Bruges in Belgium – by water

Like many towns in Belgium and Holland Bruges is ringed by water, it’s part of the charm of their towns. Bruges is in west Flanders and is known as the Venice of the north. The city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mind you, I don’t think I would like to be living in one of the houses that have water lapping at their walls, they must be terribly damp. There have been settlements in this area since the Bronze Age.

Boat trip

Anyway, we decided that a trip on the canal was a must although as the boat filled up with fellow tourists I was looking over the edge and wondering if it was safe, they don’t half pack people in! I think it is partly the boat trip that made me think that Bruges was so busy with tourists because when I look at the other photos it doesn’t look too crowded.

Boat trip

The name Bruges actually means bridges – obviously because there are so many small bridges all over the town, they’re all quite low but there’s only one that you have to duck your head to get under it though, when you’re in the boat.

This is definitely the best way to get a view of the many ancient buildings around the town. It must be quite annoying though for the people living in the houses with constant tourist filled boats going past – with a guide talking through a microphone.
Boat trip

Boat trip
The swans mainly seem to congregate in this area, probably they take to the water when the boats retire for the evening.

Boat trip swans

We noticed what seemed to be two Swaene Hotels, a bit confusing.

The Swaene Hotel, Bruges

The Swaene Hotel, Bruges

A lovely lilac tree overhung the canal.

Boat trip

More photos of Bruges will be forthcoming, eventually!

Kemback, Fife, Scotland

I was mooching around on Kingsbarns beach a while ago, it was just after a big storm and I practically fell over some stones with fossils in them. I’ve been back there since and haven’t been lucky enough to find anything interesting like that again, so I googled fossils in Fife and a village called Kemback was mentioned.

Now I’ve lived in Fife for over 35 years but I had never heard of Kemback before, so it was put on a list of places to visit, and one beautiful afternoon last week we got around to going there.

It’s close to Cupar and in Victorian times a mill was built there, taking advantage of the rushing water of the Ceres Burn which looks far too big to be called a burn if you ask me. The photo below is of a lovely waterfall which feeds into the river after running underneath the road. At some point it runs into the River Eden I believe.

Kemback waterfall

The waterfall is to the left of the Community Hall which you can see in the photo below.
Kemback waterfall
There are quite a few big-ish houses and a row of small terraced houses that must have been built for the mill workers, there’s a community hall and up a very steep hill stands a church and a graveyard.

But it’s the waterfall gushing down a cliffside that is the most attractive aspect of the place, it’s the one reason to visit the village really as although the waterfall feeds into the ‘burn’ there seems to be no easy way to access the burn banks or the enticing woodland over the other side of it which is really frustrating.

I love bridges in general and this one is a cute wee thing, it’s a shame about the rubbish that someone has probably chucked out of a passing car, litter seems to be all over Fife and it’s about time they started fining people because where there is a fine, such as around the Glasgow area – there is no litter on the roadside verges.

Kemback Bridge

As you can see from the photo below, it’s a fairly skinny road through Kemback, but not so narrow that passing places are needed.
Kemback cliffs

The road leading up to the church was another matter though, it’s very steep and narrow and I was terrified that we would meet a monster of a 4×4 coming in the opposite direction – but we were lucky, it’s a surprisingly busy teeny road. The church is a replacement of the original one which is just a shell in the middle of the graveyard and it was built in 1586.

Kemback Church and War Memorial

As you can see the World War 1 war memorial is in the shape of a Celtic cross.

It was the old church that really interested me, it’s situated below where the existing church is now and is surrounded by a graveyard which is still in use, but some of the graves go back hundreds of years. The church was built in 1582 and it replaced one from 1244, so it’s a fairly early Christian area. There’s only one World War 1 grave which is in front of the church in the photo, the poor soul must have been brought back home wounded – and lingered until 1920.

Old Kemback Church

The photos below were taken inside the church, where there are some ancient gravestones.
Old Kemback Church
Old Kemback Church

A view of some of the surrounding hills.
hills, Kemback< Fife

We went for a wee walk beyond the village and below is a photo of the road leading back into it. The orange thing to the left in the distance is a temporary barrier as it looks like some idiot had crashed into the wall recently. The walls around Fife seem to have taken a battering over this winter one way or another.
Kemback road

No doubt in the past this area has been quite industrial but now it’s a quiet backwater, apart from the roaring of the water that fuelled the industry.
3rd waterfall

There’s nothing else in the village apart from the community hall and the church it seems. Nobody has been tempted to open up a tearoom – which would no doubt have bought loads of visitors, but I’m not surprised that the inhabitants want to keep the place to themselves. I didn’t see anywhere that looked like a good place to find fossils, but we had a lovely afternoon out there.

You can see more images of Kemback here.

Getxo, Basque Spain

If anyone is interested in seeing more of the lovely town of Getxo in Spain’s Basque country – hop over to A Son of the Rock here as Jack has been posting a lot of photos of our visit in various blogposts, including a transporter bridge, there are very few of them in the world apparently.

The Forth Bridges – floodlit

Forth Bridge

Back to our October 2016 cruise and I woke up in the dark, realising that our ship Black Watch must have entered the Firth of Forth because there was almost no movement at all and very little engine noise.

Forth Bridge

I shot out of bed and luckily managed to locate the camera in the dark, Jack was still out for the count. The two photos above are of the Forth Bridge which is for trains only. It’s the one on my header.

I was just in time to take these photos of the bridges as we went under them, I took lots but most of them didn’t come out.

These ones are quite atmospheric though, certainly if you know what you’re looking at anyway.

The new road bridge is still under construction, but it’s not far off being finished.

new bridge the Queensferry Crossing

new bridge

If you want to see more photos under construction have a look here.

Audley End near Saffron Walden in Essex

I was looking through some photos recently and I realised that I had never got around to doing a blogpost about Audley End. We went there on our way back from our trip to Holland last May. We had actually driven past the place the year before but as it was after 4 pm we weren’t able to go into it.

Audley End

Audley End

Audley End

It’s a very large 17th century Jacobean house not far from Saffron Walden in Essex. It’s apparently a third of its original size which is quite amazing, over the years the rest of it has been demolished, but it still seems a complete house now. The parkland was designed by Capability Brown – as so many of them were.
Audley End

Audley End
The house has had a very checkered career over the years but nowadays Audley End is owned by English Heritage and if you are a member of Historic Scotland you get in free. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are interested in historic houses and gardens and you find yourself in East Anglia.

Below is a photograph of the nursery.

Audley End

A sitting room.
Audley End

A doll’s hosue.
aAudley End 11

Tulip beds.
Audley End

The photo below is of a wee bridge and much smaller house which I think is/was used to house staff.

Audley End

You can see more images of Audley End here.

Dunkeld

A couple of weeks ago we decided to go to Dunkeld for the day. It’s one of my favourite wee towns. It was the day we were in search of autumnal trees.

aDunkeld trees 4

I took the photo below from the bridge in Dunkeld, looking north up the River Tay.

aDunkeld trees 1

I crossed the road to the other side of the bridge to capture the view to the south.
Dunkeld trees 3

Some houses just off the High Street in Dunkeld.

aDunkeld street 5

The town was decorated with bunting, it wasn’t long after Halloween but I think it was something to do with a local tradition.

aDunkeld street 3

aDunkeld street 2

If you look closely at the photo below you can just see the beginning of the bridge.

aDunkeld street 1

Here’s the bridge itself, built by Thomas Telford.

Bridge through trees

The River Tay is famous for salmon fishing but you have to put them back if you catch any.

aDunkeld trees stitch

Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway

One of the places we visited for the first time during our recent trip down to Dumfries and Galloway was the town of Newton Stewart. It fits the bill for me as a good town as it has a lovely river running through it – the River Cree. Unfortunately like many such towns the river has fairly recently got too close and personal to the inhabitants, flodding quite badly.

River Cree, Newton Stewart

It was another blue sky day, we were really lucky with the weather.

River Cree, Newton Stewart

What more can you ask for? As well as the river there’s a great old bridge too. I grew up in a town that has a very similar bridge although that one goes over the River Leven, some of my happiest moments have been when I’ve been hanging over such bridges, scrutinising the water for fish, or watching the hoards of starlings doing that magical air dancing. Well that’s what they used to do at Dumbarton bridge anyway.

Newton Stewart bridge

Below you can see what the town and bridge looked like in 2012 when the town flooded. It looks terrifying.

If you’re interested in seeing what the surrounding area looks like you might like to take a look at Vanessa Dixon’s dashcam video, Creetown to Newton Stewart although it takes about ten minutes to reach Newton Stewart there is some nice scenery along the way.

Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands, Scotland

Peggy flew back to TN this morning, no doubt she’ll be in need of another holiday to get over this one in Scotland. Last week we took her up to the Highlands for a couple of nights in a Bed and Breakfast at Dornie, a short walk from Eilean Donan Castle. It must be one of the most popular places to visit for tourists. I couldn’t believe how packed out it was at 10 o’clock in the morning when it opened. Apparently this castle was featured in the film Highlander, but I’ve managed to dodge that one despite it having been on TV almost as regularly as the Bridget Jones films.

Eilean Donan 1

Luckily you can walk all around the outside of the castle when it is closed, or about to close, and take photos from all angles. The only difficulty is trying to take photos that don’t contain other people taking photos! For some reason they don’t allow you to take photos of the inside of the castle.

Eilean Donan

The castle is situated on a small tidal island just where three lochs meet; Loch Alsh, Loch Long and Loch Duich. You can read about some of the history of the castle here.

Eilean Donan Castle

You can see more images of the castle here.

It’s definitely worth going to see but even if the castle didn’t exist it would be worth going up to Dornie as the whole area is incredibly scenic. You can see more images of Dornie here.

You can see how clear the loch water is from this photo I took of golden seaweed below the surface of the water. It is of course a sea loch.

seaweed at Eilean Donan

And below is a photo of Peggy and me, we look estranged! but we weren’t.
Eilean Donan

It’s an interesting but very busy destination.

Guardbridge in Fife

I find myself in the wee village of Guardbridge in Fife from time to time. Mainly when I want to take a look at a furniture restorer’s wares. We were there earlier this month, just before they were closing the roads around the area for some sort of roadworks, causing mayhem of course.

Guardbridge

Anyway, I decided to take a few photos of the two bridges that are so close together they meet. Cars only go across the left hand bridge though, and in the river you can just see the remains of what was a viaduct for the trains to get across the River Eden. The viaduct must have been removed when the railway line to St Andrews was closed down, unusually that wasn’t a Beeching cut.

Guardbridge 2

Guardbridge was a mediaeval stopping off point for pilgrims visiting St Andrews which is only about three miles away. Apparently St Andrews was one of the most important sites of pilgrimage in Europe. The Augustinians regulated how many pilgrims could be allowed to travel on to St Andrews each day.

Guardbridge 3

It was a beautiful blue sky day as you can see. Both bridges are very old, the oldest being from the 15th century.

Guardbridge is close to Leuchars which until recently was an RAF base, now it has been turned into an army base. For that reason if you have a Sat Nav/GPS it won’t be of much use to you, I’ve been told there’s some sort of block on it for security reasons. I find that hilarious, as if someone intent on causing trouble won’t be able to find their way about without Sat Nav!

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace

I could have sworn that I had blogged about our 2014 sojourn to Blenheim Palace but when I tried to link to the post recently I discovered that our photos had never even been put on Flickr, so here are some of them, as you can see it was a good day, unlike our visit this year. The architectural style is 18th century Baroque and the parkland was designed by Capability Brown.

Blenheim Palace ceiling

The ceilings are gorgeous, like very elaborately iced wedding cakes. Winston Churchill was born in the palace, although of course he didn’t inherit it, the title went to a cousin. He obviously loved the place though as he chose to be buried in the tiny churchyard at nearby Bladon.

Blenheim Battle tapestry

The tapestry above shows a scene from the Battle of Blenheim.
Blenheim Palace

Above is the view from the front windows, I do love fountains.

Blenheim Palace bridge

But I love this bridge and lake even more than the fountains, and the trees of course. Blenheim is privately owned, not National Trust and it’s expensive to get in, I think it costs £23 for each adult, but you can convert your ticket into an annual ticket, which is handy if you live nearby, not so handy for us driving from Scotland to visit though.

You can see more images of Blenheim Palace here.

You can read about the Battle of Blenheim here.