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Location - Western Europe; Capital - England - London; Population - England - 50.5 million; Currency - Pound Sterling MORE UK - ENGLAND

After seeing the amazing Shell Grotto on television I had to take a trip to Margate to see it for myself. And nearby is the more upmarket Whitstable, also on the south east coast. Also added are Leeds & Dover Castles as well as the southern coastal city of Portsmouth, plus a couple of weird micronations..


uknote20 Pounds Sterling










eng4658The sun's rays push through the clouds on Margate's seafront


eng4663The slightly rundown coastal resort of Margate is an hour's train ride away from London on the south east coast


eng4653Looking a bit out of place is the sleek, modern Turner Contemporary, an art gallery taking its name from painter JMW Turner, the subject of a recent film - Margate


eng4667The old town has quite a few vintage and antique shops - Margate














eng4706Also in the old town is the historic Tudor House - Margate














eng4671Easily the most compelling reason to visit Margate is to see the Shell Grotto


eng4681The amazing Shell Grotto is made of 4.6million shells - Margate


eng4679Discovered in 1835, no-one knows who, when or why it was built - Margate














eng4689The walls are lined with intricate shell designs. But do they have symbolic meaning? Who knows?! Margate














eng4702A close up of the shell panels - Margate


eng4692Natural light shines through the dome - Margate


eng4693The grotto is small; you can walk it in two minutes but spend an hour admiring it and the (equally small) museum display - Margate














eng4697From the Rotunda walk along the Serpentine Passage to the Altar Chamber, part of which was destroyed during bombing in World War II - Margate














eng4701Gas lighting from Victorian times has charcoal-blackened many of the shells - Margate


eng4673T-Rex says hello to Shell Grotto visitors - Margate


eng6316Sunset at Margate beach - Margate


eng4714Whitstable is a more upmarket seaside resort on the south east coast














eng4711The colourful front at Whitstable Bay - Whitstable















eng4712A great name for an alley, supposedly where a rotund policeman couldn't quite chase after local kids - Whitstable


eng4718Hope your dream comes true Ed! Whitstable


eng4721Whitstable is known for its oysters and there's plenty of stalls and restaurants where you can buy them












eng4726The harbour is lined with fish markets - Whitstable















eng4727Souvenir stalls at the harbour - Whitstable


eng4729Sections of Whitstable Castle date to the late 18th century. The manor house gardens are open to the public and there's also a restaurant inside - Whitstable


eng4732I love the bright colours of these beach huts overlooking the sea east of the harbour - Whitstable














eng4734The bay stretches east along Tankerton Slopes - Whitstable














eng4736The pebbly beach at Tankerton Slopes - Whitstable


eng4735More bright beach huts at Whitstable


eng4740 The main high street has several independent niche shops, galleries along with standard souvenir guff - Whitstable













eng4744A peacock surveys the scene in the grounds of Leeds Castle near Maidstone, a 90minute drive south east of London


eng4764A moat surrounds Leeds Castle, originally built in the 12th century then expanded over the years


eng4775It became one of King Edward I's residences in 1278, and in the 16th century belonged to Catherine of Aragon, first wife of legendary King Henry VIII - Leeds Castle













eng4778The castle hosts weddings, conferences and also has a hotel on site - Leeds Castle















eng4784The castle rooms are open to the public - Leeds Castle


eng4787Entrance is via a barrel-lined wine cellar - Leeds Castle


eng4793The room where Egypt, Israel and the USA met in 1978 to prepare for the Camp David Accords - Leeds Castle














eng4747Of all the plentiful water on offer! Leeds Castle















eng4753The garden maze is worth tackling to see the underground grotto at its centre - Leeds Castle


eng4757The stony-faced guardian of the grotto - Leeds Castle


eng4760An over-the-top rendition of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is played over the tannoy - Leeds Castle















eng4830tThe small port at Dover on the southern coast of England, opposite the French port of Calais


eng4830vAt last, a fish on a bicycle! Well, a dolphin with legs on a bicycle. Close.. - Dover


eng4830wThe Roman Painted House is a Roman building built around 200AD as a resting place for travellers crossing the Channel - Dover














eng4830qDover Castle sits on the hilltop overlooking the main beach - Dover















eng4830rThe white cliffs of Dover were made famous in a patriotic World War II song by English singer Dame Vera Lynn. They can be seen from the English Channel when arriving by boat from the Continent, and are regarded as the first welcome to Britain - Dover


eng4830aThe sprawling grounds of Dover Castle, the largest castle in England, greets visitors walking from the train station to the town centre. It dates to the 11th century but expanded over the centuries, particularly by King Henry II in the 12th century - Dover


eng4830iGreat views of Dover from the castle grounds
















eng4830fEven better on a clear day are the views of the English Channel and the outline of France on the horizon. The Church of St Mary in Castro is on the left, with the Roman lighthouse from about 50AD is on the right - Dover














eng4824Inside King Henry II's Great Tower are recreations of castle rooms along with museum displays and interactive sets - Dover


eng4809During World War II the castle's 'Secret Wartime Tunnels' were converted to air-raid shelters and then a miltary command centre. Take an interesting 45min Operation Dynamo tour - Dover


eng4812The telecommunication centre handled thousands of messages during World War II, including 'dummy messages in 1944 as part of a successful plan to deceive the Germans as to the location of the D-Day Invasion' - Dover


eng4818A separate entrance leads to the Underground Hospital Annexe, part of the same complex - Dover















eng4816Walk through the tunnel linking the wartime tunnels to the Great Tower - Dover















eng4829A section of the medieval tunnels lying beneath Dover Castle - Dover















eng6087If you arrive in Portsmouth via the harbour train station the first site is the warship HMS Warrior, built in 1860, now a museum


eng5033The Spinnaker Tower is photobombed by a ship's figurehead at Portsmouth Harbour - Portsmouth


eng5037The Spinnaker Tower was opened in 2005 and measures 170m - Portsmouth

















eng5063The scary glass sky walk is 100m above sea level. Not for me! Portsmouth














eng5066The Tower provides great views of the harbour, the Solent River and the Isle of Wight on the horizon.
Notice two small 19th century forts in the middle of the Solent. Not sure which ones they are but take your pick from Horse Sand Fort, Spitbank Fort and No Man's Land Fort - available for private hire and even an overnight stay - Portsmouth


eng5040Next to Spinnaker Tower is the harbour and Gunwharf Quays, a shopping complex with several waterfront bars and restaurants - Portsmouth


eng5053Spinnaker Tower and Gunwharf Quays - Portsmouth















eng5055A quayside pub with a view at The Point - Portsmouth














eng5060And the same pub also has a maritime mural - Portsmouth


eng5045There's a constant stream of shipping traffic - Portsmouth


eng5068HMS Victory was Admiral Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 - Portsmouth














eng5076It's amazing to see the remains of King Henry VIII's 16th century warship the Mary Rose - Portsmouth













eng5085A Mary Rose cannon inscribed 'H VIII R, To Defend' along with the lions of England and the year AD1535 - Portsmouth


eng5092Various artefacts from the Mary Rose are on display in the museum, including the mast's crow's nest (lookout point) - Portsmouth


eng6088Also in the Historic Dockyard is HMS M.33 which served at Gallipoli during WWI. Behind it is a docked warship - Portsmouth














eng5096At the entrance to the Historic Dockyard. Portsmouth is the hub of Britain's Royal Navy















eng5097Charles Dickens, author of Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, was born here in 1812 - Portsmouth


eng6097Across Portsmouth Harbour at Portchester is Portchester Castle - Portsmouth














eng6111Portchester Castle is an 11th/12th century castle built within the walls of a 3rd century Roman fort - Portsmouth














eng6102The view from the castle takes in St Mary's Church with Portsmouth in the distance, across the bay - Portsmouth



eng5024Away from the centre of Portsmouth is Baffins Pond. Or, if you're into micronations like me, the Grand Duchy of the Lagoan Isles














eng5022The Lagoan Isles was created by a local teacher as part of a school project, after he noticed that the three islands in the pond weren't mentioned in the sale to Portsmouth City Council. So he claimed them - Portsmouth













eng5026The three islands are visible here - a tiny one on the left, larger one in the middle, medium one on the right - Grand Duchy of the Lagoan Isles

- Head of state: Grand Duke Louis Robert Harold Stephenson of The Lagoan Isles, in other words the teacher
- Population: A notional 30 but it's actually forbidden to set foot on the islands
- National Day: 16 August

Because it's a protected nature reserve it's a micronation without any welcome signs, houses, shops or in-situ population besides birds.


eng5015The area is greedy for micronations as there's another a few kms north near Petersfield. This is The Trooper Inn, a restaurant a short walk from Kemetia.














eng5006The Sovereign Kingdom of Kemetia is another micronation without any welcome signs, or any indication you're in it for that matter. And no locals had heard of it. I guess the head of state, an American who used to live nearby, has moved on..


eng5002A vintage car rally was in full swing, passing through Kemetia

- Founded in 2005, apparently Kemetia was comprised of several areas, the main section being at Priors Dean near Petersfield, as well as other parts of southern England
- Head of State: King Adam I
- Currency: Debens



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