Niche Museums

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Sea Lions at Pier 39

Shortly before the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, sea lions started to haul out onto K dock at Pier 39 in San Francisco. Their numbers steadily increased, and their protected status lead to a quandary for the pier’s management team. They decided to relinquish the dock to the pinnipeds, and thirty years later the sea lions have established themselves as a San Francisco fixture.

There are usually between 150 and 600 sea lions at the pier, mostly male and weighing up to 850lb (390kg). Their numbers drop in June and July when most of them head south to the Channel Islands for breeding season. The highest recorded count was 1,701 in November 2009.

The Aquarium of the Bay operates a Sea Lion Center upstairs from the sea lions themselves which has interactive displays and educational videos.

Website | Wikipedia

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Pier 39, The Embarcadero at Beach Street, San Francisco, CA 94133 - Map

4 April 2020

The Beat Museum

The Beat Museum was founded as an Airstream trailer in Monterey in 2003, and relocated to permanent premises in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco in 2006.

The museum collects memorabilia of the Beat Generation - a literary movement founded in the 1950s who rejected economic materialism and explored psychedelic drugs and sexual liberation.

Leading figures in the movement included Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. The museum features typewriters, jackets, letters and other memorabilia for these artists and many others.

Website | Wikipedia

6 photos and 1 link

540 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133 - Map

4 April 2020

Ilfracombe Tunnels Beaches

In the early 19th century North Devon started to establish itself as a destination for seaside resorts, with travelers arriving by ship and by railway. In the 1820s the Ilfracombe Sea Bathing Company formed, and a team of hundreds of Welsh miners were hired to spend two years carving six tunnels through the Ilfracombe hillside, providing access to the coastline by foot or by carriage.

In 1836 a new bath-house was erected, offering hot and cold-water sea baths as an aid to health. Outdoor bathing pools were organized, segregated by gender to protect the modesty of the ladies. A bugler was positioned between the male and female pools who would blow an alarm if any man attempted to spy on the ladies, resulting in his arrest.

Today four of the six tunnels are still in operation, and the remains of the pools themselves are open to visitors.

Website | Wikipedia

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Bath Place, Ilfracombe, Devon, EX34 8AN, United Kingdom - Map

4 April 2020

Hazel-Atlas Sand Mine

The Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in the East Bay is a 6,000 acre regional park incorporating 60 miles of trails, 3 deserted mining towns, a 19th century cemetery and a former sand mine, which today is open for guided tours.

The mine opened in the 1920s to produce silica sandstone for the glass industry. Their top customer was the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company plant in Oakland, who later purchased the mine and operated it until 1945.

Tours take 90 minutes and cover 1300 feet of the old sand mine. Reservations are recommended as they frequently sell out. The Greathouse Visitor Center is located underground in a large chamber excavated in the 1920s and features a small museum with displays about the history and geology of the area.

Website | Wikipedia

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Somersville Road, Antioch, CA 94509 - Map

4 April 2020

Jigokudani Monkey Park

As ski resorts developed in the 1950s, Japanese macaques (often referred to as snow monkeys) were forced to migrate to the lower mountain regions including the human occupied areas of Yamanouchi.

A guesthouse there called Korakukan featured an outdoor onsen - a hot spring bath - and the monkeys imitated human bathers and started enjoying the hot baths themselves.

Since the human population didn't particularly want to share their baths with the monkeys, a compromise was reached: in 1964 a set of hot spring baths were constructed for the monkeys to enjoy by themselves.

Guides make food available to the monkeys, encouraging them to stay in the area all year round. They are still very much wild creatures though, and they return to the safety of the forests in the evenings.

We stayed at the nearby Kokuya ryokan - a 400 year old guesthouse with eight of its own private hot spring baths - and it was absolutely magical.

Website | Wikipedia

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〒381-0401 Nagano, Shimotakai District, Yamanochi, Hirao, 6845, Japan - Map

4 April 2020

The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon is an extraordinarily successful charity. Frequently ranked in the top 50 UK charities by funds raised, in 2018 it spent £40M and pulled in £42.3M - more than half of which was from legacies in people’s wills. The sanctuary is responsible for more than 6,000 donkeys worldwide and the headquarters in Sidmouth usually hosts a population of several hundred. The British public really likes donkeys.

Founded by Elisabeth Svendsen in 1969, the sanctuary moved to its present location in 1974 when she was bequeathed a legacy of 204 donkeys by the estate of Violet Philpin - joining Elisabeth’s existing herd of 38. The charity continued to grow over the years, and today operates in 35 countries worldwide.

Visits to the sanctuary are free, and it opens 365 days a year.

Website | Wikipedia

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Slade House Farm, Sidmouth, EX10 0NU, United Kingdom - Map

4 April 2020

Seaton Tramway

A unique narrow-gauge electric tramway, running between the East Devon coastal town of Seaton and the villages of Colyford and Colyton in the Axe Valley.

The fourteen trams that operate on the line are custom half-scale and two-thirds-scale electric vehicles, mostly built for the tramway by founder Claude Lane and his successor Allan Gardner.

Some of the trams are adapted from historic vehicles, the oldest of which is a red and white Ex Metropolitan Electric Tramways vehicle first constructed in 1904.

The tramway opened in 1970, reusing segments of the Seaton branch line that had been closed by the Beaching cuts in the 1960s. The tramway had previously spent the 1950s moving homes between St Leonard’s, Rhyl and Eastbourne.

The tram ride takes 25 minutes in each direction, and the Colyton end has a station cafeteria, a picnic area and an excellent antique thrift shop.

Website | Wikipedia

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Seaton Tramway, Harbour Road, Seaton, Devon EX12 2NQ, United Kingdom - Map

4 April 2020

Oakley Court

A British Victorian country house built in 1859. Today it's a luxury hotel, but the fancy trimmings conceal a mischievous past: this mansion is Dr. Frank N. Furter's castle from the Rocky Horror Picture Show!

The house changed hands several times before the Second World War, but in 1949 it became home to Hammer Film Productions, notorious producer of British gothic horror films from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Hammer shot five films there before moving to a custom studio built next door. They continued to use Oakley Court for exteriors, including The Brides of Dracula in 1962 and The Plague of the Zombies in 1966.

In October through December of 1974 Oakley Court was used as a location for many scenes of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The mansion was in very poor condition at the time, with no heat or bathrooms. Susan Sarandon (Janet) came down with pneumonia while filming there.

Today there is little evidence of the hotel's cinematic past - but if you head to the lounge bar room that borders the conservatory you will find yourself sitting in the room that hosted the Time Warp.

Website | Wikipedia

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Windsor Road, Water Oakley, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 5UR, United Kingdom - Map

4 April 2020

Southern Food and Beverage Museum

New Orleans is really good at food. The Southern Food & Beverage Museum helps explain why.

Founded in 2004, and relocated a couple of times until it reached its current location in September 2014, the museum has exhibits covering food cultures from throughout the American south and detailed exhibits on the foods of Louisiana.

Popeyes Chicken founder Al Copeland has his own area, which includes his 1986 Scoville Unit chromatography device and an original Satisfryer device custom built for Al’s restaurants.

The museum includes a museum-within-a-museum: The Museum of the American Cocktail, which displays cocktail items dating all the way back to the 1750s. Also present is La Galerie de l'Absinthe, the largest collection of Absinthe artifacts in the USA.

SoFAB hosts frequent cooking demonstrations by local chefs, and shares space with Toups South, a highly rated brunch and dinner restaurant.

Website | Wikipedia

8 photos and 1 link

1504 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70113 - Map

4 April 2020

Horniman Museum and Gardens

The Horniman museum in Forest Hill, south London was opened in 1901 by Frederick John Horniman, heir to the world's largest tea trading business.

Frederick was a lifelong collector, focusing on natural history, anthropology and musical instruments. His collection of 30,000 items formed the basis of the museum's collection, which has since grown to more than 350,000 items, continuing to focus on those three topics.

The most famous item in the Horniman is a stuffed walrus, first displayed at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in South Kensington in 1886. The walrus originated in eastern Canada but was stuffed in England, apparently by a taxidermist who had never seen a walrus and assumed that it should be stuffed until the wrinkles smoothed out. Today you can follow the walrus on Twitter.

Website | Wikipedia

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100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ, United Kingdom - Map

4 April 2020

Yolo Causeway Bat Colony

Every summer the Yolo Causeway between Davis and Sacramento plays host to enormous numbers of migratory Mexican free-tailed bats - the largest colony of these bats in California. The bats emerge together in spectacular long ribbons at dusk as they head out to hunt.

The current causeway was built in 1962, with expansion joints that turned out to be the perfect roosting spot for bats. Today the bat population peaks at around 250,000 individuals. They feed on insects in the nearby wetlands and give birth to baby bats in mid-June.

The Yolo Basin Foundation offers Bat Talk & Walks during bat season. This is by far the best way to see the bats as the ideal viewing spots for the flyouts are in areas of the wetlands that are not generally open to the public.

The bat talk usually features rescued bats so you can see what they look like up close!

Website | Wikipedia

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45211 County Road 32B, Davis, CA 95618, United States - Map

4 April 2020

Stonehenge

England's most famous Neolithic monument. Constructed between 3000 and 2000 BC, and legally protected since the Ancient Monuments Protection Act of 1882. How it was built and what it was built for remain subject to debate.

Ask the guides up by the Henge about the rooks - if you are lucky they might be feeding them. We visited the day before the winter solstice and saw an entire bus load of druids and some Morris dancers.

Website

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Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE, United Kingdom - Map

4 April 2020

Jukebox London

David and Margaret Webb started restoring vintage Jukeboxes over twenty years ago. Their showroom in an Islington townhouse displays a dazzling array of Jukeboxes dating back to the 1940s, all of which are in working order.

Call them to book an appointment and they will show you around and demonstrate the Jukeboxes working for you. They sell about ten a year, but only to customers who can be trusted to look after them properly.

Website

6 photos and 1 link

16 Colebrooke Row, Islington, London, N1 8DB, United Kingdom - Map

4 April 2020

Dennis Severs’ House

A three-dimensional historical novel. American artist Dennis Severs moved to London in 1967 and bought this Georgian terraced house in 1979. He spent the next twenty years refurbishing the ten rooms in the house to tell the story of two hundred years of occupation by an imaginary family of Huguenot immigrants.

Each room is intended to give the impression that the occupants have just left, with hidden audio tracks, scents and half-eaten bread adding to the atmosphere.

Today the house is maintained by the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust, who open it to the public and also run occasional candle-lit evening tours.

Website | Wikipedia

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18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, London E1 6BX, United Kingdom - Map

4 April 2020

Buckfast Abbey

Buckfast has been home to an abbey since 1018, albeit with numerous changes in circumstance. The monastery was dissolved in 1539, then refounded by French Benedictine monks in 1882. Today’s church was completed in 1938.

The Abbey is self-supporting, most notoriously through the production of Buckfast Tonic Wine. Variously known as "Wreck the Hoose Juice", "Commotion Lotion”, "Cumbernauld Rocket Fuel” and more this fortified wine is highly caffeinated and has been widely associated with anti-social behaviour in Scotland.

The Abbey staff generally dislike questions about the wine’s violent reputation, but they do sell bottles of it in the Abbey gift shop.

Website | Wikipedia

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Buckfast Abbey, Buckfastleigh, TQ11 0EE, United Kingdom - Map

4 April 2020

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