Get Your Thousand-Year-Old Castle On

One sunny Friday a few weeks ago I was off to Berkshire and visit Windsor Castle. I was there on my first trip to England back in October of 2005 and had been wanting to revisit for a while. Now that the weather is oh so lovely and I have some time off, it seemed the perfect time to visit the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.

So off I went, but not without being hit by the travel fail domino affect.  My bus to the rail station in Cambridge was running late, so then I missed the 11:15 express train to King’s Cross, which meant I missed the 12:22 from Paddington to Slough and subsequently the 12:50 from glorious Slough to Windsor.  In the end I got to Windsor just before 14:30, an hour and change later than I had hoped.  I grabbed a quick bite to eat at a McDonald’s that used to be a Burger King.  Oh how the place has changed! Well, I had hoped it would be quick. It was the slowest queue I think I had ever been in.

Right, to the castle! Continue reading “Get Your Thousand-Year-Old Castle On”

Spontaneous Day in the Capital

So up until late Friday afternoon I hadn’t the foggiest idea what I was doing on Saturday. Until I saw a mention on Londonist of the London Maze that was happening at Guildhall in London on Saturday. As Londonist pointed out, Diamond Geezer has much more info on his site than the official Maze site has. It’s basically a history fair held in a rather historical building. And there was free access to the Guildhall Art Gallery. I was sold. I wanted to get to the gallery during Open House a few weeks ago but didn’t have time.

Took the coach from Cambridge in to Victoria and then grabbed the tube to Canon Street. Grabbed an early lunch and made my way to the Guildhall. The fair was fair enough. Saw some interesting looking books that I made note of and organizations to look up (like one that does specifically industrial archeology). I got a bag of City of London freebies. The bag has a big City of London emblem on it so even that made me a happy bunny. The exhibit in the gallery was about items from London’s past that were moved, and in some cases returned to their original locations.

Closer look at The MonumentWalked from Guildhall, across London Bridge to Borough Market. I hadn’t been there in ages and wanted to get myself a brownie. Nom nom. When I was around here earlier in the week I noticed that the scaffolding had been removed from the top of The Monument which has been having restoration work done to it for several months now. It’s looking quite nice.

As I didn’t have anything else planned, it was a good opportunity for a final push to get to the Jack the Ripper and the East End exhibition at the Museum in Docklands. It closes on November 2nd and I’ve been meaning to get to it for ages. Trouble is the DLR is in various stages of engineering work until sometime in the fantastic year 2080, so getting there was always a pain. Seeing as I didn’t have anything else pressing as I usually do, now was the time. I’m pretty sure it’s been a bit over two years since I’ve been to the Museum in Docklands. It’s a bit of an odd, but neat feeling to think that I have a history with London now. First though, I thought I’d take a stop into Greenwich as I was in the area.

Took the tube from London Bridge up to Bank and then grabbed the DLR as far as I could to Westferry. Got a rail replacement bus to Cutty Sark in Greenwich. Had a look around Greenwich Park, the Royal Observatory and the Royal Naval College. The weather was amazing and by this point I was just in my t-shirt. A refreshing change after the cold snap a week ago.

Greenwich and Isle of Dogs

Caught the rail replacement bus to Canary Wharf and the Museum in Docklands is a short walk from there. I’m getting a bit better at finding my way around that area. It’s a bit too modern perhaps for me to be able to navigate ;).

The exhibit was very good. It’s in two parts. First is about the conditions of the East End of the time and how that lended to a crime like the Ripper murders happening. Photos of people and places, artifacts from sweat houses and factories. One interesting item on display was the jaw of a woman who suffered from “phossy jaw”. This was the name given to the effects of working with phosphorus in match factories. The woman who worked at the Bryant & May match factory made history by going on strike to get their working conditions improved.

The second part was focused on the Ripper murders. There were copies of police reports, maps, supposed letters from the killer and letters sent from the public to the police and newspapers. There was a surgical knife that was supposed to be the murder weapon, or so was told the person who the knife was given to.

DLR SignageHopped back on the DLR at West India Quay to Bank. There was a bit of an Oyster card hiccup. Everyone who came off the DLR had problems with their cards working at the gates. Walked to Monument station (quicker than interchanging underground) and took the train to Embankment. I was originally going to head further west to the Science Museum for a bit of shopping, but at this point it was nearly 6 o’clock, so much too late for that. Instead I had a lovely chicken panini and a leisurely stroll along Victoria embankment, past Westminster Palace and Abbey and onto Victoria station to catch the coach home.

Photos, as always, are up on Flickr and here are my tracks for the day…

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Mapping The New World

Tonight I finally got around to clearing off my GPS nav in preparation for a weekend in London.  On it were a couple of tracks from the colonies… a drive out to Stanhope to visit m’colleague Pat at his campsite and the trek from Charlottetown to Halifax for my flight back to the UK.  As a side note, I was rather lucky to get back to the UK.  I flew via Zoom three days before they closed up shop.

First up, the north shore of P.E.I. were there were some fantastic waves for splooshing in…

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And then a four hour drive to Halifax for Arby’s and some brief site seeing before going to the airport. My batteries died while in Halifax so the drive back out to the airport isn’t included. You know, in case you were thinking “that’s crazy talk, that track goes past the airport, but doesn’t go back to the airport!”. So there we are.

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Exploration, You See

When I go to London I quite often end up doing a fair bit of walking.  Sometimes a lot of walking.  I tend to just wonder where ever looks interesting, or somewhere I haven’t been before or somewhere I want to see again.  With this, I can’t always exactly remember everywhere I’ve been.  Being a map nerd and an even bigger London affection-ado I like to keep track of these things.

A while ago I started looking into various bits of kit to log my steps.  I first started looking at Garmin eTrex personal navigators, then more simple GPS logging devices until coming around full circle and scoring an eTrex bargain on eBay about a month ago.  

There is a bit of a learning curve with getting it to work on a Mac.  First step was getting a USB cable for the eTrex.  Then finding a driver that will work with the unit on a Mac.  Then some software to get the data off of the device.  I found a piece of software called GPS Babel that works a charm.  It takes the data off the eTrex and will save it as any number of formats, including Google Earth .kml format.  Perfect!

Since then I’ve been messing around with logging and working with the data.  I took the eTrex to London on June 7th and again this past Saturday to track where I’ve been.  I have both routes in Google Earth and now have the .kml files saved online so I can view them in Google Maps and embed them into posts.  Neat eh!

Here’s my track from this past Saturday.

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You can spot times when I use the Tube or a bus to get from places as there’s just a long straight line going between the stops. This particular day I started out at Holborn Tube, walked from there to Embankment (popping into Sir John Soane’s Museum along the way).  Took the Tube from Embankment to Barbican.  From there walked to Farringdon, up to Kings Cross and continuing to Camden with a stop into Old St. Pancras church yard.  You can see the bus trip from Camden down to Waterloo where I had a walk around before taking the Tube to Bond Street.  There is where it looks like my batteries died.  That’s ok as there wasn’t much to log after that!

I’m going to keep playing with it and try out adding markers for start and end points and maybe some photos as well.

Have a look over at my Flickr page for photos from this trip.