Posts Tagged views

Forgotten you again!

Hello All,

Thanks for dropping by on the email you get sent to a spend a couple of minutes hearing me drone on.

Well, it’s been a busy and interesting couple of months for me. To be honest, the less said the better, but in the middle of it all was a three week holiday, so I will use that as my very valid excuse for not posting. I went to the south-western tip of Ireland again…some of you may remember I posted a video of the time I went whale watching in the same area. No? Shame on you! If you wish to have a look, either search my name on YouTube or go to Humpback Whale Awesomeness in my previous posts.

For those who wish to go to the area, I can highly recommend it and will be posting pictures of that area in the near future, as I now have time on my hands to do more regular posts. The first time was gorgeous weather, this time it was less so, but still very enjoyable and there are some lovely vistas to post.

However, I stray from the post I am doing. Now that Autumn is upon us, I though I would keep a few of the Summer pictures coming for a short time to keep us all from seeing too much brown and wet images by looking out the window! In the first instance, just along the way, it pays to look out of the window for those photogenic weather shots as along popped a little back-lit shower…

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I’m quite proud of this. I would put it in the folder marked “might consider getting printed when I have a place to nail it to in the future”. Catchy, huh? Alas, the folder is quite full, so I will need to purchase a stately home! I thought I’d add a slightly after picture too, to point out the lovely glaciation (virga) effect as the little cell collapsed…

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You remember me talking about glaciation? The jellyfish clouds are the most common form of this but in this case, I think what happened is that the top of the cloud suddenly outgrew what could be supported and became a little icy, then just fell down slowly, creating the shower you see above.

Next, a lovely sunny picture to inject a little landscape love! This is one of my favourite views on the Preseli Hills. I know most people climb the road or hike the hills and look south, but I much prefer the view to the north…well, the north-east. Essentially, in the distance from this view-point, you can see all the way to the end of the National Park and you are looking along the line of hills towards Crymch. This side is noticeably more rugged than the south, which is why I like it.

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Also, don’t forget, there is a lot of history here and that adds to the attraction. Pollen analysis suggests that the hills were once forested but the forests had been cleared by the late Bronze age; the hills are dotted with super-aged remains, including evidence of very early settlement…you know, grunting and flint type stuff. It has been mooted that bluestone from the hills is similar or the same as that used to build the inner circle of Stonehenge. Lots of people with beards and letters after their names have argued but seem to have settled on the fact that the stones have come from multiple sources on the northern parts of the hills…the exact way the photo looks.

Further south now, a few colourful pictures from the southern extent of the Park, thankfully not showing the overrated beaches and towns, but the much ignored Blackpool Mill. Again, I have mentioned this before but I like this picture showing the old mill tucked away in the forest…

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Moving in a little closer here, a tiny member of the thistle family in full flower, covered in pollen and waiting for a bee come along and do a swap and continue the line. No proper thistles here and I’m afraid I can’t put my finger on the exact name of this one.

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From bees to wasps. Now, no hatred for the poor wasp. I know they buzz your food and beer on the 3 or 4 days you are able to eat “al fresco” in the UK and that is a pain, but they’re only trying to eat. Anyway, I’m going to big these little blighters up. I mean, check this bad boy out, that’s quite an undertaking for a tiny insect….

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But wasps have a useful purpose. Wasps are predators who hunt and eat almost every pest that harms crops including grasshoppers, aphids and flies. Also, don’t forget, the nest is made of what is basically a wasp super wallpaper…they chew bark or wood up, mix it with saliva and spit it out in a thin rough paper to a high degree of accuracy which is brilliantly efficient at both retaining heat at night or to grow larvae and to cool residents on a hot day. So, even if you hate them, give a little respectful fist bump to a wasp, rather than smacking it with a copy of the Daily Mail….additionally if you do that, it just attracts more as a dead wasp releases pheromones attracting the masses!

In this case, I returned a few days later to see the nest destroyed…I hope the person who did this got a most uncomfortable sting.

To finish, as is usually my favourite thing, a dusk scene. Again, not very far away but hopefully attractive in the way there are lights, darks and silhouettes in the same image…

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Well, thanks again for popping by. No promises on the date of the next blog which will be moving on to a trip to Germany, but I am hoping for sooner rather than later and I may even consider a slight revamp of the set up if I have the option. Groundbreaking stuff! However, I might need to speak with the PC first as it’s beginning to creak a little. Should be fine though. Famous last words…..

Ta-ra for now!!

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Commanding views of Bruges

Hello there!

Hanging on with me here? Good good. Been a bit of a stifling couple of weeks weather wise here. On a couple of occasions my father and I have remarked this has been the hottest period we have experienced since moving here. No wind either. I don’t mind a breeze when it’s warm. Last week, sailing was painful. There was no wind. I jest not…in some instances we were moving backwards with the tide. In sailing overalls, no wind and 20 odd degrees with no shade life is not funny. Hopefully the next session will be kinder, looks as such at this moment in time anyhow.

Anyway, on to the pics. Well, at this stage, I had just arrived at my central Bruges hotel, in the pouring rain, so I felt right at home. I can’t swear to the name of the hotel at this point in time but it was very central and a good choice by me as it was walking distance to…..everything. So, welcome to Bruges, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

As is tradition when I am on hols, the first day is pretty much a write off as I’m wandering, getting my bearings. However, as it was still chucking it down in the morning after my very pleasant continental breakfast (people watching trying to guess the nationality of those who enter the breakfast bar is a free bonus) I didn’t venture far and decided to take cover by visiting “The Belfry” or “Belfort” which was just over from my lodgings.

The Belfry or Belfort in the Markt, Bruges

The Belfry or Belfort in the Markt, Bruges

Not just a bell tower anymore, there is a large cobbled courtyard which plays host to amateur dramatics and the like…when it’s dry! In the past, the building held records and even treasure in the old days, hence to massive chests in the museum which I failed to get a decent image of. Pffft. In total The Belfry is 83 m (about 250 ft) tall and it is said that, due to its 13th century age and depending on conditions, it can lean as much as 1 m (3 ft) to the east. I didn’t know this at the time of climbing, I might add.

The cobbled courtyard below the Belfry, as I sheltered from the rain

The cobbled courtyard below the Belfry, as I sheltered from the rain

The most notable feature, save the view, of this massive building is that, at the top, there is a 47 bell carillon (or glockenspiel, if you understand German) which is a percussion instrument that is played via a keyboard connected to the bells by, in Bruges, a full-time paid carilloneur. Apparently, this gent gives free concerts quite regularly but I must have missed them, although there was the odd peal now and again. Maybe he was on holidays. In the days gone past, the bells were fewer in number and used for all sorts of things, such as fire alarms, marking working hours and notable religious occasions. Now they are mainly for entertainment.

The bells, the bells! Well, a few of the older worn ones.

The bells, the bells! Well, a few of the older worn ones.

It’s quite climb, I can tell you. All I could think as I went up was “this camera bag is big” and “man alive, these guys back then were tiny”. I’m quite slim and I had to duck and breathe in quite regularly. In total there are 366 of these type of steps to get to the top. Once I was three-quarters up, I realised why there was a sign at the bottom dissuading those of a weak constitution from going up!

I paid my 5 Euros so I was going to get there....puff puff

I paid my 5 Euros so I was going to get there….puff puff

Once at the top, I found out what a carillon looked like. You will excuse the reflection and such, I didn’t have my tripod so had to bounce the flash off this darn screen at an angle and space was pretty limited. Here you can see the drums attached to the keyboard mechanisms and that play automatic tunes on occasions. Apparently, the 47 bells atop the Belfry weigh a sobering 27 tonnes. Sobering because you look right up into them after the climb! That’d be a headache if copped one of those on the noggin!

Don't know what a carillon is? This is a carillon. Pretty impressive huh?

Don’t know what a carillon is? This is a carillon. Pretty impressive huh?

But, that aside, what a view! The rain had cleared but the visibility was still a bit rubbish. Apologies also for not noting which direction I am looking for those nerdy types, but I will point out some features in the pictures instead.

In this view, you can see Saint Salvators Cathedral, apparently one of the very few buildings in Bruges not to be damaged in fires and such; all renovations and changes were carried out as planned work. In the distance just past the cathedral, there are a few modern buildings and nearer the camera, a straight north/south cobbled street with old buildings, now mainly shops and small museums.

Got to the top! The view was pretty spectacular....

Got to the top! The view was pretty spectacular….

This next picture is centred mainly on the City Hall, in the Burg square. Hidden from view is a Basilica that I took more detailed pictures of later on in the holiday. To the right of the square, you can see the canal that lends Bruges the nickname “Venice of the North”. Yes, I did have a ride in a barge. Man, those guys got skills…you should have seen the gaps they got through!

Of course, many years ago, this route wasn’t a tourist trip in a barge, it was a serious port connected to the North Sea and the canals were buzzing with spice traders and such in the 12th to 15th centuries, known here as “The Golden Age”. However, this still exists today of sorts, in the form of the port of Zeebrugge some miles away (literally, in Flemish, Bruges on the sea) which is a major route in shipping since being revived by the German Navy in World War One. The canals are still there but too small for anything but tourist cruises.

A view down towards City Hall and the canals

A view down towards City Hall and the canals

Now a view of The Church of Our Lady, dating back to the 13th century. It’s a record breaker, this one, as it’s 122 m (400 ft) tall and made entirely of brick, making it the second tallest brick building in the world. I know that some aspects of medieval life were a bit grim but you have got to hand to them, they knew how to build an imposing structure! Respect.

In retrospect, Bruges is very lucky never to had earthquakes with all this brick around

In retrospect, Bruges is very lucky never to had earthquakes with all this brick around

Lastly, a view of the stones set on top of the octagon at the top of the Belfry showing distance to major cities around. Alas, the one where London was marked was hidden behind some screening, so Paris was as close as I could get. I can only presume the measurement is in kilometres like those weird foreigners seem to do everything. However, I don’t know if this takes into account the few feet of lean in the tower!!

Ah, gay Paris, 270 km...the other stop that trains on the line I came over on stop at

Ah, gay Paris, 270 km…the other stop that trains on the line I came over on stop at

Well, there’s the first instalment. More to come and more in-depth photos from the ground this time! There is much to be said for Europe in the way of history…who needs these all inclusive beach holidays in hot, sticky destinations where some urchin pinches your cash when you venture out of the resort? Culture, that’s what you want. And Flemish farmers stew with beer made by monks, which is gorgeous.

Well, it’ll be a couple of weeks until the next update, but keep tuned for more Flemish history, sights and landscapes. See you soon.

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