Coalhouse Fort – Tilbury

Saturday 5th April

Reiss and I decided to take the dog for a family outing/photography trip to Coalhouse Fort situated in East Tilbury on The Thames’ Estuary.

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Strategically placed on the Essex peninsular, Coalhouse Point, this unique site has been developed as a defensive position from 1402.  With a near 180 degree arc of fire across the bend in the River Thames at Stanford-le-Hope and back towards London this location was chosen as earthwork defences, Henrician blockhouse and the Victorian Coastal Defence fortress which stands today.”

There are many aspects to the area now, which include; a park area with a zip wire and picnic benches, marshland areas, the coastal area on the estuary including the watch tower, the Fort itself and some inlet water areas. Reiss and I didn’t venture into the Fort as it is only open on set days throughout the year, however the surrounding area is fascinating and offered fantastic photography opportunities.

Estuary Fort1 Skyward StepsIn the opposite direction, a power plant is in full view. A stark contrast to the natural beauty around you in the park area.

Handstand

Powerstation Powerstation2

The lookout tower has fallen into disrepair and has had some railings removed to stop the public getting to it.

Lookout

Lookout2 Handrail Brickwork Strut Strut2

Lastly their was the ‘beach’ area, it had so many wooden structures that have just been left to rot. They really were beautiful.

Waves Fingers in the sand Estury 1 Estuary 1 Estuary Reiss I don’t know if Reiss was aware that I was taking this picture, but he looked straight at me 🙂

 

Seaweed

 

 

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Cambridge

Saturday 21st, Reiss and I did a day trip into Cambridge. I have wanted to go for a while after having seen the cathedral from a distance. We took peoples advice and used the park and ride service which was brilliant. £2.90 each for the day and we didn’t wait at all.

I did some prior research and we had decided to visit some museums, have a wander around the market, see the cathedral and walk along the river and the backs of the colleges. We visited the Sedgwick Museum, which was full of fossils. It was really well laid out and I enjoyed it a lot. We also visited the Fitzwilliam Museum, which is an impressive building but sadly was covered with scaffolding. However, I did get this image of one of the pillars holding up the dome inside.

FitzWilliam museum 1

The main photography was done at King’s College Cathedral. It was a beautifully inspiring place. The grandeur of architecture amazes me.

kings college cathedral

Dragon

ceiling

cathedral

kings college cathedral 2

The outside was just as spectacular.

outside

cathedral b=w

Cathedral outside

Overall it was a good day, I also bought a book at the market (which I love) and we walked along the river watching the punters. It’s always fun to visit new places and get a chance at photographing different scenery.

The Open Top Tour Bus

I have lived 35 minutes away from London my entire life. I have enjoyed many a thing in our capital but have actively avoided the tourist filled activities. However, I thought that maybe, with a friend, that an open top bus tour of London on a nice day might be good fun.

Not one to miss a photo opportunity my camera came along for the ride as well. I embarked at London Victoria coach station, onto a Harrods bus and we took a trip through to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, past St Pauls Cathedral and up Fleet Street. Past The Monument and over London Bridge, back over Tower Bridge and stopped for a while at The Tower. Then onto a Thames Clipper down to Embankment and back on to the bus to Buckingham Palace. A short break at the Palace and back to London Victoria. It lasted around 4 hours in total and was quite enjoyable. The Thames Clipper could have been missed out in my opinion, but I got some interesting views.

As you can imagine, photography wasn’t at a premium but I did achieve 3 that I was happy with.

City Hall

A view of City Hall from The Tower Of London

Golden

Sights around Buckingham Palace

Lion

Hedingham Castle & Gardens

On Bank Holiday Monday, Reiss and I decided that a trip was long over due. The weather looked rather good, so we decided to check out a Norman Keep called Hedingham Castle.

After an hour and a half drive, we pull in to find a confused boy holding a sign saying disabled parking but not really pointing it in any direction. So we went and parked in what we thought was the over flow carpark. Others followed so we thought hey ho, everythings fine. The Gardens look rather impressive and the keep was looming behind us. We realised rather quickly that there was some form of jousting day going on with archery, an artist carving wood with a chain saw and birds of prey. We go to walk in and are asked for tickets, obviously we have none and were asked to stand aside. A few more people came up who also didnt have tickets as there was clearly a mix up at the gate. So we were taken directly into the castle to pay. On the leaflets it stated that it was £7.50 each, the gentleman in front of me was charged £12.50 each. I was slightly shocked at this price. Whilst standing in the queue I noticed a second queue had formed the other side of the till as we were in the shop. Instead of serving me next the woman behind the counter went to them. Reiss pulled me to the side and we went straight into the castle free of charge. We were there for about 3 hours, we saw everything the castle and grounds had to offer and even had a picnic by the lake, no one was any the wiser. It certainly wouldnt have been worth £12.50 and im not entirely convinced it would have been worth £7.50. All in all, it was a pleasant afternoon out and I got a few photos that I was happy with.

Castle

Flag

By the lake there was so absolutely enormous doc leaves. The sun was shining through them. I didn’t realise that doc leaves have such big spikes on them!

Dock leaves

There was a small outbuilding that was open and looked neglected and abandoned. The inside looked very strange indeed. I would love to know the purpose of this building. It was a little gem for us, photography wise.

Window

Rubble

Holes

Rubble 2

On the floor was this perfectly preserved beautiful butterfly, very hard to photograph as the like was very dim.

Butterfly

I loved the handle to the outbuilding. Beautiful.

Handle

An enjoyable afternoon, made better by the fact that it was free!

Rome – Day 4

Our last day in Rome consisted of fitting in everything that we had left. Our flight wasn’t till the evening, so we had a good long while to explore the last of the city.

We started by walking to the Trevi Fountain. We had already visited at night but without cameras. It was breathtaking as I really hadn’t thought it to be as beautiful as it was. We had made a wish on the night we visited so this was purely for photography’s sake.

Trevvi top

Trevvi main

Trevvi pegasus

Trevvi water

Once we were finished, we walked to the Altare Della Patria. This is the monument to Victor Emmanuel II. Inside it houses a military museum. You are not allowed to sit on the steps!  Hehe. There are guards on duty all day and plinths with flames that are constantly kept lit. It is a very impressive and powerful building.

Horse statue

Lion

Angel

Chariot

From here we walked to the Piazza Navona. There was plenty to look at here. Street artists selling their wares, strange street performers and plenty of places to eat. It was a beautiful piazza with 2 fountains and an obelisk.

Navona

Fountain

obelisk

After this we sat in a cafe for quite a while as there was a massive thunder storm! Went on for about 2 hours. After this we wandered to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, which was right next to our hotel. The nuns inside were wearing cross with 2 strikes which I found really interesting. To gain access we needed to be covered.

Maria and I copy

However, despite looking idiotic, it was a stunning church.

Maria hall

Maria stained glass

All seeing eye

We were walking past a building when looking for somewhere to have our last dinner, when I spotted this courtyard. We weren’t supposed to be there, but hey ho.

random

I am very pleased with my trip and the photos that I have got. I have always wanted to go to Rome and it certainly didn’t disappoint. 🙂

Rome – Day 3

The third day was dedicated to the Colosseum. We had seen the structure lit up at night on our way into Rome and had walked towards and past it a few times since. It has been turned into a round a bout which was a little disappointing, however, it is a round structure…. The Roman’s themselves had a road around it and one leading into it.

It is an enormous structure, one that must have taken a great feat to build. Not all of it is left, and what is there is impressive enough. We didn’t have to queue as we were there earlier and went straight in.

I was impressed to learn that the outer ring at the top has been dedicated to artifacts found within the structure itself. I also learnt that the famous “christian baiting” was a myth. However, lunchtime was when all of the criminals sentenced to death would be “thrown into the lions den” a bit like feeding time at the zoo.

Inside 1

Side view

Side view 2

Inside 2

If we had pre-booked we would have been allowed to view the vault section in the middle. We didn’t know this until the day. However, it looked impressive from above.

Inside

The views from the inside out were quite interesting at points.

Archway

Shields

 

After we had seen all of the colosseum, we walked up into the ruins of The Forum, this was the political hub of Rome. As well as Palatine Hill where Romulus decided to found Rome. There were ruins of living quarters, shelters, roads etc. As well as the gladiator training ground, it looked to be spectacular for its day.

Forum

 

 

Rome – Day 2

Day 2 was set aside for The Vatican, I was looking forward to this the most. After fighting our way through a mob of people trying to sell us tours we joined a 40 minute queue around the perimeter of St Peters Square to enter The Basilica.

St Peters 3

St Peters 2

St Peters 1

Even our queuing route was grand!

Corridor

Lamp

For me, the inside certainly didn’t disappoint. The ceilings were spectacular, so ornate. Everything was decorated with finery you just couldn’t imagine. I couldn’t comprehend worshipping within the walls as everything was too distracting.

There is gold everywhere you look and statues everywhere. It still doesn’t feel over crowded as it covers a vast space.

Unicorn

Dragon statue

cherubs

lion

monument

Maria

Praying

Stained glass

This next one isn’t quite in focus, I wasn’t allowed a tripod and the light wasn’t great. However, I wanted to show you all how creepy this guy is!

Scary man

After viewing all of the inside and the vaults (which you are not allowed to photograph), we decided to walk the 549 steps to the top of the cupola. It is one of those things you must do in life.

Half way

cupola 2

Cupola

Mosaic 2

mosaic

After climbing the second half, in a maxi dress, with a shawl around me, a camera bag and the camera, at a slant! I caught my breath, and tried to stop sweating, to be greeted with rather a spectacular view.

The View

View