AirToob Lightning

Tags  →  architecture

This is Lakeview Manor in Skyrim, a residence that I built myself (as have many others) while in the game - a pleasantly satisfying interlude amongst all the mayhem. It's one of many tucked-away places that Rob Dwiar is fond of.

(Skyrim provides a truly vast and varied world to explore, including much beautiful wild scenery.)

This is another of Rob's selections, the Drake Family Residence that you encounter in Libertalia (a place in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, which I haven't played).

Over to Rob for his own words (click any image here to read his article and see many other places):

If you like this...

[“Other Places”: videos of beautiful game landscapes set to music]

“Fairfield Light”

I am lucky enough to live in a small flat in a converted Victorian mental hospital (quite appropriately, you might think!). It was known as the Fairfield Hospital, or the Three Counties Asylum, and has a very interesting history which you can read about here if interested.

No hospital would be built like this today. The huge building, more like a French château than a hospital, was built wih bricks made from a local clay quarry, now a recreational sailing lagoon. Today most of the parkland around it has been turned (sympathetically) into a nice housing estate, but the Letchworth Garden City Cricket Club ground is still here.

I have posted many other photos taken around this place, which you can find marked ** in my photoblog index.

These pictures were taken just after sunrise or just before sunset, when the light seems particularly magical.

The corner between South and East Wings on a beautiful cold, clear morning

The eastern side of the East Wing

Part of the East Wing, seen from near the cricket field (less than a quarter of the complete building is shown here)

Low light on a summer evening on the north side of the building - this was the end of the narrow-guage railway that brought in the bricks used to build this place, now removed

Dog walkers assemble - early morning on the cricket field, Christmas Eve 2018

If you like this...

[My photoblog index]

Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Villa Kérylos, Côte d'Azur, France, September/October 2016

[Nice and Beaulieu-sur-Mer visit continued from Part 1]

Villa Kérylos in nearby Beaulieu-sur-Mer is a Greek-style property built in the early 1900s by French archaeologist Théodore Reinach [a very interesting guy], and his wife Fanny Kann, a daughter of Maximilien Kann and Betty Ephrussi, of the Ephrussi family. Madame Fanny Reinach was a cousin of Maurice Ephrussi, who was married to Béatrice de Rothschild. Inspired by the beauty of the Reinach's Villa Kerylos and the area they built the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild at nearby Cap Ferrat.”  —Wikipedia article

Beaulieu-sur-Mer (map link) is a well-named place only a 6-minute train ride from Nice Riquier station. Walking beneath the railway line at Beaulieu-sur-Mer brings you quickly down to the waterside via a pleasant short walk.

Looking towards Cap Ferrat, on the other side of which is Villefranche-sur-Mer, even closer to Nice

Looking towards Villa Kérylos

On the villa's terrace

There was a very arts and crafts movement feel about this place

[Nice and Beaulieu-sur-Mer visit continues in Part 3]

Fallingwater is the name of a house built over a waterfall in southwest Pennsylvania. Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect, designed the house for his clients, the Kaufmann family. Fallingwater was built between 1936 and 1939. It instantly became famous, and today it is a National Historic Landmark.

“Why is it so famous? It's a house that doesn’t even appear to stand on solid ground, but instead stretches out over a 30’ waterfall. It captured everyone’s imagination when it was on the cover of Time magazine in 1938...”

One of many several nice places that Sandy (overthetrail) has visited and shared (which she does nowadays mostly on Facebook, but click her tag for more of her great shares).

Nice, Côte d'Azur, France, November 2015

This was our second trip to Nice this year (our first trip in Feb/March can be found here if you are interested). We revisited many of our favourite places, so this time I am showing our visit to the Asian Arts Museum and Phoenix Park, both in a nicely redeveloped area near the airport.

Click the image above if you would like to see this visit, otherwise if you would like to skip the photoblog then (as usual) click the chevrons (>>) below to move on to my next “normal” post.

Asian Arts Museum and Phoenix Park - Nice, Côte d'Azur, France, November 2015

[Continued from our visit in Feb/March 2015]

This was our second trip to Nice this year (our first trip in Feb/March can be found here if you are interested). We revisited many of our favourite places, so this time I am mainly showing our visit to the Asian Art Museum and Phoenix Park, both in l'Arenas district, a nicely redeveloped area near the airport, on the western side of Nice.

This area houses many modern business buildings, an excellent restaurant (Le First), the free Asian Arts Museum, and Phoenix Park (admission €3, free for children). It reminds me of some redeveloped areas in London, but with a distinctly French (and sunny) flavour. It is easily reached from many parts of central Nice by a #9 or #10 bus.

The Asian Art Museum, seen from the bridge linking two of its sections

The quiet refreshments room has a unique atmosphere. While you can get coffee from a Nespresso machine, it would be a shame not to ask for Jasmine tea, which will be made and served for you in a very uncoffee-shop way. It also displays some nice things, like this.

Stairs leading to the upstairs art gallery...

...currently showing a series of very nice abstract paintings by this Chinese painter, who lives and works in France (click my photo of the poster above for information about him)

My photos of three of the very large paintings hanging in the gallery, which I particularly liked

“Cosmic Tree”, “Tree of Immortality”, also “Money Tree” - click the label for some quite interesting information!


Click the label if you would like to know more...

This had an abstract appeal, so I tried a monochrome image...

“Scholar's Rock” in Ying limestone on a wooden pedestal - click the label for some quite interesting information!


Phoenix Park, just across the water from the Asian Arts Museum. The enormous greenhouse can be seen in the distance.

A pleasant walk around the lake...

...brings you to the Phoenix Park Greenhouse, one of the largest in Europe. It is much larger than it looks here.

A small aquarium has recently been added, currently at an early stage of construction - it has no ambitions to compete with the awesome Lisbon Oceanarium that we visited earlier this year

Outside the greenhouse you come to a great play area for children - one of several in Nice. This is probably much busier in summer, but this kind of off-season weather is one reason why we like Nice so much.

There are also safe mazy trails around this area where kids can explore safely

The rest of our visit (in brief)...

We actually spent two weeks here, the first at the end of October when we had our daughter and grandchild with us. I have spared you many family mugshots as well as pictures of places seen on our previous visit in Feb/March 2015.

As apparently is typical of the off-season months, in any 2-week period you can expect 2 or 3 days of cloud and rain, which duly arrived. Rain here, however, is not the same as rain in England! This is taken outside the National Theatre.

Most of the time the weather was like this (taken in the sheltered bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer, a 3-minute train ride from Nice, mostly through a tunnel), where there is a good beach of fine grit and higher-than-normal prices!

One of several lookout points at the top of the Colline du Château, on the eastern side of Nice...

...from which there is a great view of the Port. Descending on foot from here to the inner part of the Port takes longer than usual at the moment, because the construction of a new section of tramway to the Port (and a new promenade) has cut off the shortest route.

Nice, I have to say, has one of the best and cheapest public transport systems that we have found anywhere. Bus tickets cost €1.50 on the bus, but only €1 if bought in packs of 10 at the tram stops (coins or card only), or in the Lignes d’Azur boutiques across from the main train station, or on Blvd Jean Jaures on the edge of the Old Town (thanks to Best of Nice Blog for the info). You can change buses on the same ticket, providing you revalidate the ticket on each bus and the whole journey is within 74 minutes, as it was for all journeys we took. The same tickets can be used on the superb modern trams.

Children under 4 years go free, and two children under 10 can travel on the same single ticket.

Farewell to Nice, at least for this year... taken outside Les Jardin du Capitole, a great (and inexpensive) place to have a last meal before catching the #98 express bus, right outside, for a short ride to the airport (the buses for Phoenix Park also stop here).

If you like this...

[Index of all my photoblogs]

Lisbon, September 2015 - Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, and the walk back

[Lisbon visit continued from Part 1]

We passed The Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, a truly amazing place, on a river trip during our previous visit.

It is said to be the world's most advanced centre for research into cancer, brain damage and blindness, both medically and from an architectural point of view. From the river it looks a little like a cruise ship, but it is designed to look quite different from almost any angle in which it is approached.

On this occasion we took a (cheap) taxi to the Centre (location at the bottom left of this map) so that we could walk around it, and then walk back along the river towards the Ponte 25 de Abril, near which we knew there were some nice restaurants.

Inside the centre. This is as far as we could go (and we discovered later that photos inside aren't really allowed)

The best job in the world, possibly - official Lego model creator at work!

The habitat inside is part of the healing process

Looking past the edge of the Belém Tower to the gigantic Christ the King statue, which was inspired by the famous statue in Rio de Janeiro. It was erected to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II.

Looking back - showing the aerial walkway to the auditorium

The auditorium (the inside of which is shown here), with sun blinds closed, and a café restaurant that looked like a great place to eat (but opens at 12.30, as do most restaurants in Lisbon, too late for us on this occasion)

Heading back along the river... the memorial outside the Military Museum (one of the best in the world, according to Tripadvisor reviews)

The amphibious HIPPOtrip vehicle going by (we took this trip last year, an excellent way of seeing what there is to see)

Approaching the The Discoveries Monument, built on the north bank of the Tagus River in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.

In the background is the Ponte 25 de Abril, near where we were planning to eat. It didn't look too far away at this point...

After a long walk in which the famous bridge never seemed to get nearer, we stopped gratefully at the Café In - highly recommended! My spouse chose a smoked salmon salad - this wasn't what she was expecting, but it was absolutely
delicious! Good value food here, too.

[Lisbon visit continues in Part 3]

Found on the very nice pages of Vedika, where you will find much interesting and beautiful stuff. If you haven't already, do visit!

This minimalist house has been designed by Barend Koolhaas, and is set among the beautiful countryside of Almen, in the Netherlands.

Despite its outward appearance from the front of the property, the building is actually triangular in shape, cutting its apparent footprint in half. The exterior has been designed in the shape of the barns found in the local area, and it’s been clad with timber siding, and corrugated steel on the roof.

This great example of living simply and sustainably is worth looking at in more detail, as is the rest of the site.

Thanks again to my friend overthetrail (Sandy) for this one!

(She hasn't posted here much for a while, but click her overthetrail tag to see some really nice stuff that she has sent my way over the years.)

There seems to be a sudden upsurge in interest in green roofs (click the image for some great examples).

For instance, this story from March 2015 has been widely reported:

Green roofs are apparently popular in Germany and Australia. It is not hard to see why if you take a look here.

The city of Toronto mandated the use of green roofs in industrial and residential buildings in 2009. It's good to see an entire country following its example, even if it's in a modified and flexible form... hopefully other countries will realise the benefits and do the same soon.

The Art of Animation: Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli

I am a long time fan of Studio Ghibli, and I still consider Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away to be the finest animation ever made (a close runner-up being The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet).

One reason that I am a fan is the beautiful environments (often urban) created in many of their films. These are works of art in their own right, and I have done my best to capture (with my own screenshots) some of the ones that I particularly like.

In order to keep this post a reasonable length, and because the art in many of the films can only be appreciated in animated form, I have chosen only three films (omitting, for example, the beautiful natural environment of My Neighbour Totoro along with many others). Click any image if you would like to see links about that film.

Kiki's Delivery Service

This charming story about the early difficulties of a trainee witch, based on a children's fantasy novel, would be worth watching just for the artwork of the beautiful Scandinavian-style landscape and city. When the weather is lousy or everything seems miserable, I watch this film again, thinking how much I would like to live here - and how much designers of modern architecture could learn from the film.

Kiki standing outside the bakery, overlooking the sea. Behind her is a glimpse of the lower part of the fictional city. The (apparently hand-painted) details of mortar, stones, plaster, tiles and so much else is incredible - the more you look, the more you see. As with so many of Miyazaki's urban environments, it is set on a hill, giving it added interest as a place and a wonderful three-dimensional feel as art.

The fictional city is “Koriko” or “Coriko”, although the characters don't mention it. Miyazaki's inspiration for it was the town of Visby on the island of Gotland, Sweden (worth looking at), although the fictional Koriko is a much larger place.

This is animation at its finest (no still images can convey how good it is), and one of my all-time favourite movies. (The version I have is in Japanese, with English subtitles, which I generally prefer.)

The bakery, with another glimpse of Koriko rising above it, lit (as often in Miyazaki's films) by a low sun. The room at the top of the stairs is a kind of storage loft, which Kiki can use free as her room (and have free use of the telephone for her delivery business) in exchange for helping out at the bakery.

The view from Kiki's room, as evening falls.

The bakery at night.

The Wind Rises

This is to be the last of Miyazaki's films (see here), and in many ways is very different from the others. A very good description of it can be found here.

It is a fictionalized version of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi fighters that flew in WWII. It features many things: the love and mystique of aviation (and a repugnance for its use in war) that is Miyazaki's own, a stunning sequence covering the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, 7.9 on the Richter scale, that devastated Tokyo and the surrounding area, and a bittersweet story concerning his love for Nahoko, a girl whom he rescues during the earthquake and then doesn't see again for some time.

The story is fascinating from a historical point of view, but it also features some fine art work that somehow makes even factories and aircraft hangars things of beauty. I have selected just a few here.

A train journey during a period of tranquillity. Jiro is on his way to a hotel where he will again encounter Nahoko. Trains, and other means of transport, feature in many of Miyazaki's films with an extraordinary attention to realistic detail. (In Kiki's Delivery Service, when looking through the front window of an old-fashioned bus about to depart, we can see its nose rise as it is lifted by the torque of the engine, before setting off - a detail most people wouldn't even care about, or notice.)

The outfall from a beautiful spring pool, near the hotel where he encounters Nahoko.

Walking back to the hotel, caught in a sudden rain squall. Wind, rain and clouds are often major features of Miyazaki's films.

The hotel where Nahoko and Jiro meet.

Nahoko sadly dies of tuberculosis. They marry so that they can live together for the short time left, but Nahoko disappears one day, returning to the sanatorium so that he will remember her as she was. Together with other patients, she lies (well bundled up) on the verandah of the sanatorium, and in this beautiful short sequence she looks up at the sky as snow falls.

Whisper of the Heart

This is another great favourite of mine. It's a coming-of-age story set in modern Tokyo. Its heroine Shizuku is led on a journey that becomes more and more magical at it progresses - not, in this case, the magic of myths or legends, but a way of seeing the real world through the eyes of a young teenager that becomes a true voyage of enchantment.

The film was written by Miyazaki but directed by Yoshifumi Kondo, whom Miyazaki hoped would take over from him. Kondo's premature death shortly afterwards, apparently caused by overwork, seems to have led Miyazaki to announce his retirement, although (fortunately for us) he continued to work for a further 15 years but at a more relaxed pace.

The apartment block where Shizuku lives is far from luxurious...

The door is metal and the interior is very small and cluttered. Nevertheless Shizuku's family lives happily there, and apart from the expected occasional friction with Shizuku's older sister, is very supportive of her.

Shizuku's life is one of an ordinary young teenager. She attends a local school, remarkable only for the respect that Miyazaki always shows being given by children to their elders and teachers. Shizuku writes two translated versions of John Denver's “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (hilarious when translated back to English in subtitles) - she doesn't really understand the concept of a “home town”, and her second version is entitled “Take Me Home, Concrete Roads”.

Shizuku is a voracious reader, borrowing books from the library, and keeps encountering the name of a previous borrower, Seiji Amasawa. She encounters Seiji several times without realizing who he is, and is extremely cross when he teases her. But things will change...

One day when Shizuku travels on the local train, she is joined by an unusually independent cat. When they get off together she follows him...

...losing him...

...but discovering him again higher up the hill.

The cat leads her up a steep, narrow rubbish-strewn alley.

(Monitor test: you should be able to see considerable detail even on plain concrete walls.)

Shizuku emerges into what, to her, is a different world...

...and discovers an open, and apparently deserted, antique shop... which she will discover Seiji's grandfather, and learn that Seiji himself lives downstairs, learning to be a violin maker.

Here she also meets The Baron, an amazing statuette with crystal eyes, whose story links to an unfulfilled love in the grandfather's past life.

Seiji's grandfather shows her a marvellous clock that he is repairing, whose mechanisms include another depiction of unfulfilled love.

Shizuku later meets Seiji here, and learns that he hopes to leave schooling early for a career making violins - but first he will have to prove himself by becoming an apprentice to a strict violin-making master in Cremona, Italy.

Shizuku realises how much she will miss him, and decides to challenge herself while he is away by writing a long story, which she calls Whisper of the Heart, inspired by the story of The Baron.

Seiji's grandfather wants to be the first to read her story, and Shizuku waits for hours on his lower verandah while he does so, in an agony of suspense. He finally appears and tells her that her story is a little rough, like any craftsman's first work, but she has dug out some real gems from her heart - and makes the hugely relieved Shizuku a supper of Ramen noodles.

Early one cold morning Seiji returns, and calls to Shizuku to come down.

He takes her high up to one of his favourite places... watch a magical sunrise above Tokyo

If you like this...

[Wingsee, a delightful site dedicated to the work of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki]
[The painting "Ship Flying Over The Rainbow" from "Kiki's Delivery Service"]
[Joe Hisaishi plays his piano music from "Spirited Away"]
[The Art of Animation: Disney's “Tangled”]

Fire place at the Casa Batlló, one of Gaudi's most famous and beautiful creations

Found a very long time ago on the fine pages of batchbatcharak, one of my favourite Categorians (click his tag to see why!).

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre at Mapungubwe National Park in Limpopo, South Africa. The plan for this visitor center, designed by Peter Rich Architects, began with a motif etched on stones uncovered at the former location of a South African trading civilization. Its free-form vaults were built with a 600-year-old construction technique that is both economically and environmentally responsible: Local laborers made the 200,000 pressed soil tiles as part of a poverty relief program. Though it’s inspired by the past, the center’s design is at home in the 21st century, with modern geometric forms that create a new topography in the ancient setting. Photo by Obie Oberholzer.”

Lisbon, Portugal, July 2014

My wife and I recently spent 4 wonderful days in Lisbon (our first visit to Portugal). We fell in love with the place (a huge and beautiful city, full of art and amazing architecture, with friendly multi-lingual people who don't mind in the least that a foreigner hasn't learnt their language).

The Discoveries Monument, built on the north bank of the Tagus River in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.

I took the picture above from our amphibious vehicle on a guided tour of the city. One of the other places that we passed on the river was so amazing that I have made it a separate post (if you're interested, you'll find it here).

Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon's Champs Elysée - but this avenue is much quieter and places along it are much, much cheaper (we had a good meal in an excellent restaurant and it cost less than a Prezzo or Café Rouge in England, which won't surprise our American visitors to the UK).

The avenue is nearly 300 feet wide and totally covered in trees - further along the temperature is nearly 100, but the avenue feels much cooler (the trees naturally air-condition it, as well as shading it) and there is always a breeze blowing.

Some places that we passed on the land section of our amphibious tour.

Even ordinary places are colourful and interesting.

Lisbon's Eden Theatre, a wonderful Art Deco theatre/cinema from the 30's, now converted into a hotel. I love the way in which the Portuguese often incorporate trees into their major buildings.

If you like this...

[Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon]
[Index of all my travel photoblogs]

My wife and I recently spent 4 wonderful days in Lisbon (our first visit to Portugal). We fell in love with the place (a huge and beautiful city, full of art and amazing architecture, of which we have seen about 1% if that, with friendly multi-lingual people who don't mind in the least that a foreigner hasn't learnt their language).

I took the photo below from a guided tour in an amphibious vehicle, which tours the city and then goes up and down the river. I can thoroughly recommend the tour (the HIPPOtrip) should anyone visit Lisbon for the first time. It was very entertaining and informative, bilingual in English and Portuguese (at least half the passengers were Portuguese), and serious attention was paid to safety on the water.

This is The Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, a truly amazing place. It is said to be the world's most advanced centre for research into cancer, brain damage and blindness, both medically and from an architectural point of view. From the river it looks a little like a cruise ship, but it is designed to look quite different from almost any angle in which it is approached.

The image below is my composite of some of the images from the Indian architects' web site - well worth visiting.

Charles Correa writes (in part):

Click either image above for more from the web page.

It is possible for the public to visit some of this centre: see here. When (not if) I return to Lisbon, this place will be high on my list!
If you like this...

[More about The Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown]
[More pictures from our visit to Lisbon]
[My travel photoblogs - pictures and info about some nice places]

The Iniciatic Well on the Regaleira Estate, Sintra, Portugal (another great image of this place will be found here).

Thanks to masnich9 for this one!

Dusk at the Bristol Central Library which celebrates its centenary in 2008. Photography by *Firefox

Library Parabola is the reading room of the British Library and is said to be the birthplace of the Communist Manifesto. Photography by Sifter

University of Delft, The Netherlands, designed by the Mecanoo architects, Delft. Photography by Rutger Spoelstra

Library of the Dutch Parliament, The Hague, conserving all of the words spoken and written there.
Photography by Menno Manheim

Many more on the page...

A slide show of Gaudi's wonderful architecture, set to the music of Queen - thanks to aldchronicle56 (Allan) for this one!

(Original post: October 8th, 2009)

From the page:

In a recent New York Times business trend piece, the small but growing movement to transform -- or at least disguise -- these ugly but crucial energy ducklings into aesthetically conforming swans is explored.

Most notable are SRS Solé Power Tiles from SRS Energy. The company is working with California's U.S. Tile to create tiles with embedded solar cells that mimic traditional tile roofing in Southern California and the Southeast. At a demo home in California (pictured below), a homeowner replaced terra cotta tiles on a portion of his roof -- about 300-square feet -- with Solé Tiles in about four hours. As a result, the homeowner's roof will generate about 2,400 kilowatt-hours of juice a year and his roof isn't festooned with bulky black squares that scream to neighbors and passersby, I have photovoltaics!

Whatever the commercial problems, the world will get to this one day. A great find from my friend Sandy.

If you like this...

[My environment and technology page]

A bridge in Osijek, Croatia, photographed by Vladimir Zivkovic (~oriontrail)

If you like this, try this search, which produces a very large number of great pictures...

[Bridges in fog (DeviantArt)]
[Lake District visit continued from above]

Blackwell, "an architectural jewel in the heart of the Lake District", was designed by M H Baillie Scott (1865-1945) as a holiday home for a wealthy Manchester brewery owner, and is "one of the country's most important examples of Arts and Crafts architecture".

Blackwell is one of the most beautiful houses that I have ever visited, and is also one of the most frustrating to describe properly to someone who has not been there. Photography is forbidden indoors, and neither the official web site nor any other site that I have found shows photographs that come anywhere near conveying the beautiful atmosphere of the real place.

However if you would like a really good written review of the place (not mine), go here.

Blackwell (top of picture) seen from Windermere

The view from Blackwell across Windermere. Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's retreat, is on the other side of Windermere, somewhere off to the right. In the distance are the fells behind Coniston Water.

One of the many nice things about Blackwell is that it has alcoves with window seats and cushions that visitors are allowed to sit in. This view is one of several that can be enjoyed from such a seat in the beautiful White Drawing Room - I must have spent over 20 minutes doing just that.

[Location of Blackwell on my England Map]
[The Arts and Crafts Movement (Overview)]
[The Arts and Crafts Movement (Wikipedia)]
[The Arts and Crafts Home - A Design Resource for Home Decoration]
[Places to enjoy life... in England]

(Original post: August 29th, 2008)

This is Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, one of the less well known English Heritage sites, and one of our favourite walking and picnic spots.

This view southwards from the "new" house (begun in 1834) shows the main vista down to the The Long Water, with the Pavilion in the far distance.

The "old" house was situated about halfway between the new one and The Long Water - if you walk there then you can still see the outline of its foundations as bumps in the grass.

Because the house was effectively moved backwards, the newer developments in the foreground were added while leaving the framework of the original 18th Century gardens in the distance still largely intact.

Around The Long Water in the picture above you can see the Woodland Garden, designed for getting pleasantly lost in.

Looking south-east from the house...

Walking south from the house, just before you get to The Long Water, you come to an area dedicated to Croquet, that most English of games (invented by the French).

Walking south-west from the house you come to the Orangery. Inside there are now café tables and chairs where you can picnic in bad weather, as well as interesting historical stuff. (No café though - Wrest Park doesn't have any of those, although it does have a shop in the house where you can buy drinks.)

If you head south from the Orangery you come to the Bowling Green House, reminiscent of a small Italian railway station.

It was originally intended as a Tea Room.

Alongside the bowling green is one of the mini-canals, this one called The Leg O'Mutton Lake, running east-west.

Through the back (or front) door of the Bowling Green House is the western edge of the grounds...

...go through the door, turn left, and you are walking along the naturalistic canal developed by Capability Brown that loops nearly all around the Woodland Garden, forming a pleasant boundary to the Park for much of its perimeter.

Originally the canal was formal and laid out in straight lines; Capability Brown softened it to a curving waterway that looks like a natural river.

Inside the Woodland Garden is a maze of paths, some straight, some curved, with "secret rooms" in the woods containing statues, ornaments, a Victorian Pet Cemetery (still trying to get a good photo of this), and other interesting things!

My wife must be about the millionth visitor to do this (it's hard to resist).

If you take the left-hand path at a fork like this and then take the next right, don't expect it lead to the right-hand path from the fork - it might, or it might not!

I don't remember exactly where we came across this 18th Century lead statue, one of many interesting statues in the park.

Although most statues in the park are the originals, many of them are not in their original positions - various owners liked moving them around.

The Ladies' Lake on the east side of the park is the mirror image of the Leg O'Mutton Lake on the west side.

Originally these two water features formed a single east-west canal that intersected The Long Water.

The Ladies' Lake is currently leaking, hence the low water levels. If it isn't fixed soon and wildlife moves in and becomes established (not necessarily a bad thing), then regulations may prevent restoring the original water level.

Emerging from the Woodland Garden, often somewhat bewildered, you come across the Pavilion that stands at the far end of The Long Water.

The Pavilion is a rather magnificent structure, intended as a Tea Room and for more elaborate entertainments.

Following Capability Brown's man-made river anti-clockwise, we can see that it is obviously enjoyed by many different residents!

The "river" curves into the park at this point, so when you cross the "Chinese" bridge (earlier versions were more Chinese than this) you are actually heading north-east-ish.

If you bear left and keep walking for some distance... are back here!

There is a lot more to Wrest Park than I can show here - I may update this post from time to time.

Admission is free to English Heritage members. If you visit and you're not a member, it's probably worth joining!

[Location of Wrest Park on my England Map]
[More on Wrest Park]

[My photoblog of RHS Gardens, Rosemoor, Devon]

If you want to make a real difference in anything - the environment, in this case - then all(!) you need is a lot of dedication, talent and hard work.

My friend artistrybysandy (Sandy), together with her son Ty Downing, have shown all of these in putting together a great web site with a focus on fostering Green Communities.

One example is the Serenbe Green Community in Georgia, which (as Sandy says) has several self sustaining features such as earth craft houses, organic wastewater treatment, organic farming and storm water management.

I also like what Serenbe write of themselves:

"They say that if you want to change the world, you should start in your own backyard. If that's so, then Serenbe is quite a beginning. Or maybe a respectful nod to times gone by."

Building a community where people can rediscover what enjoying life is all about might sound like a sales blurb (although in this case it isn't). The interesting thing, though, is that applying green principles to new developments can also be very successful from a business point of view. Everybody wins!

Serenbe is just one example. There is a lot more going on at Sandy's site. Please go check it out!

If you liked that...

[Urban farming initiatives - reducing food miles and improving lives in many ways]
[My environment page]

(Originally posted: August 12th 2008)

In this excellent article for Time Magazine, Lisa McLaughlin describes a number of urban farming initiatives that together tackle many problems, including global warming, foreign-oil dependence, processed food, obesity and neighbourhood blight.

Some of these initiatives are high tech, some are kids from the block happily getting down on hands and knees, but they all seem great to me. Apart from anything else, my belief is that anything that changes a child's growing-up environment from concrete to greenery is going to benefit everyone's happiness in the future.

Read Lisa's article here.

Here are just a few examples from the accompanying photo essay (click each picture below for more links about that particular project):

"Vertical farms, like this one envisioned in downtown Toronto, theoretically would bring food production into the heart of population centers, with one farmscraper feeding thousands of people."

"The Food Project works to achieve both social and agricultural change by bringing together kids from diverse backgrounds to farm several lots in urban Boston, like this one on a hospital roof... [It] grows nearly 250,000 pounds of food without chemical pesticides, donating half to local shelters and selling the remainder at farmers' markets in disadvantaged neighborhoods or through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) crop shares."

"Seattle-based architecture firm Mithun designed this vertical farm so that it would not require any water from municipalities and would also use photovoltaic cells to produce nearly 100% of the building's electricity."

"On the site of a former asphalt-covered playground in Brooklyn, N.Y., the Red Hook Community Farm provides job training to local teens. Of the more than 40 crops grown here, some are sold at farmers' markets, others to local restaurants and the rest is donated to those in need."

[For more examples from the photo essay, see here]
[My environment and technology page]