Tag Archives: #FriFotos:

A personal reflection on flags for #FriFotos

The theme for the photo sharing day on Twitter on Friday 18 November 2011 was Flags. If you look at my Twitter profile you will see that I tend to spend time between three locations. In this piece, I will include photos, including flags from each of these places.
Wales
Welsh flag at Llangollen
Starting with my birthplace. This photo was taken while looking for new angles to take photographs from. The castle on the skyline is Dinas Bran. It was built by the Welsh sometime in the 1260’s but fell to King Edward 1 of England.

Belgium
Belgian flag
Taken while at Fete de la Musique in place des Palais. This photo was used by the Belgian French language Radio and TV broadcaster to illustrate how far Belgium was from forming a government. Belgium went to the polls on 13 June 2010 and didn’t agree on a workable coalition until 11 October this year. The country now holds the world record for the time taken to form a democratically elected government. The article can be found here. You may need to use Google Translate. They did accredit me as the copyright holder but did not link to my Flickr page or give me a link back, but I was humbled to have it included.

France
French flag at Chamonix
Finally a photo of the French Flag from outside the Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne (PGHM), Chamonix’s High Moutain Police. They operate a professional mountain rescue service. I end up at Chamonix at some time each winter, even if I don’t always spend the season there. I for one am glad that these brave policemen are there to rescue anyone in distress high in the Alps. The memorial plaque outside is sobering, as it records a the death of at least one policeman each year for nearly all the time it has been in existence.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Remembering the fallen

#FriFotos is the weekly photo sharing day on Twitter. On Friday November 11, the theme is “Fall”, but as is usual, it is open to interpretation. Fall is the term used for Autumn in North America. However, the eleventh of November is Armistice Day and a Public Holiday in much of Europe. It is a day when we remember the fallen. The fall that these soldiers made, is the one that will be foremost on my mind.
I intend to visit the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing, near the French / Belgian border not far from Messines. In the First World War, Winston Churchill spent some time in the trenches here after the failure of his Gallipoli campaign. Hitler also spent time nearby, at Messines, even painting the church in his spare time.Plougsteert Memorial
I will not be going there to remember Churchill or Hitler. I will be paying homage to my Great Uncle, the twin brother of my grandfather. My grandfather had volunteered for the British Army working with the horses. Uncle Ted was conscripted into the Royal Welch Fusiliers but was transferred into the South Wales Borderers as so many units had been decimated by the onslaught. The South Wales Borderers were the regiment famed for their defence of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa, immortalised in the film “Zulu”. It made finding out the location of his memorial difficult, as the family had been searching for him in the Royal Welsh Fulsiliers, until my brother’s research lead discovered the story of his last days and hours.
Plougsteert Lion
Uncle Ted was listed as missing presumed dead, on 11 April 1918. It was at the height of the Georgette Offensive in Flanders. German troops had overrun the Allied positions and were pouring through Northern France towards the Channel Ports. The situation was grave. This was the day Field Marshall Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary force gave his desperate order.

There is no other course open to us but to fight it out! Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall, and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end. The safety of our Homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment.

Uncle Ted was last recorded by Estaires, in the Nord Department of France not far from Lille. They were under fire from mortars. After that date he was not heard from again. He was listed missing in action. His mother refusing to believe he was dead, left her front door unlocked each night in anticipation of his return until her dying day.Names on memorial
We don’t know if he lies in a Flanders Field, or is in a cemetery with a headstone marked with the words “Known unto God”. His name was carved on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing in Belgium. The French already had a surplus of War Memorials and so King Albert 1 of Belgium offered to host the memorial originally planned for Lille.
Headstone
Ploegsteert Memorial sits in The Royal Berkshire Cemetery Extension. British troops stationed at Ploegsteert, called it Plugstreet and this part of the line was known as Hyde Park Corner.
All I can do is pay my respects to my Great Uncle who fell in 1918, so that we can enjoy the freedom we take for granted today.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Daily Photo: Blue tram on the Mont Blanc Tramway

Blue tram on Mont Blanc Tramway

Tramway Mont Blanc
Today on #FriFotos on Twitter, the theme is ‘Blue’ so I will be posting a number of photographs on the theme. The problem is choosing just one to represent my feelings on the subject. This photo comes closest. The Tramway Mont Blanc runs from La Fayet, St Gervais to just above Col de Vorza above Les Houches in the Chamonix valley. The intention was to take the tramway to the top of Mont Blanc and I’m guessing would have involved a lot of tunneling under glaciers to reach the summit.

The photo was taken while I was snowboarding at Les Houches, which is included on the Mont Blanc Unlimited Lift Pass along with the tramway.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Monuments

The theme for today’s #FriFotos on Twitter is ‘Monuments’. So here are some of my photos with the story behind them.
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is the oldest of my monuments for today. Certainly enigmatic, the blue stones originated in the Pembrokeshire, Wales. Massively popular with visitors to the UK. I would advise a visit to Avebury, perhaps woodhenge and some of the other related sites. Stonehenge and Avebury are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Manneken pis, Brussels
This naughty little statue can be found after a short walk from where I am writing this post. Just don’t come to Brussels expecting to be bowled over by this icon. They do however, make an effort to make him interesting by dressing him up in various costumes throughout the year. He can be found very close to grand place another UNESCO site. For aficionados of urinating statues there is also Janneken pis, and Zinneken pis (Chieneken pis) in Brussels.
Arc de Triomphe, Parc Cinquantenaire, Brussels
Leopold II, King of Belgium, employed a Welsh man, HM Stanley of ‘Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” fame, to carve out an private empire in the Congo. Some of the fortune acquired was used to build this Park, triumphal arch and grand avenue into Brussels.
Butte du Lion, Waterloo
Butte du Lion, Waterloo. Means “Lion’s mound” in English. Completely man made it commemorates the Battle of Waterloo. It is built with earth from all over the battlefield. 43m high there are 226 steps to reach the top.
Plougsteert Memorial, Belgium
Staying in Belgium, this memorial is to missing soldiers of World War One. It was originally to have been erected in Lille, but France was overloaded with memorials and the Belgians agreed to have it. My great uncle, who was recorded as missing in the Battle of the Lys, France, in April 1918, has his name inscribed on this monument. My great grandmother never locked her door and left a light on each night hoping he would return.
Freedom Monument, Riga
The Freedom Monument, Riga, Latvia from November 2004. It was a full moon but I failed to get a werewolf to pose in this picture. Pity really it would have improved it.
Riga, Latvia
Another monument in Riga, Latvia. This is one of the few Russian monuments remaining in Riga. It commemorates the uprising against the Russian Czar in 1905. The Railway bridge forms the backdrop.
Nelson, Trafalgar Square, London
As Max Boyce, Welsh comedian and rugby fanatic explained “Nelson was checking to see that his ticket was still in his pocket.”
Marmotte statue, La Toussuire
Finally, that internet legend that is @banff_squirrel is really jealous of his French cousin, who had a monument erected to celebrate his cooking skills. He allegedly saved the lives of many skiers and snowboarders who came in from the pistes, dying of hunger.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

#FriFotos Thoughts in pictures on the theme of ‘Green’

Due to the time spent following the ongoing crisis in Japan, I have not posted for some time. I had a break last Friday and was honoured to co-host #FriFotos on Twitter, by @EpsteinTravels. It gave me an opportunity to see and share many beautiful and inspiring photos on the theme ‘Green’.  Some of my thoughts on the subject are displayed in pictorial form in this post.

Well firstly there is the “Green, green grass of home”, Llangollen in North Wales.Green, green grass of home

Wales gets it’s fair share of rain and therefore is usually very green. Here are some of the inhabitants enjoying an autumn afternoon near Conwy.Sheep

Portmeirion is renowned for it’s Italianate architecture by Clough Williams-Ellis and being the location for the cult sixties TV series “The Prisoner”. The gardens are also worth visiting as the photo below shows.
Portmeirion

Chamonix has a number of green credentials. In Summer the valley bottom and sides are verdant, one of the peaks above 4000 metres is the Aiguille Verte, (Green needle) and the Tourist Office holds ISO 14001 Environmental Certification.
Chamonix

Green always catch my eye, wherever it is found.
Beach defences

Eurostar trains at St Pancras, London, quite a green way to travel between London, Lille, Brussels and Paris and beyond.
Eurostar

Green also brings to mind the environment and a core subject of this blog. Many people find wind farms unsightly, but they have a beauty of their own. More importantly they produce some of the lowest carbon forms of electricity currently generated. Wind Farm

What pictures form in your mind when you consider the word ‘green’.

Thank you also to my co-hosts on Friday: @MO_HOTELS @TravelDesigned

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

#FriFotos: Mountains

I love mountains! I marvel at the thought of all that rock pushed skywards by the movement of tectonic plates. They cast a spell over me, in any season I am drawn towards them. The theme of this Friday’s #FriFotos on Twitter is “Mountains” of course @EpsteinTravels is fairly flexible with what constitutes a mountain. Butter mountains, mountains of cakes and the like will all be allowed. For me though, when someone mentions mountains, images come into my head, like those displayed on this page. If I’m there I look up to take in their awesome beauty or if I’m not, I start to long to be back among them hiking or snowboarding down them.

Here are some of my favourite mountains:
Nearing the summit, Ben Nevis
Nearing the summit of Ben Nevis, Scotland on a May weekend.
Mont Blanc Massif
Mont Blanc Massif from Verbier, Switzerland
The piste path to le Brevent
Mont Blanc from Brevent, a mountain that I have climbed and also snowboarded from the summit down to Chamonix.
Snowdon mountain, North Wales
Snowdon range, Wales from the Cob in Porthmadog
Le Praz church
The Dru and Aiguille Verte, from Les Praz, Chamonix
North Face of the Eiger, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland
North Face of the Eiger, Switzerland, the most challenging climb in Europe. I’ve no intention of attempting that climb though.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

OXFAM Fair Trade Breakfast

Breakfast in BrusselsEach November, in Wallonia and Brussels OXFAM Magasins du Monde host breakfasts at school canteens and cafeterias. Last Saturday and Sunday the 20th and 21st November, we were among the 39,200 diners. The event has been run for the last nineteen years now, but this was only my second OXFAM breakfast. It raises money for the charity as well as showcases the high quality range of foods the shops sell here in Belgium.

We regularly purchase their fruit juices, coffee, chocolates and the like. It was good to discover some of their breakfast cereals as well. I was very impressed by the baguettes with quinoa, unfortunately bread is not normally sold in the shops.

OXFAM Breakfast

Revised 18 February 2011, for #FriFotos on Twitter.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.