Category Archives: Europe

Dogs Around the World: One Man and his Dog

Scott Memorial 1

One man and his dog, Spot, a bottle of lemonade and ginger pop; went to mow a meadow!

I couldn’t resist quoting the song One man went to mow that we sang as kids on school coach outings. The addition of “a bottle of lemonade and ginger pop” was a local variation.

This is the Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland. It commemorates Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. Completed in 1844 after the author’s death in 1832, it is in Victorian Gothic style and is the largest monument to a writer in the world.

Scott was a dog lover and you will often see dogs in his portraits. His favourite dog, Maida, depicted gazing lovingly up at his master in the statue, was a Deerhound cross. Actually, many people do not spot the dog at all, maybe because it looks like a lamb!

I sat on a bench right by this edifice while I ate a sandwich, accompanied by that seagull (You’ll never eat alone.)

As it is one of the tourist attractions, it’s difficult to get a picture of the memorial from a distance without lots of people in the shot, so the photo below isn’t too bad.

Scott Memorial 2

Residents of Edinburgh might be surprised to learn that there are more dog statues or memorials than just Greyfriars Bobby and this one. Apparently there are at least five more:

Greyfriars Bobby, Maida, Toby, Bum  (the American 3 legged one), Cuillin, Dobbler and Beauty.

 

You can read about them all here: Other dog statues or memorials in Edinburgh, Scotland.

 

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Windswept!

Wind Turbine 1

I was chuffed with this image of a wind turbine that I managed to snap from a train window in passing. You really get the sense of size as the massive blades loom over you.

Wind Turbine 2

Even seen from a distance they are truly majestic!

You can read here about Wind Turbines, how they work and their advantages and disadvantages.

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I’m all for using alternative sources of energy like the wind, water or sun, which are all there for the taking. I don’t know why we don’t use them more.

There is a strong persistent wind that blows in Cape Town from September to March, which is known as The Cape Doctor, because it supposedly blows away the pollution. Cape Town is actually known as The Cape of Storms!

I was happy to find out that we do have some wind farms around the area.

 

These photos are from one of my train trips in the North of the UK last August.

 

Shimmering Reflections

Reflections 1

I have always been fascinated by reflections in water. I can stare for ages transfixed by the rippling images, as one would do a flickering campfire flame.

Reflections 2

Here you see buildings mirrored in the glossy Water of Leith, the main river running through Edinburgh, Scotland, for 35 km, till it flows into the Firth of Forth at Leith and thence into the sea.

Reflections 3

It was a little windier on our return trip walking back up the river, as can be seen by the cloudy appearance of the water closest to us; the surface whipped up by the strong Scottish wind.

 

Dogs Around the World: Greyfriars Bobby

Bobby 1

Meet Greyfriars Bobby; a little Skye Terrier, famous for guarding his master’s grave in the Greyfriars Churchyard for 14 years. He is immortalised here in a bronze statue mounted on a granite plinth, which was originally a drinking fountain for both people and dogs.

I had always intended to visit the little statue of Greyfriars Bobby, when I was in Scotland, but hadn’t managed it and my holiday was nearly over. Quite by chance, I found myself very close to his statue one morning, when I had been wandering round Edinburgh Old Town with my daughter Pix and her husband.

So we finished our croissants at the outside cafe on a narrow cobbled street and wandered over to the statue.

Bobby 2

There were many people congregated around the little dog, posing for their photos to be taken alongside. It is supposed to be good luck to touch his little nose; which explains why it is golden and not black like the rest of his old bronze statue.

Bobby 3

We didn’t have to wait long for a gap in the crowd and duly took our photos with Bobby too.

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A funny incident happened while we were waiting for our turn. A man came marching towards the crowd, with a large black Rottweiler. He stormed straight through the middle of everyone, shouting loudly and aggressively, “Excuse Me!” as he barged his way through, barely giving anyone time to get out of his way.

My daughter explained that many Scots people hate the Edinburgh Festival in August, as the streets are thronged with happy tourists. Well I understand that, but really, all the angry man had to do was walk on the other side of the street to Bobby’s statue. That side was empty!

Bobby 4

Of course there are going to be crowds round every tourist spot during the Edinburgh Festival!

It is similar here in Cape Town during the long summer school holidays in December and January. We are over-run by tourists from other parts of South Africa, such as Jo’burg, and also from overseas. So we locals avoid the tourist spots during these months, or we go very early in the morning, before the tourists have finished their breakfasts!

Sorted! No need to get all grouchy and barge through the poor visitors!

 

Under Pressure

Under Pressure 1

This is what my water bottle from the plane looked like when I got back to Cape Town, after my month away in the UK.

Generally speaking, a large plane flying at high altitudes, like my Boeing 747-400 cruising at 12,200 m (40,000 ft), has to pressurise the air inside the cabin, because the outside air at that altitude is at a much lower pressure than is good for you!

Even so, they don’t quite match the pressures you might experience down on the ground; cabin pressure is usually set to that which you would experience at 1500 m to 2440 m (5000 ft to 8000 ft).

Under Pressure 2

When I got back to my house and took out my water bottle (that had been opened and resealed while up in the air on the plane) the increase in atmospheric pressure here in Cape Town at sea level was enough to squish the plastic bottle.

 

In fact, the pressure that day, according to the barometer in my lounge, was a whopping 104 kPa (780 mm Hg).

No wonder I had a headache!

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And how could I have a post with this title and not mention  David Bowie and Queen Under Pressure.

 

post script: It has taken me a while (9 drafts) to put this post together, with all the reference material. And though I know that a post like this will not be generally popular, I find it interesting.

In case you’re also interested, here are a whole lot of links so you can read up on this subject. You’re welcome!

cabin pressure  versus air pressure   and cabin altitude

Physics experiment of a plastic bottle on a plane.

Table of atmospheric pressure at different altitudes.

Diagram of how cold it is at different altitudes.

Health advice before you travel by air.

 

Dogs Around the World: Snooks

Snooks 1

Meet Snooks! A charming little dog (statue) found in the Suffolk coastal town of Aldeburgh.

The bronze statue was put up by the townsfolk in honour of the dog’s owner, Dr Acheson (and later his wife) who both served as GP’s to the community. Snooks the dog became well known as he would follow his master around as the doctor made his house calls.

Snooks 2

The dog got the name Snooks because the family ate tinned fish from Africa during the 2nd World War. The fish was called Snook.

The funny thing is, that we South Africans looking at this little dog statue immediately knew what Snooks meant; but that they had spelt it wrong. The fish is actually Snoek!

The Cape Snoek (thyrsites atun) is a long thin species of snake mackerel which can grow to a length of 2 metres, but is usually around 75 cm.

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Charmingly, Snooks watches over the children’s boating pond.

Boating Pond

The young boy in blue in the photo above was very skilled at sailing his little boat. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him play for ages. He set the boat off from one side of the pond and ran around to the other to catch it; then repeated the process! What surprised me was that the boat sailed right across each time, regardless of the wind direction, and never got stranded.

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This whole scene was a flashback to a bygone era.

My brother had a magnificent wooden sail boat that he spent many hours sailing across a large boating pond in Bridlington. This pond was so large that boats often got stranded in the middle and you either had to wait for ages for a gentle puff of wind to set your boat on a course back to the side again, or hope that someone was there with a long pole to rescue your boat.

Bridlington is a seaside town on the Yorkshire coast, in the NE of England, where I spent many summer holidays as a kid with my family.

 

Wanna Play Ball?

Sparkle

Wanna Play?

This is the picture that presented itself to me early one morning, as I sat at the table eating my breakfast at my sister’s in Yorkshire.

No-one else was up yet. For some reason, Sparkle, my sister’s dog, seemed to think I’d rather throw the ball for her than eat my cereal!

Yes, of course I got up and threw her ball for her!