French Group trip to Lyon 2019 Day 1

OCTOBER. 08, 2019

Day 1 – Thursday 3rd October

An early start this morning with the taxi picking us up at 05:30. Picking up Gill and Vince on the way we caught the 06:10 from Bishops Stortford, picking up Paul and Lin at Harlow Town. Changing to the underground at at Tottenham Hale we had a bit of a problem with our tickets. The lady at the gate said they weren’t valid because Tottenham Hale isn’t a London terminal. I just ignored here and we all went through the gate.

We arrived at St Pancras in plenty of time to catch our Eurostar train which was to take us to Lille. It was good that we got there early as there was hardly anyone around so we just sailed through security and passport checks. Well, maybe ‘sailed through’ is not the right statement as couple of us had a problem with the Eurostar tickets as they hadn’t printed them correctly and the ticket was missing part of the bar code. We eventually got them reprinted at the Eurostar desk even though they seemed to be having a lot of problems with their ticket printing machine.

Got under way on time at 08:55 after sorting ourselves out with our seating (some of us were fussy about which way they sit ) for a couple of stops before we travel under the channel and on to France. We arrived in Lille around 11:30. A not very interesting station with limited facilities, although they did seem to be doing a lot of work on the station concourse.

The cafe at Lille
Waiting at Lille station
Well, it was an early start!

We had quite a wait at Lille as we weren’t due to depart until 14:03. Another 3 hours watching the French countryside zoom past saw us arriving at Lyon Part Dieu station where we got the tram (destination Debourg) just across the road to drop us at the Suchet stop. Very convenient location as it was almost opposite our hotel, The Hotel Charlemagne.

We checked in to the hotel and paid the €2.50 per night per person for the local tax and sorted out which rooms we wanted. The hotel is very smart and appears to have had extensive modernisation.

Our room was small but very comfortable, with a large and comfortable bed. A kettle was supplied and fresh bottles of water were supplied to the room each day. The hotel had a nice bar area with a friendly barman who dished out rather large gins and tonics, not that I’m complaining!

The bar area at the hotel
Some of the art work in the foyer of the hotel

In the evening we walked north of the hotel and through a pedestrian tunnel to go to the Brasserie George at 30 Cours de Verdun Perrache. Liz and I had the quenelle.

The tunnel which we had to walk through
The Brasserie George.

French Group trip to Lyon 2019 Day 5

OCTOBER. 11, 2019

Monday 7th October – Return home.

Today we return home. Catching the train at 11:00 am meant getting to the station by 10:30. We got ourselves some thing to eat for the journey from a small shop just up the road from the hotel. Then got the tram back to Gare Part Dieu for our TGV train.

Gare Part Dieu
Waiting for the train from Part Dieu.
Arriving back at StPancras.

We went from St Pancras to Liverpool Street on the return in the hope we would get a seat. It turned out that we got back to Liverpool Street just as a train was about to leave and we jumped on only to find that it was packed but then it was rush hour around 17:30 so only to be expected. It was doubly problematic as it was a Stansted express so it was full of airline passengers.

We should have waited for the next train. I had to ask a young German tourist to remove his suitcase off the seat which he was reluctant to do. I pointed out that he had probably only purchased one ticket for one seat and that he hadn’t purchased one for his suitcase.

French Group trip to Lyon 2019 Day 4

OCTOBER. 11, 2019

Sunday 6th October – Resistance Museum, Amphitheatre and Traboules.

First stop today was the Museum of the Resistance. This museum turned out to be better than I thought it would be and I wished we had more time to look round but we had plenty planned for the day. An excuse maybe to return to Lyon another time. We viewed the 45 minute edited version of the trial of the man known as ‘The Butcher of Lyon’, Klaus Barbie of the SS who was responsible for the deaths and deportation of many men and women of the resistance and of Jewish people. A very thought provoking experience.

Resistance museum
A basement in the museum set up as a basement printing press would have been during the occupation. The resistance would have used such a press to produce anti-Nazi leaflets.
Resistance museum

We then went via the funicular back up to the area known as Vieux Lyon to visit the Roman Amphitheatre, we had to have a quick look round the amphitheatre as we needed to get back down to the lower level streets to get some lunch and then be ready to get the tour we had booked for the Traboule (Tunnels) in the old town.

Roman amphitheatre

The 2 hour tour was very interesting but, as predicted, we had some rain which came on quite strong toward the end of the tour. The lady provided us all with little electronic receivers and headphones which meant we could still hear her even though she got some way ahead of the group.

Vieux Lyon from the funicular
The 2 hour Traboule tour.
Inside Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste
Inside a traboule looking up
Vince trying to hide.
...and then it started raining.
.. and got worse by the end of the day.

The day was finished off with a meal in a restaurant called Comptoir Les Gones.

French Group trip to Lyon 2019 Day 3

OCTOBER. 09, 2019

Saturday 5th October – Beaux Arts, Halles Paul Bocusse and Confluence.

First stop today was the Place des Terreaux and the Beaux Arts Museum.

On the Metro.
The Beaux Arts museum
The Beaux Arts Museum

We followed up the art museum with the Halles Paul Bocusse which proved quite difficult to find and not helped with Google maps taking us round in circles. The food market was very busy and we split up to find somewhere to eat.

Liz and I left Catherine and Diana sampling oysters and we eventually got to the end of the hall and found a fish restaurant where Paul and Lin had just found a seat. We took the seats beside them and had crevettes which were delicious.

Halles Paul Bocusse.
Halles Paul Bocusse.
Halles Paul Bocusse.

We then went back to the tram and travelled south down to the Confluence museum. The museum is a great architectural marvel and even though I went in I only travelled around the inside studying the building and went up on the roof for some photography.

Liz went round the exhibitions but then I went outside down to nearly where the rivers meet and sat on the wall. I set up my mini tripod and took quite a number of photos of the building and even caught a wedding taking place.

Inside the Confluence museum.
Inside the confluence museum.
The view of the Rhone from the top of  the Confluence.
River Rhone
Where the Rhone and Saone rivers meet south of the Confluence
The confluence where the Rhone and Saone meet.
Underneath the Confluence museum
The museum from the south
The bride

After leaving the museum we went back to the hotel. The hotel restaurant was closed again tonight but the staff gave us a recommendation for a local Scicilian restaurant which turned out to be very good.

The bar at the hotel Charlemagne
The hotel bar area.
In the Scicilian restaurant
In the Scicilian restaurant.

Africa 2019 Part 4

Day 7 and 8.

Day 7 – The Serengeti.

An early start again. Getting up at 05:30. But is it worth it, you bet, and this from someone who isn’t a morning person. Away from camp by 7 after getting our packed lunch from the guys at the camp.

This is a great camp. The tent is great with an en-suite toilet and shower. The food was great and everyone was so cheerful.

Early morning and we spotted (excuse the pun) some spotted hyena.
This lion had just been drinking out of the stream and had water dripping from his mouth.
I was very lucky to get this shot of a lion jumping a stream.
A Pied Avocet.
Reaching for the most succulent parts of the tree!

Two Giraffe sparing.

On the kopje (Dutch word for a small hill. Pronounced as ‘copy’)

Kopje Cats!

The Team!

Such a beautiful country!


More lions up trees!


black rhino

Wildebeest and in the distance, just below the kopje is a black rhino, The black rhino has been poached almost to extinction so we were very lucky to see one. We actually ended up seeing three!


A kopje. It’s amazing how, in such a flat landscape you suddenly come across one of these outcrops of rock!


One of the most elusive big cats, the leopard. Seen here up a tree with it’s kill of a baby zebra. You can just see the stripes of the zebra on the right of the photo.


The last morning looking out of our tent. It’s been a fantastic few days!

Day 8 – Leaving the Serengeti.

I think I can say that we were all sad at the prospect of leaving this fantastic place but we are starting a new adventure on the spice island of Zanzibar. We’re flying out of a dirt airstrip on the Serengeti on a direct flight to Zanzibar International airport. This small Cessna Caravan is about a 12 seater and we have had a 15kg luggage limit on this leg of the journey. It was though a great part of the trip as we got to fly over, at a low altitude, all the areas of the Ngorongoro and Serengeti that we had been driving round.

Heading out to the plane on the dirt airstrip on the Serengeti.

Flying over the rim of the Ngorongoro crater.

Flying over Lake Manyara where we were a few days ago.

Leaving the coast of mainland Tanzania behind and heading toward our next adventure on the spice island of Zanzibar.

Africa 2019 Part 2

Day 3 and 4.

Day 1 and 2 were spent flying out to Tanzania from London Heathrow.

We landed at Killimanjaro and were picked up by our driver who took us to our first lodgings at River Trees Lodge just outside Arusha.

Our room at Rivertrees Lodge, Arusha.
Rivertrees Lodge
Ants. Emerging from the undergrowth and then forming a long line part way across the path to then disappear underground. Fascinating!
Loading up the Toyota in Arusha.

Early Sunday morning saw us picked up from Rivertrees Lodge in Arusha by our driver, Alfred.

Alfred was to spend the next 6 days driving us round, firstly the Lake Manyara National Park, followed by the Ngorongoro Crater and then The Serengeti Park.

Photos taken from the Toyota whilst driving through the towns on the way to our next lodgings at the Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge.
Alfred purchasing us some red bananas to eat on the journey, delicious!

Day 3 – Lake Manyara Park.

Lake Manyara is a shallow alkaline lake at the base of the western stretches of the Rift Valley Escarpment and is known for it’s elephant and tree climbing lions.

A lion up a tree in Lake Manyara National Park.
We had to pull over to let the elephants through!
Baboons in Manyara.
A Monitor Lizard.
A Goliath Heron.
An Egret with a Black Heron in front of it. The Black Heron is also known as the Umbrella Bird due to it’s feeding habit. It walks into an area of shallow water, opens it’s wings to form an umbrella shape. Fish move into the shade formed by the birds wings and become prey for the bird.

Day 4 – Ngorongoro Crater.

An early start and we set off for the Ngorongoro Crater. But first Alfred took us north east, skirting the rim of the crater to visit a Massai village. He had chosen a village which isn’t on the normal route so we could have a more authentic experience.

The Ngorongoro National Park. The area circled in red just below the crater is where we were staying.
Our room at the Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge.
The route from the lodge up round, skirting the south east side of the crater to the Massai village.
Massai villagers with their cattle.
A Massai woman.
Massai child.

Leaving the village we then traced our route back and descended into the crater itself. Ngorongoro is the worlds largest, inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. It is 2000 feet deep and covers a 100 square miles.

Blue-Breasted Bee-Eater.
Four of a group of five lions walking toward us in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Black Kite.
Black Kite.
Grant’s Gazelle.
Zebra and Warthog.
Zebra having a dust bath!
Crowned Crane.
A zebra crossing!
Water Buck.
Elephants on the Ngorongoro Crater.
Crowned Cranes in flight.

Africa 2019 Part 1

Stuck at an airport

Being on a flight to Tanzania, Africa recently we had to have a stop over in Qatar.

Having some time to kill we were looking for something to do whilst we waited for our ongoing flight. As we had an internal flight in Africa on a small plane our luggage allowance was only 15 kg so a bit of shopping was out of the question.

Hamad International Airport in Doha though is one of those interesting airports with much to photograph what with interesting shapes and reflections so it proved an interesting place for some photography.

Great reflections in the floor!
Some areas seemed to be deserted. Wonderful colour and light though!

London – The Architecture – Part 1.

The Barbican Centre, London.

A modern Utopian city?

The Barbican scheme was a project of staggering scale and complexity. It took nearly three decades to design and build; involved the design of over 2,000 flats, two schools and an arts centre.

It is built in the style of what is now known as the Brutalist style of architecture.

The distinctive and labour intensive tooling to the bare concrete.

Brutalist architecture, is a style that emerged in the 1950s and grew out of the early-20th century modernist movement. Brutalist buildings are characterised by their massive, monolithic and ‘blocky’ appearance with a rigid geometric style and large-scale use of poured concrete

The raised walkways were part of what, at the time, was considered to be a way of city dwellers moving around the city without going down to street level. Most pedestrians however preferred to walk through the cafes and shops at ground level.

The Barbican scheme was designed by the practice of Chamnerlin, Powell & Bon, who are now considered one of the most important modernist architectural firms in post-war England.

The architects initially suggested a ‘small exhibition hall’ in their first proposal but by 1959 this had grown into a major arts centre including a theatre, a concert hall, an art gallery, a library and a restaurant.

The Barbican’s distinctive tooled-concrete finish is the result of an extremely labour-intensive technique. After the concrete had dried, workers used pick-hammers or wider bush-hammers to tool the surface and expose the coarse granite aggregate. Pick-hammering involved pitting the surface to an average depth of 1.25 cm and bush-hammering to no more than 0.6 cm deep.

At the time of their completion, the Barbican towers were the tallest residential towers in Europe.

London-The City-The Streets Part 2

Part 2 -The City of London.

The area known as The City of London is it’s historic financial district. Home of the Bank of England and the Stock exchange. It’s a great place to wander round during the week as it’s buzzing with all the people. At weekends it’s dead. I love walking round with my camera fitted with my 9.5mm fisheye lens which enables me to capture the vast array of building styles. There is a good mix of the old and the new in some places too.

30 St Mary Axe, more commonly known as ‘The Gherkin’.
As a juxtaposition of architectural styles we have here Lloyd’s Building designed by Richard Rogers, The Willis Towers Watson Building and as a total contrast, St Andrew Undershaft Church which is a rare example of a church that survived both the Great Fire of London and The Blitz.
Lloyd’s and Willis Towers Watson.
You can have fun with tone mapping software to give your photos a more surrealistic appearance.

On a recent trip with members of the local camera club we visited a newly opened rooftop garden at No 120 Fenchurch Street in the financial district.

Typically it rained quite hard but it did prove a good opportunity to get some good rainy day photographs.

The Graden at No 120 Fenchurch Street at Street level
Blue cranes of London.
20 Fenchurch Street, commonly known as ‘The Walkie-Talkie’ due to it’s shape. taken through the rain soaked glass perimeter at The Garden at 120 Fenchurch Street.
A view of The City of London taken from the Boiler House viewing platform of Tate Modern.

Street Photography in Stone Town.

7th to 9th November saw us fly into Stone Town on Zanzibar. The weather proved to be very changeable and when it rains there it’s worth finding some shelter.

Sheltering from the rain in Stone Town

It was a good opportunity though to stand in one spot and work the photographic opportunities.

And the lady continued making her pancakes.
The kids found it exciting though!

The rain finally ceased and we moved on.