Browsing Category



Christmas in Edinburgh

December 15, 2014



I recently took a day trip to Edinburgh to visit the Christmas Markets. The Christmas Markets are one of the highlights of the winter season in Scotland, a spectacular six week season of festive entertainment featuring a packed calendar of events, attractions and festive markets.

For the past 20 years in the heart of Edinburgh, the popular European Christmas Market has been held in its picturesque setting below the Mound, featuring a variety of crafts, gift shops, food and drink there is something for everyone.  Just beside the European Market in Princes St Gardens you will find The Children’s Market situated in Santa Land it offers child friendly festive experiences such as the Santa Train.

The Scottish Market can be found in St Andrew’s Square and is a showcase of some of the best crafts, food and drink that Scotland has to offer. Christmas in Edinburgh features numerous events and attractions all over the city centre with various rides and attractions, ice skating, shows and free events. There is so much to see and do and the wonderful atmosphere leaves you feeling very festive. Edinburgh sure is sparkling this Christmas season and if you get a chance to visit the city it is on until the 4th January 2015.

Here are some of my photo highlights!


















Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey

July 13, 2014

Not many things will get me out of bed at 3:45 am!!!

Maybe flying in a hot-air balloon at dawn above the incredible landscape that is Cappadocia would do it!

Cappadocia (Turkish- Kapadokya) is an area in the centre of the Anatolian Region of Turkey.

 It is best known for its unique moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks.

The region’s conical rock formations, known locally as ‘fairy chimneys’ are so unusual they would not be out of place in the pages of a fairy tale.

It was an early pick up so a buffet breakfast was provided for us at the Butterfly Balloons office before setting off to the launch site overlooking Goreme.

Trying not to set myself on fire!! The guys at Butterfly Balloons are ever so patient with the amateur photographers.

Unfortunately Turkey was experiencing very unusual for June weather with thunderstorms and heavy rain throughout the country. Despite the cloudy skies the excitement was building….


Watching all the other balloons in the distance gently drift into the sky was a spectacular sight.

Balloons cappadocia

No time for nerves, after a quick safety talk it was our turn and suddenly it was up, up and away


Our Pilot Mike is one of the most experienced in the region and with over twenty years experience he certainly made you feel at ease.

We floated low at first through the valley before soaring higher and higher enjoying the amazing landscape that is Cappadocia. It was the most beautiful experience just floating gently along, so very peaceful, not even a breeze, I could have stayed up there forever….

The pictures will never do this unique place justice.

We were up in the balloon for around 1.5 hrs and we landed very smoothly straight onto the back of the Butterfly Balloons truck.

Flight certificate in hand the small group enjoyed bubbly and cake and we even got to meet Captain Mike’s gorgeous dog.

This trip was amazing and it really was the experience of a lifetime.

I would highly recommend it to anyone as it is something you will never forget!


Days Out – Knaresborough

March 21, 2014

I visited the lovely town of  Knaresborough when I was away on my short break recently. The historic market town is located near Harrogate in North Yorkshire.

Here are some of my highlights!

Knaresborough Castle

Knaresborough Castle is a ruined fortress overlooking the River Nidd. The first documented evidence of the castle dates from 1130.

The 14th Century Kings Tower





The Courthouse Museum


The undercroft of the Courthouse building is the oldest surviving structure on the site.


The Railway Viaduct


The impressive railway viaduct was completed in 1851.


St John’s Parish Church

(You can see the church steeple in the distance in the above picture)


Around the Market Square

Blind Jack

John “Jack” Metcalf was a native of Knaresborough , he lost his sight at the age of six through smallpox. A larger than life character he led an adventurous life, he became an accomplished musician, guide, and, most famously, road maker. Special tools helped him in his road-making activities, including a specially adapted “viameter” which measured distances and which he was able to “read” by touch. The viameter is kept in the local museum. He died in 1810 at the age of 92.






The Oldest Chemist Shop in England

(It is now a gift shop and tearoom)





Days Out – York

March 16, 2014

 Recently I visited the Yorkshire area of England for a few days and I was able to spend a day in the city of York. York has a rich heritage with many historic and interesting sights. I had a great time and tried to see as many of York’s attractions as I could in the short time I had. Luckily it was a lovely sunny day and as it was early March it was not too busy with other tourists.

Here are some of my highlights!

York’s City Walls

York’s centre is enclosed by the city’s medieval walls, these defences are the most complete in England. The entire circuit is about 2.5 miles (4 km)

York City Walls

Dick Turpin’s Grave

Dick Turpin's Grave York

The grave of the famous highwayman Richard “Dick” Turpin is found in St George’s Church Yard in Fishergate. Dick Turpin moved to Yorkshire In 1737 and assumed the alias of John Palmer. Suspected of being a horse thief, “Palmer” was imprisoned in York Castle. Turpin’s true identity was revealed by a letter he wrote to his brother-in-law from his prison cell. On 22 March 1739 Turpin was found guilty on two charges of horse theft and sentenced to death.

Clifford’s Tower

Clifford Tower York

Clifford's Tower York

Clifford’s Tower is almost all that remains of York Castle. This imposing tower is set on a tall mound giving you a spectacular view of York’s city centre. The picture below shows the view of York Minister from the top of Clifford’s Tower.

York City Centre from Clifford Tower

York Castle Museum and York Castle Prison

York Castle Museum

York Castle Museum

York Castle Prison

York Castle Museum

Merchant Adventurer’s Hall

This stunning timber-framed building dates back to 1357.


Merchants Hall York

Below is the Medieval ‘Evidence Chest’ which is older than the hall itself dating from the 1340’s

Merchants Hall York

The Mansion House

The historic home of the Lord Mayor.

Mansion House York

Constantine the Great

The statue by the South door of York Minster shows Constantine the Great who was proclaimed Emperor of Rome here in York, in AD 306.

Constantine the Great York

York Minster

York Minster is the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe and it dominates the city.

York Minister

York Minster



The best view of York and the  Yorkshire countryside is from the top of the Central Tower of York Minster

 only 275 steps and 230 feet later phew!!!!!



Around York



IMG_1439_new IMG_2293_new



This is just a snapshot of my day, I also visited the Jorvik Viking Centre but no photography was allowed. I had a great time and may do some more posts about my favourite places which was York Minister and York Castle and Museum. You could be here for a week and not see everything, it is well worth a visit and I can highly recommend the city. It is the first place I have been where some of the attraction tickets are valid for a year so it is also great value!

Has anyone visited York?? What was your favourite thing about the city??



January 10, 2014

 Last winter I spent a few days visiting the city of Salzburg in Austria.

The city famous for Mozart and The Sound of Music!



We visited in mid November just before the city got really busy with the Christmas markets and before the first heavy snow, although it was still freezing it was that lovely fresh Alpine freezing which you don’t mind. I love taking in an old city in that kind of weather!

We stayed in a lovely apartment on the 4th floor of a historic 13th century merchants building which faced onto Salzburg’s old market square.


Check out the door of the building!



It was lovely although a little creepy with all these stairs and crucifix’s !

Here are some of the sites we visited while in Salzburg

Hohensalzburg Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress

It is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Construction of the fortress began in 1077 and was gradually expanded during the following centuries. During its long history the Hohensalzburg Fortress has always remained unconquered by enemy troops. It is one of the best preserved castles in Europe. The Festungsbahn funicular railway opened in 1892 providing public access under the north side of the castle walls and this is still how you reach the top today!

HohenSalzburg Fortress

The view of the city from the top of the Fortress


You will find lots of modern art and sculptures as you walk around Salzburg

These are two of my favourites

“Sphaera” by Stephan Balkenhol


“Pieta” (Coat of Peace) by Anna Chromy


Here are a few of the many locations in the city of Salzburg, where the film ‘The Sound of Music’ was shot

Mirabell Palace and Gardens

(Where Maria and the children sing ‘Do-Re-Mi’)


St. Peter’s Cemetery

(It was here that the dramatic flight scenes were filmed)

St. Peter’s Cemetery is one of the oldest and most beautiful cemeteries in the world.


The Catacombs, hewn out of the Mönchsberg rock, are one of the special attractions in St. Peter’s Cemetery



You can visit the family home of Salzburg’s most famous son Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The prolific musician and composer was born at “Hagenauer House” at Getreidegasse 9. It is now a museum and cultural venue.


IMG_1541_newMe with Mozart!

Salzburg Cathedral


Salzburg’s Cathedral is beautiful and it’s worth sitting down in the pews to reflect and have a good look around this wonderful church. The ceiling frescoes and enormous pipe organ are very impressive.


Salzburg Cathedral

Around Salzburg

On one of the main shopping streets all the shops had these wonderful decorative signs



Around every corner there was something interesting to see





You could even take a horse drawn buggy ride!


The most fantastic thing about Salzburg is the Christmas shops!!



There are also some lovely shops selling wood carvings and the famous Austrian Cuckoo Clocks!



This middle Advent Calendar was huge!! Priced just over €50 probably the biggest and most expensive I have ever seen thats for sure!


Where is your favourite city break??


My Journey to Western Front Day 4 – Part 2

December 23, 2013

On to Tyne Cot Cemetery, it is now the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world in terms of burials. It is in Zonnebeke, West Flanders, Belgium

Tyne Cot

Tyne Cot

Tyne Cot

Our great Uncle Roderick is remembered here on the memorial wall along with 34,952 other soldiers who have no known grave. He served with the 8th Battalion Seaforth Highlander’s, 44th Brigade, 15th Scottish Division BEF and was killed on the 20th August 1917, he was 21 years old.


We paid our respects to him by placing his picture and a poppy spray, our guide then read the poem “Lest we Forget”


We came across many graves like this on our trip and this one in Tyne Cot had a few stones, so I wondered what the stones symbolised. I have since found out that the Jewish tradition of leaving a pebble or stone on top of a tombstone signifies that someone has honored the deceased person’s memory with a visit to the grave.

Our last visit in this area was to the Frezenberg Ridge where our great Uncle Roderick was killed as the 8th Seaforth Highlanders moved up to the front on 20th August 1917. The national memorial for all the Scottish soldiers killed in WW1 is situated on the ridge and we remembered all our great uncles here. We placed four Scottish saltire flags around the base of the memorial, one for each of them with their details written on the flags.

Scottish Memorial Frezenberg Ridge

Scottish Memorial Frezenberg Ridge

Scottish Memorial Frezenberg Ridge

On the way home our guide kindly detoured to Poperinge to The Dozingham Military Cemetery. This cemetery is in the middle of woods up a muddy track as it was a field hospital/casualty clearing station. Our neighbour’s uncle is buried here, he was killed on the 6th October 1917 he was 19 years old. We paid our respects to him by leaving a poppy spray and our guide read the poem “Silent Cities” by Rudyard Kipling. His grave is marked in Gaelic  “Tha sinn an dochas gu bheil e beo ann an criosd”  which translated is “we hope he is alive in Christ”.


I felt so glad we had been able to visit here and seeing those words in Gaelic so far from home although very sad seemed to bring a fitting end to our journey.