Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hogwarts came to Carnforth

It wasn't just the Hogwarts Express (just the latest in the long line of fictional steam trains 'brought to life'), there were a dozen or so steam engines in steam. That's more than I've ever seen together in one place.

Carnforth used to be a major railway junction. These days it's a backwater just off the West Coast Mainline (which runs express through a side of the station). When I was growing up it had become Steam Town, but that closed years ago.

It was a strange crowd. Half were families drawn by the lure of the Hogwarts Express; the rest, perhaps of the majority, were hardline train buffs perhaps as more interested in the lines of old diesel locos and carcasses of carriages as in the steam engines.

After that, after settling the little one with some lunch. We headed in to Morecambe. Morecambe is much changed: it has sand! My recollection (and it's where I was born so Morecambe and I go back a long way) is of miles of mud. Well the mud hasn't gone of course but somebody has drafted in some sand to create a beach as well. The tide was well out but in the sun it was still very pleasant.

Carnforth clockPS for those who missed the reference, there's a famous scene in Brief Encounter beneath the clock on Carnforth station. And for those interested, the clock still exists and there is a museum on the platform. And if you are really interested click on the clock for a page on the clocks on Carnforth station!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, July 25, 2008

Porto Colom

Majorca was fantastic.

I was in Porto Colom out on the east coast about 70Km from Palma, slightly less from the airport. Porto Colom is a town/resort built around a large natural harbour. Not quite as big as the Grand Harbour in Malta but still probably a couple of square miles. So nowhere is far from the sea.

If the harbour was a big U, I was at the bottom, near the town square. A cluster of restaurants of indifferent quality - the more expensive just more pretentious rather than actually serving better food. The exception was a rather decent Italian but mostly I preferred the Chinese as it was right in the square. Most evenings there would be a 'band' on. Essentially the sort of karaoke act you see on streets the world over - backing on tape and vocals sung live. Some were average; one was pretty decent. With frequent breaks they played from about 8pm through to midnight. As usual I was late shift when most of the tourists were back in their hotels so it was me and Spanish families. And I mean families. Even up to midnight there were lots of kids. Bouncy castle and trampolines for the little ones; dancing for the older ones, and food and drink for the adults. Why can't we do it like that?

Two days I dragged myself to Palma. That was a couple of hours each way on the public bus so the fact I went twice shows I liked the place. I'd say it's my favourite Mediterranean city so far. A staggeringly beautiful waterfront. Some nice squares and shops and a lovely buzz to the place. I'll be back. Now I've been to Majorca I can't understand the lure of the Canaries. There's history in the Balearics. The villages and towns have souls and hearts. Places to potter.

I did get some time to sunbathe. Mostly topless of course - don't want nasty white lines and I'm too lazy to keep moving straps around. I'm not a sun worshiper so I have colour rather than a deep tan. But that's just the way I like it.

The photos of Palma will go up on Flickr over the next few weeks but they need a bit of work (mostly cropping) first.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, July 22, 2008

... just been busy / distracted. I'll get around to posting about Majorca soon.



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