Imposing and peaceful Tintern Abbey, Wales

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC travelled from Bristol to the Wye Valley in Wales to see Tintern Abbey, on the recommendation of a coffee vendor we met at the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

My impressions? The mix of fallen and still-standing walls is strangely effective in conveying the grandeur and peace of the place.

Word of the day

Abbey is the word of the day. The word stems from the same root as the Aramaic אבא (‘abbā), the Hindi abbā, and the Arabic ab, all of which mean “father”. An abbey is where the abbot lives, the abbot being the head of a group of monks. ABBA is also the name of a rather well known Swedish pop group. The group’s name is formed from the first letters of the singers’ names.

Travel tip

Pay heed to coffee vendors and other wise folks.

The book I’m in

Alaskan Fire, by Sara King. A good read, although slightly less sophisticated than this author’s other works.

The photos

Me taking in the sights from a window at Tintern Abbey:

The Welsh name for the abbey is Abaty Tyndyrn. The tourist brochure says Tintern Abbey is Wales’s best-preserved abbey. In Welsh, that’s “Yr Abaty sydd yn y cyflwr gorau yng Nghymru”:

Play this video to hear the sounds of Tintern Abbey:

The first buildings that formed the abbey were built in 1130s. Most of the original structure has disappeared, and what we see now was built in the 400-year period leading up to 1536. Then King Henry VIII passed a number of laws that put a stop to monasteries and the monastic life in England, Ireland, and Wales. The abbey fell to ruin:

Flowers and poetry grow from its walls:

Symmetry and sky greet you as you enter:

The pantry has an imposing ceiling:

Do not climb on the walls, written in English and Welsh:

This worm has noticed that the plumbing is often a high point in ruins. The abbey is no exception – the drainage system is lauded in the tourist information:

Me and Peg checked out the bathing facilities:

The view of the hills probably hasn’t changed much in the 850+ years since the abbey was built:

Farewell gracious abbey:

That’s all for today, folks.

Clifton Suspension Bridge thrice crossed

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC crossed the Clifton Suspension Bridge in three ways yesterday. We strolled across it, drove over it, and drove under it. The bridge spans the River Avon near Bristol, UK, and offers heart-stopping views of the city and the river.

My impressions? An impressive work of engineering, surrounded by beauty.

Word of the day

Suspense is the word of the day. Dangling from a suspension bridge makes for a suspenseful day’s work.

Travel tip

If you’re driving, stop the car well short of the bridge and stroll down for a leisurely look.

Recommended coffee cart

A friendly, knowledgeable person offered us a cup of Union Direct Trade coffee and a chat at the Bristol end of the bridge. He’s fun to talk to, and the coffee is good.

The book I’m in

The Visitor, by Lee Child. I’m still munching my way through the same book as in my previous few posts. A good Lee Child is a good place to be.

The photos

Me snuggling up to one of the 3,500 load-bearing bolts that hold the Clifton Suspension Bridge together:

This worm does not envy these workers dangling from a maintenance cage under the bridge, more than 245 feet above the river:

On one side of the bridge is a view of the River Avon with the city of Bristol in the distance:

On the other side of the bridge, the river stretches out its muddy banks:

A sobering sign hints of people less happy than we:

Crossing the bridge:

Flowers of the Bristol onion decorate the bridge’s sides:

The Clifton Suspension Bridge spand 702 feet and weighs 1,500 tonnes. The chains that support the bridge stretch 20 miles underground. Here’s a parting shot from the road below the bridge:

That’s all for today, folks.

In search of the Grim Reaper

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC found ourselves in Bristol and went in search of the Grim Reaper by Banksy. This is the tale of our quest from the Thekla to Spike Island in search of the artwork.

My impressions? A vibrant, thoughtful area of Bristol.

Word of the day

Graffito is the word of the day. It’s the little-known singular form of graffiti, and comes from the Italian word graffiato, meaning scratched. In the most common usage, graffiti are words, signs, drawings, or paintings that someone has put on a wall without permission. In art history, graffiti are works of art produced by scratching the surface. Another meaning of graffito is a deliberate mark or sign, such as a mason’s mark.

Travel tip

A good quest is a fine excuse to explore your surrounds.

The book I’m in

The Visitor, by Lee Child. I’m still munching my way through the same book as in my previous two posts. A good Lee Child is a good place to be.

The photos

Me at the Thekla. I’d heard Banksy’s Grim Reaper was on the Thekla, so that’s where I started my quest:

At the start of the quest I didn’t know what a “Thekla” was. Then I found the boat. Next, look for the painting. I examined the river walls, the sides of the boat, the nearby buildings. No Grim Reaper.

However, I did come across this striking picture on a window near Welsh Back:

Here’s a closer look. This worm thinks it’s an impressive work of art:

Still, not a Banksy. A quick internet search yielded the vital clue. Banksy’s Grim Reaper had indeed originally been painted on the Thekla in 2003, but it was moved to the M Shed, a nearby museum, in 2015. The water and weather had damaged the work of art, and the owners were afraid it would disappear entirely. They cut out the piece of the boat that contained the Grim Reaper, and presented it to the M Shed as a long-term loan.

So, off to the M Shed we go. First, a pretty view across the River Avon:

The TC found this no-nonsense sign post amusing, particularly as the bridge does indeed present itself as a “weak bridge”:

Wend your way past the evidence of a good night out:

And there’s the M Shed:

Inside, the Grim Reaper at last:

This worm does find it a little ironic that a stencilled graffito, surely expected to be temporary, should be behind glass and locked doors. On the other hand, I’m very glad that I managed to see this work, and that other people will be able to find it too.

That’s all for today, folks.

Telephone booth at Ashampstead full of books

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC were wending our way through the avenues of southern England when we came across a phone booth full of books.

My impressions? A stamp of approval from this bookworm.

Word of the day

Telephone is the word of  the day. This worm wonders how long that word will last. We often use other words in its place, including mobile, and cell phone, or even just cell. The word telephone comes from two roots, tele- meaning far, and phone meaning sound. Nowadays we have a various devices that can transmit voices and sound, using diverse technologies. Mobiles are ubiquitous, and do more than transmitting and receiving sound.

A bonus word of the day: lichen. When I was a much younger worm, I pronounced that word with a short “i” and a soft “ch”, to rhyme with “kitchen”. My teacher corrected me, saying I should use a long “i” and a hard”ch”, as in “liken”. Now I learn that the first is the British pronunciation, the second the American.

Travel tip

Don’t let a good phone booth go to waste. Nor a good book, for that matter.

The book I’m in

The Visitor, by Lee Child. The story follows on directly from Tripwire and features the same hero, Jack Reacher. The TC is on holiday and happened to have both books in her bag. I wiggled easily from the one to the other, and am experiencing that rare pleasure of reading two sequential books in sequence.

The photos

Me at the telephone booth on Holly Lane near Flowers Piece in Ashampstead, west of London:

Liken me to a bit of lichen:

A front view of the booth of books. Careful observers may spot the TC taking the photograph, mirrored in the glass:

This short video gives you a feel for the surrounds: the business of vehicles passing by, interspersed with restful intervals of birdsong:

That’s all for today, folks.

A stroll to Battersea Power Station from Pimlico

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in London. Quite a way from our usual abode down under. This worm has the urge to stand on his head. I wonder if anyone has tried that as a cure for jet lag.

Silliness aside, the TC put on her walking shoes and strolled from our hotel down through Pimlico and across the River Thames to the Battersea Power Station.

My impressions? Potential magnificence, currently masked by scaffolding.

Recommended accommodation

Ecclestone Square Hotel in Pimlico. The rooms are high tech. You can even adjust the transparency of the bathroom walls.

The book I’m in

De Zoon, by Jo Nesbø. A gritty tale of good gone bad, and bad gone raw. The TC has chosen to read this book in Dutch, because she wants to brush up her skills in that language, and the original book was written in Norwegian anyway. This worm appreciates the good translation. The quality of the translation is essential to the flavour of the book.

The photos

Me at the Battersea Power Station:

Early one morning, the TC (bless her cotton socks) peered out of our hotel window. Across the rooftops of Pimlico, her keen eye spotted the well-known towers of the Battersea Power Station. The seagull’s wing points them out in this picture:

Right, thought the TC. Let’s take a stroll down to BatterSea and see what’s what. She followed the map meticulously, as is her wont. Predictably, we ended up in a dead end. The TC is prone to that sort of thing. This fallibility of hers does lead us to see some interesting corners of the world. This time it was the British Transport Police station off Ebury Bridge. The power station beckons enticingly from the wrong side of the rails:

We saw some buildings with pretty frilly tops:

And an imposing parade of horse guards – play the video for the full effect:

The Lister Hospital is at one end of Chelsea Bridge, before you cross the river to the power station:

Chelsea Bridge, pretty in white and pink, takes you across the River Thames:

Looming over the top of the bridge are a number of rather weighty coats of arms topped by golden galleons, a structure which could seem a little over the top (badaboom) but which somehow complement the frilly pinkness of the whole structure:

Here’s a closeup of one of the coats of arms:

This pink and white bridge is the new Chelsea Bridge, built in the 1930s. According to Wikipedia, the bridge has a “starkly utilitarian design” and is not considered ornamental. This worm begs to differ. I find the bridge pretty frilly, and pretty and frilly.

Here’s a view of the old Chelsea Bridge in the distance, seen from the new bridge. The old bridge was built in 1858, and Wikipedia views it as “heavily ornamented”:

We’re getting closer to our destination. Here’s the Battersea Power Station, seen from the Chelsea Bridge:

Across the bridge, down the stairs, onto the riverside promenade:

Round the bend, a few more steps, and there it is! The Battersea Power Station, currently undergoing a face lift:

The power station was built in two phases, in the 1930s and the 1950s. Evidently the interior is famed for its Art Deco fittings. This worm would love to see inside! The power station stopped generating electricity in the 1980s, and the building was sold for £400 million in 2012. It’s currently under redevelopment, opening soon for residential and office accommodation.

That’s all for today, folks.

Cathedral Cove and Hahei Beach, New Zealand

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC, plus the TC’s other travelling companion, are on New Zealand’s North Island. We spent a bit of time exploring Cathedral Cove, Hahei Beach, and the routes from the one to the other.

My impressions? Rock, sand and sea, in perfect harmony.

The book I’m in

Rat Run, by Gerald Seymour. A mix of crime, terrorism and psychology. I’m looking forward to finding out what happened to make the hero the way he is.

Travel tip

The walk from Cathedral Cove carpark to the cove itself will probably take you less time than the sign-posted 45 minutes. The TC did it in under half an hour (one direction).

Recommended restaurant

Hahei Beach Café, 3 Grange Road, Hahei 3591, New Zealand. The food is good, although not fancy. The service is friendly and efficient.

Recommended accommodation

Pauanui Pines Motor Lodge, 174 Vista Paku, Pauanui. A restful lodging with welcoming hosts. Be aware that the nearest supermarket closes at 6.30pm. Any others are far away, so stock up as soon as you arrive.

The photos

Me at the entrance to Cathedral Cove on New Zealand’s North Island:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

You can only get to Cathedral Cove on foot or by boat. The closest car park is about half an hour’s walk away (though the signposts declare the walk to be 45 minutes). We chose to walk from the carpark to the beach.  It’s an easy stroll along a well-kept path, with views over the sea and bush.

Here’s the view from the Cathedral Cove carpark, at the start of the walk:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Here’s another view of the entrance to Cathedral Cove at the end of the walk, unadorned by this worm’s noble form:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

The entrance is an open-ended cave leading to Cathedral Cove from the next-door Mare’s Leg Cove. Walking through the cave onto the beach:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

This imposing rocky pinnacle is called Te Hoho:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

A view from the other side of Te Hoho, with a bird fortuitously in the shot:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Looking back at the entrance from the other side, on the water at Cathedral Cove:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Jonathan was there too, although a little less sure of himself than is his wont. Perhaps his equanimity was disturbed by the frothy ecstasy of the approaching wave:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

A typical New Zealand tree skeleton stands sentinel on the beach:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Rather than walking back to the carpark, we took a water taxi from Cathedral Cove to Hahei Beach. Here’s the water taxi after we disembarked at Hahei Beach:

Hahei Beach

Then we walked from Hahei Beach back to the carpark, which takes about 20 minutes. Here’s a view of Hahei Beach from the walking path:

Hahei Beach

And the sea through the trees:

Hahei Beach

A view from the other side of the lagoon and Tairua Harbour, where we lodged at Pauanui:

Pauanui

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 9 December 2016 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Driving Creek Railway, Coromandel, New Zealand

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

The TC and her travelling companion are travelling on New Zealand’s North Island. This worm is here too, to keep them on track and ensure good reading habits.

We took a ride on the Driving Creek Railway, outside the little town of Coromandel. The train is small, just high enough to sit in. Each bench can seat two adults side by side. It’s a beautiful, interesting ride, up steep slopes from the lower station to the playfully-named Eyefull Tower at the top. (Faithful readers may notice that this worm does appreciate a good pun.)

To get up the slopes the train goes through a series of zigzags and spirals. Every now and then the driver reverses up one leg of a zigzag, or gets out of the train and walks to the other end to change directions.

My impressions? An engineer’s dream brought to life.

The book I’m in

Rat Run, by Gerald Seymour. A mix of crime, terrorism and psychology. I’m looking forward to finding out what happened to make the hero the way he is.

Travel tip

It takes longer than you expect to get from A to B in New Zealand.

Recommended restaurant

Driving Creek Café, 180 Driving Creek Rd, Coromandel 3506. It’s a cosy restaurant combined with a second-hand book store. The people are welcoming, and they prepare the food with flair and skill. Photos below.

Recommended accommodation

Pauanui Pines Motor Lodge, 174 Vista Paku, Pauanui. It’s not close to Coromandel or the Driving Creek Railway, but it’s a restful lodging with welcoming hosts. Be aware that the nearest supermarket closes at 6.30pm. Any others are far away, so stock up as soon as you arrive.

The photos

Me and the Driving Creek Railway train:

Driving Creek Railway

The video below is taken from on board the train, as it leaves the lower station. You’ll see people in the engineering workshop wave as we leave. There’s also a view on one of the slightly scary bridges (viaducts) that carry the track across gorges and gaps:

The next video includes a zigzag. To get up the hill, the train stops at the end of a track and reverses up the next leg of the zigzag. Below the train you can see the section of track that we’ve just travelled. It’s an impressively steep climb.  At the top, the engineer gets out of the train to switch the track, then we move forward again. The zigzag track is visible below the train.

The third video includes one of the short, narrow tunnels on the track. The video starts as we come to the end of a reversing section. The engineer gets out to switch the track, then gets back in and says “Tunnel three, everything inside please”. He mentions the pottery and artwork on the sides of the track as we approach the tunnel, and the bush environment after exiting the tunnel:

The train, unembellished by this worm’s attractive person:

Driving Creek Railway

At the top station is the playfully-named Eyefull Tower:

Driving Creek Railway

The view from the top is lovely:

Driving Creek Railway

One of the pottery artworks that stud the banks along the way:

Driving Creek Railway

A reversing point:

Driving Creek Railway

A closer view of the notices on the wall:

Driving Creek Railway

One of the reversing points is on a rather scary platform:

Driving Creek Railway

My (probably adrenalin-fuelled) delight in the view from the platform made the scariness worthwhile:

Driving Creek Railway

Looking across the carriage at the view on the other side:

Driving Creek Railway

Switching tracks:

Driving Creek Railway

Back at the lower station, ticket office and engineering workshop:

Driving Creek Railway

It’s worth taking the short bush walk down the side of the station, to see more eccentric bits of art and hear the birds singing in the trees. A sign clearly tells you when you’ve gone far enough:

Driving Creek Railway

After the ride, we stopped for a meal at the Driving Creek Café:

Driving Creek Café

It’s cosy, and it has books, which make it a winner in this worm’s eyes:

Driving Creek Café

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 9 December 2016 at 7:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC just spent a day and a half in Melbourne, Victoria. On Saturday we drove from the big smoke down to the Twelve Apostles on Australia’s south coast. The drive takes around three hours. It’s well worth the trip, to see the Apostles themselves as well as the bush and coastal area down the bottom end of Australia.

My impressions? Bright, clear beauty.

The book I’m in

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante. Teenage angst, beautifully written, with a hint of dreadfulness to come.

Travel tip

Take layers and layers of clothing to the bottom end of Australia. Even in spring, the cold can be bitter. Leave the brolly behind, unless it has gale-force certification.

The photos

Me at Twelve Apostles, Victoria:

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria. Australia

The Apostles are these strange steeples of rock rising directly out of the waves:

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

The vegetation is pretty in a low-stated way. It’s early spring, with tones of silver and green:

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

You can walk down the cliff path at the Gibson Steps and stroll along the beach. This shot is taken with the Twelve Apostles out of sight behind the photographer:

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

Now for a last look at the Apostles before I go:

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

That’s all for today, folks.

Lost and found in the Googleplex

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in California again. This worm has had an interesting day, navigation-wise.

My impressions? It’s very easy to get onto U.S. Route 101.

The TC decided, bless her cotton socks, that she now knows her way around Mountain View. No need for a navigation aid today. So we set off in good cheer. Faithful readers can guess where this post is going, particularly if they’ve read my previous scribbling.

Our first foray into unaided navigation went well. We found the Googleplex, which was our intended destination. After a few hours in one office, the next step was to get from one part of the Googleplex to another. To those unacquainted with the TC, that mayhap sounds simple, but not so.

In the blink of an eye, in the twitch of a steering wheel, we found ourselves on U.S. Route 101, heading north for San Francisco. Now, the highway is worth a visit, as a venerable and worthy piece of navigation history. Wikipedia says that US 101 is one of the last remaining and longest U.S. Routes still active in the state, and the longest highway of any kind in California. It was one of the original national routes established in 1926. Still, if you don’t need to head north at speed, it’s probably not the best place to be.

Luckily it’s almost as easy to get off U.S. Route 101 as to get on it. Also luckily, the Googleplex is a big place and thus easy to find. The TC kept calm and steered us to our destination unscathed although not unrattled. There to greet us were a giant Google map pin, a Street View car, and the Code the Road bus.

The book I’m in

Caleb Williams, by William Godwin (1794). This worm is enjoying the richness of language and the care taken with phrasing, though it be at times a trifle archaic. Mr Godwin is adept at building up an atmosphere of menace that lurks close beneath a seemingly civilised society.

Travel tip

Ne’er cast a navigation aid til journey be made.

The photos

Me on the giant map pin outside the Google Maps offices. I am here:

worm-on-marker

A Street View car took a well-earned rest nearby. I made use of its rearview mirror for a quick face-and-hat check:

worm-on-street-view-car

Me hanging out with Pegman:

worm-and-pegman

My own dear Peg needed a bit of me time after seeing the above snap. So here are me and Peg, and a big green fuzzy person who happened by:

worm-peg-android

The Google Maps Code the Road Bus was in the neighbourhood too:

code-the-road-bus

Me on the Code the Road bus:

worm-on-code-the-road-bus

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 3 June 2016 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mysore or Mysuru in India

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are visiting the city of Mysore, in India’s state of Karnataka. Mysore, officially named Mysuru, is about three hours’ drive from Bangalore, up into the hills.

My impressions? Bright air and fresh colours.

The book I’m in

Zero’s Return, by Sara King. This is part 3 of the Zero chronicles. This worm is enjoying this story as much as the first two, and is impressed with the change in theme. Sarah King has managed to retain the magic of the Zero character even while throwing him into a completely different situation. Sink or swim, again, Joe Dobbs.

Recommended accommodation

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, 1 MG Road, Mysore. It’s comfortable, and the staff are very pleasant and attentive.

Travel tip

Drive up Chamundi Hill, or walk up if you can manage a staircase of more than 1000 steps. Stroll around the temples at the top of the hill. It’s beautiful and peaceful up there.

The photos

Me with part of Mysore city behind me:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

Here’s the same view of Mysore, without this worm embellishing the foreground:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

A busy street scene in Mysore:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

A quiet side street:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

Mysore Palace is full of activity, and the buildings are attractive and interesting. Here’s a temple near the palace gate:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

Mysore Palace:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

The palace courtyard:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

An alleyway behind the main palace building:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

We drove up Chamundi Hill, just outside Mysore, and walked the circuit at the top of the hill. This is a view of Chamundi temple:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

Chamundi temple from a different angle:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

A closer view of the temple. Click the image to zoom in:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

Back in the city of Mysore, Gothic huddles up close to telephone lines, carts and auto rickshaws. St Philomena’s Catholic church, built in 1936:

Mysore or Mysuru in India

That’s all for today, folks.