If you liked this list and you would like to take the time to Subscribe to my Channel The Wondering Englishman - I will be forever grateful! Thanks for taking the time and let's keep our fingers crossed that YouTube doesn't eat itself with its mass hiring of the woke left. Thank you for your time and attention - please support free-speech and do not allow the Marxist left to continue to cancel those who do not think the same as them. Alex van Terheyden - @vanTerheyden - The Wondering Englishman

  • The Best Airbnb Experiences in London in 2020

    Back in the old days, the custom when travelling would be to ask the Concierge in the Hotel lobby - what's the best restaurants were or what were the best things to do. One might refer to their Lonely Planet or Rough Guide Book. Fortunately, since Airbnb opened up travel and made it more personal and more affordable to more people, it became more routine to ask your host about what one should check out in the local neighbourhood. However, to experience something more local and intimate Airbnb has introduced Airbnb Experiences. The beautiful thing about Airbnb Experiences is, not only does the traveller get to experience a more unique experience when travelling from intimate dinner parties to a tour from a local graffiti artist. Those hosting the experiences are able to generate an income that may not have been as easily accessible to them before. So it would appear to be a win-win for both parties as long as both enter the deal with the best intentions. I’m a Londoner who has used Airbnb as a host and a guest since the first year of its inception. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people and experienced some really eye-opening wonderful things via Airbnb. Other than being a Host and a frequent traveller I am not Employed by Airbnb - I simply have a fondness for the company so can happily recommend the company. If you are one of the rare individuals who has not yet signed up to Airbnb - use this "LINK" and you will get $50-$70 off your first booking. Airbnb Experiences are generally small-group activities led by passionate local hosts. As I’m a Londoner who knows London well, I thought it would be appropriate to list 10 of the Best Airbnb Experiences in London. NO DIET CLUB - Best Food Tour in LDN Two small years since it’s launch, the No Diet Club has already filled thousands of bellies, achieved an overall grading of 4,9/5 and counts over 2000 positive reviews! Their goal is simple, to help you you discover some of London’s best street gastronomy, very far from all the touristic clichés. A balance between local specialities and what the locals really eat in the day. The team consist of a number of guides as they have successfully grown since the first day. Cycling around London as a group and taking in the best street food London has to offer. Let me know if you check out the No Diet Club - I'm convinced you will be left very satisfied! Seven Deadly Sins Pub Tour This experience is hosted by two London locals who double up as tour guides and actors. They know every nook and cranny of Old London Town through their performances in underground bars, adventures into secret clubs, tour guiding experience and dabbling with the paranormal. They have worked on Interpretation projects and been interviewed by radio and TV for their unique knowledge of naughty London. Pubs that you will have close encounters with will include: A 16th Century Pub where Queen Elizabeth danced around a cherry tree Scratching Fanny of Cock Lane and the 1666 Great Fire of London An authentic gin palace, former home to ladies of the night and an infamous prison The 17th-century pub built by Sir Christopher Wren London's largest execution ground A market where you could sell your unwanted wives The plague pit which supplied the bodysnatchers A frightfully merry night - Let me know if you check out Seven Deadly Sins Pub Tour Speedboat through the heart of London Now if you don't have a mate called Bob who has his own Speed Boat. You can do the next best thing and book the speedboating experience with David via Airbnb Experiences. See many of the city's greatest sights the way they were meant to be seen - from the river! You'll be welcomed at Blackfriars Pier by your expert skipper and a personal tour guide for lifejackets and a safety briefing. The sound-system will be fired up with great British tunes and we'll cruise down to Tower Bridge for the best of all selfies. Then hold tight as you take you on a 10-mile high-speed blast to the O2 Arena and back to Tower. We'll throttle back and while you catch your breath take in the sights of the spectacular city. For the money, this is a day you will remember that puts a smile on your face - Let me know if you do ride the Speedboat through the heart of London See Tate Modern with an Art Historian Before you book this Experience I would urge you to familiarise yourself with the Tate Modern at least once on your own. Take it all or take in as much as possible and create your own thoughts on one of Londons best Galleries. Once you realise you need to expand your knowledge I completely recommend seeing the Tate Modern with an Art Historian. It is not uncommon to feel both intrigued and confused by a piece of contemporary art. Allow Julia to guide you through the galleries of Tate Modern on a curious inquiry into what we see, and hopefully, during the 90 minutes that you spend together, you will acquire the skills of looking, seeing and talking about art. After this experience you may look at art in a completely different way - Let me know if you do take in The Tate Modern with an Art Historian. Whisky Adventure with a Scotsman Scotland the home of Whisky and London despite Cranky Sturgeon's efforts, London is still the capital of the United Kingdom. And while London remains the capital why not taste some amazing Whisky with a real Scotsman! To start the night you will discover how whisky in Scotland was first produced, who started making it, the illicit trade and what made it the world-famous drink it is today. Whisky is distilled beer so it makes sense to stop at our first pub and have one! There I will explain the different whisky-producing areas of Scotland and how each has its own particular history and taste profile. Once you have the knowledge and finished your beer it's time to hit the whisky trail! In each pub, you will enjoy a dram and have a blether (chat!) a Scottish tradition dating back centuries. Some Scottish people believe it’s not whisky until it’s shared. I agree! Find out if you prefer Lowlands, Speyside or maybe you're a fan of the big peaty Islay's? By the end of the night, you will have the knowledge to walk into any whisky bar in the world and order scotch! Toast this Englishman with a Whisky if you do experience the Whisky adventure with a Scotsman Penny Farthing Bike Tour London I'm a keen cyclist and I'm sure you might be also but if you have a spare £100 in your pocket you might be tempted to enjoy a London Tour on a Penny Farthing! Master the art of riding these splendid machines on a tour through Westminster in central London. Those on the experience will be introduced to the Penny Farthing and its history before being helped up to the lofty height of the bicycle. You will then head out onto the streets where you will learn to safely mount, ride and dismount. Once riders are confident on the Victorian invention they will be leisurely guided around the Westminster area, past many iconic locations such as the Palace of Westminster, Parliament Square, Churchill War Rooms, the gardens of 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. It helps to be fearless and confident with your balance this is not for the overweight and those who aren't very fit. If you do decide to ride tall through London on the Penny Farthing Bike Tour please let me know in the comments below! Tasting and Exploring Cuban Cigars Not everyone is lucky enough to go to Cuba, or maybe you simply miss the Rum fueled island in the Caribbean. For those of you who would like to try some Cuban Cigars, this Experience could be perfect for you. Your tour starts on Bond Street at the Churchill and Roosevelt Allies Sculpture. Two great leaders who had a fondness for cigars. As you walk the streets of Mayfair and St James you will visit some of the best Cigar stores in all of London. Those on the experience will be provided with a Robusto size Cuban cigar (Juan Lopez No. 2, Partagas D4 or similar). If you do get to sample some amazing Cigars while on the Tasting and Exploring Cuban Cigars tour do let me know - would love to hear how it went :) I'll be adding more experiences via this Webpage when I get to sample and vet them. Please Subscribe to My YouTube Channel for similar content to this. The Wondering Englishman. If any of this information has been useful to you and you fancy buying me a Coffee please do click the link below to buy me a Coffee via Ko-Fi.com.

  • The Best Airbnb Experiences in London in 2020

    Back in the old days, the custom when travelling would be to ask the Concierge in the Hotel lobby - what's the best restaurants were or what were the best things to do. One might refer to their Lonely Planet or Rough Guide Book. Fortunately, since Airbnb opened up travel and made it more personal and more affordable to more people, it became more routine to ask your host about what one should check out in the local neighbourhood. However, to experience something more local and intimate Airbnb has introduced Airbnb Experiences. The beautiful thing about Airbnb Experiences is, not only does the traveller get to experience a more unique experience when travelling from intimate dinner parties to a tour from a local graffiti artist. Those hosting the experiences are able to generate an income that may not have been as easily accessible to them before. So it would appear to be a win-win for both parties as long as both enter the deal with the best intentions. I’m a Londoner who has used Airbnb as a host and a guest since the first year of its inception. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people and experienced some really eye-opening wonderful things via Airbnb. Other than being a Host and a frequent traveller I am not Employed by Airbnb - I simply have a fondness for the company so can happily recommend the company. If you are one of the rare individuals who has not yet signed up to Airbnb - use this "LINK" and you will get $50-$70 off your first booking. Airbnb Experiences are generally small-group activities led by passionate local hosts. As I’m a Londoner who knows London well, I thought it would be appropriate to list 10 of the Best Airbnb Experiences in London. NO DIET CLUB - Best Food Tour in LDN Two small years since it’s launch, the No Diet Club has already filled thousands of bellies, achieved an overall grading of 4,9/5 and counts over 2000 positive reviews! Their goal is simple, to help you you discover some of London’s best street gastronomy, very far from all the touristic clichés. A balance between local specialities and what the locals really eat in the day. The team consist of a number of guides as they have successfully grown since the first day. Cycling around London as a group and taking in the best street food London has to offer. Let me know if you check out the No Diet Club - I'm convinced you will be left very satisfied! Seven Deadly Sins Pub Tour This experience is hosted by two London locals who double up as tour guides and actors. They know every nook and cranny of Old London Town through their performances in underground bars, adventures into secret clubs, tour guiding experience and dabbling with the paranormal. They have worked on Interpretation projects and been interviewed by radio and TV for their unique knowledge of naughty London. Pubs that you will have close encounters with will include: A 16th Century Pub where Queen Elizabeth danced around a cherry tree Scratching Fanny of Cock Lane and the 1666 Great Fire of London An authentic gin palace, former home to ladies of the night and an infamous prison The 17th-century pub built by Sir Christopher Wren London's largest execution ground A market where you could sell your unwanted wives The plague pit which supplied the bodysnatchers A frightfully merry night - Let me know if you check out Seven Deadly Sins Pub Tour Speedboat through the heart of London Now if you don't have a mate called Bob who has his own Speed Boat. You can do the next best thing and book the speedboating experience with David via Airbnb Experiences. See many of the city's greatest sights the way they were meant to be seen - from the river! You'll be welcomed at Blackfriars Pier by your expert skipper and a personal tour guide for lifejackets and a safety briefing. The sound-system will be fired up with great British tunes and we'll cruise down to Tower Bridge for the best of all selfies. Then hold tight as you take you on a 10-mile high-speed blast to the O2 Arena and back to Tower. We'll throttle back and while you catch your breath take in the sights of the spectacular city. For the money, this is a day you will remember that puts a smile on your face - Let me know if you do ride the Speedboat through the heart of London See Tate Modern with an Art Historian Before you book this Experience I would urge you to familiarise yourself with the Tate Modern at least once on your own. Take it all or take in as much as possible and create your own thoughts on one of Londons best Galleries. Once you realise you need to expand your knowledge I completely recommend seeing the Tate Modern with an Art Historian. It is not uncommon to feel both intrigued and confused by a piece of contemporary art. Allow Julia to guide you through the galleries of Tate Modern on a curious inquiry into what we see, and hopefully, during the 90 minutes that you spend together, you will acquire the skills of looking, seeing and talking about art. After this experience you may look at art in a completely different way - Let me know if you do take in The Tate Modern with an Art Historian. Whisky Adventure with a Scotsman Scotland the home of Whisky and London despite Cranky Sturgeon's efforts, London is still the capital of the United Kingdom. And while London remains the capital why not taste some amazing Whisky with a real Scotsman! To start the night you will discover how whisky in Scotland was first produced, who started making it, the illicit trade and what made it the world-famous drink it is today. Whisky is distilled beer so it makes sense to stop at our first pub and have one! There I will explain the different whisky-producing areas of Scotland and how each has its own particular history and taste profile. Once you have the knowledge and finished your beer it's time to hit the whisky trail! In each pub, you will enjoy a dram and have a blether (chat!) a Scottish tradition dating back centuries. Some Scottish people believe it’s not whisky until it’s shared. I agree! Find out if you prefer Lowlands, Speyside or maybe you're a fan of the big peaty Islay's? By the end of the night, you will have the knowledge to walk into any whisky bar in the world and order scotch! Toast this Englishman with a Whisky if you do experience the Whisky adventure with a Scotsman Penny Farthing Bike Tour London I'm a keen cyclist and I'm sure you might be also but if you have a spare £100 in your pocket you might be tempted to enjoy a London Tour on a Penny Farthing ! Master the art of riding these splendid machines on a tour through Westminster in central London. Those on the experience will be introduced to the Penny Farthing and its history before being helped up to the lofty height of the bicycle. You will then head out onto the streets where you will learn to safely mount, ride and dismount. Once riders are confident on the Victorian invention they will be leisurely guided around the Westminster area, past many iconic locations such as the Palace of Westminster, Parliament Square, Churchill War Rooms, the gardens of 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. It helps to be fearless and confident with your balance this is not for the overweight and those who aren't very fit. If you do decide to ride tall through London on the Penny Fathing Bike Tour please let me know in the comments below! Tasting and Exploring Cuban Cigars Not everyone is lucky enough to go to Cuba, or maybe you simply miss the Rum fueled island in the Caribbean. For those of you who would like to try some Cuban Cigars, this Experience could be perfect for you. Your tour starts on Bond Street at the Churchill and Roosevelt Allies Sculpture. Two great leaders who had a fondness for cigars. As you walk the streets of Mayfair and St James you will visit some of the best Cigar stores in all of London. Those on the experience will be provided with a Robusto size Cuban cigar (Juan Lopez No. 2, Partagas D4 or similar). If you do get to sample some amazing Cigars while on the Tasting and Exploring Cuban Cigars tour do let me know - would love to hear how it went :) I'll be adding more experiences via this Webpage when I get to sample and vet them. Please Subscribe to My YouTube Channel for similar content to this. The Wondering Englishman. If any of this information has been useful to you and you fancy buying me a Coffee please do click the link below to buy me a Coffee via Ko-Fi.com.

  • Le Parc aux Bombous - a worthy contender for a place to visit if near Mirepoix and Carcassonne

    The Land use in Southwestern France is usually a mix of vineyards, farmland, rural and urban centres but there's a unique place where Bamboo can be found in an array of diversity. One man’s fascination with Bamboo has turned it into an enterprise that is now a tourist attraction. Le Parc aux Bombous is set in a lush setting on the banks of the beautiful River L’Hers. Set over 5 hectares and established back in 2006 the Bamboo gardens have enthralled visitors who set forth in these not very french surrounding. More than 200 Species of Bamboo can be found in this tranquil garden. Bamboos are evergreen perennial flowering plants. The origin of the word "bamboo" is uncertain, but it probably comes from the Dutch or Portuguese language, which originally borrowed it from Malay or Kannada. In bamboo, as in other grasses, the internodal regions of the stem are usually hollow and the vascular bundles in the cross-section are scattered throughout the stem instead of in a cylindrical arrangement. Bamboos include some of the fastest-growing plants in the world, due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. Certain species of bamboo can grow 910 mm (36 in) within a 24-hour period, at a rate of almost 40 mm (1⁄2 in) an hour (a growth around 1 mm every 90 seconds, or 1 inch every 40 minutes). Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family. This rapid growth and tolerance for marginal land, make bamboo a good candidate for afforestation, carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. Bamboos are of notable economic and cultural significance in South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia, being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a versatile raw product. Bamboo, like wood, is a natural composite material with a high strength-to-weight ratio useful for structures. Bamboo's strength-to-weight ratio is similar to timber, and its strength is generally similar to a strong softwood or hardwood timber. Le Parc aux Bombous can be reached from Mirepoix very easily and also makes for a worthy day trip from Carcassonne or possibly Toulouse if you don't mind clocking up the miles. Or if you are in the lucky position to be taking the scenic route while travelling through Southern France there are plenty of beautiful hotels and chalets you could stop at in the nearby area. Airbnb is always a delightful option as it gives you a real taste of the local area and is generally far better value than a Hotel in Southern France. Of course, Breakfast is not always included but does this matter with the money that will be saved! I'm an Airbnb host as well as a frequent Airbnb traveller. I love Airbnb because not only does it make travelling more affordable but it also allows you to stay off the beaten track. Staying with a local or in your own cottage is far more unique than staying in a generic hotel you could find anywhere in the world. Use the map below to search for the perfect Airbnb stay within this charming part of France. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I always try my best to make a video to go with any blog post. In this video, I explore the wonders of "Le Parc aux Bombous". For viewers who enjoy the video, I have added some extra information on the wonders of Bamboo in the paragraphs below the video. Bamboo - The Stuff of Legends: In several Asian cultures, including that of the Andaman Islands, believe humanity emerged from a bamboo stem. In Philippine mythology, one of the more famous creation accounts tells of the first man, Malakás ("Strong"), and the first woman, Maganda ("Beautiful"), each emerged from one half of a split bamboo stem on an island formed after the battle between Sky and Ocean. In Malaysia, a similar story includes a man who dreams of a beautiful woman while sleeping under a bamboo plant; he wakes up and breaks the bamboo stem, discovering the woman inside. The Japanese folktale "Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" (Taketori Monogatari) tells of a princess from the Moon emerging from a shining bamboo section. Hawaiian bamboo ('Ohe) is a Kinolau or body form of the Polynesian creator god Kāne. A bamboo cane is also the weapon of Vietnamese legendary hero, Thánh Gióng, who had grown up immediately and magically since the age of three because of his wish to liberate his land from Ân invaders. The ancient Vietnamese legend Cây tre trăm đốt (The Hundred-knot Bamboo Tree) tells of a poor, young farmer who fell in love with his landlord's beautiful daughter. The farmer asked the landlord for his daughter's hand in marriage, but the proud landlord would not allow her to be bound in marriage to a poor farmer. The landlord decided to foil the marriage with an impossible deal; the farmer must bring him a "bamboo tree of 100 nodes". But Gautama Buddha (Bụt was his name) appeared to the farmer and told him that such a tree could be made from 100 nodes from several different trees. Bụt gave to him four magic words to attach the many nodes of bamboo: Khắc nhập, khắc xuất, which means "joined together immediately, fell apart immediately". The triumphant farmer returned to the landlord and demanded his daughter. Curious to see such a long bamboo, the landlord was magically joined to the bamboo when he touched it, as the young farmer said the first two magic words. The story ends with the happy marriage of the farmer and the landlord's daughter after the landlord agreed to the marriage and asked to be separated from the bamboo. In a Chinese legend, Emperor Yao gave two of his daughters to the future Emperor Shun as a test for his potential to rule. Shun passed the test of being able to run his household with the two emperor's daughters as wives, and thus Yao made Shun his successor, bypassing his unworthy son. After Shun's death, the tears of his two bereaved wives fell upon the bamboos growing there explains the origin of spotted bamboo. The two women later became goddesses Xiangshuishen after drowning themselves in the Xiang River. Because bamboo can grow on otherwise marginal land, bamboo can be profitably cultivated in many degraded lands. Moreover, because the rapid growth of bamboo is an effective climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration crop, absorbing between 100 and 400 tonnes of carbon per hectare Bamboo is harvested from both cultivated and wild stands, and some of the larger bamboos, particularly species in the genus Phyllostachys, are known as "timber bamboos". Bamboo is typically harvested as source material for construction, food, crafts and other manufactured goods. Bamboo cultivation in South, South East Asia and East Asia stretches back thousands of years. One practice, in South Korea, has been designated as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems. Harvesting The durability of bamboo in construction is directly related to how well it is handled from the moment of planting through harvesting, transportation, storage, design, construction, and maintenance. Bamboo harvested at the correct time of year and then exposed to ground contact or rain will break down just as quickly as incorrectly harvested material. Uses for Bamboo Culinary Although the shoots (newly emerged culms) of bamboo contain a toxin taxiphyllin (a cyanogenic glycoside) that produces cyanide in the gut, proper processing renders them edible. They are used in numerous Asian dishes and broths, and are available in supermarkets in various sliced forms, in both fresh and canned versions.. Kitchenware The empty hollow in the stalks of larger bamboo is often used to cook food in many Asian cultures. Soups are boiled and rice is cooked in the hollows of fresh stalks of bamboo directly over a flame. Similarly, steamed tea is sometimes rammed into bamboo hollows to produce compressed forms of Pu-erh tea. Cooking food in bamboo is said to give the food a subtle but distinctive taste. In addition, bamboo is frequently used for cooking utensils within many cultures and is used in the manufacture of chopsticks. In modern times, some see bamboo tools as an eco-friendly alternative to other manufactured utensils. Fuel Bamboo charcoal has been traditionally used as fuel in China and Japan. Bamboo can also be utilized as a biofuel crop. Writing In old times, people in India used hand made pens (known as Kalam) made from thin bamboo sticks (with diameters of 5–10 mm and lengths of 100–150 mm) by simply peeling them on one side and making a nib-like pattern at the end. The pen would then be dipped in ink for writing. Fabric Textiles Bamboo textile is any cloth, yarn or clothing made from bamboo fibres. While historically used only for structural elements, such as bustles and the ribs of corsets, in recent years different technologies have been developed that allow bamboo fibre to be used for a wide range of textile and fashion applications. Examples include clothing such as shirt tops, pants, socks for adults and children as well as bedding such as sheets and pillow covers. Bamboo yarn can also be blended with other textile fibres such as hemp or spandex. Bamboo is an alternative to plastic that is renewable and can be replenished at a fast rate. Modern clothing labelled as being made from bamboo is usually viscose rayon, a fibre made by dissolving the cellulose in the bamboo and then extruding it to form fibres. This process removes the natural characteristics of bamboo fibre, rendering it identical to rayon from other cellulose sources. Bamboo was used by humans for various purposes at a very early time. Categories of Bambooworking include Construction Bamboo, like true wood, is a natural building material with a high strength-to-weight ratio useful for structures. In its natural form, bamboo as a construction material is traditionally associated with the cultures of South Asia, East Asia, and the South Pacific, to some extent in Central and South America, and by extension in the aesthetic of Tiki culture. In China and India, bamboo was used to hold up simple suspension bridges, either by making cables of split bamboo or twisting whole culms of sufficiently pliable bamboo together. Bamboo has also long been used as scaffolding; the practice has been banned in China for buildings over six stories but is still in continuous use for skyscrapers in Hong Kong. In the Philippines, the nipa hut is a fairly typical example of the most basic sort of housing where bamboo is used; the walls are split and woven bamboo and bamboo slats and poles may be used as its support. In Japanese architecture, bamboo is used primarily as a supplemental or decorative element in buildings such as fencing, fountains, grates, and gutters, largely due to the ready abundance of quality timber. Textiles As a writing surface Bamboo was in widespread use in early China as a medium for written documents. The earliest surviving examples of such documents, written in ink on string-bound bundles of bamboo strips (or "slips"), date from the 5th century BC during the Warring States period. However, references in earlier texts surviving on other media make it clear that some precursor of these Warring States period bamboo slips was in use as early as the late Shang period (from about 1250 BC). Bamboo or wooden strips were used as the standard writing material during the early Han dynasty, and excavated examples have been found in abundance. Subsequently, paper began to displace bamboo and wooden strips from mainstream uses, and by the 4th century AD, bamboo slips had been largely abandoned as a medium for writing in China. Bamboo fibre has been used to make paper in China since early times. A high-quality, handmade paper is still produced in small quantities. Coarse bamboo paper is still used to make spirit money in many Chinese communities. Bamboo pulps are mainly produced in China, Myanmar, Thailand, and India, and are used in printing and writing papers. Several paper industries are surviving on bamboo forests. Ballarpur (Chandrapur, Maharastra) paper mills use bamboo for paper production. The most common bamboo species used for paper are Dendrocalamus asper and Bambusa blumeana. It is also possible to make dissolving pulp from bamboo. The average fibre length is similar to hardwoods, but the properties of bamboo pulp are closer to softwood pulps due to it having a very broad fibre length distribution. With the help of molecular tools, it is now possible to distinguish the superior fibre-yielding species/varieties even at juvenile stages of their growth, which can help in unadulterated merchandise production. Weapons Bamboo has often been used to construct weapons and is still incorporated in several Asian martial arts. A bamboo staff, sometimes with one end sharpened, is used in the Tamil martial art of silambam, a word derived from a term meaning "hill bamboo". Staves used in the Indian martial art of gatka are commonly made from bamboo, a material favoured for its lightweight. A bamboo sword called a shinai is used in the Japanese martial art of Kendo. Bamboo is used for crafting the bows, called Yumi, and arrows used in the Japanese martial art Kyūdō. Bamboo is sometimes used to craft the limbs of the longbow and recurve bow used in traditional archery, and to make superior weapons for bowhunting and target archery. The first gunpowder-based weapons, such as the fire lance, were made of bamboo. Bamboo was apparently used in East and South Asia as a means of torture. Musical instruments There are numerous types of bamboo flutes made all over the world Bamboo may be used in the construction of the Australian didgeridoo instead of the more traditional eucalyptus wood. Bamboo is also used to make slit drums. Bamboo has also recently been used for the manufacture of guitars and ukuleles. Bamboo Ukuleles are constructed of solid cross-laminated bamboo strips, not plywood. Other uses Bamboo has traditionally been used to make a wide range of everyday utensils and cutting boards, particularly in Japan, where archaeological excavations have uncovered bamboo baskets dating to the Late Jōmon period (2000–1000 BC). Bamboo has a long history of use in Asian furniture. Chinese bamboo furniture is a distinct style based on a millennia-long tradition, and bamboo is also used for floors due to its high hardness. Several manufacturers offer bamboo bicycles, surfboards, snowboards, and skateboards. Due to its flexibility, bamboo is also used to make fishing rods. The split cane rod is especially prized for fly fishing. Bamboo has been traditionally used in Malaysia as a firecracker called a meriam buluh or bamboo cannon. Four-foot-long sections of bamboo are cut, and a mixture of water and calcium carbide are introduced. The resulting acetylene gas is ignited with a stick, producing a loud bang. Bamboo can be used in water desalination. A bamboo filter is used to remove the salt from seawater. Many ethnic groups in remote areas that have water access in Asia use bamboo that is 3–5 years old to make rafts. They use 8 to 12 poles, 6–7 m (20–23 ft) long, laid together side by side to a width of about 1 m (3 ft). Once the poles are lined up together, they cut a hole crosswise through the poles at each end and use a small bamboo pole pushed through that hole like a screw to hold all the long bamboo poles together. Floating houses use whole bamboo stalks tied together in a big bunch to support the house floating in the water. Bamboo is also used to make eating utensils such as chopsticks, trays, and tea scoops. I hope you have a great time at the Le Parc aux Bombous should you visit. I am not sponsored by the French Government or any Travel Group, I simply have written this post as I enjoy travelling. Please do check out this blog for more independent travel ideas and my YouTube Channel. If any of this information has been useful to you and you fancy buying me a Coffee please do click the link below to buy me a Coffee via Ko-Fi.com. Thank you - Alex van Terheyden AKA The Wondering Englishman

  • Locked out from Protesting

    It can't be cheap to Police the rabble that makes up most populations. Some rabbles (and I include myself in that rabble) can be very difficult to police while other rabbles are so easy that the head of the force probably wonders how they will keep their jobs. The lack of crime in Japan is a perfect example of this. However, I do not live in homogenous culturally rich Japan, I live in the Big Smoke (old London town). A city dripping in history but due to its fame, location and draw, it is a city which is bloated at the belt due to the number of new arrivals who make London their home each new year. Those who own the land rub their hands together as they know with each passing year they will be able to charge higher and higher premiums for their London land. The new arrivals of course compete and realise the streets of London are not paved with Gold. And with this; crime escalates as young men seek to grab a piece of the action their inflated low moral expectations have come to expect. As crime increases exponentially the Metropolitan Police and similar Western Police forces around the world who are also experiencing the same enrichment can't help but get busier and busier. You would think with their days becoming busier and busier they wouldn't have the time or inclination to bother policing those who are peacefully protesting. How wrong you would be! Violent crime is now guaranteed to happen every night in London due to the British Governments liberal open-door policy to common criminals from around the world. Plenty of tasks for the London Bobby to take care of if they were so inclined. And yet be the victim of a violent attack and you will most likely never get a visit from a Police Officer, but voice your discontent for the authoritarian lockdown laws and you will likely be arrested and charged £10,000 for putting that political Anti-Lockdown protest on. Case in Point Mr Piers Corbyn. What this now means is the British Public are not allowed to Protest the "Plandemic" that has been carried out since the start of 2020. It began with drumming up the fear of what was to come. Then it was locking the country down to keep the curve down and then it dragged on and on putting multiple small businesses out of business and millions out of work and onto the scrap heap. It was to save lives they insisted and yet if you read my thoughts on this scam in my post here you will come to understand why it has been done. A free society should value the voice of all people and all should have the right to protest peacefully and with tolerance from those in charge. And yet, in 2020, it would seem the British Government and the British Police do not want those that speak out against the "Plandemic" to protest. Those who speak out against it will be censored and will be financially punished. You may disagree with those protesting but do you really want to live in a world where being a dissident to the MSM and the Government will get you arrested and fined? But then again maybe you don't care as you side with BLM and for them, the Metropolitan Police will bend a knee and allow them to destroy monuments and buildings all in the name of Cultural Marxism. Is this tiered Policing or are they just that lazy they can't even be bothered to hide their agenda anymore? I attended the Anti-Lockdown / Anti-Plandemic Protest David Icke gave a speech at and sadly as my camera died I witnessed Piers Corbyn being snatched by Policemen and arrested before later being fined £10,000. I think our government and our police force who have plenty of real crimes to be policing are behaving rather sinisterly as of late and those who are indifferent to it all need to wake up. Censorship and Intimidation wouldn't happen if they didn't have something sinister to hide. It turns out this video has been shadowbanned by the YouTube Gods. The Moderators at YouTube have flagged this video making sure it won't appear in any recommended lists. What is it about this topic that has turned Silicon Valley into Communist China with its censorship?

  • I wonder if this is Englands greatest coastal walk...

    Time allows you to wonder about life and the universe and yet sadly the time we have, is never enough. I recently found myself wondering if the Seven Sisters Cliffs could be Englands most magnificent coastal walk. Does one have the time to discover this wonder? Well, I recently discovered that The Seven Sisters Cliffs can be appreciated in less than a day and they make for the perfect day trip out of London. No wonder why so many people now go seeking them out in the 2020s. However, before we proceed some truths on what they are. The Seven Sisters are a series of chalk cliffs by the English Channel. They form part of the South Downs in East Sussex, between the towns of Seaford and Eastbourne in southern England. They are the remnants of dry valleys in the chalk South Downs, which are gradually being eroded by the sea. The Cliffs are white because the chalk was formed in the Late Cretaceous epoch, between 66 and 100 million years ago, when the area was under the sea. During the Cenozoic Era, the chalk was uplifted. When the last Ice Age ended, sea levels rose and the English Channel formed, cutting into the chalk to form the dramatic cliffs along the Sussex coast. To visit the Seven Sisters, I and many others who have taken in this natural wonder would advise simply taking the train from Central London to Eastbourne. Of course one could always drive there but why get stuck in traffic for hours upon hours? When, instead you could be in Eastbourne from Central London (Waterloo, Clapham Junction, East Croydon) in just over an hour. Those who understand how Britains rail networks work will know it always makes sense to plan your journeys in advance. If you use Tainline.com to book a ticket, days in advance. You will save a small fortune, over the price the rail operators will charge you if purchased on the day. Recently I found myself on the train to Eastbourne for the reason that I had never taken the time to explore this part of England. You can fly thousands of miles around the world and yet when a place is on your doorstep you may find you won't take the time to visit it. Thankfully I'm trying my best to see every wonder on this planet and that includes those to be found in the United Kingdom and especially England. I think because I have lived for most of my life in London I had no motivation to visit the Seven Sisters before. I ignorantly associated it with its namesake in Tottenham London a place more famous for Ikea and knife crime than natural landscapes. Thankfully I changed that sheltered perspective and now I urge all those who haven't visited this part of the world to take a moment and wonder if you should also. Perfect for a day off, weekend break or a random escape from the big smoke. A journey to Eastbourne, followed by a long walk to the medieval English seaside town of Seaford. Will, I can assure you, not disappoint - even the most cynical of England will fall for its charms upon making this tour. Of course, choose your day wisely. Pick a cold wet day and you may not see the glorious landscape that will engulf every step that you could take. Pick a sunny weekend and the place may be overrun by those who seek that same adventure just like you. You will all have one thing in common and yet all will be strangers to you. They will be the ones blurring the landscape as they glide past you in either direction - some will nod in old England ways as once did. While others will exploit only caring about their needs and no one others. As you leave manicured and quaint Eastbourne behind you and set forth in a westerly direction the South Downs will present themselves to you in their rolling fashion. Ascend up the sloping hills and discover the acres of pasture bought for the locals of Eastbourne by a very generous wealthy individual, when the people of England without a doubt were almost all English. As you rise through the pasture you will find yourself on Englands highest Cliff edge - that of Beachy Head. The cliff is the highest chalk sea cliff in all Britain, rising to 162 metres (531 ft) above sea level. The peak allows views of the south-east coast from Dungeness in the east to the Isle of Wight in the west. Its height has also made it one of the most common suicide spots in the world. And, yet any visitor in their right mind will witness this spot and I hope will only think how life is too wonderful to ever contemplate jumping. These chalk cliffs are in my mind even more exceptional than the famous White Cliffs of Dover east of there. And certainly more accessible. While the White Cliffs of Dover look mighty and glorious as you sail out to sea or into port as you return back from France. Walking along them pales in comparison to those in East Sussex. The Seven Sister that are found east of Beachy head all the way to Seaford and something really to behold. Wave action contributes towards the erosion of cliffs around Beachy Head, which experience frequent small rock falls. Since chalk forms in layers separated by contiguous bands of flints, the physical structure affects how the cliffs erode. Wave action undermines the lower cliffs, causing frequent slab failures - slabs from layers of chalk break off, undermining the upper parts of the cliffs, which eventually collapse. In contrast to small rock falls, mass movements are less common. A Geologist or an individual fascinated by Physical Geography of our planet will have a more monumental day than those who simply enjoy the scenery and a good walk in the fresh sea air. The signs of weathering, attrition, longshore drift, the power of Glaciers and plate tectonics can be seen for miles and all around you as you head west towards the seven sisters and its various peaks and troughs. I must say, it brought those Geography lessons flooding back to me, that I remember so fondly. Regular viewers to this channel will know no trip would not be complete without a YouTube video documenting the day's adventures. I would like to present to you: "Walking the Seven Sisters" If you are considering making a weekend out of it or simply think it wise to stay at least one night in the town of Eastbourne, Seaford or one of the many villages that dot the South Downs. There are a number of options to choose from to suit all budgets. Over the years, I've had the fortune to stay in an array of hotels, apartments and various forms of accommodation while travelling. For the majority of travellers, I recommend Booking.com - yes there are hotel comparison websites such as Trivago and Kayak. However, from my years of travel experience, I've discovered both of these comparison websites do not have all the hotels, hostels and apartments listed. The reasons behind this could be some premises simply do not pay the comparison sights a fee or the reason could be something else. If you know of the reason do leave a comment below. However, I have discovered no matter what the location Booking.com will 9/10ths of the time have the most competitive deal and generally the most choice. However, if you are super keen to get the best deal- use Booking.com, Kayak, Trivago, Lastminute.com and Hotels.com in separate browser windows. An alternative which I do recommend for your accommodation is Airbnb. The authorities still allow Airbnb in the UK (it hasn't been banned just yet). I've booked a number of apartments via Airbnb. If you have not used them before (you have probably been living under a rock). But if you use this referral link you will get many Dollars, Pounds or Euros off your first booking and I'll get a very small referral kickback. I'm an Airbnb host as well as a frequent Airbnb traveller. I love Airbnb because not only does it make travelling more affordable but it also allows you to stay off the beaten track. Staying with a local or in your own cottage is far more unique than staying in a generic hotel you could find anywhere in the world. Use the map below to search for the perfect Airbnb stay within walking distance of the Seven Sisters Coastal walk. I hope you have a great time at the Seven Sisters should you visit. I am not sponsored by the British Government or any Travel Group, I simply have written this post as I enjoy travelling. Please do check out this blog for more independent travel ideas and my YouTube Channel. If any of this information has been useful to you and you fancy buying me a Coffee please do click the link below to buy me a Coffee via Ko-Fi.com. Thank you - Alex van Terheyden AKA The Wondering Englishman

©2020 by Alex van Terheyden  AKA   The Wondering Englishman