11 January 2015

2014 Wanderings

2014 was a good year for travel, some of it work related some of it holidays but all of it fun.

First stop was London in early February....and funnily I will be there the same couple of days this year.

The Millennium Bridge linking the Tate Modern with St Paul's Cathedral.

Royal Chelsea Hospital - home to the Chelsea Pensioners - former soldiers who find camaraderie in old age as residents of the hospital. We had stopped nearby to visit William Curley's Dessert Bar for afternoon tea - heaven on a plate - or 5 of them to be exact.

March found me in Madrid and Segovia, visiting with my friend Mariana (on a visit from Costa Rica) and her old flatmate (home from Zurich to meet up with Mariana too).  It was a lovely weekend and so nice to catch up with good friends.

The Roman aqueduct in Segovia....

A view of Segovia...

Next stop was a family holiday, that involved slightly less family than it was supposed to following a medical drama that involved ambulances, hospitals and an air ambulance....my brother and I remained to visit the islands....

The Broch at Mousa, constructed over 2000 years ago and still standing, the staircase between the thick walls enabling you to climb to the top.

June involved a day trip to the Lake District in the north of England for Woolfest. Always a lovely day out with friends surrounded by woollie goodness.

And then another weekend in the Lake District to Fix the Fells....

Then in September it was off to London for work again....this time I took a day to visit the British Museum and to see the poppies at the Tower of London.

The courtyard of the British Museum, with the atrium designed by one of Britain's greatest contemporary architects' Sir Norman Foster & Partners.

To start off the 4 year commemoration of World War 1, 2 artists, Paul Cummins and Tom Piper created 888,246 ceramic poppies that were planted around the Tower of London by an army of volunteers. One poppy for each of the British fatalities during the war. It was indeed a moving sight. The installation was called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. 

From London I went straight to visit friends in The Hague. It was lovely to catch up with them all again and to visit, Gouda (home of the cheese), Delft and around The Hague. 

The town hall in Gouda which was open to visitors as part of the local Doors Open Day, so we got to go inside and visit.

Canals in Gouda.

Cycling along the Dutch coast to the south of the Hague....miles and miles of sandy beaches, about 2km from my friends' house.

Next stop was Gent in Belgium for another work meeting. I had never been to Gent before and it looks like a nice town to go back to in more relaxing circumstances, a medieval centre steeped in history. 

Back in the office for a few days before heading off to speak at a conference in Umea in the north of Sweden. In 2014 it was one of the European Capitals of Culture and was hosting a conference about the creative industries. I was giving a talk about a project we had been working on that looks at creative sector incubators/business accelerators. 

Me in the Umea logo....another project we are working on looks at city branding and marketing. This is a smile in a heart. It is a university city, with almost as many students as inhabitants. It is about 250 miles south of the Arctic circle and one of the most northerly places I have ever been. We were lucky with the weather and the birch trees that the city is also famous for were resplendent in yellow leaves.

November was Japan!! A long awaited return trip to one of my favourite countries. I am sure to post about that journey but here are a few photos to whet the appetite.

Torii Gates at a Tokyo Temple

A bride at a Shinto Temple in Kamakura.

The bamboo forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto.

Downtown Ginza at night.

Japanese maples in Kyoto.

Meiju-Jingu Shrine, Tokyo

2015 plans.....work trips to Zurich, London and Utrecht......holidays....not so sure yet!

02 January 2015

A Look Back on 2014 National Trust Summer

I have failed miserably to post on the old blog in the last few months - life just keeps getting in the way. So the start of 2015 gives me a chance to look back on the last few months....

As usual, volunteering with the National Trust for Scotland took up a number of Saturdays.

Tidying up the willow labyrinth at Falkland Palace in Fife. We had to cut the grass and weave the willow ends in so that people can manage to wander its paths and find its centre.

Building a new set of steps to the path alongside the river in Birnam, Perthshire.

Chopping fallen logs into wood for burning at Killiekrankie.

Not such a dry day at The Pineapple, chopping down brambles and other green stuff, creating space for a tree nursery....amazing that we managed to get the bonfire lit in all the rain and it was a little smoky. Last outing for Harry and Margaret before the emigrated to New Zealand.....

I was also lucky enough to spend a weekend in the Lake District with other NTS volunteers and the Fix the Fells volunteers. We were working on Crinkle Crags, mountains that form a ring around Great Langdale and Upper Eskdale. 

Our task for the weekend was to help create a new path up the hills whilst covering the old path which had created a large scar across the hillside.

The view from parking site. 

Hiking to the work site.

Cutting turf to create the new footpath, using the turf to cover up the wide, old path.

Cutting more turf to enable us to build mounds and dig ditches in an attempt to stop walkers from straying off the path and scarring the hillside. 

Putting the turf back on our newly created hillocks - like a very complicated green jigsaw.

It's been a good year. First trip of 2015 is to the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre. Birthplace of the explorer/missionary David Livingstone.

14 October 2014

What......it's really October?

I cannot believe that it is October already....or that tomorrow it is actually the middle of October...where did this summer go?

Fixing footpaths in the beautiful Lake District.

Going to Woolfest in the Lake District.

Building steps at Birnam Woods.

I got my living room floor re-finished.

Visited Glamis Castle...

The Tower of London and it's World War 1 Centenary Memorial

Gouda, home of cheese.

And canals....

Loving Dutch beaches....

Visited Umea, European Capital of Culture, 63 degrees north....

And am enjoying some beautiful sunrises....

I will try to get back here with some tales of my travels and my summer of fun....before I head off on my next journey.