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.

Grenfell Tower fire tribute in Winchester Cathedral

I was at Winchester Cathedral yesterday, and saw this beautiful, heartfelt tribute to those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire:

Visitors can pick up a pebble from the bowl on the right, and drop it into the pool of water in the left-hand bowl, as a way of showing support. Shared thoughts spread like ripples moving across the water.

During our visit to the cathedral, we were struck by the sincere warmth of the guides and the restful beauty of the building. The Grenfell Tower tribute has the same gracious, simple warmth.

Published in: on 21 June 2017 at 5:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.

Hobnobbing with high society in Kensington

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, Peg, and the TC, are in London. We hobnobbed with high society today, strolling along Prince Consort Road and drifting around Kensington Palace. I found the time to grace fans with my presence at the Royal Albert Hall too, hanging out at the stage door with Peg.

My impressions? The British know how to throw a good building.

Travel tip

Beware the traffic. There’s very little distinction between the pavement and the road on Exhibition Road.

Word of the day

Hygge is the word of  the day. It means coziness, an atmosphere where you feel hugged, somewhere welcoming, a feeling of belonging.

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 and Peg hanging out at Kensington Palace gardens:

At the start of our route up Exhibition Road towards the palace, the TC inadvertently took these two shots showing man imitating art. The little walking man on the traffic signal is red and stationary. The real man seems to mimic his pose:

The little walking-man sign is green, and…

Well, the TC found that amusing anyway. Bless her cotton mittens.

Here’s the rest of the shot that the TC was intending to take. Hygge in a square on Exhibition Road, near Thurloe Place, Kensington:

The sky photobombed this picture of the Natural History Museum on Exhibition Road:

The Victoria & Albert Museum:

Columns and dormers and spires on Prince Consort Road, Kensington:

We approached the Royal Albert Hall from the backstreets. The frieze around the roof is 800 feet long and covers 5,200 square feet:

Peg and I hung out for a while at the stage door, giving our fans the opportunity to see us in the wild. The TC did a good job of keeping them civilised, though there was one enquiry from a concerned security guard who wondered if we were supposed to be there.

“Is that supposed to be there?” he asked.

“Yes”, replied the TC. “He’s a famous blogger. This is a photo op.”

“Ah,” came the reply. “On the Internet? Right, carry on then.”

And so we did:

I gave my fans another photo op at the Albert Memorial:

Guards on horseback were there to keep the crowds safe:

A trapeze artist arched through the air in Hyde Park:

The clean lines of Kensington Palace sit cosily on the green. Royal hygge, perhaps:

The entranceway to Kensington Palace reminds me of a glasshouse (a gezellig one):

An English country garden, fit for a queen:

Going back to the plebs via Queen’s Gate Terrace:

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.

The posh end of London

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

Last time this worm wrote to you, me and the TC were in Japan, stopping over on our way to the UK. Now we’re in London, and at the posh end of it too. Our apartment is just round the corner from Buckingham Palace. So we popped out to see if the queen was in residence.

Take my hand, let me lead you on the thirty-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, down The Mall and The Strand, to Covent Garden. If you stop less often than the TC did for photos and ooh-ing and aah-ing, the walk will take you less than half an hour.

My impressions? Wintry grandeur.

The book I’m in

Never Somewhere Else, by Alex Gray. A short, engaging whodunit.

Recommended dining

There’s something for everyone at Covent Garden.

Travel tip

The Heathrow Express offers an efficient way to get from the airport to central London. There’s a train every fifteen minutes, and it gets you to Paddington Station in about twenty minutes.

The photos

Who, me? Yes, and my very own TARDIS, a London telephone booth:

The posh end of London

Me perched on a lamp post on The Mall, with Buckingham Palace behind me, while I consider dropping in on Her Majesty for tea:

The posh end of London

A puff of smoke from the chimneys of Buckingham Palace. Is the queen toasting muffins? The flag is flying, so I guess she’s in residence:

The posh end of London

The Queen Victoria Memorial statue, with Buckingham Palace behind it:

The posh end of London

The Mall, a long and grand street leading up to the palace:

The posh end of London

Mounted soldiers, on a side road approaching The Mall:

The posh end of London

A wintry view of the gate into St James’s Park, on The Mall:

The posh end of London

St James’s Park, long shadows, winter sparse:

The posh end of London

A lone tree in blossom in St James’s Park

The posh end of London

Imposing gates leading into Trafalgar Square from The Mall:

The posh end of London

Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column:

The posh end of London

Charing Cross Station, on The Strand:

The posh end of London

Outside Covent Garden:

The posh end of London

Inside Covent Garden:

The posh end of London

That’s all for today, dudes.

Colleges, punts, bowler hats and gargoyles in Oxford

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 stayed in Abingdon for a week this month, using it as a central point from which to visit friends and family in England. One morning we found ourselves in the nearby big smoke: Oxford.

My impressions? Mellow stone. Autumn melancholy.

The book I’m in

Harvesting the Heart, by Jodi Picoult. This worm is an admirer of Jodi Picoult, and has spent time in a couple of her books. But Harvesting the Heart is not her best, I feel. Ms Picoult’s books are by their nature intense. Usually they have a flair and an interesting theme that lifts you out of the depression. This time, although I’m well into the book already, that flair has not yet appeared. I feel the urge to tell the characters to snap out of it and get on with life. Perhaps this worm is not in the mood for this book at the moment.

Travel tip

Go inside any of the buildings that grant you entry. The inside is as good as the out.

Recommended restaurant

Quod Brasserie, on the High Street in Oxford. Good service and reasonably good food, in the old banking hall of the Old Bank Hotel.

The photos

Me inside the Oxford Town Hall. Note the ominous creature looming over me. The TC does put me in the most awkward situations, for the sake of a holiday snap:

The Oxford government website describes the Town Hall as a “magnificent grade 2* Victorian building”. This worm wondered briefly about the meaning of “2*” and decided he gives it a grade 1^:

Another view of the inside of the town hall:

The modest entrance to Christ Church College:

Peering in to the quad, we encountered this dude, who was studiously not guarding the entrance. This worm admires the bowler hat and noncommittal slouch:

Moving on, we came across Magdalen College:

The college walls are encrusted with sculptures. Two people embrace:

Nearby a gargoyle grimaces:

Punts tethered on the River Cherwell, next to Magdalen College:

A poignant moment, courtesy of this worm – the punts are filled with water and autumn leaves, and shadowy reflections of the bare trees above:

The TC, bless her cotton socks, has visited Oxford a few times. She delights in telling us that, for her, the city is characterised by the mellow colour of the stone. Here is the museum:

Chequers Courtyard and The Chequers pub, which dates back to the 1500s:

The Chequers boasts a giant in its history, and is still haunted by the screams of dying monks from one of its less salubrious periods. The badge on the wall tells all:

The High Street, with a rare patch of colour complementing the usual stony grandeur:

Let’s leave the big smoke and take a look at the ducks in Abingdon, at the join of the rivers Thames and Ock:

That’s all for today, dudes.

Bletchley Park, home of the code breakers

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 were bowling down the A421 in England, when we saw the sign for Bletchley Park. On a whim, and with half an hour to spare, we followed the sign.

Bletchley Park is where the British decryption experts worked during World War II, to decrypt signals from Germany and other Axis countries. The most famous German encryption machines were the Enigma machines.

The museum at Bletchley Park has a number of German Enigma machines, as well as some British encoders. It also has the Turing Bombe – that’s the machine they used to decode the Enigma codes during World War II.

This worm wishes we had had longer to examine the machines and read all the information in more detail.

My impressions? Intensely interesting to see the machines and read the information provided. Also eery to walk around the grounds and see the mansion and the huts where everything happened.

The book I’m in

Terror’s Reach, by Tom Bale. Good fast action, with believable characters. An author to find more of.

Travel tip

Drop in on Bletchley Park if you have time. It’s well worth it.

The photos

Me with one of the German Enigma encoders:

Another of the Enigma machines, this one used by the Abwehr (Secret Service):

The Turing Bombe was designed by Alan Turing to decode messages from the German Enigma machine. Experts at Bletchley Park are currently rebuilding the Bombe, so there was a group of people buzzing around it, fiddling with wires and watching the bits and bobs turn.

The other side of the Bombe, with the back open for inspection:

A British Typex encoder:

Hut 4, next to the Bletchley manor:

The manor:

That’s all for today, dudes.