Travels inspired by the Wombles

Saturday, 30 April 2011

I love a funny robot...

Don't you? We met this one in Canal City, a major shopping centre in Fukuoka which models itself - loosely - on Venice.

This chap was trundling around the fourth floor, when we introduced him to Bungo. Not sure who was the more surprised...

Bungo's bridge

One of the places we visited in Japan was Kitakyushu (formerly Kokura). The city has a number of bridges over its main river which have a Japanese name but also a themed designation.

Bungo Bridge is the Bridge of Sound - appropriate for this most over-enthusiastic of Wombles. So we were delighted to find the bridge - helped by the signage being in English and Japanese - and to persuade Bungo to smile, or at least to wrinkle his nose, for the camera...

Friday, 29 April 2011

'A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step...'

... Chairman Mao is supposed to have said. But he didn't know that a journey of 50,000 miles begins with a singing Womble, as it did in my case.

With the help of the interweb, I've calculated that just getting to the various locations for this project comes to over 22,000 miles travelled. Osaka in Japan is the most distant, being 5900 miles from here, with Wimbledon being the closest at a mere 28 miles. And of course I've had to come back, too.

Double that 22,000 to get to 44,000, and add in the internal travel, particularly within Bulgaria, Venezuela and Japan - and that's how I came up with 50,000 miles.

And I haven't even earned airmiles for any of that...

Not the royal wedding

Welcome to this wedding-free zone. Nothing against the happy couple; but a combination of jetlag from 24 hours of travelling back from Japan, and the need to do various things like sleeping, washing, ironing, photo processing, notes, more sleeping, a bit of eating, some shopping possibly, more sleeping, trying to remember what I'm supposed to be doing next week, reading post and emails and so on... they'll be fine without me.

Japan was great fun. The Foreign Office warned us off going to Tokyo, so we flew to and from Osaka - via Amsterdam - instead, staying in Hiroshima, Matsuyama, Fukuoka and Kyoto. Funny robots, theraputic seals, strange pickles, large carp, vertiginous castles, a manga museum, a philosopher's walk, the Space Shuttle, a zoo... we saw a lot and yet realised at the same time that we'd only begun to see everything that strange land has to show.

Bungo came with us and enjoyed himself. He even got his own seat for the final connecting flight from Amsterdam. Those nice people at Cityjet offered him a complimentary drink and a cheese roll, too. Further blogging, and some Bungo pictures, to come over the next few days...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The media story of the millennium, century etc

Well, possibly not, but hype is apparently the way to get your story mentioned, so I thought I would try it. Anyway... the story is - it seems - that The Wombles are playing Glastonbury this year. Now there were rumours they'd be at last year's Glasto, but maybe this year it's true. Their name is on the official poster, as performing on the Avalon Stage. As the Wombles albums are due for re-release around the same time, it would be quite credible for them to give some live performances. The poster also lists The Wombats as being booked to perform. Now there's a thought: Wombles v Wombats... Sad to say, it may be more difficult to invent time travel and go back to the 1966 World Cup Final than to get a ticket to Glastonbury. And if Tidybag's report is accurate, we won't even be able to see the Wombles' gig on the BBC. Shame!

Friday, 15 April 2011

In the news...

Yes, an enterprising local reporter caught up with me during the recent trip to Wellington (see opposite). Thanks to Caroline Garbett for setting this up. Fame at last...

An alternative to the Grand National...?

After all the Grand National controversy about the killing of horses (not 'destruction' as the euphemistic press puts it - the horses were living beings, they were killed), how about a safer option? While in Wellington, I went to Hoo Farm, just north of Telford. Apart from the loquaciousness of the parrots, the day's highlight was a goat race - with small toy sheep strapped to them as ersatz jockeys. No goats were harmed in this race. One or two were so reluctant to complete the course that they turned, halfway along, and went back to the start. You don't get that at Aintree...

The other Wellington

Just back from Shropshire, and the second of the pair of Wellingtons. This one has been around for a long time - well over a millennium - and became a market town as far back as 1244. Shown here is a building which encapsulates Wellington's mixture of old and new - some Tudor-Eliza-Jacobethan features in a building currently occupied by an outlet of cheap fast food store Subway. Old buildings with new uses. The Wombles might approve (though not, I suspect, of the food...)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Rearrange these five letters...

Tokyo is an anagram of Kyoto. Neat, eh? My trip to Japan has had a slight but significant revision. The Foreign Office is advising against travel to Tokyo, which was due to be our first and last destination in Japan. Instead we'll now fly to Osaka - making a shorter round trip to Kyushu and back - and spend the final two nights in Kyoto. So we miss the capital (and there was a Cousin Tokyo in The Wombles go round the world), and that's a shame. But Kyoto should be fun: a glimpse of old Japan. But before Japan comes Shropshire... of which more soon.