Erasmus Darwin’s House, Lichfield

One of the hidden treasures that is close to where I live is the city of Lichfield and one of my favourite places to visit is Erasmus Darwin’s House.

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Erasmus Darwin was renowned 18th century physician, inventor and poet.  He was also the grandfather of Charles Darwin.  He lived in the house from 1758 – 1781.

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The house contains two exhibition rooms.  These contain audio and visual exhibits.  These can be hired out for private functions.  One of the most popular features is the herb garden.  This is a restoration of a Georgian herb garden using plants from the period.

Costing £3.00 entrance fee this is an ideal introduction to Erasmus Darwin and the life he lived in Lichfield.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep on smiling.

Steve

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My Travel Tech for 2013

As this year I have decided to devote more of my spare time to travel I need to ensure that my tech is up to speed. There are five items that I will be taking with me on my travels.

1. iPad 4 64GB Wi-fi

 

This is my latest piece of tech. I am not a full time travel blogger so the iPad gives me all that I need. There are plenty of apps available and I can make hardware changes such as adding a Bluetooth keyboard if required. I am using Blogsy for updating my blog. If I were to become a full time blogger then of course I would look to invest in a MacBook or MacBook Air. I have tried to a Windows 8 laptop but I found it to be a frustrating experience. I am back to what I know and love.

2. iPhone 4S 16GB

 

This is my third iPhone and I have never suffered any problems with them apart from battery life. It is a device that can do almost everything. Take photos, play music, be a GPS and you can make calls too. My favourite apps are Spotify and Instagram. With iCloud it links to the iPad. As for battery life I take a power pack as back up. I never leave home without it.

3.Panasonic Lumix LZ20 Bridge Camera

I am not the world's greatest photographer as these photos show. This is a area that I wish to improve on. While I am not ready to move to a DSLR this is the next step up. Hopefully in the coming months you will notice the results.

4. Amazon Kindle

This is purely for reading. I do travel on long coach journeys and it allows time to pass. There are plenty of books stored on it. A big plus is that the battery life lasts a long time between charges.
5. iPod Classic 160GB (2007)
 

 

Old faithful, this has been with me on a lot of my travels. Lasts a long time on one charge it allows me to have all the music I need. Even better when shuffle is on.

These devices should keep me happy. Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photo of the Week – New Hall Valley Country Park

This week's photo is of New Hall Valley Country Park in the snow.

 

The park is located in my hometown of Sutton Coldfield. In truth this is close to being my back garden. The park which runs between the Walmley and Wylde Green districts was created in 2005. It was the first country park opened in the UK in 21 years.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Charles Bridge – Prague

The Charles Bridge or Karluv Most lies at the heart of Prague.  It connects the old city to the castle and is considered to be the most important bridge in Prague.

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The bridge itself measures 621 metres long with its width coming in at 10 metres wide.  It stands on 16 arches.  There are three bridge  towers that stand at either end of the bridge.  One of which stands on the Old Town side.  The other two stand on what is known as the Lesser Quarter.  The bridge tower that stands on the Old Town is considered to be one of greatest examples of gothic style buildings in Europe.

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Lining the bridge there are thirty baroque style statues.  These are now mostly replicas.  Also lining the bridge you will find plenty of artists and arts and crafts traders trying to tempt you to part with your money.  Also there will also be beggars though they ply their trade quietly.

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It has been said the best time to see the bridge is at night time when there are less crowds.  I must admit my favourite was early morning as the traders were setting up for the day.  Whenever you visit Charles Bridge is a must experience when you visit Prague.

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Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

UK + Snow = No Go

I woke up on Friday thinking that I would struggle to find inspiration for the next blog posting. Then I opened the curtains and then it hit me. Snow had come to the UK.

With snow comes everything else and being the UK everything comes to a grinding halt. The schools shut and it seemed that a lot of people did not make it to work. It is estimated that snow costs the UK economy £500m per day.

Then I had my own personal experience of going to work. Yes, I managed to get to work (shift was 14:00 – 22:00) I could see the carnage on the roads. As normal there were no signs of gritting vehicles or snow ploughs. This meant that other vehicles were moving slowly. Coupled with the temperature falling below zero I could see the ice forming on the roads. This particularly affected local public transport especially the buses. There were plenty of people who were late for work because of this. I managed to get to work on time by catching the train. At the time they were not affected by the snow.

I could see people struggling and I felt embarrassed. I speak to people who deal with snow though out the winter and they must laugh at our inability to cope. Then you see the scenes at Heathrow Airport with all the cancelled flights. Not a good advert for the UK. It is hard to believe that six months ago we successfully organised the Olympics and Paralympics. A bit of snow and we grind to a halt. The problem is that the UK is that it is difficult to predict when we will get snow. It usually only falls once during the winter and then it last for a week at most.

As for my own experience of the day, it was mixed. The local buses stopped running at 19:00 which while bad news I still could catch the train. They were still running but I noticed that they were beginning to get delayed. I had no real choice but leave work early. I managed to get home safely but the journey took nearly 90 minutes.

However, snow is not all bad. It does allow the chance to take advantage of possible photo opportunities.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photo of the Week – Liszt Memorial Tablet, Bratislava

This week’s photo is of the Liszt Memorial Tablet in Bratislava.

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This tablet celebrates the concert that took place at the Leopold de Pauli Palace in 1820 when Liszt was just 9 years old.  At that time Bratislava was known as Pressburg.  This concert led to offers of sponsorship to help finance Liszt’s education.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

St. Vitus Cathedral – Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral is the Roman Catholic cathedral in Prague.  It is part of the Prague Castle complex.

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Dating from the 10th century the cathedral is an excellent example of Gothic architecture.  It is also the most important religious building in the city.

Whichever tour Prague Castle option you choose St. Vitus is always included.  However, I must warn you that it is extremely popular and you will find yourself being swept along with the crowds and tour parties.  Despite that there is always a hush inside the building.  It is only broken with sound of the staff warning you not to take photos with flash.  This is the perfect opportunity for you not to use the automatic setting on your camera.

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Inside the cathedral there is St. Wenceslas’s Chapel where the remains of the saint are kept.  Sadly you will not be able to enter the chapel itself but can be viewed via a side window.  There are plenty of statues and monuments to view that reflect the history of Prague.

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It is important to take your time to explore the cathedral in order to take everything in.  Otherwise if you allow yourself to be swept up in the crowds you may end up on missing out on a lot on what the cathedral has to offer.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Happy Birthday to ‘The Tube’

January 10 saw the 150th anniversary of the opening to the public of the first section on what was to become known as ‘The London Underground.’  Operating as the Metropolitan Railway the line ran from Paddington to Farringdon Street via King’s Cross.  From this humble beginning the network also known as ‘The Tube’ has grown into the network that we all know and sometimes love.

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I would say that the Underground is the lungs of London.  It allows the city to breathe and function as the global capital city.  The Underground model has now been copied by other major cities around the world.  Nearly all capital cities in the developed world has some sort of underground rail network.

Throughout its history the London Underground has been the scene of some of the major events in London’s history.  During both world wars tube stations were used to shelter the public from the bombing that rained down on the city.  It has also been the scene of several tragedies.  The two that come to mind are firstly the King’s Cross fire in 1987.  The fire was ignited by a discarded cigarette under the wooden escalator.  This led to the death of 31 people.  The other one was the 7/7 bombings in 2005.  Suicide bombers detonated three bombs on the network.  The first one happened between Liverpool Street and Aldgate on the Circle line.  The second explosion happened again on the Circle line between Edgware Road and Paddington.  The third device was detonated on the Piccadilly line between King’s Cross-St. Pancras and Russell Square.  39 of the 52 victims were killed in these explosions.

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There are advantages and disadvantages of using the London Underground.  The advantages are that it is a fast method of travelling across London.  It is also an efficient way of transporting passengers.  As the rolling stock is electrically operated it is also a green option.  Imagine the number of people who would be travelling by cars if there were no underground service.  Of course there are disadvantages.  During peak times the trains always become overcrowded.  Also during the summer the lack of air conditioning can make if feel too hot during the summer.  You also need to keep your wits about you as crowded trains attract pickpockets.

Having said that I enjoy travelling on the Underground.  It gets me across London quickly.  With an Oyster card it can be cheap.  Sharing a train with visitors from around the world I feel that I am part of the global village.  In short I love it and I wish it another 150 years service.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy, keep smiling and mind the gap.

Steve

Photo of the Week – View Along Charles Bridge, Prague

This week’s photo was taken in Prague.  It is of the view along Charles Bridge.

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This was taken from one of the towers at the end of the bridge.  I was lucky that the photo was taken around 10am and I avoided the crowds that can plague the cit.  The surrounding buildings along with the bridge sum up for me the beauty of Prague.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Cutty Sark

This post is a follow up to a previous photo of the week.

The Cutty Sark can be found in Greenwich.  It is one of the most popular attractions in London.

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Built as a clipper ship it was the fastest ship of its type operating during the late 19th century.  Primarily its cargo was tea which was carried between Britain and Australia.  For ten years it was the fastest ship operating between these two countries.  The Cutty Sark ended up being sold to a Portuguese shipping company.  The Cutty Sark also served as a training ship based in Falmouth, Cornwall.  It became a tourist attraction when moved to its present location in 1954.

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Disaster struck the ship in 2007 when it was badly damaged by a fire.  It was fully restored and reopened in 2012.  So far there have been over 13 million visitors to the Cutty Sark.

What a visit to Cutty Sark allows you to do is to experience what life would have been like on board the ship.  There are various collections to be found on board.  These include an archive of publications that have featured the Cutty Sark.  There are also collections dedicated to the construction and working life of the Cutty Sark,  Figureheads, memorabilia, Navigational Instruments, Paintings and objects used during the working life of the ship.  Surprisingly, there is a collection dedicated to the Scottish poet Robert Burns.  It was from his poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’ where the Cutty Sark got its name.

 

 

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Entrance fee is £12.00 and that could be considered as expensive.  However, given what you get to see I feel it is value for money.  There are concessions available to seniors and students.  You do have book to your ticket online and select the time you are going to visit.  If you miss your slot you will not be allowed in.

The Cutty Sark is located at King William Walk, Greenwich, London, SE10 9HT

Nearest DLR stop is Cutty Sark station.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve