Stonehenge is probably one of those places that don't need much introduction. There has been a lot of speculation as to the meaning and original use of the site. Personally, I find it unlikely that we will ever discover ultimate answers to those questions. And perhaps that's exactly what makes up the magic of the place and draws so many people from all over the world to this small spot in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside.
I visited Stonehenge on June 9th. A selection of the photos I took can be found in this photoset. At some point I'll have to return at the time of sunrise or sunset. The magic of the stones only truly unfolds with the right lighting.
Salisbury, on the other hand, is probably less well known. And if it hadn't been for a nice lady on the train from Cardiff to Salisbury who recommended seeing Salisbury Cathedral I might actually have missed this outstanding gem of English Gothic architecture.
The cynic in me says "Wherever I go the scaffolding is already there", but once again I'll just take that as a reason to pay another visit to Salisbury. The atmosphere inside Salisbury Cathedral was remarkable. It was overall darker than Bath Abbey, but that allowed the various light spots and candles to work their magic.
Tempus fugit. Or so they say. My Erasmus stay here in Cardiff is about to end and, between preparing for my departure and planning all the stuff I'll need to do once I'm back home, I'm traveling around a bit to see places I haven't been to yet.
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon in Roath Park, a Victorian style park in the north of Cardiff featuring a large artificial lake with many swans and all sorts of other birds, as well as botanical and rose gardens. I found it to be a great place to relax. Some impressions are below, have a look at the complete photo set for more.
Between this semester's second last and last exams I had almost a week of time, so I took a Saturday afternoon off and went to Barry Island again. Barry Island is just a 30 minutes train ride from Cardiff, so this is a great way of escaping the city.
One of the main Barry Island attractions is Barry Island Pleasure Park with all sorts of fun rides.
The reason why I went there, however, was the beach and the sea. It was a rather grey and windy day, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Note the sand "flying" over the beach.
While climbing alonside the cliffs I noticed a number of tiny but beautiful flowers that I wouldn't have expected in such a location.
Watching the waves crash onto the rocks had a very relaxing and refreshing effect. Refreshing in more than one way... I got slightly wet right after the following shot.
I then went on to the pebbles beach of Cold Knap. I don't know whether these pebbles occur there naturally, but it gave the place an interesting atmosphere. Unfortunaly, the photos don't do the brilliant light justice...
I had originally planned to stay there and wait for the sunset, but the high tide had blocked the way I got there (along the beach). Not knowing how long it would take me to find an alternative route I decided to go back early. I still saw the sun approach the horizon over Barry Island Pleasure Park
and the actual sunset later over Barry which marked the end of a wonderful day.
I arrived back in Cardiff for the final stint of my Erasmus stay at Cardiff University last weekend. The journey was uneventful and I even had a bit of time in London for another brief visit to Buckingham Palace. If you are wondering about the barriers in some of the photos, those were for the London Marathon which took place the following day.
I also managed to make it inside Cardiff Castle this week! It only took me some 7 months ;) Personally, I liked the Norman Keep best (see the photo below), but the castle is also interesting if you're into gold covered rooms and all sorts of other luxuries.
Back in December we spent a weekend in London. On my way home from Cardiff last Saturday, I took the chance to visit central London again. In only about 2.5 hours, I managed to see Victoria Train Station, the Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace, the Victoria Memorial, the gate to Green Park, parts of St. James's Park, Parliament Square with its statues, Big Ben and Westminster Palace (Houses of Parliament) from Parliament Square and from the south bank of the River Thames, the London Eye, St. Margaret's Church, and Westminster Abbey. The weather was somewhat mixed with high winds, rain, snow, and sunshine. The best part of the trip was clearly the walk along the south bank of the River Thames in the sun.
I will definitely be back, with a tripod, a wide angle lens and more time at hand. In particular I'd like to take more night shots and go inside Westminster Abbey.
We visited Bath on March 1st. It was a really beautiful day with lots of sunshine and therefore many opportunities to take pictures. The brilliant light created a very special atmosphere inside Bath Abbey which is hard to capture, but the photo below may give you a rough idea of it. If you get a chance, Bath Abbey is a must visit and I recommend you allow plenty of time to really enjoy the experience - there is so much to discover inside.
The Roman Baths were somewhat disappointing. From an archeological point of view the presentation of the historic site had a rather unprofessional feel to it - many interesting bits were not explained at all or only via an electronic "audio guide" which I found extremely tiresome to listen to. The Hypocaust (underfloor heating system) is probably among the most noteworthy of ancient Roman engineering feats, yet I couldn't find any diagram explaining how it worked or even a mention of it in the "audio guide". It was certainly fun to see pilae stacks (part of a Hypocaust) live, but only because I knew what I was looking at - people around me gave me a rather funny look wondering why I was so excited over a couple of bricks until I explained it all.
From a photographer's point of view, the scaffolding that was basically everywhere was a bit of a show stopper (as can be seen above). Given the hefty admission fee, I believe a warning notice at the entrance would have been the least the museum should have done. On the flip side, it makes for a good reason to visit Bath again and re-do the affected shots.
Just in time before the weather changed (for the worse) we also managed to pay shorts visits to The Circus (pictured above) and the Royal Crescent (below). I particularly liked the trees in the middle of The Circus.
And finally, I love seagulls.
I returned from Amrum where I've spent the past three weeks on Sunday. I didn't have internet connectivity there but I didn't miss that. Here are a couple of reasons why: