Life is a Ride…In Sheffield

Following my equestrian trail-riding week in Germany, I flew from Frankfurt to the North of England to see John Simm in Hamlet, meet up with friends, and do some sight-seeing in and around Sheffield. This is pretty much the same thing I said when questioned by the UK Border officer upon my arrival at Manchester Airport.

“Where are you staying while in the UK?”, he asked. “In Sheffield”, I reply.

“Do you have friends or family there?”

“Yes, friends.”

“And what will you be doing in Sheffield?” he further probes. “Going to the theatre and doing some sight-seeing” I say, beginning to wonder how much longer this will go on.

Then he asks, “Oh, what are you seeing at the Theatre?”

“John Simm in Hamlet”, I reply confidently, remembering that I was back in a place where people would know exactly who I was talking about.

“John Simm?”, he says, “I like him”.

And I was waved on through into the UK! 😀 Yippee!

But before I could leave Manchester Airport, I needed to pick up my next Ride for the week, a silver NEW manual drive Astra SRi with 7K miles. I forgot to take a picture of it, probably subconsciously not wanting to jinx myself into wrecking it since this was my first time driving in England! Instead, I found this lovely promo shot of an Astra SRi:

Astra SRi

Astra SRi

After 5 minutes sitting in the right-hand side driver’s seat at the Hertz car park, wondering why I ever thought driving in the UK was a great idea and trying to quell my panic, I finally started the car, played with the left-hand manual shift and pulled out of the parking space. So far, so good. I inched my way down the car park ramps and ultimately exited (stay to the left!) into the 6:00 pm rush hour mayhem of Manchester traffic. Let the fun begin!

With iPhone GPS at the ready and gingerly avoiding side-swiping parked cars or bicyclists with my unfamiliar 2 foot of car extended on my left, I skirted around Manchester Central and headed (in a more or less “general” direction) on the M60 and M67 until I reached the A57. The A57 which I later find out is also called “Snake Pass“. HAHA I am SOOO glad I didn’t know this beforehand! Snake pass is fairly narrow and winding in parts and I was still concentrating like hell on driving, but as dusk was falling I managed to glimpse some of the surrounding views of the beautiful Peak District. Here’s a pic I found:

Throughout this blog, click on the photos for a bigger image

Snake Pass in the Peak District

Snake Pass in the Peak District

It was dark when I got to Sheffield and I needed to reach (in a more or less “general” direction) the Travelodge Sheffield Central, which is accessed via the Park Square Ring Road. Well, it took me 3-4 attempts of selecting the wrong exit each time, spinning off onto a new tangent road and working my way back to the Ring Road to try again. Fortunately I never found myself endlessly stuck in the roundabout like Chevy Chase in this classic London scene from National Lampoon’s European Vacation:

 

Whew! I’d actually made it to my Hotel with me and my Ass-tra in one piece! I got settled in, devoured a meal and a pint of beer at the hotel Bar Cafe and reflected back on my day’s travel from Molsberg, Germany to Sheffield, UK. I slept like a log that night!

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Next morning the agenda was laundry. I pondered if I was ready to get back in the car so soon after the night before and weighed the need to drive around Sheffield vs. having fresh clothes for the rest of the week. I already had the laundry shop mapped out, and so how hard could it be to go a couple miles through Sheffield?  I mean, I had 30 years experience driving in the greater Los Angeles area…so what if it’s all backwards now, I could manage?!?

Well, a few wrong turns, U-turns and dead-ends later, I find myself…totally by sheer luck, conveniently parked at a side street located just behind Churchills Dry Cleaning & Laundry Service. I couldn’t have found a better place to leave the car for a few hours while I had my laundry cleaned, plus do my first bit of sight-seeing in Sheffield Central. The rest of the pics in this blog are from my camera.

Barker's Pool, Sheffield

Barker's Pool, Sheffield

Heart of the City, Sheffield

Heart of the City, Sheffield

The Peace Gardens and Sheffield Town Hall

The Peace Gardens and Sheffield Town Hall

The Wheel of Sheffield

The Wheel of Sheffield

Sheffield Winter Garden

Sheffield Winter Garden

Inside Sheffield Winter Garden

Inside Sheffield Winter Garden

View between Hotel Novotel Sheffield Centre and Sheffield Piccolino near The Winter Garden

View between Hotel Novotel Sheffield Centre and Sheffield Piccolino near The Winter Garden

Steel balls with flowing water public art in Sheffield

Steel balls with flowing water public art in Sheffield

The 'Cheese Grater' car park

The 'Cheese Grater' car park

"Barking up the right tree" by Johnny White at Millennium Galleries

"Barking up the right tree" by Johnny White at Millennium Galleries

The Town Trust Bells at Millennium Galleries

The Town Trust Bells at Millennium Galleries

"Blue Bird' - Stairwell in Graves Art Gallery and Sheffield Central Library

"Blue Bird' - Stairwell in Graves Art Gallery and Sheffield Central Library

While wandering I enjoyed my first meat and potato pie since my 2007 Manchester trip. Ahhhh!! So Fantastic! Here’s a picture perfect example of a meat and potato pie. Gosh, I’m craving one again seeing the pic!

Few hours later, the laundry is done, sight-seeing is over and it’s time to meet up with friends for a highly anticipated evening of Hamlet with John Simm at the Crucible Theatre!

The Crucible Theatre at Tudor Square, Sheffield

The Crucible Theatre at Tudor Square, Sheffield

See more Sheffield, UK 2010 photos

Chris, Lisa & Mitch, and I head over early to stake out a table at the Old Monk Pub in Tudor Square, which is home to the largest concentration of theatre venues in the UK outside London. There might’ve been a photo of us in front of the Old Monk Pub, if it weren’t for Mitch discovering a better photo opportunity using the adjacent Crucible Corner restaurant in order to include John Simm in the background (having a quiet dinner before his performance).

(click on photo for bigger view)

Crucible Corner Restaurant with John Simm at Tudor Square, Sheffield

Crucible Corner Restaurant with John Simm at Tudor Square, Sheffield

And so…back at The Old Monk…

The Old Monk Pub at Tudor Square, Sheffield

The Old Monk Pub at Tudor Square, Sheffield

…we were soon joined by Sue, Yvonne, Linz, Cath, Charles…

Pre Hamlet meet-up at The Old Monk, Sheffield

Pre Hamlet meet-up at The Old Monk, Sheffield

…and Bex.

Pre Hamlet meet-up at The Old Monk, Sheffield

Pre Hamlet meet-up at The Old Monk, Sheffield

Tracey, who I last met in 2007 in London, was also driving up to join us for Hamlet, but sadly didn’t make it because her car broke down in route. 😦

John Simm gave a stunning performance as Hamlet and I was immediately looking forward to returning the very next evening to witness the extra exhilaration of Opening Press Night! I am still so very thrilled for every opportunity to see John live on stage and feel quite spoiled to have seen his last three plays. Afterwards at the stage door, John was fabulously generous and down to earth as always. I feel blessed being able to meet such a fine talent and really appreciate the personal care and attention he gives towards fans.

But not only that, the man takes a Seriously-Damn-Fine-Smiley photo! 😀

Shelley & Chris with John Simm after Hamlet (Crucible Theatre - 21 Sep 2010)

Shelley & Chris with John Simm after Hamlet (Crucible Theatre - 21 Sep 2010)

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The next day, Lisa & Mitch and I take a half-day trip by bus (I wasn’t ready to include passengers in my England driving adventures) to the nearby village of Eyam. Also known as the “Plague Village”, Eyam chose to isolate itself when the plague was discovered there in August 1665, rather than let the infection spread.

We took a walking self-guided tour of the town:

The illustrated map of the Derbyshire village of Eyam

The illustrated map of the Derbyshire village of Eyam

The main street of Eyam maintains the original row of cottages that still serve as modern day residences today. Each cottage has a sign in the front for visitors to learn more about the historical victims:

Sign for the Plague Cottages - The third victim of the Plague Peter Halksworth died here.

Sign for the Plague Cottages - The third victim of the Plague Peter Halksworth died here.

Gardens of Eyam Village

Gardens of Eyam Village

Hall Hill Troughs - est. 1558. They supplied regular domestic water for nearly 350 years

Hall Hill Troughs - est. 1558. They supplied regular domestic water for nearly 350 years

Eyam Hall - 17th C. Family Manor House & Historic Walled Garden

Eyam Hall - 17th C. Family Manor House & Historic Walled Garden

Eyam Church Cemetery

Eyam Church Cemetery

Eyam Church Cemetery

Eyam Church Cemetery

Tomb of Catherine Mompesson, who died of the plague 25 Aug 1666

Tomb of Catherine Mompesson, who died of the plague 25 Aug 1666

Celtic Cross - 8th Century A.D., Eyam

Celtic Cross - 8th Century A.D., Eyam

See more The Plague Village – Eyam, UK 2010 photos

After the tour, we stopped for lunch at The Miners Arms 17 C. Inn & Restaurant, plus B&B, where they have a list of all 27 Past Innkeepers dating back to 1630. Whoa!

Here’s a nifty little video by Peakdistrictonline that highlights perfectly what you can expect to see if you visit Eyam.

The history of Eyam is a very intriguing, thought-provoking study of human behavior and sacrifice, science and biology, population statistics, immunity and genealogy. I highly recommend a visit there!

Mitch, Lisa and I catch the bus back to Sheffield and get ready for Hamlet’s Opening Press Night!

Crucible Theatre at Tudor Square, Sheffield

Crucible Theatre at Tudor Square, Sheffield

This time Chris, Yvonne, Lisa and I were joined by Tracy (not the same Tracey whose car had broken down the night before) for the Premiere evening. There we saw a number of John’s peers, friends and family also in attendance, including Sir Ian McKellen, Frances Barber, Adrian Bower, Joe Duttine, Jason Merrels, Adam James, Siobhan Redmond, and John’s wife, actress Kate Magowan.

We were treated to an even more highly charged performance than the previous night by John Simm and Company. And on that note, Congratulations and Good luck to the entire Hamlet Sheffield Theatres Production on being nominated “Best Regional Production” in the 2011 What’s On Stage Awards!

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After staying three nights at the Travelodge Sheffield Central at the low budget rate of £19.00 a night and although I had no complaints at that price, I was beyond ready to splurge on something a little more swanky. Some place where the bar soap couldn’t be mistaken for a small wrapped mint.

I threw my luggage into my trusty Astra ride and drove a couple miles south to the Copthorne Hotel next to Sheffield United Football Club‘s stadium:

Copthorne Hotel next to Sheffield United Football Club’s stadium

Copthorne Hotel next to Sheffield United Football Club’s stadium

But before checking into my new posh digs, I took a walk to the nearby shops on The Moor and stopped at the Sainsbury’s Superstore to pick up my other “Must-Have-When-in-the-North-of-England” food, my all-time favorite cheese…Lancashire Cheese.

At the registers, the checkout lady picked up on my American accent and asked about my visit and what I had done so far in Sheffield. When I told her about seeing John Simm in Hamlet, she surprised me (but then, why?) by saying she’d been to see Hamlet, too. Wow, how cool! I could see I still wasn’t entirely used to being in a place where people knew exactly who I was talking about, let alone equally contributing to the moment! 😀

I walked out of Sainsbury’s feeling curiously uplifted…and into…an unanticipated downpour of rain.

The Moor Sheffield

The Moor Sheffield

Now, I DO love the rain. But with no coat, hat, or umbrella I quickly turned into a drowned rat carrying orange grocery bags as I walked back to the Copthorne. I tried to look like I purposely intended to be dripping wet as I checked-in at the trendy Reception desk.

Once in my room, I reveled in beautiful blacks, creams and dark wood accommodations, with executive closets, accent lighting, luxury bathroom with heated mirror, club chair, desk, a small fridge and a recessed wall-mounted flat screen TV. There could be no better way to spend my last 3 nights in Sheffield!

That night I ate Lancashire cheese on buttered Jacob’s Cream Crackers and perused tourist pamphlets for ideas on what to sight-see over the next couple days.

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Since one of my primary reasons for hiring a car in England was to drive through the countryside, I decided to go for a nice easy drive south to the Masson Mills Working Textile Museum in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. Masson Mills, built in 1783 as the showpiece mills of Sir Richard Arkwright, is magnificently situated on the banks of the River Derwent.

Masson Mills – Working Textile Museum

Masson Mills – Working Textile Museum

Besides being a Working Textile Museum, Masson Mills is also a Shopping Village with four floors of shopping and a cafe, too. I took a self-guided tour inside the Museum which included the following caution:

Masson Mills Working Textile Museum contains working machinery and it is recommended that you do not remain in the areas where machines are working for longer than 15 minutes in total. The Textile Museum Staff have earplugs which are available for your use.

Here’s a video comprised of 3 short clips I took to illustrate the museum and what it sounds like:

And now for some quiet pics! 😉

Doubling Machine

Doubling Machine

Warping Mill - Circa 1890, made by W. Whiteley & Sons of Lockwood, Huddersfield.

Warping Mill - Circa 1890, made by W. Whiteley & Sons of Lockwood, Huddersfield.

Lancashire and Yorkshire looms, weaving traditional cloth.

Lancashire and Yorkshire looms, weaving traditional cloth.

Weaving Shed

Weaving Shed

Masson Mills - Working Textile Museum

Masson Mills - Working Textile Museum

Masson Mills - Working Textile Museum

Masson Mills - Working Textile Museum

Masson Mills - Working Textile Museum

Masson Mills - Working Textile Museum

Masson Mills - Working Textile Museum

Masson Mills - Working Textile Museum

A short distance south of Masson Mills lies Arkwright’s Cromford Mill – the world’s first successful water-powered cotton spinning mills. The complex was saved from dereliction in the 1970’s and is currently undergoing painstaking restoration.

I stopped in to have a look around and visit the exhibition and gift shop, but I was much more delighted by the sights as I strolled along the Cromford Canal:

Cromford Wharf

Cromford Wharf

(Remember – click on photos for bigger view!)

Quack Security Patrol - Cromford Canal Walk

Quack Security Patrol - Cromford Canal Walk

Cromford Canal Walk

Cromford Canal Walk

Cromford Canal Walk

Cromford Canal Walk

Cromford Canal Walk

Cromford Canal Walk

Cromford Canal Walk

Cromford Canal Walk

See more Masson Mills & Cromford Mills, Wharf & Canal, UK photos

I didn’t have enough time to complete the 3.5 mile Cromford Canal Walk, but I hope to someday!

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For my last full day in the UK, I decided on another short easy drive south to Hardwick Hall in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Hardwick Hall is one of Britain’s greatest Elizabethan houses and was built in the 1590’s by Bess of Hardwick, England’s second richest woman. Unchanged since, Hardwick Hall is “More Glass than Wall” and now home to a collection of rich tapestries and amazing plaster work, surrounded by 300 acres of grounds.

The New Hall of Hardwick Hall - "More Glass than Wall"

The New Hall of Hardwick Hall - "More Glass than Wall"

It was Elizabethan Weekend at Hardwick hall and at the entrance visitors were treated to some musicians and talks.

Introductory talk by 'Bess of Hardwick' as she welcomes visitors to her home.

Introductory talk by 'Bess of Hardwick' as she welcomes visitors to her home.

View from Hardwick Hall

View from Hardwick Hall

Hardwick Hall Garden

Hardwick Hall Garden

Hardwick Hall Back Garden

Hardwick Hall Back Garden

The Dining Room - Piano made by Broadwood dated 1812

The Dining Room - Piano made by Broadwood dated 1812

The Cut Velvet Bedroom - The bed was made in 1740's and brought to Hardwick hall in 1800s by the Duke of Devonshire.

The Cut Velvet Bedroom - The bed was made in 1740's and brought to Hardwick hall in 1800s by the Duke of Devonshire.

Carpet under restoration

Carpet under restoration

The Old Hall of Hardwick Hall - Birthplace of Bess of Hardwick

The Old Hall of Hardwick Hall - Birthplace of Bess of Hardwick

Exterior Remains of Old Hardwick Hall

Exterior Remains of Old Hardwick Hall

Looking out from inside the Old Hall

Looking out from inside the Old Hall

Plaster Overmantel in the Old Hall

Plaster Overmantel in the Old Hall

Pastry Room bread ovens for baking

Pastry Room bread ovens for baking

View of New Hardwick Hall from Old Hardwick Hall

View of New Hardwick Hall from Old Hardwick Hall

See more Hardwick Hall, Chesterfield, UK 2010 photos

I have to say that of all my sight-seeing so far this past week, my favorite has to be Hardwick Hall, and specifically, exploring the exterior shell of Old Hardwick Hall.

On the way back to Sheffield, I stopped for a couple hours in Chesterfield Town Centre in order to see for myself its famous “Crooked Spire” of St Mary and All Saints Church. The 228 foot Spire stands on the skyline like a question mark: how did it happen?

The "Crooked Spire" of Chesterfield Parish Church

The "Crooked Spire" of Chesterfield Parish Church

While in Chesterfield, I look for what would be my last meal before leaving the next morning back to Manchester Airport. Which authentic British favorite food could I have possibly missed so far while in the UK?

Right! Fish and Chips!

I found a Market Place chippy and over a massive piece of fish, I reflected back on my memorable week of meeting old and new friends, Shakespearean Theatre with the extraordinary John Simm and sight-seeing through Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Looking back at the Derwent Valley link with its map of all the attractions I hadn’t seen yet can only mean one thing, that I’ll just have to come back! 😉

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Next morning I’m on the road by 6 am to Manchester. It’s Sunday and the A57 aka “Snake Pass” is very quiet. I have a serene, relaxing drive all the way to the Hertz car park at Manchester Airport.

It’s still early when I proudly return the Astra to the Hertz-guy, who quickly burst my bubble during his walk-around damage inspection of my Trusty Ride, by pointing out that there’s a nick in the sidewall of one of the tires.

“Seriously?” I think, trying not to bust out laughing while imagining myself saying, “Mr. Hertz-guy, I think we should concern ourselves more with the fact that there’s not a crack in the wheel itself, or bloodstains on the left side of the car…or a dented rear bumper either, since I never got out of the habit of looking over the wrong shoulder every time I reversed the car this past week.”

Better yet, I guess the moment as I was handing over the Astra keys to Mr. Hertz-guy, I should’ve told him I saw John Simm in Hamlet?

Life is a Ride…In Germany

I was invited to a family BBQ in Germany. I live in Southern California.

Not a problem!

My friend, the talented musician, film composer and singer Andreas “Zippy” Betten, invited me to Sunday BBQ  just as I was about to fly to Frankfurt for a 4-day progressive horseback trail ride through the beautiful Westerwald region of Germany.

I arrived at Frankfurt airport Sunday morning, quickly passed through customs, only to wait longer for my luggage, and then bought a ticket for a high-speed ICE train.  OK, I knew I was already certifiably BONKERS over transportation via the Tube, which is my MOST favorite thing when in London. So, it’s really no surprise that I quickly became enamored with the ICE as well!

I’d have another opportunity to indulge in my new ICE craze later on, but right now, I was more focused on meeting Andreas and his family!

I first came to know Andreas from the varied assortment of projects that he is attached to. My original favorite is his joint success with Olaf Wollschläger as music duo Vorsprung durch Technik.

Yello fans may be familiar with this RARE remix by Vorsprung durch Technik that you can listen to right now:

Vicious Games 12″ Mix (Hardfloor Vs. Yello) by Vorsprung Durch Technik

or if you’re a fan of BBC’s Doctor Who, check out my video with my favorite Vorsprung durch Technik song, “Blink”:  Blink – Doctor Who vs Vorsprung durch Technik.

Andreas Betten plays it all and a few of my other favorite and notable projects of his include:

I get to Düsseldorf area right on time and after a warm welcome from Andreas and family, some chit chat and a visit to a nearby ranch for a little horsey warm-up ride in the countryside, we’re ready for ein Bier and a BBQ!

Which brings me now to my first unforgettable picture moment since arriving in Germany. Andreas had mentioned he might use a hair-dryer to get the coals ready, but I didn’t think he was serious! Well here’s the evidence!

[note:  throughout this blog click on pics for larger version]

Musician Andreas Betten composing the perfect hotmedley of coals with a hair-dryer

Musician Andreas Betten composing the perfect hot medley of coals with a hair-dryer

What’s this!? Is this how they grill in Germany? I’ve never seen that back home in California! I did a little research and found this link, The Best Way to Start BBQ Coals! Hmmpf, looks like I must’ve fallen off the BBQ Bandwagon!

The BBQ, meal and evening was absolutely wonderful. I am entirely humbled again by the fabulous warmth and generosity of my German friends. I am reminded of last year when I met Silke and her family in Berlin (see Berlin Blog) and now again with meeting Andreas and his beautiful family…I must say that German people are an absolute treasure, and pleasure to be acquainted with.

The next day, Andreas took me into Köln (Cologne) for lunch and a few hours of sightseeing.  Here is the infamous Früh where locals say every visitor to the city must eat at least one meal here to get a flavor of Cologne:

Lunch and Kölsch at Früh

Lunch and Kölsch (beer) at Früh

Next we walked along the Rhine River.  This is the most heavily used railway bridge in Germany, connecting the stations Köln Hauptbahnhof and Köln Messe/Deutz with each other:

Hohenzollernbrücke (Hohenzollern bridge) over the Rhein River

Hohenzollernbrücke (Hohenzollern bridge) over the Rhein River

Pegel Köln water gauge stands in the old town of Köln (Cologne) and measures the water level on the Rhein River:

Pegel Köln water gauge

Pegel Köln water gauge

Great St. Martin Church:

Great St. Martin Church

Great St. Martin Church along the Rhein Riverwalk

The Kölner Philharmonie where one is not permitted to walk across the open red-bricked plaza during a concert because it echoes down to the performance below:

Kölner Philharmonie with Kölner Dom behind

Kölner Philharmonie with Kölner Dom behind

Living Statues.  These silver people stay perfectly still until you tip them and then they’ll move!

(click pic for larger view!)

Living Statue People in Köln

Living Statue People in Köln – This couple were phenomenal!!

Cologne Cathedral is a World Heritage Site and one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany. As Cologne‘s most famous landmark, described by UNESCO as an “exceptional work of human creative genius”, it is visited by 20 thousand people every day.

Kölner Dom

Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)

Inside Cologne Cathedral

Inside Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)

Inside Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) – The nave looking East

This “swallows’ nest” organ was built into the gallery in 1998, to celebrate the cathedral’s 700 years. It was constructed at the east end of the nave on the north wall, which is considered an excellent location for organs in Gothic cathedrals.The nave organ has Great, Swell, Back Positive, and Pedal divisions, 3,963 pipes and 53 stops.

Inside Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)

Inside Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) – Nave organ.

The most celebrated work of art in the cathedral is the Shrine of the Three Kings, a large gilded sarcophagus dating from the 13th century, and the largest reliquary in the Western world. It is traditionally believed to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men, whose bones and 2,000-year-old clothes were discovered at the opening of the shrine in 1864.

The Shrine of the Three Kings (Kölner Dom)

The Shrine of the Three Kings (Kölner Dom)

See more pics in my Köln (Cologne) photo album.

Before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye to lovely Andreas who suggested I take a slower regional train in order to enjoy scenic views of the Rhine and Lahn rivers on the way to my next destination, Limburg an der Lahn.

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Limburg is one of a handful of towns where almost every medieval building has survived intact. The entire central area between the cathedral and the 600 year old Lahn bridge stands under historic preservation. Visible for miles around, Limburg Dom (Limburg Cathedral) is a masterpiece of late-Romanesque architecture with a distinctive facade of red and white that dominates the old quarter.

Limburg Dom (Limburg Cathedral) overlooking the River Lahn

Limburg Dom (Limburg Cathedral) overlooking the River Lahn

I had a day and a half to sight-see Limburg and couldn’t wait to wander around this Disney-like town with it’s narrow streets and half-timbered houses.

The Altstadt (Old Town) - Limburg

The Altstadt (Old Town) is full of narrow streets with timber-frame houses, dating mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries

Next day around noon (jet-lag still lurking!!) I had my first meal of the day at an ice cream specialty cafe. A Cappuccino and a Crepe with warm apfelmus (applesauce).

For the next 5 hours I walked all over Limburgh and took tons of pics! Pics of half-timbered buildings and related detail like doors, streets and cobblestones. Here’s just a few favs:

Did I mention the Altstadt (Old Town) has narrow streets?

The Altstadt (Old Town) - Limburg

Did I mention Limburg is Disney-like?

The Altstadt (Old Town) - Limburg

Eventually, my lower back complaining and appetite competing for attention, I found a Bitburger place for a large beer and warm baguette mit Peperoni und Käse. OMG! It was huge, hot, gooey, cheesy and perfect with the beer. I devoured both! 😉 Had a baileys coffee after. Ahhh-h-h, Vacations are great!

Next day I came across this fountain memorial. In the 14th century Friedrich von Hattstein was appointed governor of the city and was feared for his strength because he could lift a wine barrel and drink from it.

Hattstein Memorial water fountain for former robber baron Friedrich von Hattstein

Hattstein Memorial water fountain for former robber baron Friedrich von Hattstein.

While the most touristy part of Limburg has cute specialty shops, just a few streets away there is a modern shopping strip near the Rathaus (Town Hall) with major outlets (H&M) etc.

Limburg is celebrating 1100 years (910-2010)!

Limburg is celebrating 1100 years (910-2010)!

Can you believe (pic above) that Limburg is celebrating 1100 Years in 2010?

Pusteblume (Dandelion) Fountain and St. Anna-Kirche (church)

Pusteblume (Dandelion) Fountain and St. Anna-Kirche (church)

While I paused for a break and enjoyed the Dandelion fountain pictured above, I spied this little charmer down at my feet… (don’t forget to click the pic for a bigger bug view! 😀 )

Forest Shield Bug

A Forest Shield Bug of the Pentatomidae family. Common in central Europe and British Isles

No visit to Limburg is complete without a stop at the Cathedral also known as Georgsdom or Limburger Dom after its dedication to Saint George. I realized almost too late that I hadn’t worked my way up to the Dom yet, but just as I did these amazing, lovely bells began ringing.  I took a three minute vid to capture the sound as I walked up to it…the bells rang on for about 10 minutes!!

Limburger Dom (Limburg Cathedral) - Saint George's

Limburger Dom (Limburg Cathedral), one of the most complete creations of Late Romanesque architecture

Another must-see in Limburg is to walk along the riverside of the Lahn for views of  natural art exhibitions, swans, longboat canoers and paddle wheels:

The River Lahn and Old Lahn Bridge

The River Lahn and Old Lahn Bridge

Along the Lahn Riverwalk there was an Art Exhibition that used the natural elements to blend in the displays.

Kunst am Fluss - Kunst im Fluss

Kunst am Fluss – Kunst im Fluss (Art on the River – Art in the river)

Plus other river related sights:

Lahn Riverwalk

Lahn Riverwalk

Longboat canoers:

Lahn Riverwalk

Lahn Riverwalk

Oh look another ICE Train reference below! Stay tuned for my big ICE Train finale! 😀

Lahn Riverwalk

Lahn Valley Bridge on the A3, behind is the ICE bridge and in foreground is a campground

Color Mill Wheel

Farbmühle

Farbmühle

And on the last morning after sight-seeing all of Limburg and the river Lahn, here’s a lovely blue-sky view from my hotel room.

Limburger Dom (Limburg Cathedral) - Saint George's

Limburger Dom (Limburg Cathedral) – Saint George’s

See more pics in my Limburg an der Lahn photo album.

Woo-Hoo!! Next up is my much anticipated Germany Equestrian Adventure! The last time I took an equestrian vacation was in 2000 at the Castle Leslie Estate in County Monaghan, Ireland. Yes, I’d say I was long overdue!!

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Unlike my trip in Ireland where we stayed at the centre the entire week and rode our horses into the surrounding estate grounds for daily cross-country jumping and gallops, this Germany trip was a 4 day, Progressive Drei-Täler-Trail (3-Valley-Ride).  I had selected this trip from HiddenTrails.com, a great internet provider of premier equestrian vacations world-wide, plus more!

Our fearless trail guide for the 3 Valley Ride was Jens Hammer who arrived in Limburg to collect me and another rider (Sara from New Zealand) to take us to the home ranch at Hofgut Molsberg for an overnight stay.

Street View of Hofgut Molsberg

Street View of Hofgut Molsberg

Hofgut Molsberg is a fabulous facility with simple, clean, warm accommodations and shower, a banquet hall, private home, large stable and extensive pastures.

Hofgut Molsberg

Entrance to Hofgut Molsberg – Wanderreiten (Trail-Riding) im Westerwald und Taunus

My equestrian partner “Amel” is out there in that pasture!

The Pastures at Hofgut Molsberg

The Pastures at Hofgut Molsberg

oh, a little filly!  Check her out in action! Filly Fun Video

Family Life at Hofgut Molsberg

Family Life at Hofgut Molsberg

3 Valley Ride: Day 1 – Three other german riders arrived in the morning (Michelle, Rica, and Björn) and after fetching our horses from the field, grooming, tacking, plus a short lesson on how to properly roll up oilskin duster/raincoats to tie down behind our saddles, we set off for a 4-6 hour ride into the Westerwald region.

We were scheduled to stop every 90 minutes for a break and be met by Klaus who not only had our luggage with him in his van but had also stocked some refreshments for us.

Within the first 90 minutes into the ride Sara’s horse had gone lame.  We were delayed as Jens made arrangements to have another horse swapped in. When we set off again we were very behind schedule and in order to reach our first overnight stop before dark, we rode straight on with no more breaks. Along the way we were overtaken by a heavy rain and stopped long enough to unroll and put on the oilskin rain dusters to keep ourselves and our saddles dry. When the rain stopped we made up some time with breath-taking gallops through glistening rain soaked green meadows!  That first day we were also treated to the sights of a herd of deer running across the hill before us and also a large European brown hare that gave us a wide berth.

At 7 pm we had reached the Bruchhäuser Mühle…

Dinnertime - End of Day 1

Dinnertime – End of Day 1

…where we enjoyed a fabulous Inn-style dinner together and comfortable rooms to recover overnight.  I was expecting to be sore from riding but found that although my muscles were not really aching, my poor seat bones were quite tender! Even sitting down on a soft bed was to be done with caution!  I decided a couple Motrin tablets would help take the edge off.  I tried not to think about having to sit in that hard saddle for another 4-6 hour ride the next day.

Start of Day 2 - Bruchhäuser Mühle Inn

Start of Day 2 – Bruchhäuser Mühle

3 Valley Ride: Day 2 – The next morning arrived quickly.  After breakfast together we set off and began a steep climb up through wooded terrain to skirt along near the top of the ridge with a dizzying slope down our right side.  Seeing the steep slope from our narrow trail, we couldn’t help but recall that famous scene from “The Man from Snowy River” known simply as, “Jim’s Ride” (watch first minute):

Oddly, no one opted to take the “The Snowy River” shortcut 😉 so we took the long way down into the next valley. And a good thing too, since that meant we could delight in this picturesque view of Obernhof:

Obernhof - In the distance is Cloister of Anstein

Obernhof – In the distance is Cloister of Anstein

We ended up going right down through Obernhof using that center road pictured above. Then spent a good portion of the day going in and out, back and forth and within a river creek that substituted as our trail. The creek was shallow enough and Jens kept us out of the deep parts but it also had a VERY rocky bottom. Getting into the river meant facing the horse straight down the muddy bank and letting them slide their way down and in. Getting out meant just hang on as they clamber out!

At one point a 10 cm branch was blocking our path about chest-high on the horses.  Most obstructions we would squeeze under, over or around as needed but this time Jens took a few minutes to saw through it with his utility knife.

This day was full of “Situations” (a fast-becoming familiar phrase of Jens’) and I had a full appreciation of how very fit and safe his horses were. They knew their job and were pros!

We stopped for a hearty lunch at Mittelmühle.  Later that afternoon I remember thinking perhaps I shouldn’t have ate so much… as we were galloping hell-bent-for-leather during our fastest gallop yet! Yee-Haw! 😀

Even with our fast gallops it was dusk when we reached the very tiny village of Bärbach. Tiny Bärbach consists of 5 homes and 16 residents. I am soon thrilled to know that we will stay here for two nights!  My internet connection on my iPhone was random at best, suddenly I felt like I was truly on a remote vacation from my normal daily life. Our wonderful host, Christoph (not sure I have his name spelled right) fixed delicious home-made dinners and desserts for us.

Fabulous host in Bärbach - Christoph

Fabulous host in Bärbach – Christoph

My favorite that Christoph made was the Frankfurter specialty, Grüne Soße. I found the perfect description of this delicious, locally found dish here –>  Frankfurt on Foot City Guide: Frankfurt Grüne Sosse or Green Sauce and a nice photo that portrays this dish perfectly:

Grüne Soße - (c) Klaus-Uwe Gerhardt pixelio.de

Grüne Soße (Green Sauce) – © Klaus-Uwe Gerhardt pixelio.de

3 Valley Ride: Day 3 – We took a break from the previous two days’ riding schedule.  After a leisurely start we ride a short 90 minutes to have lunch at the foot of Burg Hohlenfels. We stopped for some pictures along the way:

Wanderreiten in Deutschland ist prima!

Wanderreiten in Deutschland ist prima!

Burg Hohlenfels (Castle) in the distance

Burg Hohlenfels (Castle) in the distance

While the horses took an extended break:

Day 3 - Lunch Break

Day 3 – Lunch Break

I enjoyed another German specialty:

Spiegeleier mit rohen Schinken

Spiegeleier mit rohen Schinken = YUMMY!

After a long lunch we headed back to Bärbach, stopping along the way at Schauferts Brewery for a couple Biers!  I can see one of our horses in the background is wishing he could join us!! 🙂

Courtyard at Schauferts Brewery

Courtyard at Schauferts Brewery

I had ein helles Bier und ein dunkles Bier:

Schauferts- Hell und Schauferts-Dunkel

Schauferts- Hell und Schauferts-Dunkel

Yep, Vacations are Grand!

3 Valley Ride: Day 4 – For our last day we were back on schedule with another 4-6 hour ride ahead of us because this time we needed to go all the way back to our origination point of Molsberg. We took as much of a direct route as possible in order to cover about 30 km or 18 miles before dark.

In the morning we rode through lovely Balduinstein

Balduinstein on der Lahn river

Balduinstein on der Lahn river

and stopped for a break

Day 4 - Morning Break in Balduinstein

Day 4 – Morning Break in Balduinstein

By Day 4 me and my seat bones were finally in the groove and it was a great final ride!  After our break in Balduinstein there was a steep hill range we had to cross. Jens said we needed to do this starting at a trot (to make it easier for the horses than walking up), then switch to a gallop…while on a narrow path no wider than a picnic table. And we had to do this singularly without stopping on the way up. Jens said just give (loosen) completely with the reins, hang on to our horse’s mane midway up and rise out of the saddle off their backs. Similar to how we got out of the river each time on Day 2, but this was a longer steep uphill stretch, with serpentine-switchback turns through bushes and trees, and all to be done at speed.

My horse Amel was a beauty! 🙂 All the horses did great, although puffing, as we took a quick break at the top.  A great excuse to check out the view of nearby Schloss (Castle) Schaumburg!

Schloß Schaumburg (Castle) in the distance

Schloß Schaumburg (Castle) in the distance

Towards the end of the day as we were almost back at Molsberg, we had a couple of special fast gallops; one was a race up a grassy meadow, and the other a final mad dash in the woods with hooves clattering loudly and flinging bits of hard mud everywhere!!! WOW what a great time that was! I think I need to continue to see the rest of the world via horseback!

See more pics in my Drei-Täler-Trail (3-Valley-Ride) photo album.

Jens Hammer - Our fantastic horse ride guide!

Jens Hammer – Fantastic horse trail guide! (http://www.derwanderreiter.de)

The next day we said our goodbyes as Jens dropped Sara and I off at the Limburg Süd station to catch our flights out of Frankfurt.

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As my Germany trip was coming to an end and while waiting for my ICE train, I had time to indulge in watching other ICE trains in action. Standing at the station when these trains blow through at speed will provide enough of a thrill to give you goosebumps and make your hairs stand on end!

Limburg Süd station

Limburg Süd station is the only railway station in Germany at which exclusively high-speed rail ICE trains stop.

The Limburg Süd station has four tracks in total. Two tracks are equipped with a platform while the other two allow through trains to pass the station unobstructed at speeds of up to 300 km/h. That’s 186 MPH!!!

Here’s some excellent vids to demonstrate for you now… the one …the only… ICE Train!

First listen to the cool sound (at about 10 sec) of one departing, no wait, that would be…ACCELERATING from Limburg Süd. I think it’s trying to lift off!  Select to watch in HD!

Here’s one passing through Limburg Süd station at speed!

And because I don’t want you to leave until you get a truer sense of the sheer RUSH one feels as these trains fly by at 300 km/186 mph, here’s an excellent vid with just a single word of German commentary…“Scheiße!!” (Shit!!).

What would YOU say if you were the one taking this video??

Yow-Zah! That train sounds more like a Jet, eh??

Thanks for being my passenger as I discover that “Life is a Ride”.

One Week in Berlin – 2009

 

Following my one week in London, I spent a week in Berlin!  To go, or not to go, to Berlin, was a last minute decision that I finally made about a week before leaving for London.  In fact, I was still booking tours for Berlin one evening from my London Hotel!

I wonder now how I ever, for one moment, debated not going at all!  Especially with compelling reasons like these:

  1. I had the vacation time already set
  2. I have vowed to visit other International places besides the UK (tho’ I love UK so! 😀 )
  3. I’ve been learning the German language for about 5 months now
  4. I have friends in Germany to meet
  5. My favorite Swiss Music Duo, Yello, would be launching their first album in six years and their first concert in nearly 30!
  6. My best friend Jonathan bought one ticket to the concert and sold it to me!!

This was my first trip to Berlin, and Germany, so my goal was to see an overview of attractions and hope later to revisit my favorite parts in more detail. Yello’s World Premiere Virtual Concert wasn’t until later in the week, so until then I had plenty of time for a number of tours.

Here’s one of my first impressions of Berlin when I went for a walk the first Sunday afternoon near my hotel.

 

Park - Möllendorffstraße

Park - Möllendorffstraße

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I took the bulk of my pics during two boat tours of Berlin’s Bridges and Waterways.  Here’s a sampling:

(Note: Throughout this blog, click on pictures for larger view)

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Deutscher Bundestag

Deutscher Bundestag

German Chancellery, Berlin

German Chancellery, Berlin

Marie-Elisabeth Lüders Haus

Marie-Elisabeth Lüders Haus

Marie-Elisabeth Lüders Haus

Marie-Elisabeth Lüders Haus

Bridge connecting Paul Löbe Haus & Marie-Elisabeth Lüders Haus

Bridge connecting Paul Löbe Haus & Marie-Elisabeth Lüders Haus

Berlin Boat Tour

Berlin Boat Tour

Bodemuseum

Bodemuseum

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I also took a “Hop On-Hop Off” Bus tour to do some wandering on my own as well:

 

Berlin Wall remains

Berlin Wall remains

Berliner Dom

Berliner Dom

Danziger/Hagenauer Straße, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin

Danziger/Hagenauer Straße, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin

 

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On Wednesday, I ventured out of Berlin and saw some countryside during the 2 hour bus trip to and from beautiful Dresden.

 

Between Berlin and Dresden

Between Berlin and Dresden

Dresden on the River Elbe

Dresden on the River Elbe

Theaterplatz facing The Catholic Church of the Royal Court of Saxony, Dresden

Theaterplatz facing The Catholic Church of the Royal Court of Saxony, Dresden

Semperoper, Dresden

Semperoper, Dresden

Zwinger Palace, Dresden

Zwinger Palace, Dresden

Detail - Zwinger Palace, Dresden

Detail - Zwinger Palace, Dresden

Between Dresden and Berlin

Between Dresden and Berlin

 

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When I returned from Dresden it was a perfect opportunity to capture some night shots along Berlin’s Tauentzienstraße, which included the mega-store equivalent of London’s Harrods, KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens).

 

'Berlin' in the middle of the Tauentzienstraße

'Berlin' in the middle of the Tauentzienstraße

KaDeWe Store, Berlin

KaDeWe Store, Berlin

KaDeWe Main Entrance, Berlin

KaDeWe Main Entrance, Berlin

 

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Besides boat and bus tours…I also booked a fantastic, well-presented 4 hour walking tour.  The tour guide really brought to life Berlin’s history for me.

 

German Historical Museum, Berlin

German Historical Museum, Berlin

 

Lustgarten, Berlin

Lustgarten, Berlin

Mother with her Dead Son - The Neue Wache (The New Guard House), Berlin

Mother with her Dead Son - The Neue Wache (The New Guard House), Berlin

Memorial for the book burnings of 1933, Bebelplatz, Berlin

Memorial for the book burnings of 1933, Bebelplatz, Berlin

Quadriga, Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)

Quadriga, Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

Französischer Dom (French Cathedral), Berlin

Französischer Dom (French Cathedral), Berlin

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By this time I was suffering from sight-seeing overload and beyond ready to meet up with Yello fans and get excited about the Yello Virtual Concert that night!

 

Touch Yello World Premiere Virtual Concert, Kino International Berlin

Touch Yello World Premiere Virtual Concert, Kino International Berlin

Touch Yello World Premiere Virtual Concert, Kino International Berlin

Touch Yello World Premiere Virtual Concert, Kino International Berlin

Yello is a Swiss electronica band consisting of Dieter Meier and Boris Blank.  Fans of Yello have been fairly resigned to never expect to see a live performance.  But, what a great idea to present a Virtual Concert!!  Yello’s new songs, plus some of their classics, featured in a 50 minute film with awesome graphics set to a concert theatre backdrop!

The evening began with Boris taking a seat in the theatre with the audience while Dieter did introductions and presentations.  We were then treated to live music performances by each of two artists, Heidi Happy and Till Brönner, who are featured on the new Touch Yello album.

Then, it was roll on the Virtual Yello Concert!!! AND…which ended with a ten-minute long standing ovation as Dieter and Boris both took to the stage for final thanks and acknowledgments …SERIOUSLY, I have never seen anything like it!!

For more about just how special the night was for everyone involved, here’s a great written recap of the night or watch the equally great video recap below…

Look for me in the background (@ 6:27) talking to my new Yello fan-friends, Jens and Michael! 😀

But that’s not all!  Everyone at the concert was invited to an after-party and it was incredibly cool to see Dieter and Boris hanging out as well with their families!  Fans could continue to approach them for autographs, pics and general chit-chat.  I met up with Boris a second time and quickly snagged Michael off the dance floor to take a pic for me!

Shelley, Boris Blank - Touch Yello Premiere After Party, Kino International Berlin

Shelley, Boris Blank - Touch Yello Premiere After Party, Kino International Berlin

Boris is all kinds of awesome!  😀

And many thanks again to Michael for the pic!  Speaking of…here’s an example of just how happy us Yello fans were that night!

 

Shelley, Michael, Jens - Touch Yello Premiere After Party, Kino International Berlin

Shelley, Michael, Jens - Touch Yello Premiere After Party, Kino International Berlin

 

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Wow, the main event has passed and the next couple days were a bit more relaxed pace for me.  I took a short bus tour one afternoon to Potsdam and toured Sanssouci Palace.

 

Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam

Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam

Gardens of Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam

Gardens of Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam

Stairs to Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam

Stairs to Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam

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My final evening in Berlin and as with my last night in London, it was certainly not the least of times to meet NEW friends!  I met Silke (who’s been suffering through my attempts at learning German 😉 ) along with her husband and son for a wonderful dinner and plenty of drink!  I was introduced to the Brazilian cocktail, caipirinha, that may well replace my Mojito’s at my next summer party!  😀

Shelley, Silke - La Mulata Cuban restaurant, Berlin

Shelley, Silke - La Mulata Cuban restaurant, Berlin

 

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Sunday morning 8 am.

I’m stood waiting with luggage at the bus stop for Tegel airport and my flight home.  I look up…and see… the Fernsehturm Berlin (Television Tower).

 

Fernsehturm Berlin (Television Tower)

Fernsehturm Berlin (Television Tower)

This tower is not a new sight for me.  It has been visible throughout my week in Berlin since day one and quickly became a “Where’s Waldo” in many of my pics.

The tower is a symbol of Berlin and I find it unquestionably perfect that this would inevitably become the very last picture that I took of Berlin.  The final picture to not only wrap up my memories of my week there, but also my wonderful 2-week vacation that started in London.

See more Pics from Berlin, Germany

(See “One Week in London” Blog)

 

 

One Week in London – 2009

It’s two years since my last trip to London and this time my agenda was to primarily just hang out and meet up with old and new friends. I had timed this trip to coincide with friend Chris (who lives an hour or so away from me in southern California and) who would also be in London for part of her trip in the UK.

Fortunately, just four days after booking my flight I suddenly had a new purpose for my trip…the announcement that my favorite actor John Simm would be on stage in a new play in the West End! That’s great! I was so very fortunate to see him two years before in Elling and after his beautiful performance I vowed never to miss any opportunity to see him on stage…and the next time would also be more than once!

But first, no trip to London is complete without meeting up with Denzylle who I’ve known for about ten years now. On Monday, Denzylle and I had the opportunity to join Chris and her friend Tony for their day planned full of splendid activities, which included:

The Darkest Victorian London Walking Tour and a visit to

The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret

Spiral stairwell entrance-Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret

Spiral stairwell entrance-Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret

Operating Theatre

Operating Theatre

Scale in the Herb Garret

Scale in the Herb Garret

After a short pub crawl we end up at the The Anchor

Denzylle, Chris, Shelley, Tony at The Anchor Pub

Denzylle, Chris, Shelley, Tony at The Anchor Pub

By then it was about time for the four of us to see John Simm in “Speaking in Tongues” at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

John Simm in 'Speaking in Tongues' at The Duke of York's Theatre

John Simm in ‘Speaking in Tongues’ at The Duke of York’s Theatre

I really enjoyed this play during its preview run. The split screen scenes with the synchronized scripts are incredibly interwoven and the timing is unbelievable work. John’s 2nd role is my fav of his two. Story is mainly on relationships, communication and trust, with great suspense scenes, a missing woman and some funny lines to ease things a bit here and there.

After the performance we met John at the stage door exit for a group pic! 😀

Shelley, John Simm, Chris at the Duke of York's Theatre

Shelley, John Simm, Chris at the Duke of York’s Theatre

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One of my passions is that I am a lifelong horse-lover and learned to ride as an adult. In addition to my day job, I spent 10 years of concentrated schooling at a few equestrian centers on hunters-jumpers, attended a handful of clinics given by professionals and inevitably, in order to offset my lesson and clinic expenses, worked part-time for a number of years at my last trainer’s barn. Unfortunately even supplementing my riding lessons wasn’t enough…it’s all very expensive and I had to give up riding for about the last 10 years now. 😦

BUT there’s nothing like a vacation to pull out all the stops and do the things we love to do the most! 🙂 So, I arranged for a 1-hour private guided hack/lesson at Wimbledon Village Stables. And that’s when I also experienced my first London Tube “Service has been Suspended” announcement while I was at the station ready to leave!!! Arrghhh! Service suspended at Putney Bridge?! Take a bus from there? LOL well by the time I tried to make other arrangements on the fly, I simply took the Tube as far as I could… and it seemed service was resumed because I made it all the way to Wimbledon and had a great ride out in the parklands.

Wimbledon Village Stables

Wimbledon Village Stables

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On previous trips I stayed in hotels in central London, but this time I tried the Docklands area and not only added the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) to my repertoire of London transport options, but also added new areas of sight-seeing which included the following:

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Royal Park Rose Garden

Greenwich Royal Park Rose Garden

Greenwich Park Groundskeeper

Greenwich Park Groundskeeper

The National Maritime Museum & Royal Observatory

National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

Royal Observatory Greenwich

Royal Observatory Greenwich

Prime Meridian Of The World - between East & West Hemispheres

Prime Meridian Of The World – between East & West Hemispheres

Prime Meridian Of The World - Longitude

Prime Meridian Of The World – Standing in both East & West Hemispheres!

Canary Wharf

1 Canada Square - Canary Wharf

1 Canada Square – Canary Wharf

1 Canada Square - Canary Wharf

1 Canada Square – Canary Wharf

West India Docks, near Canary Wharf

West India Docks, near Canary Wharf

Museum of London Docklands

Museum of London Docklands, West India Docks

Museum of London Docklands, West India Docks

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But hang on!! What’s with all the sight-seeing? I thought I was supposed to be meeting up with Old and New friends!!! I was thrilled to be able to join up again with Chris and Tony to meet briefly with writer, producer and director, Sacha Bennett for a quick coffee. Due to work commitment last Oct 2008, I had missed attending the London premiere of Sacha’s first feature film,  Tu£sday. Now, having seen both gorgeous films (also his award-winning short “Devilwood“), I cannot wait for more of his work! Sacha has a number of potential projects lined up…so hopefully the wait won’t be a long one!

 

Sacha Bennett, Shelley - The Breakfast Club, London

Sacha Bennett, Shelley – The Breakfast Club, London

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Later in the week I also met up again with Denzylle for the popular early evening Jack the Ripper Walking Tour!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friday I travelled to Houghton Regis to meet up with friend, David. The last time we met was all of 10 minutes at Piccadilly Circus! I blame the London Tube strike back then for my being late!

Well this time we certainly made a day of it! A Thousand Heartfelt Thanks to David’s lovely wife Kerrie for a perfect start in the morning by letting me ride her beautiful horse, Gemma, for a quick hack in the arena and then out in the surrounding lands.

A morning hack on Gemma (Wildmoor Gemini) - Thanks Kerrie! ;-)

A morning hack on Gemma (Wildmoor Gemini) – Thanks Kerrie! 🙂

Kerrie then let me borrow [or is that good riddance? ;-)] her husband for the rest of the day. David and I took a drive over to Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk for a brewery tour at the Greene King Visitor Centre.

On the way I noticed a bizarre traffic speed control device…which entails installing a physical barrier steadfastly in the one direction lane of traffic, thereby forcing cars to slow down or ultimately stop in order to move out into the opposite lane of oncoming traffic in order to get around the barrier. The hell?!?

"Give Way To Oncoming Vehicles" - Thanks, since there's a sign on a pole blocking my lane!!

“Give Way To Oncoming Vehicles” – Thanks, since there’s a sign on a pole blocking my lane!!

Anyway, I digress!! Back to the Brewery Tour!! Here’s a great pic of David (aka R.S. 😉 )

David - Green King Brewery, Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

David – Greene King Brewery, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Greene King Brewery tour - Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

Greene King Brewery tour – Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Greene King Brewery tour - Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

Greene King Brewery tour – Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Greene King Brewery tour - Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

Greene King Brewery tour – Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Beer Tasting Room, Greene King Brewery tour - Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

Beer Tasting Room, Greene King Brewery tour – Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

David, Shelley - Greene King Brewery

David, Shelley – Greene King Brewery

See more Brewery Pics in this album on Facebook

After the tour and beer tasting we were in need of a walk around town…

Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

…before getting in the car to head to our final destination, Harlow, Essex and…

THE DOGS at Harlow Stadium!!!

Harlow Stadium - Greyhound Racing

Harlow Stadium – Greyhound Racing

I love going to the racetrack to bet on the ponies but I had never been to a greyhound track!! I was really looking forward to this experience and indeed it was!

Harlow Greyhound Racetrack

Harlow Greyhound Racetrack

My fav bet in horse racing is an “Exacta Box” so I went with the same type of bet, “Reverse Forecast” for the dogs. I only need to pick the two dogs that I think will come in first and second or vice versa. This is actually 2 bets in one so my £1 wager cost £2 per race…steep I know! lol So, I was thrilled when one of my bets paid off!! I can’t remember how much I won exactly…about £15, I think? David won on one of his bets as well.

And They're OFF!  Harlow Greyhound Racetrack

And They’re OFF! Harlow Greyhound Racetrack

It’s still hard to pick winners even with only 6 dogs in every race. Horse racing has at least 2 times the number, you’d think dogs would be easier to get lucky!

Thanks again to David and Kerrie for such a fantastic day! David, I think next time it’s the Cheese Rolling event for us, then? 🙂

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Saturday, and while it may be my last full day in London, it’s certainly not the least of times, to finally meet NEW friends, plus one more chance after to see John Simm on stage!

Roy, Shelley - The Salisbury, London

Roy, Shelley – The Salisbury, London

Tracy, Shelley - The Salisbury, London

Tracy, Shelley – The Salisbury, London

Cath, Yvonne, Shelley - Duke of York's, London

Cath, Yvonne, Shelley – Duke of York’s, London

I also met new friend Leigh Ann but our pic together (also with Tracy plus another)…while absolutely hysterical…is still under review by the zany police!! LOL

See more Pics from my One Week in London in this photo album on Facebook

It’s hard to leave after such a wonderful week meeting wonderful friends, traveling the Tube, Bus, DLR, National Rail, seeing London again and the beautiful surrounding areas of England. But the only thing that saw me through my sadness in leaving was that my vacation holiday was only half over! Hey! Now that’s not too shabby! 😀 Early the next morning I was on my way to Heathrow Airport and Berlin, Germany!!

(See “One Week in Berlin” Blog)