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.

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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.

Georgetown, Washington DC

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 Washington, DC. We took a stroll through Georgetown, a historic area of Washington, DC. It was originally a port and an independent municipality, merged into DC in 1871.

My impressions? Tidy, attractive architecture. Quiet paths along the canal and leafy side streets.

Travel tip

Stroll along the bank of the canal. It’s quiet and pretty, even if it’s empty as it was while we were there. The route offers a good alternative to the  busy shopping streets.

The book I’m in

Pearl in a Cage, by Joy Dettman. An engaging tale of a small village in rural Australia, some distance from Melbourne, in the early 20th century. The book draws a convincing picture of the hard life people led in those times. This worm hopes the TC will find more of this author.

The photos

Me at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in Georgetown:

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, also called the C&O canal, is approximately 300 km long, running from Georgetown in Washington, DC, to Cumberland, Maryland. The canal was empty when we were there, because it was being cleaned. An empty canal is interesting:

Colourful Wisconsin Ave, Georgetown:

Zara, in Wisconsin Ave:

The imposing Farmers and Mechanics Branch, on the corner of M Street and Wisconsin Ave:

Classic lines, cnr M Street and Wisconsin Ave, opposite the Farmers and Mechanics building:

M Street, the main shopping drag in Georgetown, offering a variety of buildings:

The Azerbaijan trade and cultural centre:

A leafy row in Potomac Street:

Shutters and dormers on the other side of the road:

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 9 May 2017 at 7:43 am  Comments (1)  
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Kirkland, WA, a little grey in March

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 have just spent a few days in lovely Kirkland, on the shores of Lake Washington, WA, in the USA. Kirkland is across the lake from Seattle.

The days were a little grey and drizzly, with a chill around the edges. The TC, bless her cotton socks, was in her element.

My impressions? There’s a touch of colour in everything.

The book I’m in

Dead Man’s Debt, by Elliott Kay. A good military space yarn, with characters to love and cherish. Until they die.

Travel tip

Pack layers. The Kirkland weather is quite changeable, and ubiquitous air conditioning makes the temperature unpredictable.

Recommended restaurant

Milagro Cantina, 148 Lake St S, Kirkland, WA. Tasty comfort food, excellent service, good atmosphere.

The photos

Me cozying up to a gnome on the way to the Kirkland City Dock. He was a little cold and grey:

This squirrel was looking for a touch of colour:

A cyclist’s bright green jacket stands out:

There weren’t many people around at the dock:

This bird looked lonely:

Me chilling out with some young blades at the Kirkland city hall:

The US flag and the State of Washington flag curl in the breeze:

Take heart! Spring is in the air:

Flying out of Kirkland, we saw the first break in the clouds:

And some gorgeous snowy peaks:

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 17 March 2017 at 11:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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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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Sign of the times at bookshop, Tauranga, New Zealand

Being partial to books, and knowing my readers are too, I can’t resist the humour of this signboard, spotted outside a bookshop in Tauranga, New Zealand:

Sign outside bookshop, Tauranga

A sign of the times?

That’s all for today, folks.

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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Sydney Park with Conservation Volunteers 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

The TC, bless her cotton socks, occasionally gets a bee in her bonnet about conservation, and goes out pulling up weeds with a group of like-minded souls. Today we went to Sydney Park, in the inner city area of Sydney. We joined a group of 15 volunteers hosted by Conservation Volunteers Australia.

My impressions? Hard work, but the volunteers loved it. Many of them go out once a week or more to look after sites around Sydney.

The book I’m in

Hotel du Barry, by Lesley Truffle. A delightful romp through the streets of London, with more than a glimpse of the dark side of life.

Travel tip

Take a hat and plenty of water.

The photos

Me at the old brickwork kilns in Sydney Park:

Sydney Park

This row of kilns is near the corner of Sydney Park Road and King Street, near St Peters railway station:

Sydney Park kilns

The chimneys from the old brickworks are an imposing sight:

Sydney Park chimneys

Slopes and skylines are a characteristic of Sydney Park:

Sydney Park skylines

Down to the business of the day: bush conservation. These were the TC’s tools today:

Bush conservation tools

A handy tip from one of the seasoned volunteers: hang your bag on a branch, or you’re likely to find the ants have eaten your lunch:

Bush conservation in Sydney Park

The volunteers wore bright yellow vests:

Bush conservation outfit

The bright outfit makes people easier to spot when out in the bush:

Bush conservation in Sydney Park

The group’s task today was to pull up weeds. Conservation Volunteers Australia and the local council cleared this site a few months ago (it was a mess of grass and weeds), covered it with Sydney sandstone to provide a good base for native plants, then planted a number of bushes and ground cover. The aim is to restore the area with mid-height vegetation, to provide food and homes for small birds and other creatures.

The new plantings are growing well. Spot the conservationists:

Bush conservation in Sydney Park

But things are not all good. Meet the enemy! Fleabane is one of the non-native plants the group wants to eradicate. This one was a large specimen, about four feet high. The TC wrestled with it for quite a few minutes, employing mattock and brute strength to pull it out by the roots:

Fleabane

Another baddie bites the dust. Kikuyu grass. The TC found it very satisfying to pull these long strands of grass up from amongst the native bushes:

Kikuyu

And now for the goodies. This is a tea tree (Leptospermum):

Tea tree

More tea tree, intertwined with a pink-flowered something:

Tea tree

A colourful fly enjoying tea tree nectar:

Colourful fly enjoying tea tree nectar

This Dianella caerulea has bright blue flowers, and eventually blueish purple berries that are edible. The TC, bless her soul, delights in plucking them straight from the garden and popping them in her mouth:

Dianella caerulea

There was a lot of this yellow-flowered bush. The TC doesn’t know the name of it:

Yellow-flowered bush

A profusion of yellow:

Yellow-flowered bush

A hardy white flower, the name of which currently escapes the TC and me:

White daisy-like flower

A rare shot of the TC photographing some grass. Note the hat!

Grass flower

The TC isn’t sure if this is a fossilised leaf or just a pattern in the sandstone rock:

Fossilised leaf in sandstone?

That’s all for today, folks.

Wentworth Falls and Valley of the Waters, Leura

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

The TC recently spent a couple of days in Leura, a town in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. I was there too, but I spent my time cosily buried in a book. The TC, brave soul that she is, went on a four-hour hike from Leura to Wentworth Falls and back. The walk is 6 to 7 kilometres in distance, with a vertical drop and ascent of 200 metres.

My impressions? To judge by the TC’s glowing face and weary limbs, this was a walk and a half. She loved it, and had sore muscles for days afterwards.

The book I’m in

Jupiter War, by Neal Asher.

Travel tip

When walking in the Blue Mountains, take plenty of water and some food. Although your intention may be to stay out only a couple of hours, weather can change and mishaps can happen.

Recommended accommodation

Fairmont Resort, 1 Sublime Point Rd, Leura NSW 2780. Comfort, warmth, and friendliness.

The photos

Looking out over the Blue Mountains from the Fairmont Resort in Leura. This is where the four-hour walk started. Early in the morning, the valley is filled with mist:

Leura, Blue Mountains

On the way to Wentworth Falls, the path takes you up and down, through forest-filled glens, under overhanging rocks, along cliff faces:

Walk to Wentworth Falls

The views are stunning:

On the way to Wentworth Falls

At the top of Wentworth Falls, the ground just ends. The water falls over the edge:

At the top of Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls, seen from the bottom:

Wentworth Falls

To get down there, you can take the National Pass, a spectacular cliff-face path of metal and rock:

National Pass, Wentworth Falls

Cockatoos frolic around the falls:

Cockatoo at Wentworth Falls

On the loop back to Leura, the TC’s group walked through the Valley of the Waters. This is a gorgeous walk, with waterfalls and hanging gardens and spectacular views. This shot is taken from behind the curtain of water that drops off the cliffs:

Valley of the Waters, Blue Mountains

Here’s a short video taken from behind the same waterfall:

The Cascades are a silver shower of water on black rock:

The Cascades, Valley of the Waters

That’s all for today, folks.