Monday, 9 January 2017

Blue Skies in Bath

Bath in the title again, but this time a few photos taken last Thursday in Bath when the skies were fabulously blue, and the buildings looked so good set against them. These are a few of the photos I took, firstly of Bath Abbey which looks good in any light.
and then a close up of the front left of the building
I then saw this tower on top of a building nearby, and decided I'd better find out a bit more about where it is. It's The Guildhall, built between 1775 and 1778 by Thomas Baldwin to designs by Thomas Warr Attwood. It has been designated as a Grade I listed building and has rooms available for hire.
Striding out back to the station, I noticed this church spire sillouetted against the sky on my left. It's St.John's a large Victorian Roman Catholic church which was badly damaged in the Second World War. It has Bath's tallest spire, a notable organ and 2 choirs.
Amazing what you find out when you look it up.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Milton Road Washing and Turkish Baths

Having spent many hours swimming in the 33.3metre swimming pool at Milton Road years ago, and watching children learn to swim, it's quite a long time since I've been there. I was concerned that a building like Milton Road Baths could be leased to Greenwich Leisure Limited on 9 October 2014 as part of a 6 leisure location package.
Two years down the line, the small pool has already been closed since January 2016 because it needs repairing, and GLL declared it not viable, thus reducing considerably the number of people using Milton Road.  GLL are already talking about applying to convert the 'dry side' to apartments while retaining the outer shell of the building, this bombshell hit the local news on Boxing Day:
Others have written eloquently about the history of the building, such as the fascinating blog Swindon in the Past Lane written by Frances Bevan, her piece written 5 years ago on Milton Road Baths gives a superb account of their history, have a look:
There's a petition to save the baths from GLL's plans,
and the Save Swindon's Heritage Facebook group has some excellent feedback made by the eminent historian, Graham Carter, who met GLL today at a meeting facilitated by South Swindon MP Robert Buckland.
You will find lots more information on the current situation on Angela Atkinson's excellent blog: Born Again Swindonian:
Since there's so much information around about the baths, I decided to pay a visit to the Turkish baths and take a few photos.
I cycled from the Link Centre partly by the Southern Flyer cycle route, so didn't have to cycle on the road until I reached the centre of Swindon.
On arrival, we were greeted warmly in reception, and encouraged to take advantage of the experience after being  shown round, I took a few photos, but it's not easy to convey the experience of the Turkish baths. We started with a shower, here's one of them
 from there, we sat in one of the two steam rooms, this is the smaller one, but you can't see anything for obvious reasons
 next we showered again to wash off the sweat and tried the jacuzzi, seen below on the left
from there we went into a sauna until we couldn't bear it any more because it was so hot, having showered again, we went into the smaller steam room, and then tried to go into the cold plunge pool, I found complete immersion difficult to achieve.
After another shower, dressed and felt amazing, relaxed, clean and invigorated. I asked if we could have a look round and take a few photos, we tagged onto a tour being given to someone intending to join.
We didn't weigh ourselves before and after!
During one of the refurbishments, partitions have been erected to create changing rooms as can be seen below; the floor is lovely
 Our first stop was the large baths, if you swim 33 lengths that's 1Km, it's the largest pool in Swindon, an Olympic sized pool is 50m.
 It's a lovely pool
 and at the other end is a lovely window
 here's a closer look
 I particularly like the seating arrangements along the sides
 and here's a photo of the small pool which looks lovely, emptied of water, and in need of repair apparently. How wonderful if this could happen, and it could be used again for teaching young people to swim once again.
 From the small pool, to the other entrance, the one to the baths with more lovely glass
 and more
 and yet more on the first floor
 In context, the pair of windows in the conferenc earea where there was once a lovely cafe where I went to a Christmas celebration.
 and back to reception along one of the corridors
 where we bumped into Jane Faulkes a Mc Timoney Chiropractor who I have visited many times at Milton Road, she invited us into her practice room to photograph her fireplace:
A lovely experience, do go and have a Turkish bath, they are open every day of the week, you'll feel so much better for it.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Admiring Winter Sunrises, and Chasing Sunsets

At this time of year, it's relatively easy to see sunrises, this morning the sun was rising just as I opened the bedroom curtains at 8.13am, and the sun has just set at 4.10pm.
The sunset this evening is lingering and someone somewhere is getting a fabulous view of the sunset, sometimes I like to go chasing the sunset to get a good photo of it. Sunrises are easy to see from the back of the house, sunsets not at all easy.
I've collected a few photos of sunrises and sunsets, it's amazing how different they are, which led me to believe that there must be a scientific explanation for sunsets and sunrises seeming to be different at different times of year, and in different parts of the world. There are some amazing sunsets to be seen on the west coast of this country, and in France, and according to this article: also in the tropics, and in winter in this country.
Here are some recent sunrises with dates:
 Above 7 December at 7.42am, and below 14 December at 7.53am
 This one was taken at 7.56am on 21 December
 and this one at 7.50am on the 23 December
and this one at on the 30 December:
and onto a few sunsets:
 I walked for half an hour from the centre of Portishead on Boxing Day to try and get a good photo. The sun was setting at 4.04pm, and I managed to get to the edge of town just in time to get this lovely view.
 This one above was taken from the bathroom window on 27 December at 4.23pm, and this one below from the canal bridge in Milton Road in the centre of Swindon on 29 December at 3.47pm
I also did try a bit of sunset chasing in Wichelstow last Friday between 3.40pm and 3.56pm after which the sun disappeared.
 Above and below were taken from the old railway track
 The next ones were taken beside the canal in Wichelstow:

Lovely sky colour. I'm on the look out for a good place to photograph sunsets in Swindon. Any ideas?
I think I have the answer to this question, if I open my shower window and look out of that, if there's a spectacular sunset, I get some good photos through the lovely trees. This is Tuesday's sunset, from the shower room:
 and from the bedroom window, facing south
 There was an amazing sunset yesterday, 5 January, but I didn't manage to get any photos.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Blue Skies on the Ridgeway

Walking from Swindon to Avebury, my favoured route involves walking beside Broome Manor golf Club, over the M4, and up Ladder lane, then through Overtown and onto the Ridgeway, it's really a short hop to Avebury, and well worth doing so on a bright winter day, such as we had on Wednesday.
This is what it was like:
 Looking back  to Barbury Castle, 
and below a section of track:
  I had three attempts at taking photos of one of the small clumps of beech woodland planted by the Victorians as landscape features and to give sheep some shelter.  Some clumps are even planted on top of Bronze Age round barrows, frowned upon today because of the damage tree roots do to ancient monuments. They are magnificent and a regular feature between Barbury Castle and the turn off to Avebury further along the Ridgeway

 I don't know which of the photos I like best, but the blue sky in the background certainly sets off the clumps, often called 'hedgehogs' wonderfully
 I also tried to get some good photos of cow parsley skeletons all that remains of the flush greenery of the spring, summer and autumn:
 They're really best close up I think
I love the section of the walk with Fyfield Down on the left, after the really muddy area, the track becomes much easier to walk along, as smooth as a golf course. The down has the best assemblage of sarsen stones in England. The stones are known here as the Grey Wethers, for their likeness to sheep when seen from a distance. They were noted by Col. Richard Symonds in his diary for 1644: "They call that place the Grey-wethers, because a far off they looke like a flock of sheepe." They support a nationally important lichen flora. An alternative name for this natural rock feature is Mother's Jam
You can see the area in the photo below, although the greywethers aren't visible from this spot..
 My phone usually stops working in this area, not even allowing me to take photos,  the last photos are on the camera and will be added later.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Visiting Bristol

For a relaxed day out in Bristol with friends, the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is a great place to visit. We started with a late lunch beside the gorgeous 17th Century fireplace, circa 1650.
 Here's a close up of the right hand side of the fireplace:
 From there we went to the beautiful toilets before looking round the galleries:
 The doors have their original brass fittings, although fortunately we don't have to pay a penny any longer.

 I think the sinks are rather good as well. There's a lovely full length mirror in there, tempting to take a photo of Jay and myself, she's also taking a photo, so it'll be interesting to see her blog post on the day out!
 From there we had a look round the galleries, I particularly like this oil painting- 'Holidays' by Harry Watson which features a relaxed group, including two young girls by a river.
 I loved this charming coffee service designed by Clarice Cliff for Wilkinson Ltd in 1935.
 Bristol is renowned for its glass, some exceptionally fine examples can be seen here, like this window:
 and a whole case of green glass
 and this vase, seen in the Friends' leaflet, the lighting made it hard to see, let alone photograph properly. It's called 'Jurassic Vase', and was made by Bob Crooks in 2012, it would be lovely to see it in good light.
 Another huge painting, measuring 4mx4m, Noah's Ark is worth a long look. It's painted by Jan Griffier in 1710. This isn't a good photo, see a better one at

 From there we went to have a look at the Kate Malone ceramic original for a bronze drinking water fountain she made in 1993, it's really very impressive:
 and here's a close up of the fish at the top
From there we went via the Ken Stradling Collection, and then back to the bus stop via The Bristol Guild, and then onto Bristol Temple Meads station where there were Emmeline Simpson posters brightening up the platform.

Lovely day out.
To read Jay's account, please click here: