They are a fairly iconic part of Berwick; the three bridges. This is taken from the site of the Castle on a glorious summer's day. Yes, we do have them! From l2r: Old bridge, New bridge and Royal Border bridge.
The old Bridge was the traditional way in and out of the town towards the South and dates from James I's reign: It was completed in 1608. Presumably before this you crossed either by boat or much further up stream.
Then, the Royal Border bridge was built for the trains when they came along. This was when they knocked the castle down to make room for the station in 1850. Perhaps not the greatest decision ever made,. The bridge was was designed by Robert (George's son) Stephenson and opened by little Vicky. Its now a grade 1 listed structure.
Back way back when, I used to come to Melrose at least once a year with a party of school children, I've played rugby there (and won!), driven through and round it numerous times but never really looked at the Abbey apart from in passing.
High time to put that right. It is quite a significant monument in Scottish history. Several Kings are buried there, but it is probably most famous for being the burial site of Robert the Bruce's heart; the rest of him is buried in Dunfermline Abbey. The heart is thought to have been bought back from the Crusades to be buried there, which is more than a bit odd!
However, it was 6 (yes SIX!) pounds to go in to look around. Its some ruins in a field! How can they justify that much (see Stonehenge too)? They are ruins! By definition there's no up-keep. A bit of mowing perhaps to keep the grounds looking half decent but I can't see where the money goes. Needless to say I was too tight to pay. I thought it was just my usual meanness but the week after we went friends were moaning about the same thing. They had the same solution too. If you walk to the right of the Abbey there is a little path that allows you to see pretty much everything you could see from inside the fence but, maybe, from 10 metres further away.
One of the things about Northumberland, and Berwickshire on the other side of the border, are the number of castles. There's a good reason for this of course, in that both sides liked a day out to raid, fight and nick each other's cattle and women. Plus ca change!
One of my favourite ruins is Dunstanburgh castle; a short walk along from the sleepy fishing village of Craster. It dates from the 14th century (about 1313) and was built by the Earl of Lancaster. He was a rival to Edward II and it was probably meant as a safe refuge, if things went too badly wrong in the south. It was also, of course, a monument to his wealth and power. A wise move really, as he only visited it once before his capture after a battle and subsequent execution! It then passed into the hands of the crown (or at least the Royal family) for a couple of centuries at least.
Well, it's been a while!
We bought a house back in the UK where we both used to work and are now busy showing the children the sights of the North East of England, when we can drag them away from the wifi. There will some evidence of nice weather in future posts, but I have to say it is really cold on the coast here after Bangkok!
The weather has been a bit hit and miss. We have had some fabulous days and some absolute shocking weather too. The rain has meant that one needed to be creative to take interesting shots on some days.
We've had some shocking weather of late. It has either been pouring down, or when it isn't actually raining the humidity because of the rain has been terrible. So, all in all I've not been out and about with the camera much of late.
However, I have been trawling through old pictures and re-editing them. I saw some really nice, high contrast, black and white rhinos on instagram and that is what I was (originally) trying to go for. I definitely have a favourite.
First up is the original edit...
and then the Black & White version. It's fairly close to the effect I was after. BUT, is the third one nicer?
... and then one with a warmer look.
Then, a more sun faded/vintage look....
Friends of mine who took 'gapyahs' (to be fair none of them are gap-yah people.) after finishing university went to Koh Chang. No roads, no electricity, just some bloke with a boat who dropped you off on a sandy beach. We decided that we wanted a short break on one of the islands but hated the idea of Phuket and the like. In the end this seemed to be right up our soi.
A bit of diving, a bit of beach, a bit of pool-lounging, eating, a cheeky beer or two and doing nothing much at all. Not our normal trip but, variety is the spice and all that.
This end of the island used to be a fishing village. Most of the new buildings are built on stilts going out into the bay which makes it look lovely. You also feel that the verdant mountains are right on top of one. You can also enjoy your well earned beer looking down through a glass table-top and a hole in the floor straight into the sea, which is a little odd. Relaxing, but odd!
When we lived in Taiwan, on one of the telly Travel channels there used to be an advert they would run again and again and again. It told the story of travelers who turned up in a village in the arse-end of nowhere, realised they were lost and were desperate to get back on the road again. Only, of course, there was no transport for a day or two. They then slowly realised that being lost, or at least not where you wanted to be is what travel is about. I think the tag line was something like 'you can't find yourself until you're lost'. What a load of hippy-dippy baloney, is my usual view of that. I have to say I like things planned. That doesn't mean no flexibility but I enjoy planning a trip and like to know what is going to happen next.
Planning it is half the fun.
Although, if that were actually true, then I should plan two trips, have the same amount of enjoyment and save a fortune. But you know what I mean.
However, on occasion, I can be proven wrong about this and we stumble upon (or get pushed into) a hidden gem.
We were off out for the day from our Air BnB week to, I think, Galle for the day. About 10 minutes into the journey our driver turns off the main road and up a hill, round a corner, up a bit, down a bit and round a few more corners.
When he eventually stops he proudly tells that this is the temple of his own village.
Just a short post this time, you might be glad to hear. This was the only kingfisher we saw. Last time, they were two-a-penny. And, this was the only decent shot of that. Not as impressive coloring as their more common cousin.
These are magnificent little birds. You see them all over the south of Sri Lanka. This first one was taken in Yala NP. Their feathers are so fine they look like hairs.
As I've said before, this is one of my favourite things to see in Bangkok. This time it was a school trip (To find out about the costs and benefits of tourism, if you're interested.). We were supposed to go to the Grand Palace but it was felt that it would be absolutely rammed (correctly) so this was the substitute.
Although you don't always go exactly where I would have chosen (been here before so somewhere new for preference), it does mean I get to go to some cool places. I didn't even have the hassle of having to organise this one. Nor is it just a jolly, however, please note. There is a proper educational purpose to the trips and you are legally responsible for a bunch of teenagers. So, all the jokes about counting people and nagging about seatbelts do have a purpose. Having said that, it doesn't mean that it isn't a pleasant change either.
These are just a few shots taken with my phone. Their purpose was to back-up the evidence the students were collecting on tourism, but a bunch of photos of scruffy 15 year olds huddled over clip-boards wasn't that exciting to be honest.
These were part of a troop of monkeys. In fact they are Grey Languer Monkeys. The picture above looks like the baby, especially, has been superimposed but that was how it was shot. This baby was allowed to play but Mum (presumably, mum) kept a close eye on it.
On the way back from one of the safaris in Sri Lanka, the driver pulled off the main road and stopped in front of tree that was full, and I do mean full, of sleeping bats.
All hanging upside down as they do on the telly.
And again, but this time a bit closer through the zoom. They are much bigger than I thought they would be.
I feel this should be a longer post because it was an amazing sight but there isn't really much else to say. But it was pretty cool!
We were encouraged by several people to climb up the hill and have a beer at Helga's folly. It is a hotel cum bar high above Kandy. It's a short but steep climb up from the lake side but a nice walk. The eponymous Helga knew lots of famous people and the walls are covered in their pictures and, the whole place in general, with the endless crap that was collected.
The guidebooks very definitely say it's seen better days and it's a bit past its best but worth seeing as you won't find owt else like it.
True! It is one of the strangest places, I think, we have ever visited.
I thought it looked like a VIth Form Common room, when the Ho6 has said: 'Yes, of course you can decorate it so long as you do it all.' A bit gothic and just weird.
This place was really amazing.... AND free!
I think for most people this is a day trip from Kandy but we stopped on the way down from a disappointing few days t'up North. It might have been the weather which was atrocious, or the fact that I constantly felt I was being ripped off and seeing nothing much in return.
This was much better, partly at least because the sun came out. It is a steep climb up to the cave. The guidebooks are a bit sniffy about the huge Buddha at the bottom of the hill. It is huge and it does look plastic. However, once you've climbed up its like nothing else I've seen.
There is a danger of over-egging the pudding but I like eggy puddings. So, therefore here are some more bird shots from Bundala.
This time the pelican. Again, a bird that isn't going to win too many design awards: So much so it looks like it can't possibly actually work effectively.
It got to the point in Bundala where we didn't even bother slowing down for peacocks. They were two-a-penny. In fact, we barely paused for the tail fan-dance, thing. Quite a turnaround as 40 minutes earlier I hadn't ever seen a peacock with its tail up. I have to say it wasn't our decision to drive on but the guides.
This boy put on a bit of a show for us. He was spinning round showing his tail in all its glory. Never did get a glimpse of the hen he was trying to impress though.
I have to say that I absolutely loved this place. It was just 4 hours driving round beautiful scenery and seeing amazing wildlife every few minutes. The only downside was we were expecting to see flocks of flalelamingos and there weren't any.
It was far, far quieter than the next door Yala NP. However, Bandula doesn't have leopards. Which were amazing.... See previous posts. I couldn't say that we had the place to ourselves but you were definitely on your own most of the time. It was muy peaceful! The stillness, the dawn light, the coolness all added up to make this stunning.
I think, probably, that the stars of the day were the painted stalks, although we did see a whole load of amazing stuff... See future posts... these were just lovely and unusual, elegant and gawky. Yeah, I though they were pretty cool
This is one of the iconic sights of Sri Lanka: People fishing from poles stuck out in the sea. The only thing these guys fish for now are tourists.
We managed to haggle them right down in price by walking off (convincingly) and then letting another group pay the full price to view them on the poles and then we chucked a small amount on top. However, I did feel like I was being exploited. Not sure why though. I'd happily pay to watch actors or dancers put on a show. Why shouldn't they earn a living from it? Also, nobody was unpleasant or forced us to pay or was underhand or anything, but still... I think it was because even once people had paid they really looked they would really rather be doing almost anything else.
Also, now I come to think of it I still owe my mate Dean for my share of their fee. Ooops!
In all those years we lived in Brunei, I never saw a single hornbill. This, apparently, is the Malabar pied hornbill. I hadn't realised quite how big they were. I suppose it stands to reason though when you think about the weight on its head it would have to be quite big.
These are supposed to be quite rare sightings in Yala, but we saw at least two.
Warning! There now follows a lot of effort for a fairly poor gag!
The second one was, of course, our last Roler so we didn't share it!
This was really close to us! So much so that it was only as we went past it that he became visible. The jeep was quickly slammed into reverse and back we went, a few metres, and there he was. A feeding wild elephant 3, maybe 4 metres from us.
Just pulling strips of leaves off the trees, standing on them and then using his trunk to strip the leaves from the woody part of the tree and then, again, using his trunk to push them into the great pouch that is his mouth, masticate , repeat.
It was all very careful, deliberate and slow. No one was going to rush this animal unless he decieded a bit of rushing is what you needed.
During our time in Sri Lanka we saw a massive range of wildlife: From blue whales to bee-eaters, peacocks to pelicans and elephants to eagles (and a whole bunch of other stuff too!).
This Crested Hawk Eagle was sat in tree by the side of the road tearing apart whichever poor, unfortunate beastie it had caught for it's tea.
I've broken with tradition and am working backwards through our Sri Lankan adventure, mainly because it just got better and better.
Our penultimate trip was to Bundala National Park, which is amazing. I'd been to Yala before and really liked it, but was loving Bundala... more of which anon. You just couldn't move for cool fauna; I was busy thinking of clever blog topics along the lines of 'don't both with Yala, its busy, just go to Bundala, it's quieter and you see amazing birds and animals. Yes, there are no leopards but, hey!'
The next day we were bouncing around Yala and I was thinking much the same, when we saw a leopard in a tree.... Really, really cool and the cynic in me just died. Well worth going to see.
To see this we joined a huge queue of jeeps and waited for our turn to gawp at it. We were really lucky as, when we got to it, it woke up. Up to this point it looked like a rug drapped in tree. It even turned around so we could see its head. Needless to say, Mrs E. was buzzing about this and really thrilled as she had missed out on this last time because girl child was ill and didn't go on safari.
Excitment over, we carried on driving around the park seeing all kinds of cool things (again more on this in future posts), but they weren't as cool as big cats. However, as we went around a corner in a deserted part of the park we saw this bad boy lying in the road. No one else around just us and him a few metres away.
A week in Singapore and all I saw was the inside of a hotel and a school. On the Friday though after we had finished work I managed a night out with a couple of good friends and then I mooched back to the Marina Bay area in the morning before my flight home.
As they say in Singapore, its the same same but different.
It's been a good while since we were in Singapore and on the face of it, it hasn't changed at all. I is still a clean well ordered society where everything just works. Its easy to mock Singapore and play to the stereotype of it being a bit dull and sanitised, but coming from either Bangkok, or even more so, China then that's just nice.
However, it was strange walking through the business district to think that it used to be the main focus of attention, in terms of a skyline, when now there's all this reclaimed land and huge projects that are the focus.
This will be a blog about my latest shots and what I liked or was trying to do with them
I am a teacher of Economics and have worked in various schools in Europe & Asia. One of the things I love doing is getting out and about with my camera.
All that's new and interesting