Just 4 Sydney-side Hartnells

Just 4 Sydney-side Hartnells

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kicking off from England

 Our trip was excellent and really fun. Of course what trip to England would be complete without some castles. I don't remember exactly where this was, but I believe we were in Oxford in one of the colleges. Cam & him Mom taking a break on our walk.

 We also went to Blenheim Palace, another castle in my book. There was a fantastic, wicked maze that everyone enjoyed. I managed to break out ahead to snap this shot with the top of Tony's head, Cam running to hide from MaryEd, and ME trying to keep up. It was comical.

 At the center of the maze was "BLENHEIM" spelled out in bushes. Giving me the opportunity for this shot.

With Tony & MaryEd on their way to China to visit another son & his family, we took the rental car down to visit Colin in Bristol. On the way back, we stopped at the Queen's castle, but she wasn't in. Instead, we had to just have that statue in the background.

One of the most exciting parts of the trip was the A380 airplane that we flew home in for the first leg from Heathrow to Singapore. We had an awesome seat, and Cam was really excited. It was the first time for us on one of those "JUMBO" jets & let me tell you it was huge! Lots of head room when you were standing at your seat. I didn't like the way the chairs reclined because the seat part moved forward, which banged my knees.
I suppose the other slight discomfort was my belly. Our flight was even more memorable because that was the first time we felt McGirkey kick! Yep, Cam & I are expecting to expand our family of 2 to be one larger in March. Cam couldn't decide if he was more excited about the baby's kick or the plane. I've had an uneventful pregnancy so far, but am heading out shopping now because most of my pants no longer fit.

The First Bridge of Iron

Cam & I made a pilgrimage to Ironbridge Gorge & it was all I had thought it would be and more. With 10 different museums, we wish we could have spent more time in the geologically amazing valley. The beauty of English countryside has always been usurped in my mind by its industry. (If you are wondering why I made that statement, just look at the profile.)

 Here's a shot with me and THE Iron Bridge. Because the gorge is so young & the bridge is only from 1779, it has buckled up in its center. The area was well known for its iron production with deposits of iron ore and coal. The first smelted iron and wrought iron using coal as a fuel was made possible by the Darby family.

I mentioned the fact that there were 10 museums in the little area, each that focused on another, smaller industry than iron. One was a tile works. I've dabbled a bit in ceramics, but not tiles. This bar was one of the highlights of a series of rooms that used tiles. Pretty special, huh?

Another small museum was the Tar Tunnel. It is exactly what it sounds like. In trying to dig a passage to a canal, they ran into a natural bituminous tar deposit. Instead of using the tunnel for its original purpose, people started to harvest the tar for boats. It was super sticky.

The Darby furnace was really remarkable to see. Like I said, a bit of a pilgrimage for us and worth every minute. The furnace was expanded several times, hence the four iron bars that brace and helped to hold up the body of the furnace. Darby reused an unused furnace to experiment with the coal and iron.

 We had the opportunity to dress up in period clothing worn by Quakers like the Darcy family. It was pretty fun, and lets be honest. Cam's beard fits perfectly for this shot. its just the jeans sticking out that look strange.

 Another shot that adds to our collection of face cut-outs. There was a huge exhibit about the great exhibition and all the ironwork made by the Darcy company.

In visiting dozens of industrial communities, I love trying to pick one or two things that are not really seen elsewhere. For Ironbridge, that was its iron curbing. Many small communities use local material at the edges of its streets, but for me this was a first. 

 Finally as our trip draws to a close and we start heading home, just thought I'd leave you with this shot. The road has been torn up so much and constantly requires replacement that the local government decided to use wood. The gorge is very young, and constantly moves. Pretty crazy huh?