Ripon, England – Part 1

We have lived and worked in Ripon for 21 years and in all of that time I have taken very few photographs of this very small city that we call home. In reality, as you will see from the photographs here and those to come in future posts, it is actually a small town in size, but because it has a historical cathedral and was once a much more important place, it is classed as a Cathedral City! If you read my last post, you will be aware that we are moving back home to Scotland as soon as our house is sold and Penny (my other half) retires in the summer. With that in mind, I have decided to ‘document’ Ripon in terms of photographs over the next few months, so that we have a record of where we lived for so many years, and also so that others via this blog, can see what the city looks like now! I have already published a few photographs of Ripon in a previous post, ‘John’s Mega Awards Ceremony’, in case you would like to visit after viewing this post. Just click on the link when you are ready!

Ripon Town Hall at the southern end of the Market Square

Ripon Town Hall at the southern end of the Market Square

The east side of the Market Square

The east side of the Market Square

Royal Air Force Association office on Kirkgate

Royal Air Force Association office on Kirkgate

High Skellgate

High Skellgate

Some houses on High Skellgate

Some houses on High Skellgate

Ripon Bandstand in Spa Park

Ripon Bandstand in Spa Park

If you use Google Maps or Google Earth, on the hybrid setting (which gives you an overlaid, annotated map and satellite image), you should be able to match up the photographs to the map! These are just random images which over a number of posts will hopefully build up into a ‘picture’ of this lovely Yorkshire city! Thanks for visiting and I hope you come by again! Other posts can be accessed from the archives in the side column on the right!

Cheers!

John

Our New Place – Sometime Soon?

As I indicated in a previous post, we have decided to sell our current house in England, and move back to Scotland, when Penny (my other half) retires in July! We have reserved a new house, which will be built when we sell our current one, which is on the market! We are very excited about ‘going home’ and I wanted to share a few photographs of places close to Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, where our new home will be! I am not only excited by the move, but also the photographic opportunities it will provide, particularly when we are both retired and can go off on adventures around Scotland when we wish (when the weather forecast for a particular area is at its best)!

View from Mainland scotland to the Isle of Arran (2 minutes from house) View from Mainland Scotland to the Isle of Arran (2 minutes west of the house)
The seaside town of Largs - 15 minutes north of the house The seaside town of Largs (15 minutes north of the house)
A view from the seaside town of Ayr (15 minutes south of the house) A view from the seaside town of Ayr (15 minutes south of the house)
The Gourock car ferry (30 minutes north of house) The Gourock car ferry (30 minutes north of house)
A stormy Firth of Clyde view (15 minutes from house) A stormy Firth of Clyde view (15 minutes from house)

You can see sharper versions of the photographs by clicking on each one in turn. I hope you can see why we are excited about ‘going home? I will keep you up-to-date with our changes as they occur, with more Scottish images! Hope to have your company on my blog again soon!

Cheers!

John

Stirling, Scotland

I know the town of Stirling very well! I attended the University of Stirling, where I met my beautiful wife, and graduated before embarking on a teaching career! Dunblane, which is a couple of miles north of Stirling, is also my historic family seat, and my parents, sister and I used to make regular visits from Glasgow to visit relatives when I was a ‘wee lad’!

Within our family, the story is told that my original family name was Stribling, and that one of my ancestors of this name was a high ranking officer in Robert the Bruce’s army during the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314! He, along with other officers, was supposedly given the honour of changing his surname to that of the nearest town, Stirling, after the battle was won! This is a story that has passed down from my great, great aunt, who was interested in genealogy, and had supposedly researched such matters, but I have no evidence of the truth of the story! It is one of those stories that, as a Scot, one hopes is true!

Anyway, enough about my links with the town of Stirling – here are my ‘historical’ photographic offerings for this post!

Stirling Castle - Home of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlander Regiment

Stirling Castle – Home of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlander Regiment

Stirling Castle remains the headquarters of the famous Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, although the regiment no longer exists within the British Army. The regimental museum and historic battle honours are housed within the castle.

The Wallace Monument, Stirling - in honour of William Wallace - Scottish Patriot!

The Wallace Monument, Stirling – in honour of William Wallace – Scottish Patriot!

The Wallace Monument, which lies to the east of Stirling, is dedicated to the memory of the Scottish Patriot and Hero, William Wallace, and it houses an interactive history of his life, as well as being the home of the Wallace Sword. There is much controversy about whether this sword was ever his, but it has become an important symbol of the man himself.

Statue of Robert the Bruce - King of Scotland at the site of the Battle of Bannockburn (1314)

Statue of Robert the Bruce – King of Scotland at the site of the Battle of Bannockburn (1314)

Bannockburn lies on the southern boundary of the town of Stirling, and the battlefield itself is marked by the above statue and the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, which houses the history of the battle. Bannockburn has a significant place in the history of the Scotland Wars of Independence against the occupying English forces!

Robert the Bruce - King of Scotland

Robert the Bruce – King of Scotland

Robert the Bruce - King of Scotland

Robert the Bruce – King of Scotland

The history of this period, and its famous characters, is known worldwide and much romanticised by the movie ‘Braveheart’! However fictitious the content of the movie, the people did exist, and there is no doubt that the story of William Wallace (Mel Gibson in the movie) still stirs the heart and soul of every patriotic Scot (including myself)! ‘FREEDOM’!

To finish this post and bring us back to the present time, and to end on a lighter note, here are some photographs of a ‘modern statue’ which I found, totally by chance, in the middle of a minor roundabout near Stirling, surrounded by nothing but fields!

Rhythmic Gymnast

Rhythmic Gymnast

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Rhythmic Gymnast 2

Rhythmic Gymnast - in a roundabout surrounded by fields?

Rhythmic Gymnast – in a roundabout surrounded by fields?

She is beautiful, isn’t she? All done with tiny pieces of metal! Sometimes you find the strangest of things in the most unlikely places!

Cheers!

John

Firth of Clyde, Scotland

The West of Scotland can often be stormy, wet and downright miserable but I still love the place because it is ‘home’! Quick post of a stormy, Firth of Clyde!

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Heads of Ayr and Firth of Clyde

Stormy sky and kite surfer

Stormy Sky and Kite Surfer

Stormy Skies, Kite and Jet from Prestwick to the USA

Stormy Skies, Kite and Jet from Prestwick to the USA

The Storm Clears!

The Storm Clears!

Cheers!

John

Tall Ships – Edinburgh, Scotland 1995 – Part 1

Can’t quite believe this event was nearly 18 years ago!!! I was looking through some of my old 35mm film and came across some negatives from a visit to the Tall Ships at Leith Docks, Edinburgh in July 1995! I thought I would start scanning them into my Mac and have chosen some of the first ones for this post. It was a ‘magic’ visit and we managed to board the largest of the ships (the first two photographs), the Russian vessel Kruzenshtern, at 376ft long!!! Hope you like the photographs!

Mast shot with 1995 flag

Mast shot with 1995 Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race flag!

We were able to go onboard this Russian vessel

We were able to go onboard this Russian vessel, the Kruzenshtern (376ft)

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Just something a bit different for this post! Hope you liked them! More to come in future posts! See you soon!

Cheers!

John

Paris, France – Part 2

This post takes us back to Paris for a short visit. We have actually been in Paris twice, but one of those visits was en-route to Milan, Italy, and we only had enough time for a short walk with no photographs! So here is another selection of photographs taken in Paris in 2003. When you have had a look at the images, click this link ‘Heatwave – Paris, France – 2003’ to see the first post!

The Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Élysées.

The Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Élysées.

Penny and I had just got off the sightseeing bus to the left of this photograph. We often take a sightseeing tour around a new city to get our bearings and to see the main sights quickly, before getting on and off and exploring other areas on our own! The sculpture work to be found in Paris is absolutely stunning, and the Arc de Triomphe is one of the very best. The size, the detail, the perspective, the story and the quality of work in the tableaux is breathtaking, and well worth a visit to the city on its own, never mind seeing anything else!

Risky! The Arc de Triomphe from the middle of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Risky! The Arc de Triomphe from the middle of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées

This next photograph is one of my favourites, not because I think it is a good photograph, but because it used to be a Paris railway station and its frontage conjures images of the Orient Express, the Art Deco period and the famous fictional detective Hercule Poirot created by Agatha Christie! If I could have lived in any other period of time, this would be it!

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Gare d’Orsay now  Musée d’Orsay

Gare d’Orsay railway station never did serve the Orient Express, and is now the Musée d’Orsay, housing some of the worlds finest artworks, but it still exudes that period of time!

Talking of Art, one gallery that most visitors to Paris have to see is the Louvre and it’s controversial entrance, the Pyramid!

The Pyramid at the Louvre Art Gallery, Paris

The Pyramid at the Louvre Art Gallery, Paris

The Louvre is a magical place; huge and complex! If you are not going to visit world famous masterpieces, such as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and the Venus di Milo by Alexandros of Antioch, it is a quiet, peaceful and unhurried place! However, as you can see from this photograph of the Venus di Milo, if you are going to visit one of the masterpieces, you can queue for ages at each piece and never get a photograph clear of other people! We queued for over an hour to see the Mona Lisa, which turned out to be a small, drab, uninspiring and disappointing piece of artwork, so much so that I didn’t consider it worth photographing!

The Venus di Milo by Leonardo da Vinci and some of her many admirers

The Venus di Milo by Leonardo da Vinci and some of her many admirers

So there we have it, our second short visit to Paris over! I hope you have enjoyed the post and I will publish more photographs of the city in the months to come! Please click on the link at the beginning of the post to see the first photographs of Paris, which includes the Eiffel Tower! Please also feel free to visit some of my other posts via the Archives section on the right and if you would like e-mail notification of publication of future posts, you can also sign up for this in the right hand column! Thanks for visiting and I hope to have your company again!

Cheers!

John

Abbey of Montecassino, Italy

The Abbey of Montecassino is the most beautiful monastery I have ever visited, and for me it is steeped in recognisable, recent history, through stories I read when I was a 9 year old boy! As most boys did during the early 60s, we played at being soldiers in battle and we read ‘Commando’ comics, which were single story comic books about Second World War incidents and fictitious commando heroes. One of the stories I remember particularly, involved the Battle of Montecassino, and Penny and I were lucky enough to visit there in 2007. The famous monastery lies on top of a rocky hilltop above the town of Cassino, which lies between Rome to the north and Naples to the south.

During World War II, the allied troops, who were made up of Americans, British, French from North Africa, Indians and Gurkhas, New Zealanders, Canadians and Poles, were fighting their way north from Southern Italy towards Rome, and the Abbey of Monte Cassino just happened to lie within what was a powerful German defensive line, the Gustav Line. The allies mistakenly thought that the Abbey itself was a German stronghold. What took place there was what is seen as the largest, bloodiest land battle in Europe, taking four months, and an estimated quarter of a million dead or wounded! It was one of the toughest battles fought in Western Europe and still is one of the most controversial. During the battle, the Abbey of Montecassino, and the town of Cassino, were bombed to destruction by allied forces!

At the beginning of the war in 1939, many historical documents and art treasures were stored in the Abbey along with the original detailed plans of the building. Before the Battle of Montecassino began in 1944, two German officers of the ‘Panzer Division Herman Goering’; Lt. Colonel Julius Schlegel and Captain Maximilion Becker, had the forethought to have 1400 irreplaceable documents and other treasures sent to the Vatican. Included were the plans of the original monastery. Their foresight meant that the Abbey could be rebuilt exactly as it had been originally, which is why we can all visit it today, exactly as it was before its destruction! A quite remarkable story of human suffering, death, destruction and rebirth!

Something inside me is telling me that this should be my only post on this location! I don’t know why, and there is no logical reason behind that decision. I don’t know whether it is the story, or an emotional connection with the place. That is just the way it is! I have added no text to the photographs and I make no further comment on them either! I dedicate this post to all the soldiers and civilians who died in the battle and the bombings, and to the two German officers, who didn’t plunder the Abbey’s treasures and plans for Hitler, but made sure they were safely located in the Vatican for posterity!  I hope you can see a small piece of the beauty of the Abbey of Montecassino from these 15 photographs:

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There we are – all done and never to be repeated! Hopefully you will agree with me that it is a beautiful place! Being high up above the hustle and bustle of Cassino town also means that it not only beautiful, but quiet and serene. Quite appropriate because of the war memorials and graves adjacent to the monastery!

Thank you for visiting my blog and this post!

Take care!

John

Venice, Italy – Part 4

I think it is about time for another trip to my favourite city in all the world, Venice! If I ever won the lottery, I would buy an apartment there so that I could fly back and forth whenever I wanted! I would love to visit Venice during ‘Carnivale’ in February, and I have seen some amazing photographs of Venetians dressed in the most elaborate masks and costumes, wandering about Venice posing for cameras during this period. I have seen the masks and costumes that are worn during ‘Carnivale’ displayed in shops dotted around the city, in back alleys, out of the tourist areas. The shop owners produce them on site and are happy for visitors to go in and have a look, watch them working, and buy their expensive wares, if you have the money to do so! Unfortunately, we have never been able to visit at this time of year, because having been the headteacher (principal) of a school, and Penny (my other half) being a teacher, we have never been able to have time off during term time! Maybe next year when we have both finished work? Anyway, here is a further selection of Venice photographs taken on a number of summer visits to the city! Hope you like them!

The City of Venice from the Venetian island of Lido.

The City of Venice from the Venetian island of Lido.

I have found that wide angle shots don’t always look as sharp as they should when displayed in a post. If you wish to see the sharper uploaded version just click on the photograph!

A lone gondolier in front of a Palazzo on the Grand Canal.

A lone gondolier in front of a Palazzo on the Grand Canal.

Venetian promenade lamp and a little girl trying to feed a pigeon - Sorry! They are too well fed in St Mark's Square!

Venetian promenade lamp and a little girl trying to feed a pigeon – Sorry Love! They are too well fed in St Mark’s Square!

Looking through two gondolas towards the church of San Giorgio Maggiore.

Looking through two gondolas towards the church of San Giorgio Maggiore on a stormy looking afternoon.

My beautiful wife, Penny, in Venice on the steps of Santa Maria Della Salute church with the Campanile in the background!

My beautiful wife, Penny, in Venice, on the steps of Santa Maria Della Salute church with the Campanile in the background!

As visitors who follow my blog will know, I often include Penny in the text part of my posts, so I thought you might like to see what she looks like!

Well, I have to say that putting this post together has got me wishing for a foreign holiday now! Maybe I should get the brochures out??? Hope you like the photographs! Thanks for visiting and hopefully I will meet you here again soon! You can see previous Venice posts and photographs by clicking on Venice, Venice, Italy – Another Visit, or More Venice, Please!. or by searching through my archives!

Cheers

John

Aberaeron, Wales

A Good New Year to everyone and I hope 2013 is everything you wish it to be! It is certainly going to be full of change for us, because Penny (my other half) is joining me in early retirement in July of this year, and we have decided to sell our home in England and move back home to Scotland! This post, however, does not include any photographs of anywhere in Scotland, but is of the lovely little town of Aberaeron which lies on the west coast of Wales, between the larger towns of Aberystwyth to the north and Cardigan to the south. It is well known for its colourful houses, and is a popular place for summer holidays. Penny and I have only visited Aberaeron once, and that was during the winter, but we really enjoyed our short visit! It was nice and quiet and peaceful and we will definitely be going back in our motorhome, between holidays abroad, when we are retired! Yippee! I hope you like the photographs!

Aberaeron Harbour Mouth looking west.

Aberaeron Harbour Mouth looking west.

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The old harbour master’s house on the north side of Aberaeron Harbour.

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This hotel was formerly the harbour master’s home and was later a whaler’s inn. It dates back to 1811.

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The south side of Aberaeron Harbour.

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The very old colourful terraced houses are stunning and kept beautifully!

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The coloured houses leave me speechless!

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I wonder if they colour match?

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I love the little fishing boats against the colourful houses in the background!

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Red house and red car – just saw it and took the photograph!

I find it funny how my familiarity with UK locations colours my judgement in terms of whether to post photographs of places in this country or not. I love UK locations and I hope my photographs are of acceptable quality, but because I am so familiar with the UK landscape, to me their content is very much ‘run of the mill’ and I feel that others may find them uninteresting and boring! I suppose it is because places abroad such as in Europe and the wider world are much more exciting and appealing because they are so different and unusual from the places at home? In the end, I suppose that if I appreciate the ‘abroad’ factor in others photographs, then visitors who live in other countries who look upon the UK as ‘abroad’ may find my UK photographs interesting, appealing and anything but boring! I have therefore decided that this is how I am going to look at things in the future and publish lots of photographs of my favourite places in the UK!

Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you like Aberaeron in Wales, UK! Feel free to hang about and investigate some of my other posts and if after that you would like e-mail notification of new posts then sign up with your e-mail address in the column on the right!

Cheers

John

Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau Mountains, Switzerland – Part 2

First of all, Christmas Greetings and best wishes to everyone for and a very happy and prosperous New Year in 2013!

When I think of Switzerland, I tend to think of mountains, snow, mountain railways, cable cars, incredible views and how long it will be until I can go back there! I quench my thirst with photographs! In this second look at photographs of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau Mountains, and the ‘Sphinx’ Scientific Station and Observatory, I hope you also get a taste of what a stunning place it is!

This first photograph should probably have been published at the beginning of Part 1 because it shows the Jungfrau Mountain and the ‘Sphinx’ taken from Interlaken Station. This hopefully puts our journey into better perspective!

Jungfrau Mountain at 11,00ft from Interlaken West Railway Station

Jungfrau Mountain at 11,00ft from Interlaken West Railway Station

Obviously, the mountain is covered in snow all year long! Looking to the left of the photograph, you can just about see the ‘Sphinx’ if you move your eyes down from the almost vertical ‘spacer’ that keeps the catenary cables apart to the ‘little bump’ on the mountain ridge! Yes, I know, you can’t make it out clearly but it can be seen in a high resolution printout of the image! It just gives you a better idea of where we were and where the photographs in these two posts were taken from! The great thing is that anyone can go there – by railway!!! Oh, by the way, the train sitting at the platform is the ICE Train which travels from Frankfurt to Interlaken!

The Monch Peak that separates the Eiger and the Jungfrau Mountains

The Monch Peak that separates the Eiger and the Jungfrau Mountains

The Great Aletsch Glacier

The Great Aletsch Glacier

This is the Aletsch Glacier viewed from the ‘Sphinx’ and it is the largest glacier in the Alps. It has a length of about 14 miles and covers more than 46 square miles. Its thickness is estimated to be nearly 3,300 ft.

To end this post, here are two photographs taken on the Jungfrau ridge near the ‘Sphinx’! The first is of the Jungfrau Mountain peak and a rather windblown/disintegrating Swiss flag! The second is of excited visitors out on the ridge at 11,000ft taking photographs of each other!!!

The Jungfrau Mountain Peak

The Jungfrau Mountain Peak

People, Cameras and Photography at 11,000ft! What could be better?

People, Cameras and Photography at 11,000ft! What could be better?

Thanks for visiting and please feel free to have a look around the blog and at some of my other posts! Why not ‘Bookmark’ me and come back anytime, or sign up for e-mail notification of new posts being published! Click here to see Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau Mountains, Switzerland – Part 1!

Cheers

John