Category Archives: United Kingdom

On This Day – The Dad’s Army Museum in Thetford

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 3rd August 2018 I was in the Norfolk town of Thetford in East Anglia meeting a sort of hero of mine…

Mainwaring Thetford

I visited the Norfolk town of Thetford a year earlier but didn’t do my research properly and the Dad’s Army Museum wasn’t open.  The simple reason was that it is run by volunteers who, unlike me,  have jobs to go to during the week and only opens on a Saturday so this year I made sure that we went there on the right day.

Dad’s Army was an English situation comedy which was first broadcast in 1968 and fifty years later remains one of the funniest, often repeated and most popular of all BBC programmes.  I am a huge fan and will happily sit through endless reruns of the shows.

Kim is not so keen I have to tell you.

Dad's Army

My plan was to stay in a hotel called the Bell Inn because  the cast of the show used to stay here fifty years ago and I wanted to stay there too.  I hoped I might get lucky and get the very room that Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe) used to sleep in.

Sadly the Bell Inn turned out to be a massive disappointment, yes there was some Dad’s Army mementoes hanging on the walls but the place was a complete dump and the room we were allocated was tired, uncared for and dirty.    A real shame, I was so looking forward to staying there but I had to agree with Kim that it most likely hadn’t been decorated or cleaned since Arthur Lowe himself slept there in the 1960s.  Kim refused to stay and sent me to reception to get a change of room.  I was told that this was not possible so we decided to leave immediately.

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‘Dad’s Army’ is set during the Second World War and is a story about the British Home Guard which was a amateur defence force army made up of local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service either because of age (hence the name “Dad’s Army”) or by being in professions exempt from conscription.  Their job was to defend Britain against a German invasion force of Panzer Tanks and battalions of crack Wehrmacht troops. This was most unlikely and is the real basis of the whole series of programmes.

The show called the fictional town they defended Walmington-on-Sea which was said to be on the south coast of England but it was actually filmed in Thetford in East Anglia.

The little museum turned out to be a real treasure store, crammed full of memorabilia relating to the series, pictures, video clips, scrap books, newspaper articles and pictures and photographs of all the stars.  Kim is not such a big fan of Dad’s Army as I am but enjoyed this place just as much as I did.  We stayed longer than expected and then finished with a cup of tea and a cake at the Marigold Tea Room which is a recreation of one of the sets famous from the series.

Mainwaring's OfficeMarigold Tea Rooms

Thankfully the Wehrmacht never invaded!

On This Day – Leyburn and Middleham in Yorkshire

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 1st August 2016 I was in Yorkshire on ‘Yorkshire Day’…

02 Yorkshire

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 Wesleydale but blessed with history and a magnificent castle, almost as big as the town itself. We parked the car and found a pub for lunch called ‘Richard III’.

Richard III 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.

Richard III

 

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On This Day – The Disappearing Coast of Yorkshire

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 26th July 2019 I was in Skipsea in Yorkshire just a few miles north of where I live…

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The advance of the sea is relentless.

Every year along the Holderness coast nearly two metres of coastline is swept away, an estimated average of two million tonnes which is moved south on the tides towards the Humber estuary and builds land there where they don’t want it whilst it takes it away from here where they do.

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On This Day – Edinburgh Castle and Lead Soldiers

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 24th July 2015 I was in the Scottish Capital City of Edinburgh visiting the castle…

Edinburgh Castle

Even at ten o’clock there was a long queue at the ticket office, sensible people buy their tickets on line and get through quicker but I had failed in this instance to think ahead so I waited in line and shuffled ponderously towards the ticket office like a man with his shoe laces tied together.  I was cheered up however when I got there and noticed that I qualified for a 20% over 60s concession – there are some benefits to getting older but disappointingly the desk clerk didn’t ask me to prove it!

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On This Day – Birmingham UK

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 10th July 2015 I was in the City of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

Queen Victoria Birmingham UK

For several years I have been travelling to Europe and visiting interesting cities but whilst I have been happy to go to Seville and Venice, Prague and Warsaw, Riga and Moscow I have rather neglected to visit towns and cities in my own back yard.

Visiting friends I had the opportunity to visit England’s second city – Birmingham.  Some people wonder why anyone would visit Birmingham, it has a reputation for being dull and grimy, when Queen Victoria was passing through the region by train, she allegedly asked for the blinds to be drawn.

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Postcard From The USA – Las Vegas

Las Vegas

The city began as a stopover on the pioneer trails to the west and became a popular railroad town in the early 1900s.

It was a staging point for all the mines in the surrounding area that shipped their goods out to the rest of the country.  With the growth of the railroads, Las Vegas was temporarily by-passed and became less important, but the completion of the nearby Hoover Dam resulted in substantial growth in tourism, which, along with the legalisation of gambling, led to the advent of the casino-hotels for which the City is famous.

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Postcard From The USA – Lake Powell and The Glen Canyon Dam

Lake Powell Post card

Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir on the Colorado River on the border between Utah and Arizona and is the second largest man made reservoir in the United States after Lake Mead, it stores thirty cubic kilometres of water when full.  It was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon by the construction of the controversial Glen Canyon Dam, which also led to the creation of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area which is a popular summer destination for tourists.

The reservoir is named after the explorer John Wesley Powell who explored the full length of the river in three small wooden boats in 1869.

Construction of the dam started in June 1960 and the last bucket of concrete was poured and smoothed over in September 1963.  Over four million cubic metres of cement were used to create  the dam which is two hundred and sixteen metres  high and cost a hundred and fifty five million dollars and eighteen lives to build, which was a lot less than the one hundred and four deaths that were caused by the construction of the Hoover Dam further down river thirty years earlier.

Glen Canyon Dam Postcard 02

The dam has always been controversial, many opposed its construction in the first place, some associated with the decision to build it now think that it was a mistake because it has spoilt the environment and the Glen Canyon Institute is an organisation which even today continues to advocate for decommissioning.

We visited the dam and walked from the visitor centre to the other side of the gorge and then we took the elevator down inside the dam to view the hyro-electric generators.

Back on top the sun was coming out now and we took the short journey into the town of Page for lunch.   Page is a new town that was created in 1957 to house workers and their families during the construction of dam and the site was obtained by the government in a land exchange with the Navajo Indian tribe.  I hope they had their wits about them during the negotiations and didn’t get fobbed off with somewhere useless!

Glen Canyon Dam Bridge

There was not a great deal to hang around for in Page and after lunch the coach took us over the Glen Canyon Dam bridge which is over a thousand feet long and about seven hundred and fifty feet above the Colorado River.  Before the bridge was built it was an almost two hundred mile drive drive to the other side of the canyon.  Over the bridge we followed a road along the western side of the water and stopped off soon after to take a cruise on the lake from the Wahweep Marina.

This is easily the  best way to see Lake Powell because most of the features that define the lake,  the sheer cliffs, intricate narrow gorges, twisting canyons and towering mountains are inaccessible from the road and the shoreline and can only be fully appreciated from the water.  It was only a short cruise but it was fabulous because the sun was shining and the water was a calm but vibrant cerulean blue and the boat took us close to the marbled rocky sides of the lake and into the narrow canyons beyond.

I am not sure about the debate over whether creating this lake was the correct thing to do or not but today I simply enjoyed the experience of cruising over the water bathed in sunshine under a big blue peaceful sky.

After returning to dry land we boarded the coach for the journey to the city of Kanab which was over the State border into Utah.  The scenery was as barren and empty as it had been all day and it was less dramatic than it had been earlier in the trip and we were looking forward to arriving at our destination and getting the beer out.

Lake Powell Boat

In The Garden – Raindrops

 

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Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining…

So I just did me some talking to the sun
And I said I didn’t like the way he got things done
Sleeping on the job
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling
Burt Bacharach / Hal David

On This Day – The Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

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 10th June 2015 I was in Ballymoney in Northern Ireland visiting a filming location for the TV film Game of Thrones…

The Dark Hedges Northern Ireland

The dark hedges is an avenue of beech trees that were planted in the 1750s in the grounds of Gracehill House a Georgian mansion built by the Stuart family, descendants of a cousin of King James who had been granted the land but who had died in a shipwreck. They wanted to create a compelling landscape to impress visitors who approached the entrance to the mansion.  The Manor House is still there but a private residence and the Stuart legacy is this fascinating avenue of spooky interlinking tree boughs.

I say spooky because of course, such an ancient stretch of road is bound to have horror stories linked to it and visitors are warned to watch out for the ‘Grey Lady’. Local legend has it that she haunts the thin ribbon of road that winds beneath the ancient gnarled beech trees. She is said to glide silently along the roadside, and vanish as she reaches the last tree.  I couldn’t help thinking that I wished some of the tourists might disappear so that I might get a decent picture, but I suppose this stubborn couple do help provide a sense of perspective.

Dark Hedges 03

It was a fascinating place and maybe we were lucky to see it because Beech trees reach maturity at no more than two hundred years and those making up the Dark Hedges are well past that.  The Dark Hedges came under threat a few years ago when highway authorities proposed to fell many trees for safety reasons but the avenue was taken over by the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust – and is now the subject of a Heritage Lottery Fund project to protect the popular landmark but I suspect that there is only so long that they can remain on an environmental life support machine.

We might have stayed longer but to perfectly coincide with our visit a neighbouring farmer decided that this was the perfect agricultural moment to apply an evil silage cocktail to the land and the smell was truly awful and penetrated the interior of the car even through the closed windows.  I was concerned that we could get charged for this later under the car rental small print conditions of contract.

Game of Thrones Dark Hedges

On This Day – Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire

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 1st June 2018 I was with my grandchildren looking for Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest…

errol-flynn-robin-hood-archery

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