Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bath, England, UK: 15March2009

Glorious Spa Town

The Roman name for Bath, Aqua Salis, means "the waters of Sul", the Celtic goddess of springs. Jane Austen lived here from 1800 to 1805. The UN declared Bath a World Heritage city - the only one in Britain - for the quality of its Roman remains and Georgian splendours.
Today, Bath is a compact but i would say, tranquil in her way.

The three-arched Pulteney Bridge spanning the River Avon.
This is one of the only three shop-lined bridges in the world.
The U-shaped weir below was added later to safe guard the city from frequent floods.
This is my favorite sight in the town.

When we walked on the bridge, we didn't feel that we are walking on a bridge. The bridge is spacious and the shops are just one by another. It was amazing to go inside the shop, look through the window and realised suddenly that, we were on the bridge, right above of the river!
A mask like this reminded me of the masquerade at The Phantom of the Opera. :)

My picture here doesn't show the magnificent of the Royal Crescent.
i do not have the right software to do the stitches to join the series of pictures i took.
Basically, this historical landmark is 184metres in a single, curved facade and lined with more than 100 Ionic columns.

A big tree in Royal Victoria Park.

Around the famous Roman Bath spa complex, dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva by the Roman.
The greenish water in the complex has not been used for bathing since the late 1970s and the square nearby the complex is popular with street performers and sellers.

Bath Abbey (actually a parish church) is dubbed the 'lantern of the west' due to its huge and plentiful stained glass windows.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

St Ives & Land End's, Cornwall, UK: 4-5April2009

More than Cornish Pastry

St Ives undergone a smooth transition from a fishing village to today's holiday haunt. This is the town of picturesque nooks and eyes-catching vistas. My favorite thing to do is to just walk in the maze of disorientating narrow lanes and either visit to a cafe or just a gallery or even a shop.
Land's End is England's extreme Western tip. It doesn't "match" very much to have a big amusement complex in a place like this, but it was pleasant to walk on the turf-covered cliffs still.

The steeply build town of St Ives has broad sand beaches and higgledy-piggledy flower-decked lane.

One of the restaurants lined at the harbour's coastline. Many of the shops or houses we saw have small and short door.

A narrow lane at night. We feel rather safe to walk in a small lane like this at night and all the lanes are very clean.

Except from Cornish pastry, there a quite a number of shops selling fudge as well.

Porthmeor Beach. The beach or water in St Ives is one of the best in UK. The water is clear and blueish.

I would say, it was such a bravery to challenge the coldness to swim at this time of the year. There are a few surfers with their wet suits in the sea, but as for swimmer, he was the only one.
He came back to the shore in less than 10 or 5 minutes though. :)

Even the cat couldn't resist the juice-dropping cornish pastry.
Actually, it is like a bigger version of Malaysian karipap.

The promontory, St Michael's Mount, can be approached on foot along a cobbled causeway during low tide or by frequent small ferries from Marazion.
It was initially a monastery complex and later on became the fortress and castle.

The amusement complex that dominates the Land's End come closes to irreparably violating the spirit of the place.

The traditional Land's End souvenir: a photo taken next to a signpost showing distances to New York, John O'Groats and your hometown. It was 9 or 12 pounds a picture (don't really remember). If you don't want to pay, just take the picture without the distance to your hometown and from outside of the wooden fence.

Besides from the scenery, the coast path is a good place to observe the diverse wildlife as well.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Around South Wales, UK - Winter & Spring 2009

Croeso, Cymru

At South Wales, Welsh is not very much dominant. We do not hear many people speak Welsh, eventhough every signs are bilingual in Welsh and English. Welsh is dominant at North West Wales. Welsh is an ancient language. For us who don't understand it, the double "ll" or consecutive consonants are just couldn't be pronounce and incomprehensible. Eg: i don't understand = dw i ddim deall.


Pernath is nick named, the garden city by the sea. i do agree with this. It is a pleasant town just beside of Cardiff. Seaside and small and not too jam-packed with people.
This old church could be see on top of the hill, on the way from Cardiff to Pernath.

We walked on the cliff top by the beach.
It is a great place to come for a brisk seaside walk, a world away from he Cardiff bustle.
As in Brighton, Pernath's beach is pebble beach instead of sand beach.
However unlike in Brighton, Pernath is kind of quiet and never really give me the kind of "party" town feeling.


Barry Island is now a peninsula, but was an island until the 1880s when it was linked to the mainland as the town of Barry expanded.
Now, i think it has the best beach around Cardiff areas.

We found abundance of this kind of seaweed at the shore.
They got balls of air like the brown seaweed Sargassum back home.
i couldn't find more information on the internet on regards of them though.

I was happy enough to see lives at the shore, in the cold weather like this.
There are snails, barnacles and limpets.
I was trying to find a sea star under the rocks but couldn't.
(Not sure that there are even sea star here.)

This one looked just like the banded bead anemone back home.
i am really curious about what kind of mechanism or differences are there for these similar animals which i found back home and over here.
Obviously there is a great temperature different between two places.

The main beach, Whitmore Bay.
There are all manner of attractions on the beach, the promenade, and in the pleasure park and amusement behind the beach.
i think these are some residential houses or holiday houses along the "cliff" by the beach as well.


The hugely impressive Caerphilly Castle is the result of restoration done by the marquis of Bute.
One tower leans precipitously as the result of subsidence rather than battle.

It was snowing when we were there at the castle.
The scenery along the journey looked beautiful but we were a bit worry with the slippery road condition as well.
There is no winter tyres for the car here.


Newport, like Cardiff, was one of the leading coal port in Wales.
It is now of of Wales' busiest industrial and commercial centres.
Along the pedestrian walking street, there are some sculptures or art pieces. Some are looking rather bizarre to me.

The old locomotive beside of River Usk, along with the modern bridge, formed a beautiful blend of new and old.
At the same time, reminded you of the old and new status of this city.

Steel Wave - The sculpture represents steel and sea trades which have played an important roles in Newport’s development.
This major riverside sculpture is one of Newport's most controversial pieces of public art.
Standing 40 feet high, it used tonnes of stainless steel.

I think, this transporter bridge is just the 'classic' of Newport. It is is a fascinating piece of engineering work.
This aerial ferry allowed people and cars to cross the river without obstructing shipping.
It is still working and visitors can cross between the west and east banks of the river Usk.


Swansea is the second largest city in Wales.
Its Welsh name, Abertawe, describes its location at the mouth of Tawe, where the river empties into Swansea Bay.
This remains of Swansea castel date from the 14th century.

The pleasant cliff top walk at The mumbles.

Big Pit Mining Museum, Blaenafon

This is an interesting museum to visit. Miners extracted coals from here for 200 years. We got the chance to descend 90meter into the mine, using the old mine lift, to explore the tunnels and coal faces under the guidance of an ex-miner. It is hard to imagine how people used to work in this kind of darkness and dank using candle lights and in some parts of the world, people still do so.

Brecon Beacons National Park

The national park covers some 1347 sq km of high, grassy ridges interspersed with wooded valley, moorland and farmland.
Around 38% of the park is common land and the rest of the park is privately owned, and the slopes provide grazing for tens of thousands of sheep.
We took the park's classic walk, the 1.5 mile climb to the top of Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du.
Pen-y-Fan at 886m, is the highest point in Southern Britain.

The walk to the top was not difficult and it took around 3 hours return.
The weather was a bit cloudy when we set off and at the top, it was rather cold, especially when we were in the middle of the cloud.
At the peak, there is a flat platform and people have been throwing stones to form a mini peak or pile of stones. May be to mark for their "achievement".
The walk was pleasant and it worth every efforts to be there.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cardiff, Wales, UK: Winter & Spring 2009

The Red Dragon

In my mind, Cardiff is always quiet and cold (weather). May be because of we moved to Cardiff during winter, so there were nothing much going on. People only go out and get drunk during weekend, and the normal weekdays are pretty much quiet on the street. So on Saturday and Sunday morning, the main streets are always full with rubbish. I am amazed that, some people think littering is "acceptable". The council street cleaners work hard early in the morning. If you want to witness the "wonder" of how much rubbish over just one night, you got to be on the street before 6am.

Wales Millennium Centre at Cardiff Bay. It is home to seven of the Wales major cultural organisations.
When i think about Cardiff, i would remember this stone-age looking building at first.

The space ship looked building is Wales Millenium Stadium, cost 110 million pounds to build.
The stadium and city get really busy during the Six Nations Rugby game. Big match like this paralyses the city centre but nobody seem minds.

Around the stadium areas during Six Nation rugby game, Wales vs Ireland. Ireland won with a grand slam since 65 years ago.

We stay at this immigrant areas called Riverside, right in front of The Millenium Stadium.
The community suffers from tip-flying and for some reasons the street is always full with rubbish at all time.
Besides from this, there are quite a few pakistani, Indian, Sikh and Chinese grocery shops around.
So it is always easier for me to buy some oriental food stuff.

The main shopping arcades is formed by High Street, St Marry Street and pedestrianised Queen Street.
There are many small shops and cafes around this area.

Cardiff Castle is enclosed by this animals wall.
The animals looked so lively that, i won't be surprise if children growing up here believed that, the animals come into live at night!
This is my favourite structure in Cardiff.

i got the impression that, many of the sights in Cardiff is donated by the marquis of Bute to the city, such as Cardiff Castle and the Bute Park just right beside.
This spiky tower which looks like a medieval rocket has some extravagantly decorated rooms inside.
Right now, i am a Cardiff resident who pay Cardiff Council tax, so i am entitled to apply a resident pass and got years of unlimited free entrance, as long as i continue to stay in Cardiff.

View from The Keep of Cardiff Castle.
The domed and sculptural flourishes white stone buildings are Cardiff Civic Centre, house the City Hall, National Musuem & Gallery of Wales and ...

Around Llandaff Cathedral is a green and peaceful suburb that feels more like a village cluster. The beautiful Cathedral was built in a dip to hide it from potential seaborne invaders.

Saint Fagan, The Musuem of Welsh Life is an open musuem, where rescued buildings from all over Wales have been reconstructed . I got the impression that, Welsh were mainly coal miners and farmers (from the amount of sheep we still see now). It is a pleasant place to walk around with each "display", such as a mill house, within the short distant with another display.

Saint David's Day Parade - 1 March

Saint David's Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March each year. The date of March 1st was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David on that day in 589, and has been celebrated by followers since then. The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century.
In 2003 in the United States, St. David's Day was recognised officially as the national day of the Welsh.

The baby girl dressed in the traditional Welsh costume.
According to common belief, the Welsh costume comprises a high hat, petticoat, bedgown, apron and shawl, the whole of local manufacture.
The bedgown was a sort of long coat, forming a waist, and closing over the bust, and a long tail which folded behind over the petticoat, with the apron hiding the petticoat front.