Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Marches

We ended up staying around the Marches (English/Welsh border lands) between Christmas and New Year. Each town has a unique feel. Ludlow is very Norman influenced town. Shrewsbury a medieval feel. Bishops Castle, is just unique.

I find it quite fun to just walk around town.

The museum is well worth a visit. It has a pretty rich local cultural history from stone age, roman, viking, norman and Darwin of course (his home town).

Across form the Abbey is an old hospital.

The Abbey was on our visit list, but it closed just before we got there.

So we wandered back to the Railway station.

Swans enjoying the running high river Severn.

Most days I went for stroll out in the English country side. I do miss it.

I took Heidi and Matheo on a walk up to Flounders Folly . Some quite nice views from up there. 

Would have been fun to go up it. The air was clear between the rain showers. 

Lots of pretty walks around Wenlock edge area, but you need wellies for all of them this time of year. A good topographical map is essential too, easily found in the U.K. though.

Another day we headed out west by Clun castle. I jumped out and ran round in the rain. This was the day of prelonged heavy rain. It did flood around a bit but nothing like it did up in Yorkshire.

When we arrived in Bishops Castle
rain water was fountaining out of the drains about 2 feet!
After a short while, having taken shelter in the Three Tons Brewery  the rain stopped and we continued our tour down to the Six Bells Brewery.

Monday, December 28, 2015


Ironbridge is a fascinating place. First Geologically, because of the natural resources presented both at the surface and below it. The river Severn flows through town (how major heavy goods traveled this way in 1709).

Under the ground there is coal, coke, oil, iron ore and clay. A recipe for bricks. Cast Iron, steel, and lots of ground breaking engineering. During the industrial revolution this area was a landmark.

Perhaps because of it geological restrictions the town remains relatively unspoiled (by heavy cheap architecture and commercialism) and now is very touristy but for good reasons.

The entire town of Blists Hill  is now a living museum . The heavy industry has of course left, but the steam engine powered lift for the coal mine shaft is still demonstrated. And the hay lift from the river to the canal remains to viewed too.(non operational though).

The culture of the town is well represented too, and while undoubtedly romanticized now, would still have been richly creative town, pottery, iron, copper and tin crafts, textiles and on.

Next door at the forge, they still use the iron ore from the ground and make novel bottle openers and other touristy stuff over a fanned coal fire, and anvil :)

With all the coal burning, brick works, mining noise and iron forging, I'm certain I would not have liked to live in that polluted town back then. It sure is a fascinating place to visit though. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas in England

Toward the end of 2015 I was working like a maniac, and have had no time to post pictures. So I have been storing in them up. The main reason to visit the U.K. was to meet my new Nephew Eli.

Of course Eli was not the only one, my other nephews and sisters, I don't get to see very often either.
It was pretty nice staying down the street, in an old farm setting.

Travelling around a bit is a must. We checked out this  Snetzler Organ in Ludlow Cathedral originally constructed in 1764 AD. Would have been nice to hear more than a verse of 12 days of Christmas, but I'll take it :) Really quite an amazing and atmospheric piece of musical history.

Here's a family Christmas dinner shot, of the choice of pictures this was by far the best... You can draw your own conclusions ;)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Saratoga Gap

Saratoga gap, I haven't ridden here in probably 14 years. Now it is a palatable drive from the new lodgings.

With the recent rains the grass is turning almost green and the strong winds knocked down the old leaves. It was a beaut of a day.

Last time I rode here Dean showed the way, I remember it being fun, but no clue where we were :) So no change there then...

The lighting on the north side with the fresh washed Madrone trees was spectacular.

Out on the west side was pretty too. Grassy hillsides with views of the ocean.

fresh fallen leaves smelling good.

Late in the afternoon there were still some patches of frost.

just beautiful trails... 

Some times you just have to stop and take in the view.

Heidi only hugs Madrones she says.

The Bank, now a pub was last a bank in 1958. A great place to stop and warm up and relax on the way home.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

snorkelling in Fort Bragg

Last weekend, we went on our first family camping trip. We went with our neighbors upto Fort Bragg, an area I've been meaning to check out for a while. It was a perfect time of year for it.

After driving around a bit, we stopped at the Botanical gardens and had a look around.

It's very well laid out in a very pretty spot, all the way to the water.

Seems like Maddy is cool with the camping idea.

The next morning we went and tried some snorkeling, I was happy that my wetsuit still fit :) We went in at a village called Elk.

Going out to explore around Gunderson rock. The weather was perfect, and our timing excellently coincided with Low tide and the morning light.

I took my GoPro out with me, but although it is waterproof it is not an underwater lens. All the pictures were blurry, so I decided to artzify  a few. 

The underwater scenery was vibrant, and while the visibility was not the best, it was probably well above average for this location.

I imagine most of the year its not very nice or easy to dive here as it is very exposed.

I'm keen to get back in the water a bit more regularly with a decent camera, or lens at least.