Sometimes I get so frustrated – there just seems so much to see and do in New Zealand – I just want to do it all at once. I had an ingenious idea recently – an awesomely beautiful scenic train ride on the TranzAlpine train. Its run by Kiwi Rail, and I should imagine it must be rated as one of the most scenic trips in the world. The train runs between Christchurch, Arthur’s Pass and Greymouth and if you’re like me, you’ll be awe-struck by the sheer beauty.
What I love about the trip is that you don’t have to take days away from home, although that would be nice as well – the journey takes 4½ hours. You don’t have to buy a return ticket either – you can take a one-way journey and explore a bit in Greymouth. A popular trip is to visit the Franz Josef Glacier. Its a magnificent 12 km glacier, but its very setting, in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park is an added attraction for nature lovers. In fact the area around the Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier is a World Heritage Site. Once you have seen this, you will realise, like me, that we live in a stunningly beautiful country. I can’t wait to fill you in on more of our breathtaking travels in New Zealand.
It is a few years since we were in Suffolk but one of the places that we visited remains in my mind. with the unusual name of Eye, this is one of the smallest towns in Suffolk, and was once the smallest burough England. The name of the town comes for the Saxon for island and once that is what Eye was, surronded by march and water, that has long since been drained. There is an hour and half tour that you can do that takes you around the town and where you can see most of the local highlights. Or you can head up to the Eye castle above the town for a lovely view. The original mound is thought to have been from the 11th century, and then a stone keep was later added. Restoration has given some inkling of what it was like and a modern ladder takes you to the ramparts and a view worth photographing. Another point of interest here is the guildhall, which is a timber framed building dating back to the 15th century. There are also a pair of tombs from the same time period in the local parish church of St Mary, which itself boasts of a lovely medieval painted screen. What caught my interest though was the crinkle crankle wall that you can see if you take the town tour. Yes that is a real word (s) its lovely isn’t it, crnkle crankle – sounds more like the name for a packet of crisps but it is actually a garden wall with a sinuous configuration that is only one brick thick, making it more economical. The design of the walls is attributed to dutch engineers who came over in the mid 1600’s to drain the marches, they called them, slange muur which translates as snaking wall. The actual name is though to derive from Old English meaning zig zag.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Eye, do so, it is an pleasent interesting town packed with history and unusual things, like the carved head below. It is not a big town but certainly worth a days visit and soem lovely B& B’s in the neighbourhood.