Category: Must-See Places

Painted Hall Ceiling @ Old Royal Navy College – Greenwich

Museum

Painted Hall Ceiling @ Old Royal Navy College – Greenwich

Old Royal Navy College, photo by JMorton

Old Royal Navy College, photo by JMorton

Peter and I went to see a once in a lifetime conservation project at the Old Royal Navy College in Greenwich.

The last conservation was done in the 1950s and they reckon the next one will be in 100 years time.

There were scaffoldings everywhere, which are securely fastened and safe and convenient enough for the public to trod on to go near the ceiling and admire England’s most comprehensive and greatest decorative painting.

Close up dome ceiling, photo by PH Morton

 

Thus, it earned the sobriquet of UK’s Sistine Chapel.

They are currently cleaning and conserving 40,000 square feet of the most amazing allegorical work that used to deliver a strong political message about the monarchy, religion, navigation,  maritime power, and commerce, amongst other things.

The project was instigated by Queen Mary II, who died before its fruition.  Nevertheless, she will always be remembered for it as her image together with King William III, her husband, is depicted in the middle of the ceiling murals along several gods and goddesses.

A relatively unknown artist was commissioned to design the ceiling decoration.  He was Sir James Thornhill, who was knighted for his efforts.

He was paid a princely some £1 per square metre of work on the halls and £3 for the ceiling per square meter.

Thornhill did not work alone.   He had an assistant and hired specialist painters to finish the work as towards the middle of it Thornhill started to receive accolade and private works.

Our tour guide said that monies confiscated from an infamous Scottish pirate William Kidd, more known as Captain Kidd was used for the building and decoration for this project that was the Old Royal Navy College.

The old Royal Navy College was built as a mess hall for sailors, naval pensioner and those who used the Royal Naval hospital nearby.

The sailors and the wrens used the site as a dining area.  Inches of gravy and dried old food were cleaned up in the 1950s when it was first restored.

It is still used as a dining venue once in a while for a really grand special occasion.

Today, the building is a major attraction in Greenwich, Tourists from all over the world come to visit.

By the way, it cost about £10 for an adult and £5 for a child over the age of 6 to join the tour which will be wrapped up towards the end of September 2018.  The numerous number of scaffoldings will be taken down.

It is hoped that by March 2019, the Painted Hall Ceiling will reopen to the public in a different perspective: from the ground looking up above the high ceiling and walls.

Get down to Greenwich for this once in a lifetime privilege before it is too late.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Royal Airforce Museum (RAF Museum) – Hendon

Museum

Royal Airforce Museum (RAF Museum) – Hendon

RAF Museum, photo by PH Morton

We were pleasantly surprised how much the RAF Museum had changed from a year ago when we last visited.  Actually, when we went last year, they were already busy with the renovation.

The very helpful guide had said to be sure to come back because it would be so different, with more exhibitions and things to do.  Also, a new museum restaurant will be opening as well.

As it is now the last few days before the start of the new school year here in the UK, today, with our grandson, Nathan, we went and had a fantastic time with all the amazing array of beautiful warplanes, which western democracy had much to thank for.

The renovation was partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, a very well deserved funding I say.

This renovation also coincided with the 100-Years Anniversary of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Photo by PH Morton

This is, therefore, the ideal time to visit the museum.  A perfect time for the whole family, young and adult will sure to have something to find interesting.

There are so many things that you can get involved in, plenty of interactive activities to be experienced

Like the majority of museums in the UK, the entry is free.

Of course, there are some ‘rides’ and activities that would cost between £3 to £10 per person.  The simulator machine is £3 per person, there was also a chance to board and learn more about a Spitfire for the princely sum of £10, it is well worth it as there was an assistant that would talk you everything about its history.

Peter and Nathan went to the 4D cinema.  The ticket for this is £5 per person.  Our nine-year-old Nathan really enjoyed it.  He said it feels like flying.

Photo by PH Morton

Because of its excellent and large number of exhibits, which is distributed in six hangers, it is much lauded by visitors from all over the world.

There is nothing like being up close and personal with a Vulcan Bomber.  It is quite an experience!

In fact, there was a coach full of visitors disembarking in the carpark when we were there.

The whole family could easily spend the whole day at the museum

Photo by PH Morton

There are a couple of coffee shops for a quick break.

The was also a restaurant, which serves hot food.  I have to say that they make a good Chilli Con Carne.  Our Nathan had loved, I thought he would find it too spicy but he loved it so much, he wanted his own child portion after he had fish goujons with rice as at around 3:45, the restaurant had run out of chips.

Child portion starts at £5 and adult chili portion was £8.50.

If you do not want to eat in the restaurant, there were specific rooms, next to play areas, where you can enjoy your pack lunch.

If the children needed a break and rather overwhelmed with the display, there is a play area outside, with aesthetically pleasing slides in the shapes of a helicopter, Spitfire, a castle and many more.

There are also plenty of toilets, very clean, dotted all and clearly sign-posted all over the place.

There is also a gift shop located at Hanger 1.  The items are reasonably priced.

We really had a great time at the RAF Museum and as a lottery buyer, I support this project 110%.  Well done!

By the way as a recommendation, the Vulcan Bomber is really something to behold, I would have liked it to be exhibited on its own with a gallery, where you can walk and admire it from all angles and corners.

Happy 100th Anniversary to the RAF!

 

Camera Obscura – Magic

Greenwich, photo by PH Morton

Camera Obscura Image on a table, photo by PH Morton

Camera Obscura – Magic

The lens, Photo by PH Morton

Summerhouse in the Meridian Courtyard housing the Camera Obscura with doorway with black curtains, photo by JMorton

It was my second time to visit the Camera Obscura, located at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, South London.

The first time we went which was the autumn of 2013, Peter excitedly insisted that we enter into this building complete with a doorway shrouded in black curtains. Inside was pitch black, as dark as the night.

In the middle of this fairly tiny room,  probably 4square metres (only 6-8 people allowed in at any given time), was a polish table which looked to me like a white marble.  We all looked at the table and thought there was nothing really special about it.  Just an empty table.  We went out of the room absolutely perplexed and disappointed, the same look and feeling on the other faces that had also went in and out with us. We were all asking?  What was that about?!!!

Yesterday was a glorious warm and sunny day.  While at Greenwich Royal Observatory, Peter, Stacey, Nathan and I went into the black shrouded doorway and on the table was a real time panoramic projection of an image of Greenwich.  People can be seen moving on the projected image.  Finally we understood what this camera obscura was about!  🙂 🙂 🙂

Camera obscura (from Latin words: camera, meaning room and obscura, meaning dark) uses a natural optical phenomenon projected from a small hole, a pinhole.  This has something to do with physical law that light travels in straight line.  When some of the rays reflected from a bright subject pass through a pinhole, the rays do not scatter but reform to reflect an upside down image of the subject the rays were reflected from.  I wish now that I had paid attention to physics class! 🙂

The Greenwich camera obscura uses lens for a larger image projection.

Cutty Sark, British Clipper Ship

Cutty Sark, British Clipper Ship

Cutty Sark in its heyday was the fastest ship because of hull shape and vast sail area.  It sailed for more than 957,991 nautical miles which is equivalent to going to the moon and back 2 and a half times. 🙂

Beautifully maintained ship and the information provided were entertaining and interesting. There were a lot of interactive activities and the guides were all friendly and very accommodating. The place is perfect for school children to learn about the life aboard a vessel in the middle of the ocean.

Jean Morton review on Cutty Sark Facebook page

The Cutty Sark was built in Clyde, Scotland in 1869 originally to be a tea clipper, traveling from London to China and back, until the arrival of the even faster steamships. The Cutty Sark then started carrying wool from Australia to London.

The Cutty Sark continued being used as a training ship until the 1950s.

In 1954, it was permanently lodged in Greenwich, South London, as a public display and museum. It is now a National Historic ship being only one of the three remaining shipping vessel with its original composite construction, where the wooden hull was framed in iron. Copper was used a great deal in the making of the Cutty Sark. Apparently, the copper prevents barnacles attaching themselves to the ship.

Peter, Stacey, Nathan – our intrepid grandson and I enjoyed our tour of the Cutty Sark.  The weather yesterday was perfect to see the ship.  It was bright and glorious.  There was plenty to do and to see.

It was a wonderful piece of history. Long it may be preserved for posterity.

Liverpool, The Port City

Liverpool, The Port City

It was our first time to visit the city of Liverpool last week and I have to say, we totally fell in love with the place. It has so much to offer.

Prior to our mini trip, when we told friends and acquaintances our plan for the trip, they would say “Why Liverpool of all places. It is run down”

Peter would say, “too late now, we booked our hotel and the train tickets.”

I am so pleased that we did not listen. Because Liverpool is a very vibrant city, a lot to do and see. One can take away plenty of experiences and new knowledge.

For a Scouse city, I think it is very English.

Old and new buildings married splendidly, giving birth to a wondrous skyline, beautifully scenic especially when spied from a ferry across the Mersey.

Liverpool is of course the birth place of the ultra iconic The Beatles, of John, George, Paul and Ringo.

We visited the famous underground Cavern Club, where the The Beatles played during their early days.

Liverpool is also known for its majestic churches.  The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, is an architectural phenomena in its modernity and simplicity in a vast area. It is a Roman Catholic Church, a must see crypt underneath has a gravity defying ceiling made from bricks!!!

On the other hand, the huge Church of England, Liverpool Cathedral is equally awesome.  It has a very spiritual ambiance.  We thought St Albans was so beautiful but Liverpool Cathedral can give it a run for their money.

While we were in Liverpool, the sun tried to break out from the clouds and Peter was quite happy to go on top of the Radio City, which allows anyone to see miles on end in a 360 degrees.  Apparently you can see the Blackpool Tower clearly if the sun was brighter.  I opted out of the privilege to climb the tower because I felt rather queezy after having an enormous Full English breakfast at the Shiraz Palace near the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, where we stayed.

Another thing about Liverpool is the presence of publican houses everywhere, unlike in London.  I think pubs longevity in Liverpool has to do with the prices.  One can get a pint of beer for a couple of quids (pounds). 🙂  The students who board nearby our hotel patronise the many pubs at all hours.

The famed Chinatown in Liverpool was smaller that what I expected compared to Chinatown in London.  Chinatown Liverpool is the first one in the UK.  Some 1500 Chinese were living in Liverpool as far back as the 1600 and some Filipinos in the 1800.  This is because Liverpool is a port, where seafaring immigrants took advantage of.

They have the most fantastic library building in Liverpool Lime Street.  It was modern and huge in four or five floors, very airy.  It makes you wanna sit down with a book, which I did.  I quickly skimmed Jilly Cooper’s Mount, which is the return of Rupert Campbell-Black and Taggie.

Queen Victoria must have loved Liverpool.  Her beloved husband, Prince Albert’s statue is everywhere and places and buildings are named after him.

St George’s Hall along Lime Street is another must see place.  It has an underground Victorian jail which you can tour.  There was a room with drawings and posters by children which is rather unsettling.  Another prison cubicle has a collage of photos of the prisoners, who were murderers, rapists, debtors, fraudsters.  That was really macabre.  What what spooked me was an empty room at first sight but suddenly you feel a presence which was of a statue of a Victorian woman breastfeeding her baby partly hidden next to the doorway.  Spooky.

All in way, I highly recommend a tour of Liverpool.  Add it to your bucket list!

Bogya Hot Spring – Banaue

Bogyo Salt Spring, photo by JMorton

Bogya Hot Spring, photo by JMorton

Bogya Hot Spring – Banaue

During our trip to the north of the Philippines, we visited many wonderful places and one of these places was the Bogya Hot Spring in Banaue.

This is not for the faint hearted as discovered by my darling husband, who had decided to have an attack of vertigo. 🙁

Peter, dicing with fate, photo by JMorton

It was not really an ideal day to visit the hot spring as it was drizzling a bit and the road was wet and can be very slippery.  But our tour guide, the lovely and kind Arlene, did not give us much information about how we will be going there terrain-wise if there was any hazard or whatever.  All she said was that we would be walking for 45 minutes on a fairly steady pace.

All I can say is OMG!!!

It was death-defying to reach the water source.  To start with it was a fairly steep climb. We were still out of breath when we discovered that we had to navigate some parts of the terraces, which one side is a shallow rice planted paddy, while the other side from a foot-wide only footpath was a deepening ravine/cliff.  It was mind-numbingly scary.

This trip does not have any nod whatsoever to health and safety; no wonder Peter decided he was having one of his vertigo episodes.  He was screaming like a girl!  Actually, that was really not the case as we were a party of 4 women/girl including, our guide, and Peter.  None of us females was screaming. LOL  All we wanted was to get to the end of a very long winding rice terraces footpath.  Peter was crawling on all fours, at some point, with sheer panic written all over his face.  I did tell him to go back but he would not have it.  To distract him I was mentioning names of great English navigators, explorers and travellers.

Of course, now and again we would stop and admire the most glorious view and take photos, (I had my mini camera with me which has been so useful).

After the eventful long trek, we got to the hot spring, which we thought was really just a small hot bog.  It was a tiny pool which did not really look that amazing.

Though we did not plan to go swimming as we did not bring our swimsuit. we thought we do a bit of paddling only.  But the moment we got into the water it was so inviting we threw caution to the wind and we had a soak in our clothes, we thought the weather was so hot it would dry our clothes as we were walking back.  The water was hot; hot bubbles were rising from beneath the rocks.  It was quite wonderful.

It was just the thing to calm our challenged nerves and weary feet.

We stayed for a while and had our ham and cheese sandwiches among crops of rocks by the spring. It can’t get any better than this, I thought.  Until some German tourist ruined my self-satisfied reverie as she joined a growing number of other Europeans enjoying the spring as well.

This particular woman made my blood boil.  Not a care in the world she was.  She went into the pool with a lit cigarette.  Obviously, she knew, being bloody German/European that even when there was no visible sign of No Smoking, one just consciously not smoke in a very public place.

I went mental. I loudly said that she was disrespecting the Philippines.  She should not smoke.  But the stupid woman just did not care and after smoking, she made a point of stubbing her cigarette butt just above the water.  That did it for me.  I think I mentioned Holocaust and the murder of 6 million Jews during  WWII.

Peter had to tell me to calm down.

I can see that my compatriots agreed with my no smoking policy but they were just too polite to complain especially to foreigners!

At least I had my say as the other foreigners/tourists gave me sympathetic looks.

Anyway, going back was a trek I would not want to try again in a hurry but we did not have a choice.  So we went.  I supposed we were more aware, which somehow lessen the scare factor a little bit.  We were more careful and it felt that the walk was much shorter and not as shockingly frightening compared to before.  We were also going downhill.

Peter was ok, more confident.  However, that did not mean we did not have an almost heinous accident.  Our youngest member of the group, Leah, decided to take a selfie but almost lose a footing.  We were in shock. We felt 50 per cent hilarity and 50 per cent horror from the incongruity of taking a selfie near a cliff.

We made it alive with pegs and digits intact back to our hired people’s carrier.

We agreed that if we only knew beforehand that the Bogya Hot Spring was that small, about 3m² only, we would not have gone but then we immediately had a change of heart; despite the sheer fright we went through, walking through the rice terraces was a gift – a privilege.  We had an adventure of a lifetime!  Something we can cross out from our bucket list.

I am sure the same thought would go through the mind of those elderly Chinese tourists, in their walking sticks, we met in the narrow rice terraces on their way to Bogya Hot Spring.

Munting Buhangin, Nasugbu Batangas

IMG_2039 IMG_2040 Munting Buhangin, Nasugbu Batangas

As one of the last activities to be enjoyed with the whole family before my sister and Bert go back to LA and Peter and I to London, we went for a whole day swimming.

The venue was Munting Buhangin (Little Sand) in Nasugbu, Batangas.

It was quite a trek getting to this resort from Manila.  It took 4 hours with little instruction.  We had fun deducing when we are going to get their.  We thought its name says it all – little sand – would mean just a bucket of sand over a paddling pool of water.

But we were actually very pleasantly surprised.  The resort is lovely and clean with good facilities, i.e., CR (comfort room/toilet) shower rooms, restaurants, etc.

The beach was very easy to walk on as the sand is very fine and white, not as white as Boracay but more than good enough.  It was a comfortable to frolic and swim on.  However, one must be aware that there are jelly fish around that could sting, though not in great numbers.

At the beach, there are choices, of accommodation that would satisfy various taste and needs.  There are tree houses that could house 8-10 people good for overnight swimming.  There are nipa huts farther down the beach and many gazebos near the water.

The beach also allows for food and drink to be brought in.  Just remember, going to the beach is literally going DOWN the beach.  To get to the site would mean climbing down a very long steep set of steps.  Going up is a real downer.  Be prepared to stop and catch your breath every now and then.  Just send one member of your party to the information centre to ask for help of the manpower kind.  Usually they would just ask for merienda or about P50 (pesos).

 

Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave, Nature’s Miracle

IMG_0779
Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave, Nature’s Miracle

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We were really really pleased to have found this cave as we were rather thwarted from seeing the iconic Underground River of Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

This cave was amazing. And the thing that really stood out for me was how clean it was.

No dank smell despite some stagnant water here and there. Probably it has something to do with the air circulation. The name of the cave says it all. Hoyop-Hoyopan is apparently a gust of wind that occurs naturally throughout the cave.

The cave is slightly different now. An entrance was created for visitors. Apparently during the Second World War, when the Japanese army took control of the Philippines, Filipino guerillas, foot soldiers, hid in the cave. There was a little whole on the top of the cave that they would jump into and which they would then camouflage with greenery.

In the 70s, European (might be Germans or Belgians) archeologists and anthropologists discovered a huge earthenware full of human bones, which were ancient forefathers of Filipinos. Some bones were also found embedded amongst the mineral- rich cave walls.

Our tour guide said that to fully visit every nook and cranny of the cave, it would take 11 to 16 hours. There are three levels to the cave.  We opted for a very short visit.

During the Marcos era, the cave was used as a meeting area, not sure whether to discuss the martial law and politics during that time as a wide platform was built to be used for disco dancing. Our guide said that live band would play inside the cave. The acoustic might have been something!!!  He also said that the cave no longer function as a dancing hall as of today.  It stopped in the 90s.

This cave is really interesting.  It is now a dwelling for fruit bats and birds, whose nests are harvested for making bird nest soup.

As we were leaving the cave our guide said he saw a two-foot long alligator, who feeds on bats.  So thankful, he did not mention the the alligator to us at that time. 🙂

%d bloggers like this: