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CastleUK Blog 2013

Castle UK Blog March 2013 PageThis is the place where I record and then archive my monthly updates and what's new in our hunt for castles UK.

In Vespa March it all kicked up, we were going on holiday to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt on the 9th, so common sense told me to wait until we got back to pick up my scooter. Trouble was one of the lads at work picked his PX Vespa up on the 2nd and for a bit of fun I went to the shop to ride back with him. Mine was on order from Italy and I didn't think it would be in the shop but it was and they were busy fitting the chrome bars. Oh dear, I want it, I need it now, when can I have it, was all I could say, so that was it, on the 6th of March I swapped my retro Lexmoto Valencia 125cc for the big orange beast, that's 278cc of Vespa.
We just needed to get away, to be the couple on our own (we were once called that and it fits) and to see a bit of sun, so we headed to the Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort. Mainly around the pool and down to sea, with a 24 hour bar, super food and wall to wall sunshine, it's so good were going back later in the year. Having done the pyramids twice, this time we went to Luxor, pick up time was 4am and because I could I ordered a beer, well I was on holiday.
First up was the Valley of the Kings, the ancient burial ground used by the Pharaohs and dignitaries from the 18th to the 20th dynasties, among the 63 royal tombs is the famous Tomb of Tutankhamun which was discovered virtually intact in November 1922 and to visit his tomb was extra but we didn't buy a ticket. I had watched TV programme's about the tombs but I didn't know what to expect, the pyramids are big and in your face but the Valley of the Kings is just a small valley. You get to enter three tombs that just go down and down, their construction and artwork using only oil lamps is unbelievable, you stand and wonder. Next up was all temple, the Colossi of Memnon, Hatshepsut, Karnak, Luxor and the Avenue of Sphinxes, it was a busy and a very hot day.
Amenhotep III 18th Dynasty built a mortuary temple in Thebes and it was guarded by two gigantic statues on the outer gates, all that remains now are the 75ft high, one thousand ton statues of Amenhotep III, though damaged by nature and ancient tourists, the Colossi of Memnon statues are still very impressive.
Hatshepsut was a rare female pharaoh and a 100 foot causeway with great views to the Nile, leads to the rebuilt Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, which consists of three terraced courtyards covered in sculptural relief's, some with surviving paint.
The temple of Karnak was known as Ipet-isut by the ancient Egyptians, it's a city of temples built over 2000 years, dedicated to the Theben triad of Amun, Mut and Khonsu, in its day it must have been awe inspiring and it still is. You are dwarfed by the massive columns in the hypostyle hall and there is still some paint surviving on the under side of the capitals, this temple overshadows many of the wonders of the modern world.
Luxor Temple has been in almost continuous use as a place of worship right up to the present day, it was completed by Tutankhamun and Horemheb and added to by Ramses II, towards the rear is a granite shrine dedicated to Alexander the Great, it's another great temple but it's late in the day and we're templed out.
The Avenue of Sphinxes was the site of ceremonial processions and originally connected the temples of Luxor and Karnak, although it is considerably more recent than either of those sites, dating to around 380 BC, it stretched some 1.5 miles and would once have had 1,350 sphinxes lining its sides. It's now 6pm and time to head back to the airport, the flight is not until 8pm and we get back to the hotel at 9:30pm, danger I'm in history overload, beer, food and bed needed, it's been one hell of a day.
The work on the website carries on, I'm busy adding new pictures and updating the information on old castle pages, the two this month are good examples. Crookston had been added before we'd visited it, something I try not to do now and the Cockle Park page and pictures were over 12 years old and looked awful. It's not the only bad page on the site, Aprils Newcastle Castle was another added before visited, plus English Heritage and the National Trust keep changing their opening times year on year but I get enjoyment from the website, so it's onward to the next castle hunt, down to Kent me thinks.

For more information, click on the pictures.

Ballinbreich Castle OS 59/NO 272-205 
Fife Scotland WallpaperBallinbreich Castle, OS 59/NO 272-205 Fife Scotland Wallpaper, is my April wallpaper and the picture was taken in January 2013, the view is looking north to the south shore of the River Tay.
The earliest buildings at Balinbreich Castle were 14th century but major reconstructions took place early in the 16th century and again 1572 (to which a dated stone above the entrance attests), when the buildings assumed their present form. They are now reduced to a mere shell but Ballinbreich is still a major courtyard castle but not on the site yet.
Crookston CastleCrookston Castle, OS 64/NS 525-627 Lanarkshire Scotland.
Is a late 12th century earth and timber ringwork fortress, founded by Robert Croc. Standing on the summit of a hill, in the early 15th century the Stewarts of Darnley, added a stone X-plan tower house in the banked and ditched ringwork. The site is owned by Historic Scotland and is freely accessible in daylight hours.
Good castle ruin that's got everything, it's easy to find and get to, the big stone tower is encased by great earthworks and you can get to the top plus it's all for free.
Cockle Park TowerCockle Park Tower, OS 81/NZ 201-911 Northumberland England.
Is probably an early 16th century stone L-plan tower house, founded by Sir William Ogle. Of three storeys and an attic, a stair-turret projects on the north-east side of the rectangular tower and the ground entrance in the re-entrant angle. This northern side retains a barrel vaulted ground floor, mural chambers, a machicolated parapet and corbelled-out circular bartizans on the angles. The site is part of the tenant farming unit of Newcastle University and is visible from the road, visits are by appointment only.
Great looking tower, restored in 2012 and removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.
 My VespaVespa GTS Supersport 300
This stylish orange GTS Supersport is available in the most powerful 300cc electronically injected engine. The Supersport edition takes all the style, handling and performance attributes of the GTS Super model whilst bringing extra touches of distinction and character to this top selling model, this one's all mine, chromed up and looking good.

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