A February Visit to Bodiam Castle

A View Over the Water | Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

We decided to visit Bodiam Castle on a bright February morning. I had incorrectly thought the castle is in Kent and could not figure out why it took us so long to drive there. Turns out Bodiam is in East Sussex and closer to Hastings than Dartford, so that explains it. I love castles, so much so that I have a dedicated label on this blog especially for all my castle-hopping adventures. I prefer ruined castles slightly over intact castles and Bodiam is a very fine example of a moated-castle ruin.

Bodiam Keep and Castle Wall | Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Bodiam Castle was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge. England was in the midst of the 100 Year War and Sir Edward built the castle (with the permission of Richard II) with the aim of protecting the area of East Sussex from a possible French invasion.

The bailey at Bodiam Castle | Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Unlike many castles in Britain, Bodiam was both completed and inhabited. It is reported that the Dalyngrigge lived in the castle for several generations before the male heir line died out and the castle passed by marriage to the Lewknor family.

Looking down at the pool at the base of the keep | Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

By 1483, almost a century after the castle was built, Richard III of the House of York became king. Sir Thomas Lewknor had supported the House of Lancaster in the War of the Roses and so a force was sent to Bodiam and the castle surrendered. The castle was confiscated and only returned to the Lewknors when Henry VII of the House of Lancaster became king in 1485.

Bodiam Castle in the Sunshine | Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

The Lewknor family owned the castle until the 16th century and by the start of the English Civil War, was in possession of Lord Thanet, a descendant of the Lewknors. Lord Thanet was a keen Royalist and he was forced to sell the castle to pay for fines brought against him following the Parliamentarian victory.

Looking up at the keep | Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Bodiam Castle was purchased but dismantled and left to fall into ruin. It is only through the work of John Fuller (who bought the castle in 1829), George Cubitt and Lord Curzon that vital restoration work was carried out on the castle to deliver the ruin we know today. Lord Curzon left Bodiam Castle to The National Trust on his death in 1925 and the ruin has been open to the public since.

Looking over the Bailey to the Barbican | Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Bodiam Castle is unusual in that there was no keep built in the castle. Instead the castle was built in a simple quadrangle with chambers situated along the outer defensive walls and inner courts. A circular drum tower is located at each of the four corners of the castle and square central towers are located in the middle of three of four sides.

Looking up at Bodiam Castle Walls to the Sky | Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

All of the towers are topped by defensive crenellations which highlight the castle’s defensive intent.

Looking through an arrow loop at Bodiam Castle | Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

There are arrow loops in the walls and towers of the castle and impressive views of the surrounding countryside. The well in the castle has been preserved and possibly provided water for the castle inhabitants. They certainly weren’t using the moat as a water source for it is believed that is where waste water from the castle was diverted!

Sculpture of a king | Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

We were very lucky because the dark clouds that covered the sky for much of our visit did not break. It was also slightly warm in the sunshine but colder in the shade. By the time we exited to the castle to admire the sculptures, the sky was blue and the promise of spring was near!

Bodiam Castle
Bodiam, near Robertsbridge
East Sussex
TN32 5UA

Prices vary from £10 per adult and £5 per child off-peak. Click the link above for details.


I was chatting with my Mum the other day and she complained that I don't post often enough here. I've always been a bit shy of posting too often. What do you think? Should I post more often here?

A Journey on Bergen's Fløibanen Funicular

Entrance to Floibanen Bergen Funicular

I know you shouldn't pick favourites, but if I had to choose my favourite day in Bergen, it would be the second day when we journeyed to the top of mount Fløyen on the Fløibanen funicular.

I'm sure many of you know, but a funicular is a railway that usually travels up (and down) a mountain and which historically travels along a rope. The word funicular derives from the Latin word for rope or cord, being funis.

Panoramic view of Port of Bergen from Mount Fløyen | Floibanen Bergen Funicular

In many funiculars, the ascending and descending cars were counterbalanced but this is not necessarily a defining feature of funiculars.

It was a cold and snowy day on our visit to Mount Fløyen and it snowed while we were up there too.

View of Port of Bergen from Mount Fløyen | Floibanen Bergen Funicular

I'm not quite as fearful of heights as I used to be since I confronted my fear of heights in 2014 but I have to admit that I was very careful up at the summit. The views were absolutely dizzying and I held on very tight to the railings, while Stephen watched from a very safe distance.

Panoramic view of City and Port of Bergen from Mount Fløyen | Floibanen Bergen Funicular

I've taken funiculars in Folkestone, Prague, Hastings and Bergen. Bergen and Prague tie for their breathtaking qualities.

Signposts at the Summit of Mount Fløyen | Floibanen Bergen Funicular

I would love to visit again one day, especially in summer. There is a trail you can walk down from the mountains to the town. Given that it was snowing quite steadily while we were up there and the snow plough was in action, we decided against the walk on this occasion.

View of Port of Bergen from Mount Fløyen | Floibanen Bergen Funicular

But there are also mountain goats and trolls that you can meet on Fløyen, both of which seem more visible in summer.

The City of Bergen Viewed from Mount Fløyen | Floibanen Bergen Funicular

Still, our time on Fløyen was quite magical and has made me ever more determined to ride every funicular that I can. They are a lot of fun.

The City of Bergen Viewed from Mount Fløyen | Floibanen Bergen Funicular

The City of Bergen Viewed from Mount Fløyen | Floibanen Bergen Funicular

A Woman Walks Down a Path Holding a Red Umbrella | Floibanen Bergen Funicular

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Free High Five Graffiti | Floibanen Bergen Funicular

It was soon time to partake in our favourite Bergen pastime, namely getting a hot drink and watching the world pass us by. After that, it was on to our next adventure.

@mandyist Travel on Bergen's Fløibanen and experience the best views a funicular can offer Love @Visit Bergen #funicular #bergen #norway #travel #winterwonderland #scandinavia #traveltiktok #traveltok #norwaytiktok #norwaytravel #norway🇳🇴 #norwaytiktok🇳🇴 ♬ golden hour - piano version - main character melodies

Dazzled by the Canary Wharf Winter Lights

Looking inside a light installation | Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

We went up to Canary Wharf last Saturday night to see the famous Winter Lights Festival. It was such a fun night and we got to see most of the lights before the cold and sore legs sent us packing for the train home. We enjoyed a superb meal at the Ivy beforehand. They have an unbeatable deal at the moment offering two courses for £19.17.

In-Between by Daniel Popescu (Romania), Crossrail Place Roof Garden, West End

A blue cube of light at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

Crossrail Place

Trees lit up at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

Biophilia by Frankie Boyle (UK), Crossrail Place Roof Garden

Spirals of neon light at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

Vessels by Limbic Cinema (UK), Crossrail Place Roof Garden, East End

Triangles of light at Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

The Peace Poem by Emergency Exit Arts and Robert Montgomery (UK), Adams Plaza

The Peace Poem by Emergency Exit Arts and Robert Montgomery at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

Marbles by Gertjan Adema (Netherlands), Wren Landing

Marbles by Gertjan Adema at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

Cabot Square

A child dances in front of a cylindrical light at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

On the Wave of Light by Those Guys Lighting (Latvia), Riverside

On the Wave of Light by Those Guys Lighting at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

Neuron by Juan Fuentes (Spain), Riverside

Neuron by Juan Fuentes at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

A View of the City from Canary Wharf

A View of the City from Canary Wharf at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

Newfoundland Tower, Canary Wharf

Newfoundland Tower, Canary Wharf at Night

Sign by Vendel & De Wolf (Netherlands), Westferry Circus

Sign by Vendel & De Wolf at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2024

West India Avenue Leading Up to Westferry Circus

West India Avenue Leading Up to Westferry Circus

A Rare Meteorological Phenomenon in Bergen

"You may want to come to the terrace". I'd been sitting on a window seat in my hotel room in Bergen, enjoying the view over the snowy rooftops, when the message came through. We were taking a quiet moment after breakfast before exploring for the day. I was intrigued and rushed outside without a jacket to see what had intrigued Vanessa so.

Iridescent nacreous clouds visible above rooftops in Bergen in December. The clouds have a pearlescent or rainbow quality

I entered the terrace and didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Vanessa told me to turn around and so I did. And the sight before me took my breath away.

Iridescent nacreous clouds visible above rooftops in Bergen in December. The clouds have a pearlescent or rainbow quality

I have to admit, I genuinely thought we were seeing rare daylight aurora borealis until I realised that we were witnessing an even rarer meteorological phenomenon: nacreous clouds.

Iridescent nacreous clouds visible above rooftops in Bergen in December. The clouds have a pearlescent or rainbow quality

Nacreous clouds are polar stratospheric clouds which form only below -78C. According a tweet by BBC meteorologist Tomasz Schafernaker, "they can be extremely high – three times higher than an airplane at cruising altitude. Nacreous clouds are in indicator of especially cold air high in the atmosphere"

Iridescent nacreous clouds visible above rooftops in Bergen in December. The clouds have a pearlescent or rainbow quality

As you'd expect from clouds, they were constantly on the move, changing shape and blowing apart. The photos in this post were taken just 7 minutes apart.

Iridescent nacreous clouds visible above rooftops in Bergen in December. The clouds have a pearlescent or rainbow quality

I'm very pleased to have seen something interesting, from a meteorological perspective. It wasn't quite the Northern Lights but it was more successful than our trip to Iceland to see the Midnight Sun and seeing only grey midnight cloud cover instead. That, of course, is a story for another day.

A Winter Break in Bergen, Norway

A view of the colourful Bryggen from across Bergen Harbour | Bergen, Norway

We spent three days in Bergen just before Christmas and it was glorious. Before this trip, I held a somewhat irrational fear of visiting cold places at cold times. Now that I've seen the magical winter wonderland of Bergen, I'm contemplating ski trips in France and more visits to Scandinavian countries in winter. I barely recognise myself.

A Walkable City

A view of distinctive four-storey shops in Bergen's shopping precinct with a snowy forest in the background | Bergen, Norway

Bergen is a very walkable city. We caught a tram from the airport to Kaigaten and then walked the short way to our hotel. We bought a weekly travel pass for less than £20 but we honestly didn't need it. You'll want to walk everywhere in Bergen.

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As many of you know, I often travel with my disabled mum and see cities through a lens of accessibility, even when I travel without her. With its wide, flat walkways, much of Bergen is accessible for people with mobility issues. The areas around the shopping precinct and harbour are most accessible while the hilly residential areas would be less so in very snowy conditions.

View of Port of Bergen from between houses | Bergen, Norway

Rooftops | Bergen, Norway

I would recommend our hotel Comfort Bergen for allowing easy, accessible access to most of the places we visited during our stay.

Bryggen

A view of the colourful Bryggen from across Bergen Harbour at Dusk | Bergen, Norway

Bryggen is the most recognisable place in Bergen with its iconic, colourful buildings. I'm planning a dedicated, up close post on Bryggen but for now want to demonstrate how short the days are in Bergen in winter. The photo above was taken at dusk at 4.19pm...

A view of the colourful Bryggen from across Bergen Harbour at dawn | Bergen, Norway

... and this one was taken at 9.39am. It was still dark when we'd left our hotel minutes before.

Food and Drink in Bergen

A hog dog held in front of the famous Trekroneren | Bergen, Norway

No visit to Bergen would be complete without sampling the famous Trekroneren hot dogs. The hot dogs are absolutely delicious. I went for my favourite, bratwurst, while others in my party sample the reindeer.

We had two spectacular meals in Bergen. The first was at Fjellskål where we had seafood soup and octopus to start, and sugar-coated cod and traditionally cured herring for main course. We also went to Pingvinen where I sampled Lapskaus, a traditional Bergen lamb stew.

| Bergen, Norway

It was very cold in Bergen and we were thankful for our winter coats and thermal leggings. We were also thankful for the many warm coffee shops with delicious pastries.

The Big Wheel at Bergen Christmas Market | Bergen, Norway

We also discovered mulled rum at the Bergen Christmas Market and it became my favourite thing ever, more adored even than Baileys Hot Chocolate.

The Port of Bergen

Seamen WWI memorial | Bergen, Norway

This World War I memorial to local sailors reads "Fordum til sjömandens jammer og död, nu til hans velfaerd, tryghed og bröd" which translates as "Formerly for the sailor's lamentation and death, now for his welfare, security and bread". Despite my clumsy translation, I found this memorial to be quite moving.

| Bergen, Norway

Bergen is so full of history, with a rich Hanseatic heritage. The port of Bergen has held strategic importance since the city was founded in 1070.

Of more interest to classical music fans, Bergen was home to Edvard Grieg, composer of the Peer Gynt suite which is my favourite classical album.

Nighttime In Bergen

Bergen's National Theatre, lit up at night | Bergen, Norway

Bergen was magical at night and oh, so quiet. Perhaps it was the time of year? With two days to go before Christmas, people may have been at home with their families.

Olivia Ole Bulls Plass on a Dark Winter Night | Bergen, Norway

Or perhaps it was the quiet that descends on a city after hours of falling snow?

We enjoyed a marvellous three days in Bergen and would love to return in summer time and see the fjords. Check back over the next couple of weeks to see an astonishing meteorological phenomenon, a world heritage site, and my favourite day out in Bergen.