Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Grouch's take the British Isles by land and by sea! Part 7

 Day 7 brought us to the port of Rosyth in Scotland near Edinburgh.  Rosyth was the northern port for the Royal Navy and was much more active prior to the defense cuts that started in the 80s.  Today there are a number of decommissioned nuclear subs stored there and the two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers are being assembled in the docks at the port.

We arrived to find a rainy day, the only rain that we encountered on our trip.  Our shore excusions included a walking tour of Edinburgh and the much anticipated Edinburgh military tattoo.   The day was so big, and so filled with sights, I will break it into two posts.

Let's start with the walking tour of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh caste to Holyrood palace.

The Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier outfitting at Roysth.  I was able to photograph this from the stern of the Ocean Princess.

The decomissioned subs stored at the port.

We're at Edinburgh in the rain and headed to Edinburgh castle where we will see the tattoo later in the day.  The Missus, Young Daughter, and Young Son are headed up the hill to the castle.

The site of the tattoo and Edinburgh castle

the castle ramparts

Now for the city tour!

I had just finished reading Cornwell's book about Waterloo and had read about this pub.  Ensign Ewart was one of the heroes of the battle.

A re-purposed church

You can't get much more Scottish than this!

Is this school teaching to residents of Edinburgh so they can be understood in England?

The site of a building collapse many years ago.  the inscription reads "Heave away  chaps, I'm no dead yet" uttered by a boy buried under the rubble of the collapsed building.

Really?  In Edinburgh?

It is heartening to see how the Scots treat their veterans compared to how many are ignored in this country.

Young Daughter in front of Holyrood palace.  No pictures allowed inside unfortunately.  One of the three official residences of the Queen and we visited them all on this trip!

 Arthur's seat.  An extinct volcano and a hiking destination.

Young Daughter  visiting the ruins of Holyrood Abbey which is connected to Holyrood palace.  The Missus and Young Son missed the Holyrood visit as they were shopping for a kilt for him.

The rainy skies were appropriate for viewing the ruins.  I was most impressed with them and the grave markers set into the floor and ruined walls.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mars....According to Hollywood

I played hooky from work yesterday and took the Missus to the movies during the day.  We got the senior discount and a large tub of popcorn and settled in to watch "The Martian".  The Missus and I both read the book that the movie was made from and enjoyed it a lot.  Well, sometimes the science in the book got a bit much but still, we enjoyed it.

Seeing the movie got me to thinking about how things have changed in so many ways, including our vision of how we get to Mars and what happens when two men, in separate eras, find themselves stranded on Mars with only their wits, intelligence, and some technology, to save them.

Way back in 1964 I saw "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" in the local theater and was blown away as only a 10 year old could be.  The movie title was as cheesy as could be and the science in the movie horribly wrong, but still and all, it is a fun adventure when seen with a willing suspension of disbelief.

Here's the thing though:  this isn't a critique of two movies but rather a quick comparison of the two eras that produced similar themed flicks.

In 1964 two men and one little monkey planned to travel for over three years in a ship this size.  The thingy on the left side is one of two capsules about the size of the Mercury capsule that serve as a lifeboat and control cockpit.  Back then Men were Men and were expected to grit their teeth and carry on.

Now things are a lot more grand!  Not only is this ship huge, it has a gym and gravity wheel to produce 1 G weight.  Talk about luxury!  The crew numbers six in this version, but no monkeys.

Our lone Mars survivor in 1964 wears what looks like a high altitude flight suit with oxygen tanks.  Good thing he finds out the air pressure on Mars is high enough that he doesn't need oxygen constantly or the movie would've been over pretty quickly.

Now our survivor has a colorful suit with lights and a Go-Pro camera attached.  It also has the completely unrealistic internal lighting in the helmet that all futuristic space helmets seem to have in movies these days.  It is there so we can see the actor's face but in reality the internal lighting would make it very difficult to see out of the helmet in the dark.

Our 1964 astronaut lives in a cave and he's happy to have it, dammit!

He raises the flag each morning and salutes as a naval aviator should.

Now, things are a lot more comfortable.  A  huge habitat with all the comforts of home.  The millennials certainly aren't going to settle for any stinkin' cave! 

All in all, I like the Mars of 1964 a lot better, where a man can stride the surface in shirtsleeves while playing his home made bagpipe!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Grouch's take the British Isles by land and by sea! Part 6

Day six saw us docked in Dublin, Ireland.  And when I say docked, there weren't any of those silly tenders to move us around.  We were docked in Dublin!

The weather was beautiful again, mild and sunny.  We didn't take any of the escorted shore excursions; instead we took a bus from the dock to a point near Trinity college.  

The Missus had one major goal: the Book of Kells.

  The youngsters were determined to spend hours at the Guinness brewery and I had hopes to visit the museum at Collins Barracks.  

Fortunately I got to the museum but with only an hour to visit it.  Too much time spent at the brewery, something I could easily and happily skipped, but everyone else loved it.

We split up at the brewery and the Missus accompanied me to the museum.  We then took a bus to within a mile of the dock, then hotfooted it to the gangplank, not long before it was pulled up.  We met the rest of our party dockside and then finished the day with martinis at the martini making demonstration.

A great day had by all!

Dublin as seen from the stern of our ship.  We're docked and ready to see the sights!

The library at Trinity college which holds a copy of every book published in the British isles since the beginning of the 19th century.  It is quite the sight to see!

The harp - the symbol of Ireland

Seen just outside the gate to Dublin castle

Dublin castle, the Missus and Young Daughter

A sand sculpture display in the courtyard

Young Son thought that this was the perfect ride for him!

Collins barracks museum.  Even the Missus found it interesting!

The skeleton of Dicky Bird, a cavalry horse who served in the Crimean war

A life ring from the Lusitania - washed up on the shore of Ireland.  I read the book "Dead Wake" about the sinking of the Lusitania on the flight over from L.A.

Great hardware in the military section of the museum

A display of one of the barracks rooms from the early 1900s

Back to the ship in time to sail!

The Missus and Young Daughter volunteer to shake some martinis and their bodies!

The Missus enjoying her martini

Chocolate covered strawberries, an at-sea gift from our travel agent.  They were as yummy as they look!