Thursday, May 31, 2012

Night at the musuem

Erin has been living the Bridget Jones life in London for over a year.  She regales us with
stories of all the fun that can be had in our nations capital.  Most of it falls into the category of interesting but I would rather not ie hip hop karoake, cocktails that are on fire and clubbing, to - name a few.  However one thing that caught our attention was museum lates.  Once a month many of the museums have an adults only evening.  The Science museum's is on the last Wednesday of the month and yesterday Trev, me and Jill decided to go.  Erin had assured us that there were older people there and although it was mostly 20 somethings there were many 40 and 50 somethings.  There is all manner of things to do.   There were brass bands, Science talks, a quiz, cockroach tours flight simulators and for yournger people speed dating, drinking, eating and a silent disco.  It is such fun and such a good humoured atmosphere.
As it was our first time we just wandered around the museum and pressed buttons with no meddling under 10 year olds to spoil the fun!  They have a different theme each month and this month was Music and Science.  We went to the Universe of Sound exhibition where there was a virtual orchestra playing  the Planets by Holst.  They had filmed each member of the Orchestra and you went throught the exhibit listening to different sections of the orchestra and it explained how the instruments worked.  In the percussion section you could have a go with a Wii like interactive tutorial.  I got caught with a tamborine in my hand by one of the enthusiastic young members of staff who herded me over to the tubular bells.  I gave it a good go but Trev informed me that I was ahead in most of it.  I was also slightly deaf.  I wonder if most percussionist get a bit hard of hearing.  You could also have a go at conducting.
The staff are amazing.  Universally enthusiastic and as I am sure they only earn a pittance is admirable
Basically, it was a really fun evening.  Highly reccommended.  We intend to do a Zoo late next but probably leave the Natural History Museum until after the Olympics.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hampton Court

We had a lot of fun on Saturday at Hampton Court, and here are some pictures of the day - mostly us rather than the arty farty building pictures - and the link to Picassa is here

Thanks to everyone who made it such a lovely day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A few days in mid Wales

 Here we are outside the cottage on the very sunny last morning, just to prove that the sun did come out while we were away.  It had a lovely view over the fields in a charming and very historic village near Machynlleth called Pennal.  Owain Glyndwr wrote his letter to the Pope from there.
 Here is Brian enjoying very, very nice ice cream in Aberdyfi despite the winter coat and hat.
 The is the beach in Aberdyfi which is acres of sand and dunes.
 We went to the RSPB reserve at Ynys Hir where they filmed Springwatch last year and are going to be back there in a couple of weeks.  It is a beautiful spot on the Dyfi estuary with views for miles, and as the bluebells were out in the woods that was lovely too.  We went to the Dyfi Osprey Project (link is here) which has nesting ospreys and full 24 HD film cover and we saw Norah (mother bird) sitting on the nest and it is just amazing!  We also saw what must have been Monty (daddy bird) flying around too.
 This is Aberdyfi in the sunshine, which we got by  late Friday.  We were there Wednesday till Saturday, and it was pretty damp most of the time.  Cold as well, but we had a really good time.  We went to the Centre for Alternative Technology which was really interesting.  However for normal people all these saving the planet things do come in very expensive so I can't see me installing solar power or wind pumps anytime soon. 
We went for a walk to somewhere called Llyn Barfog which was uphill over a few walls with these ladder stiles but was lovely when we got there.

We had a real problem finding decent coffee for some reason.  Lots of cafes but the best coffee sadly was out of a machine in the Bird reserve.  So although we got 5 stars for ice cream, it got 1 star for coffee.


Villa Cimbrone

View from our hotel room
Amazingly beautiful.  Fantastic week!  I didn't think I particularly needed a holiday but I feel a lot better for it.
So here are my observations of ways in which the Italians and Italy are different from the Brits.
1.  They dress better.  This became clear to us while waiting to board the plane to Naples. 
2.  Emotions.  They are pretty expressive.  On the plane back the first attempt at landing was aborted and when we landed successfully on the second attempt the Italians on board gave a round of applause!  On the minus side of this emotion - our head waiter in the hotel was a bit needy!  To the extent that we were relieved it was his day off on our last night.
Mules working on a building
4.  Driving!! Not always necessarily a bad thing.  Italians assume they have the right of way and take risks and on the whole the other driver will accept this.  However, the Amalfi peninsula has only one road around and this for  only the last century and a half.  Before that it was boat and mule (both still used).  The road isn't too wide and is VERY bendy.  The buses beep (it sounds like a herd of roadrunners sometimes)  when they are approaching a blind bend so that an approaching vehicle will hold back but this doesn't always work and then it is gridlock with people having to reverse back etc.  We caught local buses and took a bus trip to Herculaneum and Sorrento so travelled the whole peninsula and it was slow progress.  I have to say the bus drivers were very patient and good humoured about the whole thing.  As for the scooter drivers......!
4.  Pasta and ice cream are so much better there then they ever are everywhere else.
5.  History.  The place is dripping with it.  I know we are not exactly lacking ourselves.  But in Positano they had Roman Amphoras just built into the houses as flower pots.  As for Herculaneum - just amazing.
Nativity scene in Amalfi
Shrine on a mule track walk we did (1100 steps down then up again!)
6.  Religion.  Little shrines and nativity scenes everywhere and the churches are still alive.  Actually, it really annoys me how disrespectful some tourists are.  Not just in Italy.  There were church services going on in side chapels at the Duomo in Amalfi and people were just walking in and taking photos!  How can they possibly think that is respectful behaviour?
Anyway, that's my observations.  Brilliant place - go if you get the chance. If you want to see more pictures you can do so here