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Adventures & Learning Articles Travel

Laurissilva Forest Trail Ride, Madeira

Por favor, volte (please, come back).
Por favor, volte (please, come back).

Look­ing for a bit of “horse heav­en”, I con­vinced Stephen he would love a group ride in the woods. After a quick check on Tri­pAd­vi­sor, we dis­cov­ered to our sur­prise that Madeira’s Num­ber One attrac­tion fea­tured hors­es! With a call to Quin­ta do Ria­cho, I com­mit­ted. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the image of Tex, an enor­mous ani­mal with a mind of his own (Stephen’s last equine “expe­ri­ence” on a rocky Ore­gon beach), popped into my head. Could we make this work? Des­per­ate to jump into the sad­dle, I man­aged to cajole him into action.

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Adventures & Learning Articles Travel

Madeira East Road Trip


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Fea­tures: beg­ging man, grow­ing crops, walk­ing mourn­ers, bear-snatch­ing tot, whirling fog.

We wait­ed for the car agent at the des­ig­nat­ed spot for an hour (due to a mix up) before we even­tu­al­ly drove off in a wee, dirt-brown Nis­san Micra. We’d asked for a mod­el with good tires, but in the end con­sid­ered our­selves lucky to get any vehi­cle, albeit with 89,000 kilo­me­ters (or 55,302 miles) on its hooves. We divid­ed the work from the start: Stephen would dri­ve as he enjoys the famil­iar British chal­lenge of nar­row, curvy roads while I simul­ta­ne­ous­ly would pho­to­graph every­thing that moved, along with every­thing that didn’t.

Once we came to a halt, all bets were off, and the best wo/man cap­tured the Nikon cam­era, while the run­ner-up used his/her iPhone. Ulti­mate­ly, on our East jour­ney we snapped rough­ly 150 pho­tos to com­pile enough raw mate­ri­als to cre­ate this post. 

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Articles Travel

Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey
Buck­land Abbey

Buck­land Abbey, near Yelver­ton, Devon, rep­re­sents a British nation­al trea­sure, impres­sive by any stan­dards. Upon our first view of the estate, we entered one of the biggest, old­est stone build­ings I’ve ever seen in my life. The grand, wide entrance doors alone dom­i­nat­ed the entire hill­side and instant­ly cap­tured my imag­i­na­tion and inter­est in its ori­gins. Once inside, I mar­veled at the cat­a­pult­ed ceil­ing, stur­dy wood­en beams, and sol­id walls — in place for hun­dreds of years. Snoop­ing around, I felt sad that none of the fur­ni­ture from its incred­i­ble past had sur­vived. Walk­ing light­ly in sacred silence, we stum­bled upon a huge wood­en sign on legs and read the text out loud: “THE GREAT BARN

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Articles Travel

Castle Drogo

Granite stone with impressive door at Castle Drogo
Gran­ite stone with impres­sive door

What con­tains 2355 sol­id gran­ite blocks and leaks like a sieve?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the last cas­tle built in Eng­land claims that hon­or.

Yes, Cas­tle Dro­go leaks pro­fuse­ly and water will ruin the prop­er­ty with­out imme­di­ate action. For­tu­nate­ly, the Nation­al Trust, own­er since 1974, has come to the res­cue and the building’s inte­ri­or now faces a bone-dry future, but will wait five years for the priv­i­lege. In the mean­time, scaf­fold­ing around the struc­ture sup­ports the (hope­ful­ly) brave and patient work­men who will care­ful­ly remove and return 680 tons of stone from (and back to) the Cas­tle roof — a Grand Design Ground­hog Day, to be sure.

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Adventures & Learning Articles

Miniature Pony Centre

A good mane day, Mom!
A good mane day, Mom!

Locat­ed inside Dart­moor Nation­al Park, near More­ton­hamp­stead in Devon, the Cen­tre hous­es minia­ture and Shet­land ponies along with hors­es, minia­ture Mediter­ranean don­keys, and an array of oth­er farm ani­mals (includ­ing a hefty Kunekune pig). Start­ed by the Den­nis fam­i­ly in 1986, the farm now trades under the own­er­ship of the Hutch­ings fam­i­ly, includ­ing four daugh­ters — no sur­prise they want to car­ry on the fam­i­ly tra­di­tion.

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Adventures & Learning Articles Travel

Lanhydrock House

Lanhydrock House & Chapel
Lan­hy­drock House & Chapel

On 1000 acres near Bod­min, Eng­land sits a 17th cen­tu­ry house, ful­ly refur­bished after a fire in 1881 and dec­o­rat­ed in high-Vic­to­ri­an fash­ion. Home to the Agar-Robartes fam­i­ly for 300 years, the home boasts 50 rooms includ­ing the authen­tic kitchen facil­i­ties that look as if the ser­vants just walked out for a breath of air.

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Adventures & Learning Articles Food

Pencarrow House

My Lady, could I interest you in a cup of tea?
My Lady, could I inter­est you in a cup of tea?

Vot­ed loca­tion of Best Ani­mal Con­ver­sa­tions, this his­toric tran­quil 50-acre estate still sur­vives near Bod­min in Corn­wall. The pri­vate home remains in the pos­ses­sion of the Molesworth-St. Aubyn fam­i­ly and fea­tures a Geor­gian house – an archi­tec­tur­al style from 1720 to 1840, named for the first four British mon­archs (Georges I, II, III, and IV) – along with a 17th cen­tu­ry café, lake & ice­house, Ital­ian & Amer­i­can gar­dens, wood­land, and pas­tures. And as ref­er­enced above, the estate hosts some of the most artic­u­late domes­ti­cat­ed crea­tures in Britain.

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Charlestown Harbour

Charlestown Harbour with Tall Ship in port
Charlestown Har­bour with Tall Ship in port

In 1790, nine fish­er­men and their fam­i­lies first estab­lished this beau­ti­ful bay in Corn­wall, Eng­land near the town of St. Austell. Today we hiked down to the har­bour on a well-trod­den dirt path along­side hap­pi­ly graz­ing sheep, ripen­ing black berries, and the silent pres­ence of seag­ulls rid­ing the ther­mals. The famil­iar smell of fresh-mown grass per­me­at­ed the air. A warm, Mediter­ranean-like breeze accom­pa­nied our jour­ney — tru­ly a breath­tak­ing and peace­ful sojourn.

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Adventures & Learning Articles Travel

Minack Theatre

The route down to the stage, flowers every step of the way
Route down to the stage, flow­ers every step of the way

With­out ques­tion one of the most thrilling expe­ri­ences ever: to observe qui­et­ly the unpar­al­leled beau­ty of the Cor­nish coast­line while relax­ing in a majes­tic (vir­tu­al­ly hand­made) out­door the­ater set­ting. With the first per­for­mance (of Shakespeare’s The Tem­pest) in 1932, the stage con­tin­ues to offer enter­tain­ment to the pub­lic who sit on grass-cov­ered stone ter­race seats. Some 80,000 peo­ple a year see a show from May to Sep­tem­ber, envi­sion­ing the ornate columns of Antho­ny & Cleopa­tra to the mun­dane farm­yard of Babe, the Sheep-Pig.

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Adventures & Learning Articles

Godolphin Estate

Beauty through the branches
Beau­ty through the branch­es

Locat­ed near Hel­ston, Eng­land in the coun­ty of Corn­wall, Godol­phin holds one of the area’s pre­vi­ous­ly most pro­duc­tive tin mines with a 400-year his­to­ry – and now clas­si­fied as one of Cornwall’s Min­ing World Her­itage sites. The grounds include 550 acres of land, an his­toric house with ancient for­mal gar­dens (both from the 16th cen­tu­ry), and sta­bles (from the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry). The fam­i­ly pio­neered the use of gun­pow­der to open up the rich mines in the 1690’s.