Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Posts from the ‘Places’ category

Cities and the interesting places within them

Big Pit

Over 300 million years have passed since coal seams were laid down in the valleys from where I write this blog, when Wales sat astride the Earth’s equator and plants ruled the planet. The Big Pit National Coal Museum’s focuses on the last two hundred of those years and the ferocious drive of homo sapiens to dig out and burn this bounty of the Carboniferous. It is a tale of exploitation and degradation, but also of pride and ingenuity.

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American Modernism at the Ashmolean

It was probably the post-wedding hangover, but while I struggled with the room of abstracts, everything else about the Oxford Ashmolean gallery’s ‘American Modernism’ exhibition was pure joy.

The Lonely Shepherd

Standing tall and bereft on an escarpment near Llangattock, the Lonely Shepherd has endured many centuries of regret. Below his spike of limestone, fields fed by Welsh rain sparkle in the post-thunderstorm sunshine, their emerald splendour liberally flecked with pure white Hawthorn blossom. It’s not a bad place to face an eternity of penance, nor indeed to pause midway on a May bank-holiday walk.

Curiosity killed the Kite

Yesterdsay Ms Markontour and I caused a tail-back on the route down Mynydd Llangyndir, bringing our bikes to a halt in the middle of the road to stand awestruck as a majestic Red Kite circled directly overhead. It was a great display, but it turns out that the kite’s desire to check out all and any movement on the ground was almost its undoing. These massive birds, with their black and white wings and unmistakable orange/red breasts made themselves easy prey for farmers armed with guns, and there was only one breeding female left in Britain in my lifetime.

Fatberg!

It feels slightly odd to be voluntarily spending a Saturday morning going to see the remnants of a 130 tonne, 250 metre long fatberg, but it is the Museum of London’s new star attraction and I fancied a bit of local tourism. 

The Great British Seaside

International readers of this blog may already be sneering at the concept of the ‘The Great British Seaside’, but as the Greenwich National Maritime Museum’s nostalgic exhibition shows, there’s plenty that’s wonderful and interesting about a British beach – it just rarely includes sunshine.