Exploring Scotland – Part III – Discovering Neolithic Orkney

Day 3 – 28th July 2013

Today we set out to explore Neolithic Orkney, World Heritage sites that date back between 5100 to 3500 years ago. We visited Maeshowe chambered tomb, the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae, the Ness of Brodgar, and The Stones of Stenness. Inside Maeshowe, you could see the ancient Norse rune markings on the walls of the stone. The Scottish government offers a Virtual Tour of Maeshowe, wherein on the winter solstice, the sun sets in between the mountains and shone in through the 10 metre pathway to the chamber and the back wall. The mound is 35 metres in diameter and 7 metres in height. Visitors are not allowed to take photos inside, but I have a few exterior shots.

Maeshowe, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Maeshowe, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Maeshowe, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Maeshowe, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Norse Runes, Maeshowe Burial Chamber, West Mainland, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Norse Runes, Maeshowe Burial Chamber, West Mainland, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

By the time we left Maeshowe, the wind and rain had picked up as we headed back to the bus to go to our next destination – the Ness of Brodgar excavations. In 2002, a geological survey of the area revealed a 2.5 hectare area that may have been indicative of a settlement. The excavations over the years since – done over a six week period each summer – has revealed settlements that have undergone radiocarbon dating to civilizations between 3200-2300BC. The site is currently only about 10% excavated at this point. The images that follow are of different sections of the excavation.

Ness of Brodgar Excavation Site, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Ness of Brodgar Excavation Site, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Ness of Brodgar, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Ness of Brodgar, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

We then moved on to Skara Brae and the Skaill House. After getting some lunch at the visitor information centre and the exhibition displays, I headed out to the Skara Brae site; first to the replica house where it gave an idea to the internal structure of the homes, and then on to the actual site of one of the best preserved prehistoric villages (dating to 3100 to 2600 BC). These structures were preserved under sand until a severe storm in 1850 that revealed part of the structures, then excavations began. In the 1920s a protective seawall was erected to prevent further erosion of the historic settlements by the sea; it has been re-fortified over the years.

Skara Brae Replica House, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Skara Brae Replica House, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Skara Brae, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Skara Brae, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Skara Brae, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Skara Brae, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

I didn’t get over to the Skaill House as the wind was up and it was pouring rain, sideways, and I was absolutely soaked so I just headed over back to the bus. We also stopped further up along the bay where a few got out to explore and see some puffins. Seeing a few of the pictures from the others, I kind of wished I had gone but I was also glad to have a bit of reprieve from the rain. By the time we got to our next destination, the Broch of Gurness, the rain had eased off somewhat, even though the wind was still up. On the plus side it helped to dry my jeans out a little. 🙂

The Broch of Gurness village is dated around 500 to 200 BC and is one of the best examples of an Iron-Age settlement in northern Scotland. We were able to wander around the settlement much easier than that of Skara Brae, and thus could see more clearly the areas of housing.

Broch of Gurness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch of Gurness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch of Gurness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch of Gurness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch of Gurness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch of Gurness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch of Gurness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch of Gurness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch of Gurness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch of Gurness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

A Pictish Farm, Broch of Gurness, Orkney Mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

A Pictish Farm, Broch of Gurness, Orkney Mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch Horse, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Broch Horse, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

On our trails of viewing the heart of Neolithic Orkney, we stopped at The Ring of Brodgar, built relatively between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. The overcast day added to the mystery and ambiance of the scene in front of us. There are twenty-seven of a possible sixty stones survive around the circumference of the henge. Following that, we moved over to The Standing Stones of Stenness, which radiocarbon dating has set the building time around 3100 BC.

Ring of Brodgar

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney mainland. ©  J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney mainland. ©  J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney mainland. ©  J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Standing Stones of Stenness

Stones of Stenness, Orkney mainland. ©  J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Stones of Stenness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Stones of Stenness, Orkney mainland. ©  J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

Stones of Stenness, Orkney mainland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 28th July 2013

The Stones of Stenness was our last stop on the day’s itinerary before we headed back to Kirkwall. As I had leftovers from my Indian meal the night before back at the hostel, I decided to get dropped back to the Tesco’s near the hostel where I picked up some fruit and drink for the next day and a new pair of dry jeans. It hard started to sprinkle with rain again as I left Tesco’s but fortunately it wasn’t far back to the hostel. After getting in and hanging up my clothes on the heated towel rack and the radiator (which I turned up for the evening), I grabbed a nice hot shower then put on my pyjamas, got my supper then retired to my room to write up some postcards and work on my computer before retiring for the night.

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Exploring Scotland – Part II: Inverness to the Orkney Islands

Day 2, 27th August 2013

This day we were headed to the Orkney Islands, going up the northeast of Scotland, looking at the beautiful scenery as we went. We headed up across the Black Isle and up to Dornoch for a break to get something to take for lunch later on, and a chance to wander about. We were able to get into Dornoch Cathedral, a 13th Century red sandstone Parish Church, to wander through. The architecture is just beautiful.

Dornoch Cathedral, Dornoch, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dornoch Cathedral, Dornoch, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dornoch Cathedral, Dornoch, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dornoch Cathedral, Dornoch, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dornoch Cathedral, Dornoch, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dornoch Cathedral, Dornoch, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dornoch Cathedral, Dornoch, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dornoch Cathedral, Dornoch, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

As I continued to walk about the town before we headed off, I spotted this house with a gorgeous garden and I had to grab a shot.

Dornoch, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dornoch, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

After that, we continued on and stopped at Dunrobin Castle at Golspie Sutherland. We went around back and got some shots of the opulence of the castle, though some of the shots were quite bright due to sun shining through the mist.

Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, Sutherland, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, Sutherland, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Me at Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, Sutherland, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Me at Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, Sutherland, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dunrobin Castle Beach, Golspie, Sutherland, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Dunrobin Castle Beach, Golspie, Sutherland, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

We stopped briefly in Helmsdale to visit The Emigrants statue, erected as a memorial to the thousands of Scots who were forcibly removed from their homes during the highland clearances; some sent to the coasts, the Scottish lowlands, others sent to Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and many other places around the world.

The Emigrants, Helmsdale, Highland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

The Emigrants, Helmsdale, Highland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

There were times as we travelled along the A9 road along the coast where you could see the mist over the water so that it looked like the clouds were below us and sunny skies above, then turned and headed up to John O’Groats for a quick break before we waited to take the ferry at Gill’s Bay to South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands.

Arriving on South Ronaldsay we passed over the causeways, known as the Churchill Barriers, to Burray, and then over to Lamb Holm, where the causeways were built and ships were purposefully sunk to prevent further German U-Boats from passing through the Scapa Flow, though the Churchill Barrier causeways were completed in Sept 1944 but were not actually officially opened until May1945.

Sunken Ships, Scapa Flow, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Sunken Ships, Scapa Flow, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Much of the work on those causeways was completed by Italian prisoners of war. While prisoners of war are forbidden for working on the causeways though it had been justified as improvements for communications between the islands. On the island of Lamb’s Holm, the Italian’s built a beautiful chapel, known as the Italian Chapel, where we stopped for a break to take in the wonderful design before stopping for a short break. These are some of the pictures taken at the chapel.

Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

POW Memorial Statue at the Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

POW Memorial Statue, Lamb Holm, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

I spotted a lovely bunch of daisies as we walked down to the little shop not too far away, and had to take a shot.

Daisies, Lambs Holm, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Daisies, Lambs Holm, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

We drove on to Kirkwall, the capitol of Orkney, where we were staying over night for two nights. After we were shown around the town and got our Orkney Explorer Passes, we had a bit of a break to wander around town. I took a walk around town by the shops, and to the St. Magnus Cathedral. Unlike on the Scottish mainland and Outer Hebrides, one of the primary things that you notice in Orkney is that the town names and locations have more of a Norse influence on the area than Gallic.

St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Cemetery Entrance at St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Cemetery Entrance at St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

I also went round to the Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, as it had looked quite intriguing in the Orkney Explorer’s brochure. The Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces were built about the same time as the St. Magnus Cathedral, mid-12th century to provide a home for the Bishop. I walked around the remnants of the palaces taking in the structures.

Bishop's and Earl's Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop's and Earl's Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop's and Earl's Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop's and Earls Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop's and Earl's Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop's and Earl's Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop's and Earl's Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop's and Earl's Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

After a bit, we were driven to our accommodations. This time I had a four bed female dorm to myself, and on ground floor so no needing to carry luggage up and down stairs. Thankfully. The hostel where I was staying wasn’t that far off from the centre of the city, so I walked back into the centre and poked around a bit before heading to the North Indian & Bangladeshi restaurant we found earlier. I had a wonderful dinner at Dil Se. Lamb Tikka Biryani with Naan bread with Gulab Jamun (warm rich luscious balls of soft Indian dumplings in aromatic cardamom sugar syrup, sinfully sweet & succulent) for dessert – it was awesome. Then I headed off to the city centre where there was to be the local performance by the Kirkwall City Pipes and Drums performance. I bought one of the band’s CDs as there was someone who was selling them as fundraisers.

Kirkwall City Pipe Band, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Kirkwall City Pipe Band, Kirkwall, Orkney. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27th July 2013

Exploring Scotland – Part I: A Journey Through Time

I’m breaking this up in to sections due to amount of photographs that would slow down loading of the page.

I arrived in Edinburgh later than planned in that I got on the wrong train; two TransPennine trains leaving about 5 minutes apart. Got on the earlier of the two and by the time I realised my error and switched back to Manchester Piccadilly, the train I needed had left. So, I talked to one of the TransPennine agents and I could get on the next train departing two hours later. That was a bit of a fun ride as we were packed in tight, standing in the carriage aisles and door passageways with a group of young men and women heading to a music festival. About an hour and a bit into the trip I finally managed to get a seat and we finally arrived in Edinburgh around six pm. I took a taxi to the Castle Rock Hostel where I was staying for the night. After checking in, I ventured out for more photo-taking and a search for food. Unfortunately, Edinburgh Castle was closed to visitors in the evening – tours (walking or guided) run in the mornings and I was going to be off on my Rabbie’s Tour by then, so I wandered around a bit and got some distance shots of the castle. I finally ended up at the White Hart Inn, which as the oldest pub in Edinburgh, built in 1516, is a place I’d been before but it was well worth the return. Steak & Ale pie, wine, and listening to local live folk music.

Balmoral Hotel in the distance, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

Balmoral Hotel in the distance, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

Edinburgh Flower Clock, Princes St. Gardens, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

Edinburgh Flower Clock, Princes St. Gardens, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

High Street,  Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

High Street, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

Old City, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

Old City, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

White Hart Inn Pub, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

White Hart Inn Pub, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

Stairway to Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

, Edinburgh, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 25th July 2013

Orkney & Outer Hebrides Tour – Day 1
On Friday morning, I headed down to the mid-lower end of High Street / Royal Mile to where the Rabbie’s Tours were to be departing. Like the Wild-In-Scotland Tour I took seven years ago, these tours also operated 16-passenger small bus tours around England, Scotland, and Ireland. The 10-day tour I was taking was essentially two tours combined in to one large one – Orkney & Outer Hebrides. The great thing with Rabbies is that they guarantee departures, even if it’s just one person taking the tour (aside from the tour guide). However, our tour was full. We had folks from Canada, Germany, Denmark, Taiwan (though living in Germany), United States, United Kingdom and Australia; and in the second tour there were four of us from the first tour also doing the second. Rabbie’s Tours took their name from the Scottish Poet Robbie Burns, and they’ve won several awards as a tour company. Our Tour guide for the first section was Gus, who was from around the Inverness area, and gave a great history of the areas that we were passing through.

Today we started out heading from Edinburgh and over to Stirling, where we went up to the Wallace Monument, standing on the Abbey Craig that overlooks the city of Stirling and was constructed in the 1860s.

Stirling, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Stirling, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Wallace Monument, Stirling, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Wallace Monument, Stirling, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Stirling Castle, Stirling, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Stirling Castle, Stirling, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Butterfly, Wallace Monument, Stirling, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Butterfly, Wallace Monument, Stirling, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

The butterfly was taken just after the one of Stirling Castle, as we spotted it just before we were taking a path to head back to the carpark where our tour bus was waiting. Four of us, however, managed to take a wrong path somewhere along the way and headed in the opposite direction – the paths were not well marked – and we ended up coming out along the A907/Alloa Road. Two of us had mobile phones, so we contacted the Rabbie’s office and let them know where we were. Just as we got to a medical equipment supply shop the heavens opened up and the rain started to pour down. About 10-15 minutes later, the Rabbie’s van showed up to our great delight and much laughter was to be had.

Orkney & Outer Hebrides Tour – Day 1 (Continued)

Leaving Stirling behind, we moved through the Trussachs, Callander, Loch Lommand National Park, and headed into the Highlands. The further north we travelled, the place names on the signs changed from English only to Scots Gaelic, in larger font with the English in a smaller font beneath it.

Our first major stop was at the Ski Lodge where we stopped for lunch and two of us brave souls decided to go up on the lift to the top of the mountain for a look, not realising that it took about twenty minutes to get up, and then another twenty to return. The actual run up and back wasn’t so bad, and even, but the getting on and off the lift chair was a little nerve-wracking with the sudden lift up. I’m not a skiier so I’ve never done this before. In summertime, the Lodge often runs mountain biking tournaments…now, in looking at the trail as I went up the mountain – that’s some scary looking turns coming down. However, being up at the top did provide for some gorgeous views.

Glencoe Ski Resort, Glencoe, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Glencoe Ski Resort, Glencoe, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Glencoe Ski Resort, Glencoe, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Glencoe Ski Resort, Glencoe, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

We drove along through Glencoe and as our guide gave us the history of the Massacre of Glencoe, it was at times hard to believe the beauty of the area was witness to such devastation 321 years ago as thirty-eight MacDonalds of the Clan MacDonald were killed by the king’s soldiers and another forty women and children died of exposure as their homes were burned to the ground.

Glencoe, UK, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Glencoe, UK, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Glencoe, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Glencoe, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Glencoe, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Glencoe, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

After this, we went through the Great Glen, stopping at Spean Bridge along the A82 to see the Commando Memorial then along the length Loch Ness, stopping briefly at Urqhuart Castle to take a couple photos.

Commando Monument, Lochaber Scotland, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Lochaber

Urquhart Castle, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Urquhart Castle, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

We finally ended up in Inverness for the night where we were dropped at our accommodations. I got signed in to the hostel where I had a booking, then headed out for food, picture-taking opportunities and souvenirs (not necessarily in that order). For supper, I met up with a few people from our tour group at Joy of Taste. It’s a really nice place where the staff, aside from the chefs, are volunteers that share in the love of serving fantastic food, they work one shift a week who are paid in food. And trust me, the food was fantastic 🙂

Inverness, Highland, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Inverness, Highland, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Inverness, Highland, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Inverness, Highland, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Inverness, Highland, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Inverness, Highland, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 26th July 2013

Stay tuned for more of my UK Vacation…

Getting Around Skipton & Manchester

Skipton, Tuesday, 23rd July

I’m finally getting round to getting the next round of my trip journey written up as I had a computer issue – wherein the disk utility determined that there was no access to the internal hard drive. Thankfully, when I got home yesterday (7th Aug), and took it to an Apple shop, that they determined it wasn’t a hard drive failure but rather a faulty cable. So it was an easier fix and less expensive.

As my trip to Manchester was shorter – and rainy – the time I got to wander around was less, so I’ve added it to this post as well. Hopefully the next time I get over, I’ll try and spend a bit more time exploring the city.

I took the train up to Skipton from Epsom, which was a multiple-part trip, carrying luggage around each section through a combination of National Rail trains and Underground trains connections. I got into Skipton and got settled at the guesthouse and set out to exploring the beautiful town. I travelled up by train to Skipton today. One of the things that drew me to Skipton was the scenery seen in Last Tango in Halifax. The stone and brick houses, along with the scenery around the canals were lovely.

Skipton, UK, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton, UK, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton, UK, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton, UK, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

When I was initially doing some research in to what things to see and do, one of the things that struck my interest was Skipton Castle, a medieval castle that’s over 900 years old, and is one of the best preserved in England. The right side of the castle as you approach, is actually still currently inhabited, whilst the sections on the left side are open to the public. as there was so much information to absorb about the castle, I included the link to the Skipton Castle’s website, which has a lot of information available. The Chapel of St. John the evangelist (in the third picture) was built in the 13th century.

Skipton Castle Gatehouse, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton Castle Gatehouse, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton Castle Gatehouse, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton Castle Gatehouse, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton Castle, Skipton, UK  © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton Castle Gatehouse, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton Castle Chapel, Skipton, UK, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton Castle Chapel, Skipton, UK, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton Castle Chapel, Skipton, UK, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Skipton Castle Chapel, Skipton, UK, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

The Conduit Court, Skipton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

The Conduit Court, Skipton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Afterwards, I wandered down, poking through a couple shops before heading down to the canal, where there were short canal boat tours, Pennine Boat Tours, for £3. The tour guide gave us a bit of history of the use of the canals in the area, distances covered with the Leeds and Liverpool Canals. You could get a small bag of duck / swan food for 50p to throw out to the water fowl. There were a few young swans and ducks that were still grey in colour (picture five below).

Canal waterfront, Skipton. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Canal waterfront, Skipton. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Canal waterfront, Skipton. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Canal waterfront, Skipton. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Another section of the Canal, Skipton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Another section of the Canal, Skipton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Canal ride, Skipton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Canal ride, Skipton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Coach Street Bridge, Skipton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Canal, Skipton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Swans and ducks in the canal, Skipton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Swans and ducks in the canal, Skipton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

After my wandering around I headed to the Castle Inn Pub for a wonderful feed of Roast Beef dinner with Yorkshire pudding & vegetables. Then I got caught out in the rain, running much of the way back to the guest house, occasionally darting under the eaves of shops as I went. My clothes were rather soaked by the time I got back, but at least I could put them on a radiator to dry as I took a lovely bath. The next morning, I took another wander through the town, and found a market set up along High Street and I browsed through a few stalls before heading back, signing out and heading to the train station to head on to Manchester via Leeds. I thought I might get to Halifax to do some exploring but that will have to wait until next time as the train station in Halifax doesn’t have a place that I could store my suitcase as I roamed about.

Skipton Train Station, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Skipton Train Station, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Manchester, Wednesday, 24th July
I didn’t have much of a chance to do a lot of wandering around Manchester, but one of the key things I wanted to see was the Manchester Town Hall, of which I’d also seen in Last Tango in Halifax (first scene of the first episode). I loved the architecture of the building, inside and out, and if you’ve gotten this far, you’ll notice I have a thing for arches, doorways and bridges, so you’ll see that in the following pictures. Alas, I wasn’t there in time (which was about 1pm, I believe) for the Town Hall Tour, which is something I would have enjoyed I think, judging by the architecture of the building. I’m beginning to think that my list of things to do next time is getting longer by the day.

Manchester Town Hall Cafe, Manchester, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Manchester Town Hall Cafe, Manchester, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Lobby Staircase, Manchester Town Hall, Manchester, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Lobby Staircase, Manchester Town Hall, Manchester, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Street Cars, Manchester. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

Street Cars, Manchester. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 24th July 2013

I ventured around the town for a walk, heading over to Canal Street for a drink and a chat with a couple locals before heading back to the hostel to relax for a while and get some rest before heading up to Edinburgh the next day.

Galivanting in Oxford

Sunday, 21 July 2013

I had issues with access to my photoblog which is now finally fixed, and I’ve combined both original posts into one. This is large post full of pictures so it may take time to load.

Pam and I headed off to Oxford about noon and it was a bit of a challenge on the roundabout just just before Oxford as the Sat-Nav voice directions was telling us one set of directions and the visual directions were a little different (and ended up being the more accurate). Then once in to Oxford it had a bit of an issue with finding New Road. I’d been to the Malmaison Oxford hotel before (May 2006) but my cousin had never been, so it was a fun experience to share that with her. We were on A-Wing – which, if you’re a Bad Girls fan, it was HMP Larkhall’s G-Wing and we were on the first floor. The old prison, HMP Oxford, was closed as a prison in 1996 and was used for various filming locations up until 2003 upon which it was bought by Malmaison and converted to a hotel. More about this later, as we are doing a tour of Oxford Castle.

The advertising for the place keeps with the `prison` theme:

This time we’re taking no prisoners.
You’ve been bad. We know. It’s time to pay for all those second-rate hotel rooms, the third rate room service, oh, the travel inn express lodge travesty of it all. This time you’re going down. Guilty as charged.
Imagine a prison that’s a hotel. (I’m sure you’ve stayed in a few). Now imagine a prison that’s suddenly a luxury boutique hotel in Oxford, destination brasserie and hang-out for high-life hoodlums. Pinch yourself. You’re doing time at the Mal.

We got in the room and my cousin remarked that she could stand getting a 20 year sentence if it had been as posh as this. 🙂

I took some photos as we explored the premises, and this time I’ve got a much better camera so the pictures are clearer.

Malmaison Oxford, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

Malmaison Oxford, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

Malmaison Oxford - A Wing, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

Malmaison Oxford – A Wing, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

A Light in the Room, Malmaison Oxford, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

A Light in the Room, Malmaison Oxford, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

Exercise Yard, Malmaison Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

Exercise Yard, Malmaison Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

After we settled our things, we headed off to the Eagle and Child pub for some supper. Had a lovely dinner of a lamb shank and fresh vegetables, and a couple bottles of Dandelion & Burdoch (which we very rarely get in New Brunswick except around the Highland Games time the end of July). I’d hoped that we might be able to get a punting boat ride that evening but they’d already closed, so we decided to do that on Monday now. Instead, we went to the adjacent pub for a glass of wine before heading back to the hotel. I took a few photos of some interesting scenic areas of Oxford that I found interesting.

Thames River Oxford, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

Thames River Oxford, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

The Royal Blenheim, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

The Royal Blenheim, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

Frewin Court, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

Frewin Court, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

Arched Doorway, Museum of the History of Science. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st  July 2013

Arched Doorway, Museum of the History of Science. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 21st July 2013

There was music playing outdoors as we headed back to make for an enjoyable meander in the nice warm weather. The late evening was fairly quiet as we stayed in and relaxed.

Monday, 22nd July

We started the day with a lovely continental breakfast before we did the Oxford Unlocked tour of Oxford Castle (on which grounds the MalOxford hotel is also located). It was really interesting getting the history of the castle and prison as it changed over the hundreds of years that it was a prison; at times quite gruesome for the prisoners. We quite enjoyed the tour and I was able to get some interesting shots of a few rooms.

Inside St. George's Tower, Oxford Unlocked, Oxford, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Inside St. George’s Tower, Oxford Unlocked, Oxford, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Old Prison Room, Oxford Unlocked, Oxford, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Old Prison Room, Oxford Unlocked, Oxford, UK © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

An Old Prison Gate, Oxford Unlocked. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

An Old Prison Gate, Oxford Unlocked. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Oxford Castle Crypt, Oxford Unlocked. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Oxford Castle Crypt, Oxford Unlocked. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Afterwards, we headed over to the Magdaline Boat House and did took a row boat out for a hour with a small map of the route used for the rowing/punting boats. It was probably pretty hot out, but once I kinda got the hang of the rowing, it went pretty well. Though as I was the one rowing, I didn’t get much chance to take any photos until we got onto the tributary of the route.

View from Thames River Tributary Whilst Rowing, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

View from Thames River Tributary Whilst Rowing, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Finally, the last thing before we left Oxford, I took a walk around a bit around Radcliffe Camera, the Bodlien Library exterior, the Bridge of Sighs, the Sheldonian Theatre and Radcliffe Camera. Oxford has some brilliant architecture. And I have to come back again as I still haven’t had a chance to see everything I want to see and do. If you’re a fan of the series Inspector Morse or [Inspector] Lewis, you should recognise some familiar locations there.

Bridge of Sighs, Oxford, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Bridge of Sighs, Oxford, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Bodlien Library (from internal quad), Oxford, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Bodlien Library (from internal quad), Oxford, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Bodlien Library Gate Arch, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Bodlien Library Gate Arch, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Hope you’ve enjoyed the photos; I had a fun time exploring and taking the photographs. See you soon!

A Voyage to Epsom Downs and Brighton

I’m a bit late in getting this out as things have been crazy busy and I’m also working with wonky sleep patterns as I’ve been dealing with some jetlag. However, since I am a bit later, I’ll be adding a few more photos. 🙂 I arrived in Halifax, NS on Wednesday late afternoon, leaving my car with my cousin, John, and we drove out to the airport. I got through the check-in and security with no problems and then waited a few hours before boarding time. The flight was pretty uneventful aside from my right knee occasionally bothering me.

Thursday, 18th July

After arriving at Gatwick Airport, I got through Passport Control without problem and met up with my cousin, Pam, and we went back to hers for a bit to relax, take some pictures of her side gardens upon request. This is one of the shots I took. 🙂

Pam's garden, Epsom, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 18th July 2013

Pam’s garden, Epsom, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 18th July 2013

A bit later on we poked around town a bit when we went to pick up her sister, Jean, then in the evening for supper out at The Rubbing House restaurant at Epsom Downs. We had a lovely meal, dessert and company, and I got a chance to see one of the horse races. This photo is one of them heading up to the starting line.

Epsom-Downs race track, Epsom-Downs, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 18th July 2013

Epsom-Downs race track, Epsom-Downs, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 18th July 2013

Friday, 19th July
Either due to heat or jet lag or both, I hadn’t slept well, but I was looking forward to heading out to Brighton a bit later in the day. It was another glorious sunny day, and was warming up nicely. The drive down to Brighton was quite nice, and actually by the time we arrived there the temperatures had increased quite a bit to about 26C. We walked along the waterfront, heading towards Brighton Pier, taking a look at the views and the various vendors along the way.

Brighton Beach, Brighton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 19th July 2013

Brighton Beach, Brighton, UK. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 19th July 2013

Brighton Pier, Brighton, UK  © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

Brighton Pier, Brighton, UK © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

Me on Brighton Pier. © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

Me on Brighton Pier. © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

Brighton Wheel

Brighton Wheel, Brighton, U © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

Aftwerwards, we ventured over to Harry Ramsden’s for fish & chips before heading up through some of the LGBT area of the city and poked through a couple shops, and I found this wonderful painted rainbow mural on a brick wall.

Painted Pride flag, Brighton, UK.  © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

Pride flag

We then ventured up to the Royal Pavilion. It’s a beautilful building and surrounding grounds. We didn’t really have the time to go through the building then but it’s something on my bucket list of things to do during another trip. I did get a chance to take a quick run through a little of the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, which is something else I’d love to have more time to do on another trip.

The Royal Pavilion Park Entrance. © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

The Royal Pavilion Park Entrance. © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

The Royal Pavilion, © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

The Royal Pavilion, © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

The Royal Pavilion, © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

The Royal Pavilion, © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

We also took a walk up through Brighton Lanes shopping district, where I found a lovely pair of purple shoes at the Doc Marten’s store.

My new shoes

My new shoes

By this time we were rather overheated and decided to head back to the house, so we took an alternate route due to potential backups on the motorways due to accidents. We went up to see Devil’s Dyke at Summer Downs and the beautiful scenery of the area.

Devil's Dyke, Summer Down, UK, © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

Devil’s Dyke, Summer Down, UK, © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

View from Devil's Dyke, Summer Down, UK, © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

View from Devil’s Dyke, Summer Down, UK, © J. L. Stapleton. 18th March 2013

Saturday has been a rather quiet day. See you again soon!

Travel blog – UK 2013 Coming

Next week I head off to the UK for three weeks and it is my plan to make daily photoblogs over that time, finding at least something interesting each day to photograph. So keep an eye out. 🙂

Lochalsh, Scotland, UK. Photo by J. Lynn Stapleton, 31 May 2006

My Peapack ‘Guiding Light’ Pilgrimage

An acquaintance of mine on Twitter was looking for one of my blog posts from a trip I took to Peapack, New Jersey a few years ago (10th July 2011). Unfortunately I thought I’d lost it for good when had issues between WP and my host web site. Anyway, so she found an old copy of it archived via the Wayback Machine, minus the pictures, but I have those on my computer anyway. So, to present you again, here it is.

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On Wednesday, 6th July, a good friend (Lynn C.) and I headed off to Peapack, NJ on a Guiding Light pilgrimage. We left Penn Station in New York City about 10am on the train to Summit, NJ to transfer to a bus to Peapack (they were working on the tracks). It had been overcast through much of the trip, so I thought it might be so in the town, but it was sunny and hot. It was probably upwards of 90-95F with the humidity and we ended up stopping frequently for fluids…and bathroom breaks.

Coming into the main part of the town, we passed the small lake that we all recognize, then stopped at the NJ Transit station. I had a map of the town thanks to some industrious Otalia fans who had put together a Google map with drop points of various scene locations (Peapack Location Map)

Before we began our trek, we stopped into the Gladstone Tavern aka Company. We had a great lunch & dessert. I got some pictures of the exterior.

Gladstone Tavern, 'Company', Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Gladstone Tavern, ‘Company’, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Gladstone Tavern, 'Company', Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Gladstone Tavern, ‘Company’, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

After that we took a walk up Potterville Rd and over Apgar Ave. There’s a long driveway up to the farmhouse, and it felt like I’d been there before. Though the grounds are well maintained the house remains uninhabited.

The Farmhouse, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

The Farmhouse, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

The Farmhouse porch, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

The Farmhouse porch, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

At the bottom of the hill, we came on a little park area with a gazebo and benches and a couple picnic tables that had been donated by P&G and the Guiding Light production company. This gazebo is the scene of the ‘no more waiting’ discussion, and Rafe and Ashlee’s ‘our moms are gay’ chat.

Donated GL Gazebo plaque, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Donated GL Gazebo plaque, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

After that we headed back down towards Main Street and took pictures, and the police/municipal offices, the pizza place where Crystal & Jess filmed their last scene, of the churches, the ball park and playground.

Peapack/Springfield Municipal offices & Police Dept., Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Peapack/Springfield Municipal offices & Police Dept., Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Playground by ball park, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Playground by ball park, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Ball field, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Ball field, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Dominick's Pizza outdoor eatery, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Dominick’s Pizza outdoor eatery, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Peapack Reformed Church, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Peapack Reformed Church, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

St James Church, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

St James Church, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

We also spent some time down at Liberty Park to the little lake, the ducks, geese and swans, and ‘Emma’s’ playground.

The Lake, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

The Lake, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton


The Lake, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Lake & Swans in Liberty Park Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Lake & Swans in Liberty Park Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Gazebo

Gazebo of Love, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

'Emma's Playground', Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

‘Emma’s Playground’, Peapack, NJ, 6th July 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Nearly 4pm we headed back to the train station and the trains were back in order, so we got the train back to NYC. We were so hot when we got back that showers were in order, following a slice or two of pizza from the hostel. After a bit we headed uptown to meet up with Jill Hurst and her family for a nice evening.

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Jill Lorie Hurst Says:
14 July 2011 at 20:48.

Beautiful photos, sweetie – I felt like I was taking the trip with you and I guess you felt what it was like on that last tape day – hot!!

admin Says:
14 July 2011 at 21:09.

It was so warm there, but at the same time, as we were coming into down the road in the bus, passed the lake to the train station, there was such a feeling of familiarity.

tina sloan Says:

14 July 2011 at 22:50.

OH THIS IS SO WONDERFUL. LOVED ALL THE PHOTOS SO MUCH. MADE ME SO SAD AND WISTFUL FOR ALL THE WONDER THAT WAS GUIDING LIGHT

NYC 2012 Birthday Trip – Part 5

This is the final part – 31st July & 1st August

After getting ready for the day, I got all my stuff packed up and headed down to the 14th Street main hostel/office to drop off my key and lugged my suitcase down to the subway to catch the trains up to Jill’s to drop the suitcase off. I spent some cuddly time with Molly cat, curled up in front of the air conditioner for a little while. It felt really good. The only goal I had for the day was to walk through the upper end of Central Park.

It being a beautiful day, I walked down to the 79th St & 1st Ave bus stop, I caught the bus over to the 79th St. entrance to Central Park. One of the things I wanted to see was the Belvedere Castle, which I hadn’t been able to do when I was in NYC the last time I was there. There were some gorgeous views of the park from the castle.

Belvedere Castle Tower, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 31 July 2012

A View From The Castle, Turtle Pond, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 31 July 2012

I ventured across the the park, past the softball fields, up along the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Resevoir and up to bridle path and up to the Ramble. The Ramble is one of my favourite places to visit. I’ve taken a picture of the Rambling Arch last March (2011) and I took another one here this year during the summer. I love both of them for different reasons.

Rambling Stone Arch, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 31 July 2012

Heading around the paths, I found some folks out for a lovely day of rowing.

A walk in the woods, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 31 July 2012

Rowing on the Pool, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 31 July 2012

There is something about an entangled exposed root system of a tree or trees that fascinates me. A reminder than in many ways we are all interconnected in some way, to the earth, to each other. It’s not always pretty or vibrant – it is what it is.

Tangled Roots, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 31 July 2012

Walking further down the path in the north woods, I found this wonderful waterfall.

Waterfall, North Woods, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 31 July 2012

The beautiful Glen Span Arch involves several of my favourite nature elements: pathways, water, stone architecture, plants.

Glen Span Arch, North Woods, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 31 July 2012

And another waterfall…

Another Waterfall, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 31 July 2012

I finally ended up at by the Harlem Meer and the Conservatory Garden on the upper east side of the park before I decided to stop for the day, exiting at the E. 106th gate and headed over to get a bus to downtown where I was meeting up with Jill for supper. A mix of walking and busing, I finally met her at Dhaba Restaurant for some lovely Indian food. We left and headed back up to Jill’s for the remainder of the evening until it was time for me to leave for my train. By 2am I bid adieu to a lovely tired Jill and a curled up Molly cat and headed to Penn Station. Alas my vacation in the city was drawing to an end.

I’d managed to get a wee bit of a nap at Jill’s, and then I was able to sleep on the train for a couple or three hours on the train from New York to Boston. On the train, I met up with a lovely woman from South Africa and we got talking about travelling, photography and things. She was also going up to Portland, ME and since this had been my third time doing this route, she and I stayed together during the travels. Boston was still as warm as ever, though the TD Center was a bit more air-conditioned than Boston Back Bay. Managed a bit more sleep on the Boston-Portland run which was good because I would have a five hour drive from Portland to home.

Caffeine in, and the soundtrack to Wicked playing in the car’s CD player, I started my drive home. The sun was beautiful and windows open as I headed up the I-95 to the Houlton, ME/Woodstock, NB border, then home an hour later. Phew. Already missing NYC and my friends there. 🙂