Category Archives: Cathedrals

Travels in Croatia – The Island of Hvar

We had to find some accommodation so we went to the tourist information office to see what was available.  The lady at the desk told us that the only hotel available was the Hotel Adriana that had rooms for €280.

This was obviously way beyond our budget and while this devastating piece of news sunk in she skilfully moved in with the alternative offer of a simple room in the town for 400 Kuna (about £50).  This was obviously her sister or her best friend but there was no contest and we took it.

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Travels in Croatia – Split and Diocletian’s Palace

 

Leaving Skradin we drove south along the delightful Dalmatian Coast and as we did so the weather started to deteriorate with huge bilious clouds building over the Mosor Mountains that rise to almost one thousand four hundred metres and were collecting the grey and preventing it moving north as they rushed in from the sea and built instead into columns of threatening anger.

To the west by contrast the sky was clear and the sun was shining but to the east and over the land it was not nearly so pleasant.  We drove past the town of Primosten and the city of Trogir, leaving these for another day, and carried on to Split, which is Croatia’s second largest city after the capital Zagreb.

Because of its strategic importance Split suffered damage during the war and probably the most tragic incident of all occurred in November 1991 when the Yugoslavian frigate named Split fired shells at the city. The damage was insignificant and there were only a few casualties but this was the only time in history that a city has been bombarded by a military vessel bearing its own name.

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A to Z of Windows – R is for Riga in Latvia

I know that with the lowest average wage it is officially the poorest country in the EU, and for that reason tens of thousands of Latvians have left for England where they can earn as much in a week as they earn in a month back home but this place was lively and vibrant, the food was excellent and inexpensive, and the customers seemed affluent and happy.

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A to Z of Windows – M is for Marrakech in Morocco

This was quite unlike anything I had ever seen or visited before and it was everything I had expected but more with a riot of colour and frenetic activity that was exciting and vibrant.

I have never taken mind altering drugs but I sort of imagine this would be what it is like.

My head was spinning and overflowing with new sights, sounds and sensations as we walked through the square in a northerly direction and eventually arrived at what most people concede is the biggest Souk in Africa and we slipped into the labyrinthine maze of covered but sun-dappled market streets

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A to Z of Windows – J is for Jedburgh in Scotland

J is always a tough one so today I have gone for something different.  This is the circular window in the ruined Augustinian Abbey in the town of Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders.

Every year thirty or so members of my golf club go for a week away golfing in Scotland and after three years on the reserve list I finally got an invite in 2015.

Unfortunately the week prior to departure I entertained my three grandchildren and one of them left me a parting gift of a very heavy cold so when I set off one Sunday morning I was sniffing and sneezing and relying on cold relief capsules to help me through the journey north.

For all of the week I felt pretty awful but I played golf for four days but on Friday I woke to grey skies and persistent rain so on account of the fact that I was due to go on holiday to Wales a couple of days later and I didn’t want to get worse and spoil that I decided against putting on the leaking waterproofs and dragging myself around the fifth course of the week and thought that I might do a little bit of sightseeing instead.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

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Aysgarth Falls, Middleham Castle and Leyburn

The next morning we planned to drive a route along Wensleydale as far as Hawes in the west and set off early and stopped first at Aysgarth Falls about half way along the route.

Aysgarth Falls is a natural beauty spot where thousands of gallons of water in the River Ure tumble, leap and cascade over a series of boulders and broad limestone steps.  Sometimes passive, sometimes aggressive and sometimes playful like today.

It was featured as the location for the fight between Robin Hood and Little John in the film ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’ and in 2005 it was included in a BBC television list of seven best natural places in Northern England.  The other six were The Lake District, River Wear, Whin Sill, River Tees, Holy Island and Morecambe Bay.

I had visited Aysgarth Falls before, around about twenty-five years ago with my children…

And five years ago I visited with my grandchildren…

Middleham describes itself as a township; smaller than a town but bigger than a village and it is a very fine place. Less frantic than other towns in Wensleydale but blessed with history and a magnificent castle, almost as big as the town itself. We parked the car (free parking) and found a pub for lunch inevitably called ‘Richard III’.

Richard was the last Plantagenet and House of York King of England, the last King of England killed in combat, at the battle of Bosworth in 1485, and succeeded by the victorious Henry Tudor of the House of Lancaster.  Before he became King in 1482 he lived for a while in the castle here in Middleham.

After lunch we walked to the castle.  Between us there were mixed opinions about paying the entrance fee but with my new castle enthusiast pal, William, eager to climb the battlements everyone finally gave in and we went inside.

It was once a massive castle, one of the biggest in Northern England built on a site previously garrisoned by both the Romans and the Normans and deep within the labyrinth or towers and walls is a statue of Richard III and for those who say he was evil he looked arm less enough to me!

Next we drove to the town of Leyburn which was horribly busy and after we had secured a much prized parking place I gave in to the demands of the others and visited the shops.  Actually, I rather liked the shops in Leyburn  and the reason for that was that there were none that I recognised.

Usually in England every town has the same shops, there is practically no individuality in the town centres.  Every shop that I can expect to find in my home town can be found anywhere else.

These are not shops that interest me a great deal in Grimsby where I live so it was completely unlikely that they would do so elsewhere.  To make it worse, in a typical English town there is an over-supply of banks, building societies and pay-day loan money lenders and the trouble with financial service providers is that they simply cannot make their window displays interesting and except for a different logo all they can display is a list of lending and savings rates most of which are exactly the same anyway.

This, I am happy to report was not the case in Leyburn where there were an abundance of traditional shops owned and run by local traders and I rather enjoyed an hour or so looking around.  Please don’t spread that around too much, it might get back to Kim.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Cueva de los Verde and Jameos del Aqua

Wherever he saw a hole he always wanted to know the depth of it.  To him this was important” – Jules Verne “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”

In my previous post I told you about not going down into a cave.  This was a cave that I did visit in 1983…

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Freiburg at Walt Disney

My A to Z of windows reached F and I included Freiburg in Germany and that reminded me of a sequence of posts from 2012 that very few people read.

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A to Z of Windows – F is for Freiburg in Germany

To give it its full title, Freiburg im Breisgau is one of the famous old German university towns, was incorporated in the early twelfth century and developed into a major commercial, intellectual, and ecclesiastical centre of the upper Rhine region.

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The Titanic Experience in Belfast

“Certainly there was no sailor who ever sailed salt water but who smiled – and still smiles – at the idea of the unsinkable ship” –  Charles Lightoller (Surviving Officer) in ‘Titanic and Other Ships’

Two weeks after returning from Northern Ireland I went there again, this time to take my grandson who has a great interest in the story of the Titanic.

The Titanic Museum and Experience has been built on the site of the previous Harland and Wolff workshops  right in front of the slipways that were built for the construction of the Titanic and the sister ship Olympic.  This area which has become the Titanic Quarter was previously called Queen’s Island but twenty years ago it was a no hope area of rotting buildings, dereliction and silted up docks and the transformation is truly remarkable.

Inside the building was equally as impressive as the exterior and after collecting our pre booked tickets (10% saving) we made our way through to the exhibition which started with a history of nineteenth century boom town Belfast before taking us to the top floor for a shipyard ride with various displays of the construction process and then descending through various galleries that dealt with the launch, the fitting out, the maiden voyage, the passengers and the sinking.

The exhibition has a good mix of exhibits, interactive displays, full size reconstructions and plenty of information and facts.  My favourite was the story of the riveters who worked in a five man team and were expected to fix six hundred white hot metal rivets in a day.  One man heated it in a furnace before throwing it to a second man called the catcher who collected it in a bucket before passing it to the three man finishing team who hammered it into place.  All of those jobs sound dangerous to me but I imagine the catchers to be the most so.

By the time that we left the final gallery about the search for the ship we were all happy to declare this to be among the best experience museums that we had ever visited and what good value at only £12.50 and I would certainly be happy to recommend anyone to visit this place.

There are many theories about the reason for the sinking.  The Captain has been blamed for being reckless, the White Star Board for trying to set a speed record despite the danger but currently the most popular is the rivets.  Apparently those used at the bow and the stern were made of iron rather than steel and contained high levels of impurities.  They only had a 5 mm tolerance and as a consequence of the collision they shattered and popped their heads and the steel plates of the hull undid like a giant zipper.

From the very day that she was designed she was almost doomed…this (the use of iron rivets) was the Achilles heel of the Titanic.” – Paul Louden-Brown, White Star Line Archivist.

So, everyone knows that the Titanic sank but as we came to the end of the visit I began to think about what if it hadn’t?  To begin with the three millionaire U.S. businessmen who died that night, John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim and Isidor Strauss might have gone on to be even more successful and who knows what they might have achieved.  Thomas Andrews, the designer of the ship might have built something even bigger and better and Captain Edward Smith could have carried on crashing into other ships.

For sure I wouldn’t have met the American visitor who was looking at a list of the victims and comparing pictures with a faded photograph that she was holding.  She told me that it was her great uncle who was one who drowned that night.

Just maybe someone on board emigrating to the New World might have gone on to be the U.S. President and this isn’t as unlikely as it sounds because fifteen of forty-six  Presidents (30%) claim ancestral heritage from Ulster (Andrew Jackson, James Knox Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S Grant, Chester Alan Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and the current President Joe Biden).

We certainly wouldn’t have had that awful film ‘Titanic’ with Leonardo DiCaprio and we would never have had to endure Celine Dion singing ‘My heart will go on’.  As a point of interest there have been twenty-two films that are directly or indirectly based on the story of the Titanic and if you want my opinion (you are going to get it anyway)  the best of all was ‘A Night to Remember’ made in 1958 and starring Kenneth More playing Second Officer Charles Lightholler (see quote above).

Before leaving the exhibition we had a good value Titanic themed lunch in the ground floor restaurant and then after visiting the slipway overshadowed by Samson and Goliath in the Harland and Wolff shipyard which are claimed to be the two largest free standing cranes in the World and have become a canary yellow symbol of the city.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…