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A tale from the Airport – No1 The Elephant and the Captain.

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As we can all imagine fog can be very disruptive to airport operations and London Heathrow was often plagued by fog. When fog happens  aircraft sometimes have to be diverted and Manchester was a primary diversion airport  during my time there.

It was interesting to see all the different types of  aircraft from all over the world which would not normally land  at Manchester parked all over the the place waiting to continue their journeys to far flung countries.

One flight, a BOAC (you can tell it was a while back) from South Africa had been diverted due to thick fog and had had to  park up and wait until conditions improved.After a while it was realised that they were going to be there for a good few hours.

This was not usually a problem, but on this flight was a very large wooden container with a baby elephant inside on it’s way to a zoo. Obviously everyone was concerned for the comfort of the poor thing and  It was decided to offload the elephant onto the tarmac to give it some fresh air and something to eat.

But what do you feed a baby elephant ? was the question. Somebody contacted the zoo and they were informed that a bucket of milk mixed with pieces of bread would be ideal and this was duly produced. So amidst parked aircraft and  swirling fog on the runway and  a baby elephant staff began arriving with  buckets of milk and bread!

Then some PR person from the airline thought it would be a fabulous opportunity for a little Public Relations photo shoot for the Captain of the aircraft to be  photographed feeding the elephant and this could then  appear in the company magazine. Imagine the scene, a large wooden box with  a small trunk sticking out and the Captain all dressed up in his uniform. lots of gold braid, cap on, approaches the elephant smiling for the camera, the elephant dips it’s trunk into the bucket and the camera starts clicking.

This is the point at which it was discovered that the baby elephant wasn’t keen on bread and milk and promptly blew it out of his trunk, much to the dismay of the Captain and the amusement of the crow of watchers, needless to say the picture did not appear in the magazine!! 

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Sighisoara in Romania, a place of towers, churches and Dracula

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Sighisoara in Romania  has a look and atmosphere that immediately makes us think of Count Dracula. We should not be surprised, in fact Sighişoara is located in Transylvania and was the birthplace of Vlad III the Impaler. A historical figure who inspired Bram Stoker to write the novel Dracula. It was not fa coincidence that Vlad was really called Vlad Dracul.

The medieval centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you will immediately understand why. Visiting the centre is certainly a unique pleasure.


The centre had 14 defense towers, each managed by a different guild and corporation, this was an area often attacked by the Turks. The towers have been used a lot. Now 9 of these towers survive, for example the shoemakers’, the tailors’ and the blacksmiths’ towers remain. They are generally closed to the public but are nice to photograph from outside.

The clock tower which dates back to 1300 is not closed to the public. Not only is it beautiful to look at but you can also climb it to have beautiful panoramic views.

Many will want to visit Vlad Dracul’s house where there is now a restaurant, but if you go there and ask the waiters, for a small fee they will show you Vlad’s room.

Sighisoara in Romania; the place of Vlad the Impaler

The unpronounceable Piaţa Cetăţii is the market square that was the centre of medieval life of the town, here there were also the many executions by Vlad.

The church of the Dominican monastery has a decidedly Baroque look and was in fact rebuilt in 1600 after a raging fire. The church has existed here since at least 1200. Visit it just to see the carpets from Anatolia. Behind the church you will find a statue of a very mustachioed Vlad Dracul.

If you feel like climbing stairs, you can go up to see the church on the hill in a late Gothic style. This church was also older and initially in Romanesque style but was rebuilt in Gothic style in 1300-1400.

There is also a festival dedicated to vampires, during the event you may have problems finding a place to sleep, so book in advance.

Sighisoara in Romania is located on the railway line to Bucharest and therefore easily accessible

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Albert Bridge in London, facts you might not know

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Tower Bridge is the most famous bridge in London, but perhaps the Albert Bridge is the most beautiful and certainly the most delicate bridge. Named after Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, the best time to see this bridge is after dark when over 4000 lights illuminate it.

But its pastel colors play with the sunlight at any time, it is a bridge to be seen several times, with the sun, the moon and the clouds. The Albert Bridge connects Battersea to Chelsea and is a modification of a cable-stayed bridge but has been modified several times due to its instability. Initially, you paid to cross the bridge but it was not very successful and after six years it became a bridge open to the public.

If the bridge has a delicate look it is no coincidence, this structure has always been delicate and shaky since its inauguration in 1873.

The thing got worse with the advent of the car and heavy vehicles. Especially the SUVs driven by the wealthy inhabitants of Chelsea. Another problem was that the bridge was used by troops from Chelsea Barracks to cross the Thames, and hundreds of marching men were a danger to the bridge. For this reason you still see signs instructing the troops not to march on the bridge.

The problem of dogs on the Albert Bridge

Another thing that ruins the bridge is the urine of dogs taken for a walk from Chelsea to Battersea Park, in short, dog pee corrodes the wood of the structure.

In the 1950s, the bridge was due to be demolished, but vigorous campaigning by prominent supporters, including the poet John Betjeman, who was fighting at the time against the destruction of many historic buildings, stopped the demolition.

In 1973, pillars were placed to strengthen the bridge which remains the least used of London’s bridges. It was recently closed for restoration for a year and officially reopened in 2011 by two dogs from Battersea Dogs Home, aptly named Prince and Albert.

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London: How to visit Hyde Park Pet Cemetery

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In the northwest part of Hyde Park, almost hidden away is the famous Pet Cemeteryfrom the Victorian era. Not everyone knows where it is and it’s not easy to see even from Bayswater Road.

Opened in 1881, the animals of wealthy London families were buried here until 1903. It all started by chance when the park keeper a Mr. Winbridge allowed two children who always visited Hyde Park to bury their little dog Cherry in the garden. The following year another dog was buried and then another, until the cemetery began to become popular.

There are not only dog graves but also two cats, a couple of monkeys and other pets. They all have a small headstone exactly like a miniature human cemetery. There are over 300 small tombstones in the cemetery and often have writings that show how much these animals were loved by their owners.

Keeping pets was very fashionable among wealthy Londoners in the 1800s. The second dog buried here belonged to Prince George the Duke of Cambridge’s wife who was the granddaughter in the male line of King George III of the United Kingdom. He was an army officer and served as commander-in-chief of the British Army from 1856 to 1895. The little dog was a Yorkshire terrier and was killed after getting under the wheels of a carriage.

To visit it you have to book one of the tours that are organised every now and then to see the animal cemetery, otherwise you can only see it from the outside. To see when there are organised tours you can look here. There are regular guided tours to visit the cemetery and the good thing is that they are completely free. Even the pandemic has not stopped these initiatives. If you want to participate, just book online.

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