Phuket’s Mardi

Towering over the streets of Phuket in Thailand are several murals of a small person called Mardi.

Mardi in Phuket Market

Phuket Market

Mardi is based on the daughter of artist Alex Face (Patcharapol Tangruen). She often appears dressed as a rabbit, but always with three eyes. The artist says that Mardi’s third eye allows her to experience another dimension, which we can feel but can’t see. It always looks in the opposite direction to the other two.

Mardi as a tortoise on Thalang Road, Phucket Old Town

Sunday night street market on Thalang Road, Phuket

Mardi’s eyes are always red, blue and brown, but the colours move about.

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo – are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Award-Winning Travel Adventures for Kids 8 – 80!

This week’s post was inspired by the themes Eyes from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, People from Jenn of Travelling at Wits End, and Tower from Debbie’s Travel With Intent.

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London Bridge – A Tale of Many Bridges

London Bridge, in one form or another, has crossed the River Thames between what is now the City of London and Southwalk for almost 2000 years.

The current London Bridge

The latest version of London Bridge is a relatively plain affair, a straightforward structure whose simple purpose is to carry vehicles and pedestrians across the Thames.

London Bridge (the one furthest to the right) seen from the top of The Shard

Looking down on London Bridge

Yet many visitors to London mistake the far grander Tower Bridge to be London Bridge.

Tower Bridge

If you believe the rumours, this mix-up proved very costly to a rich American businessman when the previous London Bridge was being replaced.

The following except from Jaspa’s Journey 2: The Pride of London tells the story of London Bridge and this embarrassing error…

Twin silver-grey towers, adorned with ornamental spires, balconies and crenulations (the crinkly bits around the tops of castles, behind which soldiers take cover), rise like identical fairytale castles from two massive stone bastions sunk into the river. Vaulting between the two towers are not one, but three blue and white bridges. The lowermost carries a road from bank to bank, across the tops of the immense foundations and straight through the towers’ bases. High above the central gap, the towers are linked by a pair of enclosed footbridges. The overall result is a masterpiece of elegance and engineering, a fitting tribute to the Victorian craftsmen who designed and built it over a hundred years ago.

“Wow!” Sam squeals in delight. “It’s London Bridge!”

“Actually Sammie, we’re on London Bridge,” Mrs McRae gently corrects her. “That’s Tower Bridge.”

“Oh!” says Sam, blushing slightly and looking somewhat crestfallen.

“Don’t worry,” says her mum, reaching over and tucking a stray strand of golden hair behind Sam’s ear – and inadvertently almost knocking Portia and Gravee out of Sam’s hood. “Lots of people make the same mistake. In fact, there’s a famous story about it.

“You know, this isn’t the first London Bridge,” she begins. “The original was built out of wood by the Romans, almost two thousand years ago. The first stone bridge wasn’t built until 1200 years later. It eventually became known as Old London Bridge, and was like a small town in itself, complete with shops and houses.

“That bridge stood for over six hundred years, but eventually became too unsafe. Perhaps that’s why someone wrote the song London Bridge is Falling Down. At any rate, it was demolished after being replaced by New London Bridge in 1831.

“Sadly, after the invention of cars, New London Bridge couldn’t cope with the increased traffic. And so, less than 140 years after being opened, it was also replaced – by this bridge.”

“So is this one New New London Bridge?” asks Sam, thoughtfully.

“I guess it is,” laughs Mrs McRae. “And that brings me to the point of my story: New London Bridge wasn’t simply demolished… it was sold to an American businessman. He took it to pieces and shipped it all the way to America. There he rebuilt it over a canal in the middle of the desert, just like a giant jigsaw puzzle.”

“You’re making fun of me!” exclaims Sam, uncertainly.

“No, I’m serious!” Mrs McRae looks at her husband. “Isn’t it true, Dad?”

“Every word,” he confirms.

“But that’s not the best part,” Sam’s mum goes on. “Because it’s rumoured that the businessman made the same mistake you did. He denied it, of course, but many people aren’t convinced. If it’s true, he bought London Bridge thinking he was buying Tower Bridge, and his mistake cost him about two and a half million pounds!”

“Wow!” giggles Sam, her temporarily dampened sprits fully restored.

Unbelievably, Mrs. McRae’s story is true. In 1968, American entrepreneur Robert McCulloch did indeed buy London Bridge, reputedly believing he was actually getting Tower Bridge! (Ooops!) Today it graces Lake Havasu City, and is Arizona’s most popular tourist destination after the Grand Canyon.

‘New’ London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Palm trees at London Bridge!

Hey… that’s not the Thames!

Desert sunset at London Bridge

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo – are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Award-Winning Travel Adventures for Kids 8 – 80!

This week’s post was inspired by the themes Bridges from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Memory from Debbie’s Travel With Intent, Beauty from Nancy of Nancy Merrill Photography, Spirit from Terri’s Sunday Stills Photo Challenge, and no less than four of the five themes from Paula of Lost in Translation this month (Resplendent, Alluring, Copycat and Timeworn).

Posted in History, Jaspa's Journey, Travel, United Kingdom, USA, Writing | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Sunset at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument outside Alamogordo in New Mexico is at once a sharp contrast to the snowy landscape outside my window as I write this post, yet in an odd way, surprisingly reminiscent of it.

The White Sands dunes from across the Tularosa Basin

It may sound strange, but looking out across the smooth, uniform curves of the World’s largest expanse of gypsum sand dunes, the first thing I was reminded of was snow drifts, not beaches. In fact, the warm rush of air as we opened our vehicle’s doors almost came as surprise.

My time at White Sands National Monument really was quite surreal, perhaps heightened by the fact I experienced the dunes at sunset.

Interdune Boardwalk

Tell me this doesn’t look like an icy road in midwinter!

With a few friends at White Sands

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo – are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Award-Winning Travel Adventures for Kids 8 – 80!

This week’s post was inspired by the themes Smooth from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Curves from Bren of Ryan Photography, and Uniform from Fandango.

 

Posted in Environment, Travel, USA | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Sunrise at Monument Valley

The landscape of Monument Valley, straddling the state line between Arizona and Utah, is spectacular at any time of day. But at sunrise it’s simply magical.

In the predawn – from left to right: East Mitten, West Mitten and (my favourite, for obvious reasons) Merrick Butte

Mitchell Mesa in the foreground, with Elephant Butte, Camel Butte and Spearhead Mesa in the distance

Waiting for the dawn

First sign of the Sun

The tension builds

Sunlight starting to creep across Sentinel Mesa

The Big Reveal!

What a magical moment

What you don’t get told is how cold the desert is before the Sun comes up in November!

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo – are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Award-Winning Travel Adventures for Kids 8 – 80!

This week’s post was inspired by the themes Colour of Your Choice (Red, in my case) from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Red from Debbie’s Travel With Intent, Valley from Patrick of Pix to Words, and Crepuscular from Paula of Lost in Translation.

 

Posted in Adventure, Environment, Photography, Travel, USA | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Indoor Rainbows at the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

I know I featured a cathedral in last week’s post (Siena Duomo, Tuscany), but the challenge themes on offer this week lead me straight back to another one.

The light, airy, modern (in fact, still unfinished) architecture of Antonio Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona couldn’t be more different from the gothic massiveness of the Duomo in Siena. To be honest, prior to our visit, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.

Sagrada Familia at sunrise from our apartment in Barcelona

But upon entering that incredible space, I was an instant fan.

360 degree image of the interior of the Sagrada Familia

The lofty pillars and vaulting really do give the feeling you’re in a forest of white-barked trees.

And the light streaming in through the contrasting colours of the stained-glass windows bathe the inside of that stone forest in a breathtaking rainbow.

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo – are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Award-Winning Travel Adventures for Kids 8 – 80!

This week’s post was inspired by the themes Rainbow Colours from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Interesting Light from Jenn of Travelling at Wits End, Contrasting Colours from Nancy of Nancy Merrill Photography, Lofty form Paula of Lost in Translation, and Tree from Fandango.

 

Posted in Europe, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Siena Duomo, Tuscany

Small wonder the historic centre of Siena in Tuscany is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Across the rooftops of the UNESCO World Heritage historic centre of Siena, with the Duomo on the left and the Palazzo Publico’s Torre del Mangia on the right

And at its heart, in more ways than one, is the Duomo… Siena’s noble and iconic cathedral.

The grandiose Siena Duomo

The current building was begun in 1136, on the site of an earlier church. Over the next 250 years it gradually grew into the magnificent black and white marble edifice we see today.

The nave of the Duomo vanishing into the distance

The Duomo is filled with repeating patterns

In fact, ambitious plans in the 14th Century would have seen cathedral expanded still further, to become the largest Christian church in existence. Sadly, these were abandoned after the Black Death decimated Siena’s population in 1348.

The angular interior of the cathedral’s dome

The Gothic vaulted ceiling of the nave

Yet walking around and within the magnificent Siena Duomo, it’s difficult to imagine a more impressive structure.

Siena Duomo at dusk from the City Walls

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo – are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Award-Winning Travel Adventures for Kids 8 – 80!

This week’s post was inspired by the themes Black and White from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Noble from Fandango, Repeating Patterns from Jenn of Travelling at Wits End, Angle from Ragtag Daily Prompt, and Vanishing Point from Nancy of Nancy Merrill Photography.

 

Posted in Europe, History, Travel, UNESCO World Heritage Site | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

The Pitons UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Lucia

Together, the Pitons of St. Lucia are one of the most recognisable sights in the whole Caribbean.

Our first view of St. Lucia and the Pitons in the dawn

The Pitons rise above the town of Soufriere

Petit Piton (on the right) and Gros Piton (on the left)

Gros Piton, the larger of the two, is 2530 feet high, while Petit Piton is a smidge shorter, at 2438 feet.

The pair form part of the Pitons Management Area

In terms of height, less than 100 feet separates the two peaks

The Pitons are the remnants of volcanic plugs, which formed within volcanic vents around 200-300 thousand years ago. Over time, the softer rock of the original vents has been eroded, to leave behind the harder, more resistant lava plugs of the Pitons.

Petit Piton from Soufriere beach

Idyllic stuff, isn’t it?

Life can be tough sometimes!

Gros and Petit Piton lie within the Pitons Management Area, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.

Petit Piton and the UNESCO World Heritage Site sign

Petit Piton

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo – are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Award-Winning Travel Adventures for Kids 8 – 80!

This week’s post was inspired by the themes Pairs from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge and On the Horizon from Nancy of Nancy Merrill Photography.

 

Posted in Caribbean, Environment, Travel, UNESCO World Heritage Site | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments