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Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Pompey again

Posted by dan on March 9, 2012

Snapshots of Portsmouth, February and March 2012.

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Ghillie Dhu – design pub in Edinburgh

Posted by dan on February 10, 2011


Beer is on the way

Beer is on the way

Located close to the corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road, just below the Edinburgh Castle, it looks just an ordinary old stone-house characteristic of the New Town area.  However, as soon as you enter a different atmosphere awaits: the old features like wooden beams and exposed stone walls nicely blend in with the contemporary design. There is a big area in front of the bar to take standing crowds on busy nights, but there are also secluded little boxes for those who want more privacy. The food is great, with typical Scottish dishes like huggies along with the usual Brit pub food, and there is a wide selection of local and international beers and other drinks. Having a few pints you sure will have to visit the bathroom – the men having an opportunity to do it in buckets. An interesting and trendy pub for sure, a few steps off the main tourist path.

Ghillie Dhu
2 Rutland Place

Official website:

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Some like it cold – a different dip

Posted by dan on December 26, 2010

Christmas swim. Video:

Christmas swim. Video:

  • “For the first time in 30 years the Serpentine in Hyde Park was too frozen to allow all the ice to be cleared for the Peter Pan Cup, a 100 metre race, so swimmers had a hot cuppa to celebrate Christmas.
  • “The Berlin Seals” ice swimming club have been taking the winters of the Orankesee for their health since 1979.
  • The Copa Nadal held on a Barcelona beach is a 200 metre race celebrating its 101st anniversary in relatively balmy conditions. Only the civil war has ever interrupted this Christmas dip.”


The “Peter Pan Cup” Christmas Morning Handicap Swim:

Serpentine Swimming Club:


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Connecting Paris and London by Eurostar

Posted by dan on December 22, 2010

UK and France - snowy conditions outside

Snowy conditions outside, in the UK and France

Probably the easiest and fastest way to connect the two capitals is by the Eurostar train, which takes as little as 2 hours and 15 minutes. The biggest advantage is that you can start in the center of one city, and arrive in the center in the other one (St. Pancrass station and Gare du Nord), saving you time and money. Considering transfer times and costs, it is very competitive – and probably better – than the budget flights. You have to book as early as you can to get the best rates – tickets go on sale 90 days before trip – but you can get good prices even a few days before if you are traveling on a weekday or at certain times.

2010 is one of the snowiest winters in the UK and France, and many services were disrupted – flights as well as the Eurostar. As I am writing this post, I’ve heard news that travel is getting back to normal, which is very good news for many – especially at such an important time as Christmas. The following images were made when the first snow hit the UK and France in 2010.

Travel TipCheck rates and book tickets:

About Eurostar:

See also blog posts: Connecting Paris and London and Hotels around Gare du Nord

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Edinburgh – nature walk in the city 2.

Posted by dan on December 17, 2010

Edinburgh Castle, snow, Scotland

Dawn over Edinburgh Castle and the snow covered city. Image:

Another great nature eacape is a walk in Blackford Hill Local National Park, a bit south-west from the Salisbury Crags. There is a pond with ducks and swans, a hill with an observatory from where you can get a beautiful view of both the Castle and the Crags, a little forest with a creek and the Hermitage of Braid, now functioning as the park rangers center.

Further information:

Friends of Hermitage of Braid:

City of Edinburgh Countryside Ranger Service:

See also blog post: Edinburgh – nature walk in the city 1.

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Great gift ideas – bananaguard

Posted by dan on December 10, 2010

With Christmas only a few weeks away, everybody is thinking of some good gift ideas. Here is one great idea from the brochure of Brittany Ferries – probably aimed at British visitors, as they are used to get everything in plastic. In the supermarkets in the UK tomatoes, apples, bananas, potato etc come in beautiful plastic boxes, holding no more than 2 or 3 pieces. You find similar in other countries as well, but not to the same extent. The bottom line is, if you have a banana, you have to protect it.

Travel Tip “Protects your banana when you’re on the move! The best guard in glorious yellow!”
official website:

See other great gift ideas:

See also blog posts: Brittany Ferries – crossing the Channel and Visiting Mont-Saint-Michel

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From Old Portsmouth along the Southsea coast

Posted by dan on December 3, 2010

The Spinnaker Tower from Old Portsmouth, UK

The Spinnaker Tower from Old Portsmouth

If you visit Portsmouth, a nice full day program could be a walk from the port of Old Portsmouth along the coast of Southsea and taking the bus back from the end of the walk. You could even make several day programs, depending on your interests, as there are an amusement park, an aquarium, the D-Day museum, a covered swimming pool with health-fitness facilities, lively Albert Pier, a small lake with pedal-boats and swans found along the way, and of course the beach. Although the beach is not fine sand but rather gravely, it is still a popular seaside destination for locals and visitors in the summer months. There are many hotels, B&B, restaurants and pubs all along the coast and in the center.

Other program ideas:

Travel TipA ‘walk around Southsea Common’ is a much shorter walk:

Portsmouth’s Official Visitor Website:

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Leaving Pompey

Posted by dan on December 1, 2010

The time has come, I had to leave Portsmouth again, and now for a longer time. I had to catch the Eurostar from London to Paris, but a sudden and unexpected snow fall almost canceled my trip. It was my mistake, I should have booked an earlier bus to allow more time in London – maybe it is not snow, but you never know; could be an accident on the motorway, a strike or anything else. The driver was unusually friendly and reassuring, and I did make it just about on time to St. Pancras. But there I found the train services were disrupted and my train was late. Every 10-15 minutes the loud-speakers announced that we can board in a couple of minutes drawing big laugh and applause from the audience cramped in the waiting area. I cannot complain, the Belgian train was several hours late already and we set off before them at 13:33 , instead of 12:29 as we were scheduled to. Crossing snow covered fields I didn’t know how lucky I was. Not only was there a snowy Paris waiting for me, but I could actually get there – many Eurostar services got canceled the following days and even air traffic was effected.

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Remembering all – Armistice Day

Posted by dan on November 23, 2010

Poppy flowers on Southsea Beach, a D-Day embarcation point

Poppy flowers on Southsea Beach, a D-Day embarkation point

Although my great grand father died on the wrong side in World War I, being sent as a K und K soldier to the Russian front to fight for the Austrian empire, he was just as a victim as soldiers on the other side or any other innocent people who died, and continue dying, in wars. And although no poppy flowers grow on the streets of cities and the victims of wars are not always uniformed, as far as I am concerned, they all are remembered.

In the UK you could see people wearing the poppy flowers weeks before and weeks after the 11th of November. Chinese officials complained about the use of poppy as it reminded them the Opium wars, but I can assure them this is not the same poppy. A handful of Muslim extremist made a bit of noise, but the Muslim community in general understands that most British people think about this event and the victims of wars the same as I or most of us do. Even we, thousands of miles away from conflict zones, are victims of these same wars, even if in much less drastic ways.

“Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day) is on 11 November and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.

After World War II, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Armistice Day remains an official holiday in France. It is also an official holiday in Belgium, known also as the Day of Peace in the Flanders Fields.

In the UK after the end of WWII, most Armistice Day events were moved to the nearest Sunday and began to commemorate both World Wars. The new commemoration was named Remembrance Sunday or Remembrance Day. Both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are now commemorated formally in the UK.”


Images of Armistice Day around the world:

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Edinburgh – the Royal Mile

Posted by dan on November 20, 2010


Edinburgh Castle from New Town

Edinburgh Castle from New Town

One of the great European cities, the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, is definitely worth a visit. It is a human-scale, livable city which you can easily discover on foot. Its most striking feature, the Castle, stands above the city on a shier rock – from the Castle a mile long street, known as the Royal Mile, runs to the royal residence, the Palace of Holyrood. Opposite the Palace is the modern building of the Scottish Parliament, with the rugged Salisbury Crags towering above both. Along the Mile there are many historic buildings and important sights such as the St. Giles Cathedral. From the upper part of the mile very narrow lanes disappear in small gates under old houses – each called a Close – leading down to streets and living quarters below. Bigger streets cross above the low-lying streets on arched bridges between tall buildings. During the plague the closes were closed off to prevent the common people to go up the the higher town. One important place in the lower town is the Grass Market, a beautiful little square with medival buildings, where the executions used to take place. Today nice restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels can be found here.

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