Latest Entries »

Returned the car to the hire firm at the airport and caught the bus to the port town of Comino, on the west coast Malta to catch the ferry over to the island of Gozo. It was a bright blue morning and the crossing took about fifty minutes, docking in Mgarr harbour. The bus service over to Marsalforn, where our host Alex met us, took an hour.

Mgarr harbour Gozo is a quaint & picturesque little harbour which services the ferry's over from mainland Malta.

Mgarr harbour Gozo is a quaint & picturesque little harbour which services the ferry’s over from mainland Malta.

After chatting to Alex and depositing luggage meandered down to the harbour side town centre in Marsalforn and along the sea front for a couple of miles out to an old fortification on a promontory west of town. There were numerous coastal rock formations and water sculpted tesselations of the ancient sea bed that caught ones interest. On the way back, picked up some provisions at the local store and a nice Malbec in expectation of a pleasant evening before settling for the night.

Kind of wasted Wednesday with software issues with an ipad which took an inordinate amount of time to resolve with the Apple engineers over the phone and uploading new software.

Harbourside at Marsalforn on Gozo today. A" little breezy", one could say!

Harbourside at Marsalforn on Gozo today. A” little breezy”, one could say!

Thursday 05.01.17 Took the bus from Marsalforn to Victoria and then out to the Azure Window today. The weather was pretty windy and the seas were unusually wild, which made for a few good snaps.Also took the bus out to the “Azure Window” on the west coast. Its a sea carved arch, the will in due course collapse under the precepts of coastal erosion, the depredations of which are constant.

The Azure Window, west coast Gozo.

The Azure Window, west coast Gozo.

11.12.16 Sunday 
How strange,….from the time the aircraft tyres hit the tarmac at Hal Luca international airport to arriving at our domicile, elements of a short British occupation are still in evidence. The fairly pervasive use of english, to grocery store items to driving on the left, bear witness to historic osmosis. However, Malta appears to be much, much more than that.

Down in the old town Valletta.

Down in the old town Valletta.

Valletta has three harbours. This one is dedicated to pleasure craft & Ferry Shuttles over to the citadel and the Old Town Commercial Centre.

Valletta has three harbours. This one is dedicated to pleasure craft & Ferry Shuttles over to the citadel and the Old Town Commercial Centre.

Her history bears witness to over 4000 years of changing hegemonies. Walking down the old commercial centre within the citadel, one elicits a vicarious sense of a time when Valletta was in her “Hay day”, supporting frenetic commercial activity with the Mediterranean Basin.

It would also seem a popular stopping off point for some international super yachts, as there were three or four mega-examples on display.

View from the Citadel over to one of the old harbours.

View from the Citadel over to one of the old harbours.

26.12.16 Had Christmas lunch with the family of the young lady (Sarah) that provided our accommodation here in Valletta. They were wonderfully welcoming and treated us to a traditional Maltese Christmas lunch of mushroom soup, assorted meats & vegetables followed by traditional handmade desserts.img_3425

Following the New Year the plan is to move over to Gozo a small adjacent island on the 03.12.17

Dropped the car back at Manchester airport and caught the 16:40 out to Valencia arriving at 20:25. Makes me chuckle every time Ryan Air hits the tarmac and trundles to the pier, those trumpets sound over the tannoy, announcing another early or on time arrival; so kitsch. It’s good to be back in Valencia. I do so enjoy this city. It has everything. Beautiful architecture, both traditional and modern, a medieval old centre, art galleries, theatres, a beach and wonderful bijou restaurants in abundance.img_3294

The weather is still clear blue skies and sunny. However, it is noticeably cooler now, (C21) making the wearing of a light sweater “de rigeur.”

The family that we are staying with are an absolute delight. Edu, Tania, Eduardo (junior) and Maria are originally from Nicaragua but have now made their home and life here in Valencia. I’m sure that we shall remain firm friends.

Time now draws closer to when we “de-camp” and head out to Malta, where we hope to winter (35’9376 degrees N), which lands us about the same latitude as Algiers in N.Africa, without actually being in Africa!

My only real knowledge about Malta stems from a triptych of an aeroplane called the Gloster Gladiator that I became aware of in my youth. The three aeroplanes that defended Valletta in Malta during 1940 were called “Faith,Hope, and Charity.” “Faith” is the last surviving airframe that is now in a museum on the island.

This morning started much as any other, but I woke in a different country.  There was still the mist clinging to the frozen stems of grass, and the line of black trees on the hill still framed the …

Source: Where Is Cromwell Now?

Got back into Manchester and picked up a rental car as a precursor to a trip up to the Lake District to see a friend. Drove down to Middleton where we were invited to dinner at brother and sister in laws.Had a delightful evening catching up on all the news. That evening drove up to the Lakes. Had a great nights sleep and the following day drove out to Ullswater and lunch at The Brackenrigg.

Magnificent Lake Ullswater

Magnificent Lake Ullswater

Monday morning drove south headed for Gisburn. Spent the night at Waddow Hall. During the ensuing few days went out to Harrogate, had an elegant lunch at “Betty’s” and resolved a revisit to take a Turkish Bath, something I did with brother in law years ago and enjoyed hugely.

Betty's of Harrogate, an Icon of a particularly elegant period in history that has an abiding caché.

Betty’s of Harrogate, an Icon of a period in history that has an abiding caché.The Inn at Whitewell The Inn at Whitewell

Whilst in the North West area one could not pass up a revisit to the delightful Ribble Valley and an exemplar of an old hostelry called the “Inn at Whitewell.” It lies at a bend in the river Hodder and is reputed to have been visited by the queen and her entourage on a junket up to Scotland in the dim and distant past. The atmosphere is heavy with old english country culture,crackling log fires, gun dogs, gum boots and locals with mirthful yarns at the bar.

A quintessentially english pursuit, early evening, trout fishing on the River Hodder, Whitewell...

A quintessentially english pursuit, early evening, trout fishing on the River Hodder, Whitewell…

After a brief visit to a good friend in Radcliffe, it seems that the “Gods of Travel” have ordained that one must travel back to Valencia on the 26.10.16!

12.10.16 

Following a night spent at Antalya International Airport, caught the early morning service to Budapest. An abiding memory from my youth was the Hungarian uprising of 1956 when the country decided to leave the Warsaw Pact and become neutral. Budapest saw the arrival of Russian T54 tanks and troops to quell a popular uprising. Over 3000 died, however, in 1989/90 following the fall of the “Iron Curtain” Hungary became truly independent.https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cd/Parliament_Building%2C_Budapest%2C_outside.jpg/303px-Parliament_Building%2C_Budapest%2C_outside.jpg

Szecheniy Bridge

Szecheniy Bridge

History oozes from the fabric of the city. From early settlement by the Celts in the 1st century AD to Roman occupation until C106 AD. The Ottomans pillaged Buda in 1526 and Turkish occupation lasted until the Habsburg empire reconquered in 1718.

The city has beautiful architecture with imposing buildings evocative of its turbulent history.First impressions of the people are that they are welcoming and affable. However, I haven’t heard much laughter or “merrymaking” in the streets or on the trams and tube. Having said that, the weather is pretty cold and miserable. A lot more overcast and grey than Antalya. People are quite serious and tend to keep themselves to themselves. Perhaps this is a vestige a long time under soviet control, who can say.

A theatre on Andrassyut

The Budapest Opera House on Andrassyut

Booked a tour around the Opera House, which I’m looking forward to. It’s a neo-renaissance building opened in in 1884. Emporer Franz Joseph commissioned the structure. At the time Budapest shared the administration of the Austro Hungarian empire with Vienna.

Budapest Opera House

Budapest Opera House

Treating us to a mini "taster" of what opera can sound like in a brilliantly acoustic environment.

Treating us to a mini “taster” of what opera can sound like in a brilliantly acoustic environment.

Will be heading back to “Blighty” on the 16.10.16 for a few days before getting down to Valencia in Spain by the 26.10.16

 

Arrived Antalya airport “shattered” after a delayed four and a half hour flight from Manchester. The Immigration officer who processed our visa papers was surly and fairly negative. Obviously bored to death with his job and it showed. The visa requirement surprised us as one was led to believe on “t’internet” that it was not required. However it is, and the completely charmless official, utterly etiolated by his “travail” exemplified a “Kafkaesque” dedication.

dscf8865

“Why so serious?”

Didn’t get to Airbnb lodging until around midnight. Our host Bilal seems a delightful young man. He has a friend called “Happy”, who also appears a pleasant young man.

A room with a view.

A room with a view.

Hopefully, whilst here I will be able to catch up on some reading. Primarily politically orientated as I am fairly exercised about our impending negotiations predicating/formalising implementation of Article 50 (Our Notice of Departure from the EU).

Will be flying back to “Blighty” prior to 17.10.16 to take care of some medical stuff. Little bit of “RnR” then off to S. America……hopefully without any un-forseen “outfielders.”

After a short two week stop in “Blighty” on the return from Valencia Spain, during which time an opportunity presented itself to engage in some property improvements, have now landed back in Iceland. Got the “Red Eye” stupid o’clock from Manchester and landed Keflavik at 09:30 on the 14.08.16. The two and a half hour flight was uneventful and we landed in a mist and drizzle that precluded any view of the tundra prior to landing. My sister Sophia was kind enough to drive out to pick us up and we talked avidly about family, events & just generally caught up with news. Got to mums at about 11:00am.

Fossvogur on a coastal walk from Kopavogur.

Fossvogur on a coastal walk from Kopavogur.

Initial observation again served to confirm the prolific evidence of tree growth and urban development going on at a pace. The incidence of  “tourism” seems to have a double edged “cost & benefit.” From the benefit point of view, it doubtless adds to the performance of the economy. However, the costs involved are that one sees “nose to tail” tourists down town snapping pictures, walking around fairly aimlessly and something of an as yet muted debilitation of the natural environment “up country”. This stems from a  propensity of some tourists to have less respect for the natural beauty of the place. Incidents of campers defecating outside their tents (when there are perfectly serviceable toilet facilities a short distance away). Rubbish being left by the thoughtless hither and thither all play a part in undermining the landscape. Of course there is a dearth of Rangers and signs which I suppose would provide some guidance  for the idiots who do not use common sense. My sister is particularly sensitive to this kind of thoughtlessness.

19.08.16 Great news! #1 daughter rang to confirm that she is pregnant with a baby girl! Our first grand child.

28.08.16 Went to visit the “Harpa” theatre by the harbour. Built at huge expense by Danish firm Hening Larsen Architects & Icelandic/Danish artist Olafur Eliason in 2011 at a cost of 164 Million ISK to Reykjavik Council (ergo taxpayers). It really is a stunning building.

Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall

IMG_3005The structure build was undertaken by a Chinese consortium “flown in” to do the job, much to the disgust of the Reykjavik population who presumably felt that the necessary skills and craftsmanship were within the heft of Icelanders. On this same day we had actually walked into downtown Reykjavik from Kopavogur, a distance of 9.3 miles! One was fortunate that it didn’t rain.

Well goodness me it appears that today is a “palindrome” date. An auspicious date to arrive in Seville, the eponymous domicile of the “Barber.” Got here after a three hour drive from Granada and got settled in at another “Airbnb” place just a fifteen minute walk from the centre of town. Clear blue skies and a warm and balmy C28 with an excited  “frisson” at seeing the elegance of the old town and its architecture. Noticeably much more parochial, with a sense of easy languor. However, there is a bull ring and of course the Flamenco, which imbues an otherwise mundane working week with passion and excitement.

Passion, intensity and elegance consumes the protagonists in the Tango

Passion, intensity and elegance consumes the protagonists in the Flamenco

My god….I wish I could dance. One gets the feeling that all of life is expressed in this dance.

Sad news from the UK….so sorry for the family of Jo Cox…Tragic.

The river that runs through Seville is called the Guadaira (Guadalquivir original Arabic name). It is broad and powerful. Consistent with other Spanish towns, there is a vibrant “Café/Bar culture throughout the town and along the river banks. Though noticeably devoid of a sense of “un-employment” counterintuitively in these times of austerity. The bars and cafés are well attended. However the clothing shops and designer outlets appear to be only sporadically busy. The point being that Spain is supposedly in challenging circumstances economically speaking.
Downtown Seville today, had the opportunity to visit Plaza de España. What a “Tour de Force” this building is! It comprises sweeping vistas, beautiful cupolas, elegant staircases, recreational waterway and whimsical fountain, all set in an idyllic wooded landscape.

Evocative of times past, a carriage ride around the mansion and into the forrest.

Evocative of times past, a carriage ride around the mansion and into the forrest.

My goodness me if the balcony of the “Reichstag” in Berlin evinced a feeling of power & dominion, this place made one feel to be a truly “decadent” romantic in the classical sense.

Sadly the camera does capture the semicircular sweep of the building and waterway some 200 meters long.

Sadly the camera does not capture the semicircular sweep of the building and waterway some 200 meters long.

I think the rest of the week will be dedicated to “mooching” down nooks and crannies that permeate the old historic centre of Seville.

The Guadalquivir river running through Seville.

The Guadalquivir river running through Seville. The tall spire to the left of the dome is Seville Cathedral.

09.06.16 Arrived in Granada after a pleasant overland trip with Alsa.es the major carrier on peninsular Spain. The run from Valencia took eight hours and we arrived around 19:00hrs. However the quality and comfort of the vehicle was “top drawer”. Accommodation had been pre-booked with Air bnb in a small hamlet high on a hill called El Albaicin which looked down on Granada and its environs. Looking over the Carrera del Darro river at the C7th Alhambra Palace and Gardens. (A World Heritage Site) The views with the snow topped Albaicin mountains as a backdrop are nothing short of stunning. Following the fairly tiring trip a “lie in” was “de rigeur”. The weather was sublime as one “mooched” around the village to get ones bearings delighting in the multiplicity of narrow twisting streets, alleyways and “bijou” squares where people were relaxing with cool drinks under Cypress,Ash,Alder & Birch trees in the fading afternoon sunlight.

Albaicin looking through a window from the Alhambra Palace Garden.

Albaicin looking through a window from the Alhambra Palace Garden.

Following invasion by the Umayyad dynasty from Damascus in the C8th usurping the Visigoth empire, and established a new Caliphate in Cordova and Seville controlling the Iberian peninsula. Abd al Rahman took control in 756 AD. After several hundred years and prolific construction throughout the peninsular by subsequent Muslim rulers a fortification ensued in 1237 by Muhammad 1st at the site of Alhambra in present day Andalus. Through following additions Alhambra grew in magnificence and size until the re-conquest by the Habsberg dynasty later in C14th.
Meandering through the delightful Palace gardens as a precursor to an allotted time to enter the Alhambra proper, one is subsumed into a place of tranquility and calm. The sound of water trickling along channels and gently splashing into enchanting pools from fountains adds to the sense of well-being and calm.
The highlight of the complex for which a time slot was allotted are the Nasrid Palaces, which constitute three palaces from three differing epochs. Mexuar Palace by Ismail 1314, Comares Palace by Yusuf 1333 MuhammadV 1362 & Palace of the Lions by Muhammad also in the 1362-1391 period.

Looking along one of the garden features in the Alhambra Palace Garden called General Life

Looking along one of the garden features in the Alhambra Palace Garden called General Life

Descending from one level to a lower terrace.

Descending from one level to a lower terrace.

Gently splashing water fountains in C38 temperature imbue coolness & freshness into the environment.

Gently splashing water fountains in C38 temperature imbue coolness & freshness into the environment.

Alkazaba is the earliest construction, being the original fortified position with commanding views over the plain. An ideal location to see and plan a reception for an approaching enemy.

Delightful pilisters, portico and columns.

Delightful pilasters, portico and columns in the Islamic style.

Commanding views over the plains at Granada from the original Nazrid fortification.

Commanding views over the plains at Granada from the original Nazrid fortification.

Up All Night

Writing / Journalism / Opinion

creepingsharia.wordpress.com/

Documenting the Islamization of America

Jamie Foster

Jamie Foster, countryside solicitor advocate

COUNTRY SQUIRE MAGAZINE

A Leading Platform for Voices from the Overlooked Great British Countryside

Thoughts and Reactions

Meandering around SE Asia

Independent Britain

Campaigning to leave the EU

The Brexit Door

Independent thinking for an Independent Britain

The European sceptic

Fighting for the UK from EU interference

Joel D. Hirst's Blog

A More Intense Significance

NOSHAMEJANE

no shame in my game

My China IQ

Leading source for Chinese news, business, trends, culture, and language!

The Lil' Mermaid

Dream. Believe. Achieve

A View to a Hill

Socialists always run out of other people's money

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. - J Robert Oppenheimer.