Travel Theme: Above

This week’s Travel theme from Where’s My Backpack is Above and as you will probably know, I love to take photos from high up. I have loads to pick from so it was difficult to choose a few for the challenge.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

ESB  northwest

New York from the Empire State Building

Blackpool, from the Blackpool Tower

Fortnum and Mason, London

Amsterdam, from the new library


Travel Theme: Colourful

The week’s challenge on Where’s My Backpack is Colourful. I’m attracted to bright colours. Even though I tend to wear darker colours because they travel better, I prefer red and jewel colours of emerald, sapphire and amythest and teal. If i’m walking and taking photos, my attention will be taken if I spot colour.

After my first visit to New York City, the thing that jumped out the most was the riot of colour in that city, from the yellow taxis, to the bright neon, to the signs on stores and buildings. There were news stands on corners with colourful magazines. And the people were all dressed in bright colours (it was summer that time).

My favourite city (so far) is London and while it might not be a neon and billboarded colour assault on the senses, you still find lots of colour there, too.

Here’s a few photos, mainly from London but one that was spotted on the road as we were driving back through Maine this past September. I think it was a little shop of some kind.

Multi coloured shop, Maine.

Neil’s Yard, London, a hidden courtyard in Covent Garden.

Beefeaters at the Tower of London

And one last bright little guy, from the Manchester Museum of Natural History. Manchester University

The journey of a tree – Thank You, Boston

New Glasgow's Town Crier

New Glasgow’s Town Crier

It’s a bit early to be talking about the Halifax Explosion on one hand. The anniversary of that isn’t until December 6 but there’s a 13 metre (43 foot) Christmas Tree en route to Boston today. It was cut down from a tree farm in Anitgonish, NS yesterday and will be driven to Boston in time for their annual tree lighting ceremony on December 4.

Today there was  a send off in the Grand Parade Square with music from The Stanfields (always worth a listen) and with a “Thank You” book that was available to be signed as well in gratitude the good people of the City of Boston. The tree was blessed with a First Nations ceremony and there were Town Criers from a few places in Nova Scotia there as well, though the one from the town of New Glasgow near where the tree was cut was the one to give the proclaimation. For the first time in over a week, the sun came out and the temperature was lovely and warm for this time of year.


The Stanfields rock the Parade Square


The Nova Scotia tree, to Boston with thanks


An actual photo of the Halifax explosion

An actual photo of the Halifax explosion

On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax harbour. One, a Belgian ship,  was carrying relief supplies as a WWI effort and the other, a French ship, was carrying munitions and explosive materials, also for the war effort. There was a miscommunication about which channel the ships were supposed to be in, one entering the harbour and one leaving it, and the munitions ship was t-boned. Sparks flew and the barrels of TNT on the deck went up. So did the rest of the ship. It was the larges man made explosion before the nuclear bomb and it levelled the north end of the city. 2000 people died and thousands were injured and made homeless. The day after all this, there was a winter blizzard. The army set up huge tents for people to stay in and schools and churches were used as mortuaries. Dishes rattled on shelves from the impact of the  blast 100 miles away in towns like Truro and New Glasgow.

Within that first day, the City of Boston loaded up a train of supplies, medical gear and doctors and nurses and sent it on its way to Halifax.  Since 1971, Nova Scotia has sent Boston a Christmas tree for their city hall square in the centre of the city as a thank you.

Halifax Explosion Memorial. Fort Needham Park.

Halifax Explosion Memorial. Fort Needham Park.

Halifax remembers the explosion and the victims in a ceremony every year on December 6. There are only 2 or 3 surviors left to attend, all of whom were small children at the time of the explosion. There is a memorial on the top of a hill in a park that overlooks the site in the harbour where they have the main ceremony but there’s also a smaller one just around the corner from where I live in North End Dartmouth, across the harbour. Nearby, a twisted cannon from the munitions ship landed, nearly 2 miles from the harbour and it’s been set up on a cross roads with plaques and information. There’s also a twisted ship’s anchor that’s on display in Dartmouth near the McDonald harbour bridge. That was found 3 miles away across the other side of Halifax. The city really was devastated but with help, pulled together and rebuilt the north end of the city.

Life goes on.

CBC has a good website with lots of information here.


Word Press Challenge – Achievement

Right. Twice I’ve tried to write about achievement and twice a power surge shut me down. I’m not going to try for the three-times-unlucky and just going to post a few photos.

This kind of achievement speaks for itself, really. Museum in the Citadelle de Quebec

Reaching the moon, an epic achievement Boston’s science museum

Duomo, Florence. When I see cathedrals and impressive structures that were built 700-900 years ago, I am flabberghasted at how they were able to achieve this with the limited technology they had. The artisans, the builders, and they soar so high, all put together with ropes, pulleys and sheer sweat.

More WordPress challenge entries.

Travel Theme: Belonging

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Belonging. Lots of ways to belong. You can belong to a group of people, or a family or each other. You can have posessions that belong to you. Things can belong together (One of these things is not like the others!)  and some things go together like cookies and milk or ice cream and summer!

How does it relate to travel? You can feel an affinity for a place, like you belong there or maybe you lived there in a former life.  It may be that you associate something iconic with a location such as the Eiffel Tower belonging in Paris and nowhere else.

Here’s a few interpretations :

Christmas Markets in Manchester. Santa and Christmas belong together.

A strong sense of Community brings my city out to celebrate Pride every summer. Everyone belongs, everyone contributes and everyone is welcome here.

I belong to an intrepid group of Coronation Street bloggers, and our team went to the studio set in Manchester in early 2013. I made a specific trip for the outing (but of course, it was a bonus visit with my fiance who lives there, too!)

See more contributions over at Where’s My Backpack.

A Word A Week – Companion

This week’s Word a Week challenge is Companion. What would we do without companions? We are social beings that live together in cities and towns and villages. We talk together, we hang out together. We spend time together. We may not be with someone else all the time but it’s nice to know there’s someone out there to connect with. It doesn’t even have to be another human. Animals and pets can be wonderful companions. They don’t judge, they listen, (we’re not sure they understand but I think animals can pick up on your mood regardless of their comprehension of what we’re saying).  Even animals need company. Very few animals or birds are singular, loners. That “Lone Wolf” is usually the exception to the rule. Here, then are some photos showing companionship from my archives.

A Manchester Terrier about to be put through his paces

A pair of very stern looking eagles. Nova Scotia Wildlife Park.

In the UK, Dogs are allowed in pubs. You see this commonly in smaller towns and country pubs like this one in Coniston, The Lake District

In another country pub in England, though these companions don’t seem to be enjoying each other’s company.

Kids hang out in packs.

And lastly, my own companion for life. In the Latin Quarter in Copenhagen a few years ago

My souvenirs are taking over

magnets 003Like most people, I like to pick up souvenirs to remember my travels. I used to buy prints but I now have a stack of them, still unframed, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to get around to that. Plus, I don’t have enough wall to put them all up anyway. They’re all various sizes so they won’t fit neatly into a photo album or scrap book though that might be an option for some of them. Anyway, I’ve stopped buying prints.

I often will buy a tea towel. Some years ago,  I was traveling with a group of friends and one of them mentioned that she collected tea towels and could remember her journeys every time she used one. Good idea! I think I’ll do that, too and I’ve amassed a nice collection of them. I usually leave two hanging in the kitchen and I sometimes will pin one up on the kitchen wall as artwork, changing them when I get a new one or just feel like something different.

I’ve bought little houses or buildings, ornament sized as I do collect those if i find a really nice one that reflects the architectural style of the area. One of the main things I’ve collected is, as you can see by the photo, fridge magnets. They’re not expensive, are easy to pack and transport and you can see them and remember all the places you’ve been every time you open the fridge door.  You can see I’ve got quite a few. I’ve had some lovely folks bring me one from their travels but most of these are my own. I’m beginning to have a bad case of magnet creep, mind you. They’re already starting to filter off the top fridge door onto the bottom one and around the side.  There are a small number that aren’t travel related but most of them are. I won’t list all the locations, but my newest one was donated by a coworker who recently visited Australia! You can see that one, a yellowy diamond shaped one, near the top right.

I did see a good idea somewhere on the net, a suggestion for building a shadow box with a back panel of tin, covered in pretty paper or fabric, with the magnets stuck on them and then the whole thing hung on the wall. That might be a very good thing to look into. It would declutter my fridge nicely and still display my magnets. I might have to make several of them, though. Still…

It would clear the way for the next lot!

Traveling through the movies – Light in the Piazza (Italy)

Florence - Piazza Signoria

Florence – Piazza Signoria

Here’s another in the occasional blog posts about movies that have great location shoots. Light in the Piazza is an older movie from 1962 starring Olivia de Havilland, Rossano Brazzi, Yvette Mimieux and George Hamilton. A pretty woman in her 20s, Clara, is traveling through Italy with her mother. They meet a handsome younger Italian man, Fabrizio, and the young couple fall in love. Fabrizio is smitten with Clara and turns up everywhere they go. He’s got the hotel manager on board and the manager lets him know where the object of his affections will be, you see. Is Fabrizio merely in love or is he a gigolo, after a young woman that he thinks is an heiress?

Piazza Signoria - Florence

Piazza Signoria – Florence

Mama Meg is afraid. You see, Clara had an accident as a child and her head injury has left her with the maturity level of a 10 year old but she’s bright enough, bubbly, pretty and full of the joys of life. Fabrizio thinks she’s just refeshingly naive but her mother doesn’t want Clara to be hurt. Seems other men in the past have rejected her when they find out about her condition and Meg wants nothing more than that Clara have a normal life. Fabrizio really does seem sincere in his affections for Clara and Meg starts to think, if he doesn’t find out the truth, Clara could be happy.

Spanish Steps - Rome

Spanish Steps – Rome

Much of the movie was filmed in Florence with a bit in Rome and during a train journey between the two, we get some views of Italian countryside as well.

Italian countryside

Italian countryside


Streets of Florence


Overloooking the Arno in Florence with de Havilland and Mimieux

Luckily, with older European cities like Florence and Rome, very little changes in the historic city centre so what you see on a screen from 1962 isn’t so very different from what you would see if you go now. The movie opens in Florences Piazza Signoria which is filled with statues and a big fountain in the middle. We get to see great views of the Arno river and some of the bridges but not really the famed Ponte Vecchio as much. We see the great Duomo and the narrow streets. It’s a great “walk” through Florence. We also get a bit of Rome including the Forum and Spanish Steps.

Another movie definitely worth watching for the wonderful locations in Florence and the movie itself is pretty good, too.