Posted by: travelrat | September 26, 2021

The Lintel Project

For 3500 years, Stonehenge has stood against everything that Salisbury Plain could throw at it in the way of weather. So, naturally, today, it looks a bit second-hand. It has been restored over the years, but only to the condition it was in in 1740. This was the year in which William Stukeley visited, and produced the earlies accurate drawing we know about. So, anything before that year is really conjecture … indeed, there is one theory the circle was never actually completed.

The last major restoration was in the 1960s, when it was noticed the lintels … that is, the horizontal pieces atop the stones … were starting to degrade, mainly due to weather. So, they were reinforced with mortar. But, they had used ordinary cement mortar, which absorbed water, and was showing signs of deterioration.

It was decided therefore, to replace it with a lime-based mortar, which is more water-resistant, and can allow any water that is absorbed to escape. Not, however, before experiments had been carried out to determine which mix would be the least obtrusive, and the best for the job.

The work stated in early September, and is only expected to take a couple of weeks to complete. During that time, we’ll have the unusual sight of scaffolding against Stonehenge. But, it will soon be gone. I think of other, much younger buildings, some of which were encased in scaffolding for years!

Posted by: travelrat | September 23, 2021

V for …


This one’s been repurposed during the coronavirus restrictions. You order your food here from the adjacent restaurant, and they’ll bring it to you at an outside table. I’m thinking, in happier times, it would make a pretty good (and unusual) food truck.


Boiling mud, steam and a smell of bad eggs! You’re in Iceland!

Posted by: travelrat | September 21, 2021


Ruswarp: 21st July 2021

(Pronounced, I am told ‘ruzz-upp’)

We arrived in Ruswarp before Vicki, our daughter, arrived to let us into her new house. We parked up … with difficulty, for the house is on a steep hill, with restricted parking, and we had to leave the car about a quarter of a mile away. We wandered down to the railway station, and witnessed an old steam-driven Stanier ‘Black 5’ hauling a tourist train into Whitby.

Ruswarp has its own independent railway, too; the Ruswarp Miniature Railway. But, it’s only open on Sundays and during school holidays. Just across the road from the railway is a cafe; right next to the River Esk, called, appropriately, the Riverside Cafe. A pleasant spot for a coffee and a sandwich while we waited.

It’s only a mile or so into Whitby if you walk, but a good deal further if you drive. And, at this time of year, you might have difficulty finding somewhere to park. So, we walked!

One of the first sights that greeted us was the ‘Endeavour ‘ replica, which I first saw in Stockton on Tees many years ago. It was towed here from Stockton and now houses a restaurant as well as the ‘Endeavour Experience ‘ I’ll probably check it out later.

I’m not sure, though, that its new colour scheme is entirely authentic.

Posted by: travelrat | September 19, 2021

The Angel of Mons

Amesbury is assembling quite a collection of statues and sculptures. These, however, are just on loan, and represent the ties between Amesbury and the Army.

They commemorate an incident said to have occurred on the 23rd August 1916, at the Battle of Mons. A regiment was facing defeat at the hands of German forces, when an angel is said to have come to their assistance, accompanied by a group of mediaeval bowmen, who shot flaming arrows at the enemy.

There’s no mention of this incident in official records, but several people of all ranks claimed it did happen. I first heard the story from a group of WWI veterans in the early 1970s, when we went for refreshments at the British Legion after a Remembrance Day parade.

‘We never came across anyone who’d actually seen it’ I was told ‘but everyone ‘knew someone who knew someone who had a friend’ who witnessed it!’

So, how to explain it? Unexplained natural phenomenon, or was it truly a miracle? I make no judgement; it doesn’t really matter if you believe it or not. You can still admire the sculptures, made up of old tools and car and motorcycle parts, and sprayed with a bronze lacquer, for striking and unusual pieces of art.

Posted by: travelrat | September 16, 2021

U for …


‘In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree

Where Alph, the sacred river ran

Through caverns measureless to Man

Down to a sunless sea’

(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

The Reed Flute Caves, where this picture was taken, aren’t that far from Xanadu. So, I wonder if this could be Mr. Coleridge’s ‘sunless sea’?


It used to be that this was out of bounds to me, for I don’t dive … I don’t even swim very well. But, with glass-bottomed boats and semi-submersibles, it’s possible.

Posted by: travelrat | September 14, 2021

Barnard Castle: Video

We aren’t quite finished with ‘Barney Castle’ yet. I have video to post!

Music: “Stoneworld Battle” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Posted by: travelrat | September 12, 2021


Our first walk into Whitby brought us out by a quayside. To it was moored … the Endeavour or, to give it its full title, His Majesty’s Bark Endeavour. Not the ‘original’, of course; that’s at the bottom of the sea, off Nantucket, where she was sunk as a harbour defence. Nor is it the sea-going replica; that’s in Australia.

This is the non-sea-going replica, which I last saw in Stockton on Tees many years ago. It was, I found out later, towed from there to its present location. Whitby was where it was built, and began its career, as the collier bark Earl of Pembroke, before being bought into the Navy, renamed and sailed to the South Seas under the command of Lieutenant James Cook.

Tours of the ship are available, and there’s now a restaurant on board. We just made a note of these facts for a possible future visit.

One thing I noticed immediately; it now sports bright blue paintwork on the hull. Surely, that’s not authentic? But, someone has decided that HMS Victory, in far-away Portsmouth was a sort of lemon yellow, rather than the sort of orangey brown that most people believe most warships were painted. So, it’s possible ,,, especially considering that Endeavour wasn’t really a warship.

I must try to do some research into this.

Posted by: travelrat | September 9, 2021

T for …


Once, most cities of any size had a tramway system. Some places discontinued them, and a few of these places are re-introducing them. But, in some cases … they never went away.


In 2018, we visited India’s Ranthambore National Park, to see tigers. Unfortunately, no-one told the tigers we were coming. So, the best photo I have is this one, taken at Chester Zoo.

Posted by: travelrat | September 7, 2021

Barnard Castle: Pictures

Some more pictures of Barnard Castle. To make up the weight, I’ve added some pictures I took on a previous visit, a couple of years ago. Although, on that occasion, we didn’t actually go into the castle.

Posted by: travelrat | September 5, 2021

Railways and the Church

On our recent visit to Yorkshire, we called at Goathland, and looked in at the railway station, where veteran trains are operated by the North York Moors Railway. The first train into the station was hauled by a Stanier ‘Black 5’. These used to be operated by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, later, the North Western division of British Railways. In its heyday, a ‘Black 5’ would rarely be seen in Yorkshire, but, where I lived, almost every train you ever saw had one in charge.

I can’t remember any which actually had a name, but this one carried a name-plate … ‘Eric Treacy’.

This gentleman … to give him his correct title, the Right Reverend Eric Treacy, was Bishop of Wakefield. But, he was better known as a railway enthusiast and photographer.

He’s by no means the only ‘clerk in holy orders’ to have a passion for the permanent way, either. The Rev. Teddy Boston was Rector of Cadeby, Leicestershire, and not only had an extensive model railway layout, but a narrow gauge railway running round the garden of his rectory. And, the Rev. W. Awdrey, whose parish was once adjacent to Mr. Boston’s, was, of course, the author of the Thomas the Tank Engine series of books.

I’m pretty sure these weren’t the only clergymen to have an interest in the railways, and I think of the 1953 film The Titfield Thunderbolt. A group of villagers sought to preserve their branch line and, after the regular train had been sabotaged by a competing bus company salvaged an old carriage which had been converted to living quarters, drawn by a venerable locomotive borrowed from a museum.

On the day the Inspectors came to decide whether or not the line should be closed, the train was driven by the Vicar, with the Bishop acting as fireman!

So, I wonder if this film inspired the clergymen I named earlier … or, was it possible that they provided the idea for the film?

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