Troll encounter in Fremont, Seattle

The TC caught this troll by surprise as it emerged from its den under the Aurora bridge in Fremont, Seattle.

I think the troll caught the TC by surprise too, but she had enough composure to snap the picture of the troll, and to turn her back on it to snap the view of the bridge from underneath.

That’s all for today, folks.

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Published in: on 16 October 2017 at 5:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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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.

Winchester Cathedral an unexpected pleasure

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 had a few hours to spare in Hampshire, England, before catching up with some friends. We spotted Winchester on the map, and came across the cathedral almost by accident.

My impressions? An awe-inspiring building with gracious hosts.

Word of the day

Knapping is the word of the day. It’s what you do to shape a piece of flint into a tool or an ornament, by tapping and chiselling until the stone has the shape you need. You can therefore refer to knapped or unknapped flint. The word knapping is related to the Germanic root knopp, meaning to strike.

Travel tip

Chat to the guides in the cathedral, even if you don’t take a guided tour. The guides are kind, enthusiastic and knowledgable.

Recommended restaurant

The Stable, 31b The Square, Winchester SO23 9EX, UK. Excellent pizza, catering also for vegan and gluten free diets. Good cider and friendly staff.

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 and William Walker, the diver who saved Winchester Cathedral in the early 1900s. William dressed in heavy diving gear and went into the water under the building every day for six long years, shoring up the foundations. He saved the cathedral from collapse.

Being short in stature, I appreciate a good floor. Winchester Cathedral has a good floor:

This heart-breaking memorial for a six-week old baby caught my eye:

Also on the floor is the tomb of Jane Austen, beloved author. It’s interesting to note that the inscription makes no mention of her fame as a writer:

Raising your eyes to the TC’s level rather than this worms, you’d see the thoughtful gaze of Jane Austen:

Here lies Godfrey de Lucy, bishop of Winchester from 1189 to 1204:

The positioning of the three moons is interesting on this memorial stone. To a modern eye, they seem to form a smiley face. This worm wonders what folks thought of them in 1700:

The large book below is a roll of honour to the Rifle Brigade in World War I (1914-1918). The page turner shown in the display is a thin, engraved and shaped piece of wood, for use only with this roll of honour:

Inside the cathedral are a number of inner walls, enclosing tombs and sanctuaries. Many of them are intricately carved, like the one below. There are also caskets atop the wall:

Symmetry in the crypt below the cathedral:

The shot below is taken from the back of the cathedral, looking down the main hall (the nave) towards the altar:

Construction of the cathedral started in 1079. The main hall was built later, in the years between 1350 and 1525.

The stained glass window at the back of the church was rebuilt from pieces of shattered glass in 1660, after English Parliamentary troops (the so-called Roundheads led by Cromwell) destroyed the original window:

The west face of Winchester Cathedral:

Walking down to the right of the west face, you’ll see this view of the building:

Four Norman arches stretch away from the main building:

Pieces of flint embedded in the walls around the cathedral:

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.

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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