Monday, 17 February 2014

Down at the reservoir

Yesterday, I ventured to my only usual hangout: the local lake, and then I followed the brook into the woodlands that leads toward the reservoirs. I hadn't been there since forced school sponsored walks in the 90s. It was the perfect day for it, and I hope I can return in spring to see the bluebells.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

101 Things to do in England

Have you seen Visit England's list of 101 things to do in England before you go abroad? It's been up for several months, and I kept meaning to pick the top five I'd like to see and/or do from the list. Considering I won't be up to travelling abroad for a very long time to come (most likely), it's good to know there's much still left to see in England. There are places missing from the top 101 list that I'd like to go to, like Jodrell Bank, but overall it looks decent enough.

Name: Visit Stonehenge
Location: Wiltshire

Photo by Steve Allen

Most people I've spoken to who have visited Stonehenge seem to have left feeling disappointed. I think it'd be worth booking an out-of-hours visit so you can get closer to the stones - or visiting during the winter and summer solstice. Obviously the stone circle is old, but I didn't realise it's 5000 years old!

Name: Escape to Another Place
Location: Liverpool

Photo by Phil Noble

On Crosby Beach, just north of Liverpool, there are 100 life-sized sculptures cast from Antony Gormley's own body. True, the figures do look rather creepy, but I would like to photograph them with my Diana+ camera, possibly using black and white film - however predictable and obvious that may be.

Name: St Michael’s Mount
Location: Cornwall

"It’s not often you get to follow in a giant’s footsteps. But stroll across the causeway at low tide to St Michael’s Mount, legendary home of the Cornish giant Cormoran, and you can do just that. This diminutive island, steeped in myth and legend, is topped by a fairy-turreted castle, passed down through generations of the St Aubyn family and still a family home today."

That paragraph alone sold it to me; I've never been to Cornwall.

Name: Ride the Settle-Carlisle steam train
Location: Northern England

Photo by Rob Cousins

This journey must be nice enough on a regular train service, but I would prefer to take in the views on one of the steam trains that operate on the Settle-Carlisle line. I find trains exciting, in a non-nerdy way. However, my idea of a vintage train journey is travelling on an Intercity 125, which still excites me - I'm not a fan of these new-fangled trains with automatic doors. So, I'm certain I would find a  steam train a whole lot of fun! I suppose you could pretend you're off to Hogwarts..

Name: Watch an open-air play
Location: Cornwall

Photo by Ashley Cooper

"Carved into a granite cliff face on the southern tip of Cornwall, the Minack Theatre is a wonderfully unique theatrical experience, where audiences soak up opera, classic dramas and musicals in the sunshine or under the stars with the sparking Atlantic Ocean as an aptly dramatic backdrop."

Yet another place in Cornwall, sold to me by the description on the Visit England website. The Minack Theatre opened in 1932 with Shakespeare's The Tempest - which just happens to be the only Shakespeare play I enjoyed studying at school. I'm not much of a theatre fan, but I reckon it'd be difficult to enjoy a performance in such a beautiful place - under the stars, beside the sparkling Atlantic Ocean.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Michael Palin

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Michael Palin? Earlier this afternoon, I read a Telegraph article of Palin's greatest travel moments, and then got excited about him all over again when he collected his BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award on the telly tonight. So well deserved! I must admit, I don't like Monty Python (sorry), I love him for his travel shows.

I can't recall which series I saw first, but I think it must have been Full Circle which aired in 1997. The highlight of my week was tuning in to follow him on his adventures, and I thought he was the funniest and loveliest guy. The clip that sticks in my mind, and is still my favourite today, is of him singing Polyushko-polye with the Russian Pacific Navy. He looks pretty good in their uniform, too.

My desire for travel was definitely inspired by Michael Palin - not that I have ever travelled travelled like he has, but there have been moments off the beaten-track or when in a bit of a pickle where I've thought: this is like a real adventure, like what Michael Palin does. I've never been brave or adventurous enough to leave the relative comfort of Europe. Although, saying that, my favourite series of his is New Europe which further fueled my wanderlust for Eastern Europe.

In 2004, Michael Palin came to Chesterfield on his Himalaya book tour. My Dad really likes him, too, so I went along with my mum to get a copy signed for him. The weather was atrocious, and we were absolutely drenched. The queue was fairly long, and I feared we would be turned away. He was such a gentleman and seemed concerned that we were soaked; wet through. I really wanted to sit on his lap and listen to his adventures.

Nine years later, I've only just read his blog post about that tour and he gave Chesterfield a special mention. It really warms my heart to learn he thought of us all as having an adventurous spirit. It's thanks to you, Michael Palin.

I shall never forget the great atmosphere at the signings. Wildest of all was The Peak Bookshop in Chesterfield, where, in the middle of a thunderstorm, many hundreds of doughty Peak District readers were undaunted. People were coming into the shop wind-blown and sodden, as if they’d come off the bridge of a ship in a hurricane. All were exceedingly friendly, patient and tolerant as they bought their books then vanished into the tempest again. This was the adventurous spirit at its best.