Saturday, September 21, 2019

Ayr, Wallace and a loch

From what I can see on a map we travelled by P & O ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan in Scotland. The weather was warming considerably.

I think as we departed Belfast. Slightly different electricical generation to the wind turbines.

The weather was rather nicer than when on the ferry from England to Ireland.

Not sure where, but nice digs.

We stopped for a break in Ayr. Grace at least will remember someone from there as she steered me rather forcefully to his blog, sadly closed down now. One among quite a few blog people I miss.

Wow, was the seaside busy on such a warm day.

Look at all the  people in the water, in Scotland! I think we could see the Isle of Arran across the water. Grace, was his name Craig? I remember him visiting the island.

Then it was on to Stirling, the site of  the National William Wallace Monument. Interesting history but somewhat underwhelming. I wonder if he was a goodie or a baddie. Whatever, he was hung drawn and quartered for his 'crimes' and did not have his head chopped off as in the movie Braveheart starring Mel Gibson .

We had learnt early that our tour guide's ten minutes walk was double that or more for us older. We caught the bus from the carpark but we did walk back down from the monument.

Stirling Castle leers over the town.


Well, after all that non exertion, I needed a stiff drink and where better than at a Scottish whisky distillery. Free sample at the beginning of the distillery tour and one at the end. It was very impressive. I can't imagine what the price of the Scotch is, but I am sure it is not cheap. It is all hand processed with some reserved for the local market but much exported. I wasn't really keen on the Scotch. It was too sweet for me but of course I had to make sure by having the second glass.

Glengoyne Distillery was very impressive and has been operating since 1833.

It was in a nice setting too.

Our hotel for the evening was in a stunning location, looking over Loch Long. It was just so beautiful, although our room looked over a falling down shed.

Friday, September 20, 2019

People are revolting

100,000 gathered in Melbourne in protest against the lack of action on climate change by our government and governments around the world. Equivalent numbers of protestors were in cities around Australia. They came from all walks of life, the protest initiated by school children but clearly many adults were involved too.

It is interesting to read that some teenagers are really fearful about their futures if nothing is done on climate change. Our niece Little Jo cares passionately about the environment, without particularly understanding how our destruction of it benefits her.

Yes, you hear right. Our destruction of our environment. No generation is to blame, no politician, no lifestyle, it is just all of us on this planet who over the last 200 years have overseen massive deforestation, the loss of innumerable numbers of creatures great and small, from animals, birds, sea life and tiny gnats that all go to make up how Earth's ecology evolved.

We can't turn back the clock, but we can do something for the future. Complain, protest, send emails, sign lists and petitions, least of all to television stations that begin a news story about kangaroos invading some new outer suburb and bounding down a street. Duh, I think the kangas were there first.

The elephant in the room is of course the huge growth of the population on Planet Earth. It must be curtailed.

Melbourne Tram Museum

It has been open for a number of years but I have never visited the museum. It is almost inner suburbs, so it is not like some Australian museums where trams can be outside on display and you can even take a ride at times. The museum has an excellent website with lots of information.

For those with long memories, Australia's Governor General, the Queen's representative in Australia sacked our Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and just below the then still operating depot was the posh Leonda restaurant. I, along with hundreds of others made our displeasure felt to the drunkard  GG Sir John Kerr when he dined there.

Our tram franchise company won't allow the trams to leave the old Hawthorn Tram Depot, which makes me cross as Yarra Trams don't own the tracks, overhead wires and infrastructure. That is all owned by the government body VicTrack, as is the depot and land itself. I remember old trams being used for tourists to the zoo, to St Kilda, to loop around the city and to travel to Wattle Park. Now there is nothing and what a wasted resource and tourism opportunity.

I spent about an hour there, listening to a twenty minute talk inside an old cable tram car trailer and taking photos. The gift shop, of course the exit, was good with lots of as usual highly priced but interesting merch for sale. The museum was better than I expected and there were quite a number of visitors with a disproportionately high number of Asian couples with young children. In spite of having my camera on some odd setting, I am quite impressed with the photos taken in low light conditions. Tram class identification where I did not know from .

W2 Class.

L Class.

Y Class.

S Class. This tram is very old.

This was a prototype tram from the 70s called a PPC car. I think it has Scandinavian origins. With some modifications it became the basis of Melbourne's first fleet of Z (1) trams built from 1975, none having being built since the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956. Z1 trams were only retired in 2016, a bit past the standard of 30 years of service for a tram.

Later removed, Z Class trams had a console where the conductor used to sit and issue tickets as passengers passed by. With the number of people using trams now, it seems laughable and even back when the were seated conductors, at times they could not work quickly enough and at some busy city locations assistant conductors used to stand at the back door and sell tickets from a machine.

I remember these luggage racks on trams. At some point they were removed.

The driving bits. I think the pedal on the left is different but the control panel looks pretty well the same as on trams built much later, say the B Class.

The cable grip car that had the mechanism to grip the cable running under the roadway, with the trailer behind. Yes, as trailers would follow behind.

Hard seating in the cable car but nicely decorated with good ventilation. Your guess is as good as mine as to why seating needs ventilation. I have one theory, but I am too polite to write it.

These are clerestory windows, just before the roof curves.

Is that a handle to hold on, I asked. No, it is a guide for the bell cord and you can see the hole in the panel where the cord went through.

Another Y Class.

A Class. Looks like it is the oldest electric tram at the museum.

This is a Z1 Class tram decorated by visiting Pakistanis before our Commonwealth Games in 2006. We caught the tram one evening as it ran the City Circle route and what fun it was. I've mentioned our ride a few times in the past, but this post is probably the best. The first video I think is mine, with the bells of St Paul's merging to Pakistani pop music.

Much of the depot has been repurposed. This area in front of the depot where all the tracks come out is known as the depot fan. I get that. The tracks fan out.

This part of the depot used to hold the clothing store, where staff uniforms were made. It is now apartments.

Lookee see, a park I noticed while I waited for the tram home.

Nice work on the traffic light control boxes.

Very attractive, a part of the river bank I have not seen.

You can see the murky waters of Yarra River in the distance.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Derry, Belfast and the Giant's Causeway

The two merge together in some ways in my mind. Your trivia point for today is that everyone calls Londonderry as such, excpt for Irish Nationalists who call it Derry, excluding the London such is the hatred towards the English. Historically there are very good reasons for such hatred.

I've not seen these trees in Australia. Monkey Puzzle?

Mural of tv show Derry Girls. I don't believe it has been shown here and perhaps we should be grateful.

Londonderry has one of the most complete city walls in Europe. We didn't walk too far.

 Electricical generation.

Between Londonderry and Belfast we stopped to see the Giant's Causeway, a volcanic rock formation. It was manic with tourists. A crowded shuttle bus took us from the car park to the rocks. The rocks themselves are quite fascinating, if you can a look in. The more adventurous and fitter Marie in London has subsequently visited the Giant's Causeway and you can read her post with some history and detail here.

However, she did not explain the legend of why it was called Giant's Causeway, kindly but probably unintentionally leaving it to me. We heard it umpteen times from different sources with some variations, and it is quite amusing.

The legend has it the rock columns are the remains of a causeway between Ireland and Scotland and an Irish giant was challenged to a fight by a Scottish giant. The Scottish giant used the causeway to get to Ireland but the Irish giant's wife had dressed her husband as a baby. When the Scottish giant saw the size of the 'baby', he reckoned the baby's father must be a giant among giants and fled back to Scotland, destroying the causeway so the Irish giant could not follow him and only the columns of rock remain. (I don't want to here rumours that this legend was invented by the Northern Ireland Tourist Bureau)

My ability to have no people in photos of crowded areas is unmatched.

The hexagonal shapes were rather amazing.

While we stopped at the Belfast Titanic Museum, we barely had time to photograph, never mind seeing the museum. It had been highly recommended to us.

Quite stunning modern architecture. Better photo here.

It's a working port at the museum.

The very handsome Parliament building.

Closer to where the Stormont sits.

Stunning vista.

I felt a little uncomfortable in Belfast as we visited areas where 'the troubles' happened. The street names from the 70s and 80s where rioting, killings and house burning all came back to me as I heard them mentioned. If you think it is all peaceful now, it is not. 

Yes, still trouble. From the BBC, 2019:

bomb was found in the Creggan area of Londonderry after police searches in the area on Monday 9 September.
The device was found in a parked car and was described by detectives as in "an advanced state of readiness" and was made safe by Army technical officers.
It contained commercial explosives which could have been triggered by a command wire.
A mortar bomb was left near a police station in Church View, Strabane, on Saturday 7 September. Local homes were evacuated and Army technical officers made the device safe.
Police said the device had been an attempt to target police officers but that it could have killed or seriously injured anyone in the vicinity.
A bomb explodes near Wattlebridge in County Fermanagh, on Monday 19 August.
Police say it was an attempt to lure officers to their deaths. Initially, a report received by police suggested that a device had been left on the Wattlebridge Road.
Police believe that a hoax device was used to lure police and soldiers into the area in order to catch them by surprise with a real bomb on the Cavan Road.
It goes on and on.

It looks like a sculpture of hope.

Nice building.

Never let religion get in the way of commercial advertising.

That was interesting reading as I 'researched' for this post.

Well, I agree with that.

Catholics one side of the wall and protestants the other. Pretty shocking to see really.

You can get some perspective as to how high the wall is, to stop things being thrown over. I think we were on the protestant side.

Nevertheless there are some very attractive buildings in Belfast.

Later edit: You may like to see more photos and some detail about Belfast at Marie's blog.