Photo Miscellanea

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Going to Wales

Sometime toward the end of 2015, I thought it would be a fun thing to go to Swansea, Wales to visit my email friend, Trish. It took me a while to bring this plan up to Trish herself, but by March of 2016 I was making plane reservations. The original trip was to be in May, but due to our dog's knee surgery, I rescheduled for the very end of August.

And so off I went, on August 31st.

It rained a lot. Hence the lack of blue sky in any of these photos. I was only there for 3 full days. The first full day, we went to Mumbles and saw Oystermouth Castle. I spent most of the second day on my own (largely just resting) and we met down the street for dinner. On the third day we took the train to Cardiff and saw Cardiff Castle and did a lot of shopping. Trish does not drive and so we got around on foot or by bus or train.

Here we are in Mumbles, looking at Oystermouth Castle as we approach it.

 photo oystermouth.jpg

Another view of the outside:

 photo oystermouth2.jpg

Here's some info about the castle:

 photo aboutoystermouth.jpg

A view from inside, near the altar:

 photo oystermouth3.jpg

It was pouring rain while we were there, which may be the reason we had the whole castle to ourselves. This is a view of the Mumbles area from the castle, with the bay to the left.

 photo mumbles2.jpg

I had rented a nice condo in the marina area of Swansea, with the marina itself on one side and the beach on the other. Here are some pictures of the marina area:

 photo marina.jpg


 photo marina2.jpg

Here's a photo I took while walking on the beach on my solo day. The restaurant we were going to for dinner that night is on the top floor of that tall building.

 photo beach.jpg

They have a very strong tide there, the largest I have seen since we lived near the Bay of Fundy in Canada. Later that afternoon I walked down to the restaurant, seen in the distance here. This is also the way I walked to get to the co-op food store, where I got groceries on two occasions.

 photo swanseastreet.jpg

The restaurant was wonderful, I thoroughly enjoyed the food, the company, and the view! The windows are double-paned and the only way to get a picture was to put the camera lens directly on the pane, giving the photo an odd vignette appearance. This is the view from our table, which overlooked the town of Swansea:

 photo fromrestaurant.jpg

Here is the view from the other side, facing the water:

 photo fromrestaurant2.jpg

The next day we took the train to Cardiff to see the castle and town. I took this while we were waiting at the train station. Seemed well-suited to be a black and white image.

 photo trainstation.jpg

All of the station signs there were in both English and Welsh.

 photo welsh.jpg


 photo welsh2.jpg

Here is a street in Cardiff that we crossed on our way to the castle.

 photo cardiffstreet.jpg

As we approach, castle wall on the right, Burger King and Subway across the street on the left..

 photo castleBK.jpg

This castle was built when the area was fairly empty, and then over time the town and then city grew around it, with the castle at the center. Such a mix of different eras.

As we approached the entrance, Trish pointed out the tower. I asked her about what the figures and emblems meant..."I have no idea," she said. She made me laugh quite often on this trip.

 photo castletower.jpg

During WWII, this castle was used as a shelter from bombs and other attacks. The windows, such as they were, were boarded up to block all light. We walked through the corridor that was part of the shelter area. There were cots by the walls. They were playing a radio broadcast by Churchill, along with the sounds of planes and bombs falling. There were assorted signs on the walls that were most likely reproductions, but perhaps not.

 photo wwIIsign.jpg


 photo wwIIsign2.jpg

I have a great interest in all things related to WWII and so this was a very special place to be for me. We moved on from there to the main part of the castle, which was partially furnished with period pieces and many portraits of the previous owners. This was the very impressive ceiling in a room that seemed to be a small dining room.

 photo ceiling.jpg

Here are some more interior shots:

 photo fireplace.jpg


 photo interior.jpg


 photo fireplace2.jpg

And a photo of the outside of this part of the castle:

 photo cardiffcastle.jpg

Next it was time to head for the keep, which included a long set of steps...

 photo castlekeep.jpg

A view of the castle from the keep:

 photo castlefromkeep.jpg

And one of the interesting skyline of Cardiff from the keep, which shows both castle towers and the Marriott hotel and other modern buildings.

 photo cardiffskyline.jpg

After sitting for awhile in the keep and just absorbing the history, we went back down the steps and across the grass to see the trebuchet. A reproduction, I wonder when it was made?

 photo trebuchet.jpg

Here is the sign that was next to it:

 photo trebuchetinfo.jpg

As we were leaving the castle, Trish told me about this wall of animals that runs down one end of the outside of it, and asked if I wanted to see it. Of course I did! So we headed down there. The idea is that all these animals, which are positioned along the outside wall, are coming out to protect the castle from anyone getting too close. There's the big cat,

 photo wallcat.jpg

and the scary bear,

 photo wallbear.jpg

and of course the...seal? I'm not sure how effective this one would be. Must be coming from the moat...

 photo wallseal.jpg

Then it was time to do some shopping in Cardiff. This is a cute shop, with very friendly proprietors, and the name above the green shop name is in fact the longest location name in the world:

 photo longname.jpg

Another Cardiff street:

 photo cardiffstreet3.jpg

Here is a picture of John Lewis (coincidentally our vet's name when we lived in FL), a very large department store. With a big round thing in front of it.

 photo johnlewis.jpg

And the inevitable Hare Krishna folks. Except when I used to see them, they weren't all busy with their cell phones.

 photo krishnas.jpg

We had lunch at nice little cafe and we did hit quite a few shops while there. It was a fun day. Then back to Swansea on the train. After we parted ways, I had time to walk across the marina to the Pump House Pub & Grill, where I finally had a local beer and a salad for dinner. Then back to my condo to pack up. I had passed this statue several times while walking through the marina, no idea what it represents since there was nothing about it nearby:

 photo marinastatue.jpg

Trish accompanied me to the bus station the next morning, we said our goodbyes, and I rode the five hours to Heathrow. I then took a motel shuttle to the motel I was staying at that night. The next morning the same shuttle took me back to Heathrow. I checked my bag, got my boarding pass, and then had a great breakfast in one of the airport restaurants. Then back on the plane and back home.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Western Carolina Dock Diving Dogs

We saw a blurb in the paper about a dock diving event in Waynesville, not too far from us. So off we went. After a detour due to a missed turn, we arrived at the facility. I think we were the only spectators that didn't have a dog participating. We missed the agility trials.

We'd never seen dock diving in person, only on TV. So this was fun!

The first dog we saw was Angus, a little black cock-a-poo. The motto "Where dogs fly" was very appropriate for all these dogs!

 photo Angus0616.jpg

Next up was a gorgeous golden retriever, a natural for this event.

 photo golden0616.jpg

One foot touches down...

 photo goldenfootin0616.jpg

And he's in!

 photo goldensplash0616.jpg

(only overshooting by a little) (overshooting happens a lot).

Then we had an impressive border collie, who launched herself off the dock.

 photo bctakesoff0616.jpg

Each dog got to have a few practice jumps and then two jumps that were judged for distance. The border collie did very well. The focus and concentration on their faces was really something to see.

 photo bcmidair0616.jpg


 photo blackdog0616.jpg


 photo bwjumps0616.jpg

Then came Avery. Avery would run full-out to the edge of the dock and then come to a stop and have to be urged to jump in, which made her jumps, particularly this one, lack a certain finesse (and distance).

 photo aussiefaceplant0616.jpg

However! She rallied and did go sailing off for her second jump.

 photo aussiejump0616.jpg

And she nails the landing!

 photo aussielands0616.jpg

This little dog was not at all afraid of hurling itself into the water.

 photo littledog0616.jpg

This was the last dog that we saw. For this jump, a young boy tossed the first ball out, a yellow one. The dog, like most of the others, started at the back of the dock and ran full speed to the pool and launched himself. The ball was not launched quite as far and fast....

 photo shepherd1-0616.jpg

The ball was directly above the dog briefly--

 photo shepherd2-0616.jpg

And then the dog was pretty far ahead of the ball and probably starting to wonder where it was...

 photo shepherd3-0616.jpg

Ok, he's SURE he saw the boy throw a ball....

 photo shepherd4-0616.jpg

The event had its official finish, but the dogs were invited to take a few more jumps, so this one got more chances at the yellow ball, with an adult throwing it, and it did very well. Amazing height and distance.

 photo shepherdcatch2-0616.jpg


 photo shepherdcatch0616.jpg


 photo shepherdlanding0616.jpg

I got one final one where once again the dog was simply too fast for the ball. Indeed, "where dogs fly."

 photo shepherdjumping0616.jpg

It was a fun afternoon!