Category Archives: Hotels

On This Day – Excursion to Ephesus

Even though travel restrictions are easing I am not yet minded to risk it so I still have no new stories to post so I continue to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 25th September 2014 I was on a coach excursion visiting Ancient historical sites in Turkey…

The problem with bus trips is that you cannot choose your travelling companions – it is a game of chance!

I imagined that we would be accompanied on this trip by middle aged historians in crumpled linen suits and battered panama hats, archaeologists carrying trowels and leather bound notebooks and the entire cast of a Merchant Ivory film but at the first pick up we were joined by a Geordie and boisterous Lithuanian family and then horror of horrors by a noisy bunch of women who looked as though they should really be going to a market rather than one of the World’s finest archaeological sites.

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Staycation 2020 – North and South of the Humber

Growing weary of the tedium of the lock-down and with holiday plans to Sicily in tatters we decided to meet with our friends and spend an evening together for a meal in a nearby pub. Kim tracked down an excellent deal of only £50 each for bed, breakfast and evening meal at a well recommended place with a two star AA rosette. Unlikely as it sounds owned by chef Colin McGurran who was a winner one time on ‘Great British Menu’.

It turned out to be a very good deal, placed on the south bank of the Humber Estuary, comfortable rooms, good views and an excellent meal. Kim had posh burger and I had East coast mussels.

The Hope and Anchor (above) is in the unfortunately named hamlet of Ferriby Sluice and is at the point where the River Ancholme drains into the Humber Estuary via a sluice gate and a set of locks. A hundred years or so ago it was a busy marina and a departure and return point for the leisure and packet boats that regularly used the Humber.

Boats have always left Ferriby (the clue is in the name). The Romans stopped here in Lincolnshire at the end of their great road, Ermine Street which linked London and Lincoln before continuing to the Humber and then crossed the river to the north bank to continue into Yorkshire. The Romans were famous for straight roads and the section from Lincoln to the Humber, a distance of thirty-five miles is one of the straightest in England.

Ferries on the Humber continued to be important until the construction of the Humber Bridge in 1981. 

After breakfast we walked for a while along the banks of the River Ancholme butI have to say that it is not an especially thrilling or picturesque sort of place, a carpet of smelly algae on the river (thank goodness for coronavirus masks), a redundant cement works and a marine breakers yard. It does however have a National Historic Ship – The Amy Howson, a sloop that once worked the Humber and the Rivers and tributaries along the way to towns and cities as far apart as Grimsby and Sheffield.

It was rather chilly so we didn’t stay long this morning before driving across the River Ancholme and away along the south bank of the Humber.

This was a day for crossing rivers and driving west we crossed the Trent and then turning north the Ouse, the third and fourth longest rivers in England (after the Severn and the Thames). We were more or less at the point where they converge to form the River Humber. Other rivers contribute as well, principally the Don and the Aire and we crossed those as well.

Actually, the Humber isn’t really a river at all because for its entire length of only forty miles or so it is tidal so technically it is an estuary (I only mention this here in case someone challenges me on this important point of detail).

It may be one of the shortest rivers in England but it is also one of the most important as it deals with natural drainage from everything on the east side of the Pennines, the North Midlands and the Yorkshire Moors.

We rather rudely passed through Goole, Britain’s furthest inland port without stopping, I must go back and visit one day, but today we continued to the market town of Howden, a place that I have wanted to visit for some time.

Howden is a small historic market town lying in the Vale of York in the East Riding of Yorkshire, three miles north of the port town of Goole, it regularly features in lists of desirable places to live and is high up on a standard of living index. I liked it immediately and not just for the fact that it has free car parking.

All roads in Howden lead to the attractive Market Place next to the ruins of the sixteenth century Abbey and Minster, one of thirteen in the county of Yorkshire. Here is a curious fact, Howden was granted to the Bishop of Durham by William the Conqueror in 1080 and the town remained an enclave of Durham until 1846.

I imagine the Minster was once a fine building but it lost its status during the Reformation, was vandalised by Parliamentary soldiers in the English Civil War, the roof collapsed in 1696 and over the next hundred years or so the site was looted for its stone for alternative construction projects in and about the town and whilst the Minster lies in ruins the town has a network of streets with very fine Georgian buildings.

The Minster is currently undergoing restoration and we found it closed today which may have been due to the work or alternatively the dreaded coronavirus.

We found the town very agreeable and liked it very much so we walked the streets of the historic centre before stopping for coffee and cake at a town centre tea shop. We left in mid-afternoon and followed a route along the north bank of the estuary before crossing over the Humber Bridge back to North Lincolnshire which completed our quest of crossing all major rivers of the area.

 

On This Day – A Ghost Story

Even though travel restrictions are easing I am not yet minded to risk it so I still have no new stories to post so I continue to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 24th August 2015 I was still on a family holiday in Mid Wales in a very remote cottage in the countryside…

Bala Wales

I was rather tired tonight so shortly after Kim had gone to bed I said goodnight to Sally and walked along the corridor to the bedrooms.  Part way along someone called out “Grandad, Grandad, Grandad” three times and assuming it was one of the three children I went to their bedrooms and asked who was calling me – all three were fast asleep, very fast asleep.

Read the full story Here…

ghost Wales Cottahe Llanuwchllyn

On This Day – Stuck in a Lift with a Turtle

Even though travel restrictions are easing I am not yet minded to risk it so I still have no new stories to post so I continue to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 20th August 2014 I was in Corfu in the Greek Islands with my family and a new pal…

Corfu Stuck in a lift with a turtle

There were a lot of steps at the Adonis and Asonitis Apartments so the sensible route to ground level was by the lift (elevator) so rather than tackle the challenging vertical concrete stairs my habit was to take the easy route.  Today, after clearing up the rooms as best I could before the hotel cleaners came in and passed out it was my job to follow the children down to the beach and bring with me the inflatable turtle.

We were on level four and I had to go to level minus one but somewhere between one and three the lift suddenly groaned, juddered then abruptly stopped and the lights all went out as though there was a sort of power failure.  I waited a minute or two (actually, if I am being completely honest, only a second or two) and then I descended into frantic panic.  I have always had a fear of being stuck in a broken down lift.  I jabbed at the control buttons and it was then that I noticed that they were all damaged and caved in as though someone had attacked them with a lump hammer so I could only conclude that this sort of thing was a regular occurrence.

I waited a minute or two (actually only a second or two) and then pressed the alarm button which emitted a deafening screeching sound rather like someone having open heart surgery without an anaesthetic but still nothing happened and I started to contemplate a day stuck in a broken down lift and wondering how I was going to pass the time.

I had no mobile phone (probably wouldn’t have worked anyway) no water, worse still no Mythos, no book to read, no knife and fork in case I was here for so long that I had to eat my green reptile companion and no weapon to defend myself with if it decided to try and eat me!

It was very hot and very humid stuck in the confines of a metal prison cell dangling from a cable and probably about to crash to the bottom in a nasty, messy accident.

Turtle in a lift

I pressed the alarm several times, blamed the turtle for our predicament and looked for a hatch in the roof like you see in a James Bond movie but the situation was hopeless so I put the turtle in one corner and told it to leave things to me and had another attempt at operating the controls.  The turtle didn’t seem to be as concerned as I was I have to say. Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing, but then after a few moments the hopeful flicker of lights, a welcoming hum of air conditioning and a faintly reassuring whirr of machinery as the lift returned to the top floor and to my relief the doors thankfully opened.

After that lucky escape I wasn’t going to risk the lift again so I walked down the steps to the beach and at the poolside bar realised that I needed a Mythos.  I found a table in the corner for Turtle and me (after sharing a traumatic experience together we were bonding nicely now) and went to the bar and ordered a glass of beer and a dish of nuts for me and a beaker of plankton and a side of seaweed for Turtle.

I sat and enjoyed the Mythos and had ten minutes lad chat and then left and made my way to the beach where everyone wondered why it had taken me so long to get there and completely refused to believe my (admittedly) unlikely broken lift story and accused me of just hanging around the bar while I continued to protest that I had been literally hanging around in a lift!

Turtle

I didn’t do a great deal more for the rest of the day but Turtle had to entertain the children.  He was exhausted by the end of it all so I gave him a lift back to the apartment.

Corfu Turtle

This is my son with a Turtle in 1993…

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Can anyone name the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

On This Day – Boulogne, France

Even though travel restrictions are easing I am not yet minded to risk it so I still have no new stories to post so I continue to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 11th August 2010 I was in France in the Northern port city of Boulogne.  I have been to Boulogne several times and I am happy to declare it one of my favourite cities in all of France.

Boulogne Old Town

I like Boulogne, I like Northern France, I especially like Northern France in August because all of the French people have gone south leaving the north for us Brits and the asylum seekers trying to get a boat to cross the English Channel.

The old town is built within the original Roman walls and has recently been well restored and it was in complete contrast to the concrete and glass of the sea front and the modern glitzy shopping streets.  Here is the beating heart of a medieval city with history gently oozing from every corner with a castle, a cathedral and narrow streets lined with charming properties, little shops, inviting cafés and bars.

Boulogne 02

From the car park we walked along the main street full of interesting shops and busy restaurants and under the walls of the huge cathedral which was rebuilt in the nineteenth century as a symbol of the revival of the French Catholic Church.  During the 1789 Revolution the old cathedral had been closed, Catholicism was replaced by order of Robespierre by ‘The Cult of the Supreme Being” and Christian worship forbidden.  The Church was declared the property of the State and then dismantled and sold for building projects, stone by stone.  In 1802 Napoleon reinstated the Catholic Church in France.

The medieval cathedral was the site of a shrine to ‘Our Lady of Boulogne’ a representation of a vision that appeared in Boulogne in or around the year 646 and which arrived in a boat without sails, oars, or sailors, on which stood a wooden statue of the Virgin holding the Child Jesus in her arms.  The French Revolutionaries didn’t have a lot of regard for this sort thing and so at the same time as they destroyed the cathedral they burned the priceless wooden statue as well.

Anyway, the church was rebuilt in the nineteenth century complete with a massive dome, one of the largest in Europe, and inside there is a modern replica of ‘Our Lady of Boulogne’ which is one of four that were sculptured in 1943 and toured France until 1948 when it was known as ‘The Lady of the Great Return’ and is today symbolic of the reconciliation between nations.

This was nice I thought, such a shame that we in UK have foolishly chosen to turn our back on Europe…

Boulogne 01

From the cathedral we walked along the Rue de Lille and negotiated the pavement table barricades scattered almost randomly across the pedestrianised street and then to the Hotel de Ville with its immaculate gardens like a green  oasis in the centre of the cramped city where we stopped for a while and enjoyed the hot sunshine and the contrast of a cool beer under the shadow of the city’s twelfth century UNESCO World Heritage Site medieval Belfry.

Inside the town hall there was free entry to the Tower that included a guided tour and history of the building which was helpfully given in English as well as French.  There was a long climb with a couple of stops for informative narrative and there were good views from the top of the tower and we were lucky to be part of only a small group of visitors because we had time and space to enjoy the rooftop vista.

Boulogne 09

We left the old town by a gate next to the Castle Museum and I am forever amazed at the bits of trivia that I pick up on my travels because who would have guessed that inside is the most important exhibition of masks from Alaska in the whole world?  I couldn’t help wondering why the most important exhibition of masks from Alaska isn’t in Alaska?

After the break we walked half of the walls and then returned to the car to go to the fishing port to find some lunch and after we had some difficulty finding a parking spot we strolled casually down the hill into the town past the Nausicaa Aquarium, one of the largest aquarium museums in France.

We strolled along the busy docks which, it turns out, is the biggest fishing port in France and there is a large fishing fleet including deep-sea trawlers and factory ships, as well as smaller sea-going and inshore fishing boats.  A third of France’s fresh fish catch is landed here, and a huge quay-side fish processing factory makes 20% of the nation’s tinned fish, and half of the frozen fish, fish fingers and other fish based ready meals.

Boulogne Fish Market Postcard

At a seafront restaurant we asked for menus but things went spectacularly wrong when an unexpected strong gust of wind blew my glass of beer over straight over.  It was getting quite windy now so we tried two or three different tables and then abandoned the seafront lunch idea and returned instead to the shelter of the old town where perhaps we should have stayed in the first place.

Here we selected a restaurant on Rue de Lille and ordered what we thought was going to be a snack but turned out to be quite enormous meals which, although we didn’t know it at the time was going to spoil our evening meal.  Mum didn’t enjoy her Welsh Rarebit, Alan had an oversize omelette, Richard had a pizza that would have been sufficient for all four of us but I did get the pot of moules marinière that I had been promising myself.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

On This Day, Palermo in Sicily

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 20th July 2007 I was in the classical Italian City of Palermo in Sicily…

Palerm 10

A couple of years ago I suggested to some regular travelling pals that we should go to Naples in Italy for a few days.  They were horrified by the suggestion because of the city’s reputation as being rather dangerous.  They said that they would prefer to go to Barcelona in Spain even though I pointed out that the Spanish city is the pickpocket capital of Europe and had recently suffered a terrorist attack.

I couldn’t persuade them to reconsider so we travelled to Naples by ourselves.  We thought of ourselves as intrepid adventurers stepping out boldly into a dangerous Italian city.  For us this completed a trio of visits to so-called risky Italian cities because previously we had stayed in Bari in Puglia which enjoys a similar reputation and Palermo in Sicily, the home of the Mafia.

Michael Corleone

I have often wondered where all of these crime stories come from and are they true?  It seems that they are linked to a web of crime syndicates that operate across all of southern Italy.  Sicily has the Cosa Nostra, Naples the Camorra, Calabria has the ‘Ndrangheta and Puglia  the Sacre Corona.

In preparing this post I did a little research and was surprised to find that not one of these cities is in the top ten hazardous places in Italy with the top three spots being taken by Milan, Bologna and Rome all of which are all further north.

I think it is fair to say that a tourist is at more risk from a street pickpocket attack than an organised crime syndicate.

A year later we went to Madrid and my friend, who thought Naples was dangerous, had his wallet stolen in the street.

Click on an image to scroll through the Palermo Gallery…

 

Read The Full Story Here…

Arizona, Heil Factory Visit and the Scottsdale Stadium in Phoenix

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This might sounds a bit ungrateful but I just wasn’t enjoying this part of the trip.  I preferred the Grand Canyon excursion.

But I suppose it was the real reason for the visit and I tried as best as I could to try and stay focussed and show some interest in the Rapid Rail and the  STARR system equipment, the Formula 7000 Square body and DPF Formula 7000 automated side loaders, the Formula 7000 split body co-collection automated side loaders and the DPF Half/Pack front loaders.

Finally, after what seemed a lifetime or three, the visit was over and the Managing Director gave each of us a bag of corporate gifts which included a polo shirt and baseball cap, a Swiss army knife and some unusually high quality pens.

Read the full story here…

Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park and a Cowboy Restaurant

Grand Canyon Entrance

For an Englishman a four hundred mile trip seems a very long way to drive for a day out.

If I drove that distance in any direction from my home then I would run out of road and reach the sea.  Going east it would take only fifteen minutes.  It is a journey like this that makes you realise the immense scale of the USA.  Arizona is 115,000 square miles of emptiness and long stretches of never-ending road between towns, the UK is just less than 95,000 square miles and Arizona is bigger than forty of the fifty-one countries in Europe.  It is bigger than half the countries in the World.

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Arizona, Breakfast at the Roadrunner Saloon

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Thoughtfully the organizers of the trip thought we might need a day to rest after our long flight so the next day was free of any official engagements and ours to do as we pleased with so Allan decided that we would drive to the two hundred mile journey to the far north of the State to see the Grand Canyon.

This seemed a very good idea but did involve a very early start and less than four hours after crawling into bed and before it even got light we were off and away before I had time to check to see if I had a hangover and even before the breakfast bar was open in the restaurant. Dave wasn’t happy about that.

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An Unexpected Travel Opportunity

Welcome to Arizona

Before I moved to Lincolnshire I used to work for a French waste (mis)management company called Onyx UK and I worked at a depot in Maidenhead in Berkshire and managed the Windsor contract.

The company was always losing money and as a result trying to cut costs and one day  the Managing Director telephoned me to tell me that he had heard of a new type of refuse collection vehicle with impressive labour saving innovations that offered potentially huge operational efficiencies and that he was interested in finding out more.

He asked me if I would be prepared to visit the factory where they were manufactured and give him my opinion.

To be honest I had very little interest in bincarts  and tried to drag up a suitable excuse, but fortunately before I could prematurely decline, he happened to mention that the factory was in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States of America.

Did I want to visit Phoenix to see some dustcarts?  You bet I did!

Read The Full Story Here…