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.

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

Travel Theme: Arches

Arches are an architectural staple. Curved, peaked, they give a building elegance but they also give it stability. Arches can be used to frame a photo or a person standing under it. I visit a lot of old buildings, ruins, cathedrals, and arches feature in most of them in one form or another.  Here’s a few. And you can see more via Ailsa’s weekly challenge, here.

Armadale Castle, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Salem Common bandstand, Salem, Massechussets

The Colosseum and Arch of Constantine, Rome

St. Anne de Beaupre, Quebec

WPC: Descent

WordPress issues a weekly photo challenge and this week’s theme is “Descent”. If it goes up, it must come down. Descent, down a hill, staircase, waterfall…I like to go up in high places when visiting cities, many of which have observation towers. Observations wheels are becoming popular too, since the London Eye was such a hit. Some cities, like Vienna, have had an observation wheel for a century, somewhere I’d love to go someday.

Colourful houses on the steep streets of St. John's

Colourful houses on the steep streets of St. John’s

Positano, on the Amalfi coast of Italy

Positano, on the Amalfi coast of Italy

London Eye, about to go over the top

London Eye, about to go over the top

Chatsworth House, England

Chatsworth House, England

Vatican spiral staircase


Travel Theme – Autumn

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Autumn which is nearly over. Ok, it’s not officially over until Dec. 21 I think or the 20th but once the colourful leaves on the trees turn brown and they fall off the branches, it feels like autumn is done, at least here in Canada. Having said that, I visited Paris in mid November in 2007 and there was still colour on the trees. Rome in November has no colourful signs of autumn at all though I do recall scarlet vines on buildings further north in Italy in places such as San Gimignano. Autumn in much of the UK where I’ve been at that time of year seems to fade from green to yellow to brown.

Here then, from my travels, mainly from that trip to Paris are some examples of autumn.

Abbesses Metro, Paris

Abbesses Metro, Paris

Etat General, Paris

The Louvre, Paris

San Gimignano, Italy

Black and White Monday

This is a photo that I’ve probably blogged before. It’s one of my favourites though it wasn’t always. It was a colour film photo that was drab and non-descript. When I scanned it, a few years after I took it, I played around with it in Photoshop and this was the result. I was quite pleased with it. Black and White photography can really “pop” a photo, with contrasting light and textures.

I was on a walking tour through Richmond and we walked along the Thames towards a pier. There was a boat builder just beside this where we stopped to hear about him persuing his craft using traditional methods. We later boarded a boat to sail to Hampton Court where we had a guided tour of the highlights of the palace. I really want to go back again someday and explore it all.

The Thames, at Richmond

Travel Theme: Numbers

This week’s travel theme from Where’s My Backpack has me thinking about numbers, budget numbers.  Do you set a budget and work within it when you travel? I do and I don’t. I don’t set a specific number as such but I do set limits for what I’m willing to pay for hotels and other expenses. I wait for seat sales, buy train tickets in advance, and book attractions online where they often have a little discount. Yes, you might be restricted to a particular day but that’s the…er..price you pay.

I lob all the prices and costs into a spreadsheet, add on a ballpark amount for “spending” money which would include food, gas, transportation (cabs, bus etc.), phone top ups and other miscellaneous purchases. Then I make a column to record how much has been put in the savings account and later, how much I’ve paid on my credit card once things are purchased or charged (flight, hotels, etc) so I can see how much more I need to save/pay. There’s X dollars that generally go towards the travel fund each pay so when I’m ready to book, there’s a good bit there already.

Most of the time, the bulk of the trip is paid for by the time I leave. Yep, sometimes I splurge while away, sometimes spend more than the allotted X dollars spending money. That’s ok, though. I’m pretty good for staying within the budget or reasonably so.

The travel has other advantages. Other numbers that add up. I’m a registered Aeroplan member and have a credit card that gets me points. I watch the miles add up and currently I’ve got enough for two flights in North America. Notice I don’t say “Free”. When I started using Aeroplan, there was a small fee to book using points. Now they charge you all the taxes and surcharges and your “free” ticket isn’t so free anymore. A flight to London from Halifax most of the time costs, with taxes and charges all in, about $1100 to $1200 depending on when you go and if you can get a seat sale. A “free” ticket on Aeroplan points costs over $600. It sometimes costs more than the price of the airfare.  I can remember when a ticket to London on Air Canada would cost about that much with all the fees and now it’s double.

Ah well. More numbers. The days always count down to the next trip. We don’t start counting “sleeps” until the plane ticket is bought. Now, however, we aren’t planning a trip, we’re planning a wedding. (196 sleeps in case you’re wondering)

And a few photos for the number challenge

Lombard Street in London. The banks and moneylenders used to use symbols instead of written signs because most of the everyday people couldn’t read.

Water measurement on the hull of a ship

Clock in the city of York, UK

Flight Connection Centre, Heathrow Airport, What number is your gate?

Flight Connection Centre, Heathrow Airport, What number is your gate?


WPC Challenge – Refraction

WordPress has a weekly photo challenge, this week’s is “Refraction“.  Refraction is the effect of light passing through something else and changing. Rainbows are refracted light. Reflections can be. Light through water causes really interesting effects. Here’s a few from my archives.

Light through the cut glass globes.
Chatsworth House, England

Cool Clear water. Off the coast of Newfoundland

Reflections through the glass show items upside down.

Sun on the Halifax Harbour

And finally, through a raindrop

Travel Theme: Broken

While in the UK this past spring, we visited two museums in the Lake District, one in the town of Coniston and one, the Lakeland Motor Museum. In both, I learned about a man named Donald Campbell who, along with his father, raced cars and later boats to try to break land and water speed records. Their racing vehicles were a bright blue and all named Bluebird. Donald Campbell created versions of the speed boat version of Bluebird, more and more aerodynamic and often raced them on Lake Coniston (or, locally known as Coniston Water) in the Lake District. Campbell broke 8 land and water speed records and is the only man to hold both a land and water record in the same year.

But it always has to be bigger and faster. Campbell’s last boat was a jet engine powered hydrofoil, the Bluebird K7.  His luck ran out in 1967 during speed trials on Coniston.

From this…

One of Donald Campbell’s Bluebird K7 boats

To this…

Wreckage of the Bluebird K7

He didn’t survive. He died in January 1967. His body wasn’t recovered until 2001 and the wreckage was raised out of the lake as well.

Ailsa’s Travel theme challenge (Broken)