Category Archives: Childhood

Cheapskate Travel – Part One

Commenting on a recent post, a long term blogging pal of mine (who knows me so well) suggested that I am a cheapskate traveller.  I am so proud of this, it is like being nominated for an award at the Oscars, like winning an Olympic Gold Medal, like getting a mention in the New Year’s Honours List.

It reminded me of this post that I put up first in February 2014…

Complimentary Shampoo and Shower Gel…

“I still enjoy travelling a lot. I mean, it amazes me that I still get excited in hotel rooms just to see what kind of shampoo they’ve left me.”  –  Bill Bryson

Read the full story Here…

Sicily – The Streets of Ortigia

The streets of Ortigia are a labyrinth of the unexpected and a treasure chest of discovery, something new and exciting at every twist and turn…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery… 

Saint Joan of Arc and the Risk of Cross Dressing

I interrupt my sequence of posts about my visit to Sicily with another Saint tale…

The French seem to take this ladies wearing trousers thing rather seriously and after November 1800 it was technically illegal for a woman to wear trousers in Paris without a police permit.  Just over a century ago, exceptions were introduced for women riding horses or bicycles. Otherwise, the by-law remained in force.

Read the full story here…

A to Z of Postcards – Y is for Yorkshire

Happy Christmas Everyone

Merry Christmas to all my Friends on WordPress

Thanks for reading, 

Thanks for commenting

Thanks for liking

But most of all…

Thanks for posting

A to Z of Postcards – T is for Tenerife

I visited Tenerife in 1989 and stayed in the tourist resort of Los Christianos near Playa de Los Americas in a hotel complex called the Parque Santiago.  One day I took a coach tour to the Teide National Park.  It wasn’t a long trip in terms of kilometres but the bus left early because it happens to be an awfully long way to climb to the top.

Read the full story Here…

Gallery

Jack Frost Strikes Again

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Portugal – Trouble at Supermarket Checkouts

In my previous post I dealt with the frustration associated with buying a train ticket in Portugal at a self service ticket machine.  Today I move on to the mystery of supermarket checkouts in Portugal.

In the country there were familiar supermarkets for us from the UK, ALDI and LIDL and then a couple  that were  not – Pingo Doce and Continente.  Continente is the largest supermarket chain in Portugal and Pingo Doce is the third. In Setubal we came across a convenient Pingo Doce located close by to the apartment so we went there to shop for our evening meal.

I liked all of these supermarkets in Portugal, they all had a much wider product range than in the UK, more bread, more fruit, more vegetables but especially more fish and whilst Kim shopped for essentials I browsed for fantasy.  The shopping experience is mostly similar to being in the UK and providing you remain focused you can have filled a basket, sidestepped the tempting but unwanted special offers, have negotiated all of the aisles  and be finished in just a few minutes. 

But then you get to the check-outs.

Chaos. Absolute chaos. In the UK you can expect to be through the checkout in under five minutes even if the two people in front both have a full trolley load to clear. Checkout staff in the UK are the fastest on the planet, no mercy if you don’t keep up.   If it was an Olympic event they would win gold, silver and bronze.  Not so in Portugal.  They would come last. Fifteen minutes in the store – thirty minutes (on a good day) waiting to pay.

And it was the same everywhere that we stayed and shopped in Portugal, Obidos, Cascais, Ericeira, Lisbon and now Setúbal.

A main reason for this is that most customers want to pay in cash but the cashiers have no coins in the tills so when someone offers a note they ask if they might possibly have the right change which involves fumbling in pockets and purses looking for loose, long forgotten coins.  “Oh, here is an Escudo, do you still take Escudo?”  Worst of all some customers just throw their coins down and let the cashier do the sorting and when it is all done take an age to put it away again.

This slows the whole process down to somewhere significantly below glacial speed and several conga lines of frustrated customers begin to form and begin to block up the aisles.  Although several frustrated people take the risk there is no point whatsoever  changing lanes because they are all the same.  They are all advancing at the pace of a silted up river bed.  This is life in the sloth lane.

Quite by chance there was some welcome entertainment as a group of university students entertained with music and singing which made the process a bit more tolerable but only just.

I have an important travel tip here…

DO NOT under any circumstances let the cashier see that you have a purse full of coins because they will beg to relieve you of it.  I swear that they are on a shift  bonus to get hold of coins.  I like to carry a little pouch with loose change, say about twenty euro or so but have learnt from experience never to show it.  One of my travel objectives is always to come home with my pouch full of coins ready for next time.

Behaviour at supermarket checkouts is something that intrigues me.  I wrote about it once in a post a long time ago (2010) and I do understand that it might be considered a bit sexist now but here it is now (with apologies where considered necessary)…

Read the full story Here…

So, we negotiated the checkout queue, went home with our purchases and had a simple meal of cooked piri-piri chicken, new potatoes and fresh salad and after as the sun began to slide into the River Sado took a walk to the shoreline and just sat and watched. 

Tomorrow we thought that we might try and find a beach.  We considered taking the apple green ferry to the Troia peninsular but decided instead to go for a hike.

 

Forest of Dean – Birthday Celebrations

 

We are all getting older.  This year my sister turned sixty-five and my younger brother hit the big sixty.  We all agreed to get together for a weekend at my sister’s place in Gloucestershire.  I had nothing to celebrate, I am sixty-eight so nothing special about that.

Lindsay lives in Lydbrook, close to one of my favourite towns in England, Ross-on-Wye, and has a lovely house and garden which stretches into the boundary of the forest,

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I tend to think that she lives a long way from me but to put things into some kind of  perspective, four hundred miles is not so far if you live in Australia, just short of driving from Melbourne to Adelaide or in the USA, Phoenix in Arizona to Los Angeles in California.  I live in the UK and like most other people that live here I just think that four hundred miles is a long way!

Lydbrook is in the Forest of Dean.  The UK is the second-least wooded country in Europe and only Ireland has less trees. There are not any forests where we live in Lincolnshire, it is the most treeless county in England where the land is mostly given over to arable farming which produces almost all of the vegetables for the entire country.  According to a recent survey Surrey is surprisingly the most wooded County in England.  The nearest to us, I guess, is Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire but there really isn’t much of that left either, Robin Hood wouldn’t be able to hide in it for long these days that’s for sure!

The forest is an area of about forty-five square miles of mixed woodland, one of the few surviving ancient woodlands in England. A large area that was once reserved for royal hunting after 1066 and until quite recently remained the second largest crown forest in England.

Forest Law finally came to an end during the second half of the seventeenth century but by then newly secured enclosures had taken a large bite out of the forests which were also sources of fuel for a rapidly growing population.

The forest was used exclusively as a royal hunting ground by the Tudor kings and subsequently a source of food for the royal court. Later its rich deposits of ore led to its becoming a major source of iron. Forest of Dean timber was particularly fine and was regarded as the best source for building ships.

The navy had, for many years, depended on English forests for their ships. According to legend, the Spanish asked one of their ambassadors during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I to sneak up and set fire to the Forest of Dean, hoping it would give their Armada an advantage.

As England’s navy grew larger and Brittania ruled the waves the need for timber began to seriously pick away at the woodland and from an estimated land coverage of 15% in 1086 as recorded in the Doomsday Book, England’s forests and woods had reduced to just 5% by 1905.

Where did all of these trees go? Well, for example It is estimated it took six thousand trees to build Nelson’s battleship HMS Victory, five thousand of which were oak. There were twenty-seven ships of the line at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 so that was an astounding one hundred and sixty thousand trees.  The French and Spanish fleet had thirty-three ships and they were generally bigger than those in the English fleet.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the Forest was a complex industrial region with deep coal mines, iron mines, iron and tinplate works, foundries, quarries and stone-dressing works, wood distillation works producing chemicals and with a sinuous network of railways but these are all gone now.

The Forest of Dean is not a big forest, the three largest in England are Kielder in Northumberland, The New Forest in Hampshire and Thetford Forest in Norfolk.  Kielder and Thetford are both recent forests both planted in the 1920s as part of a UK project of reforestation following the First-World-War but the Forest of Dean like the New Forest and Sherwood is an ancient forest of medieval England.

We managed a couple of rural walks in the Autumn sunshine,  I liked it, a place of retreat and gentle reflection amongst statuesque trees, leaves falling like confetti, pregnant leaf buds and gently shifting branches with brief glimpses of the clear blue sky above, a place deliciously cool and damp with the diffused sun casting mysterious shadows over tiny clearings.

Living in Lincolnshire I don’t get to stroll through forests very often, I mostly walk through wide open fields.  Quite a contrast.

We also got to go on a train ride.  It was supposed to be a steam train ride but the engine broke down just the day before so we got a diesel train instead.

There was more experience that I was hoping for before we left the Forest of Dean and that was to see a wild boar.  These days there are wild boar in several places in England but the Forest of Dean is the easiest and best place to spot them.  They had been extinct in England for four hundred years or so but sometime in the 1990s someone released the boar into the forest and they have flourished in conditions that suit them perfectly (rich, deciduous woodland, agricultural land nearby and the occasional household rubbish bin to raid) and it is estimated that there may now well be almost two-thousand roaming the forest in various sounders, the term for a herd of wild swine.

There is evidence of them everywhere in the forest.  Every few yards, the earth has been gouged up and pushed aside, the undergrowth freshly disturbed. At the base of the beech trees are long, raking scratches where the pigs has ripped over the topsoil looking for something beneath and around the base of the larger trees were deep, pale craters, as if the forest had recently been hit by a massive hail storm.

Lindsay is always telling stories of encounters with the animals and we had seen plenty of evidence that they were nearby and all around but so far we had not seen one but then in the evening driving to a pub in a nearby village we spotted a sow with some youngsters quite close to the road and I was happy about that.

A to Z of Postcards – R is for Richmond in Yorkshire

The next morning we debated what to do.  The majority decision was to visit a nearby attraction called ‘The Forbidden Corner’  but due to bureaucratic planning restrictions tickets could only be bought on-line and without communications at the cottage this had been quite  impossible.

We drove there anyway and at the entrance they confirmed that entrance was only by advance booking so we took a bagged a spot later in the week and drove off to look for something else to do.

The children thought they might like to visit the chocolate factory in nearby Leyburn and even though all of the signs seemed to suggest that it was open it was in fact closed so we had an empty car park to ourselves to debate what to do.

We decided to go to the town of Richmond.

Read the full story Here…