I usually go to the Caribbean after Christmas. Last year I didn’t, for obvious reasons. This year I won’t be either, choosing skiing over sunshine. This Christmas special, however, meant I spent Boxing Day in the Cazza, with friends old and new 🙂
‘High on a hill lived a lonely goatherd…’
(The Sound of Music, Rogers and Hammerstein).
Not Austria or a herd. Just a lonely goat on Floyen, Bergen Norway.
The departure town for over three million Irish Emigrants and final port of call for the RMS Titanic. We visited the Cobh Heritage Cente, which tells the story of Irish emigration through to the 1950s and traces the history of Cobh over the centuries. Starting with the indentured servants who were transported to the colonies to work on the plantations in the 17th century, to Annie Moore, who with her two brothers were the first emigrants to be processed on the newly opened Ellis Island in New York in 1891.
Located on the Ring of Kerry, the village gives a fascinating insight into how people lived and worked in Ireland in the late 19th Century.
So what is Bog? Undrained bog is 95% water and 5% solid material. The solid part is made up of partially decayed vegetation i.e. trees, grass, roots, moss etc. Bogs were a major source of fuel for Irish homes.
A key member of an Irish Bog village would be the Irish Wolf Hound.
An ancient breed of Irish dog these were used for hunting.
The Kerry bog ponies are a native breed to Ireland and were used for transport and farm work, such as bringing home turf from the bog, seaweed from the beach and milk from the creamery.
Spent an interesting hour wandering around this true to life reconstruction. Life was certainly harsh.
The Irish love their sport and high up on the list are football and wrestling. On a whistle stop visit to Sneem in Co. Kerry there are two life size bronze statues of two Irish sporting legends, part of the Sneem culture trail.
By artist, Alan Hall from Valentia this statue is set in South Square , facing Sneem Sportsfield, where John gave many displays of his remarkable footballing skills and vision over many years.
Stephen Casey was an Irish sport rower and world champion professional wrestler. He was the second Irish wrestler, after Danno O’Mahoney, to become a world champion. He was World Heavyweight Champion for six years, while fighting in WWII. The statue was again the work of Valentia sculptor Alan Hall.
Sneem was a lovely little Irish village and the statues were a highlight.
This morning was my first flight post pandemic. My last flight home to London was nineteen months ago, from Cuba the only country that would fly passengers home from the COVID-19 stricken cruise ship I was stranded in the Caribbean on.
I thought that International travel would be a bit further on than it was. London Gatwick was so quiet. The North Terminal is the only one operating. The normally bustling South Terminal is still closed. Strange to drive past and see it empty.
The Travel Lodge I stayed in the night before due to an early flight, normally a hive of activity, full of passengers coming and going was dead. I felt like I was the only guest in the building!
My early morning flight was the quickest I have ever got through. I expected to be delayed with long queues while everyone’s paperwork was checked at each end. I was asked a lot if I had filled in a Passenger Locator form and if I was vaccinated, but at no time, London or Dublin, did I have to produce any proof.
It was a quick and easy transit through both ends, but it was also sad to see such a vibrant and exciting space so empty and lacking vitality. For me a bustling airport was part of the excitement of the impending holiday. It was missing. International travel is far from getting back to normal.
Brownsea Island is the largest of the islands in Poole Harbour in the county of Dorset, England. The island is owned by the National Trust with the northern half managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
I have this goal to travel to the islands around the UK and this has been on my list for a couple of years. It was well worth the wait, although COVID restrictions limited our time there. lots of woodland, coastland and wildlife. Amazing experience.
This weekend’s walk was the stretch of coastline between Peacehaven and Newhaven.
Newhaven is a working port town, as opposed to a seaside town like Eastbourne and Seaford, with a regular ferry passenger service to Dieppe in France. It’s West Beach, French owned, was closed in 2008 because of safety concerns about the crumbling sea-defence walls and harbour steps. but there is an ongoing local campaign and negotiations to reopen the beach.
The coastline was barren and exposed but beautiful. We passed the coastguard watch tower and the old fort, which dates from the Neolithic age, through the Bronze and Iron Age and was then occupied by the Romans. Today there are the remains of various Second World War buildings.
During the Second World War the port, along with a large stretch of the South Coast, was a German bombing target. To protect Newhaven Port, the nearby river Cuckmere acted as a night-time decoy. The valley would be lit up like the port during bombing raids in an attempt to draw bombers off course and minimise the barrage of the town.
It was a fabulous walk, steeped in history and a totally different landscape from the Eastbourne South Downs where we commenced our coastline walk.
As followers of my blog will know my partner is a musician on a cruise ship with his band Funky Blue. We say ‘goodbye’ a lot ‘Standing on the Docks in Southampton’ (Lennon and McCartney) and ‘Hello’ in lots of different countries as I travel the world to be with him. This year has seen a huge change in our lives. We flew back from Cuba in March and have been together 24/7 ever since. I’ve missed the travelling, but loved having him around.
Wherever we are in the world, together or apart, this is our song- the iconic Mr Louis Armstrong with All the Time in the World.
“Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before.”
The possibilities are endless. Things can only get better #2021.
The Salt Path
Raynor and Moth lost everything, including the roof over their heads- they decided to walk the South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall while they took stock. At the same time Moth is diagnosed with a terminal illness. With their possessions in backpacks they battled the elements, walking and living the Path. The Salt Path is about the resilience and resourcefulness of human nature. It is also a story of loss, courage, hope and love.
Today was a trip down the coast to Hastings. The town lies between two hills- East and West. It was attacked by the French during the Hundred Years War. The architecture is a fascinating mish-mash of styles ranging from Medieval to Victorian times.
The old town high street (George Street) is a diverse mix of antiquity and modern cosmopolitan. There are cute narrow twittens running off the Main Street up into the cliffs.
Enjoy a game of open air chess in the Old Town square.
Hastings has a thriving fishing community. It’s fleet is the largest in Europe that is launched from a beach as opposed to a quay or harbour.
A local character?
Lastly Hastings was the birthplace of Grey Owl, a pioneer Of Canada conservation- said to have saved the Canadian beaver from extinction.
‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore’
Even the humble shores of Newhaven in East Sussex. Newhaven ferry port overlooks the English Channel, one of the busiest shipping channels in the world. It is located on the south coast of England in the county of Sussex at the mouth of the river Ouse. It is the closest port to London with Ferry links to France, and is ideally placed between the seaside resorts of Brighton and Eastbourne with quick and easy access to the rest of the UK.
On my way to work I pass this ferry. The pull to hop on and cross the channel is always there!
We took a road trip recently to Cambridge , England. While there we did a chauffeured punt down the River with local company Scudamore’s Punting: https://www.scudamores.com/punting-quayside. As we sailed the river past the university colleges, listening to our very knowledgable chauffeur, I was reminded of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth’s ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge September 3, 1802…’ :
Earth has not any thing to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
The poem was about the river Thames, not the River Cam, however Wordsworth did study at St. John’s College Cambridge, so I felt my connection was valid.