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Earlier this month, we went to Yorkshire for the morning to pick up Merlin. We left very early in the morning so that we could have a look around before our appointment. We certainly picked a dreary morning for a look around as the rain was pretty constant. We stopped off at Thorton-le-Dale and Goathland before driving through the moors to Whitby and then stopping off at Hutton-le-Hole for lunch. All of the villages are located in and near the North Yorkshire Moors.


Thornton-le-Dale was our first stop, and we arrived at 9:00 in the morning. The rain had eased off slightly, and we stopped here to have a drink and snack. The town has a small creek running along the sides of the main roads across through the middle of the town, and there's a very old tree in the middle of the town. We stopped off at Baldersons Cafe, which boasts a tearoom, cafe, and garden. The cafe is quite spacious inside to accommodate several diners, and a walk-in-bakery is also located next door.


I had an almond tart and rose lemonade. I loved the almond tart; it was so delicious. I would certainly visit again for a more substantial meal or afternoon tea. According to the information in the menu, this family business started in 1895 and are very popular in the area. In the second World War, they gave out tea and scones to soldiers.


There was plenty of seating available in the cafe. I assume that it does get quite busy on nice days.


After the snack, we had a quick walk around, but it was too early for many of the shops to be open. We walked over a bridge to a park area where we saw a pond.



Ducks were being fed, but they hurried away when they saw us walk toward them.




We headed on through the moors, and the rain was pouring down then. We decided to stop at Goathland, which is a beautiful area with many sheep and a hotel. There's a lot of walking trails here. I got soaked when I went out to get some photographs of sheep.



I didn't stay long getting sheep photos, and we were soon off to Whitby. We obviously did not have time to get out and look around, but I've been to Whitby once before and saw the abbey. That was thirteen years ago now, so it would have been good to have a proper look around but we just did not have time. I got some photographs from the harbour.



Our last stop was Hutton-le-Hole, another attractive village with creeks running through the town on one side and beautiful cottages. We had lunch here at The Crown pub and restaurant, and we enjoyed our meal. The rain was pouring down, and it was also very windy and cold. There was a nice fire inside while we enjoyed our meals. 


I had chicken with potato dauphanoise, and the bloke had a steak pie. The meals came with vegetables served in different dishes so that we could help ourselves.



For dessert, I had Eton Mess. This came very well-presented and contained ice cream, whipped cream, fruite puree, and it was topped off with chocolate and shortbread stars.


The sun actually came out as we were finishing up, so we were able to enjoy it on our short drive a few miles away. I got a couple of nice photographs of Hutton-le-Hole before we left.




Have you been to any of these villages in North Yorkshire?

London Bridge & St. Magnus-the-Martyr

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I have always been a little fascinated by London Bridge. I first knew about it when I was very young and I had won a music record as a prize through school (although this was in the mid-1980s and cassette tapes were available, records were still in use) with children's songs on it. One of the songs on the record was "London Bridge is Falling Down". It was a little catchy tune, and the song has quite a lot of history as it was a children's playing game going back centuries.


For a long time, London Bridge was the only bridge across the river Thames. The old bridge was built in 1176, but short-term wooden bridges were in place at various times until its construction. To cross the river, many used boat services to take them from one side to the other. The water traffic would have been far greater and congested then than it is today. In those days, London Bridge would have also been very busy and required tolls to cross. In addition, the bridge had buildings built upon it on both sides. The below image of an engraving shows what London Bridge looked like in 1616, and criminals' or traitors' heads were placed on spikes on the gatehouse on the bridge as a warning. These can be seen in the below engraving.


The current London Bridge is actually a modern construction built next to the old London Bridge. The old bridge was torn down in 1831, and its location was originally next to the church St. Magnus-the-Martyr. Those entering or leaving the city of London did so directly past this church. A blue plaque commemorates this. Can you imagine this fairly quiet area being bustling with so many people entering and leaving the city?


 St. Magnus-the-Martyr was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, but it was rebuilt by Christopher Wren. The courtyard of the church contains some relics worth noting. One is a piece of weathered wood from a Roman dock. The other is stonework from the old London Bridge.



The church interior is worth a visit, and it also has a couple of interesting finds, such as four shelves near the door that contain loaves of bread. In old days, the bread was meant to be distributed to the poor after Sunday's service. 



Also inside St. Magnus-the-Martyr is a four-metre wide model of the original London Bridge in its heyday in about 1400. It was created by liveryman David T. Aggett and donated by the Worshipful Company of Plumbers in 1987. 

I paid the church a visit to see the model of London bridge on a Thursday during a late lunch break. The church is normally open Tuesday-Friday in the afternoon. The website for St. Magnus-the-Martyr will contain more information about its visiting hours. The website is


The model shows the buildings on the bridge and figures. Henry VIII can be seen entering the south side of the bridge, and apparantly, a modern-day policeman can be seen amongst the figures.

King Henry II commissioned the stone bridge that would become the London Bridge in the model. The bridge was built up with several buildings and a chapel, known as St. Thomas-on-the-Bridge, and this chapel was frequented by those going on pilgrimages to Canterbury. The chapel was the starting point for the pilgrimages. The bridge took 33 years to complete, and although plots were sold on the bridge for shops and homes, this wasn't enough to recoup the cost of building, so "The Brethern of the Bridge" imposed tolls.


The bridge was 26 feet wide and 800-900 feet long. It had a drawbridge to allow tall ships to pass and a gatehouse on both ends. In the mid-1300s, it had 138 shops. Public latrines hung over the bridge to empty waste into the river.


The bridge did suffer fire damage multiple times and the buildings on top probably changed quite often and needed to be replaced when the archways became too weak due to the load on the bridge, but London Bridge was not damaged in the Great Fire of 1666.


In Tudor times, over 200 buildings were on the bridge, and some of these were seven stories high and overhung the bridge by seven feet and the road, creating a dark tunnel for traffic to pass. The result was that the roadway was only 12 feet wide and divided into two lanes that were used simultaneously by carriages, horses, livestock, and pedestrians. When it was busy, it could take an hour to get from one side of the bridge to the other.


Scottish rebel William Wallace was the first man to have his head appear on the gatehouse in 1305, and placing the heads here became a tradition for nearly 400 years. Sometimes thirty or more heads would be placed up at a time.

In the mid-1700s, all buildings on the bridge were demolished, and the arches were rebuilt to improve the water flow under the bridge.

I would have loved to have seen the real London Bridge in its heydey, but like most of the old buildings and city walls/gatehouses and churches of old London, it has been lost to time.

On the return from Orkney Islands in 2013, I stopped at the Grey Cairns of Camster. They are located in Caithness in the highlands of Scotland. Scotland is rich in Neolithic history that has not been altered too much, and the Orkney Islands were filled with cairns and other very important sites. (You can read some of my posts on Skara Brae, Hoy Island, Kirkwall/Italian Chapel, Birsay, Cairns and Roussay by following the links.) We'd also just spent the morning at the Castle of Mey, which is on the mainland of Scotland and isn't too far from the ferry to Orkney.


The Grey Cairns of Camster are located in Caithness in Scotland, an area that was once populated with people who created these Neolithic tombs (cairns). In those days, it was fertile farmland and probably had a large population, but as we learned in Orkney, something happened (we're not quite sure) to cause the climate to change and people left. The area became peat land in the Bronze Age.


These cairns are over 5,000 years old, and they contain a long chamber (Camster Long) and a round cairn (Camster Round). They have been reconstructed.


I was able to get inside the Round Cairn on its own, so I crawled inside. I did the same in Orkney in a couple of different cairns, and there's not much room. I literally had to lie down and crawl inside the opening, which consisted of a tunnel for a few feet (or yards) until I came to the chamber opening where there are partitions where the bones were kept.


Once inside, I took a photograph out through the main entrance/exit. For those who dislike small places or those with mobility or health issues, crawling into a cairn is not recommended.


Once inside, the tomb opened into the below. Round Cairn has a passage that is 6 metres long that I had to crawl through before the opening. As you can see in the above and below photographs, the earth is black. There was actually a foot of burnt bones and black ash along the floor of the cairn. It is thought that bodies were placed in a sitting position but without leg bones for some reason (1).


I headed back out to the main cairn (Camster Long), which contains three entrances. Camster Long was thought to have consisted of two round cairns which were later joined by passages. The tomb contained human bones that were mixed with pig, oxen, deer, and horse bones. 


Camster Long's doorways are fenced, but the fences are open for anyone to crawl inside. Unfortunately, I felt that these were too narrow for me to crawl through and I wished that I was a child again so I could crawl through the very long and narrow tunnel. The passage went on a lot further than the round cairn, so I did not attempt to crawl inside. I actually could not even see where the entrance to the tombs was to see exactly how far that I would have to crawl, but the passageway went on for several meters.


The image below shows one of the entrances.


The cairns do look picturesque against the rugged countryside.


We had a good day to visit as the weather was nice at the cairns, but we'd just come from a rainstorm after Castle Mey, where we had light rain, and entered another one a couple of miles down the road. The Grey Cairns of Camster in Caithness can be visited and they are open to visitors. A large parking area is available, and the cairns can be seen from the road and are located along the road.


Over the weekend, I visited French restaurant Balthazar in Covent Garden to indulge in afternoon tea with the bloke. The current theme for afternoon tea at Balthazar is based on British fashion designer Matthew Williamson's autumn/winter 2015 designs. The pastries have been designed to mimic the designer's collection.


Matthew Williamson's fall/winter 2015 collection is inspired by amethyst and sapphire and other richly-coloured jewel tones. Bright pink, purples, and golds are some of the colours used, and these have inspired Balthazar's head chef Régis Beauregard to create the pastries.


In addition to the afternoon tea, a glass of champagne or signature cocktail could also be purchased. The cocktail was designed by Matthew Williamson and the bar manager of Balthazar, and it's called the Cosmic Cocktail. The cocktail (the pink one on the right in the image above) contains Campari, Mandarine Napoleon, and a cube of sugar. It is topped up with champagne. 


Our afternoon tea arrived, served on three-tier plates. On the bottom tier, we had the sandwiches. They included cucumber and pea purée with mint, smoked salmon with crème fraîche, coronation chicken, and egg mayonnaise and watercress.


The restaurant forgot to give us the pulled ham hock in mini fougasse sandwiches. I had to ask them for the sandwiches.


All of the sandwiches tasted good with fresh ingredients, and we liked the fougasse (bread for the ham hock sandwiches).


Scones followed, and we received two plain scones and two fruit scones. Clotted cream and strawberry jam were provided. The strawberry jam was a little too runny and kept sliding off of the scones, but otherwise, they tasted good.


Last up, we had the pastries inspired by the autumn/winter 2015 collection.


First up was the choux pastry (eclair) filled with fresh yuzu curd. The top is decorated with a wood-grain effect thin chocolate layer with an additional design using white chocolate.

After this, I tried the bright pink pastry - raspberry and hibiscus baba, which was a light sponge with a fruity raspberry flavour. The top was decoated with fruit (I think it was raspberry coulis) and a white chocolate leaf.


For the third item, we had a glass decorated with a chocolate bird and raspberries. This is the gooseberry and yoghurt roulade. A mousse-yoghurt was layered underneath raspberries, followed by the gooseberry and a light sponge. I'm not a fan of gooseberry, so this was my least favourite of the pastries and I did not finish it. 


We then moved on to the almond and hazelnut rocher. This contained a design with a sculptured sugar hard sweet on top to make it appear like a flower bloom. The bottom third of the pastry was covered in cereal flakes. This was my favourite of the pastries and did not taste too rich. 


The last pastry we had was the macaroon with blueberry and violet consommé jelly and white chocolate Chantilly. 


The Matthew Williamson afternoon tea is served until February 5. Afternoon tea at Balthazar is served from 3:00pm until 5:00pm. 

Visit to Amsterdam

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A couple of months ago, I visited Amsterdam. Readers may have seen my post about the Miro sculptures, Miffy Art Parade, SAIL 2015, or my visit to the Van Gogh Museum and House of Bols. The following photographs are a selection of what I captured on my camera of the city.














After sight-seeing, the bloke and I went to Trattoria Buoni Amici, an Italian restaurant based in Hoofddorp near to where we were staying. We had a very good meal there, so I would recommend it.


For starters, we had soup. I had the tomato soup. This was served with bread.


Next, we had the mains. I had a vegetarian pasta and the bloke had lamb.


This was followed by desserts.


We were offered a complementary orange-flavoured alcoholic drink.


I'm hoping to go to Amsterdam again sometime soon.

A month ago, the bloke and I met up with two friends in Mattingley, a small 'settlement' near Basingstoke with a pub named "Leather Bottle", which was used as a coach inn in the old days. The name 'Mattingley' also has some family history as I have relatives (by marriage, I believe) with that surname who originally came from the area. Even before I knew this fact, I visited the "Leather Bottle" once before, several years ago before I bought my apartment in Basingstoke.


The bloke and I sat in the garden and had a drink while we waited for our friends to arrive. The weather was sunny but overcast in some places, so we had a cool breeze when the sun was hidden by the clouds. This still did not deter us from sitting outside to enjoy what was left of the summer.


We ordered our mains, and I opted for the chicken and ham pie, which was served with carrot and cabbage and mash. The bloke ordered lamb, and this came with potato dauphinoise and beetroot and broccoli.



My friends ordered salmon salad and Mayalsian chicken curry. I understand that all meals were delicious. My chicken was good, but the crust was a little too heavy and filling, so I ended up leaving a lot of it.


For dessert, I had the eton mess, which was light and hit the spot.


The others had a pot of English tea, which was served in blue and white china.


We stayed for more drinks and small-talk before we decided to head over to Silchester to have a walk around the ruins. The settlement was called Cavella, and it was an Iron Age settlement that was developed into a Roman town. It comprises of 40 hectares and was the centre of the Atrebates tribe around 1st BC. When the Romans took it over in 43AD, it became known as Cavella Atrebatum. For some reason, it was abandoned between the 5th-7th centuries, but it's one of the best-preserved Roman towns in the UK and excavations currently take place to find out more about the Romans and the tribes of England of that time.


We parked up and walked from the parking area down a small pathway with fields around. We came across some elderberries, blackberries, and I also pointed out some mistletoe on a large Oak tree. 


The acorns were also on display on the trees. This is my favourite time of the year, before the cold and dreary winter. The acorns bring back memories of my favourite time of the year on the farm.


The town of Silchester was arranged around a Roman grid layout, and we saw various signs around the area to describe the layout of the town and the features that were still visible. We headed toward the North Gate. We saw the main area of the town was still being explored and excavated, and new technology has appeared in recent years in order to study the ground from above to 'see' strctures or levels of ground underneath in order to provide some insight into the use of the ground.


We walked along the top of one of the ancient town walls, which had a large drop on one side with beautiful lush blackberries. I wondered how many people had fallen in attempt to pick from the bushes hanging off of the cliff-face of the ancient wall. That would have hurt as it's a pretty steep drop through the brambles.


At one point, the bushes disappeared so that we could see exactly how far the drop was. I loved the beautiful trees growing along this old wall. These trees must be hundreds of years old.


On the horizon and over the fields, we caught some glimpses of a church spire. The angle of the lighting on it made it look like a painting, and the clouds looked like a painting by one of my favourite artists, John Constable. 


Finally, we arrived at North Gate, and we saw a board explaining its use as lining up to the major roadway to Dorchester-on-Thames. We also saw an illustration of what it may have looked like. Today, you can see the stonework and where the gate slotted into it and the roadway with the grassy mounds on either side. It's covered with blackberry bushes too.


We decided to walk to the ampitheatre, so we followed the old wall.



The ampitheatre could hold 3,500 to 7,250 people. Horse bones were discovered nearby, so the ampitheatre probably had events involving horses.


After walking to the ampitheatre, we walked along the wall and entered the church yard before making our way toward the centre of the ancient Iron Age and Roman town.


If I did not know that there was an ancient town here, I never would have realised. The land is flat here with grass on top, and it is in the middle of a field. It certainly does not look like the place where you would find a thriving town.


Silchester ruins is managed by English Heritgage, and it's typically opened from dawn to dusk. There is not a fee to walk around or explore the ruins, and there's not a lot to see, but it's a pleasant walk. We didn't walk around the whole area, but we got a good feel for the place.

Over the Bank Holiday Monday, I ticked an item off of my London bucket list. Last Christmas, the bloke got me an 'I Owe You' for BB Bakery's Afternoon Tea Bus Tour. Booking the afternoon tea bus is a little tricky. I had to book eight months in advance for a weekend (or Bank Holiday) and for a seat on the top deck. Booking had to be at least three months in advance for any seat. While I was at it, I figured that I should do the experience right and book the best seats on the top deck for an extra fee. I booked the right hand side seats on the top deck, facing the front. I hoped for nice weather, despite knowing that the country usually gets poor weather on Bank Holidays. 


Unfortunately, we did have really nasty weather, which made it impossible to get any good photographs out of the bus windows. However, we made the most of it.


Our vintage 1960's London bus turned up, and we clambered up the stairs to our seats. All of the tables were pre-made for the guests.


We had a bottle of orange juice and a selection of sandwiches and pastries. Our tea or coffee orders were also taken soon after the bus slowly drove the streets of London. I ordered Earl Grey tea, and the bloke had English Breakfast tea. The tea provided looked like good quality in teabags, but loose leaf tea tastes much better. The cups provided had screw-on lids as you wouldn't want the boiling water to spill all over your body. Each table had a cup holder for the tea, and the plates were also attached to the tables so that they would not slide off. 


Each table also had a book, and this mentioned some of the monuments along the way. Inside the booklet was a route map. However, we were provided with guided commentary along the way, which I felt really was not needed.


The sandwiches included were cucumber, chicken, quiche, and ham and cheese. I have no complaints about these as they were all tasty.


We were also given a selection of pastries. These included a chocolate macaroon, raspberry cupcake, fruit tart, custard doughnut, and lemon meringue. I loved the custard doughnut and the lemon meringue. The cupcakes were also good, but I have had better. The chocolate macaroon was too sweet for me, and I did not care for the overly-dry base of the fruit tart.


Overall, the pastries were a little under-whelming except for the two items that I mentioned.




Half of the way through, we were each presented with a scone. This came with a pot of strawberry jam and clotted cream. This not the best scone that I have had. 


We passed many of the familiar areas of London and looked out the window as we sipped tea and ate the pastries. I did get a few photographs, despite the rain. 



Overall, the afternoon tea experience is unique, and there's nothing else like it in London. For the novelty value, this was well worth doing. The food and drink was a little under-whelming overall when compared to other afternoon tea experiences. I think we would have enjoyed the experience more had the weather been not pouring with rain and our clothes had not been wet.


At the end of the tour, we each received a box to take home our leftover pastries in. I will admit that the afternoon tea felt slightly rushed as the tour took 1.5 hours, and it could have been slightly longer. However, the staff were friendly and accommodating to our needs. 

A Visit to Van Gogh Museum & the House of Bols

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I visited Amsterdam in the spring of 2010, but I did not visit the Van Gogh Museum during that visit. I was only around for a long weekend, and most of the time was spent on a canal boat ride, a cycle ride, and exploring the city. As I was recently in Amsterdam, I decided that this was my chance to visit the Van Gogh Museum and then see the House of Bols (liquor musuem) across the street. 


The Van Gogh Museum took a couple of hours to explore, and it was extremely busy with a long queue, but we managed to skip the queue by purchasing advance tickets outside Rijksmuseum. Inside was also difficult to see the artwork and read about it, so we did not stay for too long. I did learn a little bit about the artists, and a lot of people were using audio guides for an extra fee.


We headed to the House of Bols, which is literally across the street from the Van Gogh Museum, and we were told about the company's history and its invention - Genever. This is the original alcohol for the use of cocktails, and its popularity helped the English create 'gin', which is closely related. Today, the House of Bols is well-known for producing liquors for the cocktail market. I have purchased a few flavours myself, such as the melon and the banana, and I enjoy making cocktails.


Additionally, the House of Bols KLM houses were also on display. I love these. A couple of our friends gave us a couple when they lived in Amsterdam for a short time. They are highly-collectable. The airline KLM gives a house (made of Delft blue) to its business or first class passengers. It contains drink inside it.


The next portion of the tour was a room where we could smell the different flavours of liquor and try to guess what the flavour was. Some of these were easy, but some of them were difficult. We were then supposed to write down which scents we preferred so that we could try a free shot of it in the bar at the end of the tour.


At the end of the tour, we used the screens outside the bar area to determine which cocktail we wanted. The tour included a free cocktail. I actually had a little bit of a difficult time choosing one with the flavours that I wanted to try while the bloke was happy to try a few. 


I settled on Swizzle, which contained fruit-based liquors. The bloke opted for Bols Cheesecake, which contains Bols Yoghurt and a Bols flavour of your chosing.


We had our shots first. I had the kiwi and the peach. The bloke had the strawberry, and I cannot remember what the other flavour was. 


The screen where we selected the cocktails that we wanted to try also printed out the recipe so that we could make them ourselves. I received a plastic coin to try another cocktail for five euro. 


I choose the Bols Summer Fruity Martini. The cocktails were nice, but they were a little too strong for me and I would have preferred more fruit or juice.


Have you been to the House of Bols or the Van Gogh Museum? After our visit, we headed over to see Amsterdam SAIL 2015.

Amsterdam SAIL 2015

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SAIL is an event organised in Amsterdam every five years. The event takes place on the lake north of the city of Amsterdam and encourages nautical activities for all ages and interest in ships and Dutch maritime history. Boats/ships from all over the world participated in the event, including a working Dutch submarine and two Dutch warships. The event lasts for five days, starting on a Wednesday with a parade of ships (SAIL-in) into Lake IJhaven in Amsterdam and ends four days later on Sunday afternoon with a celebration of ships leaving Amsterdam. SAIL has been hosted every five years since 1975, and SAIL 2015 took place from the 19th to the 23rd of August.

I visited the SAIL event in the evening of the 19th and watched some of the tall ships sail in, but many had already arrived. The weather was perfect for the next four days, and I spent the day on Friday in Amsterdam sight-seeing in the morning and headed off to Lake IJhaven in the afternoon. I took a 2-hour boat cruise around the harbour where we sailed around all of the ships. After doing this, I decided which ships I should try to access the following days as many of the ships could be boarded.

The lake was busy with all sorts of boats, including boats owned by the public. The nice weather over the long weekend brought out everyone, and there were crowds. The SAIL 2015 event also covered an extremely large area from the main train station in Amsterdam to Java-eiland, an island north-east from central Amsterdam. 

The queues for boarding the boats were very long, and the boats were not open all the time. The first boat we accessed was Zr. Ms. Zeeland (P841), a Dutch offshore patrol vessel. There was also a larger warship present, the F804 destroyer class ship, but we unfortunately did not get to board it. The Zeeland was commissioned in 2013, so it's quite a new vessel. It is a working ship, of course, and they had the control screens on and a helicopter on board. Staff were also on board to talk about the different areas, but this happened in Dutch, so I was not able to understand.

Another ship that we got to board, although we had to wait over three hours to do so, was the Zr. Ms. Bruinvis, a Dutch working submarine. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed, so I could not get any photographs. Although the queue was not too long when we arrived thirty minutes before the submarine was open to the public, the groups were ten people at a time for a guided tour. Unfortunately, the tour was in Dutch, but the sailor translated it for me when I asked. We got to look inside the working submarine and also use the pericopes to get some amazing views over the lake. Other screens showed all ships in the harbour with their names and positions.

The third ship that we got to go on was the Götheborg, a Swedish tall ship. This ship was modelled after an 18th century wooden ship that sank in 1745. The construction of the replica started in 1995 and was finished by 2003, and it is the world's largest wooden ship. People from all over the world can learn how to become a crew member on this working ship, and it helps young people gain important skills in team-working.

We had excellent views from the top decks of the ship as it was located in a prime position in the SAIL 2015 event.

I also wanted to get on two German ships dating from the early 1920s and the 1930s and the Europa ship, which has toured all over the world. However, limited time and large crowds prevented this, so we were only able to visit three ships.

Another interesting fact that I discovered is that many of the ships have their own rubber stamps to collect, so I was able to stamp my postcards with them.

On the cruise around the harbour that I took on the first day, I saw the Dutch singer on the canal. This guy is well-known for sailing around the canals in his wooden boat and sings traditional Dutch songs. He was hanging around the lake during SAIL 2015, and I saw him a couple of times, but this was the best photograph that I was able to get.

One other popular tradition during the SAIL event is seeing (or hearing first) groups of people sing or play musical instruments on the boats.

On the Sunday morning, we got to Java-eiland early and watched punters in the lake. The lake was fairly empty at this time.

We saw an amazing sunset on Friday evening on our way across the bridge to Java-eiland where we were going to see the fireworks.

The fireworks were beautiful, but these would have been better with the silhouettes of tall ships in the foreground. Seating areas had been set up on the location on the island so that we could watch the fireworks. The fireworks take place on every evening of the SAIL event except on the Sunday.

Have you ever been to SAIL Amsterdam? Overall, it was a good weekend, but there was so much walking and so many crowds. We also struggled to find a decent place to eat and many places did not take credit cards during the event, so cash was required and cash machines were a little rare in the area.

Over Easter, I paid a visit to Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales with the bloke. Our last stop before we headed home was to the city of Ripon, which is officially a city but it is the size of a small town and one of the smallest cities in the UK. The city is close to the UNESCO world heritage sites Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens, and one of the main attractions is its large cathedral.


First, we parked the car behind the market square and had a quick wander around. However, not a lot was open in the town as the day was a Bank Holiday (Easter Monday). Market day is on Thursdays, and the city also holds a special parade with people in fancy dress and floats parading the area based on a tradition dating from the early 1100s.


The city also has a horn-blower tradition; a horn is blown every morning in the market square, and the horn is the symbol of the city. 


We discovered an attractive street with nice views over Ripon Cathedral. There's also an attractive canal through the city.


Ripon Cathedral dates from the 7th century. The history of the cathedral can be read here:


One of the features in the catacombs of the cathedral is a small shrine that is meant to represent the place in Bethleham where Jesus was born. 


I took a few more photographs in the cathedral and had a look around before we had to rush off to go home so that we could get home at a decent time and ready for work the following day.




Have you ever visited Ripon?

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