Tag Archives: vacation

Gull’s Crab Lunch Under Threat

As we walked along the shore trail in Stanley Park, we came up on a gull that had just caught a crab.  The gull was intent on eating the crab, as well you might imagine.  However, its lunch had also caught the attention of a bunch of crows (could hardly call them a murder).  Consequently, the gull was trying to find a way to avoid the crows and eat its food.  It was not going to escape them, of course.  Instead, it had to do the best it could and accept that they were going to get a few scraps.


A Chilly Place To Be Lying In The Water!

The grounds at Stourhead include some grottos.  One of them has a statue of a woman lying in some water.  It was not too warm when we were there and, once you go inside the grottos, they are decidedly cold and damp.  The idea of lying in water in those conditions does not sound too appealing.  However, she was clearly a hardy soul as she has been there for quite a while.

HMS Severn

The Royal Navy has a bunch of coastal patrol vessels that are named after rivers around the UK.  From what I have read, HMS Severn is one of the first batch of vessels and it is less capable than the later batch.  Although originally planned for retirement, it has been kept in service patrolling the UK coastal region.  It was heading out of Portsmouth when I saw it.  I think it was originally painted grey when it was commissioned but it currently has more of a camo scheme applied.  It made me think of the disruptive camouflage used during the First World War.  I actually shot a pano of it as it headed out taking advantage of the lack of an immediate background to avoid any issues with the movement between shots.

Osborne House Gardens

We made our visit to Osborne House in October of 2022 and the gardens have since made the news in the UK.  One of the older trees fell in some bad weather so, while I don’t know which tree it was, it is possible I got a photo of it shortly before it met its demise.  Always a shame when an old tree falls but such is the nature of things.  We wandered around the grounds prior to going into the house.  It wasn’t clear whether the weather was going to deteriorate so we figured we would do the outside stuff first while we knew it was okay.

It isn’t hard to see how Victoria liked the place.  The grounds run down to the sea and the views from the house are really nice.  There are trees and plants of all sorts of varieties so, if you know more about that sort of thing, I could quite imagine that you would have much to study.  I just like looking at them so a simpler proposition for me.

We took one of the trails down to Osborne Bay.  There was a little café down there so we could stop off and have a snack and some refreshments.  It wasn’t that warm, but you can always find time for an ice cream if you want to!  From the café, it was a straight walk back up to the house.  There are some large planters along the path.  Not sure how big something could be and survive in one of them, but I imagine a moderately sized tree would be fine!

Once you get close to the house itself, you get to the ornamental gardens.  These were actually quite nicely laid out.  That sort of thing doesn’t always do it for me, but I quite liked Osborne.  However, there were some really odd sculptures scattered around near the house.  Not sure what sort of imagery the sculptures of the day had in their heads but the hybrids of various animals and humans that they sculpted were very weird.  They also suffered from the same thing of a lot of sculptures of their day- they had never seen the animals that they were recreating.  There was a lion that looked more like a goofy character from a comedy based in a high school!  We might have laughed at that one for a while!

Old Lady Of Threadneedle Street

We did a little wandering through the City while we were staying in Town.  My familiarity is more with the west end of London and then City was somewhere I would go periodically but not regularly.  Nancy worked there for a while so she knew bits of it but not a large area.  We walked up King William Street and ended up coming to the Bank of England.  With so many classical buildings in the City, it is easy to see just another one.  However, thinking about the vaults underneath this pile and the things that are stored in there makes for a slightly more interesting place!

Arriving Container Ship

Nancy and I were walking along the shore in Stanley Park in Vancouver during our visit over the Thanksgiving weekend.  As we got closer to the lighthouse, I saw the prow of a ship start to come into view.  A quick switch to video and I recorded the arrival of a container ship to the harbor.  Large vessels like that coming through a narrow entrance to a harbor look cool to me.  Once the harbor opens out a bit, it is just another large ship in open water so the scale is lost.  In that phase when it comes into view, though, it looks as substantial as it really is.  Get close and you are left in no doubt about these ships.


IFS Cloud Cable Car/Emirates Air Line

I walked along the south bank of the Thames from Woolwich as far as North Greenwich.  Once I got to the area around the O2 arena, I wanted to get back across to the Excel center and the easiest route was to take the gondola across the river.  This was the Emirates Air Line.  It still had a bunch of branding for this but apparently the name was changed in June of 2022.  I was able to use my Oyster to pay for it although it didn’t seem as cheap as other forms of travel that TfL provides!  I could see the system from long before the time I got to Greenwich since it is obvious as you look upriver.

There was virtually no one using the crossing when I was there.  I just wandered into the terminal after having spent some time down on the riverbank watching the gondolas passing overhead.  I stepped straight into my own car and was never troubled by the possibility of sharing space.  This made it easy for me to bounce around taking photos of whatever caught my eye.

The crossing only takes a few minutes.  You do get a good view of things as you go.  The O2 is a lot easier to see from the air than from the ground so that is great.  Coming across the river, I was able to look down on the various construction projects underway on the north bank of the Thames.    The Excel center is the largest thing to see as you head north but there are lots of surrounding structures around the docks as you descend into the other terminal.  The view of LCY is good to and, if only a departing flight had been coming out, I would have got an interesting shot.

I have no idea how useful the crossing is.  It certainly wasn’t busy when I used it, but I was not there at what would be considered peak time.  Even so, it still seemed to be a bit of an oddity in a city where public transportation gets heavy usage.  Emirates has obviously discontinued sponsorship, but that decision might have come during the pandemic when airlines were hardly flush with cash.  Who knows.  It was still quite fun to use, though.

Swiss Cottage in Osborne’s Grounds

Some kids are lucky and get to have a tree house or something in the garden to play with.  If you are a member of the royal family and the child of Queen Victoria, things are a little bit more extreme.  The Swiss Cottage in the grounds of Osborne House is quite something.  Here the royal children got to play all sorts of pretend.  I’m sure they had plenty of staff to make sure things worked out the way they wanted.

The house itself is good enough for anyone to live in.  The interior is fitted out to provide any sort of entertainment you might want.  Now it is also a museum of various artifacts from the household.  Some of these are rather suspect items to a modern eye.  Things that were taken from conquered countries and clothing from someone killed in battle make for a slightly uncomfortable viewing.

The grounds around the cottage are also interesting.  There is a fort that was built by one of the princes.  I think by looking at it that the prince had no real effort in building it.  Some military staff were apparently roped in to this process.  This fort looks a lot more impressive than the average fort a kid might make.  This is not cardboard boxes and sofa cushions.

The Most Unpopular Bridge

I spent a lot of my childhood in a town called Cowes on the Isle of Wight.  Cowes was on the coast by the outfall of the River Medina.  The other side of the river was East Cowes and the two were connected by a chain ferry known to everyone as the floating bridge.  I remember as a small boy when the previous floating bridge got replaced with a newer and larger version.  This same one was in service until relatively recently.  A new one was ordered and its introduction to service has not been smooth.

I see the content of some Isle of Wight Facebook groups and complaints about the new bridge are widespread.  Like most people, I don’t know the actual details of what is behind the problems, but the online experts know everything, and the accusations of corruption are widespread.  In my experience, the most likely problem is just a screw up.  People make mistakes a lot and looking for a deeper reason is usually fruitless.  I don’t even know if it is all working properly now, and everyone is rehashing old stories or whether it is still problematic.

We did take a trip on it though.  It was working and we needed to get from East Cowes to Cowes so we gave it a go.  Everything was fine.  However, it was busy and the car in front of us was the last one to get on.  That did give me some time to get some photos of it and I also took a little video too.  As an aside, while we were in Portsmouth, I saw the old bridge laid up awaiting its fate.

Hatton Cross Horses Ignore The Planes

My visit to Hatton Cross was to shoot airplanes but, as I came out of the tube station and walked along the A30 to Myrtle Avenue, I passed some fields that had a bunch of horses grazing in them.  This seemed like such an incongruous thing to see.  I was in amongst the housing and right next to an international airport with a major road passing through.  Having so many horses there seemed like the last thing I would have expected.

Some of them looked like large working horses while others were either ponies or foals.  I am not a specialist so can’t tell the difference.  The approach lights for the runway were in the field surrounded by fencing which seemed to attract some of the ponies for some reason.  They looked pretty tranquil and clearly had no interest in the planes passing overhead.  How could they not be looking???