Throwback Thursday Classic Shots

It looks like it might actually be spring here in Nova Scotia. Mind you, this time last year we had just come out of another snowfall so it “ain’t over til it’s over” when you live here.

Being optimistic, I’m pulling out some floral photos from my distant past travels. I’ve probably blogged about it way back when I first started this travel blog, but my first major trip once I could afford to go was on a bus tour around the UK in 1993. There were many stops along the way and I had a fabulous time. This photo is of Anne Hathaway’s cottage near Stratford-on-Avon. It was the end of August/early September 1993 and the garden was still lovely. We posed for our group photo here, but not in front of the garden  as you might assume. No, it was in the parking lot. Never mind. I know where we were!

Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-on-Avon

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford-on-Avon, 1993

Let’s jump forward a few years to October 1996 and a bus tour around Italy with a friend. We stayed in London for a few days, first and met up with a friend who lived in Essex near Southend. We drove out into Kent and visits Leeds Castle. This is on the castle grounds and the garden is called Culpepper Garden. It might be mid October but there are still a few wildflowers hanging on!

Culpepper Garden in Leeds Castle, Kent

Culpepper Garden in Leeds Castle, Kent, 1996

I did some minor travel in 1998 relating to training at work (Boston, New York, Toronto, Ottawa) and in 1999 there was a weekend in Toronto, but in 2000, things were looking up.  I had two major trips, one to British Columbia in the spring and one to the UK again, in September, incorporating stays in London, Manchester, Stoke and Scotland with a short bus tour in Scotland. One of our stops there was at Inverewe Gardens overlooking Loch Ewe in the northwest of Scotland.

Inverewe Gardens

Inverewe Gardens, Scotland. 2000

Finally, in 2003 I made a solo visit to the UK to visit friends in various places, Worcester, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and London. These were the spring blooms in Cardif by the War Memorial. Blossoms on the trees, tulips blazing across the ground. Gorgeous! (too bad I was on my way to a nasty flu which hit me hard in Bath and London!)

War memorial, Cardiff

War memorial, Cardiff, 2003

Begorrathon 2017: Traveling through the movies


This is the latest in an ongoing series of posts about movies that make you want to travel somewhere. I’ve done Ireland before, with the movie Leap Year. This time, the movie is called The Boys and Girl from County Clare, released in 2003. The difference is that the movie hasn’t actually been filmed in Ireland for the most part, it was filmed mainly on the Isle of Man which is also a place I haven’t been and would like to go.

Here, then, is my review of the movie for this year’s Begorrathon, the month of Irish culture being held at Raging Fluff and 746Books.

John Joe and Jimmy meet for the first time in over 20 years. It does not go well.

The year is 1965. The place is Ireland. The event is an annual Céili  competition, traditional Irish music played in the traditional Irish manner on traditional Irish musical istruments. You get the picture. The competition is fierce and hotly contested. John Joe and his band have won the event the past three years but John Joe’s younger brother who’s been living in Liverpool and also has a Céili band, is determined to enter and win the competition this year. The brothers fell out years ago over a woman and each is determined to stop the other from attending. What follows is a comedy of errors with a family secret to be revealed at the end.

Anne, Maisie and John Joe

John Joe and Jimmy’s lives have taken very different paths, as has their third brother’s. Young and talented Anne in John Joe’s band has never been told the name of her father by her mother Maisie. You can kind of predict where this is going. Talented Teddy plays in Jimmy’s band and naturally, falls for Anne. While the brothers struggle to keep their bands traditional, the younger generation is beginning to be influenced by the 60s pop culture scene, Beatlemania and hippie culture being at their height. The Times they are a-Changing and all that.

Bernard Hill plays John Joe and Colm Meany plays Jimmy, two actors that will be familiar to you, I’m sure. Andrea Corr, who plays Anne, has a musical background, being a part of the Corrs. You may also have seen her in The Committments. The reviews have not been all that great and it’s fairly predictable, but I really enjoyed it. The antics made me laugh, the actors are ones I always like, the style of humour is dry and typically Irish, the traditional music is played with joy and enhances the movie perfectly, and the scenery as the bands make their way to the competition is a feast for the eyes.

As I said, the movie was filmed mainly on the Isle of Man and somewhat in Northern Ireland, both locations that are places I have never been and would like to go someday. As far as the Begorrathon tie in, well, even if the filming location wasn’t focussed in Ireland, the story and the music was.

Jimmy’s band at the All Ireland competition trials

John Joe’s band at the All Ireland competition trials

John Joe, Jimmy and their brother Father Padjoe

Links to lots more of the Begorrathon posts are here.

Mailboxes in all the odd places

Inspired by a post at Travel Words, where a number of unusual UK mail boxes were posted there today. I knew I had a few photos of some that were a bit different than the run of the mill red pillar box. Actually, most of these photos are not UK red post boxes but you can see that. The first was one we’d walked by in the small town of Cobh, Ireland, on the Cork harbour. The next is from Roskilde, Denmark and the little green one was outside of a little, dusty antique shop in Dublin. I think it must be Victorian era.

Victorian mailbox in Cobh

Yellow house

Victorian letterbox outside an antique shop in Dublin

And two from my visits to the old set of Coronation Street. When we visited during the 2 years that the tour was open recently, you could get your postcards stamped in the shop with an actual Coronation Street post mark and then mail them in the mailbox on the street and they’d be delivered. Naturally, I mailed a few to myself!
Postbox on the Street
The Word from the street

DP Challenge – A Good Match

This week’s Daily Post challenge is to find things that go well together. Cookies and milk. Beach and a book. Gardens and Butterflies. That sort of thing. My idea was to post some photos from three major cities in Europe, Rome, Paris and London, that contain things that I think of when I think of those cities, things that are an  inherent part of the city without being the bleeding obvious, so you will not see photos of the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum or Big Ben here.

First up: Rome.

Gelato

Gelato and Rome. What better way to enjoy a sunny piazza?

Piazza Republicca fountain

There are no end of fountains in Rome, big ones and small ones. This one is in Piazza Republicca

Here’s some Parisian sights:

Paris Metro - Abbesses (Montmartre)

Paris and the Metro, with many of them having really beautiful old signage and ironwork. This one is in Montmartre, Abbesses

Paris Metro - Odeon (St. Germain)

This Metro sign is in St. Germain (Odeon) on the left bank

Montmartre cafe

What’s more ubiquitious than a sidewalk cafe in Paris?

Then over to my favourite city, London:

Aldwych, London

Aldwych, London: While there are double decker busses all over the UK, the red ones seem so much a London sight. Red phone booths are becoming much less common but they keep them in Central London for the tourists.

Covent Garden taxi

London has thousands of black cabs traversing the streets. These days you will often see them painted bright colours or plastered with advertising but that diesel rattle is distinct.

Spitalfields Market baked goods

London is famed for its markets. Spitalfields market, in this photo, Covent Garden, Camden, Notting Hill’s Portobello Road, East End Brick Lane and Petticoat Lane (not far from Spitalfields), Borough Market (South Bank, near London Bridge) and many more

Traveling through television: Sherlock

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

Occasionally, I write a few lines about a movie or tv show that has great locations, shots that make me really want to visit somewhere. In today’s blog, it’s somewhere I’ve been quite a few times and it’s not so much a case of “I want to go there” but “I want to go back there” and that somewhere is London. I know I’ve featured London before in this series of posts but if you want a really good look at the city, not just the famous landmarks but the streets and neighbourhoods, the BBC series Sherlock is excellent.

We’ve been delving into a box set of Sherlock, the BBC series featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and Watson. It was filmed on location mostly in London with some locations in Wales that stand in for London. It was apparent right from the start that they were out and about in London itself because London has a distinctive look in spite of having a great many different neighbourhoods. You get a look at all the famous sites such as Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament (Westminster) and the Tower Bridge and Tower of London. You get to see the London skyline sometimes from a vantage point across the river to the Southbank. You watch Sherlock and Watson running through the streets of Covent Garden, Picadilly Circus and Soho at night.

Picadilly Circus from above

Picadilly Circus from above

We were part way through the second episode of Series 1 and both remarked at the same time that it was just like being back there. It’s always fun to watch for familiar views when you’ve been somewhere that a tv show or movie has used for filming and you can smugly point and say “I’ve been there”. We are enjoying the series as much for that as for the stories themselves.

Sherlock’s famous home, 221B Baker Street doesn’t actually exist in London. Standing in for it is 187 North Gower street, a bit further east, not far from the British Museum.

221B Baker Street (not really!)

221B Baker Street (not really!)

187 North Gower St.

187 North Gower St.

One of the scenes has Sherlock running through an antiquities museum. It seemed like a large place and I wondered why it wasn’t looking at all familiar. I’ve been in most of the big museums in London but it turns out that location is actually inside the Welsh National Museum in Cardiff. There are a few other spots and buildings in Cardiff they used as well including this one below, taken from the first series.

Actually a college in Cardiff

Actually a college in Cardiff

If you like London or want to go there, Sherlock is a great series to feast your eyes on the city’s streets and monuments. There are three series and only three 90 minute episodes in each. The stories are great, they’ve updated it really well. And then, there’s Benedict Cumberbatch! Arguments? Thought not.

Enjoy!

Sherlockology

Fangirlquest’s Sherlock location page

Britmovietours does a Sherlock location tour

There’s going to be a fourth series!

Travel Theme: Hills

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack has a weekly travel photo theme. This week it’s Hills. While I don’t go hiking or hill walking, we do encounter hills on our drives, train rides, etc.  and traversing through cities which almost always have hills. Some more than others. The steepest city I’ve ever been in was St. John’s, Newfoundland, the easternmost province in Canada. The streets soar up from the harbour, some so steep they actually have little staircases in parts of them. Here are a few photos featuring hills.

First, from one of my favourite parts of England, the Peak District National Park

Peak_1520
Next up is a view from another of my favourite regions, the Lake District.
Lake District
Here in Canada, you can’t beat the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia for dramatic scenery.
Cabot Trail MacKenzie Mountain
Then there are the rolling hills of the tiny province of Prince Edward Island.
Country Roads
And last, Sacre Coeur, high on the hill overlooking Paris
Sacre Coeur

Travel Theme: Transport

This week’s challenge from Where’s My Backpack is Transport. I give you some examples from the Lakeland Motor Museum, in the south part of the Lake District in England.

LLMBicycles

Motor Bicycles

Penny Farthings

Antique Bicycles and Pennyfarthings

Corgi Scooter

Corgi Scooter

Vincent Black Knight

1950s Vincent Black Knight motorcycle

Garage

Reproduction of a Garage from the 1930s

 

Travel Theme – Peaks

Rather than fulfilling the weekly travel theme at Where’s My Backpack about Peaks with mountains and hills from the Peak District in the UK, which was very tempting, I’m digging out a few from the Scottish Highlands. They are all scans from photos taken in between 2000 and 2003 and they aren’t very good though I’ve done some or a lot of processing on them. I must dig out my photo albums and re-scan them because I have a much better scanner now.

Daily Post – Mirror

WordPress Daily Post weekly challenge this week is Mirror. I haven’t got a lot of photos of actual mirrors but still waters reflect perfectly.

This first photo is not a very good scan from a photo I took around 9 a.m. at a picnic site near Arrochar in the Scottish Highlands. A good friend of mine whom I had known online for several years picked me and another good friend up at our hotel in Glasgow and drove us through the Highlands to Oban where we caught the ferry to Mull and then to the island of Iona via a pedestrian ferry. Since we’d made quite an early start, we were ready for a quick snack and a break just as the sun was really breaking over the mountains. I think it was mid April so the mornings were still late in getting bright. We had a lovely day and lots of laughs. He passed away about 7 months later so I’m very glad I got to meet him face to face.

Long Loch from Arrochar

Long Loch, Scottish Highlands near Arrochar

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!