Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Glasgow ~ Scotland ~ UK

Glasgow, Scotland, a city of industry and manufacturing has definitely changed over the years to become a much cleaner and attractive city.  There has been a lot of redevelopment in residential areas and an increase in the cultural activities.  Glasgow now attracts tourists successfully for their many events.

Streets of Glasgow
We walked among the 'pedestrian only' streets of their shopping area with so many similarities to home and many that were not.  It is always interesting to see the differences we don’t expect but enjoy seeing familiar as well.

Lots of Tartans
A good example of ‘different’ is the Tartan House.  We went inside and once we saw those beautiful authentic Scottish articles, decided to purchase some family plaids to gift.  There is no shortage of finding those here, we’d never find them at home.  

Accordian Busker
An unexpected sight was this senior lady playing the accordion on the street.  For one thing, the accordion isn’t often seen anymore let alone someone of her age busking. Buskers on our streets are usually younger and are singing and playing a guitar!

 University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow was beginning a new season so there were many things happening involving the students celebrating the beginning of their year.  This university was founded in 1451 when the Pope gave permission for the university to be added to Glasgow Cathedral.  Through the next years, Glasgow became a very important academic and religious city so by the 17th century the university moved from the cathedral to its own building.  

City Arms
Throughout our tour of Glasgow, we saw several ‘signs’ which turned out to be a replica of the official coat of arms for Glasgow.  There were several variations but this design was granted a patent to the city. It represents “the Bird that never flew”, “the Tree that never grew”, the Fish that never swam” and “the Bell that never rang” that are shown on the original Coat of Arms.

Royal Exchange Square
This was what appeared to be a recent prank, a traffic cone placed on the head of the Equestrian Statue of the Duke of Wellington.  It turns out it was just that at one time but has remained there for three decades and shall remain.  The City Council tried to ban the cone in 2013 but received so many signatures in a petition against the ban which definitely shows the humor of the city, they decided to leave it.

George Square
Glasgow’s George Square has many interesting sculptures and monuments placed throughout the Square.  It is also home to many pigeons.  People gather here and some even spend time with the pigeons. These good samaritans were removing a thread caught on a pigeon’s leg.  The Cenataph was erected in 1922 to honor those who lost their lives in WW1.  This granite tower is almost 10 metres high.

Squinty Bridge over River Clyde
Known locally as the Squinty Bridge, the Clyde Arc opened in 2006 and is a very unusual sight.  We only saw it from the Hop On Hop Off bus so didn’t walk it but am told that it is an optical illusion when you do, it’s a curved design and crosses the River Clyde at an angle.  I wish we’d seen it lit up at night as that is when it is said to be a spectacular sight. 

Armadillo and Rotunda
The Rotunda was originally built to transport pedestrians, horses and carts, then later vehicles to the other side of the Clyde River. Built between 1890-1896, there were deep shafts that they would lower the traffic down to tunnels and haul them back up by hydraulic lifts on the other side, like an elevator. 

The building to the left is the Scottish Event Campus, SEC Armadillo, this was where Susan Boyle was discovered when she auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent.

The Griffin - Gin Palace

What better way to end a day of sightseeing in this great city than to visit the pub for a nice cold drink and a perfect dinner!  For gin lovers, they had a zillion choices of gin here, perfect for those who choose this as their drink of choice.

Join us for our day in Hamilton, Scotland.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Hamilton~South Lanarkshire~Scotland

Hamilton is a town in South Lanarkshire, Scotland and the birthplace of my paternal grandmother.  A special place in our family history and one I had hoped to visit one day.  That day had come.  We’d been in contact with cousins who lived in Scotland and arranged to meet them to show us around the town.  With my sister and our husbands, we flew from London to Glasgow to spend time with our cousins and to learn some family history.  

 Hamilton, Scotland
We stayed in a Glasgow hotel; Hamilton is situated 19 km (12 miles) away.  We took the train to Hamilton Central Station, which only takes about 20 minutes from Glasgow, a pleasant train ride.  The day was overcast but comfortable weather for our sightseeing plans.  

Downtown Hamilton sights
We arrived earlier than our planned meeting and wandered about the town, seeing the sights which would definitely have changed since my grandmother left here about 1905.  Most of her relatives remained in Scotland, only she with parents and siblings left for Canada then.

Great directions
The signs seen on our travels in the UK are interesting and this one measures the distance with walking minutes to the designation.  These aren’t something we’d see at home in our town.

David Livingstone Home
We meet with our cousins, Linda we’d met on a previous visit to England and Wendy and John were new acquaintances.  We then went to a local ice cream parlor they’d known for years and sat down for a visit and “get to know one another” time.  We couldn’t ask for a nicer welcome or better host/hostesses to join us on this visit.  I didn’t get a photo of the parlor but did get one of the sign next door that said “Dr. David Livingstone had lived here 1862 until his death in 1873”.  He was a missionary and explorer of Africa, a name most of us would be familiar with from high school history. 

We then went to the location of the “tenement building” that our grandmothers had lived in, a short distance away. The building would have had several entrances to the upper flats with stores on the ground floor.  The cousins’ grandmother also lived here and although the same building was no longer there, we knew it was a special place.  My sister and I could feel that, which was unexpected and amazing for me.  It was a thrill to be at this place where Grandma had once lived over 100 years ago.

Hamilton Mausoleum
Our next stop was at the grounds of the Hamilton Mausoleum.  This was once the location of the Hamilton Palace before it was demolished and sits on beautiful grasslands of the Hamilton Low Parks for the public to enjoy.  The Mausoleum was built as the resting place for the families of the Dukes of Hamilton.

Chatelherault Lodge
This lodge was “named after the Duke of Chatelherault, the title bestowed upon James Hamilton by Henry II of France in the 16th century.”  I don't have any French in me and it's even difficult for the Scottish to pronounce so I sure won’t tackle it. (:

Chatelherault museum
Inside the Lodge is a museum of the history as well as a souvenir shop so we had a nice look around to enjoy some of the history of the Hamilton family and the origins of the name of this town.   It was soon closing time and we had to leave.

Wall climbing exit
We’d all gone in two cars and we were with John who parked out front and we had no problem leaving the Lodge.  The others had parked out back and when we drove back there to meet them, they’d come outside from the Lodge to a closed gate!  The most chuckles we had all afternoon was getting them over the wall.


Cousins Linda, Wendy and John with my sister Jen (glasses) and I.  We had a wonderful visit with our lovely Scottish cousins, many thanks to them for sharing their time and this special visit with us.  Although this took place three years ago, (that’s hard to believe!), the memories are still vivid and we will hopefully have more visits in time to come.

Spend some time in Glasgow with us.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Bluebell Steam Train Ride ~ Sussex ~ England

The Bluebell Train is one of largest tourist attractions in Sussex.  The railway is operated by “Bluebell Railway PLC” and through the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, is majority owned by the volunteer membership, who also supply the labor necessary to keep the Bluebell running.  We may not have arrived early enough to see the beautiful fields of bluebells in the springtime in England but I can enjoy a ride on the Bluebell train.

Welcome to Sheffield Station
We chose to ride from Sheffield Park station for a return trip, which also offers adequate parking space, not always the case in other stations.  We parked and took the short walk to the rather grand looking entrance to the station, although the food adverts are slightly distracting! Lol

Stepney Special
Steamworks is the onsite museum that houses several steam engines and their history.  We had time before our train was to leave so we spent some time wandering about and learning some history.  I must admit that Stepney Special meant nothing to me, but lesson is coming. 

Tomas the Tank Engine
Now there is a familiar face.  So the story continues……Stepney was a real steam engine and became the cartoon train who befriended Thomas the Tank Engine who entertained our kids and grandkids on Saturday mornings for years!  It would have been great had his face been mounted on the front of the engine but this is real life and not cartoon world!  I am sure Thomas comes out on special occasions but here is the idea. 

Bluebell train arrives
Our train awaits us at the Sheffield Station so we get on board and get settled into our ‘compartment’.  There were four of us in a 6 seat until ‘Steve’ joined us at our stop in East Grinstead and entertained us with his stories for the rest of the ride! 
Students on travels
Out our window we see a class of students who are on an outing to honor D-Day and dress appropriately for the 75th anniversary of that special day.  They will be on the train for this ride today, although we won’t be hearing them while in our ‘compartment’.  I think the kind porter was well aware of that when he showed us to our non-reserved seats. 

Steam hangs over the view
We are enjoying the views and the ride on this old steam engine train.  The puffs of steam are visible out the window as we ride through the countryside of Sussex.  At one point this ride crossed the line between East and West Sussex.

Friendly waves
There was a lot of clearing being done along the rails and every group we passed took the time to wave to the passengers of the train.  It is likely these men are part of the volunteer team that so willingly give up their time to keep this Bluebell going. 

Here is Steve, an obvious regular on the train, who invited himself to join us and continued to tell stories until we finished our ride back.  He was very chatty, had quite a history to share and some of the stories seemed to be a possible ‘tale’; he must have told them before and he wasn’t going to stop now.  He was happy to pose for the photo. 

Pub lunch

What day would be right without stopping at the pub for a late lunch after that train ride.  Most pubs have been added on to since the original one was built but are still very old buildings.  They are so interesting, lots of ‘things’ to look at that can go back a long ways.

For more info on the Bluebell, click here to see their webpage. 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Sheffield Park and Garden ~ England

Sheffield Park and Garden is one of the many that are managed by the National Trust in England.  They are a large non-profit charity that was founded in 1895 to preserve Britain’s buildings, landscape and coastline.

Lily Pads
We are having a springtime visit to Sheffield Park and Garden to enjoy a different season than the autumn visit we had before.  We are here just a bit too early to see the water lilies that will be covering this middle lake about two weeks after our visit.  That would be stunning.  They offer a Water Lily Photography workshop, which would also be great. 

Pulham Falls
Interesting that Victorian engineering is still being used to pump the water around the garden.  They are now having Waterfall Walks this year.  They aren’t charging for it but one must book to walk along the bottom of the waterfall as it cascades down and give you a different perspective of the falls.

Although the day wasn’t sunny, as I’d love every day to be, the beautiful bushes of Rhododendrons brightened up the gardens. There were several large bushes around the Park as well as so many other trees and bushes, that visiting anytime would offer some beautiful sights.

Sheffield Park House
Privately owned, this was the home of the owners of Sheffield Park and Garden, who changed many times over the years.    One of the most memorable owners would be Arthur Soames, who is given much credit for introducing many of the treasured flowers still living in this garden.  Still privately owned, it has now been converted into several condos or flats, as they call them in England. 

Beautiful floral displays
This is a sampling of some of the flowers we saw on our visit this day.  The colors are gorgeous and they are blooming all over the Garden. There are several walking paths to follow, I am sure one could spend a week wandering the different Garden trails in order to see and enjoy it all.  This Map illustrates them and will give you an idea of the size of Sheffield Park and Garden. 

Large Gunnera plant
Granted, my sister is not very tall, but these plants are monsters.  There are clusters of them around the Garden, and hopefully I have the right name of this plant.  It is a Gunnera, which grows to incredible sizes.  There is plenty of room for these huge plants to grow here, there are over 250 acres in Sheffield Park and Garden and we have only walked a very small portion of that.

Bridge over Lower Woman's Way Pond
We eventually cross this bridge but we were waiting to see if we would see another waterfall.  We hoped that today they would open the waterworks to allow the water from Upper Woman’s Way Pond to fall down into this lake, and they have a chosen time of day to do that when need be.  As it turns out, the water level was too low so not possible, it didn’t happen. 

Canadian Soldiers legacy
The War Office requisitioned Sheffield Park during WW2 for the British soldiers and it eventually became camp for thousands of Canadian troops, as well.  They lived and trained on the grounds, which surely did some damage that took many years to bring the state of the park back to its’ former beauty, some of which the soldiers helped with.

Canada Geese and ducks

We found some immigrants who obviously came from Canada and had their young here.  The Canada Geese are part of a fairly small flock enjoying this lovely Garden.  Then a little duck decided to perform her ‘drying-off-water methods’ for me when she got out of the lake.  I’ve not spent a lot of time with ducks to know how they think so maybe she was looking for treats from me. LOL  She was in no hurry to stop, little did she know that I had no treats.

Click here to see our autumn visit at Sheffield Park.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Firle ~ South Downs ~ England

We’d been travelling the roads of The South Downs in England and after finding the Berwick Church we moved onto visit Firle.  This historic village was here in very early days then became more permanent by the 15th century and has been here ever since.   

Wisteria in Firle
The village is basically a cul-de-sac lined with homes that have been here for a very long time.  The entrance to the village has a large parking lot in the trees and once we walked from there, this walkway with hanging wisteria introduced us to Firle. 

Vintage sign and plant shop
Other than residents’ modern vehicles parked on these streets, it feels like we are once again taken back in time. The signs are old carved wooden signs, something we would never see at home and that add to the feel of history.  Firle Place, located down this road has been the home of the Gage family for over 500 years and is a great location available for special events. 

Ginko Biloba tree
The flint cottages and walls, most built back in the early centuries still stand here today.  We wandered down this road and saw a very large Ginko Biloba tree.  Had it not shown printed information at the flint wall, we’d not have known what kind it was.  It is over 150 years old and the story tells the origin of the tree. 

Sights in village of  Firle
Firle was a thriving self-supporting village during the early centuries with a bigger population than it has these days and had all the trades necessary to take care of the villagers.  One of the more famous residents was Virginia Woolf, a famous author of her day and one who has been the subject of plays, novels and films.  She died here in 1941. 

Signs of history
This was a rather unusual way to park bikes and it is permanent.  It took a few minutes but we think it might be there to prevent cars parking on this side of the street. The streets are narrow and it takes very little to create problems.

Another puzzle to ponder.  These steps sit against a commercial building so we were thinking it may have been stairs to help the ladies get into the horse drawn buggy ‘back then’. 

We assumed this red Citroen may have once been for delivery but now appears to be more like a private travel van.  This is only a guess but I would suggest this van is one of a kind. 

St Peters Church
We couldn’t come to Firle without visiting St. Peters Church.  This church was originally built in the 12th century then has been rebuilt and added to over the centuries since.   Vanessa Bell, her son Quentin Bell and Duncan Grant were buried here.  They were the artists to paint the murals in Berwick Church. 

Thank-you tree
St. Peters is a “Garden Church” which means they wish to “heal our relationship with all that lives on this planet”.  They ask you to take a ribbon, write the name of your favorite bird, animal or butterfly and tie it on the “Thank-you” tree.  Paying a small donation for this ribbon will help do the work of the church.

Preserved from old bell tower
The 17th century bells were needing replacing so the Bell Foundry that had made the original bells melted the damaged ones in 2007 and made new.  The timber of the old bell frame was in very bad shape also so the headstock and clapper were preserved and put on this display frame. 

Alabaster Effigy

Sir John Gage (1479-1556) was given manorial rights in 1501 and the Gage family has been a part of Firle ever since.  He and his wife Philippa are represented in this alabaster effigy, erected in 1595 in what was once the original stone chapel and is now part of the St. Peters church, called the Gage chapel.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Berwick Church ~ Sussex ~ England

So many beautiful old churches to see in England and although we’ve seen several on our visits, we had to see this one with the paintings.  We were on our way to visit Berwick Church with my sister and bro-in-law and it turned into a bigger adventure than first expected.   

End of the road

The ‘navigator’ was using an outdated GPS system and it took us up into the fields of old country roads.  Church gone?  Thankfully a sole cyclist appeared.  No, it wasn't gone but the road we’d need to use from here to the church was only accessible by ATV.  We were lost……lol..... left this country road to get new directions.

Entrance to Berwick Church

The countryside we saw as we enjoyed our ‘adventure’ taking the long way around to the church was well worth seeing so no harm done there and when we did get to the church, this entrance way was there to greet us.

St. Michael and All Angels Church

Berwick Church dates back to the 12th Century and been restored in the Victoria period.  It sits quietly amid many grave sites that surround the church.  We are truly feeling like we are walking back in time.

12th Century construction

The church’s exterior is built with flint, a material used from very early days as a material for building stone walls, churches, houses and other buildings, using lime mortar.  It was most common in parts of southern England as no good building stone was available nor brick making known until the later Middle Ages.  Flint is quite common to see in Sussex.

Berwick Church Graveyard

There are many unkempt graveyards that we’ve seen in England, quite contrary to what we see at home.  So many of those headstones are extremely old and we have to wonder if they are supposed to be maintained by family, who are no longer there.  Some areas are maintained, and some headstones are from current years.

Beautiful interior

As like many churches, the ones we have visited in England have stained glass windows that are featured in arched frames throughout the building.  They tell a story and are most beautiful to see on a sunny day. This church is no exception.

Painted Mural

Once inside, we see what we came to see.  There are paintings that were commissioned by Bishop Bell in 1941.  Local artists from Bloomsbury, Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell adorned the walls as well as the pulpit and both sides of the Chancel Arch with their amazing talent to create these exquisite paintings. 

Berwick Church mural

The church is of national, if not more cultural significance because of the murals it features.  This is something we’d not seen elsewhere and why we made a point of coming here was to see these murals in this church that represents “a national treasure”.  

The Annunciation

This mural called ‘The Annunciation’ is deteriorating and they are now looking for support to conserve it as well as all the murals in the church at Berwick.  They hope to keep the church and the murals available for all future generations to see.  They’ve done a wonderful job so far, wishing them well.

Centuries of headstones

We visited on a weekday, and there were a few others enjoying the church, too.  The church may be unavailable to visit at times when being used for special events and services but otherwise welcomes visitors.  They do still hold services in Berwick Church every Sunday.

We are on to more adventures and will share those with you soon.  Now we visit Firle.


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