Sunday, November 22, 2015

New posts at Bundu Trek

Our very own garden good luck totem

Our wild and crazy Young Daughter felt that our garden needed some magic and good luck to see it through the upcoming El-Nino rainy deluge (and just when is this predicted storm going to hit?  Any day now would be good...) so she brought us our very own good luck totem.

This totem has two faces - one to watch in the day and the other all through the night - in order to watch over us and keep us safe.

Now, we are ready for El-Nino!

Our backyard being watch over by  Kokopelli, our garden totem and our angel.  Nothing can go wrong now!

The Grouch vacation is just about over - Part 12

Our vacation was just about over but the clever Missus had scheduled our return flight such that we had time for a tour of Windsor castle which was on the way back to London.   

Just as with the other royal residences, no photography was permitted within the castle itself.  The castle and its collection was stunning and the history that filled it was so great that it was almost overwhelming.  The display of historic edged and powder weapons that were everywhere in the castle was staggering in the quantity and beauty of them.

We left our luxury bus in a huge lot filled with other buses and proceeded through a former rail station that is the gateway to the castle grounds.  We only had a limited amount of time to see everything so we had to move out smartly.

A rail relic on display in the converted train station, now a shopping and dining venue

Outside of the castle grounds

The Missus and Young Son ready to see the royal sights

Is this the royal family's stealth sedan to evade the paparazzi?

To the victor go the spoils - taken during campaigning in Burma in the 1880s

Another Burma trophy displayed outside of the castle proper

Salvaged from the wreck of the HMS Lutine.  When I was a pre-teen my parents gave me a book about salvaging shipwrecks and this wreck was discussed in the book.  Never would I have expected to actually see salvage from the Lutine!

Pulling guard for the royal family.  Not nearly as glamorous as one might think

This young soldier looked to be all of 18 and hopefully near the end of his tour because he was struggling to stay still

The same soldier doing a circuit of his area.  A Chinese tourist attempted to block his path and take his picture.  The soldier shouted him out of his path and kept moving.  Good for you lad!

Hope his relief was on the way!

These soldiers had just been relieved and were presumably on the way back to barracks

Headed home....

Thank you officers and crew of the Ocean Princess and all of the fine people of England, Gurnsey, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland who showed such gracious hospitality and kindness to us in our brief visit to the green and pleasant British isles.   We hope we get to visit again! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mojave Desert Jeep trip

Read about Bundu Trek's latest off road trip here:

The Grouch's take the British Isles by Land and by Sea! Part 11

Our last full day on the ship was spent sunning, reading, and relaxing as we sailed back to Dover from Rosyth.  

We were sad knowing that the amazing fun and excitement that we had experienced was coming to an end...but wait!  Once we docked at Dover we still had a visit to Windsor castle before catching our flight home.  Yay!

The Missus and Young Son on the running/walking track above the pool area on the ship.  Young Son models his kilt and accesories.  The Missus still can't resist a man in a kilt!

Young Daughter and Young Son on the main staircase of the ship.

Docking in Dover, our fun ship time was over.

Thank you Ocean Princess and the fine officers and crew of that happy ship for our wonderful experience.  I loved it from beginning to end!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Grouch's take the British Isles by Land and by Sea! Part 10

After leaving Stirling castle we headed to the site of the battle of Bannockburn, just a stone's throw from Stirling castle.  The area has an interactive electronic 3D recreation of the battle and very beautiful grounds with an impressive memorial to Robert the Bruce and the battle.

The weather continued to be Scottish perfect: sunny, breezy, and mild.

The area around the memorial.  So green and so peaceful.  We really miss green and trees living in  the near desert of SoCal.

The memorial
The Missus was feeling the affect of too much touring by now.

Young Son with Stirling castle behind

The happy tourists

The Missus and I liked this sentiment

Leaving Rosyth and passing under the iconic 1880s railroad bridge that is a UN recognized cultural artifact (or something like that!)

The islands in the Firth of Forth had installations on them from wars past.  It would be interesting to explore them but it was time to head back to Dover

Some of the many oil platforms we saw on our way back to Dover.  The North Sea oil is Scotland's budget bonanza but unfortunately the fields are running dry.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Grouch's take the British Isles by Land and by Sea! Part 9

The day after the fantastic Edinburgh military tattoo saw us loading onto a bus to head to Stirling castle and the site of the battle of Bannockburn, a struggle of significance to the Scots.

The day was so full of interesting sights and experiences, I will break it down into two separate posts.  
The weather was sunny, cool, and breezy.  the countryside reminded me of rural Pennsylvania, with rolling wooded hills, farms, and green grass.  No wonder so many Scots settled in western Pennsylvania!  

So much history exists in Scotland and so much of it is concentrated around Stirling castle.  

Stirling castle was an active military post for many years after the union of Scotland and England and was the regimental home for the Argyll and Sutherland regiment.  Their museum is at the castle, something that I didn't realize until our time was almost up.  I quickly ran through the museum which was packed with relics from historic campaigns that I have read much about: The battle of New Orleans, the Crimean war, the Zulu wars, the Boer war, and of course the two world wars.  

Our tour guide was a delightful Scots woman who kept us in line and moving along while doing it all with a smile.

Off we go!

"The Kelpies"  commemorating the working horses of Scotland from years past.  The are 100ft tall and very dramatic to see!
We arrived at Stirling castle to begin our tour.  Because the castle is no longer a  royal residence we were permitted to take photos to our heart's content.  Since it had been a regimental military post for so many years, the historic furnishings and fittings were long gone.  An effort is ongoing to reproduce the interior as it was when the castle was home to Scotland's king.  

A very realistic rendition of a Argyll and Sutherland highland soldier as he was during the latter stages of the Boer war.  The artist even got the Lee Enfield rifle correctly rendered.   This wonderful memorial is just outside of the castle gate.

The two Grouch sons enter the castle

"Ultima ratio regum"  The Last Argument of Kings

The William Wallace monument seen from Stirlng castle

One of the docents dressed in period costume and playing the role of someone from the era.   Others were scattered about the castle to answer questions and explain what life was life for them at that time.

I wish I had known this was here sooner!

Zulu war relics

Taken from a church roof at Balaklava during the Crimean war.  For those not in the know, this was the war that resulted in "The Charge of the Light Brigade"   Soldiers are incorrigible souvenir hunters.

From the Boer war

The Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, Queen Elizabeth II

The previous Colonel-in-Chief, Princess Louisa, daughter of Queen Victoria and much beloved by the regiment.

A grand experience with only one complaint - simply not enough time to see it all!  Scotland is calling to us and someday we will return.