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Albert Dock is Liverpool's famous Victorian dock area, originally built of iron, stone and brick, now fully restored and claiming to be the largest group of Grade I listed buildings in the country. The complex includes car parking, hotels, shops, restaurants and several museums, including: Slavery Museum; Maritime Museum; Beatles Story; and Tate Liverpool. Albert Dock is about a 20-30 minute walk from Lime Street station and handy for the lively Cavern Quarter.
Borough Market claims to be the oldest in London, established in 1014. It has certainly grown in the 21st century to become a riot of colour, noise and produce. It is an astonishing place, mainly selling an enormous range of fresh food - fruit, vegetables, fish, cheese, nuts - as well as speciality chocolate and drinks. At its fringes are a host of streetfood outlets, serving dishes from all over the world.
And all in the shadow of London Bridge's railway arches and Southwark Cathedral.
Bunners describes itself as a traditional ironmonger, which it is; but it is so much more too. In addition to the things you would expect, such as tools, brackets, hinges, paint and brushes, it sells toys, kitchenware and gifts. It sells stoves and garden equipment. Even fuel. It has an enormous range. Established in 1892, Bunners is still a family business and, inside, it is a little like stepping back in time. There is a traditional shop counter with friendly, helpful, staff who know their stock. You can still buy a single screw, rather than a pack of 10 or more. Beyond the counter, the place is something of a rabbit warren and, frankly, worth exploring for the experience and education.
London's famous fruit and vegetable market relocated to Nine Elms in 1974. The district, which had been congested and run-down, has been redeveloped and now offers a range of facilities - two extensive areas of market stalls, selling artwork, hand-made jewellery, unique gifts; plus a range of high-end shops, pubs, bars and restaurants. Covent Garden is also famous for its street performers and includes the Royal Opera House, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and the London Transport Museum. In the Middle Ages, it was the garden for Westminster Abbey, developed into a fashionable Italian-style square in the 17th century - and then became a place of ill-repute!
The flint ruins of the crossing arch from Creake Abbey’s church are pretty much all that remains of a medieval Augustinian house. And it’s a sad tale. The abbey probably began as a small chapel founded in 1206 by Sir Robert and Lady Alice de Nerford. In 1217, they established a hospital of St Bartholomew there, which developed into a priory dedicated to the rule of St Augustine. A devastating fire in about 1484 left the place much reduced. Then, early in the 16th century, the plague struck; one by one, the canons died until only the abbot remained. When he too died, alone on 12 December 1506, the abbey closed. The cloister and monastic buildings became a private house and the south wall of the old nave is now the garden wall.
Under separate management, Creake Abbey is also home to a small retail complex, with a café, food hall and farmers’ market.
Dalwhinnie Distillery is located within the Cairngorm National Park and said to be the highest distillery in Scotland. The name 'Dalwhinnie' is derived from the Gaelic for 'meeting place', where cattle drovers would gather in days gone by. Dalwhinnie's 15-year old single malt is allegedly known for its gentle flavours accentuated with notes of heather honey, citrus, vanilla and sweet malt. You can sample this at a tasting, or at the end of a tour to see how it is made, accompanied by a handmade chocolate. Dalwhinnie Distillery tours are renowned for the friendliness and expertise of the guides. It is always advisable to book before making a special trip.
Dalwhinnie is part of the massive Diageo group, whose other whisky brands include Cragganmore, Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Oban and Talisker. According to Wikipedia, Dalwhinnie village is one of the coldest inhabited places in Britain; bear that in mind if you decide to visit in winter.
Part of Cambridge's student life since 1920 (and now on the tourist trail), Fitzbillies is a quality bakery and café, particularly famous for its Chelsea buns. When it became known that it was heading for bankruptcy in 2011, it was saved by Alison Wright when she saw a tweet by Stephen Fry, which said: “No! No! Say it ain’t so - not Fitzbillies? Why I tweeted a pic of one of their peerless Chelsea buns but a sixmonth ago”.
Fortnum and Mason is a luxury department store founded in 1707 by William Fortnum and Hugh Mason. Fortnum was a footman in Queen Anne's household and the business was allegedly established on the profits he made from selling partially used royal candles. "Fortnum's" began life as a quality grocery store and, though it has expanded, it is still primarily known for its fabulous speciality foods and luxury hampers.
They say whisky was distilled at Morangie Farm since at least 1703. Glenmorangie's best selling malts, include The Original and the rich Quinta Ruban, are matured in white oak casks from Missouri and used to mature bourbon for 4 years before being shipped to Scotland. Glenmorangie is famous for its products allegedly being 'Perfected by the Sixteen Men of Tain' and its logo is based on a design from Pictish stone, the Hilton of Cadboll Stone, discovered nearby on the Tarbet Peninsula, Easter Ross. Various tours of the distillery are available and it is always advisable to book.
Why is the small Scottish village of Gretna Green famous for marriages? In 1753, Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act declared that all marriage ceremonies in England and Wales had to be conducted by a minister in a parish church or chapel of the Church of England and that anyone under the age of 21 needed the consent of parents or guardians. Clergymen who disobeyed the law were liable for 14 years transportation. Jews and Quakers were exempt, but the law required religious non-conformists and Catholics to be married in Anglican churches.
In Scotland, the law was different. Anyone over the age of 15 could marry provided the couple were not closely related and neither was in a relationship with anyone else. The marriage contract could be made wherever they liked, in private or in public. Gretna, just across the border from England, became a popular destination for eloping couples and the ceremony could be conducted by a blacksmith – a person of standing in the community.
The famous Blacksmiths’ Shop in Gretna was built in 1713 and is perfectly situated at the junction of five old coaching roads. The local blacksmith, the ‘Blacksmith Priest’, would conduct the marriage ceremony over his anvil, with his wife and locals standing as witnesses. The anvil would be struck with a hammer as part of the wedding ceremony, forging the lives of the two lovers together in an unbreakable bond.
The Marriage Act of 1836 allowed non-conformists and Catholics to be married in their own places of worship in England and Wales and made non-religious civil marriages possible. The minimum age for marriage was raised to 16 in 1929. The age for parental consent was lowered to 18 in 1970.
Even so, Gretna Green is still a favourite place to get married and the Blacksmiths Shop is one of the most famous venues. It includes shops, a café, shops and there is free parking. Other wedding venues are available.
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