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Walking Over Haddon in The Peak District

I confess I'm a fair weather walker, which means I often want to walk on our holidays, but whether we go is always dependent on the weather. I have a Goretex jacket but it's like a talisman. I own it, but I don't want to wear it and I hope vainly that just by having spent so much on it an schlepping it with me that it's going to ward off the rain! As you can see my travel planning involves a good deal of "magical thinking!" In California our cultural exuberance (paired with low standards) means we shamelessly call anything a "hike"  - as if we've scaled Everest in an afternoon. Here in England I'm not sure I even qualify as a "walker" because that denotes a level of seriousness I've failed at previously. Minimally it means you're wearing boots  and have an Ordnance Survey map (and possibly a compass) in your back pocket. I guess I'm more of stroller to be honest and I've blogged about my strolls all over the world; m…

A Palace, A Pousada and Medieval Monuments


Lisbon's quiet charm was such that we only made it out of the city on two brief jaunts, once to Sintra for a day trip and for a single weekend away visiting some great medieval monuments. There is so much to say about these sites. Batalha and Alcabaca are both well worth visiting and at the end of our weekend we made a quick stop at Mafra (above) to see the enormous royal palace  which was reminiscent of the endless rooms at Versailles.

I think Alcabaca (above) was my favorite  because give you a real sense of the religious lives of monks with their cloister, dormitory, kitchen and dining room.The church itself has a simple gothic elegance, with a very tall nave.
There are several wonderfully detailed tombs with dogs sitting faithfully at the feet of the deceased. I particularly liked this one.
It's a beautiful stone building and the double cloister is built directly onto the church.
The dining room above has a pulpit for sermons. 

This is the extraordinary kitchen where meals must have been prepared for hundreds. The scale is enormous and we've never seen a mediaeval kitchen like it.  You could roast several oxen under this chimney and there is an elaborate water system filling multiple sinks as well as huge marble tables for butchering or food preparation. 

The monks' dormitory has direct access to the nave which you can see at the end of the room in the photo below.  
The building went on and on and there are extensive areas and gardens that are not open to visitors, see below. Highly recommended and well worth visiting. I'll try to post some pictures of Batalha  and the pousada at Estremoz in another post.

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