Category Archives: Europe

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!


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.


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.


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?


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!


Wait Till the Cows Come Home

Cows 1

What a treat it was that the cows came in to be milked, while my sister and I were having lunch at the farm in Yorkshire.

Cows 2

There was a large pile of hay in one corner.

Cows 3

Many of the cows made straight for it and rubbed their faces in it!

Cows 4

It was quite an odd thing to see!

Cows 5

They had walked from a field up in the distance and travelled down the road to this field.

Cows 6

When we left we had to wait for the last of them to arrive.



It reminded me of one of my childhood memories, when visiting a farmer friend of my parents in the heart of the Cheshire countryside.

I remember driving down those narrow country lanes, with very high hedgerows and not enough room for two cars to pass without one squeezing into the hedge!

We were brought to a sudden standstill when we came upon a herd of cows ambling along in the middle of the road on their way back to the farm to be milked.

As youngsters we just wanted to get there. We had yet to learn patience. Cows waddling at their leisure down a country lane will teach you that patience. In the end you simply have to sit back and enjoy the scene.

And when you are older, you will look back and appreciate just how lucky you were to witness it.

Wait till the cows come home indeed!


Making New Friends

Sparky 1

Hello there!

We were enjoying afternoon tea and scones outside at the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, when Sparky the Squirrel came to join us.

Sparky 2

There I was, eating the last of my delicious scone, when I noticed little Sparky begging for food.

By this stage I only had a few crumbs left, but I gladly shared them with the charming little chap.

Sparky 3 – Photo credit M the Greek

What a delight it was to have this little wild creature stare up trustingly into my eyes and lay his little paw in my hand.

Sparky 4 – Photo credit M the Greek

But apparently my offerings were lacking.

Sparky was having – Anything he could get his little paws on . . . As witness here, eating part of a sandwich he has begged from someone apparently less hungry than me!

Sparky 5

This seems to be what he was after all along; not my pathetic little crumbs.

I am only surprised that, with all the easy pickings, he was not totally rotund!


Yorkshire Countryside

Yorkshire 1

When I was nine years old we moved from Lancashire to Yorkshire. These fields and hedgerows are so typical of the area, you know you couldn’t be anywhere else.

The first photo was taken through a car window and all the rest through a train window.

Yorkshire 2

I tried to record some of the picturesque views as I travelled, but the train was moving very fast and the windows were dirty.

Nevertheless, here are some scenes I captured during my three and a half hour journey from Scotland to Yorkshire.

Yorkshire 3

It was July this year and some fields had been mown already, but I only saw a combine harvester once.

Yorkshire 5

I did manage to snap a photo of rolled-up, cylindrical hay bales, with the afternoon sun lighting up their sides.

Yorkshire 6

And here’s another closer, but somehow less dramatic view, without the sunlight.

The blurred white blobs below are sheep!

Yorkshire 4

And the brown blobs are cows!

Yorkshire 7

I only saw sheep or cattle occasionally as I sped on my way and even more rarely, the odd horse. Magically, at one point I saw a wild rabbit scampering across a field, but did not have my camera out, so that picture will have to remain in my memory.

Another scene which stays in my mind was a horse I saw in a field full of haystacks. These were the pointed cone-shaped ones. A lovely black and white horse stood square on to a stack, with its head resting on the top and stuffed in the hay. It looked like it had fallen asleep like that, with a face full of hay, in Seventh Heaven!


I hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse into the Yorkshire countryside, as seen through my window.


Face Off!

Face Off 1

I don’t know what Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, would think about this statue of his on Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Face Off 2

But clearly this seagull was not impressed, as it stared him down in a match off!

And the bird got the last laugh, using the head of the magnificent horse Copenhagen as a pooping post!


Enchanted Forests

Enchanted Forest 1

Tread softly on the leaf litter; listen

Tiny whispers of magical creatures

Enchanted Forest 2

Don’t stray from the path; sit awhile

Let Nature fill the air around you

Enchanted Forest 3

Across the lake through a gap in the trees

Another enchanted forest waits

Enchanted Forest 4

What are you two doing back there?

There are lots of interesting smells to chase

Enchanted Forest 5

Oh never mind; take your time

I know where I’m going!


I went walking round Newmillerdam in Yorkshire with my sister and her Border Collie, Sparkle. I used to go here often when I lived in the UK and it was lovely to visit all the old haunts again.

Of course her dog, much like Little Monkey, became impatient with our stopping to take photos and in the end just trotted on ahead.


Towering Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral 1

Still standing; the remains of Scotland’s largest cathedral.

What is very impressive, even in this age of massive skyscrapers, is the sheer size of the ravaged stone ruins. Apart from the height which is obvious, the building was about 119 metres long!

St Andrews Cathedral 2

It is St Andrews Cathedral and St Rule’s Tower.

This magnificent medieval cathedral was founded in 1158 and building continued into the 14th century.

On the day we visited it was raining heavily. We tried to find a little shelter by the large wall on the right of the photo, while taking in the atmosphere of such an old site. Apart from the grave stones which you can see, there were large, flat stone slabs covering ancient tombs. You could easily imagine Dracula rising from one at midnight!

St Andrews Cathedral 3

The cathedral and tower dominate the sky line here at the edge of the North Sea. I took this shot from out along St Andrews pier, where I made sure not to be swept into the icy waters!

And just as I was battered by the strong winds, so has some of this building survived down the centuries through many storms, both man-made and natural.

It is still awe-inspiring.


Here I’m just giving a glimpse into the ruins, as I experienced them on a wet, blustery day.

For more details you can click on the link or search google.


Chariots of Fire

West Sands 1

This is the beach where the famous opening scene was filmed for the 1981 Chariots of Fire movie: West Sands in St Andrews, Scotland

There is still a plaque here, commemorating the film. West Sands was used to portray Broadstairs in Kent, where the runners actually ran.

West Sands 2 Plaque

It’s a lovely stretch of wild sandy beach and on the day we went, fairly deserted. It was late July and though not raining, there was a strong breeze, which I think there always is!

West Sands 3

There were many birds in this small river inlet to the sea; mostly seagulls, but also a few dark birds.

West Sands 4

It’s hard to see exactly what they are, but some of the dark birds had white on them.

As I’ve mentioned before, my little Canon camera really battles to take a clear picture in dim lighting; the photo is grainy and pixelated.

West Sands 5

And just to prove I was here; here I am – wind-swept and freezing!


Instead of the well-known opening clip from the Chariots of Fire movie, with the lads jogging along the beach (also looking wind-swept and freezing!) here’s the comedic genius of Rowan Atkinson showing them a thing or two at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.


After being blown to bits on the beach (which I find refreshing; plenty of oxygen!) we went for sustenance at a lovely little hidden away cafe and had the best scones ever!


There was a choice of the most delicious fillings such as fresh fruit, all with great names, like the Prince of Wales etc

I just had a plain one, with butter, jam and clotted cream, but it was scrumptious and basically, that was my lunch!