21 July 2014

West Highland Lochs, Mountains and Castles - Scotland

After the gorgeous weather Edinburgh had the day that I arrived, the skies decided they would return to the more authentic grey and drizzly weather of a Scottish summer the next day. Would you believe that I actually didn't mind it? In fact, although I missed out on some great scenery due to the mist, I did get some amazing shots...very atmospheric don't you think?

Winding our way through the mountain, glens, along lochs and rivers I heard about the battles, the clans, and the infamous Rob Roy, all of which shaped Scotland's history. Our tour guide was funny and had an accent I could listen to for ages. So I listened. I listened as he talked about politics, agriculture and how rain makes a Scotsman happy because he knows one day it'll become whisky and how wrong Braveheart was, but why let history get in the way of a good film?

Our first stop was at Doune Castle, which Monty Python fans will recognise from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A quick photo stop at Kilchurn Castle next before finding ourselves on the set of Downton Abbey's Scottish relatives. Inverary Castle is the very real home of the Duke of Argyll (who married into THE Cadbury family), sections of which are open to the public. I'll have you know that I braved bucketing rain with a teeny umbrella just to get you some pics from the gardens. Your welcome ;) hehe.

Now how about this for atmospheric? Loch Lamond, it was our last stop before heading home. The water was beautifully clear and not as cold as i was expecting, but still too cold for my taste, not that I was planning on a taking a dip, I was happier on the banks of the loch hiding under a tree and watch it lap against the shore.

One of the things that really stuck with me was how crisp and clean the air was. You breathe it in and you just know that up until then you have been breathing in crap. Forget the pollution of London, I could tell the difference even in Edinburgh. The other thing that stuck with me is how unspoiled everything is, there is very little development and you can go for miles with only a small cottage here and there dotting the landscape. Scotland. Simply beautiful.

I know I'm a bit odd but am I the only one who notices how a place 'smells' when travelling?

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14 July 2014

Hello from bonnie Edinburgh!

Its amazing to be here during "summer" and im having a gret time. Even todays typically Scottish weather only served to add a bit of an authentic air to my tour of the West Highlands, castles and lochs ;) Cant wait to share more with you but for now im off to bed to rise early to search for the loch ness monster for another tour tomorrow so here is little taste of what I have been up to in Edinburgh and Scotland so far to keep you company till the next installment of my adventures in Scotland!

Edinburgh Castle in the sun

Love the name of this pub on the Grassmarket

Couldnt agree more!

For Monty Python fans

Just beautiful!

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10 July 2014

Sir John Soane's Museum

Imagine a Victorian terrace in the centre of London that looks on to a leafy green square. If your not paying attention you could easily pass right by this hidden London gem. It looks like all the other houses on the street - except for the line outside.

The Sir John Soane's Museum is one of London's more unique museums, and one of my favourites. I initially visited quite a few years ago and was blown away with what was hidden inside its normal exterior. Egyptian Sarcophagus, shelves of books, a Monks parlour, the clever picture room and more.

Last Tuesday I decided to go back for a visit during their monthly candlelit evenings. Walking into the front room again, the glow of the candles bouncing of the mirrors and glass cabinets overflowing with leather bound books, for a moment it was as though id stepped back in time.

By courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane’s Museum by Derry Moore
About the Museum

Sir John Soane was the son of a bricklayer who became a distinguished architect. He designed and built 12, 13, 14 Lincon's Inn Fields. Number 13 was home to his architectural designs, artifacts and antiquities which he cultivated into an impressive collection during his lifetime. "He established the house as a museum by Act of Parliament (1833) requiring that his romantic and poetic interiors be kept as they were at the time of his death." - soane.org

By courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane’s Museum by Lewis Bush
For a first visit, I'd recommend going during daytime opening hours as its easier to see Soane's collection and clever use of mirrors to light different rooms than it is by candlelight. My favourite part of the house is the picture room, make sure you visit and stick around for the demo - that's all I'm saying. There is a current project to reinstate Soane’s own bedroom, bathroom, oratory, book passage and Model Room and Mrs Soane’s Morning Room so soon enough there will be even more to see.

By courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane’s Museum by Derry Moore

Visiting Sir John Soane's Museum
  • Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm
  • Free entry :)
  • The candlelight openings occur on the 1st Tuesday of the month at 6pm though the line outside starts forming much earlier.
  • No photography is allowed.
  • Try not to take any bulky or big bags with you.
  • Closest tube station is Holborn
  • Full address 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP

Have you found a hidden gem in London?

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07 July 2014

How do you blog?

I'm curious, how do you blog?

Everyone has a style that works for them and we all occasionally hit a lull, rut or a bout of writers block. I want to know, what do you do to keep yourself motivated? Do you write when inspiration hits or do you have a set routine? Where do you write? At home, in bed, kitchen table, or a sneaky moment at work? Do you spend hours on your photos? I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours ;) 

Actually, I figure, I have me some lovely bloggers through this blog and each comes across differently through their blogs, as well as each telling me at one point or other of life getting in the way (been there!). I'm going to share what I do and I'd love it if you commented (or wrote your own post and shared the link) to tell me what you do.


So, how do I blog?

I usually *try* to post Mondays and Thursdays though, that doesn't always happen. Sometimes I have a list of topics sitting in my drafts to prompt me and other times I have something interesting I've done recently I cant wait to share with you. Having a schedule has made me feel guilty if I've missed a post, but also, not having a schedule used to make me lazy and not get anything done at all!

If  the post is about something I've done, I usually start with the photos. This takes most of my time, selecting, editing and watermarking my images. I don't always use all of them, it usually depends on what I write. My Holland Park had about 50 photos that were eventually whittled down to 12. How do I write? I tend to get writers block quite a lot. Sometimes I need to leave a post if its not working and go back to it later, find a different angle that interests me and that usually does the trick.


I'm a night owl, most of my posts are written at night, usually with the TV going in the background while I sit on the ground in front of my laptop which, in turn, sits on the coffee table. Other times, when I have writers block, I type up the beginning of a post on my mobile phone, usually on my way to meet friends or something that requires me to hop on a train.

When life gets in the way, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. I find that reading through some of my favourite blogs tends to help. Failing that, I like walking London for inspiration or doing something new and different that I'd love to write about.

Is there anything else you'd like to know? What do you do?

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03 July 2014

Royal Courts of Justice Tour, London

Beeps, clattering and quiet voices echo as people file through the security screening at the entrance and into the grand hall. It's sandstone walls and mosaic floors illuminated by the large Gothic arched windows.

A sign across from me says "This Grade 1 listed building is one of the largest wonders of Gothic revival architecture in England." 

I feel under dressed and out of place in my grey trousers and black t-shirt while everyone else around me is in suits or formal wear. Oh well, at least I don't stick out too much I think, join my tour group and hand our guide, Brian, a tenner.

I'm in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. They are open to the public to freely go in during the weekday and even sit in on hearings. Also, if you are interested, there is an exhibition of Legal Dress which includes robes, wigs and other paraphernalia. As I'm always on the hunt for different things to do in London, last week I decided to give the courts a try and found it to be such an interesting insight into the legal system.

Whats interesting about the Royal Courts of Justice?

The Royal Courts of Justice were built to merge the number of smaller courts dotted around London. The location was on a site of slums housing 4250 people in only 343 houses.

Some very interesting and public trials have taken place here. For example, Pal McCartney and Heather Mills divorce case was heard here, the Spice Girls were sued for breach of contract. The halls and courts have also seen David Beckham, Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and JK Rowling. And some very serious judicial reviews take place here like Euthanasia and the right to die.

What to see

The Great Hall
Costume Gallery
Painted Room
Bear Garden (not actually a garden)

Other information about the courts

To find the architect, a competition was held and, a then unknown architect named George Street won but died a year before its completion. His son completed the building. The site is now home to 100 court rooms, 150 judges and over 100 staff. Of the 100 court rooms there are 19 that are original and designed differently to each other. Court room 4 is the largest and the best and where the Lord Chief Justice presides.

Visiting the Royal Courts of Justice

The courts are located on the Strand in central London. Closest tube stations are Temple, Blackfriars, Holborn, Chancery Lane. Opening hours are 9am to 4.30pm. The courts generally sit from 10.30am till 4.30pm with a short adjournment between 1pm and 2pm for lunch on weekdays. You can visit on your own or do a tour. Tours are £10/£12, run at 11am or 2pm and can be booked by emailing Brian on rcjtours@talktalk.net. You will undergo a security check so be prepared. Also note that photography inside is not permitted.

What do you think about seeing something like this when travelling?

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30 June 2014

Favourite Travel Photo #Linkup

The lovely ladies Kelly, Emma and Rebecca are at it again, this time they seeking to peek into our photo archives for our favourite travel photos. My last linkup was a couple of months ago, having missed a few purely due to life pressures and being at a loss as to what to write about. This time however, the moment I read the theme, a photo popped into my minds eye.

New York City - Top of the Rock
I love this photo. It was taken by my friend J and I confess that it was totally staged. BUT, that day, there was a reflective moment which could have mirrored that photo. It was the end of my first trip to New York which had been entirely surreal; from finding myself in the middle of Grand Central Terminal to picnicking in Central Park, to walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, to seeing the Statue of Liberty. It felt so whirlwind that I had to stop and simply take in where I was, really absorb it, appreciate it and remember it. And that's what this photo is for me. A bitter sweet moment, on the cusp of leaving New York but loving the magic of being there those few days.

I have so many other photos that are favourites so I might do a separate post where I share one favourite photo from each destination. What do you think?

Before I go, here is another favourite. It was taken in 2005, my very first day in London. Ever. You can tell a lot by my smile. And I still have that guidebook!

What is your favourite travel photo?

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27 June 2014

Enter the world of Temple Studios

Photo by Pari via NT

There is darkness...

A nervous excitement...

The labyrinth of the studios swallows my friends...

I am alone.

Or am I?

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