Posted by: travelrat | May 2, 2016

Adriatic Sunset

Adriatic Sunset

Adriatic Sea: 9th April 2015

I got a lot of pictures of sunrises on this cruise, for I usually rise early, and like to take a turn around the decks when there aren’t many people about. But, I got very few sunsets. Although the cruise brochures often show passengers enjoying cocktails with a backdrop of a setting sun, it doesn’t often happen in real life. Because, when the sun decides to give it best for the evening … most folk are at dinner.

However, at dinner this night, the sunset was so beautiful that most people abandoned their meals, and dashed out on deck to witness it. And, since it was a gala night, most diners had cameras with them.

‘I wonder what the maitre d’ is thinking’ said someone close to me ‘seeing all the diners dash out of the restaurant like that’

‘I think he’d understand!’ I said … pointing to the maitre d’ standing by the rail, taking pictures with his Iphone like the rest of us.

Maitre d'

Posted by: travelrat | May 1, 2016

Travel Theme: Poetry


I am informed that Ireland celebrated National Poetry Day on Thursday, and the US celebrates National Poetry Month every April. When I worked for a living, we celebrated ‘Poets Day’ every Friday … although, in our case, it stood for ‘P*** Off Early; Tomorrow’s Saturday’!

I have to admit, I’m not the greatest aficionado of poetry. I put this down to the fact that I grew up not a dozen miles from where William Wordsworth ‘ … wandered lonely as a cloud’, and had my fill of Mr. Wordsworth and his ‘ … dank verses, stuff’d with Lakeland sedges … ‘ by the time I was out of short pants.

Of course, poetry doesn’t have to rhyme; it’s also about the ‘metre’, or rhythm. I think of:

There was a young man from Japan

Whose verses just would not scan.

‘The trouble with me,

Is easy to see

I will insist on trying to fit as many damn words into the last friggin line as I possibly can’

And, speaking of Japan:

There was a young man

Who didn’t like limericks

So he wrote haiku.

The limerick is one of my favourite verse forms, although it’s hard these days to think of one that isn’t obscene, libellous or politically incorrect. So, ‘The Dirty Old Bishop of Birmingham …’  is definitely out, because that’s all three.

Where you can have most fun with limericks is on the sometimes odd spelling or pronunciation of British place names, like:

There was a young girl from Carlisle

Who had such a bright, beaming smisle

In the darkness of night

She’d go out on her bike

And light up the road for a misle.

And, finally, my all time (printable) favourite:

A sea serpent from Salamanca

Bit a hole in a warship and sanca

It ate up the crew

(as sea serpents do)

And then picked its teeth with the anca.

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


Posted by: travelrat | April 29, 2016

The Road North


Penola/Coonawarra 21st November 2015.

I’d recommend this trip along the Great Ocean Road to anyone who wants to see the sights, but doesn’t want to drive. I would add a small recommendation, though. If you can, do the trip the other way, from Adelaide to Melbourne. ‘Australian National Treasures’ say that much of the northern part of the route passes through farmland, and is ‘less visually spectacular’ and I believe in keeping the best to the last.

As we drove northward, Jeremy told us of Sister Mary MacKillop (St Mary of the Cross), Australia’s first, and so far only saint, who worked in this area in the 19th Century.

At Penola, we stopped for a while to stretch our legs and admire some really old cottages and gardens. What surprised us was that there seemed to be no-one around, either to collect money or just keep an eye on the place; we just wandered through them at will.

We had lunch at the Farmer’s Leap winery in Coonawarra. The property of vineyards around here is that they’re not on slopes, as the more traditional vineyards are, but on flat ground. However, the local soil, ‘terra rossa’ or red clay, is good for the grapes and the limestone layer beneath ensures adequate drainage.

It didn’t seem to affect the quality of the wine, though … and the panini weren’t bad, either.


Posted by: travelrat | April 27, 2016

Over to Llangollen

Horseshoe Pass

Ruthin: 16th April 2016.

I woke to what I thought was a misty morning, but when I’d wiped the condensation of the window, I beheld a view of … snow covered hills!

What was going on? It was mid-April, and I hadn’t seen snow anywhere for over a year. We had noted prolific clumps of daffodils on the way up, as is appropriate in Wales, for it’s their national flower. But, in our garden in Salisbury, our daffodils are all but finished, but here they were, ‘ … fluttering and dancing in the breeze …’ and looking like they might be doing so for many weeks to come.

Our first call today would be at Llangollen, and to reach it, you must go over the Horseshoe Pass. And, since the Pass was snow-covered, we just had to stop for a photo call.

Llangollen, of course, causes some of the words of the song ‘Cosher Bailey’ to come to mind:

‘ … and the bees in old Llangollen/ Stand up to their knees in pollen …’

Which isn’t really funny, unless you pronounce ‘pollen’ to rhyme with ‘Llangollen’ as a Welshman would say it!

Llangollen stands near a canal of the same name, also on the main London-Holyhead road, now called the A5, along which you would travel in the olden days if you wanted to go to Ireland. Both of these are the work of the self-educated engineer and architect Thomas Telford.

River Dee, Llangollen

Posted by: travelrat | April 25, 2016

Split Video

Diocletians Palace

Split: 9th April 2015.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words … but I don’t think anyone ever said how many pictures a video is worth. Anyway, I wanted you to hear the Singing Monks, rather than just tell about them.

Posted by: travelrat | April 24, 2016

Travel Theme: Dazzling

Dazzle 1

What a double-edged word is ‘dazzling’. Advertisers use it a lot, to sell anything from toothpaste to exotic holidays. But, get in your car, and it’s often used with one or two expletives, especially if you’re driving into a setting sun, or the car driving towards you has failed to dip its headlights.

Photographers don’t really like dazzling, either. When you bought that first Instamatic, it came with a stern warning not to shoot into the sun … I think some older folk thought the camera would catch fire if you did. Of course, with practice, it’s possible … but you do have a high failure rate.

So, it’s back to the advertisers … and the realisation that something ‘dazzling’ does not necessarily need to have you reaching for the Ray Bans. Let’s see what we can find in the archives

Dazzle 3

Dazzle 2

This week’s contribution to the Travel Theme. To see more, go to

Posted by: travelrat | April 21, 2016

The Cave Gardens

Cave Gardens 1

Mount Gambier: 21st November 2015.

 The Blue Lake lies in the crater of an extinct volcano, and there’s further evidence of long-ago volcanic activity at the Cave Gardens, near the town centre, where there’s a ‘sinkhole’, or collapsed lava tube.

This is a favourite spot with locals, They’ve established a garden here, and hold a sound and light show most nights. That would probably have been worth seeing, but we had to be on our way.

The whole thing was somewhat reminiscent of the Jameos del Agua on Lanzarote, and I wasn’t the only one who thought that. Other members of the party said the same thing. But, it’s hardly surprising; I think both were formed the same way. Maybe the jameos are a little more elaborate, but they did have a renowned architect working on them. These aren’t as spectacular, but a lot of effort has still been made to make them much more than a hole in the ground.

Cave Gardens 2

Apologies for any inaccuracy. I’ve tried to explain things as concisely as I can. But, I’m not a geologist. Last time I expounded on matters geological, someone commented that I was talking a load of schist. I thought that remark was not gneiss!


Posted by: travelrat | April 19, 2016

The Gorsedd Circle

Gorsedd Stone Circle

Ruthin 15th April 2016

 We arrived at the Ruthin Castle Hotel long before the ‘proceedings’ were due to start. So, a walk to stretch my legs after the drive.

Just outside the hotel grounds, I found a stone circle. But, it wasn’t Wales’ answer to Stonehenge. Enquiries revealed that the Gorsedd Circle, as it’s called, was erected as late as 1973.

In that year, it was Ruthin’s turn to host the National Eisteddfod and the 12 stones of the circle represent the 12 old counties of Wales.

In the centre is the Logan Stone, from which the Arch Druid presided over the festival, and the ceremonial dances which were performed within the circle.

Posted by: travelrat | April 14, 2016

Weekend in Wales

Ruthin 1

As the Costa Mediterranea sails towards Trieste, the cruise … and the ‘Cruise Diary’  … approaches a close. And, I realised that I may run a little short of ‘blogunition’ before we leave for Canada!

But, not to worry! Those kind folks at North Wales Tourism have laid on a familiarisation trip for this weekend, which promises to be an ample source of material. So, we’re leaving for Ruthin tomorrow (Friday) and, although we won’t be too far away from wifi, I doubt if we’ll have time to post much.

Therefore, there won’t be any Friday or Monday ‘dishes’, and ‘Pic of the Week’ and ‘Travel Theme’ won’t happen, either. I’ll be back posting on Tuesday or Wednesday, hopefully, with some good stuff for you.

Stay well!

Posted by: travelrat | April 13, 2016

Split: Slide Show


Split: 9th April 2015

After the city tour, we were driven out of town, to a pleasant spot where the local citizens like to take the air. There weren’t many opportunities for photography; maybe if we’d stayed a little longer? What we came away with was photos which ‘could have been taken anywhere’. But, I was well satisfied with the pictures I took in the Old City; that really is unique. And, here are some of them.

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