Beer and Buses

I have a few more posts ready to be created that I could have shared with you but I decided to share what I was doing last Saturday as I was pleasantly surprised that the photographs I had taken, mostly in a hurry, weren’t too bad.

I went with my daughter and family to the Isle of Wight for the first day of the “Isle of Wight Classic Buses, Beer (& Walks) Weekend”.

My son-in-law is a member of CAMRA’s National Executive and my daughter loves all sorts of buses and trams so it was an event to please everyone.

When we took the Red-Jet from Southampton the weather looked dark and cloudy but it had cheered up by the time we got to Newport.

There were several bus routes which (if you know the Isle of Wight) were all as one might expect centred around Newport. 0520-buses-at-newportI took a photograph of this red Routemaster bus that is the classic London bus 0520-red-london-busand a row of buses.0520-a-row-of-buses I also took some green ones. 0520-a-row-of-green-busesThe one on the left being the Green Line Routemaster bus I remember from my childhood.

I also photographed an open top bus. 0520-open-top-busWe rode on two open top buses. This was taken while sitting on the first one. 0520-on-top-of-a-busIt rained while we were on the second one but luckily the seats were dry when we got on!

When we had arrived in Ryde we had had our first beer. 0520-the-king-luddAnd later bought some fish and chips and sat to eat them looking at the sea and the great long pier. 0520-a-long-pierLater after our trip on the open top bus we had another beer. 0520-yar-bridge-innThis pub had music in the marquee (very loud!).

Unfortunately by the time we reached out third pub in Shanklin it was raining quite heavily.

Though I did take my camera out as we waited for our last bus to photograph a rainbow. 0520-rainbow-and-sky-onlyWhere is a cornfield when you need one!

A rainbow isn’t quite as romantic over houses. 0520-rainbow-with-houses

A week in Weymouth – part 2

On Wednesday I had planned a trip to the Hardy monument as it is not open earlier in the week. Open means a cafe and the chance to go to the top. Otherwise it stands there out in the open.

Recent experience in walking in the countryside to well known locations or popular routes led me to believe that the off-road walking route would be well signposted. I did however have an ordinance survey map (borrowed from the library – Yay!) and a Silva compass (lent by James because I had forgotten to think of bringing my own) as backup.

When we got off the bus the road route was signposted – 2 miles and there was a sign to the right as we walked through the village of Portesham pointing to a walking route. That was the last we saw of specific signs however.

Faced with a choice of two paths I was glad I had both map and compass. However life is tough if you are thirteen and Louisa informed me that she couldn’t stand still while I worked out the right direction as her legs would seize up and then plowed ahead on the lower path which had been my first choice.

Suffice it to say that it was the wrong path and from then on I muddled along, trying to follow the map while walking, jollying Louisa along as it was very hot (hotter than I had expected), reversing direction when it was obvious we had made the wrong choice, rejoicing when we caught a glimpse of the monument, so in the end the expected two miles was nearer three and the hour I estimated it would take became ninety minutes.

So the first thing we did on arrival (apart from a photograph) Hardy monumentwas an ice cream for Louisa and some coffee for me. The cafe was a sort of caravan style similar to an ice cream van with a window at the side

I wish I had taken a photograph here but I was too intent on reviving myself.

I was offered not a mug but a cafetiere of coffee, served on a tray with a cup and saucer and jug of milk. The cafetiere had a crochet cosy in bright colours that had been made by the lady serving the coffee. (We discussed the making of cosies when I gave back the tray.) There were two chairs and a table beside the ‘cafe’ and I sat there and drank my coffee.

Then Louisa and I found a picnic table and ate our lunch (again no photograph) after which we went and sat in the shade of the monument and Louisa picked up her crochet again. I got up after a while and took some views. View from belowBetter views were to be had from the top however.

The cost of climbing the one hundred and twenty steps to the top of the monument was very reasonable so Louisa and I, when we felt sufficiently revived, opted to go up.

I was pleased to find that Louisa after her earlier moaning was now very happy that we had come and enjoyed the view.

Here is a view over towards the Chesil bank which seemed to follow us wherever we went. View from aboveAnd further round the road that wound further inland. Road going inlandWe opted to be safe rather than sorry for the return trip and followed the road back towards Portesham: Road back to villagevery much a country route but no footpath so frequent recourse to climbing the verge.

I had been expecting to meet up with a blogging friend on Thursday but personal circumstance meant that that was not possible so a re-think was necessary.

The weather forecast suggested rain so a return trip to Abbotsbury to visit St Catherine’s Chapel seemed a good option. And as it turned out we were glad of the shelter the chapel offered. Inside chapelLouisa was charmed by the large number of doves and pigeons inside the chapel. You can see two either side of the window both on nests. One seemed to have chicks and the other was obviously incubating hers.

I took a photograph of the roof from inside Chapel ceilingand then later of the turrets on the roof outside. TurretsAnd some views of the surrounding coutryside from the front of the chapel.

Here is one of the road snaking up the hill. View to the leftAnd here is the village of Abbotsbury. View of villageYou can see it was a misty moisty day!

I am loving Dorset, it is all very pretty.

Friday being the last day, a gentler pace seemed appropriate and so the main events were an afternoon boat trip and a meal out in the evening.

No photographs of the meal though it was very good but the boat we travelled on is in the front of this photograph Boatand here is one taken of the other side of the harbour Harbour the side where our appartment was, just one street behind.

Here is the Nothe Fort at the end of the harbour. Nothe fortWe then travelled along the Jurassic coast. I took a few photographs, as much as one can in a rocking boat, but although they are interesting as a record not many are worth showing.

Here is one where you can see something of the jurassic layersJurassic coastand here near the half way point where the dipping jurassic gives way to the creataceous. Cretaceous coastSaturday we were picked up and I had expected a quick trip home and a collapse but my daughter had decided to come too and we were offered the chance to go wherever we wished.

Having missed out on the Cerne Giant we made for the viewing point and took some photographs.

Here is the best I could do of the giant himself. The giantI was a little disappointed that he did not stand out more clearly.

Here we are myself, daughter and grandaughter with the giant in the background. Family photo

The weather looked a bit threatening but we decided we would go and take a look at Maiden Castle. We were still dithering as to whether to get out of the car and walk round the ramparts when the heavens opened and the thunder and lightening put paid to any such idea.

So we spent the rest of the day at the Dorset County museum and very interesting it was too.

Before I end I thought I would share our crochet with you. Yes I did do some crochet though not while out as I was trying to design a scarf pattern.

I had some yarn I had won in a giveaway. 0398-yarnAnd I decided to use the little extra ball to experiment to see if it was enough for a scarf.

I was thinking pineapple bookmark, 0105-pineapplebookmarksand angel bookmark 0374-3angelbookmarksas inspiration and I even found a picture of a scarf on the internet that seemed to combine these ideas and so, with much undoing and redoing I produced this. 07-02-my-patternLouisa on the other hand worked away doggedly at her scarf. I started her off with a couple of rows and then she did the rest. 07-01-louisas-scarfAlmost two feet and I was pleased to see that her confidence has grown to the point where if she found she had the wrong number of stitches at the end of a row she would undo and redo till it was correct.

A week in Weymouth – part 1

First I have to say that I have discovered that it is so much harder to think about taking photographs when you are responsible for a granddaughter. So the following will not be my normal steady progression of photographs, more an ‘as and when’ record.

I took a couple of photographs of the apartment we stayed in but decided that the best way to share that with you was to give a link to the page on the web where you can find the details. There is even a virtual tour of the rooms if anyone is interested.

There was a bus strike going on at the time which wasn’t ideal and when we turned up to catch a bus to Abbotsbury on the Sunday we found that it was not running. I therefore decided to take the bus to Portland to see the study centre and the Chesil Bank.

We missed the best bus stop and were surprised to find the bus heading down, way past the study centre to the main part of Portland. When we got off we were maybe as much as a mile from where we wanted to be.

It was an overcast windy day and Louisa soon complained of being cold so I gave her my ‘keep you cool when it is hot and warm when it is cold shirt’. Here you can see her wearing it. Louisa in my shirtI found the wind quite strong but warm.

She moaned and moaned all the way, until we found what I took to be a more sheltered spot from the quantity of grass growing there and stopped for our picnic. PicnicPictures of her eating a tomato were unfortunately not too good!

I was sitting with a view over Portland harbour and watched the various activities on the water. View from PortlandWe had climbed to the top of the Chesil Bank, though not for long as the going was tough on the pebbles and it was much too windy for Louisa. So much for my idea of exploring and looking for fossils. (I must go back sometime and explore the Chesil Bank for myself!)

Louisa’s aversion to the thought of the Chesil Bank was quite a joke between us for the rest of the week!

Here is a photograph I took, before we finished our picnic, of other people walking along the top. Chesil BankAfter our picnic we proceeded to the study centre and indulged ourselves with a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows (Louisa also had a toasted teacake) before looking at the exhibits.

No more photographs on my part as trying to jolly along a moaning granddaughter had rather exhausted me.

The next day we tried again for the bus to Abbotsbury and were in luck.

This is probably the day where I managed to take the most photographs.

The prime reason for going to Abbotsbury was to visit the Swannery but there was also St. Catherines chapel nearby St Catherine's Chapeland I thought we might visit it before we returned to Weymouth.

Unfortunately a thirteen year old’s body clock is different to mine and about three o’clock when I was just recovering from a post lunch slump Louisa was finally tired and wanted to go and catch the bus.

We did go back on Thursday and that will be in part two.

We had a pleasant walk to the swannery and of course I had to take my usual path photograph PathAnd a swan one Swan preeningI would have liked to take a swan with a long arched neck but it seemed to be preening time.

However we did pass a lake with quite a number of swans. SwansNot all preening.

There were enclosures where families of swans had some space to themselves. Family of cygnetsOf course all the cyngnets were at least a few months old by now. Three cygnetsThey feed the swans at 1200 and 1600 and anyone who wants can help. So of course Louisa was keen to do so. Louisa feeding swansThough not all the swans were there, there was quite a crush. Swans en masseSome clever ones had made their way to where to food had been brought in wheel barrows before being dispensed. Unfortunately I was intent on watching Louisa and didn’t take a photograph of them.

After this we had our picnic near the entrance to the maze. Another picnicCarrot and lettuce added to the tomato/cucumber and fruit today!

Then we tried the maze.

For maze afficionados there are several closed paths within the maze so neither the left-hand or right-hand rule work. (Louisa and I took one each.) However we found our way to the centre of the maze eventually, but no photographs, and then wandered further afield around what is quite a large site discovering how to trap ducks!

On our way back we passed a tent advertising “Wessex Bird of Prey Rescue” but none of my photographs of the rather subdued birds were worth sharing.

We then stopped at the cafe near the entrance and had a delicious ice cream. I had ‘lemon delight’ and Louisa ‘salted caramel’. Not sure I fancy the idea of salted caramel but it was Louisa’s flavour of choice this holiday.

Before we left I just had to take a quick photograph of a red admiral on a nearby buddleia. ButterflyI underestimated the time to get back to the bus stop so we just missed the bus and had an hour to wait. Louisa busied herself with her crochet while I just sat and relaxed.

I did see some geese however that came really close.Abbotsbury GeeseI’m sure that one is looking at us and maybe the one on the right out of the corner of it’s eye.

Just before the bus came I decided to take a view down the street as the cottages were so attractive. Abbotsbury cottages

Tuesday looked to be the hottest day of the week, though Wednesday was almost as hot, so it seemed a good day to try the beach.

Although the beach was very crowded it seemed more spacious and less oppressive than the one at Muddeford that I showed you before.

I took my camera but anxiety about getting sand in it and anxiety about Louisa away in the water meant that I took very few photographs.

Just a couple of the sea. Weymouth beachand Weymouth beachand neither is Louisa. There were a lot of people between me and the sea so it was hard to see her when I was looking after our stuff and she was in the water.

(And I did get in a couple of swims!)

There was a point when the seagulls were continually whirling overhead and I tried to get a few photographs.

This one is just to give you the idea. SeagullsThey were too far away and too fast to get a decent photograph.

The rest of our holiday, maybe next week.

I had another adventure!

Well I suppose calling my outing adventures may seem over the top but when I was a child and I read the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton and other books by an author called Malcom Saville I longed to have adventures of my own. Then one day I realised that any outing could be an adventure if you approached it in the right spirit and this trip to Christchurch and Mudeford was something of a journey into the unknown! More unknown than expected!

I had planned to have had far more outings by this point in the summer but the uncertain weather and a certain sense of holding my breath until the garden was completed has militated against it.

But last week reading that the following day was going to be the hottest so far and knowing that the work on the garden was likely to begin the day after, I decided that it was the ideal time for a trip to the beach.

I went to the station to catch the 1024 to Christchurch but maybe all the heat was messing up the signal boxes because the train was about fifteen minutes late. A fifteen minutes standing up watching a steady increment to the expected time. So I was very glad when the train eventually arrived. Train arrivingA quiet journey knitting a bit more of my temperature scarf then a happy arrival at Christchurch Station. Christchurch stationAs I left the station one of the first things I noticed were these poppies by the side of the road. PoppiesI love field poppies, so of course I had to photograph them.

I hadn’t taken a paper map but was relying on the map on my phone; however I began to realise that with the extremely bright sunlight not only was reading the map on the screen phone extremely difficult but also, without a viewfinder on my camera, knowing if the photographs were any good was going to be an issue. (I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the photographs turned out okay, though the bright contrast of a sunny day is not ideal for photography.)

I had seen from the map that Mudeford, which was my ultimate destination, was about three or four miles from Christchurch but I thought that was a distance I could manage without difficulty.

On the way I saw many things.

There was this wool shop The Crafty Knitterbut I resisted the temptation to visit it as I have plenty of yarn in my stash and a long list of future projects for using it up.

There was also a sewing shop The Little Sewing Companybut again I resisted the temptation.

(These shops were both on the other side of the road and, with a steady stream of traffic, getting a vehicle free photograph was quite tricky.)

This display did get my attention however Hardware shopas I had noticed an influx of ants, some of them with wings, in my sitting room at the corner of the patio doors and I was out of ant powder! So I went in and bought some.

Reading the map, as I said before was difficult but I had remembered that the road I needed to take was a little bit north of Christhurch Priory and I had thought to visit for a quick look. Christchurch PrioryIt was only a quick look as time was getting on.

I had to photograph this more old fashioned sweet shop in spite of the reflections.Sweet shopand these ruins. RuinsSo many reasons to come back another day.

I had to cross the river along Castle St and Bridge St, stopping to take a quick photograph as I did so. View from BridgeThis was such a soothing and tranquil sight, I could have stayed there all day.

I took a quick view towards the harbour the other side Other side of bridgebut decided that crossing the road was unwise!

After this the road seemed endless as it curved gently round towards Mudeford.

I saw a few more items of interest though.

Stanpit Recreation Ground. Something to explore one day maybe.Stanpit

And this sign

Tuttons well sign
This will enlarge if you want to read it

Just a tribute to the original not the real thing Tribute wellbut it looked a peaceful place to rest if I had had the time.

My first view of the sea First sight of the seabut the end was not yet.

Eventually I reached the beach and I saw there were people having fun with their dinghies Having funbut I was hungry and thirsty by now and lunch was my first priority. So I found a place in the shade. LunchHalf a home made scone based pizza and a banana. There should have been more olives but I had run out!

After lunch I looked at the steady stream of boats hurrying towards the harbour.

There were motor boats and sail boats Motor boat and yachtand some that clearly had both. Sail and motor boatAlthough it was very hot, unlike the previous day which had been very humid, there was a cool breeze and the sea was quite lively as I watched it splashing up against the sea wall. Sea on the sea walland More seaI walked along past a row of beach huts in muted, pastel colours Beach hutsthen I ventured onto the beach and my eye was caught by this arrangement of sticks and stones Sand and pebblesas also by other detritus. Other detritusI had been to Mudeford many, many years before and I didn’t recognise it. Then it had seemed a quiet beach where you could amble gently along to Highcliffe and beyond. Today it was heaving with people. CrowdsI was told later that it had changed a lot in the past thirty years and it certainly seemed to have a lot more facilities (and people!)

It was very hot and I didn’t feel I could face all the crowds and the noise, and the sea seemed a bit rough for a paddle, Rough seaso I decided to return to Christchurch and maybe visit the Priory. Going backI had noticed a bus stop on the way there and didn’t feel up to the long walk back so I waited for the next bus. Bus stopMaybe another time (if there ever was one) I should take the bus from Christchurch rather than walk.

I did indulge myself with a stem ginger ice cream (how can you have a summer outing without one and I am very fond of ginger!) before going and sitting in the Priory just taking in the silence and renewing my strength for the journey home. Aren’t these Norman arches beautiful?Nave of Christchurch PrioryI took a couple of quick photographs, Stained glass windowthinking that I may come back later for a proper visit.

Waiting for the next train there was a delay of about twenty minutes, as I had had in the morning, but there were a couple of trains in the other direction that were about an hour late: signalling issues again! So I suppose I should think myself lucky!

I was very pleased when it arrived. Train home

I hope you enjoyed coming with me to Christchurch and Mudeford. As you can see, if you are ever in the area, there is lots to explore.

Danube Adventure – Budapest by day

As in many other places we were taken around the city by coach and really taking pictures from a moving coach is rarely successful. So most of the pictures I have for you were taken when we were dropped off by the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias church and left to our own devices for a while. This of course is 1n the Buda half of the city because Budapest, as you may know, was originally two towns on opposite sides of the Danube that only merged into one in 1873.

But first here is a photograph of the parliament building on the Pest side, not as enchanting perhaps in the day, but still beautiful.0417-parliamentbuilding As I said, the area where we were deposited was near to a construction called the Fisherman’s Bastion. 0417-fishermansbastionAlthough what you can see is relatively recent, apparently the name goes back to the time when this part of the city was defended, when necessary, by the guild of fishermen.

Now it is a restaurant but we were told that if we went in very quickly and took a photograph of the view no one would mind. So that is what I did. 0417-budapestlongviewYou can see the parliament building on the other side of the river among other things.

Near the Fisherman’s Bastion is a large statue of St Stephen, the first king of Hungary. 0417-ststephenstatue0As our time in Budapest was limited since we only arrived at 2.30pm, I do not have as  many photographs to share as other places, so I will include more detail than I would have done otherwise. Here is a closer view of the statue. 0417-ststephenstatuecloserThis area also includes the Matthias church (church of Our Lady) which is really beautiful. 0417-matthiaschurchHere is another view taken slightly to the left. 0417-matthiaschurchotherviewAnd a closer view of the roof. As I mentioned in Vienna, I really liked these ornamental roofs. 0417-churchroofIn this photograph you can see a raven on top of one of the towers. Not a real one of course!

The raven is part of a story concerning the king Matthias and he holds a golden ring in his beak. 0417-ravenandringIn this area there was also a plague monument. I remember reading about these in a book by Frank Tallis (a murder mystery set in Vienna.) But they obviously had them here in Budapest as well and this was the first time I was able to get a decent picture of one. 0417-plaguemonumentThey were erected as a thanksgiving to God for the ending of a plague.

Although my daughter and I went out the next morning for a quick bit of shopping (on the Pest side) before we were taken to the airport for our return flight, I didn’t take any more photographs. However I will leave you with a daytime photograph of the Freedom Statue (also on the Buda side) that I had taken from the ship when we arrived.0417-freedomstatueMy last lot of photographs next week and these will be about food!

Danube Adventure – Vienna

By this time I was beginning to feel quite tired and my daughter and I opted to buy ourselves lunch during the day so as not to have to return to the ship. So I hope that my photographs are still worthy of inspection.

Actually it is hard to give a representative view of any large city and many of the buildings I would have liked to photographed were viewed fleetingly from the coach as we went on a tour of the city.

We had decided that after the guided tour we would have to choose maybe just one priority place to view, each.

While being taken on a tour of the city, as with other places, the buildings were far too large to encompass in one photograph, so I found myself picking out interesting decorations and embellishments.

Like this double headed eagle. Double headed eagle Most of the photgraphs I now took I realise are part of the Hofburg Palace , a very large and impressive building.

This appeared to be of Hercules holding up the world.Hercules carrying the world?These horses especially captured my attention as did the ornamentation.Horses on Hofburg palaceWe had more Hercules statues either side of this archway. Hercules statuesAnd I always love green copper roofs. Hofburg palace green copper roofI had to take a photograph of this statue but as with other places tourists seemed to get in the way. Hofburg statueHere is an attempt at a bit of a wider view of the front of the building. Hofburg from Michaeler platzNearby was an area sometimes called the In der Burg or Innenhof.InnenhofShame about the heras fencing.

I took a quick picture of St Michael’s church nearbySt Michael's churchand later the impressive cathedral, which was where we were left. CathedralThey have such lovely roofs in this area of the world.

Now we were on our own and my daughter’s choice was to visit the Snow Globe Factory museum. These are the people who invented snow globes and as my granddaughter was building up a collection this seemed a very appropriate place to go.

When we got there I took a photograph of their window all decked out ready for Halloween. Snow globe museum window Unfortunately they were closed. Thanks to the help of a kind local we discovered that the museum was only open Monday to Thursday. This was Friday.

A little disappointing but one of my daughter’s passions is riding on trams and our trip had afforded the chance to ride on a couple. I took a few photographs of the trams and this is the best one. TramWe had a lunch in a self-service restaurant which was an easy option given our lack of German and desire to spend as much time as possible looking around.

My choice had been to visit the Belvedere gardens and palaces, particulary the upper Belvedere in order to see the Klimt paintings and other art works, especially of course the famous painting: “The Kiss”. We weren’t allowed to photograph the paintings of course but I did buy a postcard and a fridge magnet.

It was a beautiful place and to give you a taste here is one of the many spinx. Belvedere sphinx A long view of the Lower Belvedere Upper Belvedere and the Upper Belvedere Lower Belvedere where the paintings were (entrance round the other side). It would have been easy to spend all day here.

We spent a little time after this back in the centre, having coffee and cake and doing some souvenir shopping.

On the way back for supper I expressed a desire to visit the Prater Park and to see, and at least to photograph, the big wheel that dates back to 1897. Wheel I would have liked to ride on it but by now it was getting late and starting to rain, so we headed back to the ship.

Next week we are back in Budapest to do a little sightseeing.

Danube Adventure – Salzburg

I have wanted to go to Salzburg for a long time, and not because of ‘The Sound of Music’ which it seems is the reason lots of people go.

Saltzburg is not on the Danube so the ship stopped at Linz Linz and we took a coach to Saltzburg.

I wasn’t especially happy with the photographs I took that day but I have put together what I can to give you a flavour.

The main thing that seemed worth photographing during the coach journey was this mountain formation that looks like a sleeping dragon. (Head to the right.)Sleeping dragon mountain Once in Salzburg the first place we saw were the Mirabell gardens.

I find them a bit spooky but they had these people dressed up and standing as still as statues around the gardens. Man in park I was happier with the real statues.

There were four representing the four elements:  Earth, Air, Fire and Water, using mythological themes, which particularly took my fancy.

This is ‘Earth’ and is Hades carrying off Persephone down to the underworld. Hades and Persephone I would have been happy to spend more time here.

I thought all the roses were lovely. Rose gardenOn our way to the older part of the town on the other side of the river, View across river we crossed this modern bridge which was covered in padlocks Bridge with padlocks One of the first things we did, once across on the other side, was to walk through a narrow street with beautiful old signs above the shops. Old street The thing that struck me most and made me smile was the fact that McDonalds were not allowed to have their normal brash sign ouside their restaurant but had to have this subdued version. McDonald's sign Of course we had to be shown Mozart’s birthplace. Yes that is a ‘Spar’ below!Mozart's birthplace We walked from square to square seeing all sorts of buildings and I got a bit bemused. So I have just chosen this photograph to share with you. Square with fountain There was an old cemetery which was well worth a visit. This photograph is probably the best one to give you an idea of what it was like. Cemetery After lunch, which was a bit disappointing as the sandwiches had added cucumber and tomato which made them a bit soggy, we crossed back to the other side of the river and I took a few photographs of this interesting set of fountains. Fountains By now I was feeling a bit tired, so of course we had to stop for coffee and cake. We found a charming cafe Cafe and I found it hard to choose which cake to have. In the end I had the raspberry topped one you can see on the left. Cakes It was delicious!

The next photographs I took were ones of the water as we travelled into a lock on the way back down the river, as I showed you a fortnight ago.

Next time Vienna.

Danube Adventure – Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey was amazing and I took lots of photographs though when we were being taken on a guided tour it was fairly speedy and I would have liked more time.

I’ve been aiming for twelve photographs of each location but I have had to stretch to fifteen here.

Melk is very much a working abbey but I imagine that the tourists help supplement their income.

Here we are at the main entrance to the abbey.Arriving at Melk abbeyWe were left to wander around in the outer courtyards for a while.Outer courtyardThe sun was very bright and it was impossible to take in the whole area in one photograph.

The inner courtyard was more interesting. Side with towerI especially liked the four modern paintings of the cardinal virtues. (One on each side).

The one you can see in the above photograph was probably my favourite. It represented Wisdom (or Prudence).Wisdom paintingI photgraphed all four but not to overwhelm you I will just share the one opposite, under the clock, which represented Justice.Justice painting with clockAs it was so hot, we eventually settled for resting in the area between the two courtyards and I had to take a photograph of the ceiling. Outer courtyard ceilingas it was so beautiful.

We were taken inside and one of the areas we went to contained many old vestements and religious artefacts. The light was low and everything contained in glass cases so taking photographs was tricky.

Just as an example I have chosen this black copeBlack copeand this golden chalice. Gold chaliceWe moved on later to a large hall with a trompe d’oeil ceiling. I couldn’t photograph the whole ceiling but I have included these two photographs to show how the effect worked well when standing in the centrePart of trompe d'oeil ceilingBut if you moved to the edge you could see that it was an illusion as the persepective changed.Edge of ceilingAnother amazing trompe d’oeil effect was this spiral staircase. Spiral staircaseIt is hard to believe that this is just a flat painted surface, it seemed so real at the time.

Here is a close up so you can see that it is indeed just paint. Painting close up(We did also visit the library but I didn’t take any photographs there it was too tricky.)

We finished in the Abbey church Abbey churchbefore going out into the gardens. Abbey gardenCan you see the cut out animal shapes around the place?

What I especially liked round the back was this sort of Zen garden. Zen gardenFrom Melk we travelled on to Linz and a day trip to Salzburg which will be what I share next Thursday.

Danube Adventure – Locks & Wacau valley

I am someone who tends to believe in saving the best to last so I am going to talk about the locks along the river Danube first as the photographs I took here were all taken in a hurry and just to give a memory.

A lot of the time we went through the locks at night or during supper so that made it even harder to get any photographs.

I was surprised to discover that a river had locks but did not think at the time to ask why. Searching on Google it was hard to find a definitive answer but it does appear to be about the need to use the river for navigation.

The locks are not at all like on a British canal where you mostly have a couple of gates and one place in between for a boat.

Here the separate locks cover a large part of the river as in this photograph. Approaching locksOf course if the locks don’t cover the full width the rest of the width has to be blocked off.

The locks are very narrow and the walls can be very close. Here is a photograph I took from our cabin with the window open. Wall of lockI managed to get a photograph at one point as we rose up out of a lock. Rising above lockHere is one showing what being in a lock does to the water. Wavy waterThis was taken as we were entering one on our way back.

Those are the best of my few lock pictures so now on to the Wacau valley.

The Wacau valley starts before Durnstein but that is where we first encountered it. On one side it was wooded and on the other (the south facing side) there were terraces of grape vines.

I didn’t take many photographs of these but you can see them here as we negotiated a bend in the river.Wacau valleyGoing through the Wacau valley I was mostly happy just to lie back and take it all in but we were given a running commentry on what we could see including some stories so I did get up to take a few photographs.

This town along the bank. Wacau townYou can see the terraces in the background.

The ‘Nose’! The noseThis church. Wacau churchAnd this castle. Wacau castleWe then arrived in Melk after lunch and that is what I will tell you about next Thursday.

Danube Adventure – Dürnstein

On Wednesday we awoke at Dürnstein for a day when we would visit Dürnstein and Melk and travel through the Wachau Valley. This post is just about our time in Dürnstein.First view of castleDürnstein is best know as the place where Richard the Lionheart (King of England at the time of the third crusade) was held captive by Duke Leopold V of Austria.

Hence climbing up to the castle ruins high above the town was what my daughter and I were most interested in. And since I love walking and nature even more than interesting cities, it was something of a highlight of the trip.

We had been given a map and instructions on how to reach the castle but we didn’t really start thinking about such things till we were wandering along and realised we were at a bit of a loss. Getting lostWe did find this little gift shop however Gift shopwhere I bought my son a T-shirt.

There were lot of tourist/child interesting displays about Richard the Lionheart along the way which I didn’t bother to photograph.

But I did photograph the other notable thing in the town which is the blue tower of Dürnstein Abbey. Blue towerRemember this blue tower you will be seeing it again.

Eventually we found steps up to the castle. I say steps but as you will see they were very uneven and non-existant in places  so we clambered as well as climbed.

With my daughter striding ahead and other people on the steps there wasn’t much opportunity for looking behind Looking behindor ahead Looking aheadand taking photographs.

However, after a while, my heart was pounding so hard, I stopped and took my pulse and when I got to twelve before I got to five seconds, I decided that a short rest might be in order.

This allowed me time to take a few photographs.

Back down to the town. Looking down to riverLooking up to the castle. Looking up to castleand out to the valley beyond the river. Looking out across the riverMy daughter was happy to rest for a bit too but eventually we started again and reached the castle. Taking photgraphsYou can see my shadow and hers in this photograph.

I took her picture against the ruins. My daughterand another view to show how high we now were.Blue tower down belowAs we left the castle and looked for the alternative route back, I photographed this arch Archwayand this plaque of the three leopards of England. 3 leopards of Englandamong other things.

We decided to return by the path we were told was the way up to the castle.Path back down(The steps being the way down). [Personally I was much happier climbing up those steps than I would have been trying to go down them!]

This was a much easier walk but not so picturesque and exciting as being among the trees.

The last photgraph I took before returning to the ship. Grapes and cartYou can see the vines and an old cart for transporting the grapes that had been decorated as a garden ornament.

Next Thursday I will be showing you a little more about the river, the locks and the Wachau Valley.