Saturday, April 27, 2013

Westminster Bridge crossing the Thames beside
England's Houses of Parliament  
Curls of mist swirled around our heads that August morning as we made our way to Victoria Station, then down into the bowels of the city where the underground trains, like dragons, gobbled up and spewed forth passengers. My daughter, experienced with the workings of the London Underground, guided me expertly through jostling crowds and onto a waiting train to Charing Cross Station, the take-off point for a day’s exploration of the Thames.

England’s great river, although dwarfed by the 2,560 mile Mississippi and sedate in comparison with the rapids that swirl and tumble through the Grand Canyon, nevertheless has a long and impressive history. As a clear bubbling spring it rises at its source in Cirencester. Two hundred and fifteen miles later, its swollen tides sweep into the English Channel.

Crossing its wide expanse on the Hungerford footbridge I leaned over the railing to watch water taxis, ferries and other small craft bustling, like ‘riverboatmen’ insects on a pond beneath us.

Palace of Westminster in London England 
London’s river thoroughfare is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. Travelers can undertake a circular tour on a river ferry, alighting or disembarking at any one of three stops between Westminster and St. Katharine’s Piers to explore such places as the National Theater, Southwark Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the New Palace of Westminster, more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament. Serving as Britain’s seat of government this outstanding example of gothic architecture is in fact a royal palace that replaced the original destroyed by fire in 1834.

Ice cream sellers at Westminster Bridge 
Today, as you pass on the ferry at teatime you may witness an illustrious gathering of Earls and Dukes, the Prime Minister and numerous Parliamentarians. The country’s leaders assemble daily on the patio overlooking the river to enjoy that most English of rituals, afternoon tea. But riding the ferry is just one way to tour the Thames.
Photo copyright James Gordon
Posted by Anne Gordon on Saturday 27th April, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

In Dublin's Fair City
Announcement:Toronto to Dublin Year Round Service from Air Canadarouge in 2014
The island of Ireland offers a wealth of unforgettable experiences to Canadian travellers with its spectacular scenic landscape, vibrant cities, rich heritage, cultural attractions and an exciting festivals and events calendar which delights visitors 365 days a year! The strengthening ties between Canada and Ireland continue with over 4 million Canadians claiming Irish ancestry and Ireland’s unique “cead mile failte” (one hundred thousand welcomes) awaits every Canadian visitor who chooses the Emerald Isle as their holiday destination.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The announcement of a year-round service from Toronto to Dublin is wonderful news for tourism to the island of Ireland from Canada. We have worked with Air Canada for many years and we look forward to working closely with Air Canada rouge to maximise the promotion of this flight. As an island, direct, convenient and competitive access services are critical to achieving growth in inbound tourism. Tourism Ireland is committed to working with Air Canada rouge, Dublin Airport and other tourism interests, through co-operative marketing, to drive demand for this service."
Kylemore Abbey, Connemara
Famous for its warm welcome and hospitality, the island of Ireland’s hotels, top class B&B’s, luxury resort spas, and historic castle stays offer an enticing variety of accommodation options, and no visit to Ireland is complete without sampling the country’s top rated visitor attractions, art, culture and music.
Any time of the year is a great time to visit Ireland and the Fall to Winter months, September through to December, are bursting with a variety of entertainment including; the Dublin Theatre Festival, the Cork International Jazz Festival, the Wexford Opera Festival, Belfast Festival at Queens, the Cork Film Festival and New Year’s Eve Dublin to name but a few!
Londonderry, City of Culture 2013
Tourism Ireland has a busy program of promotions under way this year, in particular highlighting over 3,000 festivals and events taking place forThe Gathering Ireland 2013 and the unique cultural experiences to be enjoyed in Derry~Londonderry for the UK City of Culture 2013.
The year-round service will begin May 2014 with five scheduled flights during the summer peak season (reducing to three times per week in the winter months). TheAir Canada rouge route will be serviced by the Boeing 767-300ER aircraft consisting of 264 seats with three customer comfort options. All flights offer wireless inflight entertainment, stylish modern cabins and come with Air Canada’s consumer member benefits. Bookings will become available from June 2013 through and travel agents. for further information about Ireland.

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Posted by Anne Gordon on Thursday, 25th April, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Big Hole, a Kimberley Diamond Mine
Imagine plunging 25,000 feet through the darkness towards the center of the earth entombed in a small fragile looking cage hardly big enough for a flock of canaries let alone three humans clad in white helmets and blue overalls, with Cesar Hoyas strapped to their waists.
Guaranteed to give us 45 minutes of oxygen in the event of a calamity, the Cesar Hoya (‘Help me to breath’) sets my blood pumping at an alarming rate. It’s hardly comforting, in fact horrifying, that just another seven kilometers down, say from here to the 401, would bring us to the earth’s crust and from then on, molten lava roiling and popping in a hellish fiery dance ready to turn us to instant ash.

When the elevator finally comes to a stop we step onto solid ground in a cavern of stone where only a few in the entire population of the world have been. The distant roar of machines digging for diamonds echoes like a throbbing war drum along silent stone passages.

Image copyright Anne Gordon

Posted by Anne Gordon on April 11th 2013.

Polar bear on the tundra near Churchill, Manitoba
Stretching full length against the solid metal of a gigantic tundra buggy a polar bear, just two feet from my face, eyes me intently. For a moment I imagine that here on the edge of the Arctic Circle we two have a mutual meeting of minds. We do, but for two very different reasons. With my camera clamped to my eye I’m intent on photography. He no doubt is checking out the food possibilities. He raises his moist black nose and sniffs the air. Just 24 inches closer and he would crunch my skull like an eggshell.

I hear a menacing hiss as his breath slides across his taste buds. A thick black tongue lolls from the half open jaw of one of the world’s most ferocious predators. His eyes, deep brown and intelligent, watch my every move. Closeby, a bear compatriot sets his sights on a female bear with cubs. She accustomed to the nasty habits of the males of her species snarls and lunges aggressively at the skulking male.

Posted by Anne Gordon on 11th April, 2013

Image copyright Anne Gordon

Thursday, April 4, 2013

‘Oblivion’ star Tom Cruise discovers his amazing family history of knights, rebels and heroes on a visit to Dublin, Ireland
 Hollywood actor and producer Tom Cruise today discovered that the truth of his Irish family history is more amazing than fiction. His Irish ancestors have been identified as knights, rebels and heroes in a family history that stretches back an incredible 800 years.
Tom Cruise stopped off in Dublin, Ireland, on the European leg of his tour to promote the Universal Pictures film ‘Oblivion’. Set on a spectacular future Earth that has evolved beyond recognition, the film tells the story of one man’s confrontation of the past, leading him on a journey to redemption and discovery as he battles to save mankind, played by Tom Cruise.
Aptly, in real life, Cruise went on his own journey of discovery to deepen his knowledge of his Irish ancestry, which stretches back over 800 years. Research commissioned by Tourism Ireland for Cruise’s visit, and completed by genealogy researchers Eneclann, has unveiled the amazing history of a family that contained knights in the 12th Century, rebels in the 17th Century and a hero, Patrick Russell-Cruise, who reinstated tenants on his lands in the 19th Century following their eviction against his wishes by an unscrupulous land-agent. Tom Cruise is a fifth generation direct descendant of Patrick Russell-Cruise.
Today, prior to the Red carpet premiere of 'Oblivion' in Dublin,Cruise was presented with a Certificate of Irish Heritage by Ireland’s Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, in Dublin. The Certificate is an official recognition by the Irish government of those that are proud of their Irish ancestry and heritage.
Upon receipt of his Certificate of Irish Heritage Cruise said: “It’s a great honour for me and for my whole family – I can’t wait to bring it back to them and enlighten them on their history.” Cruise continued “I’m very proud to be Irish. There’s a pride in America of being Irish.
I can’t wait to come back and I want to visit the land of my ancestors and the castle that they had.”
As this is the year of The Gathering Ireland 2013,with a programme of over 300 clan gatherings and local history talks taking place throughout the year, Tourism Ireland has christened 2013Ireland’s “Family History Year”. Tourism Ireland is encouraging those with Irish connections throughout the worldto follow in Cruise’s footsteps and to visit in 2013 to learn more about their heritage and explore the places their ancestors came from.
Posted by Anne Gordon on Thursday, 4th April, 2013