Category Archives: Europe

Athens of the North

The Parthenon 1

I am sure this structure is familiar to many of you. You probably recognise it as one of those old ruins in Greece, even if, like me, you might not know what it’s called. (I never know my Acropolis from my Parthenon!)

What you may not realise is that this particular old ruin is, in fact, in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is modelled on the Parthenon.

What might give it away are the grass being a little too green and the sky not quite blue enough, though it was blue for Scotland.

Did you know that Edinburgh is known as the Athens of the North? Hence my title.

The Parthenon 2

This structure is actually the National Monument of Scotland and was constructed between 1826 and 1829 as a memorial to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died fighting in the Napoleonic wars. It was never completed, which you can read about it in the link above. For this reason it is also referred to as Edinburgh’s Disgrace.

I spent a lovely summer’s afternoon pottering around Calton Hill. I just found it annoying that there were so many people. Tourists were scrambling all over the place and even climbing up on to the structure itself. I couldn’t get a clean shot without many of them insisting on being in the picture and photo-bombing.

Of course, it never occurs to you at the time that you yourself are also a tourist. But at least I refrained from climbing everything!



Angel Chimes

Angel Chimes

May these Angel Chimes make Heavenly Music in your ears!


As a kid we always had Angel Chimes on the table at Christmas and New Year. Along with the traditional paper crackers, they made the festive season more – festive!

The heat from the candles makes the angels slowly spin round. It brings a little magic to the evening to hear the angels tinging away as each taps the bells in turn.

Here in South Africa I spent many years looking for my own set of Angel Chimes, till finally one year I did find them, in a large department store. They played their Heavenly Music on my table every Christmas and New Year throughout my own kid’s childhood. Sadly, the Angel Chimes finally succumbed to metal fatigue and died.

Another gap trying to find new chimes. There were none to be found anywhere.

Then a few years ago my daughter happened to be in Scotland and stumbled across a specialty Christmas shop; in summer! Inside she found these Angel Chimes, that had been made in Sweden! She instantly bought them for me.

Now I could celebrate the festive season properly again.

Do any of you have Angel Chimes?



Made in Sweden

Found in Scotland

Used in South Africa

Truly well-travelled chimes.



Viaduct 1

I grew up in the North of England, where seeing beautiful countryside, green fields, sheep, hedgerows and dry stone walls is usual. (You’ll have seen these in some of my Yorkshire posts.) Viaducts are also a common occurrence.

A viaduct is a bridge constructed of several small arches to cross a valley. The ones I know are all railway bridges.

Viaduct 2

It was only when I travelled to other places, such as South Africa, that I came to realise that they were not universally well-known or common.

These viaducts in Yorkshire support railway tracks, with road traffic passing beneath. There are a great many of these beautiful old stone structures all around the area.

Viaduct 3

I snapped these photos through the car windscreen as my sister drove.

I like the effect of Closer, Closer, Wow!


Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough Cathedral 1

Peterborough Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew, to use its full name, originated in 655 AD.

This magnificent cathedral started life in Anglo Saxon times as a simple church and monastic settlement and was one of the first centres of Christianity in central England. Over the centuries it was destroyed, rebuilt and added to in various architectural styles until ending up as the unique structure we see today. (Click on the link above for more info).

Why did I visit here?

Well, my long train journey from Edinburgh, Scotland to Aldeburgh, Suffolk was broken both ways by a two hour stopover in Peterborough.

It was very frustrating, as we were travelling on to Ipswich, but missed the connecting train by a few minutes (it is scheduled this way! The train you want to catch departs the station a few minutes before you pull into it.) And trains to Ipswich were only every two hours.

There is not much else to do in Peterborough apart from walk to the Cathedral for a visit!

Peterborough Cathedral 2

I like the view above as you walk across the square, also full of old stone buildings, and see the cathedral towers in the distance.

Our first walk there was a little longer than necessary, simply because of bad sign-posting! We followed the sign posts for the cathedral, from the station. This took us to a series of underground walkways combined with a cycle track, which we duly followed. However, we seemed to miss our way somehow and came out on a major road.

Well, we trundled along there, thinking ‘How hard can it be to miss a cathedral?” and so eventually found it.

Peterborough Cathedral 4

It was only on our return walk back to the station that we saw where we had gone wrong. Along the cycle/walk way there were some steps up to the quickest route to the cathedral. Easy to find from this direction, but virtually impossible to notice from the other way. I stopped and turned round to look at the steps that we had missed, and yep, there was no sign pointing that way.

Peterborough Cathedral 3

Even more frustrating is the fact that we had all our bags with us, both times. There is nowhere at Peterborough station that you can leave your bag. If they set up some storage lockers they would make a fortune!

We’d looked online for tips and followed the suggestion of asking at the hotel directly opposite the station to see if we could leave our bags there for a while, but no luck. Maybe too many people before us had taken this advice and asked?

So we were forced to drag and carry all our luggage with us to the Cathedral and once there, drag it around the interior of that ancient edifice.

So, yes, I visited Peterborough Cathedral twice during my short UK trip last August. It wasn’t so bad though. On the return trip we sat outside in the sun drinking tea and eating excellent food, with a clear view of the cathedral shining in the sun.


Angel of the North

Angel of the North 1

This is the Angel of the North.

It is a steel sculpture standing 20 m tall, with a wingspan of 54 m and completed in 1998. Beneath its outstretched wings coal miners used to toil underground for two centuries.

Unpopular when first built in Gateshead, in Tyneside, it has since grown on the locals. It is one of the most viewed pieces of art in the world, seen by more than one person every second; 33 million in a year.

You pass the Angel when you travel between Newcastle and Durham. I travelled this route four times by train, from Scotland to Yorkshire, and to Aldeburgh, and back again, on my recent UK trip.

The first time I totally missed it, even though I was looking out of my train window for ages. I think I caught a glimpse of it rapidly disappearing behind me, but I didn’t get a photo.

Angel of the North 3

On my return up North, I was ready with my camera, but unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the carriage. Still, this is the shot I got.

What do you mean, you can’t see anything?

Angel of the North 4

You see that blur there? I’m pretty sure that’s the Angel!


On my second trip down South, I travelled by train with my daughter DD, while my daughter Pix drove.

Pix snapped a great shot of the Angel as she passed by it in the car.

Angel of the North 2 – photo credit Pix

I don’t know what happened that third time I passed the Angel, but on the return trip it was pitch black, as our train was running five hours late. Yes, five hours! We got back to Edinburgh at 1 am the next morning; total journey time 15 hours! – but that’s another story!

So, I hear you all ask, how did I manage to get the superb photo shown at the beginning of this post?

Angel of the North 1

You’re not going to believe this, but I found it in a loo!

There was a poster of the Angel put up on the wall inside the toilet on the last train I rode on. I got out my trusty Galaxy cell phone and snapped a photo.

Mission accomplished!

And if it wasn’t for the tell-tale bolt in the sky you’d never know!



Boats 1

We’re in Aldeburgh again, a lovely seaside resort in Suffolk, taking a long stroll North along the coast towards Thorpeness. You may remember my ‘Snooks the Dog’ post and the boating pond here in Aldeburgh?

There were many little boats pulled up onto the beach and of course I had my trusty Canon with me, so snapped away as we walked.

Boats 2

Though the shot above shows the boat in more detail, I prefer the first photo, with the reedy grass blowing in the breeze in the foreground and the blue sky horizon.

Boats 3

I presume these were all fishing boats at one time or another;

Boats 4

though now some of them looked more as though they were lived in, or used for storage, than sailed!

Boats 5

This cute little red one looked like a toy boat! At first I thought it was the Life Guard boat; it certainly looked ready to launch at a moment’s notice. But on googling the boat number (Hooray for Google!) I discovered it is a fishing boat called Spring Tide and is in active use.

Boats 6

And where would all these boats be without an anchor, to keep them in their place?

Erm, perhaps not this one! I think it would sink these tiny boats if they tried to take it on board!


post script: These photos were taken last August, when I was in the UK. Since I only post on my trip about once a week, it is taking a while to get through all the photos!


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.



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.


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.


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!