Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Clock Towers

At the top of the hill overlooking Morecambe Bay stands Grange Over Sands Clock Tower.  Don't get the impression there is much sand here by the town's name as it refers to the old cross sands route across the bay which took miles and hours off a stage coach journey.  A beautiful but not benign bay full of shifting sands and channels so a guide is an essential when making a crossing today and he lives down by the bay's edge about a mile away from this point. 
The wall around the clock tower has a plaque which tells the history behind the Clock Tower.  Travelling about 250 miles south and
a larger, and much more famous clock tower is Big Ben in London whose chimes first rang out in July 1895. The building in the foreground is Westminster Hall, the oldest building of Parliament being built in 1097 and an appropriate place for the statue of Oliver Cromwell head of the Parliamentary forces in the 17th Century English Civil War and ultimately head of the government.  To climb the 399 steps of Big Ben and see the clock workings and the view the only way is to contact your local Member of Parliament to be able to join a tour although there is a long waiting list open only to UK residents.
But this Clock Tower despite having what looks like a wonderful viewing platform at the top isn't open at all. Built in 1938-9 and inspired by Hilversum Town Hall in the Netherlands it was originally Greenwich Town Hall (today it is now business offices) and is called Meridian House for the Greenwich Meridian line is just a short walk away.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet this week sojourning at C here

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Birkenhead Boathouse and Bridge

It was daffodils time when I took this picture of the Boathouse in Birkenhead Park.  The park itself was designed by Joseph Paxton on reclaimed marshland and opened in 1847 for the then rapidly growing town of Birkenhead, the first publicity funded civic park in Britain,  The boathouse was originally designed by a young architect called Lewis Hornblower, its full name is the Roman Boathouse and with sponsorship by the Mobil Oil Company was renovated and  restored in 1990. In keeping with the theme a
new pebble mosaics inside by Maggy Howath featuring fish, birds and sun was created and installed
Paxton created serpentine lakes to give the impression of natural rivers and Lewis Hornblower designed their bridges (along with park railings and gates).
On this my first visit to the park, my own favourite was the Swiss Bridge which must be one of the few, if not only, covered bridge in Britain.

Meanwhile here are a couple of geese wondering if they or the fishermen are going to find anything interesting.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet this week sojourning at B here

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Altazimuth Pavilion

South Entrance, Altazimuth Pavilion
Tucked away in one corner of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich stands a sturdy but pleasing brick building which states its purpose above the door, Altazimuth.  Designed by a collaboration of the then Astronomer Royal, William Christie and William Crisp (architect of the Admiralty Department of Works) it was completed in 1896/9 and named after the type of telescope originally in the dome.  Over time it has survived being damaged in 1940 by the WW2 Blitz and shrapnel as well as a government minister's proposal to demolish it.

Its original purpose was to house instruments and measure two coordinates used to fix the position of a celestial body in the sky, the altitude (its position above the horizon) and the azimuth (its position east along the horizon) and it is from this coordination system it gets its name, Altazimuth (dictionary definition - a telescope that can swing horizontally and vertically).  Today it currently holds a photoheliographic telescope used for photographing the sun.
A later addition to the building in June 1910 was the weathervane which represents Halley's Comet. The moveable roof dome opening is turned by hand.  Most of the internal space is taken up by massive supporting columns intended for the main telescope but there is enough room on the ground floor for a small exhibition on the sun but the upper floor with historic instruments is only opened on specific occasions.   
The Altazimuth Pavilion's location is because it was the only site available to the Royal Observatory and is seen here from its north entrance, the flat circle behind left is the  planetarium and the dome beyond is the New Physical Observatory (known as the South Building) competed in 1899 by the same architect, (William Crisp), to house the Astronomer Royal, observatory staff, library, records and other paraphernalia for observing the heavens. Today the position of Astronomer Royal (which dates from 1675) is largely a honorarium one but it is still a prestigious title awarded to a renowned scientist working in the field of astronomy.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet now starting its 15th  peregrination here

Friday, 11 July 2014

Rolling Through York

Tour de France, Bishopsgate Street, York
Stage 2 of the Tour de France leisurely starting its day through the streets of York with the colours at the front.  The Maillot Jaune being worn by a smiling Marcel Kittel and the legend who is Jens Voigt is in the spotted King of the Mountains jersey. This will be the 17th and last tour for Voigt, his first being way back in 1998.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Zoom in on Pearl Izumi

I've just returned home after joining the millions of people who came out to watch the Tour de France  in England and had a marvellous time.  I haven't downloaded any of my pictures yet but I'm sure one or two will make it into the next round of ABC Wednesday. Are you ready for the next round (15) of ABC Wednesday?

For the last letter of Round 14 I am still in cycling mode and my photos are all from the Pearl Izumi Tour Series which brings together nine squads to race over five weeks in town and city centres, battling it out in 12 events and 10 venues for the title of best team in Britain.  For the first time it visited my little town on the coast of Cumbria for Round 2 in May.
They zipped around the town centre which turned out to be a technical, but fast circuit with an average speed of 43 kph. I even managed by chance to get a perfectly placed letter Z in this photo as two riders pass the safety barrier at the Town Hall.
The event drew an enthusiastic crowd of about 10,000 and of course some were taking photographs
like this girl standing on a piece of street furniture with her zoom lens. This photo shows in the lead Graham Briggs (the winner on the night) riding for the Rapha Condor JLT team who would collect the overall best team prize after the last race took place on the island of Jersey in June.  Following him is Tom Scully who came second (his team Madison Genesis were team winners on the night). 

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week reaching the last letter Z here 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Yew Tree Tarn

Yew Tree Tarn lies by the side of the A593 road from Coniston to Ambleside and that fact could make it the most photographed tarn in the Lake District although the nearby, and ever popular, Tarn Hows would run it close for the happy snapper. One can always tell, without even getting out of the car as you motor past how much of a breeze there is from the ripples or stillness of the water, but not always, for this is the Lake District where weather can change in an instant.
So this is how it looked when we parked up (the road can be glimpsed to the right) and the stillness of the first photo only appeared as we were about to leave. The time of year is March so only the fir trees at the end have any green.  Although the tarn may look natural surrounded by woods it is actually man made being dammed in the 1930s and stocked with trout for fishing.
Here is the water running through the sluice.  The trout in Yew Tree Tarn are native brown and rainbow but in July 2010 due to a local drought  volunteers from the South Lakes River Trust removed most of the fish to avoid kill off from the low oxygen and water levels.  The fish were stunned with electrical signals and then fished out and moved to a nearby beck.  One minute gently swimming along then, zap, they wake up in in a completely different place.  A mass thought of , Yikes, where are we?   Ultimately it was a good outcome for the fish as not only is the dam rather porous Yew Tree Tarn is on a fault line and water naturally leaks away through cracks in the ground.  I think there are still fish in the tarn and with the Lake District propensity for rain a repeat of 2010 may not occur.  A couple of years before the fish were removed water levels were low but a 24 hour wet spell soon raised the level.   

The first photo was from the car park so you can see the tarn can be enjoyed without even getting out of your vehicle but it is also a
pleasant amble around on the well marked path  
      shown on the information board. (Yew Tree Tarn is marked with the yellow arrow)

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at Y here