Tag: travel

photography travel

Destination: Hastings

Hastings Town and Beach, East Sussex

This week, summer finally decided to come to England! Planning ahead for trips in the UK is difficult because the weather is always unpredictable. But with temperatures in the high 80s yesterday, you can bet all I wanted to do was be somewhere near a beach. Brighton is the usual hot spot, but last time I went there, my friends and I had to stand in the aisle the for the entire journey because the train was so jam packed with beach-goers who had the same idea that we did. I wanted a beach without the crowds and a little variety as far as things to do and see.

East of Brighton, along the coast between Eastbourne and Dover, is the ancient town of Hastings. Hastings dates back to the 6th Century, although it’s claim to fame was the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when William the Conquerer invaded from France and killed the last Saxon King, paving the way for the Norman Conquest of England.  There are still remnants of the Normans’ time in Hastings, most notably the ruins of Hastings Castle overlooking the sea. In the early 1800s, it became a smuggler’s port, with natural and hand carved caves in the cliffs below the castle where smuggled goods would be hidden. The caves also served as an air raid shelter during WWII when the town took hits from German bombs. Although not as industrious as it once was, Hastings is still an active fishing town with a  seaside full of carnival rides and other tourist attractions.

I went with my friend Robbie. Our three goals were to eat seafood and visit the castle and smuggler’s caves. It turns out that even on a Saturday in August, Hastings’ two biggest attractions close at 5pm. The most happening seafood restaurant was also booked out for the evening. So we made do with pints in the Pump House pub and a walk along the mostly empty beach at sunset, and you know what? It was a damn fine substitute if I do say so myself. A wonderful way to spend what has surely been the hottest day this summer.

Hastings can be reached on the Southwest train services from London Victoria and London Bridge.

All photos © Kendra Bean and are linked to my Flickr account.

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A Canterbury Tale

Canterbury Cathedral

Admittedly, I don’t pay much attention to the goings-on of the British Royal Family, but I won’t hesitate to give HM The Queen a royal salute for having her Diamond Jubilee this past weekend. As a result, we got two bank holidays in a row, and the four-day weekend was most welcome, indeed. When in the moment, I feared I wasn’t getting much done during this block of free time. But looking back on it, I accomplished quite a bit: a trip to Colindale to find some long-lost newspaper articles for book research; an interview with Australian actor Trader Faulkner, who told of some memorable weekends at Notley Abbey in 1955; arranged for tea with 97-year-old actress Renee Asherson; went to a screening of Prometheus; and finally, got out of London for a day!

With the seaside in mind, I boarded a train bound for Canterbury yesterday morning with my friend Anthony and his partner Tony. Canterbury is a lovely, medieval walled city famous for its massive cathedral, Chaucer’s stories and Eric Portman putting glue in girls’ hair during the blackout. After lunch at a little French cafe, we went to visit the site of many a religious pilgrimage before boarding a bus to Herne Bay.

The countryside was lovely, but Herne Bay is one of those seaside towns that looks much better in photos. The horrible weather didn’t help the already slightly depressing ambiance. What was once a bustling Victorian beach resort is now little more than beach-front ice cream shops, a shopping centre and a really ugly pier (the remains of the burnt-out Victorian pier are isolated out at sea). Rather disappointing, but all in all it was a fun trip and I managed to get some decent photos armed only with my camera phone.*

*This post is image-heavy.

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photography the oliviers travel

Destination: Stratford Upon Avon

Holy Trinity Church Shakespeare's grave

For someone who’s been dead for nearly 400 years, William Shakespeare sure knows how to make a living. His birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, is a virtual tourist trap for travelers who come from far and wide wanting to indulge in all things Shakespeare-related. One can learn of the town’s Tudor history at Falstaffs Experience, see plays come to life at the famous Royal Shakespeare Company, and even visit the bard’s final resting place in the Holy Trinity church–all for a price, of course.

Luckily, I had no need to elicit the services of a conspicuous-looking man in a doublet and lace, leather gloves and a wide brimmed hat on my visit to Stratford yesterday. My tour guide was the lovely Emma Parry, a long-time friend of vivandlarry.com who invited me up to have a look around. Being a fellow Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier fan, Emma knew all of the best sites to see.

We had lunch in a great restaurant called Edward Moon. The leek and potato soup, and mushroom and madiera chicken were fantastic–no room left for crème brûlée, sadly! Afterward, we took a walk to the Royal Shakespeare Company to see where the Oliviers performed in Macbeth, Titus Andronicus and Twelfth Night during the famous 1955 season. Although it was overcast, the walk offered beautiful views of the theatre and parkland on both sides of the River Avon. We stopped by the Holy Trinity church to pay a visit to Shakespeare himself and saw the memorial tree that had been dedicated to Vivien Leigh.

Our tour of Stratford was followed by a drive in the country to visit Emma’s home town, Chipping Campden, and then on to Broadway, both in the picturesque Cotswolds. We enjoyed afternoon tea with fresh scones, clotted cream and home-made jam at the Bantam Tea Rooms in Chipping Campden before heading over to Broadway to buy sweets in the old fashioned candy shop. The Cotswolds are the definition of a picturesque English village, and look like something out of a Thomas Kincaide painting. One of the most notable buildings in Broadway is the Lygon Arms. This famous hotel has served as a rendezvous spot for many famous people over the centuries. Notable guests have included Oliver Cromwell, J.M. Barrie, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, and the Kennedys.

It was wonderful to explore the heart of England with a kindred spirit. I honestly feel very lucky that this website has brought me in contact with so many amazing people. Thanks again for being a fabulous tour guide, Emma!

All photos in his post © Kendra Bean/vivandlarry.com

gone with the wind photography travel

Home to Tara: Culver Studios

Culver Studios, formerly Selznick International

Last week my friend Jay and I made a pilgrimage of sorts down to Culver City to see a famous mansion that stands on the corner of Washington and Ince. Culver Studios, as is it known today, is the former home of Desilu, RKO, DeMille, Ince and Selznick International. The mansion’s famous facade can be seen at the beginning of many illustrious films of the 1930s and 40s, including a Civil War epic loved by many.

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photography travel

Destination: Hollywood

Vivien Leigh on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

After spending the past nine months in England, I decided I needed to go home–at least temporarily. I’ve been spending the past few weeks in California doing dissertation research, writing, visiting friends and of course, taking photos. I’m currently splitting my couch-surfing time between my friend Mark and his friend Jay, author of the amazing book Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywoods Greatest Costume Designer in Los Angeles. The dissertation is coming along and it’s been wonderful soaking up the sun. I’ve really missed California weather.

Last week I went up to Hollywood to meet with Vivien Leigh fan and awesome person Jeremy Kinser. We had drinks at the Roosevelt (thanks, Jeremy!) and then I went around and snapped some photos. I won’t lie, I kind of secretly love being a tourist!