Posts Tagged ‘Princess’


Thursday, September 12th, 2013

A cool easterly breeze blows in our faces as we take time to soak up the ambience of the scene before us.

A quiet country lane cuts the lush green fields of the Irish landscape and in the mid distance the imposing ruins of an ancient medieval Franciscan friary stand proudly on a barely noticeable knoll.

There is a noticeable energy despite us being a mile away.  Intrigued we return to the car and negotiate the blackberry bush lined lane toward Ross Errilly’s beautifully preserved structure.

A feeling of calm surrounds us as we move from the car park toward the friary.  We comment to each other on our feelings and agree that something special awaits us inside the entrance.

The friary is thought to have been constructed in the mid 1400’s and, despite the English Reformation and Cromwell’s Irish campaign, it was occupied for almost 400 years.  Some would say the recent burials inside the friary’s grounds means that it continues to be occupied.

Inside the friary one is caused to negotiate narrow passageways and tiny crawl spaces – a true adventure.  Beautiful window arches and intact pillars allow the mind to re-create how this stunning structure would have looked.

The 600 year-old building has withstood climate extremes and no doubt it will continue to endure the next 600 years of wind, rain and temperature.  They built them to last back in the 1400’s.

Each area of the friary was built with a purpose in mind – accommodation, food preparation and storage and religious duties were all taken into account.  Moving from one section to another the spirits of previous inhabitants seem to welcome you and guide you through their domain.

Architectural angles, natural light, moss covered rock and beautiful design offer up their beauty to our lenses and we delight in soaking up the experience of Ross Errilly.

Alas, the cool wind brings in a light shower of rain.  It’s time to go.  We negotiate our way out into the courtyard just as a bus load of tourists arrives.  Perfect timing.

To “feel” Ross Errilly make sure you visit when the crowds have left.  Let your senses be taken on a journey and don’t be in a hurry to leave.

This beautiful friary is located about a mile north of Headford, County Galway in Ireland.  Entry to the national monument is free .

Share This Post

From High To Low

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

A cool Scottish breeze causes the dry spring grass to wave to and fro on the knoll that we have climbed.  We look north toward the historic city of Stirling, gazing out over rich farming land and the Forth and Clyde canal below us.

Union Spotting

Our “perch”, right alongside the Union canal, is some 115 feet above the Forth and Clyde canal and we feel like a couple of engineers surveying the scene laid out before us and asking the questions: “How do you get a canal boat from the Union canal down the 115′ to the Forth and Clyde canal – without building the equivalent of a theme park log flume ride?”  ”Is it Wheelie possible?” This very question was posed back in 1994 and the “Ferris Wheel” design for the Falkirk Wheel came into the minds of engineers.

The stunning steel structure was completed 2001 and “launched” by the Her Majesty The Queen in May 2002.  Problem solved.  Fantastic tourist attraction created.

From above the Falkirk Wheel the seven arches frame the Union canal and surrounding landscape perfectly.  The arches are reflected beautifully in the still water of the canal and, at different times of the day, the colour of the sky changes that colour of the water – an every changing artist’s palette.

Reflected Arches

Standing at the basin below and looking up at the Wheel’s 35 metre structure you are immediately impressed by the sheer size of this 12oo tonne marvel.  The wheel is not just a practical way of getting canal boats from one canal to another, it is a work of art whose regularly moving, flowing lines cause visitors to stand and stare.  Beauty and functionality all held together by 14000 bolts.

It's Wheelie Big

Visitors can take a boat ride on the wheel.  Boats depart from beside the impressive visitor’s centre up to and along the Union canal.  The boats are driven into the wheel’s gondola (each gondola holds over 500,000 litres of water) and then “locked” in before the wheel rotates and transports the boats and passengers up to the canal above.  The whole process takes around 15 minutes and uses the equivalent energy that it takes to boil eight kettles of water.  Very efficient!

In addition to watching and photographing the beautiful wheel we walked around the surrounding area and take in some of the sights and activities on offer.  Local fisherman trying their luck on the canals were happy to answer questions about the type and size of fish they caught and the men that operate the locks spent time answering questions about the lock system and canal boat activity.

A resident swan followed us along the Forth and Clyde canal and accompanied us as we looked over some of the canal boats that were available for hire.  We didn’t have any food for him (or was it a her?) but that didn’t stop him keeping an eye on our every move.

Forth and Clyde Resident

We also had a lot of fun playing in the “big kids” water park that has been set up for visitors.  You get to learn all about how the flow of water can be used to operate a variety of things.  It’s very interactive and a perfect playground for all ages.

There is a great variety of food and beverage options available or you can bring you own “grub” and set up a picnic alongside the basin or one of the canals.  The wheel and canals are a perfect backdrop for a picnic on a sunny Scottish day.  And, after your full of black pudding and whiskey you can work it off in the water park.

Pumping Water

If you are visiting Scotland make sure you put the Falkirk Wheel on your itinerary.  Falkirk is a short, easy drive from Edinburgh and Stirling.  Get into the flow and take a drive to Falkirk and check out this impressive attraction.

For those with a bit of time on their hands, consider hiring a canal boat for a week.  Touring the intricate network of canals that are being reopened in Scotland would be a relaxing way to soak up the southern part of this beautiful country – slowly.

Share This Post

Painted Pachyderms

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

They’re bright and beautiful. They attract everyone’s attention and they disrupt a city’s “streetscape” in a wonderfully attractive way. They are painted pachyderms and between July 13th and October 18th 2013 they took over the streets of Luxembourg. A summer and autumn treat for locals and tourists.
But why are they here? Where did they come from and where will they go?
These 55 life sized replicas of brightly painted baby elephants are part of the annual “Elephant Parade” that tours different cities around the world annually. The “parade” is a very visible way for The Asian Elephant Foundation to make people aware of the plight of Asian Elephants. Each elephant is auctioned off after the “parade” and all the monies raised are donated to the foundation for conservation and wellbeing of the Asian elephant.
We were lucky enough to be in Luxembourg while this year’s parade was on show. We didn’t see all 55 of the saggy baggy beauties but we captured those that we did. The parade made time in Luxembourg even more special and we are grateful to the Asian Elephant Foundation for their creativity.
If you ever have the opportunity to get up close and personal to an Asian elephant we are sure you will be touched by their gentle nature and intelligence. One of many species worth supporting and we are sure that your donation would be very much appreciated.

Share This Post

Songkran Man

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

In the backstreets. On the main streets. Down the smallest of alleyways. Everyone here in Bangkok has got water on the…… well, everywhere. It’s Songkran time! The Thai water festival that turns Bangkok (and most of Thailand) into one big water fight. What a way to celebrate the Thai New Year.

The locals and tourists alike are in on the action. Water guns that rival Buzz Lightyear’s specials. Cups. Buckets and pretty much anything that can hold water is used as a “weapon” against dryness. The streets are like rivers and if you are trying to stay dry then stay out of Thailand for the weekend ’cause it’s open season for dousing.

Oh, and did we mention the other additive to this? Just when you thought water was enough why not add beige coloured talc to the mix. Why not be wet, gooey and look like dry out water buffalo at the same time. Hey, it’s all good.

And when it comes time to dry out you can look like this young guy catching a few rays in the backstreets. He looks tired but don’t let that fool you. Just out of the picture is an armory of “weapons” that are locked and loaded – ready for the next fight with an unsuspecting passer by.

Drying Out Before The Next Round

Where else in the world can adults act like children for a day and be congratulated for doing so!
We decided that the theme of this celebration is: “The wetter, the better”.

Share This Post

Buddhas, Buddhas Everywhere

Friday, April 12th, 2013

A Buddha here, a Buddha there

Oh my God – that’s him right

There are Buddha’s absolutely everywhere



Looking inward, looking outward

Looking down from on High

Eyes closed and at peace

Some staring up at the sky



Leaning, kneeling

Faded and peeling

Female persona

This one’s a loner



Draped in flowers

Housed in towers

Faithful followers

Standers and bowers



Present throughout the world

Looking might daze ya

For the real Buddha experience

You must visit Asia

Share This Post

Batman Seen Driving An Audi In Siem Reap

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Fading sunlight struggles to drown out the streetlights that start to appear one by one in the Pub Street district of Siem Reap.

The tired haggling enterprenuers in the Old Market wind down from another day of trying to tempt tourists to buy another must have trinket.  Horse hagglers needing some vocal reconditioning before setting up stall to do it all again tomorrow.

Our vantage point, a sidewalk table at Café Le Grande, is a perfect place to sit back, relax and soak up the sights and sounds in the French quarter of town.

It's Batman

“Hey, how you doin?. Good to see you again”.  A truth is being spoken this time.  It’s Batman – and he’s driving a freakin’ Audi!

Batman’s pearly white teeth almost blind us when his strolls up to greet us at our table.  “Good to see you again!” we reply.  We met Batman, a proud young Tuk Tuk driver, last night on our way back to the hotel.  Impressed by his dazzling Tuk Tuk, logoed with Batman icons, we couldn’t help but strike up a conversation with him.

Despite his polite offers to take us anywhere for a dollar we order another glass of very good red.  We might need a Tuk Tuk at this rate!

Euro Style

Share This Post