The BHI to continue training future watchmakers with new lottery grant.

 

With a national shortage of watchmakers in the UK, the British Horological Institutes large grant allows them to continue training future craftsmen.

The British Horological Institute is the UKs last remaining provider in training and education for clock and watchmakers.

After an enormous £2.8 million grant given by the Heritage Lottery Fund, trainees such as Jacob Russell, 20 from Chichester can continue to learn to repair old and antique watches.

Jacob who has been working as an apprentice watchmaker for four and a half years was announced as a qualified member of the BHI in a national award ceremony held in October.

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Jacob said: “It was great getting my qualification, and being a qualified member of the institute.

“Being a member of the BHI means I can work as a fully qualified watchmaker, and I can now service and restore watches and earn a full wage doing so”.

At the award ceremony, the British Horological Institute announced the news of the grant, and declared that the funding was to contribute to the new National Centre for Horology.

The Centre which is expected to be opened in 2018, will allow the institute to continue training future watchmakers in new workshop facilities, and permitting them to double the number of students they can train a year.

 

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Why your next trip should include Bosnia and Herzegovina

Having just returned from my first solo backpacking adventure, my biggest highlight, and one which I find myself looking the most fondly upon, is my time spent in the charming country of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Nestled in the Balkans, and a member of the former state of Yugoslavia, Bosnia has it all. Blessed with dramatic mountains, draw dropping scenery and appealing cities, this country even has it’s own small coastal resort along the Adriatic coast.
Travelling around this much overlooked country is shockingly easy and cheap. One of the best ways visitors may prefer  purely for their comfort, but also for the opportunity to behold the many wonders that fill the surrounding country side, is by bus.
Driving through this still untouched country, a country which only twenty years ago was crippled by a shocking and unthinkable war, you are able to witness the scars which still cover much of this recovering country.
I found travelling by bus was an excellent way to fully see and witness life, and to imagine what life in Europe was like in the not so distant past.
But there is so much more to do than just admire the country’s beautiful surroundings. Filled with a dazzling selection of cities and towns to cater to a range of tastes, there really is no excuse not to visit this gifted country. From adrenaline junkies to history buffs, this country has it all.
Any visit to this country is incomplete without a visit to the diverse and yet addictive city of Sarajevo. Falling deeply and passionately in love with this compact city is inevitable, and will take hold often without warning. For me this feeling took hold whilst people watching from a café courtyard.
The Old Town should be one of the first points of call while sightseeing. This section of the city makes an excellent starting point to get acquainted with the diversity, but also as a location to splurge on unique souvenirs, stunning antiques and bargain silverware. The street Kazandziluk located just off the Sebilj Square (pigeon square) makes an excellent stroll admiring all the stalls selling beautifully made coffee pots.

Sarajevo 2015
Sebilj square appears to be the main heart of the Old Town, and popular hangout for local teenagers. and packs of stray dogs. Never the less, a trip to see this iconic fountain is essential in saying you’ve been to Sarajevo. The best times to visit are early morning of late afternoon when there’s a sense of stillness about the square. Grabbing a coffee at one of the nearby cafés is an equally advisable way to witness the busyness that surrounds the fountain.

Sarajevo 2015
The recent history of the country and the suffering which the country has behold is apparent when walking around the city. Bullet holes, and craters mark the streets, whist roses can be spotted dotted about the city marking the site of citizen massacres. One museum which gives visitors an insight into the lives of citizens in Sarajevo, and the conditions they had to live under is the Galerija 11/07/95.
Showing videos of life for ordinary citizens and photos of the destruction of the city really makes you question how such crimes could have occurred in the 20th century.

When you think of this country, even those who know little about its location and its history can often admit knowledge of the Stari Most bridge in Mostar. This UNESCO world heritage site is without a doubt the main attraction of Mostar and possibly the whole of Herzegovina.
Full with tour groups, day trippers from neighbouring countries and locals relaxing in street cafes, Mostar is the place to go to relax and unwind whilst also marvelling in the beauty of the famous landmark. Reopened in 2004 after being destroyed in 1991 by Croat forces, this replica can be appreciated from a number of locations. Whether from below along the rivers edge, above from either the Halebija and Tara tower on either side of the bridge, or for those unnerved by high heights the minaret at the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque offers incredible views for those who dare.

Stari Most- Mostar
Bosnia and Herzegovina is an exciting and diverse country. A country with so much to offer its’ visitors, sites suggested in this article are merely the essentials in trying to get to grips with the complexity of the country. This country has a fair way to go before becoming a house hold name in terms of holiday destinations. Those visitors who look past the recent events and see a country full of beauty are those who will be rewarded through their experiences in this charming and impressionable country.

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A week in Slovenia.

My recent holiday to Slovenia already seems like a distant memory. My time spent exploring the cobbled streets of Ljubljana, and soaking in the sunset at Lake Bled took place just over a month ago, yet looking back I can scarcely believe how quick the time has gone.

I spent a whole year planning and prepping for this whirlwind trip. Ever since my first solo adventure just over a year ago the alpine fields, and turquoise glistening lakes of Slovenia had been calling my name. Yet, I didn’t want to go there for the sake of it. No I wanted every-thing to be just right. I needed the weather warm, the sun out, but most of all, it couldn’t be summer. One aspect which determined when I visited this gorgeous, and in my opinion underestimated country was the time of year. I wanted my trip to be perfect without my experience being interrupted by hordes of tourists, and tour groups, plus without suffering from the extreme prices experienced during high season in Europe.

Visiting mid-way through April I had both of what I wished for, the sun and peace, helping make for a magical time spent enjoying the views across the lake.

Lake Bled

My week in this small European country started with three days spent relaxing on the shores of Lake Bled. I will always remember my arrival into this small resort town, driving down the hill on route from the airport I was suddenly blinded by the sun that bounced off the lake that appeared from nowhere. On the way to checking in to my hotel, everyone I passed was either jogging, walking, or siting by the lake leaving me overcome with the desperate urge to get out and join them.

My three days at Lake Bled was purely spent; walking, taking thousands of photos, and sitting on the numerous benches dotted about the lake, in fact I suspect I sat on nearly every bench at least once whilst enjoying the view and reading my book.

Lake Bled

Sitting beside the lake staring at the small island in the middle, you will think you have not seen a more beautiful view, that is until you visit the castle and look down from a higher vantage point. Choosing to hike to the top of the hill from the lake’s shore I eventually reached the castles entrance much out of breath and panting.

Unfortunately during my chosen time to visit Bled castle renovation work was underway, and as a result restricting much access. In the small viewing space empty of the builders, and tables from the rooftop restaurant you are able to look down onto the lake, and the surrounding town. The view already spectacular was made even more fantastic by the two eagles which chased each other in full view for the many spectators.

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Although the view is extraordinary, and there are a number of small museums housed in the castle, the size of the castle,and the fact that current on-going building work closed off parts of the site, the fee which is charged at the entrance in my opinion is too much.

My three days spent relaxing by Lake Bled complete, and needing a change of scene I was on my way to visit the city of Ljubljana. Ljubljana is a compact, compressed and charming city. A city filled with history and elegance. Staying in the pedestrian quarter just off the Old Town I was lucky enough to be in walking distant from the many river bars, cobbled side streets, and Slovenia’s first cat café, all located just off the glistening turquoise Ljubljanica.

Ljubljana

Easily explored in a couple of days, Ljubljana is one of the ultimate European cities for an unforgettable city break. This city has it all, days can be spent enjoying the views from the city’s own hill top castle, learning the history at one of many museums located in and around the center. And when your feet are beginning to tire from all the walking along the cobbled streets, and admiring dramatic bridges, there are ample of restaurants and cafés lining the river on both sides.

Ljubljana

One afternoon I decided to venture out of the picturesque Old Town and over to Tivoli Park to visit the National Museum of Contemporary History. Being interested in history and wanting to learn more about the locations I visit, the idea of a modern museum seemed right up my street. For me the National Museum of Contemporary History was by far one of the best museums in this small and developing city.

One museum which I advise any potential visitor to stay clear from was the City Museum of Ljubljana. At my time of visit there was a temporary exhibition on the ancient Roman city of Emona, a small exhibition on Emona was also being held at the National Museum of Slovenia. The city museum in my opinion along with being small, uninformed and overpriced, would only appeal to those under the age of ten. Usually I turn to reviews on Tripadvisor for a quick laugh, but on this occasion the reviews on this museum were accurate and justified.

Overall my time spent visiting this small yet charming country will forever be looked back on with fond memories. Slovenia met, and exceeded my expectations to such a level that I am already looking forward and planning my return in the near future. There are sights and activities to cater to a range of interests, there really is no excuse not to visit and see for yourself the overwhelming beauty stuffed into this compact country. As a holiday destination, Slovenia, in my opinion deserves more promotion and more praise. Where else can you find a stylish student city located alongside stunning misty lakes and snow-capped Alps?

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Travel Highlights Of 2014.

With the New Year well underway, I take a look back at 2014 and the highlights from my year’s travels.

My first trip in 2014 was to the charming city of Budapest in Hungary. Visiting in early March as a budget city break I was left surprised with my overall experience, and nearly a year later I still look back with fond memories. During my stay I visited the Gellert Baths, a new and unfamiliar experience which felt rather daunting at the time. But it was visiting the Fisherman’s Bastion on a grey drizzly afternoon that left the biggest impact on my short trip.

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In June after finishing my first year at university, I took a trip up to Oxford to visit a friend after years of promising to visit. The weather during the majority of my trip was not very good, luckily on my last day the weather changed and I was able to go punting in the sun.

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Two years after originally visiting Bali I returned for a two week holiday in June. Returning with my family, my two weeks was divided between Ubud and Jimbaran. Being able to return and introduce my family to the sights I had enjoyed previously was a great experience, especially as I had such a great time there before.

My time spent in Ubud is the highlight of my trip, from the markets to the monkeys, and my evenings spent visiting traditional dance performances, Ubud is a location that I can see myself returning to again in the future.

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During my summer holiday I ventured on my first solo trip, a new and rather daunting experience. Unsure how I would cope of my own in an unknown destination I choose to stay close to home for my first outing. My travels involved three days in Venice before flying to Prague for two nights.

VENICE

Venice was beautiful, an excellent location to discover the highs and the lows of travelling solo. But it was my time in Prague that I enjoyed the most.

Old Town Square

 During my Christmas holiday I visited Vienna for four days, during my trip I made time to go to Bratislava for a day. Vienna was an eye-opening experience. A city full with history and beauty. Days can be spent enjoying the many palaces or strolling round the abundance of art galleries dotted about the city. Yet it was my day spent exploring the quiet cobbled city of Bratislava that I speak most about. The castle, the Blue Church and the Old town, it was like stepping back in time.

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For me 2014 was a great year of discovery, not just of new locations but also of my ability and courage to travel on my own. I hope to take this new found braveness, and use it to see and experience more amazing sights in 2015.

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My highlights of Bratislava.

When I tell my friends and family that the highlight of my recent trip was visiting the city of Bratislava, I am often met with confused looks.

For me, my highlight of my recent holiday was the daytrip to Bratislava, Slovakia from Vienna. The city of Bratislava is the perfect size for excursions by foot, being able to walk from the train station up to the palace allowed me to explore this pint sized city, and see the sights I had planned all at a leisurely pace.

Getting to this city is unbelievably stress free. After purchasing a 15€ return from Wien Hausfeldstrasse, the hour and ten minute train ride was spent watching the suburbs of Vienna disappear, and fields full of wind farms whizzing past. Once arriving in Bratislava you have the choice of either catching the tram or bus free of charge with your train ticket, or in my case walking.

Whether visiting for a day or for a weekend, there are plenty of sights to keep you occupied, and if you do manage to run out there are plenty of bars dotted around the old town. Most the main sights are fairly spread out but luckily due to the size of the city you can easily reach them by walking.

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Bratislava Castle is one of the furthest sights and involves a steep hill to reach its entrance, but the walk is defiantly worth it. Reminding me a lot of Prague Castle, and with views across the Danube River and out towards old town, the gardens surrounding the Castle are an excellent spot to sit and gather your breath. You can enter the Castle but I choose not to, instead admiring the view which that day had a mystical gloomy effect.

Bratislava Castle

Slavin Monument is the second sight which will involve walking to reach. The walk is quite a hike and up a slight hill past people’s houses, many people I saw visiting the monument caught a taxi to the top. The Slavin Monument is a memorial to the thousands of Red Army soldiers who died in 1945 liberating the city from Nazis.

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The views when you reach the top are worth the hike and with plenty of benches located around the monument you can sit in the well-kept garden, looking up at this striking soviet statue.

The highlight of my visit was without a doubt to the Church of St. Elisabeth, aka the Blue Church. The Blue Church is located a short walk from old town, and located near the Danube. When I saw the church I was amazed how blue the whole complex was, unfortunately at my time of visiting the church was closed so I never got to see what the inside looked like. Warning for when visiting, take care walking along the pavements around the church as there seemed to be a lot of dog waste.

Blue Church

Michaels Gate located in the old town, is a medieval gate and is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the old town. Being a must see I had high expectations and was left feeling a little disappointed when I saw the gate in person.

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St Martins Cathedral located near the border of the old town is a major tourist attraction and a must see for this city. Although small in size and rather bland looking in comparison to the Church of St. Elisabeth, the Cathedral is perfectly located in the centre and unavoidable to miss. When entering the inside of the Cathedral there was choir practice going on so I decided not to hang around, and spent most of my time outside admiring the view of the distant castle.

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Visiting the city in winter allows you to sample and enjoy the many markets dotted around the old town.  With gifts, hot drinks and Slovak food, the markets are the main focus point and point of activity in the month leading up to Christmas. If markets are not your thing walking through the streets and admiring the surrounding architecture is an equally good way to spend the afternoon.

Bratislava for me was surprising and an unexpected highlight from my winter trip. What stood out for me was the quietness of the city and how peaceful it was to stroll around in comparison to Vienna.

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My Rome Highlights.

Rome, a charming and fashionable city. A city which I would happily visit again and again and has left me considering whether life in Rome would suit me.

My recent trip lasted five days, slightly longer than the average short break but not nearly enough time to fully explore this diverse city. With only five days, choosing which of the many attractions to visit was a hard decision; the Colosseum was an obvious choice incorporated alongside the Roman Forum, the Vatican, a day trip to Pompeii, and a day shopping was a necessity. Whilst the Colosseum and the Roman Forum felt overhyped, and the day of pure shopping turned into just one afternoon; it was my time spent visiting the Vatican and admiring the interior of dramatic churches which has made the biggest impression on my trip to Rome.

The Vatican.  Being unreligious and uneducated on the catholic faith I was surprised with the amount of time I spent in the Vatican. Whether it was a day spent in the museums or the night time visit to Piazza San Peter; it feels that most my time in Rome was spent within the Vatican walls. What surprised me the most during my night time visit to the square was the amount of people just milling about, and the surreal feeling when looking at the Basilica lit up with spot lights.

The Vatican

Churches. With more than 900 churches in Rome there is defiantly no shortage of churches to pop into when out and about in the city. Visiting one of the many widely found sites can be an alternative activity to the busier tourist attractions. My visit to Basilica San Clementine was an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon and in my opinion is a church which deserves more press and promotion.                                                                                        A link to a previous blog on Basilica San Clementine,  https://charlottejohnson888.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/must-see-church-in-rome/

Pantheon. ‘Anyone who goes to Rome without seeing the Pantheon goes and comes back an ass’ a quote from Eat Pray Love. While this old proverb may not be entirely true I think it is fair to say a trip to Rome is incomplete without a visit to this ancient temple. Looking rather uninteresting from the outside, once inside you are rewarded with the opportunity to witness this unusual circular design. What should be noted before visiting the Pantheon is the sheer number of tourists who visit the temple each day, make sure to visit either early morning of late afternoon for a quieter more personal experience.

Pantheon

Castle Sant’Angelo. Saving one of the best till last. I left visiting Castle Sant’Angelo until my last day, and I am pleased that I did. The views once you reach the top are spectacular; from the Vatican to the Roman forum and everything in between is visible from this once fortress and sanctuary. A café is located near the top of the castle offering equally spectacular views, an afternoon can be easily be passed enjoying the stunning sights and taking in the history which has occurred within the castle’s very walls.

My list of top attractions in Rome help sum up Rome as a city, a city built around layers of history yet still stylish on the exterior. This dual-personality has fascinated me, inspired me and has left me completely head over heels. There are things I wished I had seen such as the gardens in Villa Borghese, the church of Santa Maria Del Popolo and a pre-booked tour to the Tomb of Saint Peter under the Vatican Basilica. What I do know is that in the future whenever that will be, I will be able to visit all those sights, but also reacquaint myself with one of my favourite European cities.

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Must See Church In Rome.

Rome, a fashionable and historic city, a city layered and shaped by its past. It was during my recent trip that I discovered that Rome truly is a city with multiple layers, creating the charming and appealing city that I have undoubtedly fallen in love with.

My time in Rome was spent mostly sightseeing and visiting the array of well-known sites; the Basilica Saint Peters, the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Afternoons were spent window shopping, people watching at cute cafes and wondering in to passing churches. But it was my visit to Basilica San Clementine located near the Colosseum which surprised me and put into focus the many layers that have created the magnificent city of Rome.

The decision to visit the Basilica San Clementine was unplanned and was made purely on the advice given by our tour guide on my Pompeii excursion the day before. Clementine is a three-tied Catholic church; a 12th century Basilica built on top of a 4th century Basilica, on top of a 2nd century pagan temple. An admission charge of 5 euros is asked, but being one of Rome’s few churches that demand a small entrance fee, it is certainly worth the few euros.

Steps take you down from the gift shop straight into the 4th century Basilica. Navigating your way through the damp and dark rooms, you are able to take another set of steps down into the 2nd century temple/house. Being able to explore this tiered archaeological site gives you a great understanding into the foundations running below the streets of Rome.

If you are thinking of visiting one church when in Rome make sure to visit this one, this Basilica gives you an understanding to the religious and cultural shape that Italy has undertook in the past and the transformation of the surrounding region.

The Basilica San Clementine is open; 9am-12.30 3-6pm Mon-Sat, noon-6pm Sun. Adults are 5 euros, Students-€3.50.

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