Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Vintage and Retro at the Isle of Wight Bus Museum

Isle of Wight Bus Museum

My biggest regret when I visited the Isle of Wight in March 2010 was that we were not able to visit the Bus Museum. The museum is only open in the summer months and we had visited the island a mere two weeks before the start of the summer season. I mentioned this to Melissa when we visited last year and was thrilled when she was as keen as I to see the museum.

As you know, I adore vintage cars and trucks but my particular love for classic buses began when I discovered Oompus the omnibus in the Ladybird Classic Tootles the Taxi and Other Rhymes.   

So now that I’ve painted a picture of my state of childlike glee upon entering the museum, I can confirm that disaster soon struck. My camera ran out of battery! I can tell you now, there is no more pitiful a spectacle than a blogger who has run out of battery. Well, I put on a brave face and thanked my lucky stars that I had my iPhone handy.

Now if you’re all safely in your seats, let’s begin our tour of the museum…

KDL885F Bristol RESH6G1968 Bristol RESH6G KDL885F

How retro is that? I love the horizontal lines of the grill.

Interior KDL885F Bristol RESH6G Driver's seat of the 1968 Bristol RESH6G KDL885F

This view makes me so nostalgic. This would have been the first thing we noticed upon entering hundreds of buses. The seat doesn’t look very comfortable though!

ADL459B Bedford SB31964 Bedford SB3 ADL459B

The Isle of Wight was a very popular holiday destination for scores of English tourists every summer and once they'd reached the island by rail or ferry, buses were the primary method of getting around. The various bus routes would take visitors to well known beaches and other attractions and buses are very much part of the island's heritage.

Seat detail ADL459B Bedford SB3Seat detail 1964 Bedford SB3 ADL459B

Somewhere along the way I have definitely grown up because I find the pattern of this material positively gorgeous in a retro, 60s way. Thirty years ago I might have refused to sit on it and would have found it unforgivably old fashioned.

Front grill detail ADL459B Bedford SB3Front grill detail 1964 Bedford SB3 ADL459B

I was fascinated by the intricate designs of the buses, especially in the front grills. Don’t get me wrong, I love modernity (post-modernity?) and modern design but I do think recent designs lack the elegance of the last century.

SDL268 Bristol LD6G1959 Bedford LD6G SDL268

This is a proper old omnibus from 1959. Oh, can you imagine how many island summers this traveller has seen?

Detail FDL927D Brisol MW6GBack detail 1966 Bedford MW6G FDL927D

Only in the 1960s could we have thought that salmon / brown was an appropriate colour for a bus. Come to think of it, I'm sure I remember salmon coloured linoleum in one of our kitchens.

DL5084 Daimler CK1919 Daimler CK DL5084 (body 1922)

This was one of my favourite exhibits, tucked away at the back of the garage. I guess this vehicle is just too old and too damaged to restore and it is quite a reminder of the work that has gone into restoring the buses in the museum. You can see the state of the engine below. Part of me hopes that someone does take this restoration project on board but another part of me likes to see it in its original form.

DL5084 Daimler CK Front Chassis DetailFront Chassis detail 1919 Daimler CK DL5084 (body 1922)

ODL400 Bedford SBGFront grill 1957 Bedford SBG ODL400

You may have noticed that most of the buses here are Bedford buses. Bedford was a subsidiary of Vauxhall Motors and was founded in 1930. They made everything from trucks and buses to ambulances and army vehicles and were sold right around the world. The Bedford brand went defunct in 1986 but their spirit lives on in many Vauxhall and Opel designs.

My first two cars were Opel Corsas and my first car was in a similar shade of turquoise blue to this Bedford bus. The only time she ever broke down on me was on that first day home from the dealer when I hadn’t quite figured out how to put petrol in her yet.

Back detail ODL400 Bedford SBGBack detail 1957 Bedford SBG ODL400

FDL676 Bedford OBFront grill 1949 Bedford OBG FDL676

Service 42, Isle of WightVintage service 42 sign

VDL264K Bedford YRQFront grill 1972 Bedford YRQ VDL264K

Vintage Buses at Isle of Wight Bus MuseumVintage Buses at Isle of Wight Bus Museum

Front Detail SDL268 Bristol LD6GFront Detail 1959 Bristol LD6G SDL268

Vintage signs at Isle of Wight Bus MuseumVintage signs at Isle of Wight Bus Museum

I was really impressed by the Isle of Wight Bus Museum and would absolutely recommend a visit if you are ever on the island. Both children and adults are encouraged to climb into the buses and explore them and you are also more than welcome to move props around to ensure the best photographic opportunities. We felt really relaxed during our visit and felt welcome to take our time. Definitely stop by the gift shop on your way out! I bought a gorgeous omnibus model that now has pride of place in my display cabinet.

The Isle of Wight Bus Museum
The Quay
Newport Harbour
Isle of Wight
PO30 2EF

Admission: Adults £4.00, Children 5-15 years £2.50. Concessions and family tickets available.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Grandeur of the Duomo di Milano

Milan Duomo Piazza del Duomo

I'll never forget the moment I first saw the Milan Cathedral in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo. We emerged from the darkness of the Metro on a particularly hot and humid summer afternoon and suddenly we all spotted the Duomo at the same time. I could tell that because all four of us took a sharp intake of breath and went silent. It certainly is an impressive sight.

On the day that we came back to visit, we made sure that we were at the Duomo bright and early in the morning because we had heard that the queues could get pretty long. We were dismayed when we arrived because the queues were indeed quite lengthy but we were amazed at how quickly the queue went and how efficient the organisation was.

Entrance to the Duomo is free but they do ask for a €2.00 donation if you’re going to take photos inside. We figured that I was going to take a lot of photos inside so I paid €5 just in case!

Milan Duomo Nave, Crossing and Choir

The Milan Duomo is as impressive inside as it is outside. Entrance to the nave is restricted to worshippers and there was a service in session when we arrived. You can see the somewhat smoky effects in the photo above and below from the incense. It was really beautiful and peaceful inside and I stood with my mother-in-law for some time while she watched the service.

Milan Duomo Choir

We turned into the South Aisle and took a look at the South Transept. What impressed me most about the Duomo was the incredible detail everywhere we looked. I thought that these tiles were quite exquisite.

Tile details Milan Duomo

The Milan Cathedral or Duomo di Milano in Italian is the fifth largest cathedral in the world and it took a whopping six centuries to build! Construction of the Gothic Cathedral began in 1386 and was only completed as recently as 1965. It kind of puts the construction of the Sagrada Família into perspective; although not yet completed, construction on the Sagrada Família only began in 1882.

Milan Duomo (6)Milan Duomo The Alter of St John the Good

This is La cappella di san Giovanni il Buono or the Alter of St John the Good in English. The inscription on the pediment reads “Ego Sum Pastor Bonus” which translates as “I am the good shepherd”. These were my favourite two photos from inside the Duomo.

Milan Duomo La cappella di san Giovanni il Buono

an Bartolomeo Flayed (1562) by Marco d'Agrate

Just left of the alter stands the famous sculpture of San Bartolomeo Flayed which was completed by Marco d'Agrate in 1562. If you’re squeamish, it might be a good idea to page down at this point and not read the next sentence…

… ready? The sculpture depicts the saint’s flayed skin thrown over his shoulders like a stole. It is pretty grim but what is notable about the sculpture is the incredible level of detail. Click on the photo above to see the blood vessels, tendons and ligaments; it really is quite impressive.

Milan Duomo Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster

One of the stranger things you will see at the Duomo is the mummified corpses of important Catholic saints. I think this is a bit bizarre to say the least, even though I know that Catholics are not alone in this particular practice. Then again, I won’t even walk over graves in a graveyard so I guess I just like the dead to remain undisturbed and restful.

This is Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster who died in 1954 and was beatified in 1996. If you click on the photo above, you can see his gnarled and mummified hands.

Milan Duomo

On that note, we decided it was high time for a breath of fresh air! This final photo shows the detailed carvings in the front doors of the cathedral.

We certainly enjoyed our visit to the Milan Duomo and I would recommend going inside. You can pay extra for guided tours and access to the terraces but we thought that there was more than enough to see without taking those extras.

Duomo di Milano
Piazza del Duomo

Opening times: Daily 7.00 – 18.30
Entrance: free plus €2.00 for a photographic pass


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Postcards from the World: My Favourite Travel Photos

Brace yourself! Tonight is a bumper photo post and as always, it comes with a bit of a story. Very often when I go on a trip, I’ll save one of my photos and add it to my photo folder at work. My PC at work is set up to rotate a selection of photos as my screen saver and it is always a matter of some pride when a colleague will say that they love the photos on my screen saver and I can reply that they are all mine. Of course, they always express surprise that I have any creativity whatsoever because accountants aren’t exactly known for being arty!

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to share these photos with you and so it was pretty fortuitous when I received notice of this month’s travel link up: your favourite travel photo(s).

And so here you go… all fifteen photos that are absolutely my favourite travel photos. I’ve left links all over the post if you’d like to visit the original posts on the blog.

Turkey – The Celsus Library at Ephesus

The Celsus Library at Ephesus

Turkey was the first place I visited when I began this blog in 2008 and this photo was taken of the celsus library at Ephesus.

Italy - Alone in Riomaggiore

Alone in Riomaggiore

I’d wanted to visit Italy since I was 20 and finally got to visit last year – twice! This photo was taken in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre.

London – Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year London 2014

This was my favourite of the photos I took during this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations in London.

Italy - Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie, Milan

The ceiling of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. This is where you can visit the Last Supper.

Serbia – The Name of Mary Church, Novi Sad

Novi Sad, Serbia

Given my love of Serbia, it should be no surprise that I would feature a photo from there. This was taken during my most recent visit to Novi Sad.

Italy – Duomo di Milano

Duomo Milan

The good news is that next week I’m finally taking you inside the Duomo in Milan. It is as opulent inside as it is on the outside. I loved this photo because of the inclusion of both the lion statue and the Duomo.

Bosnia – Jablanica


I’d heard about the beautiful turquoise lakes and rivers in Bosnia but nothing quite prepares you for a sight like this. I’m sure I’ve said this before but I would move to this country in a heartbeat. I think I left my heart somewhere here on the road between Mostar and Sarajevo.

Italy - Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan

People often say that they don’t like Milan but I don’t really understand that. I really enjoyed my time there and spent many long afternoons simply walking around or drinking coffee in sidewalk cafes. This was taken in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is one of the most beautiful structures I have ever seen.

London – The Eye

The London Eye

I can confirm that you can never take too many photos of the London Eye. It is simply not possible. This photo was part of a post I wrote about London at dusk.

Italy – Gondolas in Venice

Gondolas in Venice

Somehow I’ve always liked this photo of the gondolas in Venice. I like the composition and the contrast of the blue material in the gondolas against the blue sky. I still have so much to tell you about Italy!

France – The Abbey of Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel Abbey

Taken during our most recent visit to Mont St Michel in France. I just loved the detail here of the old Gothic abbey and the blue sky.

Bosnia – Stari Most, Mostar

Stari Most Mostar

The most beautiful bridge in the world. This photo was taken from Koski Mehmet Pasha Mosque where they promise you the best views of the bridge in all of Mostar. The view from our hotel Villa Anri was pretty special too.

Italy - Museo D'arte Antica, Milan

Monumento Sepolcrale di Bernabò Visconti

I love this photo because it was hard to decide which was more impressive in the Museo D'arte Antica in Milan – the exhibits or the frescoes.

London – St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral

I love this photo simply because it was taken on the first day of spring this year. London is beautiful when the sun shines!

Bosnia – Stari Most at Dusk

Stari Most at night, Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina

And finally, my favourite photo of all time. I took this on my first night in Bosnia on the eve of my 40th birthday. There was nowhere else on earth I wanted to be more than there in Mostar. I’ve printed two enlargements of this photo – one is hanging in our bedroom and the other is in my brother’s lounge.

If you’d like to join in the monthly travel link up, be sure to visit Rebecca, Emma or Kelly where you can add your link. We’re a super friendly bunch and everyone is welcome to join in!

Do you have a favourite travel photo? Feel welcome to link to it in the comments below!


Sunday, 29 June 2014

A Photography Workshop with Paul Hames

Last weekend, I was invited to attend a photography workshop with Paul Hames. We met up bright and early on Saturday morning to learn all about the basics of manual photography. Paul took us through the three steps to a perfect photo: time, light and sensitivity. We learned all about aperture and shutter speed, ISO settings and how to capture star trails.

Paul Hames Photography Workshop

I’ve found manual photography a particularly hard skill to learn and after no less than six previous workshops, I still couldn’t get my head around all the settings. I like to joke with people that I might be an accountant who works with numbers for a living but try to get me to understand the Sunny 16 rule and my mind implodes.

But an interesting thing happened in the workshop with Paul. Not only was what he was saying finally starting to make sense but after I followed through each of the steps, I put my eye to the view finder for the photo below and was surprised to see that the exposure level indicator was exactly in the middle. Now the photo isn’t perfect, Paul suggested that I should have reduced the shutter speed slightly, but this is the first time that I have ‘made’ a photo as opposed to taking one. I’m really excited and confident about working more on my manual photography skills in future.

Paul Hames Manual Photography Workshop

What was the reason for the workshop? The talented team at Joe Blogs blogger network were faced with a unique conundrum. How do you create brand awareness for a brand like Simply Health in a way that is engaging and dare I say, sexy? The team got together and brainstormed. Simply Health has a dental plan, dentals plans are all about the perfect smile and perfect smiles are incredibly hard for photographers to capture! And so they invited a group of London bloggers to attend the workshop and once Paul had taught us the basics, we headed off to the nearby KERB Market in nearby Granary Square for some food, street photography and guidance on how to capture the perfect smile.

None of these photos have been touched up and all were taken in manual. I’m hoping that this will become my ‘before’ post so that I can look back in a couple of months to see how far my manual photography skills have come. I think many of them are overexposed but hopefully that is something I can correct in future.

Kerb Market

Paul Hames

We first gathered on the grassy steps of Granary Square to learn how to capture the perfect smile. Paul suggested we not say smile but rather something else to elicit a true smile from our subjects.As you can see from the photo below, Kat and I soon realised that saying “Michael Fassbender” elicits a true grin from me! I normally dislike photos of myself but this is one of my favourites. Thanks Kat!


The Steps at Granary Square

We’d certainly worked up an appetite by the time the photography part of our day was over and soon it was time to eat!

KERB Market is a daily food market that takes place in locations across London. We went to the King’s Cross market but you can also find them at Spitalfields and Southbank amongst other locations. The markets usually run every weekday from 2 to 5pm and occasional weekends so be sure to check the KERB Food website for times and vendors.Korean burritos at Kerb Market Kings Cross

Kat and I decided on a delicious slow braised ‘bulgogi’ ox cheek Korean burrito and while we were waiting for that to be made, I watched some children having the time of their lives skipping through the fountains.

Playing in the fountains at Granary Square

We also opted for a Japanese Katsu curry rice.

Japanese Katsu at Kerb Market Kings Cross

Cakes galore at Kerb Market Kings Cross

Sadly we ran out of money before we could buy any lovely cakes but we managed to get an iced tea from the lovely, friendly people at the Good & Proper Tea Co.

Waves from Good & Proper Tea Co

Divine tea at Kerb Market Kings Cross

Lunch at Kerb Market Kings Cross

Yeah, I SO need to work on my fast food in bright, direct sunlight photography! I know it doesn’t look very appealing but that burrito was spectacular and the chicken Katsu curry was so good that I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be able to return to Wagamama. The tea was fantastic too and was lovely and refreshing and not at all too sweet.

All in all it was a fantastic day out and I’m definitely going to try hunt down more KERB locations. Paul was telling me that he offers Photoshop courses too so I am hoping to join him on one of those soon.

KERB Market
Granary Square

Daily: 12pm – 2pm (check website for weekend opening times)


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