Happy 100th Birthday Captain Tom!

Yesterday the UK celebrated the 100th birthday of a man many of us didn’t even know a couple weeks back. Captain Tom Moore, born 30th April 1920, served in the Second World War and even in 2020 is making the British people proud.

He decided to raise money for NHS Charities Together by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, with an aim of raising £1,000.

He raised £32 million.

For his incredible achievement he received a guard of honour from the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment (at a safe distance) on his final lap.

On top of this, the RAF surprised Tom with a flypast by a Hurricane and Spitfire over his home.

He said of the event:

‘I am one of the few people here who have seen Hurricane’s and Spitfire’s flying past in anger. Today they are flying past peacefully. That’s what’s outstanding’.

He was sent over 150,000 birthday cards by the public and from people all over the world. He also got a personalised birthday card off the Queen.

 

A happy message I wanted to post about, and an incredibly moving and inspirational story. I literally filled up watching the flyover by the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, even if it was on TV. It is amazing to see what can be achieved by one person and how we can all be inspired by such acts.

Happy Birthday Captain Tom!

London’s modern landmarks

When I was younger I always imagined that the skyscraper clusters of cities would be the most active. Like all of the time. The sheer scale of them and how they light up at night, they always look alive 24/7. Especially with how movies love to pan over them during scenes.

But this isn’t the case. Outside of the 9-5 they are lonelier areas providing nothing more than a skyline to gaze at. A beautiful skyline. London has great skyscrapers and despite not being the biggest in the world, have a lot of character. From the Gherkin to the Walkie-Talkie to the Shard (which is in fact the tallest in Europe), they aren’t dull to look at.

Below is 22 Bishopsgate. I managed to get this shot whilst the sun was bouncing off it onto the commuters below. This was originally planned to have a ‘helter skelter’ shape and be even taller, but was abandoned during the early stages of construction in the 2008 recession. The height was also scaled down as to not interfere with the flight path of London City Airport.

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I have always loved skyscrapers, and the UK has been behind in building these. But we are in Europe afterall, and skyscrapers are only just seeing the light of day in this continent. One reason being it’s history and not wanting to distort the view of historical buildings. I guess there are more rules around what can be built around historical sites.

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The Walkie-Talkie, towering above the street below. With the floors above being wider than the ones below, sunlight caused a problem during construction. The beams of light reflecting off the glass hit the pavement and scorched it, melting a car and caused people to fry eggs in the street. The news report below was quite amusing to watch at the time.

I think London is now in a skyscraper boom, with clusters in the City of London (as seen in these shots), Canary Wharf and also Vauxhall. As I have mentioned I like them, but understand they aren’t for everyone.

What about yourself, when you think of London do you associate it with modern buildings such as the London Eye and the Shard, or the historical sites such as Big Ben and Tower Bridge? I guess the older attractions are still the most popular, but who knows what the future holds. The castles and bridges are constantly shrinking under the sight of these huge towers, maybe they will create a legacy of their own…

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I’ve just noticed the taxi’s reg plate reads ‘CAB’, haha.

 


 

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.

Stay home, stay safe and happy blogging!

Sam


 

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The mystery is a motivator

Hey there, how’s it going? Great beard by the way. It is nice to see someone else outside, even if you can’t talk back.

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Just kidding, as you can see above I wasn’t the only one outside. This was taken a month back, the two people in the background happy to just walk right by one another and not avoiding contact like, well, the plague.

The statue is a memorial to John Donne, a poet and priest, unveiled in 2012. He was born in 1572 and died in 1631 at the age of 59. I guess for his time he had a good innings. He was Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral and this is the location of his memorial.

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I took this photo on a truly gorgeous day. I found a bench to sit on, took a moment and thought about what this cathedral has witnessed over it’s lifetime. This has been the site for St Paul’s Cathedral for over 1,400 years. And looking at St Paul’s Cathedrals website it states the cathedral has been rebuilt five times. This is the current building, over 300 years old and built after the previous one was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Sir Christopher Wren was the architect for the current building.

That is a heck of a lot of history, and the Great Fire of London was just one of the many ‘sh*t hits the fan’ moments this city has seen. The blitz being another, this building fortunately surviving when others around it crumbled.

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And it is still standing tall. It is a shame buildings can’t speak to talk of their stories, but we at least have the written records from the people of the time. And these records show us that life is full of unexpected, tragic events.

But these records also show us that humans persevere, and come out of them too. And everyday we are creating history to look back on, only time will tell what stories will be retold in classrooms a thousand years from now. Will this pandemic be remembered, or will this be a small blip not tracked on future’s radar? What is life changing for us could very well be too insignificant to be told if events ahead of us overshadow it. Yellowstone erupting for example. Not a scenario I want to imagine right now.

Who will be remembered? Will it be the ones we look up to today? Maybe not. Someone that makes wild predictions today might be the most relatable to future generations. Someone we would not expect at all. What musicians and artists, scientists and politicians. I wish I could know.

But this makes life fascinating. Not knowing what life has in store helps me to get out of bed everyday. Provided I have a certain level of optimism of course. Yes I could break my leg today but I could also win the lottery or find the love of my life. The mystery is a motivator.

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And although this cathedral has seen many a cloudy day, a blue sky will always return. ‘This too shall pass’ is making the rounds on the internet right now and for good reason. It is great to be reminded that this metaphorical blue sky will return and we shouldn’t look back when we have so much to look forward to.

What are you looking forward to the most when life gets back to normal? Seeing family again, a coffee shop date, having friends round on the weekends? For me it is seeing family and friends again and it not being through a webcam. But I also cannot wait to get out there and practice photography more, hopefully in time for summer.

Have a good day and remember, we are one day closer to being back to normal!

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St Paul’s Cathedral information obtained on their site, www.stpauls.co.uk


 

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.

Stay home, stay safe and happy blogging!

Sam


 

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Berlin Part Three: Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall

Checkpoint Charlie is the closest tourist spot to where I was staying. It is largely a reconstruction of the east/west border crossing in Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie (or Checkpoint C) was the name used by the Western Allies at this particular site between 1947-91. It was also the location for the stand-off between Soviet and US tanks in 1961, the dispute over a US diplomat crossing the border. It ended peacefully almost a week later after both armies agreed to slowly move their tanks back.

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This banner was up at Checkpoint Charlie when I visited, asking Putin to abandon his geopolitical ambitions.

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As you can see above, a replica of the guardhouse sits before a picture of a soldier. A sign to the right of it informs you that ‘You are leaving the American sector’.

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After the Berlin Wall was taken down, some sections of wall remained standing. These sections are a reminder of what life would have been like with the wall dividing the country, and many parts of the wall are decorated with paintings, messages, padlocks and at this section, chewing gum.

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Some information about the nearby Checkpoint Charlie.

What I didn’t know which I found pretty fascinating was that there is a line that runs through the city to show where the Berlin Wall once stood. You can see the brickwork below leaving the actual wall and heading into the distance.

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Larger sections of wall were found close to the German finance building talked about in Part One. From here I learned that the wall wasn’t just one wall but two, separated by a ‘death strip’ filled with trenches, barbed wire fencing, landmines and armed guards. Sand was used in the strip to detect footprints that would lead to those looking to cross the border illegally. This is why despite the wall being pretty small, the chances of crossing it were very low and incredibly dangerous.

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The wall was incredibly long, over 140km in length.

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What it looked like between the walls.
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Pictures from both sides of the Brandenburg Gate. What is now Pariser Platz (picture on the right) was a no-go area at the time. 

The left hand picture above is the location of President Ronald Reagan’s famous speech, declaring “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!”

The brick trail showing where the Berlin Wall once stood can be seen here.

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Before and after restorations of the Brandenburg Gate following bombings.

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This is the section of wall that I talked about in Part One, full of artwork and the longest stretch of wall I had found. I am glad I found this before I left Berlin, I love how such an oppressive structure can be used to display messages of love, as well as a reminder for us to not repeat history.

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This is all from my Berlin trip, it was only a few days and one of them involved a gig, so time was limited. But I would certainly visit again to see what I have missed, and would love to see more of Germany.

Where else would people recommend I visit in this great country? Let me know, and thank you for reading.

Dankeschön!

 

Part One: Wandering around Berlin

Part Two: A powerful memorial, the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building


 

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My Australian Journey #12: The steepest train journey in the world

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Above, the Road Builders Memorial in Katoomba, NSW.

Inscription:

Rotary Club Of Katoomba
Centenary Project 2005
“THE ROAD BUILDERS MEMORIAL”

THESE SCULPTURES CELEBRATE THE LIVES OF CONVICTS AND PIONEER FAMILIES UPON WHOSE LABOUR THE AUSTRALIAN NATION WAS FOUNDED.

EQUALLY WE ACKNOWLEDGE THE PRESENCE OF DARUG AND GUNDUNGURRA PEOPLE WHO BELONG TO THIS LAND.

ESPECIALLY WE BEAR IN MIND THE HARDSHIPS ENDURED BY THE ROAD BUILDERS.

GANGS OF CONVICTS IN LEG IRONS TOILED FOR OVER 30 YEARS TO CREATE “THE GREAT WESTERN HIGHWAY” FROM THE EARLY SETTLEMENT IN EMU PLAINS TO THE NEW DEVELOPMENT IN BATHURST.

WITH PRIMITIVE TOOLS THEY ENDURED MANY COLD WINTERS AND HOT SUMMERS – THEY BROKE ROCK AND CARTED SOIL, FORGING A ROAD THROUGH THOSE RUGGED “BLUE MOUNTAINS”.

WE ASK YOU TO PAUSE AND REFLECT ON THEIR LIVES OF OUR ANCESTORS WHO HELPED CREATE OUR GREAT AUSTRALIAN SPIRIT AND THE IMMEASURABLE CHARACTER OF OUR NATION.

THEIR CHARACTER AND SPIRIT IS THEIR LEGACY TO ALL GENERATIONS THAT FOLLOW

And a year ago I was complaining about doing 88 days farmwork…

But to rewind even further back, this was my view from the Blue Mountains as I was about to step on what was described as ‘the steepest passenger railway in the world’. And as always, with anything described as ‘steepest’, ‘tallest’ or ‘fastest’ I headed to the bar first. Thankfully there is one located at the top, and a couple beers helped me to calm my nerves. As many of you know I am not the best with heights, and a beer takes the edge of it. Before long I headed down to the entrance and waited for the train to arrive.

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Although it is as steep as a roller coaster, it was pretty slow as I watched the train on numerous occasions move forward and disappear over what seemed like a pretty sudden drop. I do have more pictures over here in the post from the day, and I am uploading them and a video to my Instagram story shortly. It was a great experience with breathtaking views.

I also added a post on my love for abandoned things and places. if you would like to look, I have linked it here. There were interesting discoveries to be made of things either left to fade or just abandoned before opening, even more impactful in such dense wooded areas.

I wonder if they have this button working again…

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Being so close to Sydney, I went the first time by myself. I thought I went for a day but looking at my original posts from here I only just remembered I stayed in a hostel overnight! I’ve stayed in too many hostels, they all blur into one over time. But before I knew it I was back in the big city, back to the crowds and protesters.

I decided to add this shot as it isn’t something you can walk by in the street without a second glance.

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These are today’s shots from my daily throwback posts of my Australian Journey, many, many more to come and as always, more of each experience in the links. There won’t be many more from Sydney as I really need to move onto the next destination on my travels, Newcastle. Then farmwork, the east coast from Cairns to the Gold Coast, and plenty of shots from my longer stays in Brisbane and Melbourne. Too many pictures and memories, so little time to share them!

Thank you for reading, and I will see you all again tomorrow.


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

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Cheers!

Sam

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Why not choose the Exit seat?!

What I have noticed on my recent flights is that I always seem to be asked about taking the emergency exit seat. Usually I am flying by myself however my mum and sister were with me this time around and all three of us were offered it. Is this something that is offered to everyone, it’s just that most people decline? I don’t know, but I don’t mind it at all.


I mean for starters… All that leg room!


I can almost stretch my legs out fully, and being 6ft this is very good stuff.


The downside I found out was when I saw everyone in front of me start to recline in their seats after the seatbelt sign went off. I thought ‘that’s a good idea, I’m knackered’ before realising that I didn’t have that little button on my armrest. So basically we sacrifice the reclining chair for the leg room. And I don’t know which I prefer. Probably being able to put my seat back on a night flight (as I will be trying to sleep anyway) and the leg room during the day.


And of course being near the wing means the view is… of the wing. And I had one of my deep thoughts out this window as I could see little else than the engine keeping us airborne. I thought how strange it was that most of us on board have very little idea how the aerodynamics work on such journeys, we are all just lucky that a small number of humans have figured it out throughout history and made it possible and we just pay for a ticket and use it. They say it’s embarrassing that some people still clap when the plane lands (does this actually happen by the way? I’ve never seen it) however in my head that’s exactly what I want to do. I mean, it’s something humans only in the past few generations have been able to do in our 200,000 year existence, why shouldn’t we do a little celebrating!

Saying that, I usually do that via a beer or two.


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section

Want to keep up with my travels? Click here for my Travel Diary or follow me over on Instagram

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Happy blogging,

Sam

Just a WW2 plane in the rainforest…

One of the more interesting finds we had up in Kuranda was what appears to be a crash site of an old plane in the rainforest.

 

This is Geronimo, a US Air Force plane that began service in 1942 before being used as a passenger airline for Trans-Australia Airlines (a part of Qantas) in 1946 under the name Cunningham. It was then used in the movie ‘Sky pirates’ and went under the name Miss Fortune in 1984, the plot of the movie having the plane crash on the Barrier Reef. After the film the shell of the craft was given to the town.

 

What a life it has had, eh?


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section

Want to keep up with my travels? Click here for my Travel Diary or follow me over on Instagram

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Happy blogging,

Sam

The closest I will probably get to the Titanic shipwreck

Today, under the influence of painkillers, I visited an exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum showcasing James Cameron’s deep ocean obsession, submarine quests and fascination with the Titanic. The exhibition contained short movies of his visits to the Titanic and incredible venture down the Mariana Trench (35,787 ft!) and information on the Deepsea Challenger submersible that was actually built here in Sydney.

It was eerie enough seeing this replica of the shipwreck… I can’t imagine being at the lonely, dark depths of the ocean and seeing this slowly emerge as the subs lights catch the vessel. A huge ship once full of life and excitement to reach New York reduced to a lifeless shell with very little trace of the people that built and sailed it. It shows how fragile life can be and that tomorrow is never guaranteed, no matter how perfect life can seem. Nature doesn’t care for your class or status.

It has always been a fascination of mine since I learned about the disaster, largely down to this movie that came out when I was just eight years old. Since then it is a historical event that has always stuck with me and this was a very interesting visit. It is even more eerie to know that the shipwreck won’t last forever, the remains of one of the most famous and tragic events of the 20th century will eventually fade away in time. At least we found it in time.


 

Due to popular demand it has been extended to 5th May, more info can be found here.


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section

Want to keep up with my travels? Click here for my Travel Diary

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Happy blogging,

Sam

If you could tag yourself in any moment in history…

If you could take a selfie (or just a photograph in general) from anytime in history before cameras were available, what or where would it be?

I think for me it would be somewhere surrounded in mystery, the Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge or Machu Picchu. Somewhere where we can only try to imagine what went on during the construction and the ways in which they completed it.

Would it be a place or a building? Would it be next to someone or something? It is pretty amazing to think we have only just left the era in which everything had to be written down for us to understand what went on and what life looked like. Where painting were the closest we got to photographs, and some paintings did a damn good job.

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We can now screenshot life as we see it through our eyes without having to memorise it for us to describe later. No replicas or descriptions, the actual view. It is pretty incredible.

Let me know where you would tagged yourself in history if you had the chance.

 

Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section

Want to keep up with my travels? Click here for my Travel Diary

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Happy blogging!

They don’t make ’em like they used to

It is true that we sometimes don’t give something the true respect it deserves until it is gone… Maybe we did give it the right amount and just miss having it around today. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve reflected on this as I get older. 

One thing I hear regularly when looking back is how we ‘don’t make ’em like that anymore’. As if the engineers, soldiers, artists and ways of life of yesterday were light years ahead of today’s equivalents. Today’s thoughts are inspired by an old picture that was shared on social media today of Grey Street in the 1950’s, a Georgian Street that looks as pretty in the centre of Newcastle today as it did back then. As I am from this city, the majority of posts I see daily are about the region, full of snow at this moment in time.

This was taken in 2017, but hasn’t changed much since 1950

Firstly, I want to give praise to social media for allowing so many fascinating articles to be shared daily, in amongst all those food shots and click baits. To think how difficult it has been for past generations to keep in contact at all, I’m am sure they would have snapped up Facebook in a heartbeat.

Secondly, despite history gracing us with some incredible architecture, we would have to completely ignore today’s innovation and developments to suggest that great designs are victims to time. They didn’t leave us behind, they are rising up as we speak. 

I mean, I only have to look at my recent shots in Singapore to remind myself of this. 


Then, who could forget this building in Dubai?!


It would be pointless to even compare the monument on Grey Street to the Burj Khalifa in a side by side shot, the monument would be almost unrecognisable. Then we have the Jeddah Tower. Upon completion in 2020 will be well over twice the height of the Empire State Building. Insane.

Yes these buildings focus heavily on height. No these buildings aren’t as commonplace as the detailed architecture that line the streets of Georgian or Victorian England. But wouldn’t our great grandparents marvel at the sight of a building that pierces the clouds at the heights we see today? 

And with that, can we really say with confidence that they don’t make ’em like they used to?

Burj Khalifa photo credits: 

Clay Banks- Unsplash

Denis Harsch- Unsplash