Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Bugger Bognor...

I confess that the only thing I knew about Bognor Regis before visiting the place was George V and his less-than-gracious comment about the town.  I tried to be open minded, but since it had been raining all morning and the sky was slate grey, I wasn't exactly seeing Bognor at its best.  The nature of the conditions (and, it has to be said, the state of the town) seemed to call for a set of pictures in monochrome.

Bognor is the only place I've ever visited which had "take away views".  Maybe the idea will catch on?

A couple of useful signposts aimed at the visitor who was lost.

...and a house whose name, presumably, had been forgotten by its owner.

Gypsy Lee was about to have her post delivered.  Call me cynical, but I'd have thought she would have known what was coming in advance, so wouldn't actually need a delivery...

A few of the characters I found around the town.  I particularly like the "boy racer" in the first image, who was keeping a beady eye on the idiot with the camera.

I don't often agree with royalty, but on this occasion I think good old George got it about right.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A Walk around Southampton

For the August Bank Holiday I went to visit my daughter, Izzi, in Southampton where she is at University.  On the Sunday evening we went for a walk from her flat around the West Quay shopping area.  Not being a very "shopping" kind of person I normally stay away from such places, but at least it was mercifully quiet.

The final picture shows a statue of Isaac Watts (Doctor of Divinity, no less) who appeared, from a distance, to be holding an ice cream cone.  On closer inspection it turned out to be a large pink dildo, so I guess that makes him Isaac Watts DDD.  It also puts Henry VIII and his chair leg into perspective: clearly a better class of student in Cambridge...

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Vyne

In the middle of August Harriet and I went to a funeral in Basingstoke which didn't start until the middle of the afternoon, so wanted to find somewhere which would provide both entertainment and a bite to eat.  After consulting the National Trust handbook (actually "app") we ended up at The Vyne: a beautiful Tudor house with a rather incongruous Georgian facade.  The weather wasn't great and the (mostly wood panelled) interior was very dark, but here are a few pictures from the visit.

The previous two pictures are from the Georgian part of the house, and the ceiling was truly spectacular.  As is traditional at National Trust properties, it was "exit through the Gift Shop".  The only twist on this occasion was that one had to avoid being painted while doing so.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Hebrides 33: Epilogue

We stopped for lunch in Carrbridge at the same cafe we'd used on the way home from Orkney 11 years previously.  The food was mediocre at best and the service was abysmal, but at least the old bridge was just as pretty as ever.

We then hit the A9 and headed to Pitlochry, which was absolutely heaving with people.  It had become extremely touristy since our previous visit, and is now clearly the place which puts the "twee" in tweed!  On the plus side, I did manage to buy myself some slippers at Wilson's (where else?).

The traffic built up (and, of course, slowed down) as we passed Perth and drove across the Forth bridge; we also encountered the first of a series of very heavy rain showers.  We managed to navigate our way around Edinburgh without getting lost (quite a feat), and then headed towards Dunbar and Berwick.  Having failed to find somewhere to grab a bite to eat, we continued around Newcastle and stopped at an uninspiring (although very quiet) Costa Coffee in Washington before hitting the A1 with all its road works.  We eventually arrived home just before 00:15 - 618 miles and a gnat's whisker less than 19 hours since we'd set off from Lemreway.  I love Scotland, but why does it have to be so far away?

So that's it.  Another long and tedious travelogue finished, and this time in the same year that the journey took place.  Maybe, in the future, I'll get round to posting the pictures "as they happen"?  Whatever else, I'm sure it won't be too long before we're back in the Hebrides.  Next time I suspect we'll bypass the Uists, instead spending time on Mull and Skye.  (I also have a secret ambition to visit all the distilleries on Islay at some point, but that's another story.)  Harris and Lewis are magical places which managed to get under our skin in the short time we were there.  We were genuinely sad to leave, and will definitely be back to explore further...

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Hebrides 32: Stornoway to Ullapool

Because of a 07:00 ferry sailing, we had packed up and left the house in Lemreway by 05:15: the start of a very long day.  The heatwave of the past few days had disappeared, and Stornoway was grey and overcast when we arrived.  It was clear that we'd be on an "industrial strength" ferry for this crossing, unlike the much more intimate vessels which had taken us between the islands.  No matter, it still served the famous CalMac "Full Scottish".

A view back to Lewis as we set out for the almost three hour crossing to Ullapool.  Another chance to hunt out some old sea dogs in order to pass the time...

Not very many canines on this crossing, unfortunately, so I had to make do with a few fellow passengers as well.

The weather brightened up as we approached the Scottish mainland, and the blue hills looked wonderful in the morning haze.

Ullapool is in the middle of a very large sea loch, with the surrounding hills and islands providing a large natural harbour.  The sea was like glass, and occasionally we spotted dolphins and minke whales surfacing.  Their location was almost impossible to predict, though, so the second picture below is probably the worst example of whale photography in the history of the universe (but at least it proves that we saw them).

Eventually we started to reach "civilisation" - initially a few scattered crofts, and then Ullapool itself.

It would have been lovely to spend some time there, as both the town and the surrounding countryside looked really attractive.  Sadly we had rather a long drive ahead of us...