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Stratford Walk 1: the lake

Perth County Court House in Stratford

The walk begins at the Perth County Court House in Stratford

Are you confused? Do these photos look nothing like the Stratford you know, that lovely medieval English market town that gave the world William Shakespeare? That’s because this Stratford — and this Avon River — are in Canada, 130 km (80 miles) west of Toronto. And it also has a strong Shakespeare connection, which we’ll get to.

From the court house, the path around the lake is about 5km. I like to do this walk when I visit Stratford. My maternal grandparents moved to the town in the 1970s, and my parents in the 1990s, so I’ve made quite a few visits since I was a teenager.

This is a pretty, leafy, landscaped walk with not a hill in sight.

If you don’t fancy walking, there are watery alternatives.

Art in the Park has been a feature for years.

Amusing garbage cans, though I’m confused by the bee theme.

This lovely bridge has been the spot for many, many photos over the years.

Approaching the bridge

Looking back at the bridge

Here is the Shakespeare connection I mentioned. In the early 1950s, Stratford local Tom Patterson drove the establishment of a theatre festival dedicated to the works of William Shakespeare. On July 13, 1953, English actor Alec Guinness spoke the first lines of the first play produced by the festival, a production of Richard III: “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York.” For the first four seasons, performances took place in a concrete amphitheatre covered by a giant canvas tent on the banks of the River Avon. The permanent theatre that followed (photo below) deliberately echoed the look of a tent. (source)

The Festival Theatre

The festival now runs from April to October and in addition to Shakespeare it presents a variety of theatre including musicals and contemporary drama, in four theatres. (My mother and I saw “The Music Man” in August last year, when I took these photos.) Famous actors who appeared at Stratford include Maggie Smith (1976 to 1980) and William Shatner (seasons 2, 3 and 4). (This short interview with Shatner has some interesting photos of the festival’s early days).

This statue of Shakespeare is in the garden behind the theatre.

Back to the path now. Near the theatre is where you’ll find the largest numbers of swans and geese. They definitely have right of way.

At the east end of the lake you can look back to see the spire of the court house over the trees.

Time to cross over and head back on the other side. There are some inviting spots here for just sitting and watching the world or having a picnic.

This is the path opposite the theatre.

William Hutt was described as “Canada’s great classical actor” when he died in 2007. I remember seeing him as Falstaff in the Merry Wives of Windsor, 40 years ago. (I can’t believe I’m old enough to say that, but according to a review in the NY Times it was indeed 1978.) That’s more of the court house peeping over the trees, and you can see a number of bright orange pedalos on the lake by the shore (something else I remember from 40 years ago!).

At this point, you must walk across the bridge because the path that continues around the west end of the lake has been closed.

Here you can see why it’s “unavailable”: rich people not wanting riff raff walking in front of their houses. I certainly remember walking there in the past. Time for some “reclaim the ancient rights of way!” agitation by the people, I think!

I know Jo likes cake at the end of her walks, but as much as I like cake I do gravitate towards ice cream after a walk. 😉

Stratford Walk 2: history and houses” is now live.

For more walks from all around the world, head to Jo’s Monday Walks.


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Blue Foot Boogie

Blue-footed boobies Galápagos Islands

Check out my blue feet, babe!

According to National Geographic, “Blue-footed boobies are aptly named, and males take great pride in their fabulous feet. During mating rituals, male birds show off their feet to prospective mates with a high-stepping strut. The bluer the feet, the more attractive the mate.” I photographed these birds in the Galápagos Islands in 1999. The images are poor quality but you can see those blue feet.

Blue-footed boobies Galápagos Islands

Struttin’ my stuff.

Blue-footed boobies Galápagos Islands

So I’ve got blue feet. What’s it to ya?

Blue-footed boobies Galápagos Islands

Posted as part of One Word Sunday: Blue

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Gilded

Rear view of one of the "Fames" statues flanking the Pont Alexandre III, with the Grand Palais and French flag behind.

Rear view of one of the “Fames” statues flanking the Pont Alexandre III, with the Grand Palais and French flag behind.

One a recent visit to Paris, I was struck by the quantity of gilding flashing in the light. I didn’t remember there being quite so much gold on previous visits! These two photos are of two of the four statues that sit at the corners of the Alexandre III bridge over the Seine. “Four gilt-bronze statues of Fames watch over the bridge, supported on massive 17 metres (56 ft) masonry socles [that] are crowned by Fames restraining Pegasus.” (source) I was confused by these “Fames”, and another wikipedia entry says, “In Greek mythology, Pheme (Roman equivalent: Fama) was the personification of fame and renown, her favour being notability, her wrath being scandalous rumours.”

The front view of one of the statues, in which a Fame restrains Pegasus.

The front view of one of the statues of a Fame restraining Pegasus. This photo gives a good view of a ‘socle’ also.

A Photo a Week Challenge: Gilded

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London Lights

street lights admiralty arch

If you know of my fondness for tall ships, you won’t be surprised that I was enchanted by these lights.

London has no shortage of interesting street lights, but I’ve settled for two for Nancy’s A Photo a Week Challenge (street lights). The ones above are near Admiralty Arch, those below are outside the St Pancras hotel/train station. The small feature photo at top has lights from Kew Bridge.

street lights St Pancras


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The view from the window: A hotel in Rome

The balcony beckons ...

The balcony beckons …

I know what you’re thinking. This series is called “The view from the window”, so why did I caption this photo “The balcony beckons”? Well, outside the window was a lovely wide planted terrace, and it was no more than the work of a moment to lift a chair out that window and climb out after it myself, there to sit in comfort with a glass of wine and admire the view.


The view from the window

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Travel Album: Philadelphia

30th Street Train Station

Now THIS is what a train station concourse should look like! What a glorious space. (30th Street Train Station)

Exploring Philadelphia on foot.

I arrived in Philadelphia by train from New York City, and was delighted by the marvellous vaulting space of 30th Street Train Station. The station was restored and renovated in a $75 million project completed in 1991. From the 90-foot ceilings to the marble columns to the gold leaf gilding, it looks fantastic. A great introduction to the city. I was in Philadelphia in late May for a conference, but managed to get in two walks — one on the way to a supermarket which revealed unexpected (to me) back streets that reminded me of English villages, and the other around the Old City area with its historical sites commemorating the push for independence from England.

The supermarket in question was the Whole Foods store on South Street, and my hotel was near City Hall, so I walked along South 12th Street. Although I was heading out for food supplies, I had my camera with me (of course!), and was soon snapping away at the lovely old tree-lined side streets.

City Hall is definitely worth a look! “At 548 ft (167 m), including the statue of city founder William Penn atop it, it was the tallest habitable building in the world from 1894 to 1908 … it was built between 1871 and 1901 at a cost of $24 million.” (source)

One morning, when the conference sessions were not relevant to my work, I took the train to 2nd Street station and followed a self-guided walking tour of old buildings and monuments.

Along the way I passed a lovely little park …

… more quaint side streets …

… Benjamin Franklin (one of the Founding Fathers of the United States) …

Benjamin Franklin bust

Benjamin Franklin bust

… and things cluttering up the sidewalk …

… and then I stopped for coffee and a muffin. I forget the name of the coffee shop, but I loved the interior lights!

Then it was on to Elfreth’s Alley. “Named for blacksmith and property-owner Jeremiah Elfreth, Elfreth’s Alley was home to the 18th century artisans and trades-people who were the backbone of colonial Philadelphia. … While a modern city has sprung up around it, the Alley preserves three centuries of evolution through its old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, Flemish bond brickwork and other architectural details.” (source)

If you have enjoyed these walks in Philadelphia, check out Jo’s Monday Walk to see where other bloggers have been walking.


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Travel Album: New York City (2)

Maine Monument

The Maine Monument commemorates the 260 American sailors who died when the battleship Maine exploded in Havana harbour (Cuba) in 1898.

A walk in Central Park

On a lovely Saturday at the end of May, a friend and I strolled through the southern end of Central Park. We entered from Columbus Circle (where the Maine Monument is, above), heading loosely for the Shakespeare Garden because I wanted to take photos of the garden. (My Shakespeare Garden post is here.)

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I was pleasantly surprised at the many woodland retreats scattered around.

Woods and fence.

This is scene is more bucolic than I expected in New York City.

Woods and bench.

This bench seems to have grown out of the fence.

The Victorian Gardens Amusement Park were popular with children and adults alike.

A ride in a horse-drawn carriage is a very popular thing to do, though with prices starting at $50 for 20 minutes it didn’t seem like value for money. The poor horses seemed faintly embarrassed by their exuberant head gear.

Horse with red white feather.

Horse with red and white feather.

Bethesda Fountain is one of the best known fountains in the world — apparently. I have to confess that I did not recognise it, although it has appeared in a number of films. Interestingly, the statue at the top (“Angel of the Waters”) is the only sculpture in the park that was commissioned as part of the original design.

Bethesda Fountain - Angel of the Waters

Bethesda Fountain – Angel of the Waters

What’s a park without performers? And yes, he was singing a Simon & Garfunkel song when I took this.

Busker

The park opened in 1857, and some of its solid brick and stone architecture can still be seen.

More modern architecture is on display in the towers of Manhattan, viewed across the lake.

Office towers seen across the lake.

Skyscrapers seen across the lake.

Rhododendrons or azaleas? I’m not sure what the difference is, but they are pretty.

If you have enjoyed this walk in Central Park, check out Jo’s Monday Walk to see where other bloggers have been walking.


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Travel Album: New Orleans (1)

Courtyard, Le Croissant d'Or

Courtyard, Le Croissant d’Or (pastry shop)

Impressions of the French Quarter

Before I arrived in New Orleans (in June 2015), I had become quite concerned about my safety. I read so many articles about the crime, so many first-hand posts and comments from people who had been harassed, assaulted or robbed, that I almost regretted deciding to go. I even changed hotels in order to reduce walking time! Yet when I opened my hotel room curtains early on the first morning, the French Quarter seemed peaceful and innocent.

How much danger could this lovely spot possibly hold?

How much danger could this lovely spot possibly hold?

However, clearly it was not a safe place. This is not the sign a woman walking on her own wants to see:

oh dear oh dear ...

oh dear oh dear …

I am very happy to report that my stay in New Orleans was completely without incident. 🙂 Yes, parts of the French Quarter are tatty and tacky, full of drunks and fools and those who prey on drunks and fools, but early in the morning you can wander with a camera with no more than a sensible degree of caution. It’s a photographer’s delight!

Galleries

The difference (I learned) between a gallery and a balcony is that galleries are supported on pillars from the street, whereas balconies jut out from a building with no support.

Courtyards

When walking around an unfamiliar city, I can’t resist peering through open doors. Like Paris, New Orleans offers up glimpses of the private lives behind the public facades.

Le Croissant d’Or

My wanderings that morning did have a purpose: breakfast! I was aiming for a French pastry shop I had read about online, called Le Croissant d’Or. The inside seating area was air conditioned yet rather charmless, but the outer courtyard was full of character.

Street scenes

A few random photographs of things that caught my eye:

A reminder of a darker past

This former slave exchange is now a restaurant. My lunch was excellent, the service was attentive and friendly, but it was unsettling to look past the cheerful diners and try to imagine what scenes had played out in this building.

This is the first of a series of posts about New Orleans.


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