Archive for the ‘Travel feature’ Category

Kayaking on Bayou Deloutre

August 29, 2015

lady and man Kayaking on bayou deloutre

By Charles Paxton

Just sharing some pictures taken at Bayou Deloutre (Bayou of the otter) last Saturday (Aug 22). There’s a landing just 7 minutes away from Antioch by car, but a world away in terms of isolation. We only saw one other family all day, some friendly young men fishing from the slipway. They’d caught 5 Bream, one of good size, and a 9″ long Channel Cat ( aka Blue Catfish). I said that’d look good in an aquarium and the fisherman laughed and said it would look pretty good frying in butter too!

Once out on the bayou we were alone among the birds and the beasts.

We met this Raccoon beside the river, his wet legs show he had recently been hunting in the shallows.

We met this Raccoon beside the river, his wet legs show he had recently been hunting in the shallows.

 

Three river turtles and an Anhinga beside tranquil Bayou Deloutre

How many turtles can you see in this picture? The Snakebird is an Anhinga.

There was a sweet breeze running up from the south that cooled us off every now and then.  Kayaking is the best way to explore the bayous, it’s really fun and Deloutre is lovely. It isn’t big and intimidating and there are lots of bird encounters.

It runs down into Louisiana from Arkansas and varies greatly in width and depth along the route. At times it seems no more than a narrow creek, by the time it reaches Stirlington, it has widened and deepened into what feels like a major river.

Trees beside Bayou Deloutre

Delightful Deloutre

 Near Antioch Deloutre is lined with Tupelo trees and Bald Cypress and has an intimate feeling, it’s just the right size for an expedition. About the width of the Thames above Medmenham and with no discernable flow, it is as easy paddling up north or down south. 

The water runs from Arkansas down to connect with the Ouachita River (the upper reaches of which we canoed with my sister and brother-in-law). We had lovely sightings of Kingfishers, Herons, Swamp Turkey (Anhinga), many frogs of various sizes, a water snake and a raccoon!

Kingfisher above, water snake below!

Kingfisher above, water snake below!

Broad-banded Water Snake

Broad-banded Water Snake

We saw turtles, but they dived before we could get to identification distance – canny little critters.

There are so many places that you can access only by kayak, aluminium fishing boats are too wide and have too deep a draft. Motors are too noisy. Kayaks are perfect!

This stretch is negotiable by kayak, if you wriggle your bum back and forwards a bit!

This stretch is negotiable by kayak, if you wriggle your bum back and forwards a bit!

In the shallows you can see tangles of wood and fish moving about.  There seem to be small frogs everywhere and curious hopping insects that visually blend into the sand very well.

A rare view of sandstone and an intriguing burrow.

A rare view of sandstone and an intriguing burrow.

At one stage we saw a sandstone bedding plane exposed in the bank and at another, a striped river prawn approximately 2 inches long.

A river prawn. Possibly an unusual variety of amphidromous  Macrobrachium.

A river prawn. Possibly an unusual variety of amphidromous Macrobrachium. Imagine it hatching as  larva in brackish coastal swamps and swimming about 400 miles upstream to reach this point!

An Anhinga drying off its wings

An Anhinga drying off its wings

If you’re hungry and thirsty afterwards (you very likely will be), stop off at Antioch’s country store on Highway 2, The Bienville Scenic Byway for a very tasty burger.

If you’d like a restaurant meal you can enjoy the full works at the ’50’s Diner across the road. I enjoyed a good cheeseburger there on Texas toast with country fries. The folks are real friendly and there are nostalgic antiques.

New Trumps Game Launched, Prehistoric Sites in Cumbria

January 31, 2014
Set in Cumbria's dramatic  mountain scenery, The Carles of Castlerigg stone circle, near Keswick is one of the magnificent sites that impresses visitors and local residents alike.

Set in Cumbria’s dramatic mountain scenery, The Carles of Castlerigg stone circle, near Keswick is one of the magnificent sites that impresses visitors and local residents alike. C.Paxton photo

Cumbria has over 200 prehistoric sites and yet more remain to be discovered. There are rings of standing stones, there are stones carved with rings and cup marks, there are stones set in avenues and there are single megalithic thunderstones, mounds and Henges of several types.

Mayburgh Henge at Eamont Bridge, Penrith under the Great Bear constellation

Mayburgh Henge at Eamont Bridge, Penrith under the Great Bear constellation

In the course of researching my article for All Nippon Airways (ANA)   Wingspan in-flight magazine to appear in the February 2014 issue, my wife Kimberly and I were smitten by these fascinating monuments. “Stone Crazy” she described our condition, and I think she was right.

The more we looked into the matter, the more sites we visited and the more we visited, the greater our interest became, and the more we noticed. From Birkrigg on the Furness peninsular to Durdar near Carlisle, our investigations took us from coastal monuments to the high plateau of Moor Divock 1000 ft above sea level, then east to the Pennines , then  north into Lakeland and revealed the great diversity of  the sites – all are distinctive and different. Some intriguing similarities emerged, for example in the layout of Hardendale Cairn circle and Castlerigg’s rectangular inner enclosure,  but generally it is the diversity in form that stands out.

We are grateful to our friend Neolithic Sculptor Brian Cowper for his insights, author Robert Farrah for his excellent guidebook (Robert W.E. Farrah’s A Guide To The Stone Circles Of Cumbria ), Penrith Library’s Reference section with its volumes of The Transactions of The Cumberland and Westmorland Archaeological Society, to Archaeologist Tom Clare for his illustrated talk and his excellent book ( Prehistoric Monuments of The Lake District ).

If you are interested in Cumbria’s prehistoric sites and you like playing trumps, then you might enjoy this new pack that my wife and I made just before Christmas.

Prehistoric Sites In Cumbria Trumps

Prehistoric Sites In Cumbria Trumps Includes 32 Sites From Neolithic To Modern

Get to know these treasures through a fun learning game in which players try to win site cards off each other by ‘trumping’each others’ site characteristics. Choose the strongest category for your site to challenge your partners’ and learn about these amazing prehistoric places as you play!

This set includes information cards about 32 Cumbrian prehistoric sites such as Oddendale, White Hag, Long Meg and her daughters, Gunnerkeld, Swinside, Birkrigg, Castlerigg, Gamelands, Moor Divock’s funerary complex and more!

Great fun for all the family. Available in Kid’s pocket size (£5), or larger (£8.00) for easier reading.

You can buy them from my online shop http://thewebcat.biz/sales_gallery.html

Thai Days: A Bangkok bus trip!

June 29, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog noted with no particular surprise another political ballsup. The Thai Minister of Transport has recently been urging officials to use public transport and report on any problems. H then decided to set an example by using public transport himself. He hopped on a bus destined for Don Mueang airport. Nearly two hours later the bus was still embroiled in a monumental traffic jam and had covered just a quarter of the distance.

“The trip was a flop,” Chadchat told the media. “I didn’t get to where I wanted to go.”  Him and 100,000 other people using public transport.

He did actually make it to the airport eventually. He bailed out of the bus at Victory Monument and summoned his chauffeur driven car. Hit the expressway. Caught his flight.

As PR stunts go this one has to be rated less than a victory.  

But maybe an education.

“I share the feelings of other bus passengers”, said Chadchat.  

Dope of the Day Awards: Sleepin on autopilot

May 7, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has an award. I used to bestow it regularly and the recipients were invariably people who exhibited behaviour that was mind-numbingly stupid. No. Even stupider than that.

No cash prizes awarded, but the winners could bask in the glory of sharing the Dope of the Day Awards gallery of fame with people even stupider than they were (are).

Let’s check out today’s award winners. Two Air India pilots decided to take a nap in business class.

Nothing wrong with that obviously. If they were passengers.

But they weren’t.

They were the pilots.

Autopilot fully engaged. Why not take advantage of the restful environment offered to business class passengers? The pilots were not entirely derelict in their duty. They showed a couple of flight  attendants how the cockpit worked. 40 minutes later one of the flight attendants no doubt fiddling with knobs and buttons and levers turned off the auto pilot.

And couldn’t re-engage it.

A rapid and startling descent began from 33,000 feet. The pilots, thankfully hadn’t been into the cocktails before enjoying the comfort of flying Air India business class. They woke, ran like shite and that was the end of in-flight entertainment on that particular flying the friendly skies trip.

Career advancement unlikely.

Incident: April 12. Flight from Bangkok to New Delhi. Source: The Mumbai Mirror.

 

 

 

Fuji jukai tour photos: Suicide forest, the Sea of trees, the Mt Fuji ice caves,

April 21, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog regards Mt Fuji as a bit special.

View it from a distance. A climb is grime, queues, soft drink vending machines and a Shinjuku station style grapple to see the fabled sunrise.

Stay as low below altitude level as possible; Fuji, like England (and lots of other places) is best viewed and admired from a distance!

These photos are taken from that perspective from a forest area notorious for suicides. People wander in intent on killing themselves knowing that volcano magnetic disturbances screw up compasses, forest cover thwarts helicopter searches, nobody really gives a hoot if they die, and that even if somebody does care the body won’t be found. Japanese authorities hoping to make people think twice have posted helpful advisories at entrances to the forests. There are various messages but the overall theme is ‘don’t commit suicide in these forests – also known as the ‘sea of trees.’

Suicides can be located if they start singing a death song which pipes around and echoes. But most just get on with the job in the hand. Or fall down a pot hole while composing their death song. I heard a death song once on Mt Takao. Very poignant and I thought let her get on with it. There’s no way I can find her and I don’t want to find her. She wants to die in a mountain wilderness good for her. Better than withering in an old people’s home or jumping in front of a train if she’s a scorned wife or a pachinko addict.

An alternative way to commit suicide at the base of Mt Fuji is to take a tour of the ice caves that riddle its base. Really deep, really icy, really suicidal. You’ll be doing it for fun. Check out the pics. You’ll spot the ice cave guide immediately! The rest of the mob is my family who made it through without falling 100 feet onto a glacial stalactite.

Worth checking out if life isn’t quite everything you hoped for. I’d suggest a hot steam bath with lake views and a cool Asahi beer with nibbles And Fuji there a comfortable distance away! The mountain one is always shown in art, ads, all that. The mountain you want to see.

Cheers!

Hugh in Bangkok

 

PS If you want details of the ice cave tours and the sea of trees drop me a line. I can dig up the contact details if time permits. But bear in mind I’m a blogger not a travel agent. Hugh Paxton’s blog takes no advertising. So you’ll get what we got.

Travel Turkey: Enthusing on Ephesus

April 5, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is trawling through my files – another fruitless effort to restore order – and I just came across this short. Written a few years back on one of my, always enjoyable, visits to Turkey. It looks as if I’ll be back in Turkey briefly in July. I look forward to it! Over to Ephesus!

START:

Although only 15% of Ephesus has been excavated, the visible portion of what was once the greatest temple city in Asia Minor still constitutes the largest Roman ruins east of the Mediterranean.

The city, which lies in Western Turkey, was sited thanks to leaping fish and panicked boar.

Androclos, the founding father, was told by the Oracle at Delphi that when he saw both, he would build a city destined to be ‘marvelous’. After much wandering he was preparing a meal when his oil exploded, firing fish skywards. Flames ignited the surrounding bushes flushing out a boar. This was obviously the place! He’d found it! And he started founding. The rest, as they say, is history.

Rather a lot of history actually!

Ephesus changed hands repeatedly as empires waxed and waned. New arrivals added more glorious architectural features. Apart from the Goths who demolished the place. As was their habit.

The famous Ephesus philosopher, Heracleitus, taught that everything is in a state of flux. When it comes to religion he was on the button. Gods had to endure an Ephesian environment reminiscent of Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’. The temple of many-breasted Artemis, Goddess of fertility, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It drew pilgrims in droves and also sustained a thriving industry in silver statue souvenirs. Then the apostle Paul arrived preaching against idolatry. Statue sales plummeted. Riots followed and Pagan vs Christian became the order of the day. The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus were Christian youths who took refuge in a cave. They dozed off, only waking 112 years later to find Christianity triumphant. St John wrote his book of Revelation here and Mary, mother of Jesus, died here. No tomb exists. Theologians decided that she had followed her son’s example and ascended to heaven.

Ephesus graffiti is intriguing. There’s the usual stuff – “So and so is a stinker” “I love Lucillus” etc. But watch for fish images. A Christian symbol, these served as solidarity messages during times when Christians were being fed to lions in the Grand Theatre (seating 24,500 and still in use). A message on the Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates threatens anybody caught urinating on it with the wrath of Hecate, the Greek witch goddess.

As one of Turkeys premier archaeological sites richly endowed with libraries, pubic toilets, baths, and all ancient mod-cons don’t expect to have the place to yourself. But even if you are sharing the grand central high street with what feels like 24,500 people queuing for theatre seats, it is still a blast from the past!

Last bunch of Royal Belum National Park

December 21, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog advises you to check the long tailed lizard! Size in this case isn’t an issue. But in the length department this chap has it!

We are now actually going to arrive early at an airport for a flight. A Paxton first!

I’ll drop you a line from India.

Cheers!

Hugh

Pictures from the Royal Belum National Park, Malaysia – I’m the guy standing in the elephant turds

December 12, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s blog has just returned from a visit to the Royal Belum national park in northern Malaysia. I’m the guy standing in two tons of elephant dung at a dry salt/mineral lick only reached by climbing up a life threatening cliff. My wife and daughter are the ones having fun.

Enjoy the snaps!

Hugh

Paxton family holiday snap

November 11, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog got this family holiday snap from my sister. I’m a bit glad that I was too busy to join the holiday and relax with my loved ones. Nice photo, though!

If you’ve taken your children for a bit of R and R you’ll have probably seen worse. My sister is somewhere in the middle of the melee.

Photo0173

Mouse deer and prehistoric Elk face-off in the castle’s cafe and burnt toast forces a retreat

August 30, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog will be telling the full tale of England’s wild cattle and Chillingham castle after it has been published in All Nippon Airways in-flight magazine, Wingspan. In January.

But quite frankly some things can’t wait. And this one won’t! My brother Charles, armed only with his wife, Kimmie, and a camera risked Chillingham and were beaten back by burning toast! But fought back and the Wingspan article will be a triumph.

BLOG ED NOTE: From now on in it’s Charles in charge.

CHARLES: The Chillingham castle is everything a good castle should be: haunted, crammed with treasures and bristling with antlers and weapons, turret guns, double-handed bastard swords, lochaber axes, voulges, glaive guisarmes, horseman’s maces, saracenic armour. Dungeon with grill overlooking skeleton, gruesome torture equipment, home of Earl Grey tea and uber cattle.

As Kimmie and I reached the far end of the torture chamber there was a whiff of burnt toast, we emerged into the court yard to see two boys in earnest discussion, one imploring the other to return inside, the other flatly refusing on account of the skeleton. Then the fire alarm went off and we all vacated the castle where we were given a brief history of the place by the amiable owner.

Charles Paxton
The WebCat

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