Posted by: travelrat | July 27, 2016

Caribou Crossing


Yukon PuppyCarcross: 10th May 2016

 We had lunch; great barbecue chicken, at the Caribou Crossing Trading Post. There, they displayed indigenous animals, both living and stuffed … some of them long extinct. There was also a small museum, with a section devoted to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police … come to think of it, we never saw a live ‘Mountie’ all the time we were in Canada!

There were also many huskies, my favourite dogs, on display. We could have taken a sled ride, but it was a wheeled sled, for there wasn’t any snow. (Regular readers may remember the dogsled ride we took in Norway, the video of with won me a GoPro!)  It wouldn’t have seemed the same, so we passed, and just admired some recently-born puppies instead. They told use the puppies were still too young to be taken from their mother, so we resisted the temptation to smuggle one out … our house is really too small for a fully grown husky, lovely as they are, anyway.

Carcross Desert

Just outside Carcross is the Carcross Desert … who would have believed you’d find a desert this far north? Plenty of sand, though, but rather surreal looking, with firs and pines growing out of it, instead of palm trees.

We stopped for a while at Carcross… originally, it, too, called Caribou Crossing.  In the days of the Gold Rush, this was the major transportation hub; the railway runs through here, and it stands on the shores of Lake Bennett, along which a steamboat service ran. And, long before boats and trains, the Chilkoot Trail passed through here.

Tutshi Memorial

We checked the ‘SS Tutshi Memorial’; this is the remains of a paddle steamer that used to give pleasure cruises on the lake. It was in the process of being restored, but was partly destroyed by fire in 1990. It’s interesting to know, though, since she was built in 1917 right up until her retirement in 1955, cruise passengers would ride up from Skagway on the railway for a sail on the lake.

There’s also a preserved steam railway engine, the Duchess, as well as some other railway artefacts. The railway still runs through Carcross, and it would be physically possible to get the White Pass & Yukon train up here. But, we drove to Fraser, British Columbia, where the train, awaited us, to take us back down to Skagway.


Posted by: travelrat | July 25, 2016

Wales Wrap-up and Ruthin Video

Bryn Howel

The time has come to round off our short visit to North Wales, which I’ll do with some links to some of the places we visited, stayed and ate:

Ruthin Castle Hotel:

Plas Newydd:

Bryn Howel Hotel:

Aqueduct Cruises:

Chirk Castle:

Nantclwyd y Dre:


Bodelwyddan Castle:


I must emphasise that this was a sponsored trip. I travelled as the guest of North Wales Tourism ( ) but I have tried not to allow this to influence my opinions in any way

Finally, to really round up … here’s some video I shot, when I got up really early in the morning, and had a walk around the gardens of Ruthin Castle and into town.


(Music: “Easy Lemon” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


Posted by: travelrat | July 24, 2016

Travel Theme: Pairs

VT Pandeli

Back in the days when I worked for a living, and had to wear a uniform, my main complaint was:

‘I have 57 black socks in my drawer, but I always have difficulty finding a pair of black socks’

These days, it’s not so important. For younger people, it is (or maybe used to be) fashionable for young people to wear odd socks. Older people who do so are though, sadly, still regarded as eccentric.

(The standard come-back is, of course ‘I have another pair like it at home’)

But, why not? There’s no hard and fast rule about this, just convention. The same convention ‘dictates’ that you must have roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, but, take my word, Yorkshire pudding works equally well with other meats. Pork is almost invariably paired with apple sauce … but I think apricot jam is even better.

We sometimes hear of ‘pairings’, where the ‘experts’ dictate which wine or beer goes best with which food. These can be happily disregarded … just go with the one that works best for you.

It would seem, though, that many people like pairs … indeed, regard them as almost compulsory. That triggers one of my favourite rants. The Single Supplement; ask any single traveller. If it’s a case of single occupancy of a double room, it’s fair enough; the hotelier or travel operator needs to make up in some way for the income lost from the ‘guest who isn’t there’. But, when you get a ‘single room’ in a garret, in which you have to lie on the bed to change your trousers, but still have to pay a ‘single supplement’ which is just this side of larceny … that’s when I get really angry!

This week’s contribution to the Travel Theme. See more at

Posted by: travelrat | July 22, 2016


Leeds: 12th June 2016

The other day I did one of those Facebook tick-lists, ‘How many sports have you tried?’ I won’t list them, for fear of boring you, or even say how many, for I don’t want to brag. Let’s just say, I was surprised by the total.

I wasn’t sure whether or not to tick ‘triathlon’, for I did do a ‘sort of’ one back in the 80s. We were up in the Yorkshire Dales, where there wasn’t any convenient open water suitable for the swimming stage, so we did kayaking instead. Most of us competed in ‘Tupperware tubs’ borrowed from a leisure centre, and on the bikes we rode to work … the sport was in its infancy then!

The sport has moved on since then … fortunately for my bank balance, I’m a bit too old to compete these days. But, grandson Jack does, and he’s quite good at it. So, when the World Triathlon Series came to Leeds, he was there.


In the morning, there was the Sprint Event, in with Jack competed. The swimming was held in Roundhay Park, after which the competitors grabbed their bikes, and raced to the Leeds City Centre, where they ran around it several times.

Jack’s overall position was 125th out of 1550 competitors, and 8th in his age group.


We watched most of this event in the morning; the Elite event, in which the world’s top triathletes competed, happened in the afternoon. We watched that on television, and I formed the opinion that, like motor racing, it’s even better than attending a live event.

The men’s event was won by local lad Alistair Brownlee, with his brother Jonathan close behind.

And, I predict that most of the male children born in Leeds for a considerable time will be called Alistair!

Posted by: travelrat | July 20, 2016

Bombay Bicycle Club


Adelaide: 24th November 2015

It used to be the Ovingham Hotel. It probably still is, for the name is written in small print on the sign, along with the information that it was established in 1880.  It’s now home to the Bombay Bicycle Club … which you don’t have to live in Bombay, or even own a bicycle to join.

When I first visited … 2006, I think … there were two clubs you could join. To join the ‘Horn Club’, you just had to get a rope ring around the horn of a rhinoceros head on the wall, to claim a free drink.  But, the ring was suspended from the ceiling, off centre from the horn, so ‘ringing the rhino’ was wellnigh impossible. You could also qualify for a free drink by joining to ‘100 Club’ … you had to sample each one of the 100 beers from all around the world that they offered. However. I’ve never stayed in Adelaide that long … but I did, out of curiosity, tick off each one that I’ve ever had, and was rather impressed by the total.

Although these ‘clubs’ seem to be gone now, the décor has changed very little.  It’s Indian … but the India of bygone days; of Rudyard Kipling and the Raj; maybe the India of yesteryear as we imagine it used to be. In fact, it could maybe be said to be more Indian than India. The only complaint I have is that, if you’re sitting at the bar, those snakes’ heads are a little bit close to the ‘bits that matter’. Even though they’re carved in mahogany, it’s still a bit unnerving!


There’s a wide cross-section of cuisine from all over the world, and, of course, there’s Indian food. I know, there’s somebody will jump up and say ‘the food you get at an Indian restaurant is nothing like the food you get in India’.  Maybe they’re right; I wouldn’t know; I’ve never been to India. But, I did enjoy a very pleasant lamb rogan josh.


Posted by: travelrat | July 18, 2016

Up the Yukon

Skagway 1

Skagway: 10th May 2016

We had a bit of a surprise when we docked at Skagway. At an adjoining berth was moored the ‘Crown Princess’ … which is the ship on which we’ll be sailing on our South America cruise next year. So, when I do my ‘preview piece’, I won’t have to contact their PR people for a photograph.

Crown Princess

There was a train waiting, with vintage ‘clerestory’ carriages, with open platforms at each end, right next to the ship, looking like it may have strayed out of a cowboy film. Some of the passengers were boarding it, but we got on to a bus, which was taking us over the border into Canada, to join the train for the return trip.

The coach driver introduced himself, and requested us to call out if we saw any wildlife, for most of his attention would be on the road ahead. And, no sooner were those words out of his mouth, they were drowned by excited shouts of ‘Bear!!’  … and there was indeed a black bear by the roadside. Alas, by the time we’d drawn alongside, and I could get a decent shot, he’d disappeared into the undergrowth. So, all we have from that encounter was a not very good shot of the rear end of the bear as it shambled off. Still, at least we can say that we saw a bear.


(Lorraine just caught the bear disappearing into the undergrowth. I resisted the temptation to make a crack about ‘bear backsides’!)

As we drove up into the mountains, I thought at first that Tyler, our driver/guide was a bit of a philistine, driving past a multitude of photo ops, but I soon realised that if he’d stopped every time an opportunity presented itself, we’d never get there. And, when he did stop …!!!

Yukon 1

Yukon 2

Posted by: travelrat | July 17, 2016

Travel Theme: Hands

Sculpture 1

This year, it was the turn of Sophie Ryder to display her work in the Close outside Salisbury Cathedral. It’s still abstract, but it’s easy to interpret them. The display is called ‘Relationships’ … to quote from the leaflet, a ‘ … blend of human and animal forms … to discuss a complex range of human emotions …’

However, you are, of course, free to interpret them as you will.

There is, however, a bit of a tale about this archway of joined hands. Originally, it stood over the footpath, the intention being that visitors should walk under the arch. It had to be moved onto the grass (although people can still, if they wish, walk under it) … because people kept bumping into it while phoning or texting on the move.

You really couldn’t make it up!

This week’s contribution to the Travel Theme. See more at

Posted by: travelrat | July 15, 2016

Knaresborough Bed Race: Video


Knaresborough: 11th June 2016

Some of the earliest writing advice I was given was ‘kill your darlings’ … in other words, don’t leave stuff in just because you like it. It does make for a tighter, more readable piece … and you can always use your ‘darlings’ in something else.

It also applies to video. If I was to include all the footage I shot during the Knaresborough Bed Race, I suspect you’d find something else to do long before the end. So, I’ve just chosen what I think are the best bits … and maybe even that’s too long, and could do with a bit of cutting?

Posted by: travelrat | July 13, 2016

Bodelwyddan Revisited

Bodelwyddan 3

Bodelwyddan Castle: 17th April 2016

We’ve been to Bodelwyddan Castle before; you can read about that visit at

We had a look around the inside, and the exhibit featuring a vintage camera really caught my attention. I had the GoPro in my pocket, so couldn’t resist the opportunity for a ‘photography then and now’ picture.

Bodelwyddan 1

This time, we had the opportunity for a longer stay, and to see around the garden as well. It looked a little empty on this early Spring day, but it must really be something to see later in the yea. It’s little wonder that the Warner Leisure Group took part of the castle over for one of their hotels. They’ve also built luxurious lodges in the grounds.

Now, we’ve seen commercials for the Warner Leisure Group on TV. They advertise short, adults-only activity breaks, and we thought they weren’t for us. But, having seen the accommodation and heard the activities described, we could well change our minds.

If the sandwiches, sausage rolls and pork pies at lunchtime are anything to go by, the catering’s superlative, too!

Bodelwyddan 4

(Disclosure: I visited Bodelwyddan as the guest of the Warner Leisure Group and North Wales Tourism. All opinions expressed, though, are purely my own.)


Posted by: travelrat | July 11, 2016

Rundle Mall:Video

Rundle Mall Sweet Shop

You can’t really do justice to Rundle Mall with a couple of pictures. You really need to take a stroll down it, or, failing that, make some video. A big plus is that you don’t have to fossick around the Web looking for royalty-free music for background. There’s usually several buskers around to provide this for you.


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