Posted by: travelrat | August 14, 2018

Earl’s Garden: Video

Arundel Castle: 25th July 2018

Earl's Garden 3

This is our second visit to the Earl’s Garden, and once more, we’re blown away by it. Can we ever get our own garden as beautiful as that without ‘getting a little man in’?

Oberon's Palace

I did, after all, find a satisfactory picture of the ‘Floating Crown’ in ‘Oberon’s Palace’, but it probably shows up better on the video.


The music is “Deliberate Thought” by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Posted by: travelrat | August 12, 2018

My Sunday Rant: Supermarket Parking.

Whenever we’re presented with ‘statistics’, I always wonder where they got the figures from. If I’m told that, for instance 70% of males over 40 always put their right sock on first. I ask:

‘How do they know? They didn’t ask me!’

However, when I heard it postulated that more car accidents happen in supermarket car parks than on the motorways, I thought they were probably right.

I’ve often nearly driven into a space I thought was unoccupied, only to find a Fiat 500 or something in residence. The Australians have a good idea here; some car parks have a little green light above an unoccupied bay, which turns red when someone drives into it.

For a long time, I’ve felt that the Highway Code ought to contain a prominent paragraph, printed in bold:

‘When a car’s engine is running, and it’s showing a white light to the rear, it’s about to go backwards. It is not a good idea to push a loaded trolley behind it’

Speaking of reversing out of your bay, how is it, when I’m ready to go, I often find a panel van, or a car with blacked-out windows parked next to me. I sometimes have to just trust that anyone coming down the lane is looking where he’s going.

Bill Bryson had a good idea. In one of his books, he asked … why not have parking bays arranged in a herring-bone pattern, instead of at right-angles to the lane? That way, it’s easier to get into and out of … and the operators could get more bays into the space allowed.

Posted by: travelrat | August 9, 2018

Nuremburg Video

Nuremburg 3

Nuremburg: 2nd April 2018

While modern shops and office buildings were established in Nuremburg without destroying the atmosphere of old buildings … the buildings aren’t actually all that old. The city was extensively bombed by the Allies in WWII, after which the town was recreated from the rubble, and restored to almost its original state, sometimes using the stone and materials from the originals.

To look at it now, though, it looks exactly as if the town is almost like it was 500 years ago … except there are more cars around these days.



Posted by: travelrat | August 7, 2018

The Earl’s Garden

Earl's Garden, Arundel

Arundel Castle: 25th July 2018

The Earl, for whom the Earl’s Garden is named was the 14th Earl of Arundel, Thomas Howard. He lived in the 17th Century, and was known as the ‘Collector Earl’. It might be thought he was a collector of plants but, as far as I can discover, he wasn’t. He did, however, collect a lot of other things; paintings, sculpture, drawings and antiquities from all over Europe. He was, in fact, one of the earliest Grand Tourists.

He was pretty influential, too. He escorted Princess Mary (later Queen Mary II) to her wedding with William of Orange (later King William III) and had his portrait painted by Rubens, Van Dyke and other illustrious artists of the day.

He was particularly fond of Italy, hence the Italianate air of the upper terraces within the garden. Of particular note is ‘Oberon’s Palace’, where a crown is seemingly held aloft by the jet of a fountain. I don’t have any pictures of this, but I do have video. When I get around to processing it, I’ll try to rip a still from it, and try to work out how it’s done.

Despite the fact that, beyond the bounds of the garden, a mediaeval tournament was going on, and many people had come to see it, and look around the castle and its grounds, few people seemed to come into the garden. And, those that did come seemed to be rather absorbed by the peaceful surroundings.

Earl's Garden

Posted by: travelrat | August 5, 2018

My Sunday Rant: Places

There are some who say that British place names were deliberately concocted to confuse the visitor. This is not the case; if it was, we’d have thought up some real crackers … like in Poland, where I am informed the city of Lodz is pronounced ‘wooj’.

I once had a theory that the reason for not having places pronounced like they were spelt was to give us a plentiful source of limericks about them; e.g.:

‘There was a young lady from Gloucester

Whose parents found out they had lost her …’

(I won’t tell the rest of the rhyme, in case the children are watching)

But, who hasn’t felt that air of smug superiority when telling the correct way to pronounce Warwick, Carlisle, Worcester, Berwick, Leicester and so on … mind you, it’s sometimes confusing for folk who live here, too. I’ve often wondered that, since we pronounce Chiswick ‘Chizzick’, why don’t we fly from ‘Gattick’ airport?

Now, what’s got my goat this week is how the ‘new ones’ seem to be creeping in. I’ve heard a sports reporter speaking of ‘Manster’; I take it he meant that city in the north-west, with a rather well-regarded football team? I suppose there’s some excuse here; this usually happens during the football results, when they have a lot of information to get across in a limited time.

Then, the other day, I heard a news report talking about the cathedral at ‘Winster’. There are two Winsters that I know of; one in Derbyshire, the other in Cumbria … I don’t think the former has a cathedral, and I know for certain the latter doesn’t. Did she, perhaps mean WINCHESTER?

And, on the car radio yesterday, I heard mention of another new place ‘Chister’ … and that’s a limerick ruined! And no, you’re not going to get the full version of ‘The Dirty Old Bishop of Chichester …’ either!

Posted by: travelrat | August 2, 2018


Nuremburg: 2nd April 2018

Nuremberg is famed for the Nazi Party rallies held here in the 1930s, and for the war crimes trials held here after the war. It was chosen for the former for its central location and excellent communications, and for the latter because it was the only place with a suitable courthouse and adjacent jail still intact after Allied bombing.

Nuremburg 2

But, long before that, its location at the intersection of many trade routes made it a centre for trade from all over Europe; important enough for an imposing castle to be built, which still stands.  From the castle, steep cobbled streets lead down into the Old Town itself.

Nuremburg 1

‘One of the oldest and most noted towns in Germany’ (Bradshaw)

I am always in admiration of a place that can set up modern shops and expensive boutiques without destroying the atmosphere of an old building. Even McDonald’s can take a bow here!  In the Market Square, yet another Easter Market was in full swing. We hear a lot about the Christmas Markets … even copy them. But this is the first time I’ve come across Easter Markets.

Maybe the Germans want to keep this one for themselves?

Easter Market, Nuremburg


Posted by: travelrat | July 31, 2018

The Joust

Arundel Castle: 25th July 2018

‘Whither away, Sir Knight?’

‘Oh, I’m just going to joust about’

‘Then, I will joust a bout with thee. Art thou ready?’

‘Aye! Joust about!’

Joust 1

Most folk have seen re-enactments of ‘mediaeval tournaments’. Some of them are good; some not so good. However, very few of them conform to the Hollywood idea that the aim is to unhorse the other rider; some films even give the impression that it’s a fight to the death!

The idea is that points are scored for hits to various parts of the body with the frangible lance, with bonus points if the lance is shattered. And, to make things more difficult, contestants don’t ride their own horse, but one allocated at random. It probably goes without saying that both horses and riders are professionals.

As a warm-up to the main event, there are also exercises in spearing rings with a lance, shooting the bow and throwing javelins on horseback and making coleslaw by chopping up cabbages with a sword. And, at the quintain, another misconception was corrected. The objective is NOT to strike the plate with a lance, then get out of the way before being clobbered with the counterweight … they just count the revolutions the device makes, which will vary depending on how hard the plate was hit.

In this part of the tournament, the ladies also took part … and some of them were as skilful as the knights. The tilt itself, though, is strictly a man’s game … at the moment!


Posted by: travelrat | July 29, 2018

My Sunday Rant: Travel Shows

I’m trying to think of the last time I saw a really good travel show on TV, without delving into the more obscure corners of the cable channels. Some of us have memories of the old ‘Wish You Were Here’ programmes, but they weren’t really travel shows. They were holiday shows, telling where you could go, and what your money bought you. But, I was amused by a certain presenter on that show referring to an up and coming resort in Thailand as ‘Foo Kay’ … although, to be fair, many years would pass before I found Phuket was pronounced ‘Poo Kett’, not like a rather vulgar expression meaning ‘I can’t be bothered with this’

I mourn the passing of Discovery’s Travel and Adventure channel; I particularly liked the Globe Trekker series. True, the main presenter didn’t have much dress sense, and had a good face for radio … but he was good!

But, what do we have now? Even the so-called ‘travel channels’ show programmes about building log cabins, fish tanks or tree houses. Interesting for some, they may be, but it’s not really travel. Even the National Geographic channel … turn it on at random, and you have a pretty good chance of seeing an episode of Air Crash Investigation. Not what you want to see if you like travelling.

However, to be fair to the National Geographic Channel, they did show Baraka, which is one of the best travel features I’ve ever seen.

So, at the moment, the best of a bad bunch are reruns of the Michael Palin docos, Michael Portillo’s railway programmes and the all-too rare good ones from the BBC. They’re usually excellent at wildlife filming, but more, please, on the places and the people. Hey, I could think of a few good ideas of my own. All I need is someone with money, who also thinks they’re a good idea!

Posted by: travelrat | July 24, 2018



Regensburg: 1st April 2018.

Don’t you love it when a new word comes your way? Especially an obscure one, which you’re dying to work into a conversation, but just can’t. I came across such a word on our river cruise through Germany. At one place we docked, waiting for us was one of those land trains that can be seen anywhere tourists gather. Or, in German, a Bummelzug!

We didn’t ride on it, for it was only a short way into the town. But, a couple of days later, we came upon one in Regensburg, offering city tours.

I haven’t seen one quite like this before; it was, apparently, built locally, with almost all-round visibility, and a commentary in whatever language you wished; you just sat in the appropriate car.  It wasn’t a ‘hop on/hop off’ service, but took us around the most important places to be seen.

Posted by: travelrat | July 22, 2018

My Sunday Rant: Awards, Votes and Competitions.

I like competitions. I’d prefer it if some level of skill was involved … a little bit beyond ‘The Capital of France is a) Dublin b) PARIS or c) Toronto?’ for preference. It’s all down to The Draw in the end, though, so why not just have The Draw without the need for any actual skill? Just enter your email address, be prepared for lots of newsletters and stuff in your inbox and wait … and wait … and wait.

Since the British Travel Awards are on us, I’m getting more of a different invite to participate in competitions. Fancy a week on the Grotti Coast? Then vote for us in the British Travel Awards, and receive one entry in our draw, to win this fabulous prize.

The thing is, a lot of these are from operators I’ve never used; some, I’ve never even heard of … and one I’d never use again if they offered me a 95% discount.

So, I’m wondering. If people are just voting in order to enter the draw … how much are these ‘awards’ really worth?

Older Posts »