Walking up the Tor

Though I have visited Glastonbury quite a few times over the years I have been living down in Somerset, I had never climbed the Tor.  So during the October half term last year we decided to do just that, go to Glastonbury and climb the Tor. There is plenty of cheap parking in the town itself and there are a range of esoteric shops that also deserve exploring (after you have climbed the Tor). As you might expect there are a fair number of teashops too.

Our first attempt was on the wrong path, there were roadworks in the town which had made it challenging to find the right way up, but after avoiding the field full of cows, we found the less muddy path and walked up. Taking the time to turn around now and again to appreciate the view of the town. As we climbed it got windier and colder, so though it can be warm in the town, we were glad we had our winter coats, hats and gloves.

Glastonbury Tor is a distinct prominent hill amongst the Somerset Levels and can be seen from a quite a distance.

It is topped by the roofless St Michael’s Tower. There was originally a  wooden church, however that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1275. A stone replacement, the Church of St Michael built on the site in the 14th century and over the centuries has been restored and partially rebuilt several times. Now just the roofless tower remains

The hill and the tower are now managed by the National Trust. Mythically the Tor was thought to be the Isle of Avalon, a legendary island featured in the Arthurian legend. When the surrounding land was swamp, the Tor was essentially an island.

It was back in 1190, that Avalon became associated with Glastonbury, when monks at Glastonbury Abbey claimed to have discovered the bones of Arthur and Guinevere.

It was very windy when we got to the top, but even so the tower provided little protection from the strong winds.

The views though were incredible and it was amazing to see so much of the Somerset levels. Across to the West you can see the Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station and in the distance to the South West you can see the Quantock Hills.

Much of this would have been swamps and wetland, but over the centuries it has been drained so it can be used for farming.

The Tor itself is sandstone and was formed when the surrounding softer materials were eroded away.

Walking down from the Tor, I was pleased we had made the effort to climb the hill and to see those magnificent views.

Muscle and Power Cars and Trucks

On Tuesday evening, a bundle of muscle cars and American trucks arrived on the Weston seafront for a “cruise”

Nice looking vehicles, but to be honest I have no idea what they… though I can see this is a US Ford F150 pickup truck.

…and this one is an older Ford pickup truck.

A Ford Popular.

No idea what this one is….

Big gas guzzler…

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A Ford hotrod!

A Ford Mustang?

All looked very nice, bright and shiny.

Is it a treehouse if it’s not built in a tree?

Canopy & Stars at Crane 29 is a unique treehouse built around one of the cargo cranes outside M Shed. The treehouse will grace Bristol’s skyline from June until September 2017.

I don’t know if you can really call it a treehouse as it’s not built in a tree, but it certainly looks very nice (see more pictures here).

To register for the ballot to stay in the treehouse, visit www.canopyandstars.co.uk/crane29. A night’s stay costs either £185 for a weekday or £250 for a weekend, with the final ballot open until July 3. All profits from Canopy & Stars at Crane 29 will go to Friends of the Earth.

Stuff: Top Ten Blog Posts 2016

Across this blog I wrote fifteen posts in 2016. As might not be expected most of the top ten posts that year were from 2016, and I was pleased to see how popular my 1990s photographs of the Bristol Harbourside were.

I visited Legoland in 2013 and felt that it was A bit tired and this was the tenth most popular post, dropping one place from last year.

Also about Legoland Miniland was the ninth post.

The eighth post was about Time travelling by train which was a post on the newly painted GWR High Speed Train in the classic 1970s blue and yellow.

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The seventh popular post was inspired by a newspaper article and talked about the many Changes at the railway station in Weston-super-Mare.

The sixth placed post was from my 2012 series of Cinematic Advent Calendar posts, this one was #07 – The Eagle has Landed. There were quite a few films in the advent calendar that have significant memories over and above the film itself. Queuing for Star Wars was significant for example. With The Eagle has Landed I went to see it at the Aldeburgh cinema with my grandparents.

When I used film, I didn’t take than many photographs, but I did take a fair few of the Bristol Harbourside, so the fifth post was of the Bryan Brothers’ Garage Demolition, Bristol, circa 1999.

Three of the next four posts were similar and all contain photographs from the Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s.

Construction in the Bristol Harbourside

Fourth was this post Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s and third was this one: Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s (second part).

The second most popular post was a comparison of Trenchard Street, Bristol, circa 1970s and the view today.

The most popular post of the year on the Stuff blog was a series of photographs of Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s.

So quite a few posts from 2016 in the 2016 top ten.

Time travelling by train

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At Bristol Temple Meads I did wonder if I had travelled back in time to 1976, as there was a British Rail blue and yellow engine on the platform. My train yesterday morning included a very different engine, this was a GWR High Speed Train painted in the original colours when the train entered service forty years ago in 2016.

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This was painted up specially for an event in May to celebrate forty years of the HST. I thought it was nice that only was it painted up in the original colours, but is currently being used to pull trains. It’s a pity that they couldn’t paint a whole train in the original colours.

Stuff: Top Ten Blog Posts 2015

As with my other blogs I am looking at the ten most read postings over 2015.

The tenth most read post on this blog was posted in the last two weeks of 2015, and was about WHSmith. At WHSmith you can afford to give them anything but the ordinary this Christmas contained an old advert from the high street store.

I visited Legoland in 2013 and felt that it was A bit tired and this was the ninth post in this top ten. Certainly when we went this year in 2015 there were some new models in Mainland.

Legoland

You have entered the Quiet Zone! was eighth most read post and I asked what’s the point of the Quiet Zone Carriage?

Back to Legoland for number seven, Legoland Miniland.

The sixth most read post was on Ten Incredible Sand Sculptures that have been on the beach at Weston-super-Mare over the last ten years.

Ten Incredible Sand Sculptures

The post at number 5 was from the Cinematic Advent Calendar which I posted back before Christmas in 2012. The post in question was #24 – Back to the Future and as 2015 was the year in which Marty McFly went to in the film series, it’s quite apt that it in this year’s top ten.

Back to the Future DeLorean

More Lego at number 4 with The Bat Cave in Lego.

The third most popular post was “the cafe on tv at weston super mare is it real” and the answer is, it isn’t!

Over 2015 there were seventy Shaun the Sheep sculptures places all across Bristol and the top two posts on the blog were about these Sheep. At number two was Ten out of Seventy and the most read post was about all seventy sheep, Shaun in the City.

42. Sgt. Shepherd - Shaun the Sheep

Happy New Year for 2016.


Buongiorno Italia

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Back in the mid to late 1990s I visited Italy quite a bit, usually going twice a year, once for the carnival and once in the summer. I initially would take my 35mm SLR film camera, but in later years replaced this with the first HP PhotoSmart Camera. These images are from my 35mm camera, which were developed and then scanned into the computer.

On many of those visits I went to Venice, but I have very few photographs of that place from my 35mm collection, though I have some digital ones from the PhotoSmart camera. I really liked Venice and though it was full of tourists, one of the advantages of having a friend who was  a local, was finding those really nice places for coffee, cake and pasta, that were frequented by locals. So yes you could spend €4 for a coffee in St Marks Square, the places we went to, you paid €1 for an espresso.  This photograph is one of the Grand Canal.

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The local restaurant in Venice we went to, was more of a cafe then a restaurant, but served some delicious food, the seafood pasta I had was great with clams, prawns, squid and lobster.

Another place in the area I visited was Verona.

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This is Piazza Bra in the heart of Verona.

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This is the Arena di Verona, which is a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra in Verona. Back in Roman times, nearly 30,000 people could sit inside, despite its age, today 15,000 people can sit inside.

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The one place where I spent most of my time when visiting Italy was Padua.

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An early morning walk with the mist slow rising before the hot summer day.

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Interestingly from a technical perspective, the prints from those trips are still with me (in a box) however the original digital images seemed to have gone missing, they were probably backed up to a series of floppy disks that I discarded many years ago when moving house (this was in the days before cloud storage became ubiquitous and a quick and easy way to backup and store digital photographs). What I do remember from those images was how awful the quality was, 0.3MP or similar if I recall correctly.

Out and about in the Lake District in 1998

Following on from my last blog post, here are the final pictures from that Lake District trip. It was rather cold up there and every so often you would see something that reminded you of this, this frozen waterfall is a good example.

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I loved how this bridge was more than just stones as the local fauna dover the sides, making it look like a living bridge.

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This is one of those images that has uses for presentations that talk about barriers. It was used to keep the sheep in the field…

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One thing you find a lot of in the Lake District are sheep!

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Some more holiday pics from Normandy.

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I’ve already published some blog posts about a trip I took to Normandy in the 1990s. In the first I talked about Honfleur and the second was on Caen. Here are the remaining pictures. Back then of course I was using film in my 35mm SLR, which I was quite conservative about the number of photographs I would take and in some cases there would also be prints with the little stickers that the developers would place on those underexposed, blurred images that I would occasionally take.

There was something quite special (as well as quite annoying) in taking photographs with film and then once you had handed it into Boots (or similar place) and then a few days later, collected your prints in the wallet, leafing through them as you walked through the town to see how they turned out. We seemed to have less coffee shops back then too, otherwise I am sure I would have sat down in one of those, ordered a coffee and looked over the photographs. These images, looking at the “box” they came in, were sent off for developing and the postman would have delivered them to the house. In today’s digital world, I now take substantially more images (as I did on a recent visit to London) and there is more instant gratification, as you see them on the small screen on the back of the camera (or phone); or as you load them onto the computer or laptop.

The first stop of the trip was arriving into Ouistreham, it serves as the port of the city of Caen. We had undertaken an overnight trip to France and this was the early morning arival at the port.

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As well as serving large ferries, many sailboats also are moored in Ouistreham, used for cruising up and down the Normandy coast.

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Of course with no GPS, I have no idea where the following images were taken. I remember stopping at a cafe for coffee and a croissant for breakfast. Knowing the journey we took from Ouistreham to Honfleur, before driving back to Caen, I would guess this was Cabourg, but could be Houlgate, or somewhere different. I did take a quick look at Google Maps and Streetview, but to be honest there was so much to look through I didn’t think it was worth the effort.

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I do think that this final shot is Honfleur, but I could be wrong…

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Looking back over these old photographs, makes me realise how much I enjoyed visiting Normandy back then, so I think I might start planning a return visit soon.

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle

I have taken quite a few photographs of Ludlow Castle, but I have never actually visited the castle itself.

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These were taken back in 2000 (or possibly earlier).

Ludlow Castle

Click the images for larger versions.