Thursday, 14 February 2013

Derry/Londonderry. Part One.

Back in Ireland again at Graeme's invitation. We managed to get flights for £30 quid return for a four day trip which is pretty good value. Slightly risky at this time of year with all the snow as you can only take a day sack to fit in with Ryanair's baggage limits. No ice axes, crampons or walking poles allowed. 10kg limit so we were also wearing most of our winter clothes boarding the plane along with boots.
Great views going over and a smooth touchdown with fine views of a pretty Muff appearing below us in the sunshine. Derry airport must be the only airport where you can say that. Its a nearby village
 with its own diving centre and a much coveted  souvenir tee shirt.
Yep. It does say what you think it does!
Second time in Derry/Londonderry. You can see why some local radio guys  have started calling it stroke city. I'll just call it LegenDerry from now on as I really like the place and that's its City of Culture 2013 tag. Saves typing as I'm still a single digit blogger. Its a fast wee finger though.
This was taken outside the Sainsbury cafeteria and commemorates all the passengers who sailed to America and overseas down the River Foyle from this spot. The last of the large sailing ships to leave from here carrying passenger cargos was the Minnehaha, known in America as the Green Yacht from Derry.
I learn this while Graeme and Bob (Yes, another one, known in this blog  now as handsome Bob)
had a large fried breakfast. I'll be ugly Bob then I suppose.
We were still in time to catch this menu as we arrived at Glasgow's Central station around seven am. I was up at five am, an early rise. Ryan air are the only company to fly out of Prestwick now. Long may they continue.
Colourful street just up from the restaurant. There is a smashing walk along the River front from Sainsbury's to the city Centre, part of the walkway/ cycle track network. I had a spicy chicken slice I'd bought back in Glasgow so that was my breakfast, eaten on the move.
This is the famous peace bridge which leads to parkland and Erbington Square, a large complex and the City of Culture headquarters. As I've said before on my last trip there's plenty to do and see here and we've only just scratched the surface on two trips. It wasn't a great day hill wise with low cloud and showers of drizzle high up so a sightseeing day like this is a great option.
The Guildhall which is getting a makeover ready for Spring visitors. Very ornate building even from the outside. Its close to the city walls and the nearby Tower Museum.
The Diamond. A central square next where we saw this  heavily reinforced Land Rover Tangi. I believe they are also called Saracens. They still have a fleet on the roads.  Fascinating history of its development here as it evolved to cope with increasing levels of attack.
A famous city landmark ,visible from a wide area as it sits on a hill right in the middle of the shopping district on one corner of The Diamond. This is Austin's. Its the oldest surviving independent department store in Europe. Fantastic building so here's hoping it can hang on in this age of rampant high street closure's.
Come to think of it its probably survived this long due to being situated in Northern Ireland only recently coming into competition with the multi national giant superstore outlets that are gradually flattening everything else in their path. Think the prices will stay low if any single chain wins the battle to gain overall control of the market place?
I was told it has a smashing interior and restaurant but we didn't have time for a visit.
This is the Hand's Across The Divide Sculpture next to the Craigavon double deck bridge, another unique structure we drove across later in our hired car. Two sets of traffic can access this at the same time driving on top of each other. Pretty daunting for motorists if they don't know the right lane to get into but Graeme's almost a local here now.
As promised in the last post on Ireland when we visited the Bogside murals we were now heading across to the west bank as according to the visitor map other murals around Kennedy place and The Fountain could be seen. Love the colourful pubs throughout Ireland. They seem to be bucking the trend here as every street corner or village still seems to have two or three. In Scotland they are closing all over the place, leaving many communities without a heart and focal point.
Some of this area around Wapping lane looked derelict and was either getting a facelift or getting pulled down. It was hard to tell as builders were working nearby. This is one of the oldest streets, featured on some of the murals. I'm used to wandering around dodgy areas on my own so I was in my element here. Graeme was fine too but our other Bob hung back a bit when it looked like we were walking into a large cul de sac. We were but that was the best area to be in.
Some good murals started to appear with an interesting history. I think the skeleton refers to the 8000 to 10,000 people that died during the Siege of Derry which lasted 105 days. One of the information boards said ten thousand out of thirty thousand trapped inside the walls died before relief arrived. There were more of these little skeletons on other walls nearby. A  short history here.
Another mural showing the relief ship. This was a Protestant stronghold we were in now. The West Bank I believe.
I'd never have guessed. I suppose the red ,white and blue pavements are a bit of a giveaway.
As anyone who reads this blog knows I love going to places then finding out about their history. Plenty of that here for the visitor. We never encountered any trouble but common-sense has to be used when wandering around any area in an unfamiliar city. Basically don't ask daft questions in the wrong part. You'll not find me doing that :)
It was nice to see some other forms of artwork on the walls as well. This is an ad for a Pharmacy.
This city is a very colourful and an exciting place for a visit. For anyone wanting to see Part One its  posted here on November 2012, two months back.  LegenDerry sums this city up. Great place for a visit.
 Part two in a few days time is an account of the mountains we climbed over in the west. To be continued....

On a completely different topic its a classic video from the sixties now. Arthur Brown and his Iconic headgear. A real showman and a rock pioneer this sight has inspired so many bands and singers. Alice Cooper and Peter Gabriel come to mind. He even does an early version of robotic dancing! In 1968! Coincidentally the Rolling Stones came out with Jumping Jack Flash and the quintessential Mick Jagger prancing image the same year. Arthur Brown's hit is listed as May 1968. The stones JJF was written sometime in the same year. No month given.
Anyone know which came first. Just a thought :)

Screaming Jay Hawkins. I put a spell on you. This is so over the top its unreal. And mind zapping!


The Glebe Blog said...

Very interesting post Bob, did you get yourself a T shirt? That'll be an 'Ulster Fry' that Graeme and Bob had then. I know what you mean about asking the wrong questions, but Ireland is slowly changing. Both the Catholic hierarchy and the Orange paymasters are gradually losing their powers. There's hope for the country nowadays even though old hatreds die hard.

Loved both Arthur and Screamin Jay. My eldest was born that year.
Must admit though, my favourite version of I put a spell on you is John Fogerty

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim.
Sadly no. I wouldn't have the bottle to wear a 'Muff Diving Centre' T shirt as I'm well past the 18-30 age group. That would just be creepy.
My favourite version of 'I put a spell on you' is from the Natural Born Killers film soundtrack which has some great songs on it throughout but I liked this video.
I'm afraid I asked a girl in her twenties where the 'King Billy' Mural was thinking I was still in the West Bank district as we were having trouble finding it. It's marked on the tourist map.
She replied 'Its certainly not here. Its over there in the Protestant section'
DOH! Talk about innocents abroad.
She was ok with it though and just laughed at our(my)stupidity.

Carol said...

OMG! That Screaming Jay thing is the most bizarre (and sometimes hilarious, in a scary sort of way) vid I've ever seen!

Don't know that much about Arthur Brown, although I've seen that video before. Enjoyed the Small Faces 'Itchycoo Park' which came up as it finished though :-)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol.
Great isn't it? Only found that one though the Arthur Brown video and some other crackers as well.
That's the great thing about You Tube. You start off watching one video then it takes you on a weird and wonderful journey to places and artists you would never think of going to or typing in.
Itchycoo Park was always one of the golden classics.