Category Archives: Beaches

A to Z of Statues – M is for Michael Collins

We were going to visit the Michael Collins Museum and as we waited for it to open at ten o’clock we walked around the square in search of photo opportunities.

Michael Collins is one of the great characters (heroes?) of Irish history, a soldier, a politician, a patriot who was eventually betrayed by a man less worthy (Éamon de Valera) and murdered in an ambush somewhere close to Clonakilty at Béal na Bláth.

Read The Full Story Here…

The Driftwood Boat

“The sea’s curious workmanship: bottle green glass sucked smooth and porous by the waves: wood stripped and cleaned and bark swollen with salt…gnawed and rubbed: amber: bone: the sea”  –  Lawrence Durrell – Propero’s Cell

After a gap of about  five years, maybe even more, this week I returned to the Driftwood  Boat project, found my old sticks at the back of the shed and set to to build a boat.

This is a box of driftwood and other bits and pieces that I collected on various holidays to the Greek Islands and brought home in my hand luggage.  Interestingly I never once was stopped at airport security or UK customs and asked to explain my unusual cargo.

So, it has been carefully assembled but now comes the tricky bit – negotiating with Kim on a place in the house to display it.

A year or so ago and two thousand miles from the Greek Islands I was in a seaside fishing village in Northumberland  called Seaton Sluice.

Not an especially attractive name I agree but it turned out to be a delightful place with a working port full of fishing boats, wonderful rugged coastal scenery and a curious gaily painted blue shed.

A timber treasure house full of riches washed up from the sea and fashioned into wood carvings, trinkets and what you might generously describe as exclusive souvenirs by the hippie owner/artist with grizzled beard and wild hair.  He might easily have been washed up from the sea himself.  I thought immediately of Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’ and Norman Lewis’  ‘Voices of the Old Sea’.

Here I am looking for inspiration…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”  – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

People Pictures – Waiting for Customers

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken whilst on an early morning walk on the Greek island of Rhodes…

We woke early and went to the Street of the Knights because this is one of the best preserved/restored medieval streets in Europe and we wanted to get there before the crowds.  As soon as the cruise ships arrive and discharge their guests onto the quayside hundreds of people make straight for this place and it immediately loses its atmosphere and its charm.

The man in the picture had set the tables and was waiting for the tourists to arrive.

Read The Full Story Here…

A to Z of Balconies – Xlendi on the Island of Gozo

The problem with an A to Z project is that it starts off easy enough through the vowels and the popular letter but towards the end becomes more difficult.  I was worried about X, I thought about cheating and using Extramadura or Eixample in Barcelona but then I suddenly remembered the island of Gozo

Thank goodness for the impenetrable Maltese language: Wiki describes it thus – Maltese is a Semitic language spoken by the Maltese people.  Maltese is a Latinised variety of spoken historical Arabic through its descent from Siculo-Arabic, which developed as a Maghrebi Arabic dialect during the Emirate of Sicily between 831 and 1091.”

All very interesting but the important thing for my A to Z project is that the Maltese language doesn’t object to using the letter X.

In 2015 I went on an open top bus tour of the island of Malta and one of the stop offs was the seaside town of Xlendi.  I would like to be able to tell you that it was a delightful and interesting place but sadly I can’t.  For some reason ( which I am glad of now) I took this picture of an apartment block on the seafront.

There is another village on Gozo that begins with X and this is interesting.

The village of Xewkija is a modest place but has an enormous church with what is claimed to be the fourth or perhaps even the third largest unsupported church dome in the World.

To put that into some sort of perspective the largest is St Peter’s in Rome (fourth largest city in Western Europe) and the second largest is St Paul’s in London (population 7.5 million, give or take a thousand).  Xewkija is a village in rural Gozo with a population of about three thousand, three hundred people.  They didn’t have Christopher Wren to design it or Michelangelo to do the interior decoration – they built it themselves!

Malta is the most religious country in Europe – Read the Full Story Here…

A to Z of Statues – H is for Henry The Navigator

Leaving central Lisbon I to the railway station next door and joined another glacial ticket machine queue and waited to pay my fare to visit nearby Belém, it took forever, I could have walked there in the time it took to get to the front of the line but fortunately this didn’t inconvenience me so much and I didn’t miss the next train.

I immediately liked Belém, it was a little more relaxed than Lisbon city centre.  I walked first to the east for a good view of the suspension bridge and then to the west to the UNESCO listed Belém Tower and then to the real reason that I wanted to visit, The Monument to the Discoveries.

Located on the edge of the north bank of the Tagus, the fifty metre high slab of concrete, was erected in 1960 to commemorate the five hundredth  anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. The monument is sculpted in the form of a ship’s prow, with dozens of figures from Portuguese history following a statue of the Infante Henry looking out to the west perhaps contemplating another voyage of discovery.

People Pictures – Net Fixing

“…lively commentaries on village happenings relieved the monotony of net-mending to which many women were obliged to devote the major part of the daylight hours.  Net-mending left the brain free to create its own fancies and to work on the raw material of speculation and known fact from which the tissue of gossip was woven.” – Norman Lewis – “Voices of the Old Sea”

In my previous post about Castro Urdiales  in Cantabria I referred to the net fixers working on the harbour.  Blogging pal John asked for a picture and I am happy to oblige.

People Pictures – Caught in the Sunset

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken on the Greek island of Amorgos…

Amorgos has some fabulous sunsets, this picture is one of mine…

Read The Full Story Here…

People Pictures – Stubborn Occupation

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken in the resort town of Paphos in Cyprus…

From our hotel a lot of the two mile walk into Paphos was completely dull and uninteresting, a strip of charmless grey car hire offices, car parks, travel companies, estate agents, every so often an Irish Pub and a modern but unfortunate McDonald’s restaurant. There is always a McDonald’s restaurant.

I thought that you might need some McDonalds facts here. There are eighteen McDonalds in Cyprus and that is about one per 47,000 population, roughly the same as the UK. For comparison USA and Australia have a restaurant for about every 25,000 and the highest in Europe is Andorra with one for every 15,000. Iraq has only one restaurant for its population of forty million, I don’t know whether to sympathise with them or congratulate them.

Closer to the harbour and the older sections of the town there was a more interesting mix of history and styles.

As we walked we strayed away from the main streets into backstreet areas where some people hang to the past like stubborn barnacles clinging to a rock. Houses from the past which take up space that modern developers would love to get their hands on but people will obviously not give them up easily. Mostly old people of course and I imagine that once they have gone their families will happily sell up and cash in.

This elderly couple were managing what I would describe as an urban smallholding.

People Pictures – Travelling Salesman

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken in Polignano a Mare in Puglia, Italy. A dangerously overloaded three wheel Piaggio mobile hardware shop. I imagine the driver had to be careful going around corners for fear of toppling over…

It reminded me in a way of the door-to-door salesmen who would come by now and again when I was a boy and try to persuade my Mum to buy something from his suitcase. I don’t think she ever did. Later when I had a house of my own men would come by and spill a yarn about being an ex convict trying to go straight by selling door-to-door. I always bought something from them in case if I didn’t they came back later.

Read The Full Story Here…

One Word Challenge – Point

This week I have decided to join in with Debbie Smyth’s One Word Sunday challenge

Skelligs View Car Park, Kerry…

It has to be said that this was a really odd place. It seems that wherever coaches stop in Ireland an unusual ensemble of strange people and entertainers beam down from out of space and put out a collection tin.

In this windy remote place the oddest of all was a sort of farmer chap who looked as though he hadn’t washed his hands or combed his hair for several years who sat on two battered sofa cushions and invited people to have their photograph taken with a litter of kittens barely old enough to be away from their mother and then some lambs who looked to me to be highly sedated. I think the chap was highly sedated as well, probably on Guinness!

But he actually seemed positively normal next to the man a badly out of tune accordion and kicking a piece of metal plate in some sort of unholy row that I can only imagine was designed to scare witches away.

Walking back to the car in a state of dazed amusement I decided to take his picture but he saw me raise the camera and he was not very happy about it. Perhaps he thought the camera would steal his soul but on reflection I think it was because I hadn’t put any money in the tin. “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me” he yelled, “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me”. I took the picture and gave a jolly wave but he wasn’t going to be that easily placated, “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me”, “I’ll set the dog on yer, I’ll set the dog on yer”.

Now I suffer from a real fear of dogs and a paranoia of being mauled to a canine death and normally a threat like that would turn by backbone to jelly. The British Geological Survey Team in Edinburgh measures earthquake activity in the UK and has been known to sometimes get confused by the seismic activity created by my violent shaking when faced by a dog and has even issued a false earthquake event alert.

On this occasion however I didn’t think I had a lot to fear from an obviously shagged out old collie that was wearing a flat cap tied to its head and whose best people attacking days were a long way behind it. The poor thing could hardly stand up let alone chase anyone that it was set upon so I gave another cheery wave and dawdled defiantly back to the car. I was supremely confident that I could make the five metres to the door faster than it could cover the fifty metres or so to get to me.

Back in the car I suddenly worried that this might be the time that the engine would blow up and I might be in a spot of bother after all but thankfully it fired into life and I deliberately drove slowly past him and gave him a another cheeky wave as he continued to make his pointless threat – “I’ll set the dog on yer, I’ll set the dog on yer”. What was it going to do – bite the tyres?

Anyway, there was no warning light on the dashboard about geriatric dog attacks so we just laughed and carried on to the exit.