A Proper London Day Out

It was always going to be a long day; so much to see and so much to do, we needed to plan carefully and with military precision.

We promised ourselves a proper London day out; and we definitely got one!

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A proper London day out!

The early morning train, tube ride and coffee stops on the way out East to the O2 Arena, Emirates airline to (nowhere really) and amazing views back towards the city and Canary wharf.

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The Emirates Air-Line is a pretty nifty cable car, it certainly gives you some height, rising straight up to 90m and a wonderful view of London.

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Looking down onto the river we had a change of plan and the Thames river clipper service was a great last minute idea, taking time to swoop around between piers.

We gained a real tourist’s eye view of London as we chugged from the O2, past the Isle of Dogs, to Canary Wharf, Royal Naval college at Greenwich and the the Cutty Sark and under Tower Bridge before getting off at a busy Tate Modern pier.

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After pizza and posing in Paternoster Square (Dinner Date), a walk around St Paul’s Cathedral and back over Blackfriars bridge,  the fun continued with a stroll along the embankment, past the OXO tower and sand sculptures of Kevin Spacey to the South Bank, National Theatre, skate-parks and eventually the London Eye amidst the thronging crowds and street performers.

A proper London Day Out
A proper London Day Out

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The London Eye never fails to impress – it’s at least ten years since I have been on this amazing cartwheel, and it’s as good now as it ever was.

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That’s enough for one day!

Onto the tube, up to Kings Cross, a drink or two and a train home, phew!

Ripley Show gets better every year

Last year we went to Ripley Show for the first time, it was fantastic and we made a date for the calendar to be there again in 2016.

Ripley Show gets better every year.

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Well that date arrived, faster than you can say ‘organic produce’ so we packed up our picnic and made the most of another beautiful Yorkshire day; and I am proud to report that Ripley Show gets better every year.

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There’s something for everyone at Ripley Show

The cattle this year were amazing, this beautiful Aberdeen Angus was my favourite beast of the whole show, majestic and absolutely huge!

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The animals are great, especially the pigs and sheep, but the tractors and assorted old machinery are also well worth a look including the carriage driving and vintage cars.

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No excuse for many similar pictures to last year!

– all in a all great day out, Ripley Show gets better every year!

Ripley Show gets better every year
Ripley Show gets better every year

Well done to all the organisers, exhibitors and competitors.

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2017 is already in the diary.

Flam is for tourists

Flam is for tourists, of that there is no doubt.

Anywhere that has a train that stops in a tunnel so you can get out, take pictures of a waterfall and be serenaded by some character dressed as a mythical legend with piped music has got to have tourism nailed right…….

But before the tourists, there were the locals, and you have to have some sympathy for them, because if I lived here, I would not want massive cruise ships coming up my Fjord.

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Flam is for tourists

I wouldn’t want to be living here with this load of invaders; certainly Flam is for tourists, and it shouldn’t be!

Let’s start by leaving Bergen on a train…..

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Actually, you feel pretty relaxed after a lovely local train trundle from Bergen up through Voss and climbing over the mountains to the railway station and junction of the regional mainline at Myrdal; unaware of the tourism honeytrap you are about to encounter.

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Opened in 1908 this little station is where it all happens (at 866 metres above sea level). Looking back at our visit to the amazing Jungfrau railway in August 2013, makes me realise that this is really nothing compared to that 3,454m station – Transfer from the regional red train to the tourist green one – and off you go!

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From here, the famous Flåm Railway winds its way down to the tourism mecca of the fjord below.

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It’s hard not to get caught up in the tourist shots; ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ seems to be designed for the sort of traveller who wants to see the entire country in 24 hours while in a sprawling queue behind an iPad waving umbrella holding tour guide, helping them from ship to shore, to train to hotel to plane. Not for me thanks.

Norway in a Nutshell…..No thanks!

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You see; it could be a nice place without the tourists. But with a major travel interchange big enough to welcome the QE2 and load them on a big train, then sadly the only way to enjoy the area is to get on a boat and out of town, up the Fjord.

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Now we are getting somewhere!

taking a regular ferry up the fjord with a cup of coffee and your camera is the way to really take in the scene for a few hours; so after we packed up and stored our bags away, it was time for the highlight of the week so far –  the fjord tour and cheese making…

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Fjordcruise Nærøyfjorden

We start off with a little bus through amazing tunnels to Gudvangen; this was only built 20 years ago and until then this part of the world was cut off by road and only accessible by boat!

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From Gudvangen we jumped on to the 10.30 ferry/boat out up the Fjord and were soon sailing past Styvi and Dyrdal, getting to Undredal after an hour and a half; a very pleasant cruise.

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We hopped of in Undredal and were met by a guide; a super local chap.

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He took us on a tour of village and the highlight was a look inside the amazing church.

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Undredal Stave Church (Norwegian: Undredal stavkyrkje) is a stave church in Aurland Municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county, on the shore of the Aurlandsfjorden.

The church is part of the Undredal parish in the Indre Sogn deanery in the Diocese of Bjørgvin.[1][2]

The church is only 12 by 4 metres (39 by 13 ft) and has only 40 seats, making it the smallest stave church still in use in all of Scandinavia. The parish only includes one small, rather isolated valley, with only 116 parishioners, making it the second smallest parish in the Diocese of Bjørgvin.[3]

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Ostesmaking (cheese tasting and explanation) was all very good in the village, I can see why they were happy to be cut off until 1989 when the tunnel and road was built!

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Soon it was time to be back on the bus to Flam. (Sadly) And after a look in the railway museum, pick up our bags, have a coffee and then get back on the Flam Express to connect for Oslo train later.

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While waiting to board it was good to chat with some elderly American fellow travellers, on a three week Scandinavian mini tour they have also taken in St Petersburg (jealous now)!

The scenery on this late afternoon trip was superb from our reserved seats on the Myrdal -Oslo leg – a 4.5 hour spectacular over the mountains and down to our final destination.

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Itmay not be Switzerland but i don’t think I have been on a more stunning (regular) train ride in such comfort at such altitude.

Even better, unlike Northern Rail, the hotel emailed a menu through and we ordered some snacks and beer for our 10.30pm Oslo arrival – now that is pretty cool!

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All in all, a pretty good couple of days – despite the tourists!

Tip for next time – avoid at all costs and take to the hills!

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next stop….Oslo.

 

 

Trondheim is so trendy

Walking around this industrial landscape it’s easy to come to form that opinion.

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Trondheim is so trendy. This is a great place to hang out…

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Firstly there are the amazing junk shops, the beautiful cathedral, the famous coloured houses up and down the streets, and the fantastic bars and places to hang out.

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And then if you feel the need to get on a boat; there is always Munkholmen.

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Munkholmen is an island in the Trondheim Harbour area, approximately 2 kilometres from the town centre. The island was originally named Nidarholm. During the Viking Age, this was a place where public executions were held. Munkholmen is also where the founder of Trondheim, Olav Tryggvason, put Kark’s and Håkon Earl’s heads on poles, after battling for kingdom and Christianity in the year of 995.

A few years later, a Benedictine monastery was build on Nidarholm. The presence of monks lasted until the Protestant Reformation (in 1537), and this is why the island over time got it’s new name, Monk’s Island (Munkholmen).

In the following centuries, Norway was in union with Denmark, and were frequently at war with Sweden. After freeing Trøndelag from Swedish occupation in 1659, Munkholmen was reconstructed into the shape it has today, as a fort. This was done to build a better military defence of Trondheim and Trøndelag. Kristiansten Fort was built later in that same period. The architects behind these two forts in Trondheim were Willem Coucheron and Johan Caspar de Cicignon. They are also known for their involvement in other Norwegian forts and fortresses (Halden and Fredrikstad).

Munkholmen was later used as prison. Peder Schumacher Griffenfeld is the most famous prisoner held here. Griffenfeld came to Norway as chancellor, but had to serve life time imprisonment (18 years) after bringing himself in disgrace upon the king (Christian V).

During the second world war, Munkholmen once again was used as fort, this time by the Germans. There is still an anti-aircraft artillery gun at the island, left by the Germans.

Today, Munkholmen is a popular recreational attraction. The island has an open cafe and guide service in the summer season. There is also a small beach outside the fort. The fjord is relatively deep between Trondheim and Munkholmen, and you have to get there by boat. The boat service runs between Ravnkloa and Munkholmen at day time (between May and September), or when hired. For more information, follow link to the homepage of Tripps Boat Service.

Enjoy!

Bergen Beautiful Bergen

Welcome to Bergen, Beautiful Bergen.

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We got off the Hurtigruten boat in the port of Bergen and wheeled our bags around the city centre, through the shops, past the fish market, trundle up along Bryggen, landing at the Clarion Hotel Havnekontoret.

This is Bergen, beautiful Bergen.

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There is a lot of activity around the port and fish market area – it’s a fun place

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On a rainy day, the Sea Lions at the Aquarium are great fun, along with the penguins, they have seen it all before…

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And once you have tun out of exploring Bryggen and the city centre…

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Hop on that train to Flam (and eventually Oslo) at the station.

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Some Oslo images

I liked Oslo, but never really got the chance to reflect on it – mainly due to a terrible experience with Scandinavian Airline SAS.

So here are some Oslo images; I hope you like them.

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Oslo is one amazing place.

Beadnell Sands and Seahouses

We stayed with some friends near Seahouses at the weekend – in North Sunderland, Northumberland.

The scenery around Beadnell Sands and Seahouses is beautiful; well worth a trip. I hope you enjoy these photographs of beadnell Sands and Seahouses.

Beadnell is Beautiful
Beadnell is Beautiful
Beadnell Village is set at the end of a glorious stretch of beach known as Beadnell Bay. The Village is well known as one of the best equipped places in the County for watersports, with the beach lending itself well to surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, sailing, scuba diving…. the list goes on.
The Village’s harbour lies at the North end of the bay and from there the beach, backed by huge dunes of sand, stretches South for miles. The sheer volume of holiday accommodation in Beadnell means that it is one of the most popular destinations for visitors on the coast.

Walking along the bay from Seahouses to the Craster Arms in Beadnell opens up four miles of glorious Northumbrian countryside

Beadnell from Seahouses Golf Club
Beadnell from Seahouses Golf Club
The Village itself is split, between the area around the harbour and the Village nearer the main road. The harbour area is distinctive as it is the only West-facing harbour on the East coast and has beautiful lime kilns that were built in the 18th Century. Nice.
The images below include many taken at the Craster Arms Beadnell Beer festival – a fantastic venue and event that we enjoyed with family and friends, certainly the four mile walk back to North Sunderland was interesting after tasting a few local tipples.
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Alnwick Castle is a fantastic day out!

Alnwick Castle is a fantastic day out! Having not been here since I was a small child, I was pleasantly surprised by how much there was to see and do here – and I am not even a Harry Potter fan.

Alnwick Castle is a fantastic day out!
Alnwick Castle is a fantastic day out!

The Castle is in fantastic condition and still lived in half of the year by the Duke of Northumberland and his family. You are not allowed to take photographs inside but there is plenty to see outside with activities and demonstrations ranging from archery to falconry.

Harry Potter Broomstick flying lessons
Harry Potter Broomstick flying lessons

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Alnwick Castle is a fantastic day out!

There are photo opportunities for young and old – even if you don’t need a lesson on flying your broomstick, you can’t help but be charmed by this magical place and the effort the staff obviously put into their work in entertaining visitors young and old.

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