My first post lockdown trip took me to Hoober Stand near Wentworth in Rotherham. I’ve driven past this many times and never looked into what it was until now. The tower is Grade II* listed and was built between 1746 and 1748 by English architect Henry Flitcroft. The purpose of the tower was to celebrate the role that Whig aristocrat Thomas Watson-Wentworth, Earl of Malton (later the 1st Marquess of Rockingham) played during the quashing of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. The tower’s name, Hoober Stand, comes from the nearby settlement of Hoober.
You can go up the tower, there is a small fee of £2.50 and it is open 2–5 pm on Sundays and bank holiday Mondays from the spring bank holiday weekend until the last Sunday in September.
Located along Route 66 near Oro Grande, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is definitely one of those quirky roadside attractions that are uniquely American. Being from the UK, we just do not have places like this and these are the types of places as to why I love visiting the USA. The ranch was the home of Elmer Long who inherited his fathers bottle collection and just kept on collecting, creating wonderful sculptures from the many different bottles that he has acquired. Sadly Elmer passed away in 2019. As you walk amongst the bottles, you hear chimes and noises from the bottles and objects that make up the unique bottle trees. I love Elmer’s and have been twice, with another trip planned later in 2020, hopefully!
It is free to walk around the bottle tree ranch, there is a donation box where visitors can leave a contribution to keep the ranch open.
Below are just a few of the many photographs that I took at Elmer’s. Thanks for reading.
Angel Island is located in the San Francisco Bay area, just across the water from it’ more famous neighbour, Alcatraz. There is a lot to see on Angel Island, and one day is definitely not enough time, especially if you are on foot.
Obviously you can not take your car on Angel Island, but you can take a bike, or hire one there. We were on foot but the next time I visit, I will definitely hire a bike as there is not enough time in a day to see everything if you are walking. There are also segway and tram tours that you can take https://angelisland.com/ .
Flora and Fauna
Angel Island has a lot to see and there are things for people with a variety of different interests. For starters, the scenery on the island is incredible, with views of the whole bay area. You can see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco on a clear day. As well as the beautiful scenery, Angel Island has an array of birds, Canadian Geese, hummingbirds, juncos and scooters to name but a few. There are also many other species of wildlife that inhabit the island, including, raccoons and deer. The island is also home to native and non-native plants. The military planted various trees and shrubs during their time on the island, including Monterey cypress and eucalyptus. Plants native to the island include; Coyote brush and elderberry.
In 1863, the federal government established Camp Reynolds (West Garrison, named after the first officer to fall at Gettysburg) on the island.
In 1899, a quarantine station was established at Fort McDowell in order to isolate troops who had been exposed to contagious diseases while serving overseas.
Angel Island was home to one of 19 immigration stations that were established in the early 20th century. Angel Island was the main station for immigrants arriving from the Pacific, mostly Asian, especially Chinese. However, some non-Asian immigrants did pass through (see my post on Ellis Island for immigration from the Atlantic).
Below are a few images that I took whilst on the island. You are free to walk around and have a look at most of the buildings. You cannot go inside a lot of them due to health and safety. There are some buildings that are used to house staff, signposting is not always clear and they tend to shout at people if they get too close. In my personal opinion, the interpretation could be greatly improved. There are interpretation boards dotted around but I think there could be loads more done in terms of telling the story of the island. There is a museum which tells you a lot about the island, but it would be nice for more of the buildings to be open for visitors to look around and to learn about what purpose they served.
I have visited the Owens Valley on Vacation a number of times. My first visit was back in 2012. However, it was not until 2017, that I finally visited Manzanar, after driving past it numerous times.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the U.S. government began making plans for the incarceration of Japanese-Americans. On the 19th of February, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the evacuation of all persons deemed a threat to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers. The order resulted in over 100,000 Japanese-Americans being removed from their homes and placed in internment camps.
The camps were located in isolated areas where the weather could be burning hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. People had to leave behind their businesses and possessions, taking only what they could carry.
After my visit to Manzanar, I seemed to come across lots of information relating to the persecution of Japanese Americans during World War II. I think after visiting Manzanar and the emotional effect that it had on me, things just caught my eye more. For example, I was watching a documentary on art in San Francisco, and I learnt about the photographs that Dorothea Lange captured of Japanese-Americans, in the early 1940s. Then whilst doing some research for a paper that I was writing for my MA on the California Water Wars, I came across a fascinating book by Karen Piper called Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A. In short, the book tells the story about how the people and environment of the Owens Valley have suffered since the Los Angeles Aqueduct was built to divert the course of the Owens River in 1913. The fugitive dust from the drying of the Owens Lake caused toxic dust storms in the valley where Manzanar is located, meaning Manzanar detainees were subject to this dust. The dust has been known to cause disease and death among the people that inhaled it. Not only were these poor people forcefully removed from their homes, but they were also subject to toxic dust, from which they could not escape (n.b. at the time Manzanar was in operation, no-one knew the dust was toxic).
By November of 1945, Manzanar was deserted, the war had ended and the Japanese-Americans returned home. However, some people had no home to go back to. It took another 44 years for the US government to apologise to those interned at Manzanar. Camp survivors were given $20,000 by president Ronald Reagan.
Prior to the drying of the Owens Lake, the area where Manzanar is located was full of beautiful fruit orchards. The Owens River provided ample irrigation for the growing of produce and the area was named after the Spanish word for apple, ‘manzana’.
After the war ended, Manzanar was razed. However, many of the buildings were sold to local residents of the Owens Valley. When Manzanar was preparing to be opened to the public, the NPS attempted to relocate the original buildings. However, they did not have much luck. They did manage to reclaim a building that was at Bishop airport, but many of the buildings that are there today are replicas.
The main reason that I visited the MET whist I was in New York was to look for a staircase that was once located inside Scarsdale Hall in Derbyshire. I think I covered just about all of the museum but unfortunately, I could not seem to find the staircase anywhere.
The MET is gigantic and you need at least a day to look around the museum and if you want to read everything, probably a week. The museum is so big they have the whole facade of a building located in the American Wing, in the The Charles Engelhard Court (picture below).
I only took photographs on my phone so the quality is not great. There is also a short video at the end of the open storage, which I thought was a great idea as most museums do not let the public access their storage.
The MET first opened on February 20, 1872, at 681 Fifth Avenue. In 1871, the museum was granted land between the East Park Drive, Fifth Avenue, and the 79th and 85th Street in Central Park, which is where it resides today. The building has over 2,000,000 square feet of floor space and is 20 times the size of the original building.
Just a few things to note before you go. I got there at about 9.50 am, the museum opens at 10 am and there was a queue of people already waiting for the museum to open. Once the doors open, the queues went down pretty quickly. There are machines inside the main entrance where you can buy tickets, or you can buy them in advance online.
I was especially interested in the whole rooms that the MET had on display. Unfortunately, only one of the pictures came out on my phone.
LuminoCity Festival is a festival of lights, held on Randalls Island, New York the festival is a spectacular display of light art. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere like this, it was definitely an unusual experience and I highly recommend it. Just a few things to note before you go. Book tickets in advance on the website https://www.luminocityfestival.com/ , adult tickets are $38 each. There is a shuttle bus that departs and returns from Manhattan, E 125th and 3rd Ave, but you can also get the M35 bus. However, if it is late at night, I would recommend the shuttle if you cannot take your own car. I would advise buying tickets beforehand, but we got a return ticket on the day as we did not feel comfortable getting the public bus late at night. There is parking available on the island, but it is $20 per car, OUCH!
This year (2019), the festival ran from November 23rd and is on until Jan 5th 2020. Entry is 4:00pm-11:00pm on selected days. Below are a few images that I took, along with a video.
Conisbrough Castle is located just outside Rotherham in South Yorkshire and is managed by English Heritage. The original Castle was built by William De Warenne, the 1st Earl of Surrey who was the son-in-law of William the 1st (William the Conqueror) sometime in the 11th century . The castle passed to Isabel De Warenne in 1147, and the keep was built by her husband, Hamelin Plantagenet in the late 1170s or 1180s. The castle inspired Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe, published in 1819.
I did not visit, but the nearby Anglican Church of St Peter has stood in Conisborough since the 8th century, and is the oldest standing building in South Yorkshire.
Personally, I always prefer English Heritage places over National Trust, I think it’s because I find ruins more fascinating. I really enjoyed Conisbrough Castle. However, there are a few things to bear in mind if you plan on visiting. Firstly, the parking. I usually look in advance before I travel on what the situation is with parking, but this time I did not. When I arrived at the castle the signposts send you into a privately run car park. I parked up and got my little pot of car park change from my glove box that I keep for such situations. I went to find the machine, but there was not one in sight. The car park requires you to either download an app, or to call and pay by card. Bear in mind that parking is 50p an hour. I thought this seemed like a lot of faff for 50p. I tried scanning the QR code, like the sign said, but nothing happened, so I drove out of the car park and parked on a nearby street. I don’t usually like parking in residential areas as I’ve had bad experiences with people who don’t like you parking in front of their houses, even though you can park where you like as long as there are no parking restrictions, or you aren’t blocking anyone ones access, etc. But, often people get real funny about parking. Anyway, there is plenty of free on street parking, that isn’t outside anyone’s house, if you don’t mind a short walk to the castle. If the car park was English Heritage, I would have paid the money, but as it was a private company, I did not bother. I think this is a bad call from English Heritage. If people don’t have a mobile with them, I know my parents don’t always take their mobile phone out with them, how are you meant to pay? Or if you don’t take your bank card out with you, you can’t pay as there is no machine.
The other thing to consider at Conisbrough is that there are narrow stone stairs in the castle with no lift. If you are disabled or have push chairs, you might not be able to access the castle, but I would double check with English Heritage before you go.
Tattershall castle is located in Lincolnshire, close to the beautiful Woodhall Spa. I always like visiting this area as there is plenty of heritage, especially if you like the history of the RAF.
The original castle was built by Robert de Tateshale in around 1231. He was granted a licence by King Henry III in order to build a crenelated manor house. The castle was then passed to Ralph, 3rd Baron Cromwell sometime in the fifteenth century. Ralph became Lord Cromwell in 1433, and remodeled the manor into a more lavish home. It is said that half a million bricks were made at Edlington Moor Brickworks for the castle re-model.
Cromwell died, childless in 1456. I have found two versions of what happened to the castle after his death. One is that it was passed to his niece, Joan Bouchier. When Joan’s husband, Humphrey Bourchier changed sides during the war of the roses from the Yorkists to the Lancastrian cause, Yorkist King, Edward IV seized the castle on Bourchiers death. However, the National Trust website states that on Cromwells death, the castle passed into the Crown’s possession who subsequently granted it to loyal and familial subjects.
In 1573, the castle was purchased by Edward Clinton (Earl of Lincoln) and remained in their possession until 1693. It was then passed to the Fortescue family, who never lived at the castle and so let it decline. At one time, it was also used by farmers as a cattle shed.
In 1910, Tattershall and its contents were sold to a buyer in the USA (rumoured to be William Randolph Hearst). The sale included the contents which included the tapestries and fireplaces. However, in 1911, Lord Curzon purchased the castle and saved it from exportation and in August of 1914, the Castle was opened as a visitor attraction. The castle became the property of the National Trust when Lord Curzon died in 1925. (The Curzon family home of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire is also property of the National Trust).
I visited the castle on Sunday the 27th of October. The castle had been decorated for Halloween as they had an event on for kids, which made it a little busy and noisy for my liking. There isn’t a great deal to see, you can do an audio tour if you want more information whilst you are walking around. If you are not a National Trust member, adult entry is £7.50 without gift aid. There is a small shop (the old gatehouse) selling the usual National Trust merchandise and small selection of cakes, overpriced sandwiches and hot drinks. I had a coffee and it wasn’t very nice if i’m honest.
My pictures did not turn out as good as I would have liked. The light was too bright and shadows too harsh. But I have done my best to edit them.
2019 was my fourth time to the Stars and Stripes American car show at Tatton Park. I’m not overly enthusiastic about cars in general, but I do like old America cars, especially from the 1950s and 1960s, and they make great photography subjects.
The show has been going for 30 years and is one of the biggest America car displays in the UK, with around 2,500 vehicles on display. There are also trade stands, mostly selling car parts, but there was a variety of other stalls, selling everything from clothing to tools.
Like many UK shows, the food choices were poor. No healthy options at all. There was a choice of burgers, fish and chips, Tex Mex and pulled pork sandwiches etc. There was also one coffee stand which was extremely overpriced as the cups were tiny.
Every year the Lone Star old west re-enactment group perform stories of the old west. We attended on the Saturday, the weather was pretty miserable in the morning, but by the afternoon it cleared up and was nice and sunny.
I couldn’t photograph everything, but here are a few of my favourite cars. Apologies, my car knowledge is limited, but I’ve done my best to identify what I can :).
The show is usually held over a Saturday and Sunday in early July, 09:30 – 16:00.
In 2019, adult entry was £9 and parking was £7 even if you are a National Trust member.
This was my first time at Cosford Air Show and only my third
air show in total. I must admit, I have
started to really enjoy air shows and I have become increasingly interested in
aviation history and heritage, just from accompanying my partner to museums and
The day before the show I felt a little apprehensive about
the weather. On route to our hotel, we
briefly stopped at the museum. The
weather was wet and cold and I was dreading spending a day outside if it was
going to rain and be miserable. On the
day of the show, there must have been a miracle as the weather was
predominantly dry and sunny, with only small spitting of rain. I was unprepared for sun and ended up getting
sunburnt. Macmillan was giving out free
sun cream samples, I definitely should have got one.
We stayed in nearby Shifnal, at the Park House Hotel. I paid £78 for 2 people bed and breakfast
through ebookers. The hotel was nice and
only a short drive to the air show. My
advice, if you plan to stay here is to bear in mind that breakfast doesn’t
start until 8am on a weekend and the air show opens at 8am. If you plan on getting to the show for
opening, you may have to miss breakfast.
On approach to the show, we followed the yellow signs for
parking. The signs took us to the back
of the base, not to the usual museum entrance.
We arrived at approximately 8.45am and got pretty much in and parked
with no hold up’s. Considering how many
people were attending the show, I was very impressed with the traffic
management. I have read online that some
other people found getting in and out of the show a nightmare, I suppose it
depends on which entrance you use and at what time you were
We paid for entry into the Cosford Club which was £65 each plus a booking fee of £1.50. Standard adult tickets to the show cost £29 and accompanied under 16s are free (based on the 2019 show). The Cosford Club gets you entry into a tent, a programme and a seating area with a view of the central fly line, with chairs and tables provided. If you book the Cosford Club my advice would be to get there early in order to get a table near to the front, especially if you want to take photographs. If you have general admission, the show was packed, again, there are some spaces that offer a clear view of the runway, but you have to get there early if you want to bag one of these.
I thought the show overall was great, but I personally feel
that certain aspects could be improved for next year. The main thing for me is the food
choices. I’m not a big meat eater and I
like to eat relatively healthy when I can.
I felt that the healthy and vegetarian food options were very limited
and if you are a vegan they were non-existent.
The only food stands that I saw were burger, fish and chips and pastie
stands, along with some sweet and cake stands.
I think a wider variety of food outlets would be welcomed, especially
for people that are vegan/vegetarian/ gluten free etc. In the Cosford Club, there was a toastie van,
which I got something from. It was nice,
but a little greasy and definitely not healthy.
Apart from the poor food choices, the only other thing that I was a
little disappointed with was that there was not enough time to look around all
the exhibits as well as watching the entire flying displays. After the flying finished, the grounds
stayed open for another hour and a half-ish, until about 7pm. However, many
trade stands started to pack up after the flying had finished and as there was
so much to see, there wasn’t enough time.
I thought the show had something for everyone and every
age. There was a variety of stands and
exhibits. Some were related to aviation
and others weren’t. There was also a
small fairground and things for children.
If you are considering applying to join the RAF or other British forces,
there are stands where you can find out more information. Also, companies like Rolls-Royce and BAE
systems had a presence at the show.
Some of the static aeroplane exhibits on display had open
cockpits for people to sit in, there were quite large queues for these though. As well as the static displays, other
attractions were the RAF Zone, STEM Hangers, Helicopter flights and the Vintage
Village. More information on these can
be found on the air show website.
Other than the flying displays, I thought the Vintage Village
was the best part. I’m a history lover
so I enjoyed seeing the people dressed up in WWII attire as well as The
Bluebird Belles vocal harmony trio.
As for the flying displays, the Red Arrows were spectacular
as was the Avro Lancaster B1 and the Supermarine Spitfire IX Battle of Britain
Memorial Flight. I also enjoyed seeing the Boeing Chinook HC6. A few of the displays had the added effect of
pyrotechnics which was fun to see.
Overall, I really enjoyed Cosford Air Show and can’t wait
for next year.
The Air Show is an advance ticket only event and it is the Royal Air Force’s only official air show.