Normandy 2019 – Day 5

Today was the day to visit Bayeux, obviously to see the tapestry, but also other delights which might present themselves.

We started with a look at the cathedral. This was fairly interesting and the crypt contains some medieval paintings which Dad spent some time trying to photograph in the poor light where flash is not permitted.

Moving on to the tapestry, the good news was that there wasn’t too much of a queue. The tapestry is well displayed – indeed probably rather better than when Dad last saw it more than 40 years ago. The bad news was that the audio guides with which everyone was supplied didn’t have a pause button. For Dad this was of course a complete disaster as he wanted to look at every detail and was soon well behind the commentary. At this point he just gave up with the guide. Mum and Sophia were rather cleverer. They followed along with the guide and then walked all the way back round the 70m of tapestry to look at it again.

  • Medieval painting Bayeux cathedral

The Bayeux town museum was in a similar vein to the one in Caen but not as interesting. There was a reasonable selection of paintings, but they were all rather second rate. At one point Dad’s eye was caught by one that looked like the work of his favourite, Hans Holbine the Younger but when he scurried up to it he found a notice saying it was by one of his assistants. It was however still probably the best painting there. The other highlight worth seeing was a wonderfully decorated old chapel at one end of the museum.

One final point of note it that Bayeux had undoubtedly the most expensive parking of the trip.

Normandy 2019 – Day 3

Today we intended to visit the zoo, but on the way there it rained heavily so we decided to visit Caen instead.

Caen is a big city and Dad did quite a bit if hyperventilating as he tried to drive to the centre and park. In the end we found a central underground car park which wasn’t too expensive.

Dad and Sophia started by heading for a large ruined church near the centre. Bizarrely, this was not only completely fenced off, but there were no signs anywhere to indicate what it was called or why it was ruined. Subsequent research showed that it is the Church of Saint Etienne-le-Vieux which hasn’t been in good repair since the 100 year war! It is a pity that the city of Caen cannot erect a modest sign to this effect.

  • View from Caen castle

After a modest lunch, Dad headed for the castle whilst the others headed for the shops. The castle turned out to be free to enter, but there was a charge for the two museums in the grounds. Dad opted for the local history museum over the modern art one.

The museum followed the familiar pattern of starting with flint tools and working up to local industry of the last century. It had some excellent Roman artefacts including a fascinating coin collection, but the highlight was certainly the display on lace making. Dad remains completely amazed by the intricacy of this process.

Normandy 2019 – Day 2

Today we had a bit of a lie in and then went over to have a look at the local town, Vire. Dad strongly approved of their parking policy which seemed to be the novel idea of having large free car parks in the middle of the town!

After lunch – where Dad got into the swing of being in France by opting for Moule Mariniere – we had a look round. Unfortunately, the extensive town museum was closed for even more extensive renovation! But we did manage to have a reasonable look round the centre and visit the cathedral..

  • Outside of closed Vire museum

Normandy 2019 – Day 1

The start of our summer holiday in Normandy. After depositing Gordon at the cat hotel we made our way to Poole to catch the ferry.

There weren’t many passengers which made the advantage of our cabin rather less than it might have been, never the less it was handy having somewhere to retreat to and it also allowed us to keep the cool box plugged in to keep the sandwiches chilled. We ate on the ferry as we were intending to eat our sandwiches on the drive to the cottage.

  • Ferry leaving UK

On arrival in Cherbourg, Garry the Garmin showed his normal behaviour by selecting weird routes. The initial route involved a huge detour and the second rather shorter one had the tendency to leave a main road, wend through a town and then re-join the road we had left. Needless to say this tended to waste a lot of time! Fortunately, Sophia managed to get the hang of the paper map and spot some of these detours in advance.

As always when in France, Dad found driving rather stressful. Fortunately, there was very little traffic.

We stopped to eat our sandwiches in Pont-Hébert where, to Sophia’s delight there was a pizza dispensing machine. We didn’t use it, but it was a joy to observe such a technological advance.

We arrived at the cottage at about 2215. The hostess (confusingly also called Marina) spoke good English and also excellent Russian.

Sedbergh – Day 4

For our last full day at the cottage we took ourselves over to Bowness on Windermere, and on the way we stopped to look at the two viaducts Dad had viewed yesterday from Winder Fell.

  • Waterside Viaduct with Winder Fell in the background

We visited the recently opened (we only missed the Prince of Wales by three days) Windermere Jetty boat museum.  Everything was very new and shiny and Dad was of course much taken by some of the steam engines.  Our only real criticism was that information about the boats afloat in the boat house section was a little limited.

Sedbergh – Day 3

Today I decided that I would walk to the top of Winder Fell which overlooks Sedbergh and looms over the cottage.  As I walked into town I passed an excellent tree stump sculpture of two owls which we had noticed being carved the day before.

A chainsaw carving.

The route I took to the top started by climbing up to the head of Settlebeck Gill.  Mostly this was not too strenuous although there were a couple of rocky stretches and the last few hundred metres was a stiff climb.  The path then joined one running along the col leading to the summit and this was easy going.

  • Looking up Settlebeck Gill.

The weather was excellent and the views from the summit spectacular.  It was possible to see the cottage quite clearly and Mum and Sophia came out to wave.

View of the cottage from Wiinder Fell with Mum & Sophia standing in garden to left.

It was also possible to trace the course of the old railway line from the cottage all the way to the current mainline near the M6 motorway, including the Waterside and Ingleton viaducts.

Sedbergh – Day 2

After a slightly late start, we walked into Sedbergh and then followed a walk Mum had found to the Farfield Mill Heritage Centre where we had a modest but pleasant lunch (very nice soup) and a look round the various artists studios.

We then walked back to Sedbergh and then spent rather too long in Westwood Books.  Being a proper second hand bookshop (and a very large one) the books were rather more expensive than the charity shops we usually frequent and we spent rather more than we were hoping but probably somewhat less than we feared.

Walked back to the cottage.

Sedbergh – Day 1

A long drive from Wiltshire to Yorkshire hampered as always by Dad’s annoyingly slow driving and motorway congestion.  Stopped for lunch at a Toby in Worcester where  the carvery was as acceptable as usual.

Staying in part of an old railway station much to Dad’s delight.  Cottage seems very comfortable and Dad can step outside onto the old platform and pretend that he is a Station Master.

Drove into Sedbergh to eat and discovered that it calls itself “England’s Book Town” and claims to have more second hand bookshops than Birmingham – although if true this would seem to say more about Birmingham than Sedbergh!  Mum swore that she hadn’t been aware of this when booking the holiday, but the rest of the family were sceptical.

For dinner we tried the “Al Forno” where are meals were mixed.

Rome 2018 – Day 9

Our last day in Rome and actually more of a half day as we had to leave after lunch to catch our flight.  We were going to go to what we thought was a Klimpt exhibition not far from the flat, but when we got there it turned out to be some sort of multimedia “experience” so we gave it a miss!

Instead we checked out a local church and cathedral which we hadn’t had time to see previously.

First we went the strange octagonal baptistry of San Giovanni in Fonte
Battistero Lateranense which is a fascinating and unusual structure.  It is hard to avoid the view that it must have been build on the base of an earlier Roman structure, but apparently there is no evidence to demonstrate this.

We then moved on to the cathedral of San Giovanni in Laterano which is a huge and most impressive building.

Rome 2018 – Day 8

Today we divided our forces.  Mum and Sophia went to see the Hiroshiga “Visions from Japan” exhibition of 19th century Japanese art whilst Dad went to see the Roman port town of Ostia Antica.

The exhibition contained 230 prints by Hiroshiga, mostly landscapes from some of his famous series of views.  It provided some excellent variety, delightfully lacked large deranged groups of tourists and instead contained mostly educated looking Italians of a certain age.  Sophia was able to practice trying to read some of the titles on Japanese and identified some interesting stylistic connections with Manga.

Dad meanwhile was hugely impressed with Ostia Antica.  It took about 20 minutes to get there on the train from Rome and was well worth it.  The site is HUGE and despite being there from 11:30 to 18:00 with a short break for lunch, Dad only managed to see just over a third of it.

  • Much of the site is overgrown and rarely visited.

The large formal buildings such as the theatre are very impressive, but what Dad liked most was wandering through the suburbs and exploring the numerous houses.  Although the site was busy with visitors, it was only necessary to wander a short way down a side road to be nearly alone and able to imagine the that one was back in Roman times.

Until late in the day, the more popular areas were spoilt by numerous school parties.  Why is it that the members of such groups have to bellow to each other all of the time?

Clearly, with less than half of the site covered, at least one more visit is required!

Finally, Dad would like to apologise for the annoying white splodges spoiling some of his photos.  He got some dirt on his lens near the start of the day and didn’t notice until nearly the end.  He is very annoyed about this!