WPC: Shiny – Let’s Visit Worcester, UK

The WordPress Weekly challenge this week is “Shiny”, or, to use their description, “Diversions, Distractions, and Delightful Detours”. Things that catch your attention and divert you from your original goal or intention, something you can’t resist. It might, indeed, be something shiny but it could be really, anything.

When I’m traveling, I always have my camera handy. I’m always on the lookout and the things that might take my attention, things I can’t resist photographing are sometimes a unique architectural detail, something interesting, weird or wonderful in a shop window, or perhaps a small and unusual museum.

I was sitting in a very old pub once, The Cardinal’s Hat in the city of Worcester, with a friend and he looked at me, baffled as to why I appeared to be taking a photo of the wall beside me. I pointed out that there was an old door there. “Yes…..”. “Look at it.” “Erm….” What I was pointing out was the existence of two locks side by side on the door, a modern Yale type lock and a very old latch. This is the detail that caught my eye, such contrasts over time.

Old and NewThe building dates back to the fourteenth century and has had many names over the centuries. When I visited, in 2003, it was an Austrian bar and defied licensing laws by serving beer, not by the pint but by the litre! It has since been refurbished again. The building now mainly reflects the Georgian era so I presume that’s the origin of the latch.
The pub is on the main historical street, Friar Street, where you will also see old buildings such as the Alms House and Greyfriars and many of the shops on the street are housed in buildings with some origins as old as the Tudor era.

Worcester itself is an old city with a lovely cathedral overlooking the River Severn. There’s a beautiful Guildhall. There is the cathedral that has parts of the building dating back to the 10th century (crypts). Royal Worcester porcelain was still a going concern when I visited and could shop in the “seconds” outlet but it’s closed now. There is, I believe, a museum. Worcester is also the home of the famous Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce which is still made here. It was a Roman occupied area at one time and later, it was a Royalist city during the English Civil War. There was a battle nearby and a defeat for Charles I in 1751. Worcester was also chosen to be the retreat for the British government in case of a German invasion in WWII. It’s a really interesting city if you’re a history fan. Here are some of my old photos from my visit there, scans from film so they’re not the best quality but I think will represent some interesting aspects.

See more distractions and ‘shiny’ here

DP Challenge – Atop

The Daily Post at WordPress has a weekly challenge and this week’s is “Atop”. While browsing my archives and choosing things that are on top of tall things, I started to see a pattern that I thought would make a good theme. Clock towers! You will often see clocks fixed onto tall towers and places. It might be a building, a church tower/steeple, a freestanding clock tower. We in Halifax have a Town Clock high on Citadel Hill that was built so that the soldiers in the garrison would know the time and not be late reporting for duty. I don’t have a good photo of the town clock at hand

Here are some of my clock tower photos!

Boston Clock tower

Somewhere in Boston. Not only a clock, but canny little windows, too!

St Pancras Station

St. Pancras Station, London

Westminster

At Westminster Palace, London. The most famous clock of all. Elizabeth Tower, aka Big Ben which is actually the name of the bell inside the tower. Looking down from ATOP the London Eye!

Toronto Clock Tower

A little tower in Toronto

at Times Square

Seen in Times Square, New York City

Brighton Clock

Freestanding clock tower in Brighton, UK

Grote Markt Belfry

Brugges, Belgium, “Grote Markt” in the market square

Amsterdam Windows

Yes, it has been awhile since I’ve posted anything and I do apologize. This post is in answer to “A Lingering Look at Windows”  As you may know by now, I love taking pictures of windows and doors. This time the photos are all from our trip to Amsterdam in 2009 (was it that long ago!?)

Streetlamps and windows

Near Rembrandt square

Window Shutter detail

Shutter detail near the Floating Flower Market

Canal houses

Along one of the many canals

Begijnhof roofs

The black building is one of the oldest surviving wooden buildings in Amsterdam and is in the Begijnhof area.

Pathe Tuschinski detail

The Art Deco Pathe Tuchinski cinema

New Amsterdam public library

And a touch of modern Amsterdam, the new public library

The Magical History Tour – UK 2003

Ailsa’s weekly travel theme this week is History. Pretty much every trip I take will have some element of history to it, whether it’s a visit to a cathedral or museum or historic site. I went to the UK in 2003, planning to travel around and see various friends. Included was a concert in Manchester to see Paul McCartney. (You can read about the concert in more detail here on my website) Because of the number of historical things I saw and did and in honour of the Beatles, I named this trip the Magical History Tour. It didn’t end very well, however. I started to get sick in Cardiff, felt worse in Bath and by the time I got to London I needed a doctor and a place to stay for an extra week because I was in no shape to fly out when I was supposed to. Thanks to a good Samaritan, I had somewhere to lay my fevered head.

But, in honour of the weekly theme, here are some photos from that trip. The full detailed travelogue is here but I’ll write an abbreviated version here as well.

We start the tour in Worcester, on the River Severn, where I stayed with a good pal for a couple of days. Worcester is quite an old city (well, most of the cities in the UK are old) and there’s a strong connection here to the English Civil War. It was near the site of the final battle when Oliver Cromwell’s troops defeated Charles I. They have a Commandery, a military museum here along the canal and a grand old cathedral. There’s also the Royal Worcester china factory and  very old streets in the city center that are still lined with some buildings that date back to Tudor times. We had lunch in the Cardinal’s Hat, a very old pub and visited the cathedral, the seconds shop for the china place, looked into a flea market in the old Guildhall and generally walked and walked. King John I is buried in the cathedral as is Arthur Tudor, the man that would have been king but who died not long after marrying Katherine of Aragon, leaving his younger brother Henry to be crowned Eighth of his name and the rest, as they say, is history.

My pal and I drove from Worcester to Glasgow (in a Smart car!) for a couple of days. Glasgow is a great city, and I prefer it to Edinburgh. While we were there, we went to the cathedral, St. Mungo’s, which is one of my all time favourites. It’s not a huge and spectactular as some, like Worcester’s or Canterbury’s but it’s peaceful and dark and there’s just something about it that I really like. Up a hill behind it is the Necropolis, Glasgow’s Victorian cemetery that has some wonderful old mausoleums. (mausolea?)

We also met up with another friend who lived nearby and he drove us to the Isle of Iona, which is a little speck off the western coast that you get to via another island, Mull (near Oban). Iona is very small and is mainly pedestrian only unless you live there or are coming in a service vehicle. There’s a ferry from Fionnport that will take you across. There’s a small village and a sandy beach with waters as blue as you’d see in the Mediterranean which surprised me. The main attraction here is the old abbey.

St. Columba founded the Abbey on Iona in 563 and it turned into the cradle of Craigtianity in Europe. Over 3 dozen ancient kings of Scotland are said to be buried in the old cemetery, some graves little more than a rise in the ground with a small stone the size of a man’s hand wedged into the ground at one end. There are also some modern graves here including that of political former UK Labour Party leader, John Smith. It’s a quiet place and wasn’t very busy when we were there, early April. It almost feels like time stands still. The abbey is partially restored inside and there are also ruins of a nunnery nearby.

We headed to Manchester to meet up with a few more friends to see the Paul McCartney concert. That’s historic in its own way. The Beatles were probably the first super group of the modern age and each of the band members are and were legendary. Manchester was a few days of hanging out with friends, including a trip to the Lowry Gallery to see the paintings of L.S. Lowry whose pictures of near-stick figure people and the working class of Victorian Manchester bring that period of Manchester’s history to life. A few more friends converged on the city over the next few days and we happily spent time with each other, shopping, eating and having a drink or two.

I left Manchester in the company of a friend who lives in Cardiff. We took the train back to her home and I spent a lovely few days exploring that city. I had a look in the big civic museum, saw a gorgeous war memorial surrounded by spring flowers and trees in bloom, had a walk in Bute Park that abuts Cardiff Castle where I had visited once before so I didn’t pay the admission to go in again. Kind of wish I had now, though. Cardiff is a nice place and has a lot to offer. It’s grown and modernized, especially along the Cardiff Bay development but the city center has galleries, theatre, pubs and shops including an indoor covered market that was fun to browse. We also went a bit out of the way to see Llandaff Cathedral but this turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I was not impressed at the modern concrete arch across the middle interior topped with an art deco style statue of Jesus. It really didn’t fit in, I thought.

I continued my onward journey on my own after leaving Cardiff but was most definitely starting to feel ill with some sort of flu. I got to a hotel in Bath, a World Heritage Site, and probably should have found a walk in clinic but I was determined not to spend the next couple of days in my hotel room. I carried on. I went to see the old Roman baths, the pump room, the beautiful Georgian streets where Jane Austen walked. I loved the architecture and I visited the old Assembly rooms which includes the Museum of Costume. Superb stuff! I even walked through the old Pulteney bridge across the Avon, an 18th century bridge with shops lining it on both sides.

Bath Abbey is like a cathedral here and is very old. The current one replaces several editions of churches and religious buildings back to the 8th century and King Edgar was crowned King of the English herer in the late 10th century. The city itself was little more than a village in the late 18th century when the rediscovery of the mineral baths promped a flurry of development by Georgian architects John Wood, the Elder and his son and Bath became the Society’s “In” place, the place to see and be seen for the next 40 or 50 years. It’s a very interesting city and well worth braving the crowds.

I managed to get myself on the bus to London because the trains were not going to be running in to London on the day I was planning to travel. I forget why, now. By the time I got to London, I needed a doctor and arranged one through the hotel. My sister had a friend that lived locally and I ended up staying with him for almost a week until I was able to travel home. So the Magical History Tour had a bit of an ignomanious ending but I won’t forget it!

 

The colours of Rome

In response to the weekly challenge at Where’s My Backpack (Pastel) I give you the colours of Rome. In fact, most of Italy’s towns and cities have buildings of similar hues. The only place I was startled to find brighter colours was on the Island of Burano in Venice.

Piazza navona

Piazza Navona, Rome

Piazza Monte Citorio building 2

Piazza Monte Cintorio, Rome

The Pope's Jeans?

Somewhere through the wall around Vatican City

Rome building 1

Random walking through the narrow streets finds gems like this

Rome pink yellow buildings

Love the warm colours!

Rome curvy church

Even the churches are painted

Eagle detail

Eagle detail

Rome Balcony

Balconies and rooftop gardens

Travel Theme – Looking up

Since I love to look at and photograph architecture, I always look up to see details on buildings, doors, windows, ceilings etc. to see details above eye level. On my travels, I take photos in all directions, “up” included. The interiors of churchs and cathedrals make it almost mandatory to look up. You miss so much that’s beautiful and interesting if you don’t.

For the Daily Post challenge – Look Up and also for the Travel Theme – Indoors, from Where’s My Backpack

The scissor arch in Wells Cathedral.

The scissor arch in Wells Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City

St Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral, the altar canopy

Sacre Coeur interior dome

Sacre Coeur, Paris

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A Lingering Look at Windows – July

Some of my favourite subjects to photograph are windows and doors.  I love architectural details and they seem to be one of the ones that varies the most from building to building. Here are a few from my travels. See more of them here. 

Port Royal Fenetre

Port Royal, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

Green Gables Marilla's Window

Green Gables, Marilla’s Room, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

Tower Windows

Toronto

Bounty's window

HMS Bounty (Replica). The ship was built for the Hollywood production Mutiny on the Bounty in the early 1960s (Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard)

Ordsall Hall window detail

Ordsall Hall, Salford. Manor dates back to Tudor era

Virtually a castle

Beaumaris

Beamaris Castle, Wales

The digital enhancements of the same view. Photo from the Welsh Government site.

The digital enhancements of the same view. Photo from the Welsh Government site.

Here’s something that is quite interesting and it caught my eye because we have visited this castle. The Welsh Government has invested some money to enhance the visitor experience at Beaumaris Castle in North Wales on the island of Anglesey. Beaumaris is one of the ring of castles that King Edward I built to intimidate and contain the Welsh in the late 13th century but this one was never finished. He ran out of money and was a bit distracted by trying to hammer the Scots into line.

Now, there will be many improvements to the castle for the visitor including an interactive app that will show, digitally, what the castle would have looked like if it had been finished.  Technology can add greatly to the whole experience, providing extra information and ideas. With this app, you should get a much better feel for what it really looked like 700 years ago. So many castles, abbeys and cathedrals are only ruins or shells and are shadows of their former selves. I find this kind of thing immensely interesting.

We visited Beaumaris on a lovely spring day a few years ago. It’s a very pretty drive through North Wales and the town of Beamaris is small with some pretty shops and a couple of very old pubs. The views from the walls over the Menai Strait are lovely and there is even a beach to walk on if the day is nice.  If you are in the area, check it out, and nearby Carnaefon Castle as well.

Beaumaris P1050239

Fountain series June

Here’s a new challenge I discovered, with a different theme each month, and I believe all are to do with fountains. June’s theme is unusual details or unusual fountains. You can find fountains in most places, small and large. fountains can commemorate, they can be decorative, they can be very artistic, whether classical or modern. I’ve taken pictures of lots of fountains in places I’ve visited though most wouldn’t be classified as unusual.

In Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, UK, The gardens has an area called the Serpentine where trimmed hedges lead you through a series of fountains whose mechanics are based on physics. Here are a few of those fountains.

Alnwick Gardens Fountain

Alnwick Castle Gardens fountain

Alnwick Castle Gardens fountain

Alnwich Castle Garden fountain - works on centrifugal force. It drains slowly and then fills up again.

Alnwick Castle Garden fountain – works on centrifugal force. It drains slowly and then fills up again.

And a couple more:

Place des Arts Fountain

Place des Arts, Montreal

Victorian Jubilee fountain

The Victorian era Jubillee Fountain, Halifax Public Gardens, Nova Scotia