Lancaster: Lune, Freeman’s Pools, St. George’s Quay.

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Comma.

A Friday evening and we’re saying farewell to colleagues who are moving on to pastures new. The plan is to go straight from work: pub, pizzeria, pub. Since I’ve been avoiding both alcohol and pizza this year, this presents something of a challenge. We have to preorder our meal, which significantly reduces temptation, so I decide to skip the ale and just go for a tomato salad and small Quattro Stagioni. So, whilst my friends are collecting in a convivial hostelry, I squeeze in a short walk around Lancaster.

I park down on St. Georges Quay which is reasonably convenient for the restaurant and for a walk along the Lune and has some of the only unrestricted street-parking in the centre of town to boot. I set-off along the banks of the river. The bank here has a substantial area of waste ground, now given over to Buddleia, on which I’m disappointed not to spot a single butterfly. On the far side of the road a former factory site has been built upon; I haven’t been this way for quite some time and I’m surprised by the number of new houses which have appeared.

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Lune.

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Tall (or Golden) Melilot. I think, apparently very difficult to distinguish from Ribbed Melilot. Especially since both are equally tall, golden and ribbed.

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Evening Primrose. Another species, like the Melilot, which is both introduced and confusing: there are four species of Evening Primrose found in Britain, but they are hard to distinguish and hybridise anyway.

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Marsh Woundwort.

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Freeman’s Pools.

Although I know for a fact that I have been along this path before, more than once, I don’t remember the Wildlife Trust Reserve Freeman’s Pools. It’s one of several reserves near to the mouth of the Lune which I intend to explore at some point. I’d originally planned to continue along the river here, but time is tight, so I turn inland on the path which runs through the thin strip of trees which is Freeman’s Wood. In the wood I’m quite surprised to encounter a Jay.

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One of the many Loosestrifes. We have something similar in our garden, but the flowers are distributed up the entire length of the stem – I think ours might be Dotted Loosestrife. These look most like straightforward Yellow Loosestrife, except for the orange centre to the flowers, which is characteristic of other Loosestrifes. Ho-hum.

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The Comma again.

Back in town, I walk though Abraham Heights on Westbourne Road, before turning past the railway station to the castle and…

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Lancaster Priory.

Ordinarily, I would pop inside to have a gander, but our booking is fairly soon (and I’ve been in many, many times before). I also don’t divert to take in the foundations of a Roman Bathhouse, but do pause to photograph…

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…the view from by The Priory, across the Bay towards the lake District. The hills of Cumbria look a bit indistinct and unimpressive in my photo, but this view is actually excellent and during the winter I often came here at lunchtimes to take it in.

I head downhill, back to the quay.

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Maritime Museum.

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Richard Gillow was the son of Robert Gillow the founder of a Lancaster furniture company, thought to be the first to import mahogany to Britain. As well as importing exotic timber and exporting Gillows’ furniture, his ships also traded in sugar and rum from the Caribbean, wine from the Canary Islands, and were probably involved in the slave trade.

The old warehouses along the quay have been converted into homes and offices.

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Former Warehouses.

The pub with all of the hanging baskets outside is the Waggon and Horses where I’ve been a member of the Quiz team for many years.

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Lune and St. George’s Quay.

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Lancaster: Lune, Freeman’s Pools, St. George’s Quay.

Barcelona – More Buildings

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Fundación Antoni Tapies.

Continuing our casual architectural tour of Barcelona.  First this crazy building, which houses the foundation set-up by Antoni Tapies as a home for his own artwork.

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Just around the corner from there…

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Casa Batllo, another Gaudi designed building. With a massive queue outside.

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Right next door to Casa Batllo…

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Casa Amatller. Apparently this block (the block of discord) is renowned for its modernist buildings.

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I was very struck by this one. It even had its own George and Dragon.

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And you could pay to take a tour (should you so wish) without the huge queues (or price I suspect) next door at Casa Batllo.

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We contented ourselves with a sneaky look in the entrance hall.

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The third famous building in the block (though I didn’t know it at the time) is Casa Lleo Morera…

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A little bit of lazy internet research suggests that the interior is stunning, although I’m not sure that it’s open to the public. I would have particularly liked to get up onto the roof to have a look at this….

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…folly?

Tempietto apparently, at least according to wikipedia.

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We used water fountains a great deal whilst we were in Barcelona, none more elaborate than this one.

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Our wander had brought us to Placa de Catalunya which has become quite familiar. This was handy because we wanted to get some tickets from the Tourist Information offices below the square.

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Then we’re off again to find one final Gaudi property…

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Casa Calvet.

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A few blocks away from there…

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…the Palau de la Musica Catalana.

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The older part of the building looked amazing, but in the narrow streets quite difficult to get a clear view for a photo.

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And that, finally, is the last of my Barcelona photos, though there are an awful lot more on my flickr account and one more post from our trip to Spain to come.

Barcelona – More Buildings

Barcelona – La Pedrera

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Another very striking building, and this time definitely designed by Gaudi and not just wrongly attributed to him by yours truly.

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You can look around inside, but it’s pretty pricey so we decided to enjoy it from across the street.

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I think that the rather splendid street lights near La Pedrera were also designed by Gaudi. Perhaps. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

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Barcelona – La Pedrera

Barcelona – Casa Comalat

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We were using a tourist’s street map to navigate our way between Gaudi buildings, but inevitably perhaps, we stumbled across other places of interest en route. On the tree lined Avinguda Diagonal it was difficult to get a clear view of this tall building.

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But these very rounded windows and balconies seemed to me reminiscent of Gaudi’s designs. Sadly I didn’t realise that the building has another, very colourful, facade on an adjacent street.

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Or that the interior is richly decorated in a very distinctive style. (Guided tour available here if you are interested).

I was particularly taken by the door…

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Is this Art Nouveau?

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Barcelona – Casa Comalat

Barcelona – Casa de les Punxes

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After a day at the beach, or possibly a day at the wonderfully odd sea-water swimming pool at Zona de banys del Forum, we had another ‘Gaudi’ day – wandering around the city using our tourist map to find some Gaudi designed buildings.

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It’s possible to look inside many of them but it always costs something, and usually quite a bit, so we contented ourselves with window-shopping.

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I’m no expert on architecture (or anything else for that matter), but I do know that I like what Gaudi did.

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In our wandering, we came across other buildings, designed by other, less celebrated, architects, which I also appreciated.

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So what will follow is a series of posts, mainly photos, from our ramble around Barcelona.

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Barcelona – Casa de les Punxes

Barcelona – Park Güell

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A lot of photographs in this post. You may want to put the kettle on.

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TBH and I have been to Park Güell before, on our previous fleeting visit to Barcelona. Back then it was free to visit and didn’t need to be booked in advance.

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Now, like almost everywhere we visited in the city, Park Güell has a not inconsiderable fee.  In general, Barcelona seemed pretty expensive to me. Although the beach is free and the transport system very cheap,  Museums and Art Galleries and the like, were far from cheap. I suppose this is one way in which austerity has bitten in Spain.

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You can’t really come to Barcelona, however, without a visit to Park Güell. TBH and I were both very keen to go.

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Count Eusebi Güell bought this land intending to turn it, with the help of Antoni Gaudí into a luxurious housing estate, with  sixty plots.

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The two buildings at the top of the post were the porter’s lodges at the entrance.

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There was one other building already on the site, which Güell moved into. Two more houses were built. When it couldn’t be sold, Gaudí bought one of them and moved his family into it.

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Gaudi made alterations to the house which was already on the site, but neither of the other  houses were designed by Gaudí.

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Eventually, the Park became a Municipal Garden.

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So in a way, it’s a giant folly. A failed commercial enterprise, now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gaudí had some pretty radical ideas…

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…this was going to be the marketplace. Our kids found it adapted well for hide and seek.

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The Porter’s Lodges. The right-hand one is a shop. The left-hand a museum. But the queue was 45 minutes, so we didn’t go in.

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The famous serpentine seating on the terrace (the only clear memory I had from our previous visit) is the work of Gaudí’s regular collaborator, Josep Maris Jujol.

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The (mostly) hidden house behind the trees, is the Gaudí House Museum, the house where Gaudí and his family lived for twenty years.

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This is the ‘other’ house built in the park, the one which Gaudí didn’t buy. It’s in the free part of Park Güell, which is well worth a visit. There are lots of buskers…

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…this harp player was amazing.

And stunning views over the city, including views of Gaudí’s incomplete cathedral, the Sagrada Família.

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Our next port of call…

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Barcelona – Park Güell

Barcelona – Jardin de Montjuic

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Below the Miro Foundation a formal park covers the hillside down towards the city.

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Designed by French landscape architect Jean-Cluade Nicolas Forestier, who seems to have designed parks in major cities across the world, the garden contains an abundance of water features, particularly several waterfalls which take advantage of the steep hillside on which the park is situated.

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I think one of the children had just ‘got’ TBH here, and revenge was on the cards.

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Teatre Lliure.

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Then we were back to the Gothic Quarter in the centre of the city for one final sight-seeing stop for the day….

Barcelona – Jardin de Montjuic