Reykjavik

In my second throwback post I have again picked my trip to Iceland and selected some highlights from my time in Reykjavik.

The first selection is of of the concert hall on the seafront in Reykjavik. A modern building completed in 2011 it comprises of coloured glass and steel. This gives it an unusual appearance both inside and out. Its proximity to the bay ensures it captures a continual variation of lighting.

Another key attraction is the world famous Blue Lagoon Spa. Not actually in the capital itself it is closer to the international airport about 30 minutes away. I didn’t have my DSLR this day so these pictures were all captured using my Iphone.

One of my most relaxing experiences was my walk along the south coast of the pennisula on which Reykjavik is situated. It was close to my hotel and was incredibly peaceful. I originally walked down from the ‘Pearl’ to see the geothermic beach which boasted temperatures of 40 deg C + all year round and found myself drawn into following the coastal path. The light was amazing and the seascape changed minute-by-minute. It was difficult to whittle my record of this part of the day down to three.

The ‘Pearl’ occupies a commanding position on a hillside overlooking both the city and the southern bay. It’s utilitarian design lends it a beauty that portrays its functional purpose. Other than cars and planes Iceland burns almost no fossil fuels. Instead it relies heavily on geothermal sources and tours outside the city will often come across one of their power stations. Hot water is held in five massive tanks, these are topped by a glass dome and housing a restaurant and conference centre; this is the Pearl.

Most city breaks involve a trip to a Cathedral; Reykjavik is no different to this. The Cathedral, however, is far from normal. Hallgrímskirkja was finished in the 20th Century and named after the Icelandic Poet and Clergyman from the 1600’s. At 73m tall the Lutheran church is 6th tallest building in Iceland, after a number of radio towers and an office block.

My final set of pictures is of an interesting observation I made whilst wandering around the streets of the capital. Many buildings were brightly decorated with colourful, larger-than-life murals. I have picked three of my favourites.

Thanks for stopping by – I hope you enjoyed my photos – I loved taking them and would recommend Iceland to anyone.

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Walk to Windsor

One of my favourite activities on a quiet Sunday morning is to park near the long walk and stroll towards Windsor Castle. This impressive vista can be enjoyed in different ways throughout the year. As I woke up early on this UK Summer bank holiday Sunday I decided to grab my camera and head off. The seasons are clearly turning and my walk towards the Castle was overshadowed with menacing clouds. The joggers were out and I captured the walk in both directions, towards the town and back, towards the copper statue of King George III on horseback.

There is no public access to the Castle grounds from this direction; instead a side gate opens into Windsor itself. Windsor has not succumbed to the homogenisation of English towns that its neighbours have suffered and, wherever you look, there are plenty of nods to its history, which is closely intertwined with that of our Royal Family. Spread between Windsor and bordering Eton there is more variety of mailboxes, commemorating various monarchs, than I have seen in total elsewhere.

As you walk up to the summit of the hill, you come across the town hall and Windsor Church; not famous in their own right but interesting. Hostelries and souvenir shops have sprung up in the old buildings surrounding them.

Just round the corner from here, once again the Castle is revealed. This is the location for the world famous changing of the guard that tourists flock to see, overseen by the imposing statue of Queen Victoria.

IMG_6415I walked on for a tea in the station. Windsor enjoys two stations; Windsor Central (which, as its name suggests, is situated in the heart of the town) employes two-carriage shuttles to and from Slough. Originally built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western Railway at one point it boasted four platforms and ran trains directly through the underground into Central London. Only one platform remains and much of the old concourse has been repurposed as shops and restaurants. All that is left of Madame Tussaud’s Windsor exhibition from the 80’s and 90’s is a replica steam locomotive.

After my refreshment I walked back down to the river through Alexandra Park. It was starting to get busier now despite the sporadic showers; most prevalent were those with young families, obviously encouraging their children to expend their energy outdoors.

At the end of Alexander Park I discovered Bath Island, where the public baths for the town used to be. As I crossed the river to it I was greeted with a tranquil open space, shared only with the swans. The island affords views of Brunel’s Windsor Railway Bridge, the oldest wrought iron railway bridge still in regular service in the world. The ‘bow and string’ iron structure merges with the the brick archways, which extend all the way into town and are home to many businesses. As I made may way back for the first time this year I noticed the turning of the leaves, heralding autumn.

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed as much as I did.

Silverstone Classic

Over the last few years I have visited Silverstone a couple of times to follow one of the highlights of it’s calendar, the F1. This weekend it played host to a very different event, the Silverstone Classic.

Along with my friend we attended the Sunday of the 3-day celebration. The festival is a mecca for those who enjoy old cars and racing. I was lucky enough to be taken down in his 1971 Triumph Stag.

The day started in the National Pits with some old Grand Prix cars. It’s possible to get right amongst the competitors prior to their race.

With the current debate over Halo in modern F1 cars it seems an anathema that every weekend these old vehicles are raced by enthusiastic amateurs. We quickly found a seat in a grandstand to watch the following race. I was interested as to how hard the drivers would push these classic machines, that presumably were a labour of love. The first race quickly answered that question!

One of the nice elements of the weekend is that during the event the Paddock is open to owners clubs who encourage their members to attend and park up for the enjoyment of the other attendees.

Of all the events my favourite was the pre ’66 saloon cars. The action was wheel-to-wheel and the slower speed versus F1 cars allowed the spectator to really follow the battle of man and machine pitted against one another. This allowed for some interest bursts of shots.

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The F1 cars of my youth were on display and cars were a stark reminder of how much quieter the modern cars are; the noise was all consuming.

The day was packed with events, too many to document here. We finished with a race for pre ’66 grand prix cars. Their were so many that they queued back round the last bend from the International Pit straight. They were in fact so far back that a front row stall resulted in one of the further back cars rear -ending him spinning into multiple priceless cars. Fortunately everyone walked away.

Thanks for stopping by – hope you enjoyed my pictures.