IMG_2235   Between the green leaves, and the deep crimson leaves, is a dead tree, between dead people

20th June

Myself and Mick caught buses from Nottingham to Rowsley, then hiked to the 9 Ladies Stone Circle in Derbyshire, a site that has become popular in recent years as a Stonehenge alternative for pagan worshippers, on the solstices.

We pitched our tents by early evening and settled down for a brew, before taking it in turns to get fire wood.  Here’s Mick getting the fire going his bushman way – firesteel, King Alfreds cake and dead grass.

 

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That’s me, perhaps in a weird meditation posture, or maybe turning to stone.

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More folk arrived, more tents went up, and soon the rhythmic sounds from djemba drums could be heard across the area as the evening progressed.

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The noodles, courtesy of myself, and the chicken and vegetable curry, courtesy of Mick, sizzling away nicely here.  It feels much more rewarding having a meal cooked on the fire, than some crummy sandwiches brought from home.

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The view of the setting sun in the north west was separated from our camping area by a wood.  After finding a path through the wood, I just missed the sunset, but still saw a colourful horizon.

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Acrobatics with fire, drinking (etc), occasional fireworks and music continued throughout the night all around the camp.  The atmosphere was awesome.  Unfortunately, my camera doesn’t like the dark so no photos :-(  I think I managed about an hours kip!

Not the most picturesque sunrise, considering the time I got – 4a.m -, and the time I spent finding somewhere to see it.  But this spot was well away from the drums and sound systems still disrupting the relative tranquility that I might expect to experience in the countryside, so I lay peacefully on this slope for a few moments, admiring one of natures beauties :-)

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The beginning of the northern hemisphere’s longest day, as the sun climbs above the treeline over looking the stone circle.

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This group are sitting close to the nine ladies stone circle.  There are two stones just visible between the group, and this nearest one is the King stone – Not quite Stonehenge, but I suppose there are slight similarities.

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After chatting to others for a while, we left the camp around 7:30a.m. and stopped by at a spring to refill our water bottles and have a quick wash.

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Ruins, from the days when limestone was mined from the area, which I personally find more impressive than the stone circle, though maybe less interesting.

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Shortly later, we were in Weatherspoons in Matlock for a full English breakfast before catching our bus back to Nottingham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is my photo for Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week.

The crooked steeple of Chesterfield’s Church of Saint Mary and All Saints.  It is thought to be the weight of lead, covering the spire, that has caused the twisting phenomenon.

As a child, this was quite a landmark building.  If our family was on our way back from holiday, I knew we  weren’t too far from home when we passed the Crooked Steeple.  It is about 22 miles from Nottingham as the crow flies. I never thought I’d be cycling this far out, but on 7th August I did just that.  A 70 mile round  trip took me right past the church and I thought the photo would fit well in this weeks theme.

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This is my first camping trip this year, and I haven’t visited Cresswell Crags since I was about 7 years old.  We are being treated to a generously hot summer here in the UK so I want to make the most of it.

Cresswell Crags is a limestone gorge, containing several caves that were occupied during the last ice age.

It was near 8 in the evening when I set off, with just some food, bike tools, sleeping bag and sleep mat, and the sun had set before I reached Cresswell, about 25 miles north of Nottingham.

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I have a different bike from my last post, as my previous bike got stolen whilst locked up in the middle of town!  I also now have a more expensive bike lock with a higher security rating – which apparently means it should take thieves a little longer to pick the lock!!!

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I locked my bike up and walked around the the Crags, trying to avoid stepping on the many frogs hopping around!

whether it’s health and safety, greed, or both, access to the caves is restricted to paying visitors during the day only, so I had to be content with peering into the gloominess of the caves from outside the metal fencing.

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I got my sleeping bag out around midnight and spent an hour or so gazing towards the heavens.  I am very grateful for my eyesight as I’m able to see to infinity.  It was quite mesmerizing.  More and more stars became visible as I continued to watch, the only interruptions being from moths or other night bugs that seemed to gravitate towards my face, making me jump!

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Sadly, the night sky soon became completely overcast, ending my stargazing for the night,  so I moved my sleeping bag from the path to a small nook I’d spotted earlier and got a couple of hours kip.

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Well, there was no chance of me seeing a sunrise, but there was something quite mysterious about strolling round the lake in the early morning mist.  Apart from intermittent bird calls, there was an eerie silence in the gorge.  Magical

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A little after 6:30am, I set off back to Nottingham, taking side roads and bike tracks through Sherwood Forest, enjoying the peacefulness of a Sunday morning :-)

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Hilbre Island is in the River Dee estuary, just off the Wirral peninsular and in order to be stranded here the sea must be at high tide.  I stayed at Liverpool YHA for two nights, and during my one full day there, high tide in the area was at 7:31am and around 8:00pm.

It’s a two mile walk out to Hilbre Island, passing two smaller islands on the way – Little Eye and Middle Eye.  The local authorities suggest not leaving the main land any less than three hours before high tide, for the walk to the island, and not leaving the island until three hours after high tide.

The suggested route, was to walk from the seaside village of West Kirby, about 13 miles from the Liverpool hostel.  My mode of transport was by bike, so, with all this in mind, to achieve my mission, I had to be leaving the hostel either very early, or arriving back very late.

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I opted for the former.  The first photo is as I’m cycling through the Queensway River Mersey Tunnel.  Only a handful of motorists passed me in the ten minutes it took me to cycle through.  One was a Land Rover police vehicle, slowing right down as it passed me with a couple of suspicious looking cops eyeing me,  maybe wondering what I was doing cycling under the river at 3:00am with no lights!

At around 4:15am I reached West Kirby.  I locked my bike up and stood gazing out at the islands in the distance.  A flyer was flapping about in the wind on the side of a phone box, and a chain clanged a slow beat on the side of a flag pole.  Other than this there was total silence – no sea gulls; nothing.  It was so eerie

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Soon, I began my march across the sand, feeling anxious and afraid that on this one morning, due to some weird weather system, the tide would be drawn in ultra fast and swallow me up, and I would drown, and no one would ever know what happened to me.

Of course this didn’t happen.  The tide came in as normal and I reached Hilbre safely.  Below, is Middle Eye from Hilbre Island.

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I was totally on my own and I had hours to explore.  I love this :-)

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The few scattered buildings appeared to be empty holiday shelters, or derelict.  the mainland is on the horizon and the sea is slowly coming in on the left.

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The peacefulness of early morning….

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According to this mornings tidal forecast, this isn’t one of the highest tides, but I certainly felt stranded!  This is Middle Eye with the tide high.

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I remembered I have a timer on my camera, so after a frustrating few minutes of trying to balance the camera level, and repeatedly running backwards and forwards to pose, I finally got a shot I liked :-)

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I kept seeing a seal bobbing it’s head in and out the water throughout the morning.

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The carcass of a fish suddenly reminded me of the story of Robinson Crusoe!

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A jellyfish!

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And back to the mainland (looking back out at the islands)

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London 2013 day 3

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I went out for another stroll, early on this time before the Hostel breakfast was ready.  The weather didn’t look promising but the haze did soon clear.  I took this photo of the reflection of a sphere ball, with Saint Paul’s in the background.

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Known as the Old Bailey, after the road on which it stands, this is the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales.

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A digital display on a bin!  The display kept changing to show the news, Tube delays, and other local snippets of interest.

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After filling up with a Full English, I was back on my bike again, moseying about on the east side of the city.

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Later on, I decided to go and see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.  My mum had been on about this so I thought I’d see what all her fuss was about!

The haze was clearing, the sun was out, and once again it was getting hot.

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I cycled round The Elephant and Castle roundabout on my way to The Palace.

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A convoy of cops!

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Well, at least I can now say I’ve seen the Changing of the Guard.  It’s a popular event with plenty of tourists around.  Between the coming and going of the guards, I found it quite interesting watching the police operation of letting people walk across the areas outside of the fenced off sections.  One officer would open a section of fencing to let people walk, then repeatedly, an officer on horseback would usher these people back the way they’d just come, then berate the first officer.  It all passed the time

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I decided to head east again and then cycle up the Limehouse Cut – a branch of canal linking the Thames with the River Lea.  As soon as I’m on the canal, I instantly feel a million miles away from the big city.  There a plenty of modern apartment blocks along the canal, but it is so peaceful.

I passed by the Olympic Stadium – a lot of which seems to be a construction site again – then continued up to Hackney Marsh.

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It is beautiful out here.  I cycled at a nice leisurely pace, admiring the beauty in the park

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I do like trains and couldn’t resist a quick shot of these two!

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Soon, I had to make my way back to Kings Cross train station for my journey home.  I spotted this cormorant on a lock gate on my way back.  As a sea bird, I guess this guy’s a long way from home too :-)

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April 30th

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After leaving Thameside Yha, I took to the streets of London again, venturing through Rotherhithe tunnel.  I succeeded without dying from exhaust fumes along the way.  Despite the blurriness of the cars, they were actually travelling quite slow.  I guess I had the long exposure setting on.

I took a steady ride along Regents canal up to Camden Lock, and would’ve loved to try some foreign cuisine from the numerous stalls, but I was still bloated from an all-you-can-eat Full English at the hostel.  Interesting little place, though a lot of the craft stalls aren’t my thing.

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I spent a lot of time sight seeing and generally cycling around London today.  And I can’t remember everything because it was so long ago!

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These menacing looking metal guys were keeping guard outside the Tower of London.

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A giant plug on the wall of an electricity sub station, just off Carnaby Street.  Apparently it lights up at night.

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A mounted Sentry at Horse Guards building, Whitehall.  This is a Life Guard, as he is in red.  The Blues and Royals wear blue.

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I stopped off at Trafalgar Square several times during my three day trip, as there is a store selling yummy meal deals here.  I frequently sat gazing at this monument, so I only thought it right to take a photo.

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The Pelicans in Saint James’ Park.  I read about these some time ago, so was dying to see them.  They remind me of pictures of some pterosaurs.  Quite Jurassic looking.

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I took a trip to The British Museum today, but again, I wasn’t really in museum mode so I didn’t stay too long.  This is Hoa Hakananai’a – one of the Moai statues from Easter Island – the miserable so-and-so.

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I was booked into Saint Paul’s YHA hostel for my second night, and after checking in, I went for something to eat.  I walked for what seemed like miles until I found somewhere ordinary and cheap for a burger and chips.  Everywhere else seemed to be flash restaurants.

After food, I took a stroll along the Thames, which seemed surprisingly quiet to me

These supports were once part of the London, Chatham, and Dover railway Bridge, which was partially dismantled in the 1980′s. They stand alongside Blackfriars Bridge

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April 29th

I finally have home broadband again, so hopefully no more library, and catch-up time on a couple of posts.

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I loved cycling round London so much last year that I felt the urge to come again this year.  I caught the train from Nottingham down to King’s Cross  this time, and as soon as I stepped out into the busy streets of London, I felt the adrenaline well up within me.  I can remember how hair-raising it was last year cycling amongst the mad motorists of London!

That said, after a short bit of street cycling, I headed towards Little Venice, on the Grand Union Canal.

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I do enjoy river and canal cycling.

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After a short while, I decided I actually wanted to be back in the bustling metropolis, so I left the canal and headed back.

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Above – the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.

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Back in the City, I decided to take a breather and stopped off at the Natural History Museum for half an hour.  A great place to visit, and it’s free – though I did pay £3 for them to look after my rucksack, which surprisingly weighed in at just over 5 kilos.

I didn’t feel this museum was for me though.  Not today, anyway.  On my exit, I decided to lighten the load in my rucksack, so I perched on the steps in the sun and took out my lunch.

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I slowly made my way east across the City, dicing with death as I slithered through the loony London traffic.

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One of London’s many tube stations is called Temple, and I was curious to know if there was a specific temple it is named after.  And if so, where.

Well, this is it – or at least it’s as much of it as I fitted in this photo.  Originally built by, and for, the Knights Templar as their English headquarters.  The inside looked interesting from information I gathered, but it was closed for the day.

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This is the front of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, minus the huge dome, and the notable Lloyds building below.  I think the old and the new buildings of London mix so well together.  A lot of my sight seeing today involved the admiration of London’s architecture.

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Here’s me by Tower Bridge in the evening.  I wish I had my bike in the photo  After this I made my way to the Thameside YHA for my first night

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