Ipswich Martlesham – Friday 5th May 2023

We’d been in Suffolk for a family event, staying just over the border in a beautiful little town in Norfolk called Loddon.  We stayed a couple of nights and the weather was great so I did a couple of early-morning walks.  When we left, we made a diversion from the direct route home to visit a branch of Waterstones that has opened just outside Ipswich since we were last in the area. This new Waterstones is in a Next store in an out-of-town shopping centre.

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Due to the store being in a shopping centre rather than a town, there was nothing in the area to visit, and we were keen to get home, so I thought I’d share some pictures of Loddon instead!

Currently reading:  The Bullet that Missed by Richard Osman

Lichfield – Friday 14th April 2023

We were heading to Yorkshire for a family birthday celebration, so on the way we stopped in Lichfield, which is a cathedral city in Staffordshire, possibly most famous as being the birthplace of Samuel Johnson who was responsible for creating the first Dictionary of the English Language.  He lived in Breadmarket Street in the city for the first 27 years of his life, and house became the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum in 1901. It’s free (donations welcome!), and is well worth a visit.  The Waterstones is located opposite the museum in an attractive grade II listed building, built mid to late 18th century.

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Lichfield map

Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum

Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral, officially The Cathedral Church of St. Mary and St. Chad, is one of only three cathedrals in the UK to have three spires (the others are St Mary’s Edinburgh and Truro).  It’s beautiful inside and out.

Photos below – Top – Dr Samuel Johnson (he looks like he’s having a snooze!).  Bottom row from left to right – Dame Oliver’s Infant School, and plaque – Johnson attended here in 1714. St Chad, situated outside the cathedral.

Currently reading: Class of ’37 by Hester Barron & Claire Langhamer

Trowbridge – Friday 31st March 2023

Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire.  It has long been connected with textiles – as far back as the 14th Century the woollen trade was a prominent cottage industry, and the first mills appeared in the early 1800s.  The last to close was Salter’s Mill which shut its doors in 1982. The building was incorporated into a new shopping centre, The Shires, in which Trowbridge Museum is housed, as is the Waterstones.

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Trowbridge map

Trowbridge Town Hall

The town hall was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and was also the local Magistrates Court, Coroner’s Court and County Court.  I’d visited Trowbridge with a friend, and we popped in to look at the building, and one of the staff members gave us a tour of the cells below the building.  The ballroom upstairs was used for dances, and, in the 1960s, The Who performed there!  Outside the town hall is a plaque to Sir Isaac Pitman, who developed Pitman Shorthand, and who was born in the town.

Wording for the plaque on Trowbridge Town Hall above reads:


Trowbridge plaque By Phil Williams, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12582703

Currently reading:  The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams


Bristol Clifton – Sunday 26th March 2023

Clifton, sometimes styled as Clifton Village, is a suburb of the city and county of Bristol and is probably best known for its suspension bridge.  Clifton is one of our favourite parts of this wonderful city and we visit often.  Today we called in on our way home from having lunch out and walked across the bridge, calling in at the free visitor centre for the first time.

Afterwards we visited the Waterstones, which is located in a baroque-style building which was built as a private dwelling in the late 1800s.  The outside of the building is lovely.  Before Waterstones took it over, it was a branch of HSBC Bank.  Fortunately, a great deal of the interior remains untouched, although a lot of it is hidden by the bookshelves. 

Bristol Clifton map

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge has always been a toll bridge was designed by William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw, but based on an earlier design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It opened on 8 December 1864 and today carries about 10,000 vehicles a day! 

Clifton Village

Bournemouth – The Arcade – Saturday 25th March 2023

We visited Christchurch on the south coast to celebrate our Uncle John’s 90th birthday with a family meal, and afterwards popped to Bournemouth, which is the largest town in Dorset.  We didn’t have a great deal of time here as it was late when we left the restaurant, but we had time to visit the Waterstones which is located in a covered shopping arcade and set over three floors.  The design of the arcade was the brainchild of a local businessman called Henry Joy.  It was completed in 1866 – initially it was uncovered, but a glass roof was added in 1873.    

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Bournemouth Arcade map

The Aviary

The aviary is located in the Lower Gardens and home to various tropical birds including golden pheasants, parakeets and love birds.  There has been an aviary on this site since the 1930s. The current one opened in 2022 and replaced one from the 1980s.

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Currently reading:  Sycamore Gap (DCI Ryan #2) by LJ Ross

Torquay – Sunday 5th March 2023

Torquay is a popular seaside town on the south coast of Devon, colloquially known as the English Riviera.  The town is currently undergoing quite a lot of regeneration.  The author Agatha Christie was born in the town in 1890 and lived there until 1914 when she got married.  The town is rightly proud of Christie, and there is a statue commemorating her close to the harbour.  Torquay is also known as being the location of the 70s sitcom <i>Fawlty Towers</i> starring John Cleese, his then wife Connie Booth, and Andrew Sachs.  I thought it would be fun to find the hotel used for filming, but sadly it was demolished, and a retirement living complex built in its place.  It’s called Sachs Lodge, and has a blue plaque to mark the show.  The Waterstones in Torquay is in the main shopping area in a modern building.

Torquay map

The Pavilion Theatre

The theatre opened in 1912 and hosted numerous plays and concerts before closing its doors in 1973 when it was proposed the building be demolished.  It was given listed status and continued with new owners in 1976, until it closed again in 2013.   Art Nouveau in style, it is due to be renovated by the council, with an aim to reopening it to the public for events in the future.  There is, of course, a plaque to Agatha Christie on the front of the building!

London Bridge Arch

This is a natural limestone arch close to the South West Coastal Path.  We spotted it from the Beacon Quay so walked along the path to take a closer look.

Torquay Harbour

Currently reading:  What July Knew by Emily Kock

Bristol Cribbs Causeway – Wednesday 1st March 2023

Cribbs Causeway is an area of South Gloucestershire located to the north of the city of Bristol.  Its location makes it popular as it is close to two motorways and has plenty of parking.  There are lots of large shops in the area, as well as a cinema, bowling and an ice rink.  The Mall shopping centre, which opened in 1998, is also on the site, and the Waterstones is here on the ground floor.  It’s one of a few stores I’ve come across with a fish tank!

Bristol map

On the top floor of the Mall is a statue of two men (one of whom I think looks like Einstein!). I haven’t been able to find out any information about this, but according to openstreetmap.org, it’s called ‘The Architects’, and one of the men appears to be holding a sketchpad, so I imagine it’s to do with the architects who planned the shopping centre.    

Currently reading:  Ticket to the World by Martin Kemp and Hide and Seek by Andrea Mara

Swindon – Saturday 25th February 2023

In the early 1800s Swindon was still a small market town. The Great Western Railway Company’s ‘Swindon Railway Works’, which opened in 1843, saw enormous expansion within the town and, at the height of its production, the site employed 12,000 staff. Today, as a result of this, and although the industry is long gone, Swindon is now the largest town in Wiltshire.   The Waterstones is located in a new shop (having moved from the Brunel shopping centre in late 2022) in the middle of the town’s shopping area.

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Swindon map

Below, clockwise from top left.   1. Diana Dors statue.   Diana Dors (born Diana Fluck) – an actress and singer who was born in Swindon in 1931. She appeared in many theatre productions and films – one of which is one of my all-time favourite films, The Amazing Mr Blunden. 2. and 3. Isambard Kingdom Brunel statue. Brunel was the Chief Engineer for Great Western Railway – the Brunel shopping centre is named for him.  4. And 5.  Some of the houses in the Railway Village, built to house the workers at the GWR Works. 

Currently reading: Full Tilt by Dervla Murply.

Barnstaple – Saturday 4th February 2023

Barnstaple is a town in North Devon on the mouth of the river Taw.  It’s a market town, but the Pannier Market, which opened in 1856, is currently being refurbished, so is closed at the moment, which is a shame as it looks like an attractive building from pictures I’ve seen of it online.  The Waterstones is located in the High Street in the heart of the town.

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Barnstaple map


Clockwise from top left:  Smurfs!  They were doing some kind of escape room.  The Albert Clock (1862), Salem Almshouses, Penrose Almshouses

After leaving Barnstaple we headed north to Ilfracombe on the coast to visit two statues. 

The first is of a teenage girl called Ekaterine Frolov who tragically fell to her death in fog whilst studying in England in the year 2000.  Although sad, I think the statue, which stands on the top of a hill surrounded by great views, is a beautiful tribute to her and has an Art Deco feel. 

The second is by artist Damien Hirst (possibly best known for his artworks preserving dead animals in Formaldehyde!) – she’s called Verity and stands some 20 metres high! She is an allegory for truth and justice, and stands in the harbour overlooking the sea.  Installed in Ilfracombe in 2012, she is on loan to the town for 20 years.  Love her or hate her, she’s certainly striking!

Currently reading Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain by Jeremy Paxman

London Broadgate – Saturday 10th December 2022

Saturday of our trip away saw us heading back into London as we were meeting friends for a meal in the evening.  We met them near Liverpool Street Station, and Waterstones Broadgate is situated nearby (there’s a Waterstones on the station concourse too, but that one doesn’t open at weekends). It’s located in a modern shopping centre called 100 Liverpool Street.  It opened in 2022.

London Liverpool Street map

Below is an image of the sculpture Kindertransport – The Arrival by Frank Meisler which stands outside Liverpool Street Station.  It commemorates the 10,000 Jewish orphans who arrived at Liverpool Street Station between 1938 and 1939, having fled the Nazis. 

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Our first stop of the day was to the Museum of the Home in Shoreditch.  The building was formerly almshouses, built for widows of ironmongers by Sir Robert Geffrye, a merchant who made significant wealth from the slave trade.  The museum was originally called the Geffrye Museum, but his name was dropped in 2021.  The photo top left below is of a painting by J H Lynch and the subject is ‘Tina’.  My parents had a copy of this on the wall of their dining room for many years!

After leaving the museum we walked to Arnold Circus in Bethnal Green.  This park sits at the centre of the Boundary Estate, one of the first social housing estates which was built on the site of one of London’s most notorious slums, known as the Old Nichol Rookery.

Our final visit before meeting our friends was to have a quick walk around the City.  Below, clockwise from top left are [1] The Lloyd’s Building, [2] The ‘Gherkin’, with St Andrew Undershaft church in the foreground and [3 & 4] two entrances to Leadenhall Market.

The photograph of the rear of the Museum of the Home above is copyright Cmglee and used with permission under the creative commons license.