Burton Dane Travels

We're traveling through Europe and parts nearby for a year. We'll be posting our pix and adventures here.

Friday, August 24, 2007


We made this video for our nephew and cousin Jacob. Ben did all of the animation and music, I did the editing and titles.

Making these videos has been a fun way to give something to people that we love. It feels like baking for them in way. We spend a few hours thinking about what they would like and how we can make them happy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Orkney Islands

The Orkney Islands lie just miles off the Northern tip of Scotland (what others refer to as UK). Perhaps one of the last beads in the string of ancient history we have been creating for a year, and though difficult to get to it was a delight to attain.

Time restricted our visit to the main island but it was a rich trove that included rings of huge standing stones erected almost 5000 years ago, a prehistoric scottish village in pristine shape predating the pyramids, and a burial mound so old that vikings left graffiti inside it when they were bored. When viewed under a glowering sky (weather in Scotland is intensely moody) and surrounded by fields of heather, it is magical.

We had ambitions to see more of the island the next day but were lured to the seashore--some of us needed less luring than others--where we spent hours admiring the rocky coastline and dead gorgeous seaweeds, sand and waves. Back at our hotel, it seemed there would be ample time to sip whisky in the wood and leather pub after yet another sticky toffee pudding, alas, the hiking took its toll and we slept soundly with only Orkney ale in our bellies (Ben drank squash).

Friday, August 10, 2007

Northern Scotland Zen

Train from Stirling rail station to Thurso to ferry to Orkney Island

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hadrian’s Wall

When the Roman Empire decided the cost for expanding its economic control was too great, it built Hadrian’s wall, two moats, three rubble berms and lots of forts. From here they could watch Scotland’s tattooed, skirt-wearing Picts rant and when the “barbarians” got too close, Romans could trap them against the wall and slaughter them. They never killed the Scottish spirit though.

When the Empire was threatened at home, they withdrew from this area taking everyone and most things with them. They left the forts, walls and buildings made of rectangular rocks. For 1600 years, the locals have been using these to build homes, stables, walls and pubs.

Recently, the locals stopped building with the Roman rocks so that tourists can pay to see them in place. It makes for a lovely walk and nice museums. Not too much said about the Picts, perhaps we’ll hear more further north.

The rocks didn’t go to waste in the pubs, they’re lovely too.

Travel Tips
1) Wild Boar is farm raised, not hunted.
2) Hound is the proper name for “dogs”. A bitch is a female, a dog is a male. They don’t take kindly to people calling them all dogs.
3) Ale is food.
4) Use a Britrail pass to travel. It’s the only reasonably priced item we’ve found here.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Ok, to handle the problem of people getting and not getting gifts, I now start a giftlist. If you are under 15 and we know you,
please leave a comment saying that you want something. WARNING!:you may ask for something that you want, but we can't get everybody exactly what they want. ok, so just leave a comment.


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Another few planned days turned into a week with our friends in Dartington. They are building a cob house and we were able to help. This was a fantastic stay on many levels. We got to lay cob for a few days, went to some beaches, shared lots of great food and warm human kindness. Ben acquired an older sister and younger brother while Jules and I spent the nights in their ‘74 VW campervan.

Ben was feted for his upcoming birthday. This included a crown, cake, songs and 12 hoists into the air. We’ve scheduled three family stops on the way home. Three more chances for birthday parties.

Their house is mostly made from the mud in their yard mixed with straw. It’s stirred by a large digger machine which then lifts it up onto the walls. The builders then spread it and stamp it down to almost three feet wide. After it’s dried, it’s pared back to about two feet wide. Any cob mixture that falls off gets reused in the next batch.

The pictures show Jules stomping down cob, Ivor the digger man with his dogs and brewing up a batch of cob.

A Short Tale of Travels

We left Lago di Garda to meet up again with Wolfgang and Astrid near Munich. We had a great week with them, enjoying the museums, drinking the beers and hiking a rock outcropping. The pinnacle was so steep, there were steel cables and metal bars fixed to the rock to keep you from pitching off the face.

Jules was at her adrenaline limit on this hike. Our great pictures were lost when our camera’s memory card died. Instead Ben and I collaborated on an image of her. We tried to capture her nonchalant fear.

From Munich we spent a few wet days in the Black Forest. Lovely waterfalls and picturesque wooded valleys. We replaced our lost camera charger and could start taking pictures again. The next were back in the dwarf Beech tree forest in Champagne.

We spent our last night on the continent in two hotel rooms in Calais. We booked the first with the help of the local tourist bureau. It featured splattered wall decor, cool water showers, bugs in the bed, junkies on the side street and a warning about parking the car where they get broken into (yes we have a garage, sorry it’s full).

The last straw came while using the nearest internet location. It was a bar with tightly clad young girls and a huge scar faced man. Cigarette smoke and whisky wrapped up in a deserted island theme. We couldn’t do the trip planning we needed to do there and we put Calais down as the worst city of the trip.

Jules got our money back and found us a nearby hotel with wireless in the room. Not charming but junkie-free.

We turned in our Kango the next morning, ferried across to Dover and headed through London out west to Devon....

Friday, August 03, 2007


we are in devon, England.