Sunday, 26 April 2009

Travel Spotlight

As some of you know, I live just outside London. Being so close to the capital, my town is quite busy and hectic and there aren't many places you can go and relax. But this is definitely one of the few where you can:

Coalhouse Fort, Essex

A brief history: Coalhouse Fort is a Victorian coastal defence fort set in parkland next to the River Thames, completed in 1874, to defend the approaches to London from the perceived threat of invasion from France. It's considered to be one of the finest examples of an armoured casemated fort in the UK.

I love this place because my grandparents used to take me there all the time as a child. At the time I was just interested in the play park with the ridiculously high slide (which has since been taken away - safety hazard, more than likely) and playing in the ditch (when it was dry, of course...I'm not that disgusting.)

Now I go there when I need to get away from it all, relax, walk, sunbathe, be alone with my thoughts and write. I mean, how can you not be happy when you're surrounded by this:

(Click on the pics to enlarge)

The fort was also used as a coastal defence in World War II and there are occasionally open days when you're allowed inside the fort to look at the war memorabilia. I remember as a child being shown an unexploded German bomb and freaking out until someone told me it wouldn't actually go off as it had been diffused. Even then I kept an eye on it.

Interesting fact: In 2005, some of Batman Begins was filmed here. The scenes at the beginning where Christian Bale (Batman) is in prison were shot inside the fort. But it was kept quiet and even the locals didn't find out until a week later.

So...that's my favourite place. It's just a fifteen minute drive from my house and I feel lucky to live close to somewhere like this. Do you like it?

Where is your favourite place in your hometown? Leave a comment or even write your own blog post about it. Let me know if you do as I'd love to read it!

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