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

It’s been quiet around here lately

cropped-cropped-kemblestreetrestaurant2.jpgYes, I know I haven’t really been writing or posting photos too much this month. I must get back on the bandwagon, at least when it comes to the photo challenges. I’ve been considering pulling out an old travelogue and posting bits here but not sure if anyone would be interested in trips from 10 to 15 years ago or more. A lot of things can change!

Possibilities for posts: Maybe the bus trip around “Bonny Scotland” (2000)?  What about the “Magical History Tour”, including various locations around the UK (2003)?

I am planning a trip to the UK for the end of March but it isn’t expected to be a sightseeing type trip. I’m going over and when I come back, my husband will be returning with me to move to Canada for good! The days I’m in Manchester will likely be doing all the last minute stuff that had to wait until then and we’re planning on a couple of days in Ipswich to see family before flying home. We might get a chance to see a bit of the city of Ipswich and maybe Bury St. Edmonds nearby. If we check into the hotel at the airport early enough, we may take the tube in to London for a few hours and a meal. I haven’t booked any rental cars or hotels yet because we need to confirm with the relatives for dates. I guess I can do the Heathrow hotel, mind you, we know what night we’ll be there and flying out on the morning after. It’s all very exciting!

Travel theme: Fabric

The travel theme this week on Where’s My Backpack is Fabric. 

I’ve chosen a few photos from my travels to Manchester, UK, mostly from museums but one from the Bury Market, bright coloured materials that are used for saris.

Early 17th century tie on sleeves. Manchester Museum of Costume

Early 17th century tie on sleeves. Manchester Museum of Costume

Late 18th century silk shoes, Manchester Museum of Costume

Late 18th century silk shoes, Manchester Museum of Costume

Elizabethan dress, Ordsal Hall, Salford

Back of the neck ruff of the Elizabethan dress, Ordsall Hall, Salford

Bury market fabric to make a sari. Bury, UK

Day Trips: The Snake Pass

SnakePassRouteWhen I travel to see my fiance, now my husband, in the UK, we usually take a few day trips by car. There are lots of nice places out of the Manchester area that make for a good road trip. We’ve often gone to  York, into the Peak District or up to the Lake District, among other places, and we’ve also gone across the border into Wales as well. My next visit is in September so we’re starting to decide where we might go.

One scenic route I’d heard was really nice was through the north of the Peak District National Park across the Snake Pass. G. loves driving along twisty, turny roads so he won’t mind at all. There is a particularly pretty stop off at the Ladybower Reservoir and there is sure to be a country pub or two along the way to choose for lunch. I always say Google is my friend so I’ve learned this about the pass. It’s got an elevation of 1680 feet at it’s highest point. It is the main connector road between Manchester and Sheffield but can be closed in the winter if the weather is bad. It’s actually been closed as I write this for road works and repairs so I will expect it to be in top form in September.

The Ladybower Reservoir was built in the Upper Derwent Valley in the Peaks in the mid 20th century and two local villages were “drowned”. One was demolished completely but apparently you can see the remains of the other one if the reservoir is low. It’s a very picturesque spot and an interesting place to visit so maybe we’ll stop there to stretch our legs.

As we circle back up north of the area into Yorkshire, we thought we might stop in the village of Holmfirth, famed for the filming location of The Last of the Summer Wine, which is one of the longest running sitcoms ever. It aired from the 70s for just over 30 years. I have seen the occasional episode but I haven’t watched it much. It was very popular in the U.K. and the village is a tourist attraction now. It’s got lovely stone cottages and shops and is surrounded by beautiful scenery. We may stop off there on our return leg.

Driving the pass without stopping really shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours or so but with stop offs, it will make for a grand day out!

Travel Theme: Industry

This week’s travel theme is Industry.

There’s a mixed bag for you today.  When traveling, we visit museums. Some are large and some are small. Sometimes local museums are excellent for showing the evolution of a town or region, through it’s economy over the years. Was it a farm region? Was it industrial with factories? What shipping or mining dominant? I have made many visits to Manchester in England. That region was built up quite a lot in the 19th century industrial revolution and textiles were a dominant industry. In Manchester there’s a really good (and free) museum, the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.  It covers 5 or 6 buildings near an old train station, including a building that displays old aircraft of various kinds. One building has old trains and steam engines. The following two photos are from that part of the museum.

Steam guages

Another steam powered set of gears and wheels

Elsewhere, while driving around Salford (which is next to Manchester), we spotted this. It looked like a bunch of robot arms raising a toast!

Cheers!

One last view, the Manchester Ship Canal at the Salford Quays, once a very industrial landscape. This canal was part of the system that would ship to and from the coast near Liverpool and in fact you can book a cruise from here to the city of Liverpool. The area around the Quays is now mostly some warehouses and some posh apartment towers. It’s also home to the new(ish) BBC Media City, shared with ITV as well. Photo taken from the top of the tower at the Imperial War Museum North.

Manchester ship canal, Salford Quays

One more, closer to home. This is a view looking south towards Halifax’s container pier on Hollis Street.

Hollis Street, Halifax NS towards the container piers

Travel Theme: Closeup (Say Yes to the Dress)

Ailsa’s theme over at Where’s My Backpack this week is Closeup. When I take photos of places and things, I also like to get a close up view of details. It might be a building, or a flower, or something else. It may not be super-close like a macro shot but it will show up an interesting feature that adds to the overall feeling.

This dress, dated to the  Elizabethan era, was on display in the “great solar”, a bedroom with a wardrobe, bed, working desk and area and fireplace, of course. How could you not get up close to the exquisite details? These were taken at Ordsall Hall in Salford this spring. You can read more about that visit here.

Sleeve

Back of the ruff at the neck

The bodice front

 

Ordsall Hall

Ordsall Hall, Salford

Ordsall Hall is a Tudor era manor house in Salford near the redeveloped Salford Quays. While there has been a house on this spot for 750 years, the current one dates back to the late 15th century and it also has connections to the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Guy Fawkes is the most noted member of the conspiracy that attempted to blow up Parliament and Ordsall Hall was allegedly one of the locations where the group met to form their plans, the Radclyff family who owned it for several centuries, being Catholic.

The Radclyffe family sold it in 1662 and it’s been used as quite a few things over the years. It’s been a museum since 1972 and was recently refurbished and is free to enter, open Sunday through Thursday as a rule. The hall can be hired for events and weddings which would be really cool.

Rear of Ordsall Hall

The first time I visited here was in 2001 and I was eager to see it again since the renovations. There wasn’t as much of it open to the public as there is now. We only had a half hour to see it before closing and that is nearly enough time as it’s not very big. There is also an upstairs space used for exhibitions and a little gallery but we didn’t have to time to have a look. There’s a small gift shop area and café on the ground floor as well.

Timbered beam ceiling of the Great Hall

You enter into the Great Hall with its superb beamed ceiling and lovely leaded glass windows. The hall is set up for a banquet with the antique oak table from the 1500s, and several wonderful old cabinets around the edges, near the big wooden studded doors. The hall itself is dated to 1512. The ceilings and the windows are really beautiful, especially the bay oriel window overlooking the knot garden at the back of the house (which is where the entrance is).

The Star Chamber, the oldest surviving part of the hall

The next room is the oldest part of the house, the Star Chamber, so called due to the metallic stars installed in the ceiling. There are some wattle and daub wall fillers still viewable and the old fireplace here still shows gouges in the stone where people used to hone their swords. This Star Chamber is the location of the supposed meeting between Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby as they came up with their infamous plot. There’s no real evidence to support it but the lane following one side of the property is named after Fawkes.

There is even an alleged ghost and they have a “ghost cam” set up in the house. Also in the Star Chamber is a suit of armour and a box of armoured helmets. There was a table with an old writing desk on it and feather “pen” and another with some old musical instruments on display. There’s an Elizabethan globe in one of the other rooms. They also have six pieces of medieval stained glass hangings, mainly “heraldic” symbols like one of a bull’s head in the kitchen and two hanging on the oriel window off the Great Hall.

Italian plaster ceiling

On the top floor, there is also a room with an Italianate plaster ceiling which was rare in the northwest. This is newly opened to the public after the recent restorations. This is normally closed to the public but you can look into it through a glass panel.

The Great Chamber

You can then go upstairs to see another solar chamber, the Great chamber, with a canopied bed and an old fashioned bath (reproduction). There’s also a gorgeous off-white Elizabethan dress on display with really beautiful detail on the bodice, sleeves and around the ruff. There are a few pieces of costume in the wardrobe like hats and ruffs that you can try on if you want. The hall is often used for school outings and they have costumed guides to explain the history of the house to schoolkids.

Back on the ground floor there’s a kitchen set up as it would have looked in Elizabethan times and which has interesting items to look at as well and it’s got a recorded voice over of “life in the kitchen”. Some of the items are of later eras such as a bread oven from Victorian times.

 

History:

Sir John Radclyffe campaigned with Edward III and was allowed to bring back some weavers to his manor where he set up a sort of factory and made his money in cloth production. The exterior of the oldest part is half-timber beamed and there is brick addition on the house as well. It used to be built around a courtyard but only two wings are left now, an L-shape. After the Radclyffes sold the house, it went through a number of owners. The last time it was occupied as a residence was in 1871.

More about the hall here.

My Flickr set of photos is here.

When plans change

passport_leafOff to the UK on Friday night and I’m not looking forward to the flight. I do love to travel but the process of getting there is not a lot of fun. There’s small, cramped seats. I can’t afford to go business class and these days, what you get there is a little individual “pod” which doesn’t really look that comfortable, either, except it can recline and there’s nobody squashed up beside you. The width of them doesn’t look all that much wider than a standard seat. Before these came out, business class seats were like big comfy lazy-boy chairs!

And I’m getting a cold. I have the sniffly stuffed up nose stage at the moment. If the travel gods are with me, it might not get worse than that, but I doubt I’ll be that lucky. Flying with a head cold will be awful and I figure I’ll end up spreading the germs and making a number of other passengers ill too, even though I try to keep it to myself. All that recycled air, though, isn’t condusive to health.

The other reason is that my plans have changed. We have had to cancel Paris. My partner’s father is very ill and we really can’t be out of the country. We don’t know how much longer we’ll have him so every day counts. We might get to London on Easter weekend depending on how things go but as I’m due to fly back out of London, I will have to go. If he comes with me, at least he can be back in Manchester by train in a couple of hours if need be. That’s easier than trying to get home from Paris.

Again, though, that still depends on the situation. I may need to change my ticket and extend my time in Manchester. I did get cancellation and interruption on my flight to the UK so any costs incurred in changing should be covered by that, at least. I didn’t get insurance on anything else because I’ve been burned on the “pre-existing condition” clause before and even though his dad seemed to be stable when I booked the France part of the trip, he did have a “condition” and I more or less figured a doctor could cite that when filling out a form.

That’s what happened to me the last time I tried to recover the cost of a cancelled flight. The doctor said the patient (my father) was not stable at the time I booked the ticket. That was news to me! While he was recovering from major surgery, we all thought it was just a matter of time. Turns out it was, but not what we thought. Looking back, the doctor was right, and looking back, we can see it but at the time, we didn’t know any different. We thought he was just longer recovering than expected. So after that, I’ve been reluctant to trust buying the insurance. I did this time because everything seemed like things would be ok to get to the UK and back. And this time, if I have to use the insurance, it will only be about changing the return date and those costs associated.

Having said that, I did or will get 3/4 of the money back for the pre-paid hotel in Paris and that will cover the cost of the flight and Eurostar which were also prepaid. That’s a break-even there. There are a few other things that got cancelled that were non-refundable but they won’t add up to a lot. Extending the rental car in Manchester an extra week didn’t cost me double, either, which was a nice surprise, it’s only costing another 50% and that wasn’t prepaid.

This will be a vacation from work, and we’ll be spending our two weeks together which is important when you live 3000 miles apart for the moment. I hope we’ll be able to get out for a day trip or two just for a drive somewhere. We’ll need that to recharge our batteries.

It’s the way life is. We help each other, support each other, and get through it. Paris can wait.

Stoked for two upcoming trips

Rue St. Paul, Old Montreal

An opportunity came up last week for another quick trip. This time to Montreal in July. The legendary rock band Queen is my all time favourite. After their lead singer, Freddie Mercury, died over 20 years ago, it seemed as if that would be the end of their touring days. But they took on Paul Rogers as vocalist. He was best known as lead singer for the late 60s and early 70s bands Free, and Bad Company. He’s a decent singer, some would argue one of the best rock vocalists. I was less than impressed and I didn’t think the classic Queen music suited him. They did a cd of new and original music, though, and that was much better. He hasn’t stayed with them.

Two years ago, they did some concerts in London using American Idol contestant Adam Lambert who has made a good career for himself. I was skeptical but saw some of the video taken at the gig and ended up being very impressed. This summer, Queen and Adam Lambert are going on a 6 week North American tour with several stops in Canadian cities, including Montreal. I work with someone that’s a major Adam Lambert fan as well as a fan of Queen and we have decided to go. I gave her the ticket money and she snagged us two good seats on the floor pretty near the stage. Another good friend of mine has a ticket and she’s going as well. We may all end up sharing a hotel room, depending on who else ends up going.

Queen is a bucket list band for me and I’m hugely stoked for this one!! And, you know, a couple of days in Montreal thrown in only adds sugar and spice to the mix. Montreal is a fantastic city with lots of personality and style. An unexpected quick trip! Gotta love those!

Coronation Street studio tour tickets!

Coronation Street studio tour tickets!

You all know I’m heading to the U.K. and Paris in less than a month. Yep, stoked for that. We’ve already got tickets to see The Mousetrap and a Vikings exhibit in London and have our must-see-do items for Paris and day trips from there. You may also know that I’m a Coronation Street fan. Corrie is a British serial drama or soap that’s been running since 1960. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the set four times to date and there’s one more visit in the offing.

Coronation Street is now filmed at a new studio at Media City in Salford, near to Manchester and the old set is just sitting there, waiting for someone to redevelop it. Before that happens, though, it’s being opened as a guided tour between April and early October this year. Today, tickets went on sale so I snapped up a couple. Why? Yes, I know I’ve been there already but a fan never passes by an opportunity! This is a guided tour, with backstage access including some of the areas the public doesn’t get to including the green room and the dressing room area. Not all of the sets are there, of course, but some of the interiors of the houses will be. I don’t think they’ll have the sets or reproductions of the sets for the pub or other businesses. They will also let you outside on the famed cobbled street for photos as well. This will be the last shot before they close it for good.

I have our tickets and I’m stoked!