FLY DRIVE TO ITALY

City of Pisa

City of Pisa and it’s leaning tower from the main street of Pisa “not normally seen from this angle”

It’s 14/05/2016 our taxi to Huddersfield and train to Manchester are booked Aircraft “Jet 2” leaves at 8-30am BST scheduled to arrive at Pisa international airport at 11-30am EST at this point all went well plane landed on time and our lounge was easy to locate “easy part over” now we had to find the car hire people a bus ride away on the perimeters of the airport, we sorted that part quite quickly then came the real problems, our mobile phone refused to provide “Sat Navigation” despite having agreed the extra cost we my have incurred along the way with our service provider (Vodafone), who I must say, after the event denied all knowledge of the event and charged us accordingly.
However we hired a tom tom SatNav from the car hire people and of we went on our way at which time my wife Irene had the panics driving on the right, I must admit though, it was a little scary for the first couple of days getting accustomed to changing gear was a minor problem since we have driven automatics for many years and the changing of gears resulted in thumping the inside of the drivers door to get to the gear lever, which of course was on the other side and caused plenty of discomfort in my left hand in the panic, caused by forgetting to change down or up whichever was required, this of course is done automatically in my car. All this of coarse is happening as we traveled and my co-driver was getting more fearsome as the driving went on, and only really felt safe when walking, despite retaining the ability to tell me what to do and how to do it everything pertaining to the driving and travel with the exception of turning the steering wheel, much like a back seat driver sat in the front, again though I have to admit the second set of eyes were a bonus they got us out of a lot of near misses and we had not reached our hotel “Semifonti” yet, that was to take a further hour or so of ear ache from the co-driver.
When we finally arrived at the Hotel our first impressions were not good, it was situated on an industrial site and whilst the staff were excellent and were the rooms and the food which is perhaps as well because there was nowhere else for miles around to eat and driving my co-driver to a restaurant in the dark was a no no so we were pretty much stuck with our lot at night despite the staff speaking very little English, and why should they I speak very little if any Italian it was disappointing not to be able to use the swimming pool area, it was like a building site and the pool was used for the old building rubble. We had 10 days to cope with it so we needed to get on with it, after all it was Tuscany and it’s lifestyle we had come to see and not the hotel disappointing as it was, on a good note though that made great coffee.

LANDSCAPE

landscape of the surroundings of San Gimignano the medieval village in the background.

SAN GIMIGNANO

San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. Known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture, unique in the preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses, which, with its hilltop setting and encircling walls form “an unforgettable skyline”. Within the walls, the well-preserved buildings include notable examples of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture.city of Siena the principal towns are Poggibonsi, Colle di Val d’Elsa, Montepulciano.

Sunday 15/05/2016 we made arrangements to visit “San Gimignano” a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. Known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture, unique in the preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses, which, with its hilltop setting and encircling walls form “an unforgettable skyline”. Within the walls, the well-preserved buildings include notable examples of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture, with outstanding examples of secular buildings as well as churches. The Palazzo Comunale, the Collegiate Church and Church of Sant’ Agostino contain frescos, including cycles dating from the 14th and 15th centuries. The “Historic Centre of San Gimignano” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town also is known for the saffron, the Golden Ham and its white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced from the ancient variety of Verna PROVINCE OF SIENA Population (31 May 2009)  Total270,333 The Province of Siena (Italian: Provincia di Siena) is a province in the Tuscany region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Siena. Geography The province is divided into seven historical areas: 1. Alta Val d’Elsa 2. Chianti senese 3. The urban area of (Monteriggioni and Siena) 4. Val di Merse 5. Crete senesi Val d’Arbia 6. Val di Chiana senese 7. Val d’Orcia and Amiata The area is a hilly one: in the north is Colline del Chianti; Monte Amiata is the highest point at 1,738 metres (5,702 ft); and in the south is Monte Cetona. To the west are the Colline Metallifere (“Metallic Hills”), whilst the Val di Chiana lies to east. Historically, the province corresponds to the former Republic of Siena. The chief occupations are agricultural (wheat, grapes and fruit) and silk culture. The wine known as Chianti is produced here as well as in other parts of Tuscany: the Chianti Colli Senesi, however, is limited to this province. Apart from the city of Siena the principal towns are Poggibonsi, Colle di Val d’Elsa, Montepulciano. partway there we somehow made a wrong turn, as you do, My fault of course, and ended up in the Vineyard area of Tuscany which, as a photographer and one of the main reasons we went to Italy in the first place suited me down to the ground and we were able to capture some great images and the great weather was an advantage, the scenery of Tuscany is unbelievable “a travel photographers paradise” what’s more we were still on track for our destination at San Gimignano a medieval walled village high on top of a hill and, although we had taken the long way round still arrived at 1-00pm and ready for lunch. this village is a very popular tourist destination and provides seven car parks all of which were full with no entry into the inner walls of the of the village in a motor car, since we were only seven kilometres from our base we decided to leave and return Monday when it would be less busy with tourists and so we left to see the less popular place of “Certaldo” which is part of the circular tour from our base.

CERTALDO ALTOThe centre of the walled town of Certaldo with the ubiquitous church and restaurants

CERTALDO ALTO

One of the many back streets and alleys of Certaldo

certaldo-alta_017.jpg

A back road of Certaldo and a view of San Gimignano in the distance with it’s tall buildings clearly visible

CERTALDO ALTO

Certaldo is a town and comune of Tuscany, Italy, in the province of Florence, in the middle of Valdelsa. It is about 35 kilometres (22 mi) southwest of the Florence Duomo. It is 50 minutes by rail and 35 minutes by car southwest of Florence, and it is 25 minutes by rail north of Siena. It was the home of the family of Giovanni Boccaccio, the poet of “Vita di Dante,” and the author of the “Decamerone”. He died here at his home and was buried here in 1375. Geography The town of Certaldo is divided into upper and lower parts. The lower part is called Certaldo Basso, whilst the medieval upper part is called Certaldo Alto. Certaldo Alto has limited vehicular access, for use by residents only. Visitors can park outside the walls or in the lower part and go to Certaldo Alto by the Certaldo funicular.

Certaldo is a quaint and picturesque medieval town and typical of all the medieval towns and villages of Italy in the medieval period of which we’ve seen many over the years and this year is special to us as it’s our 50ᵗʰ wedding anniversary year and we intend enjoying it whilst we can. It was at this point while site seeing and making photographs, Irene was complaining about her left foot causing her some pain, and on inspection we realised she had been stung or bitten during our time taking photographs in and around the vine fields and it looked very nasty indeed, the pharmacist in Poggibonsi the nearest town to our hotel implied it could be a snake bite or large insect bite.

Allotment building

A beautiful rustic allotment building in the Chianti wine district of Tuscany where we were photographing the landscape.

Monday 16 May 2016, We decided to try again to get into San Gimignano, we left our hotel at 10-00am to drive the 7 kilometre and on arrival had no problem parking in a purpose built parking lot right outside the gates of the town for €15-00 for the whole day, this town was of the same period as the others we hade seen but much larger and far grander clearly one of the ruling towns of its day for the whole area, Spectacular entrance arch into the walled area with massive street areas and equal massive buildings with butchers, fashion boutiques, cafés, restaurants and the ubiquitous churches with grand domes the whole place was packed with tourists and yet we easily got a parking place, I hate to think what it must have been like on our first visit when we couldn’t get a parking spot anywhere. This whole place was and is enchanting but so tiring getting about up and down the towns streets and alleys

SAN GIMIGNANO

The medieval gateway into the hill town of San Gimignano, the images below are scenes within the walled town.

Has can be seen from the images it’s a great metropolis of high-rise towers the result of the wealth trying to outdo each other to prove their wealth and position in the town, I think it’s something of a trend that will continue throughout the world for ever, people playing a game of oneupmanship and so long as they are alright they won’t really care. The next few days were critical for Irene and I spent time helping her to recover from the ordeal of the snake bite with the help of a young Australian Doctor who was the team Doctor for an Italian bike racing team all staying in the hotel and a great help he was to us too, at no extra financial cost. The rest of this holiday blog will follow at a later date.

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A Moment of Déjà Vu

MARSKE-BY-THE SEA

SEASCAPE Looking South from Marske-by-the-Sea to Saltburn-by-the-Sea

The beach at Marske-By-the-Sea

MARSKE-BY-THE-SEA            

A beautiful little fishing village and a moment of “Déjà vu” for my wife and I, directly we drove onto the Cobble landing we immediately recognised the place from a past visit on a rainy day. Today was bright and dry with photo opportunities galore around the village and the seafront and harbour side (from where this image was captured) we unfortunately only had an hour or so to get our chosen shots most of which were captured with the intentions of making mono images post-capture which are now completed and look stunning.

MARSKE-BY-THE SEA

SEASCAPE Marske-by-the-Sea

        Marske-by-the-Sea is on the North East Coast of North Yorkshire and   Cleveland between Redcar and Saltburn, a stunning part of the world for photographers and artists alike, This image is one of ten or so we captured in this sleepy little fishing village on the harbour’s cobble landing where the row of tractors are not only for manoeuvring the fishing boats (which don’t look like they’ve moved for a while judging by the grass under them) but it seams they are instrumental in the fishing operation, when they are backed up to the sea and the winches fitted at the rear of the tractors drag the nets back to the shore line, I don’t think this work is done on a commercial basis anymore but I would love to see it done, Marske is a very picturesque place and well worth the visit to the North East of England to see it, in a place where the whole area is stunning.

 

MARSKE-BY-THE SEA

SEASCAPE From Redcar looking South to Marske-by-the-Sea

FIRST TRIP OF THE YEAR

Scarborough South Cliff

South cliff Scarborough

February, and after a bad start to the year things are beginning to improve, We are slowly recovering from the passing of Sussie 10 days ago, she has had a good life over the passed  20 years but time and age caught up and she is now at rest with Mickey who passed over in September 2010 after a good life spanning 25 years. A new start for the year begins with a weekend at Scarborough’s South Cliff and we are both looking forward to the break and change of scenery despite it being winter and miserable weather, we are also looking forward to exploring the South Cliff area, a place we haven’t spent a lot of time in unexplainable really considering the amount of time we have spent at Scarborough and in fact the rest of the East Coast of Yorkshire since the 50s.

where-they-all-gone.jpg.jpeg

Where have they all gone ?

TIME AT STANDEDGE TUNNEL

One end of this tunnel is on the Huddersfield narrow canal at Marsden West Yorkshire, and the other at the village of Diggle in Greater Manchester district and, at the other side of the South Pennines now in Lancashire.
We spent a half day here at Tunnel End Marsden with our grandsons Benjamin & Aaron on Saturday 26/09/2015 nice bright afternoon which we all thoroughly enjoyed and well worth a visit for anyone interested in canal or infact local history, where knowledge can be expanded in the old but restored warehouse, now a visitor centre which displays artefacts of the past life on the canal together with a video and narrated history of the tunnels conception to completion.

Standedge Tunnels

The Standedge Tunnels are four parallel tunnels beneath the Pennines in northern England.

The Standedge Tunnels are four parallel tunnels beneath the Pennines in northern England.

The Standedge Tunnels are four parallel tunnels beneath the Pennines in northern England. Three are railway tunnels and the other is a canal tunnel. They are located at the Standedge (pronounced Stannige) crossing point between Marsden and Diggle, across the boundary between the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester conurbations. Before boundary changes in 1974, both ends of the tunnel were in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

The canal tunnel is on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. It opened in 1811 and is the longest and oldest of the four and is the longest and highest canal tunnel in the United Kingdom. The first single-track railway tunnel was completed by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) in 1848 on the line between Huddersfield and Manchester and a second parallel tunnel opened in 1871. The LNWR opened a third tunnel with double tracks in 1894. All four tunnels are linked by cross-tunnels or adits at strategic intervals, which allowed the railway tunnels to be built quickly, reducing the need for construction shafts, as waste could be removed by boat.

Of the railway tunnels, only the one built in 1894 is currently used for rail traffic. Closed in 1943, the canal tunnel was re-opened in May 2001. The Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre, at the Marsden end, is a base for boat trips into the tunnel and hosts an exhibition depicting the different crossings.

The Standedge Tunnel is the longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel in Britain. It is 5,500 yards (5,000 m) long, 636 feet (194 m) underground at its deepest point, and 643 feet (196 m) above sea level.

 The Standedge canal Tunnels entrance, The locomotive tunnels are above and parallel


The Standedge canal Tunnels entrance, The locomotive tunnels are above and parallel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standedge_Tunnels

Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre

The Standedge warehouse and visitor centre

The Standedge warehouse and visitor centre

 The warehouse that now houses the visitor centre

The Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre at the Marsden end of the tunnel is located in the former warehouse used for transshipment of goods from canal barge to packhorse between 1798 when the canal reached Marsden and 1811 when the tunnel opened. The centre contains exhibitions on the history of the tunnels, the canal tunnel’s recent restoration and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Tunnel End Cottages which formerly housed canal maintenance workers, houses a cafe and the booking office for 30-minute boat trips into the tunnel. The trips use electric tugs that push a passenger-carrying barge.

The visitor centre is about ½ a mile (0.8 km) west of Marsden railway station which can be reached via the towpath of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal which runs adjacent to the station. Adjacent to the railway station is the headquarters of the National Trust‘s Marsden Moor Estate which includes a public exhibition, Welcome to Marsden, that gives an overview of the area and its transport history

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standedge_Tunnels

A leisurely walk along the canal toe path will take the visitor to the village of Slaithwaite “locally called Slowit” where the canal drops via locks to a lower level and under another pack horse bridge to the village.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal and Packhorse Bridge at Slaithwaite

Huddersfield Narrow Canal and Packhorse Bridge at Slaithwaite “Slowit”

POPPY WAVE

Poppy Wave
An installation art exhibition by Paul Cummins, artist, and Tom Piper, designer at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Wave, a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, rises up from YSP Lower Lake, reaching over the historic Cascade Bridge.

LANDSCAPE Poppies: Wave 05.09.15–10.01.16 By Paul Cummins, artist, and Tom Piper, designer Presented by 14-18 NOW and Yorkshire Sculpture Park Wave, a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, rises up from YSP’s Lower Lake, reaching over the Park’s historic Cascade Bridge. The breath-taking sculpture – along with Weeping Window, a cascade comprising several thousand handmade ceramic poppies seen pouring from a high window to the ground below – was initially conceived as one of the key dramatic sculptural elements in the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London in the autumn of 2014. Over the course of their time at the Tower, the two sculptures were gradually surrounded by a vast field of ceramic poppies, each one planted by a volunteer in memory of the life of a British and Colonial soldier lost during the First World War. In their original setting they captured the public imagination and were visited by over five million people.

Poppies: Wave
05.09.15–10.01.16
By Paul Cummins, artist, and Tom Piper, designer Presented by 14-18 NOW and Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Wave, a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, rises up from YSP’s Lower Lake, reaching over the Park’s historic Cascade Bridge.
The breath-taking sculpture – along with Weeping Window, a cascade comprising several thousand handmade ceramic poppies seen pouring from a high window to the ground below – was initially conceived as one of the key dramatic sculptural elements in the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London in the autumn of 2014. Over the course of their time
at the Tower, the two sculptures were gradually surrounded by a vast field of ceramic poppies, each one planted by a volunteer in memory of the life of a British and Colonial soldier lost during the First World War. In their original setting they captured the public imagination and were visited by over five million people.

Poppies: Wave 05.09.15–10.01.16 By Paul Cummins, artist, and Tom Piper, designer

Poppies: Wave 05.09.15–10.01.16
By Paul Cummins, artist, and Tom Piper, designer.

Poppies: Wave 05.09.15–10.01.16 By Paul Cummins, artist, and Tom Piper, designer

Poppies: Wave 05.09.15–10.01.16
By Paul Cummins, artist, and Tom Piper, designer.

My wife and I visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park specifically to see and photograph this magnificent event, an extension of the Tower of London poppy event, We also wanted to photograph the rest of the park as it changes it’s clothes into Autumnal attire.

THE SCULPTURE PARKLAND The park is situated in the grounds of Bretton Hall, an 18th-century estate which was a family home until the mid 20th century when it became Bretton Hall College. Follies, landscape features and architectural structures from the 18th century can be seen around the park including the deer park and deer shelter (recently converted by American sculptor James Turrell into an installation), an ice house, and a camellia house. Artists working at YSP, such as Andy Goldsworthy in 2007, take their inspiration from its architectural, historical or natural environment. Since the 1990s, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) has made use of indoor exhibition spaces, initially a Bothy Gallery (in the curved Bothy Wall) and a temporary tent-like structure called the Pavilion Gallery. After an extensive refurbishment and expansion, YSP has added an underground gallery space in the Bothy garden, and exhibition spaces at Longside (the hillside facing the original park). Its programme consists of contemporary and modern sculpture (from Rodin and Bourdelle through to living artists). British sculpture is well represented in the past exhibition programme and semi-permanent installations. Many British sculptors famous in the 1950s and 1960s, but since forgotten, have been the subject of solo exhibitions at YSP.  The redundant Grade II* listed St Bartholomew's Chapel, West Bretton built by William Wentworth in 1744 has been restored as gallery space.

THE SCULPTURE PARKLAND
The park is situated in the grounds of Bretton Hall, an 18th-century estate which was a family home until the mid 20th century when it became Bretton Hall College. Follies, landscape features and architectural structures from the 18th century can be seen around the park including the deer park and deer shelter (recently converted by American sculptor James Turrell into an installation), an ice house, and a camellia house. Artists working at YSP, such as Andy Goldsworthy in 2007, take their inspiration from its architectural, historical or natural environment.
Since the 1990s, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) has made use of indoor exhibition spaces, initially a Bothy Gallery (in the curved Bothy Wall) and a temporary tent-like structure called the Pavilion Gallery. After an extensive refurbishment and expansion, YSP has added an underground gallery space in the Bothy garden, and exhibition spaces at Longside (the hillside facing the original park). Its programme consists of contemporary and modern sculpture (from Rodin and Bourdelle through to living artists). British sculpture is well represented in the past exhibition programme and semi-permanent installations. Many British sculptors famous in the 1950s and 1960s, but since forgotten, have been the subject of solo exhibitions at YSP.
The redundant Grade II* listed St Bartholomew’s Chapel, West Bretton built by William Wentworth in 1744 has been restored as gallery space.

TENBY, South Wales

We just got home from a great holiday in Wales, unfortunately the weather could have been better but it wasn’t too bad to keep us in, and we managed a couple of trips in the area not least to Pembroke to see its’ Castle and birthplace of Henry VII . Here is an image of St Catherine’s Island in the South bay of Tenby captured from Castle Hill, Below which is the Castle at Pembroke.

St Catherine's Island, Tenby. Taken from Castle Hill.

St Catherine’s Island, Tenby. Taken from Castle Hill.

Pembroke Castle, Pembroke, South Wales

Pembroke Castle, Pembroke, South Wales

During the reign of Elizabeth I, the Earl of Pembroke (“Jasper”, the uncle of Henry VII) was the owner of St Catherine’s Island. Later, the ownership passed to the Corporation of Tenby, which took possession of a number of crown lands. It is recorded in 1856 that a few sheep inhabited the island. An observer described them as “half wild sure footed creatures that run, turn and look, run again and leap from crag to crag almost with the agility of the Alpine Chamois”.

For many centuries a tiny church was the only building on the Island. The remains of the church were demolished when the fort was constructed in 1867. Information on the finds discovered during the demolition can be found at Tenby Museum and Art Gallery. Since the construction of the fort the island has had several owners.

TRAFALGAR SQUARE

TRAFALGAR SQUARE is owned by the Queen in Right of the Crown and managed by Greater London, while Westminster City Council owns the roads around the square, including the pedestrianised area of the North Terrace. It forms part of the North bank of the Thames business improvement district. My wife and I visited on the 17 June 2015 the first time since the 70s, what a great experiance and much the same as I remembered it, with the exception of the lack of the famous pigeons. None or very few of these ubiquitous birds were to be seen anywhere around and this was something hard for us to understand, pigeons don’t just up sticks and leave they are part of life, it goes without saying they are just there.

What looks like an

What looks like an “Alien” levitating on Trafalgar Square

Whilst contemplating this bewildering fact and watching what appeared to be levitating aliens on the terrace in front of the National Gallery the crowds of people on the square seemed to have been made aware of something strange happening, and then we saw it, a Large FALCON and its’ handler, the very reason for the lack of pigeons, this company of falcon handlers were there flying their birds to keep the pigeons away naturally and without causing unnecessary suffering, again proving the general love of animals and nature by the British people.

A bird of prey used has a deterrent to control our ubiquitous pigeons.

A bird of prey used has a deterrent to control our ubiquitous pigeons.