Category Archives: Travel

A to Z of Statues – N is for Napoleon Bonaparte

La Colonne de la Grande Armée is a monument constructed in the 1840s and is a fifty-three metre-high column topped with a statue of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

It marks the location of the base camp where Napoleon  assembled an army of eighty thousand men all reeking of garlic, singing  ‘La Marseillaise’ and impatient to invade England.  It was initially intended to commemorate a successful campaign, but this proved to be rather premature and as he didn’t quite manage that it now remembers instead the first distribution of the Imperial Légion d’honneur.

On the subject of Roads – Romans, Motorways and Sleaze

Yesterday I wrote about the Roman road infrastructure and how this related to the modern highway network based on six single digit primary roads.  On now to the motorways which follow more or less the same model.

Six principal single digit motorways.  M1 to the north, M2 to the south-east, M3 to the south, M4 to the south-west, M5  Exeter to Birmingham  and the M6  to the north-west.

The first real motorway was  the southern section of the M1 motorway which started in St Albans in Hertfordshire and finished just a few miles away from Rugby at the village of Crick was opened in 1959.

Then…

Now…

I have always thought this to be a curious choice of route.  Starting in London was sensible enough but it didn’t actually go anywhere and ended abruptly in a sleepy village in Northamptonshire.  Surely it would have made more sense to build a road between London and Birmingham.  The answer lies with the Romans because the M1 uses the Watford Gap which the Romans first used for the Watling Street (pictures above).  The Watford Gap is so convenient that it has been used for canals, railways and the M1.

This first section was seventy-two miles long and was built in just nineteen months by a labour force of five thousand men that is about one mile every eight days.

Guess what?  There was Tory cronyism even then.  The man responsible for the motorway building boom was the Minister for Transport Ernest Marples.

He both oversaw significant road construction and the closure of a considerable portion of the national railway network. His involvement in the road construction business Marples Ridgway, of which he had been managing director, was one of repeated concern regarding conflict of interest. Marples appointed Richard Beeching to head British Railways, who published a report which abandoned more than 4,000 miles of railway lines in the UK as the emphasis was switched to roads.

Substitute personal protective equipment for motorways and not a lot changes in Tory politics.

In later life, Marples was elevated to the peerage before fleeing to Monaco at very short notice to avoid prosecution for tax fraud.

The motorway age had arrived and suddenly it was possible to drive to London on a six-lane highway in a fraction of the previous time, helped enormously by the fact that there were no speed limits on the new road.

I mention speed limits because this encouraged car designers and racing car drivers were also using the M1 to conduct speed trials and in June 1964 a man called ‘Gentleman’ Jack Sears drove an AC Cobra Coupé at 185 MPH in a test drive on the northern carriageway of the motorway.

In fact there wasn’t very much about the original M1 that we would probably recognise at all, there was no central reservation, no crash barriers and no lighting.

The new motorway was designed to take a mere thirteen thousand vehicles a day which is in contrast to today’s figure of nearly one hundred thousand vehicles a day.  When it first opened this was the equivalent of a country road and it certainly wasn’t unheard of for families to pull up at the side for a picnic!

Monday Washing Lines – Barcena Mayor in Cantabria

My washing line project is drawing to a close, I have reached the end of the line and this is my penultimate picture.

A washing line on a balcony in Barcena Mayor in Cantabria in Northern Spain….

It is a Challenge, Feel Free to join in…

 

A to Z of Statues – M is for Michael Collins

We were going to visit the Michael Collins Museum and as we waited for it to open at ten o’clock we walked around the square in search of photo opportunities.

Michael Collins is one of the great characters (heroes?) of Irish history, a soldier, a politician, a patriot who was eventually betrayed by a man less worthy (Éamon de Valera) and murdered in an ambush somewhere close to Clonakilty at Béal na Bláth.

Read The Full Story Here…

Gritty Grimsby is not a Tourist Town

“Grimsby was not at all what I had expected…. The town centre was not compact and charming and town like, but grubbily urban with busy roads which were difficult to cross on foot” – Bill Bryson

I used to like Bill Bryson, I thought he was funny but in his last lamentable book ‘The Road to Little Dribbling”  he had the above to say about Grimsby.  I am not a Grimbarian so I have no axe to grind.  I am not arguing with him but I just got the sense that he hadn’t really visited Grimsby at all and his dismissive assessment was based on a Google search.  Despite its shortcomings I think the town deserves more than a quarter page in one of Bill’s travel books.

I have lived in Grimsby for ten years and I rather like it.

Read The Full Story Here….

 

People Pictures – Posing for a Picture

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken in the Polish City of Wroclaw, a party of nuns visiting the Cathedral…

Read The Full Story Here…

Monday Washing Lines – The Greek Island of Corfu

I am coming to the end of this project now.  This one is from Corfu in the Greek Islands…

Read The Full Story Here…

A to Z of Statues – L is for Lenin in Moscow

When Lenin died in January 1924 he was acclaimed as ‘the greatest genius of mankind’ and ‘the leader and teacher of the people’s of the whole world’.  Time Magazine named him one of the one hundred most important people of the twentieth century (Albert Einstein was first and Mahatma Ghandi and Theodore Roosevelt close runners-up).

According to the article in Encyclopaedia Britannica: ‘If the Bolshevik Revolution is, as some people have called it, the most significant political event of the twentieth century, then Lenin must for good or ill be considered the century’s most significant political leader… he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx’.

Read The Full Story Here…

A to Z of Balconies – Zamora in Spain

And so I come to the end of my A to Z of balconies and finish in the delightful city of Zamora in Northern Spain.

Zamora is only a small city for a provincial capital, close to the border with Portugal and situated on the river Duero (Duoro in Portugal) and most famous for having the greatest number of Romanesque churches of any city in Europe.

Read the full story Here…

People Pictures – Mobile Phones

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

Kim it seems has a fascination with Greek Orthodox Priests especially when they are on the telephone.  I wonder who they were calling?