Isle of Wight: The Seaside Town of Cowes

There is something almost other worldly about visiting seaside towns outside of the summer months but that is just what we did on a rainy afternoon during our trip to the Isle of Wight in March.  We’d been blessed with some gorgeous weather on our arrival in the Isle of Wight and on the day we took a ride on the Isle of Wight steam railway and we certainly hadn’t let the weather dampen our visit to Carisbrooke Castle but that was about to be put to the test!

Cowes, Isle of Wight

Stephen could not have parked further away if he’d tried and we had quite a walk into the little seaside town of Cowes.  I immediately liked the old-town look of the place that was maintained even thought some of the buildings were quite new.

Cowes, Isle of Wight

We took a walk along the promenade.  The sea and sky were similar shades of steel grey and it was a really windy and chilly day. 

Cowes, Isle of WightCowes, Isle of Wight Cowes, Isle of WightCowes, Isle of Wight

We found a pebble beach which I found quite intriguing.  It looks like quite a struggle between nature and humanity as people have obviously been trying to control the drift!  Stephen thought he’d be romantic and picked up a shell for me.  It was pretty bashed up and scratched but I guess that is what you get with a pebble beach.  I think I might just prefer the sandy beaches in South Africa with their shiny shells!

Cowes, Isle of Wight  

Cowes, Isle of WightCowes, Isle of Wight 

There was a lot of lovely Art Deco architecture and Victorian features and I imagine that Cowes was quite the place to be back in Victorian times or in the interbellum period.

Cowes, Isle of WightCowes, Isle of Wight

I found this forlorn looking chap sitting on a bench after a visit to a public convenience and we decided it was definitely time for something warm to drink.  We went to Chocs Away for a cup of hot chocolate.  It was literally a cup of melted chocolate and it was absolutely divine.  Yum. 

Cowes, Isle of Wight Cowes, Isle of Wight

Cowes, Isle of Wight Cowes, Isle of Wight

After that, we walked back through Cowes.  It really is a picturesque little town and must be really pretty and vibrant in the summer months.

The Moon in Africa…

The Moon in Africa

…still looks like the moon.

It is strange.  I had just begun to really feel that London is ‘home’ and now I have come back to Johannesburg and it is amazing and I feel at home again.  So much has changed here in approximately 18 months and it is all for the better.  Crime is still a major problem and there is currently very little work available so I guess that every silver lining has a cloud.  I have very little Internet access at the moment and have spent all my time with family and friends who no doubt appreciate their privacy so I’m afraid that there is little that I can post on my blog at the moment.  I’m certainly enjoying the technological break!

Isle of Wight: Carisbrooke Castle (part 3)

Carisbrooke Castle: part 1 ¦ part 2

Carisbrooke Castle is my favourite of all of the castles I have visited on the British Isles.  The castle is in an excellent condition and it has the most incredible views when you reach the top of the motte and keep.

The motte and keep at Carisbrooke Castle

There are 71 stone steps leading up the motte and it was built around 1100.  The steps are really steep and you need to be quite fit to make it up there!!  I love this photo of Stephen as it reminds me of the Visit Kent adverts (you would have to visit London to see the posters of the little children climbing the castle steps).

The steps leading up to the motte at Carisbrooke Castle

The well in the keep is 48 metres deep and I have to admit, I got pretty dizzy looking into it.  That was nothing compared to the feeling of vertigo I got when taking some of the photos from on top of the wall around the keep.

Wall Walk Carisbrooke CastleCarisbrooke Castle 32

Carisbrooke Castle 33Carisbrooke Castle

It felt like you could see forever from on top of the keep.  The village below was so picturesque and it looked like I was looking into another time and place. 

Carisbrooke Castle

The best views were definitely of the castle itself.

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle Carisbrooke Castle

I wasn’t joking about the vertigo though!  I always forget that heights make me slightly queasy until I suddenly look down and felt the earth tilt.  I stumbled down from the top of the keep and Stephen had a good giggle at my expense as I held on to him and tried to get the world to stop spinning.

Carisbrooke Castle 42

Carisbrooke Castle has the most excellent wall walk that goes right around the whole castle.  It was starting to rain though so we just took a short walk to look around the back of the ruins of Carey’s Mansion.

Carey's Mansion at Carisbrooke Castle

I think these ruins are quite exquisite and have to wonder how they fell into ruin.  The mansion was built in the late 16th century for Carey who was governor of the island and cousin to Elizabeth I.

 Carisbrooke CastleCarisbrooke Castle

Not long after receiving the Death Stare from Stephen, we decided to go home.  I’m sure the bloggers amongst you have received death stares from significant others before – the look that threatens untold fury and vengeance unless the bloggers puts the camera away!

London Bankside by Night

Millennium Bridge by Night
Millennium Bridge

Last night I took a walk around the Bankside area of London. Bankside is one of my favourite parts of London and it stretches all the way from London Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge.  I’ve posted about the area immediately around London Bridge and Borough Market before but this is the first time in ages that I have wondered all the way up to the Tate Modern with a camera.

City of London as viewed from Bankside by night
City of London

The views from Bankside on the Southern Bank of the river Thames are quite exceptional.  You can see 30 St. Mary Axe (fondly known as ‘The Gherkin’) peeking out in the middle of the photo above.  You can also just make out Southwark Bridge and Cannon Street Railway Bridge at the far right of the photo.

City of London School and St Paul's Cathedral by night
City of London School and St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral looks exquisite at night time and you really can’t help but stare at it!

London Bankside by Night 4
The City of London viewed over the Millennium Bridge

It is probably best that I confess how very, very cold it was outside last night!  These photos were only taken at about 5pm and as you can see, it was already completely dark in London.  The temperature at the time was about 2°c which equates to too-cold-to-be-outside-taking-photos in Fahrenheit. 

The Founders Arms London Bankside
The Founders Arms

I was wondering around because I was attending the London Travel Bloggers Meetup at the Founders Arms at 6pm and I had an hour to kill!  Behind me was the towering chimney of the old Bankside Power Station, now known as the Tate Modern.

Tate Modern Bankside
The Tate Modern

Behind the Tate Modern, there is an exciting new residential development called NEO Bankside.  Of course, not everyone shares my love of modern architecture but I think these are stunning.

NEO Bankside development 2

 NEO Bankside development 1NEO Bankside development 3NEO Bankside development 4
The NEO Bankside Development

I gratefully made it into the warm interior of the Tate Modern building and not a moment too soon.  I’d lost feeling in my toes!

Tate ModernThe Tate Modern

The Unilever Series Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds 2The Unilever Series Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds 3 The Unilever Series Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds 1 

I took a look at The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds exhibition which is strangely mesmerising.  I was almost overcome with an urge to touch the seeds (because we were told not to) and I was quite taken by the sea of handmade porcelain sunflower seed replicas.

I also saw two other photographic exhibitions in the Tate which I would highly recommend: Bruce Davidson's Subway series as well as the Photographic Typologies exhibition featuring Simryn Gill's Dalam series and Paul Graham’s Television Portraits.

The Scottish Town of Crieff

Crieff 01

It seems strange to me that a couple of months have passed since I visited Scotland.  But it is true!  It has been a crazy and busy time but my memories of the most lovely and idyllic holiday remain.  After our first day in which I took a walk around Lock Monzievaird, we drove on down to the nearby town of Crieff to see what there was to do. 

Crieff Tourist Information Centre

Crieff has a Tourist Information Centre which appears to be housed in an old church.  The ladies at the Centre are incredibly helpful and they really take the time to help each visitor plan their time in the area.  We left with loads of pamphlets and ideas and also a map showing us the way to the Crieff Visitor Centre back on the road to Loch Monzievaird.

Crieff 02Crieff 04Crieff 03

Crieff is a market town and is famous for being a major cattle droving hub for hundreds of years.  I really loved the creepy architectural style of the town (and I mean ‘creepy’ in the best, most admiring kind of way!)

Crieff 06

In the week that we were in Scotland, we spent most of our time in the council area of Perth and Kinross.  A ‘council area’ is similar to a county in England and it is a local government administrative area.  Perth and Kinross crosses the southern boundary of the Scottish Highlands so while we didn’t get to see huge mountains or majestic waterfalls, we did get to see breathtaking views wherever we went.   We visited Crieff, Aberfeldy and Pitlochry and you just had to look down the side streets to see incredible views like the one above.

Crieff 08

We were rather amused to discover a dedicated Christmas store in Crieff.  The store is open all year round and we were amazed that they manage to stay in business!  I imagine the tourist trade helps somewhat as we certainly couldn’t resist buying personalised gifts for all of the grandchildren, nieces and godchildren in the family.

Crieff 11Crieff 10

Their prices were really good too so perhaps that accounts for them staying in business!

If you follow the Scotland Here and Now blog, you will know that one of the biggest attractions to Scotland is their food and drink.  I didn’t sample nearly enough of those in my time in Scotland and that is one of the biggest reasons why I intend to return there!

Crieff Whiskies and Cheeses shopCrieff 13

We did visit the divine J L Gill Whiskies and Cheese shop which was a lovely little shop full of… you guessed it, whisky and cheese.  I bought a lovely little orange and port pâté and I wished that I drank more whisky as they had a really impressive selection. 

And so with map in hand, the five intrepid travellers set off for Crieff Visitor Centre.