by nycdeb on June 22nd, 2014 · 2 Comments ·
“Get Out & Explore,” Apartment Therapy said as part of their Guide to the Perfect Summer. As one of their prompts, they asked “What is Your City’s History?”
Well, there I had a dilemma of sorts. I could have done NYC (where I lived for decades) or Houston (where I grew up) or Banbury (where I live now). Upon reflection, I decided that New York City’s history had been done many times over and by far better folks than I. Houston’s history probably has too but as I recall its origins lie somewhere between a swamp and a land swindle, which while it SOUNDS good isn’t exactly edifying.
So – Banbury. And of the three, it is by far the oldest so I have lots of information I can play with. Being an American who a) travels extensively and b) lives in the UK, I am frequently in the position of being in places older than my entire home country. It entertains me as I “bop around Banbury.” Possibly I find these things more interesting than the locales as a result. After all, they live with it all the time.
Did I say old? You bet. I present the facts as I find them:
- Founded : Iron Age. In 2002, the remains of a British Iron Age settlement were found – including buildings dating back to 200 BC
- First settlers: If we mean a proper settlement – what we might consider approaching village or town status and not just a scattering of Iron Age circular dwellings – then the Saxons. 500 AD or so. The spelling as changed quite a few times since then (it was ‘Banesberie’ in Domesday) but the town’s name originates with the Saxons – ”Banna,” a 6th century Saxon chieftain and “burgh” which means settlement.
- Oldest Building: Well, apparently huge areas of town were wiped out in a fire in 1628 so only a handful would qualify I suppose. The Old Auctioneer pub (1570) describes itself as “the third oldest building in Banbury, having survived the great fire of 1628.” Guess I’ll have to find out about the other two.
- Oldest Building, Take Two: Take your pick, really. Ye Olde Reinedeer Inn says they are the oldest pub In Banbury and that parts of the building (largely post English Civil War) date back as far as the medieval period. The Globe Room at the Reindeer is a panelled room which is of “historical significance” from an English Civil War perspective. Cromwell used as a base of sorts while laying siege to Banbury Castle (the last of several on the spot of the same name) and several Royalist trials were held there. When the original paneling was removed in 1912 (for shipment to a museum – it was later returned), a double barrel pistol was found behind it and it had an inscription that read, “Presented to Dick Turpin at the White Bear Inn, Drury Land Feb 7, 1735″
- Oldest Building, Take Three and Four: St. John’s Priory School in Priory Road is reputed to be all that is left of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, founded early in the 13th century so that’s one contender for oldest building in Banbury. And if the markings on the Wine Shop are to be trusted (it says 1537), that’s another.
So my conclusion is that Banbury is full of Very Olde Things that predate New York and Houston by ages. It even had a castle – the not so imaginatively named Banbury Castle. Which survived (in one form or another) in place until Cromwell laid siege to it. Castle Quay shopping center now stands on on that spot.
Just an insight into life at TransAtlantic Towers – when I saw that Castle Quay sits on the site of Banbury Castle, I turned to Dungeekin and remarked that if I were Cromwell besieging said castle, I’m not sure putting my base for that a few doors down at the Reindeer Inn would be strategically sound. “Shouldn’t it be,” I suggested, “SLIGHTLY at a distance?” This led to a discussion of historical battle tactics – as it does. At least, it does here.
And yes, Banbury is the same Banbury from the English nursery rhyme “Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross”
Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a Fyne lady ride on a white horse.
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
She shall have music wherever she goes.
And that – as they say, is that. I shall definitely have to stop in again at some of these spots next time I venture into the town centre. These are just a few of the buildings that have caught my eye on piqued my interest but now I know a bit more about them, I may need to dig a bit deeper into some of the others pictured below.
- History of Banbury on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Banbury
- Banbury-Cross Website http://www.banbury-cross.co.uk/banhistory.htm
Tags: Banbury · Life in the UK
by nycdeb on June 21st, 2014 · No Comments ·
Lots happening, lots happening and that is – in part – why there has been a delay since my last post. More details to come on all that but in the meantime, I went to Scotland on a road trip and look what I found!
Hilarious! Not in Scotland (we hadn’t gotten there at that point in the trip) but on the way up via Scarborough. Also on the way up, I found a bookstore that had me homesick for The Strand (though I admit, this one had a lovely cafe as well and the space was spectacular. It’s called Barter Books in Alnwick and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I’ll be posting some more details on the roadtrip soon but I just HAD to share these two finds.
Tags: And beyond · books · Life in the UK
by nycdeb on January 29th, 2014 · No Comments ·
Perhaps you’ve noticed – there’s WEATHER happening. Lots of it. Quite a lot of it is the kind that can mess up flight schedules and none of it the kind of weather you really want to go out into. This means some considerable down time indoors at home. Which is great. For a while. But if you’re like me, cabin fever can start setting in after a few days and the weather doesn’t seem to care. The (insert either rain | snow | polar vortex ) continues. But never fear, I’ve got another great round up of links designed to help you make a virtual visit to the Big Apple.
This time around it’s museums. I know we’ve touched on museums before (see below) but that was some time ago and since then, quite of few of the greatest Gotham museums have made excellent use of Pinterest and that’s what I’ve got for you today. You can really explore so much – all without putting on 10 layers of clothes and risking frozen / soggy limbs.
But it’s not only New York City Museums making a splash on Pinterest. No, museums all over the world and specializing in an incredible number of fields have got boards worth browsing. Check out some of the ones I’ve listed below – or hop on over to Pinterest and peruse the search results for “museums”
- Don’t we all feel better that we live in a world that HAS a Button Art Museum?
- San Diego Air and Space Museum – which frankly I’d never heard of. This might be because I grew up in Houston and all we heard about was the Johnson Space Center (which was fab).
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – just one of the many museums that make up the Smithsonian as a whole
- J. Paul Getty Museum – which I confess I visited one and found less than thrilling. The Pinterest boards however are really compelling. Maybe it’s just because I’m not being blinded by white stone everytime I turn around. Or – maybe it’s because the collection is organized better on this platform than in person. Just my personal opinion. Your mileage may vary. Lots of people love the Getty.
- Indianapolis Museum of Art
- Cars are not necessarily my thing (what I don’t know about engines, horsepower, torque etc could fill VOLUMES) but I know what I like and it’s usually based on comfort and style – the latter on magnificent display on the Pinterest boards of the Mercedes-Benz Museum
- I could (and probably should) do an entire round up of the media channels for the Smithsonian Museum as a whole. The breadth and scale of it is amazing – 19 separate museums, some with multiple locations. This main Smithsonian Pinterest account highlights specific events, collections and exhibits across the Institute. One of my favorite specific ones is the Pinterest boards from the Archives of American Art section.
Tags: (web)site seeing · museums · sight seeing
by nycdeb on January 20th, 2014 · No Comments ·
Well, it has happened. Dungeekin has purchased a spice grinder. He had talked of doing so for some time, looking at various manual and electric versions. We even seriously considered buying a vintage one we saw at Brackley Antique Cellar but determined that parts of it would never be able to be cleaned properly due to age and delicacy and it was best left as a decorative item.
Brackley is one of my favorite places to go on a lazy weekend – I always used to go wander the Manhattan flea markets (and Brooklyn on days I felt like getting up earlier) but the boot sales here aren’t quite the same. A much higher percentage of what is referred to here as “tat” at the boot sales. Antique Fairs are more the thing but the prices are ABSURD. Even at the NYC flea markets you could find a bargain or two. Anyway – Brackley is one of those large spaces with various dealers taking space within in. Wide range of stuff and an equally wide price range. When Spring comes and the herb garden gets re-established for the warmer weather, I’m going to Brackely to grab some crates and wire mesh stuff. I made quite a respectable start on the herbs last year. I have PLANS for this year.
This visit the garden stuff would wait because this time I found an awesome cast iron pig – a smaller, darker colored version of one I already had and dirt cheap. Isn’t he ADORABLE?
So – anyway. Spice Grinders. We went back to the idea of a new one and as we were headed over to PuddingFace Coach and Horses for lunch (our new favorite home town place), we stopped by our local cookware shop, Abraxas – Banbury. We love browsing in Abraxas and very often end up finding something we need or want even if we didn’t know it. We’re not gadget hounds or anything – the size of the kitchen is good but doesn’t give us room for whirly-gigs that we don’t REALLY need. But the shop is chock full of the useful as well as the aspirational (not to mention knowledgeable and helpful staff) so we end up doing our part of the local economy
This time was no exception – they didn’t have a huge range of grinders but as we looked at the one we thought would suit us the best, we chatted with one of the staff who we’ve chatted with before – another American in Banbury as it happens (though she’s obviously been here longer than I have). She also uses a spice grinder at home and once she said she got a decently fine grind on fenugreek, Dungeekin was sold. I really MUST get her name next time – she is always helpful, clearly cooks quite a bit herself and can speak from first hand experience about a lot of the items in the store.
As soon as we got home – out came the spices and the grinding began. The fenugreek was first and the spice grinder delivered just as we were told it would. Spice mixes began happening at a far greater rate than they had happened before (he loves the mortar and pestle but it DOES take time with some of these harder whole spices.
The man is spice mad. In a good way.
Speaking of which – we also made a “spice run” into town on Sunday and it never ceases to amaze me how much more “bang for the buck” you get going to the small oriental grocers for some things. There must be such places in Manhattan but I never came across them somehow. I don’t mean Kalustyan’s on Lex. That I know about and it’s HUGE! I mean smaller, stuck in corner places that look TEENY from the outside but end up being massively well stocked inside. They must be down in Chinatown – or out in Queens?
And finally - I just discovered that George Washington was born 20 minutes from TransAtlantic Towers. I guess there really is no getting away from those “George Washington Slept Here” signs.
Tags: Banbury · Life in the UK
by nycdeb on December 31st, 2013 · No Comments ·
Ah Christmas in NYC – the windows, the crowds, the Chinese food and a movie that makes up the traditional Jewish New York City Christmas. Sure, having moved across the Atlantic means I didn’t get to see the windows in person but did I miss them? I did not. The web is full of the Christmas windows – wanna see the Lord and Taylor windows (always some of my favorites)? Here ya go.
Want a movie of the whole thing instead? YouTube is an amazing resources in this way now that everyone and their brother has a smartphone and a compelling need to record everything they do. The L&T 2013 windows are no exception. Moving so far from NYC also means I don’t have to deal with the crowds of people who flock there every December. Don’t get me wrong – I was never a tourist-hating New Yorker. But in certain spots in December it was IMPOSSIBLE to move and you’d do anything to avoid those spots. Banbury doesn’t get nearly as crowded ever on it’s biggest day (which I suppose it Canal Day).
I do still get Chinese food and a movie though the Chinese food is homemade (seriously – everything here closed for Christmas. Even the Chinese restaurants). Once again, dungeekin did his best to turn TransAtlantic Towers into a first rate Chinese buffet. It was delicious – more on that can be found over on Fabulous Foodie. In related news (that will no doubt inform Chinese food meals of the future), we have found two well-stocked Asian supermarkets nearby and it took ALL my considerable persuasiveness to prevent SOMEONE from buying everything in sight. We do plan a major shopping excursion soon but there was already a considerable amount of food in the TransAtlantic Larder so there was, culinarily speaking, “no room at the inn.”
Meanwhile, we look forward to another year of exploring the area, experimenting with food and – DEFINITELY getting back to New York for a visit or two. Happy New Year, one and all. No matter which side of the pond you’re on.
Tags: Banbury · holidays · shopping · sight seeing