Category: Travel

Ilkley, Jollyoldengland

My family and I spent the last 10 days of February in England. My parents go to England a couple of time per year. They invited the four of us along for their late Winter / early Spring trip. They usually go later in March or in April. However, there’s a royal wedding this coming April, William and Kate, and plane tickets and hotels were getting pricey. So, we went a little off -season.

The first installment of photos covers Ilkley, a small town in Yorkshire. Here’s the front door of our B&B, the Archway Cottage, owned and operated by Tony and Gwen Green. It’s a cozy place with three bedrooms, and a loft that functions like a suite. Tony and Gwen are now great friends with my parents, and one evening they invited use to their residence (next door) for a fabulous dinner.

Entrance to the Archway Cottage in Ilkley, Yorkshire, England

Entrance to the Archway Cottage in Ilkley, Yorkshire, England

Okay, here’s the bad news, England is famous for its rainy foggy weather. Not everyday, but the weather we encountered was typically overcast and gray, making picture taking a little tough. On the first day, we woke up to find snow on the ground and the roofs, which is actually a-typical.

Someone asked me, what struck me the most about being in Yorkshire and England. I said that it was the architecture. Most of the buildings in this area were made of cut stone. Families nestled into row houses with slate roofs and chimney pots pointing at the clouds.

View from the Rear Window

Looking behind the B&B to find clouds and snow on my "Island Vacation."

But, the typical English weather did not deter us from adventuring and having a good time. Not everyday was overcast and misty.

Here’s a view from the Ilkley moor. The moors are ranges of long hills; yeah, all that Emily Bronte stuff. They’re not tall and mountainous, but the stretch along the countryside for miles. Outdoor lovers climb, bike, hike, and camp in the moors. You can get lost for days, if you want. Even in the off-season, there were many outdoorsy types around, which reminded a New Englander of being in the mountain areas of New Hampshire or more likely Vermont.

Road to the Moor

Road to the Moor

If I do go back to Yorkshire, I’d like to spend more time in the moors and get muddy. Here’s a local landmark called “the Cow and Calf.” The “Cow” is the large outcrop to the left, and the “Calf” is the boulder that looks like it has broken away. My first three days, the weather was so foggy, I could not see the moor. We went for a drive through the moor, right past the “Cow and Calf.” I still couldn’t see a thing.

Cow and Calf

Cow and Calf

Rapelling Lessons on the Cow

Rapelling Lessons on the Cow

Fortunately, this moor comes complete with a pub, called the “Cow & Calf.” It’s also a large B&B serving free breakfast to guests. Anyone can go for lunch or dinner, pints, and malt whiskeys. The local woods get very, very well stocked with deer and fowl. Hunters sell their kill to butchers and restaurants. This restaurant had venison and guinea fowl on the menu.

Cow and Calf Pub

Lisa and Max heading for lunch at the Cow and Calf Pub

Grimaud

On my vacation to Southern France, I made a decision, “To lead by following.” I chose not to go anywhere. I had everyone else choose for me. I had only been to the area once before, and it was about 10 years prior. So, much of the area was very new to me. Every view and vista was fresh, new, exciting, and breath taking to see.

March on the Castle Ruins in Grimaud

March on the Castle Ruins in Grimaud

Part of “leading by following,” (it’s a Taoist idea really) meant being last in line. It meant being the sweeper, and keeping everyone together and focused in a foreign country. Here I have the view of my parents following my wife and oldest son. Then my youngest is taking the lead.

Looking back towards Cavalaire

Looking back towards Cavalaire

A Study in Orange

A Study in Orange

Someone's Back Patio

Someone's Back Patio

A Side Street

A Side Street

People having lunch under the parasols

People having lunch under the parasols

St. Tropez

In 2013, we returned to St. Tropez. Again, I was struck by the boats, the pretty tourists, the ally ways, and the shore. Most tourist hang around the main esplanade. That’s where the large yachts of the rich and famous dock. The restaurants there do not have any seats where patrons sit face-to-face. Rather, all the seats face out, to watch people pass by, and perhaps, catch a glimpse of celebrity.

It is also worth it to poke around the ally ways. The walls are vibrantly colored. The shops, bakeries, and boutiques cram the spaces along the sides. The paving stones are cleaned nearly to a polished sheen.

Pink and Blue Allyway

Pink and Blue Allyway

Church of St Tropez

Church of St Tropez

We spent a day in St. Tropez for the 2009 trip. My son wanted to go to the old fort, which gave us great views of the city. The Monastery Church of St. Tropez offers a colorful center piece.

Newport St Tropez

I travel all the way from New England to Southern France to run into a boat named, "Newport."

The Bay of St Tropez

City by the bay

No Old San Juan

No Old San Juan

Outter Bay

The bay before heading out to sea

The Church of St Tropez 1

The Church of St Tropez through the brush.

The Church of St Tropez 2

A closer look

La Croix Valmer

Le Croix Valmer

Mosaic at the Tourist Info Building

It was near the Village of La Croix Valmer that the Roman Emperor, Constantine, had a vision. Legend has it that he saw a Cross in the sky, and a voice told him to carry a cross before him in battle, that he would not lose. He did, and won his next battle. He was thus inspired to convert the Roman Empire to Christianity.

A sign in front of a driveway

A sign in front of a driveway

I found La Croix Valmer to a great place to take it easy. I found a different sign, telling me to slow down and take it easy.

Market

Market Day was Sunday

The following are views my wife and I had while walking from town back to the villa.

A hotel near a vinyard

A hotel near a vinyard

Tall pines

Tall pines near the beach

Entrance to a driveway

Entrance to another driveway

Baie de Cavalaire

Bedroom

The Patio

My parents have been traveling to Southern France for a number of years now. Until recently, they’ve been able to rent the same house for quite a while. In August of 2009, I was able to bring my family.

Baie de Cavalaire

Baie de Cavalaire

The view from the patio is breath taking. A typical breakfast or dinner was had while looking over the Baie de Cavalaire.

La Plage

La Plage

The beach stretches from the houses on our side in the town of Croix Valmer to the city of Calavaire on the western end of the beach.

Crowded

Yes, the beach gets crowded.

The air is very warm in August, yet not humid, even with the inviting Mediterranean right there.

Cavalaire at Dawn

Cavalaire at Dawn

The bar is one of a dying breed. You can still enjoy a mojito, more appropriately some pastis, or even a meal at a table right on the beach. You can laze away under the shade of a parasol. However, word of mouth told me that environmental awareness is lowering the popularity of these establishments.

Parasols

Parasols

Images from St Thomas USVI

Land and Sea

I admire the stark almost abstract sections of green trees, brown rock, and aquamarine sea.

In 2006, the family went to St Thomas. These are some of the images I was able to get.

Sailing

I caught this lonely boat passing in front of St John.

Storm 1

The sea breezes over St John created a down pour, that appeared as a white puff over the gray rain and green land over the glistening sea.

Storm 2

Sometimes the storms looked pinkish.

Fish

Yup - those are fish.

100 seps

The stairs that lead to "Black Beard's Castle," which is really the old Governor's compound.

Crab

Crab on the beach

Frigate Bird

One of my most favorites: Blue sky with speckles of white clouds as the black frigate bird soars past with the light on his beak.

Rosecliff

As promised, I am continuing my trip to Newport, Rhode Island with images from the grounds of Rosecliff Mansion. This is the mansion used in “The Great Gatsby” with Robert Redford.

To approach Rosecliff from the street, we crossed the expansive front lawn, decorated with urns of flowers, like these satyrs.

Satyrs with Flowers

Satyrs with Flowers

Somehow, the huge, blanched facade hides behind trees and flower pots.

Flower Pot on the Lawn

Flower Pot on the Lawn

When I finally reached the facade of the building, I felt like I had returned to France, and I was about to enter Fontainebleau or Versailles.

The Facade of Rosecliff

The Facade of Rosecliff

The next three will attest to how I felt about the garden near the entrance.

Neo-Classical Garden

Neo-Classical Garden

My wife got a little jealous, and she commented on how I was taking pictures of a semi-nude woman. I reminded her that the semi-nude woman was made of stone.

It's a Statue

It's a Statue

Then again, this ‘portrait’ is my favorite of the lot.

Portrait in White and Blue

Portrait in White and Blue

And, I’ll close here with a pair of fountains:

Fountain 1

Fountain 1

Fountain 2

Fountain 2

Breakers

Breakers

Breakers from the Back

Late in the Summer, we took the kids to Newport. We wanted to visit Breakers and Rose Cliff. Here, I’ll show some of the grounds of Breakers. Rose Cliff will have to wait until later.

Look at that house! The exterior is concrete.

The Porch

The Summer Space

This was the Summer Space, where the owning family would have meals or use as a private living space on a warm day. They could spend their time gazing the ocean. This was the only “room” where the staff allowed photos taken “inside.”

One Garden

One Garden

The Breakers was built by the Vanderbilt family. These were the great railroad magnates of the 1800 – 1900′s. The Breakers provided a summer home, as well as a place to receive the business leaders, world leaders, and entertainers of the day. One daughter even married into European royalty.

Garden two

Garden two

The lawns were roomy, and the mansion was flanked by gardens. We were fortunate to have a great sunny day, not too hot. Clear skies allowed for these bright colorful images.

Leichen

Leichen

But don’t just look at the big. There’s plenty of detail, too.

Petina Boy

Petina Boy

Deerfield Valley

Passing clouds and Shadows on the Deerfield Valley

So here I was on the balcony. I took out my smallest camera. I set it on the rail of the Balcony. I started pressing the buttons. “What are you doing?” they asked me. I tried to explain that I could take a photo every two seconds. I tried to explain that I could that I could make an animated GIF.

I hope the final image explains what I was attempting to do better than I could.

Labor Day in Buckland

Okay, let’s see if this works.

This entry is for the sake of Leslie and David, who could not attend the annual Labor Day Reunion. There are also those who have suggested that I start a travel blog. I don’t know how much traveling I’ll get done in the future, but here’s the pain they’re asking for.

I would also like to thank my hosts, Jon and Prity for a wonderful stay in Buckland, Massachusetts. I have to say my life has been blessed by family and friends who (at times at least) keep my life packed with fun and activity.

Here’s the view from J&P’s Chalet in Buckland, MA. Buckland is in Western Franklin County (Berkshires East). The land has a hilly lost-in-Vermont feeling to it. As placid as this view is, the Deerfield River was the center piece to this trip.

The Deerfield River Valley

We stayed at Jon & Prity’s Chalet. My family and I slept in the loft to be woken by the sunrise in the morning. One morning I caught sight of a flock of 15 to 20 wild turkeys foraging in the yard. Buzzards and other birds flew by during the day, and a few bats zipped around at night. There are rumors of bears, and there are even moose crossing signs on Route 2. The balcony worked equally well for coffee in the morning and margaritas and daiquiris at night.

Jon & Prity's Chalet

Here’s most of everybody on the trip. From right to left: Max, Peter, Sima, Prity, Lena, Lisa, and Hung Hung.

Most of the Gang

Day 2 of the trip started mildly enough. After breakfast, J&P took us to see the Village of Shelburns Falls. It’s a small place, with that bohemian coffee shop atmosphere.

Shelburne Falls

McCuskers is one of the general store / food co-ops in the village. Grab a coffee and a newspaper, and take your time. Watch the view pass by.

McCuskers Market

There is one “must see” in Shelburne Falls, especially if you’re a gardener. That is the Flower Bridge. We were there in early September, but everything is probably in full bloom in late Spring and early Summer. The bridge is a foot bridge, open to the public, and it is cram full of well kept flowers and plants. The village maintains the bridge this way as a memorial to its fallen in the Korean War and Viet Nam.

The Flower Bridge

This is still Day 2, and like I said, my family and friends keep me on my toes. There are companies along the Deerfield that do rafting tours. We never went rafting before, so J&P signed us up for a beginners’ trip of type I and II level rapids. Although, Crab Apple (our tour guide company) does offer level’s III and IV, perhaps even V.

Rafting on the Deerfield River

Here’s Jon trying to look manly on the river. It was very difficult for him, while wearing an ascot.

Manly Jon

The company offers raft expeditions with a guide. Our guide was very friendly, talkative, and knowledgeable of the river.

Lisa letting me know how feels

We also rented a pair of “funyaks,” inflatable kayaks. The guides let us switch between the raft and the kayaks. That way we could let different family members try each.

Sima in a Funyak

The low level class of rapids allowed for the younger and less experienced to try the adventure of shooting rapids in the kayaks.

Max in a funyak

Even in the raft, the object is to get wet, get cold, and maybe even a little scared.

Hung Hung - no ascot!

We got our feet wet on Day 3 as well. Jon found a less frothy part of the river, where we could all wade around.

Jon and Hung creaking.

For those of us that needed some more pensive time for themselves; they found that too.

Peter getting some quiet time.

The afternoon of day 3 was not quiet. You can not visit J&P on Labor day and expect to miss the 3 County Fair. It’s hyped as one of the oldest fairs in the country. It’s filled with animals, tractor pulls and other demonstrations, and of course rides.

3 County Fair

I actually over came my combined fear of heights and rickety, rusty fair ground superstructure. I rode a Ferris Wheel.

Lisa Pete and Jon can't believe Swin went up in the Ferris Wheel

The fair grounds were not far from Northampton, the Bohemian Capital of the United States. Before we left, we all sat for one last dinner together in Fitzwilly’s. Then we drove off into the night for home.

Mr & Mrs. Swin in Fitzwilly's in Northampton

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