Archive for the ‘Grand Tours of Scotland’ Category

Weekend fun!

Ruins are so much more interesting with the Time Team gang digging them up.

I’ve been wanting to write a piece about how I want to visit all those neat places I see on programmes such as Michael Portillo’s series Great British Railways Journeys, Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland, Coast, Julia Bradbury’s shows, and so on. You know the type of places: Knoydart, Gower Peninsula, Scarborough, The Doncaster Earth Centre, ad nauseum. I’ve been to most of them and they are as good as portrayed.  Still there are other places to be explored that don’t have the media attention.

Of course, that is a huge case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence laadeedah. Especially since I live a couple of miles from an early and historic canal in the city where I live and more than a couple from another much more impressive canal (but nowhere near the C & O Canal). In fact, I believe there are several canals not too far from where I live. Still, seeing Julia Bradbury hike a canal (or anywhere else) makes it look much more inviting.  My train journeys take me through the battlefields of the industrial revolution.  Still, I’ll admit that it is the lure of the media hiking about the celebrity places that makes the one look much more interesting than another less publicised attraction.

Laci and Ruins

And given my proclivity for digging up old guidebooks, I should be able to come up with someplace neat and off the beaten path. Although, guidebooks can be a bit like estate agents’ write ups of properties that get your expectations all built up. Not to mention that I have this unfounded belief that there is nothing worth seeing near where I live (now, would all you tourists please go away!). There’s another post in that, but when you see these places everyday….

Anyway, I decided to go away to a secluded place and found myself in an abandoned spa town. Yes, this was one of those places where the rich and trendy would go “to take the waters” up until toward the end of the 19th century. Then, artists invaded the place to imitate the French Impressionists to do plein air painting. Add in that the place has historic ruins pretty much throughout the village, which makes it a perfect attraction for artists.

Thyme in the herb garden

The place is in some far off, somewhat inaccessible region making it a lovely spot to remain undiscovered.

And I’m not telling where this is…

There is actually at least one Bed and Breakfast, which is the only dining establishment as well. But not a heck of a lot else for the general public other than the public library and government services. Well, there are paths for hiking, some ruins, and remains of the spa buildings.  There was a herb garden in the ruins.

So, one doesn’t need to follow the well beaten path created by the media to find some exciting places nearby to visit and relax.

See also: Heritage Coast (England and Wales)

I did it again!

Black's Picturesque Guide to Scotland

This blog’s claim to fame is that I found a copy of Bradhsaw’s Tourist Handbook on line which ties into Michael Portillo’s series Great British Railways Journeys and Portillo links to this site! The fun bit is that Bradshaw’s Tourist Handbook is next to impossible to find (Michael Portillo bought one of the few copies).

This time, It’s Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland and Black’s Picturesque Guide to Scotland. Unlike Bradshaw’s, Black’s Picturesque Guide to Scotland is much easier to find, although the condition of any copy you find may not be very good.  Also, you may not find the same edition that Murton uses (I believe 20th and from the 1860s).  Of course, Black’s has been republished in numerous different editions.  Later editions from the early 20th Century are not as ellaborate as the one used by Murton.  Try for ones made in the period of 1860-1870s to have a similar copy to the one used by Murton.

This book can be found fairly easily at used book stores.  Online try abebooks or alibris.

Complaints about the Official iPlayer Desktop

I am going to come straight out and say that I have disliked the official iPlayer programme since it became “user unfriendly” due to various attempts at DRM. For the most part, I prefer to use the third party programmes such as get_iplayer and the now defunct ipdl.exe for their flexibility.

I do use the official iPlayer site to keep up with the latest BBC programmes and news, but that is pretty much it. Except for this case, I wanted to see Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland. It was originally broadcast on BBC One, but lately it was rebroadcast on BBC HD. Sometimes, get_iplayer will record HD material, but Grand Tours of Scotland was not recording not matter what I did.

An alternate choice is to buy the DVD, but that doesn’t seem to be available. Neither does the download avenue, which is my ultimate last resort (trust me, if ITV would package Time Team on DVD…).

Well, my real last resort actually was the official iPlayer programme.

First off, I do not like official iPlayer programme’s DRM which requires that I watch the downloaded material within a 30 day period (which goes to 7 days once one begins to watch the episode). The main reason is that it forces me to watch the material which can build up. There are other reasons as well dealing with portability of material since I have to watch any downloaded material on a TV attached to a computer. This is instead of using a UPnP device to view the material.

Secondly, The quality of the official iPlayer programme in HD leaves quite a bit to be desired. While the audio can play fairly reasonably, the video quality is jumpy. I place this on the official iPlayer programme rather than my computer since HD material which has been downloaded with get_iplayer will play using VideoLan’s VLC Media Player Software with the type of results I would expect from an HD broadcast. Of course, DRM precludes me watching this BBC iPlayer material with third party software.

I thought the BBC wanted to get this material out to as many eyes as possible, which I would like to think they would prefer to do in a quality manner. That is that the material is playable in a manner which is acceptable. It’s annoying that the HD quality of the official iPlayer programme is this poor. I’m hoping that this will be rebroadcast in standard definition sometime soon. At least before I cry Ruth from the motion sickness caused by the official iPlayer programme’s HD quality.