Category Archives: Cathedrals

Following the A1 North To The Wall

I have always been interested in road numbering in England. I once had an idea for a project which involved driving along some of the of the pre motorway routes, for example the Great North Road and the Fosse Way.

Kim has never really shared my enthusiasm for the project I have to say.

Recently we went north and I thought this an opportunity to drive a section of the Great North Road rather than use the modern A1 Motorway.

I digress here but a lot of people say that the A1 North is the best thing to come out of London and I have to say that altogether I agree with that.

We have a London centric country because of Roman transport policy . There is a saying that all roads lead to Rome and that may well be true but in England, thanks to the Romans all roads do actually lead to London.

They had six principal roads from London, Ermine Street that went North to York and then on to Hadrian’s Wall at Corbridge, Watling Street which went in one direction South-East to Dover and in the other North West to Chester, Slane Street that went to the South coast, Portway which went to Exeter in the South-West and then an unnamed road which ran to Carlisle also in the North.

I mention this because two thousand years later roads in England follow almost exactly the Roman routes. There are six single digit main roads in England. The A1 runs north more or less along the route of Ermine Street (although slightly to the west of it to avoid the Humber Estuary), the A2 goes to Dover along the southern section of Watling Street, the A3 follows the route of Slane Steet to Portsmouth, the A4 is the old Portway that goes to Exeter. The A5 is the northern section of Watling Street that runs to Chester and the modern A6 follows the Roman route from London to Carlisle.

Some people ask, what did the Romans ever do for us? Well, amongst other things they gave us our modern road network system.

This may have been what a Roman motorway service area might have looked like…

We started out early and drove east (which as it happens is the only way of Grimsby) using the modern motorway system, the M180, the M18 and the M62 but instead of joining the A1(M) we left at a junction to follow the Great North Road which doesn’t exactly follow a Roman Road but was constructed in the seventeenth century to join London with Edinburgh in Scotland and was one of the great coaching roads of Georgian England.

We drove monotonously (I am obliged to confess) through Knottingly, Ferrybridge, Fairburn, Micklefield and Aberford which were all bottleneck villages without any real appeal and we watched the traffic whiz by on the adjacent motorway as we encountered several hold ups and slow progress Kim’s limited enthusiasm for my project began to rapidly evaporate.

I persuaded her to stick with it until we reached the town of Wetherby where following my chosen route really did become a chore. We stopped for a while by the River Wharfe where I trod in some canine poo left there by some inconsiderate dog owner and then we carried on but this time using Kim’s preferred route the A1(M). The old Great North Road ran alongside for most of the route so I was obliged to agree that driving it was rather pointless.

However pointless, it seems that if I am to complete my project that I will probably have to do it alone.

We continued now along the A1(M) and left at junction 56 on to the B6275 which really does follow the route of a genuine Roman Road, Dene Street which went from York to Corbridge and to Hadrian’s famous Wall. There is even a Roman Bridge over the River Tees at the village of Piercebridge.

Leaving the Roman Road at Bishop Auckland we continued now to the city of Durham and then we continued to our chosen overnight accommodation at the Barrasford Arms in the village of of the same name close to the river Tyne.

Let me explain why…

I am a great fan of the 1970s TV sitcom “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads” and the Barrasford Arms featured in one of the episodes so for no better reason than that I wanted to stop there.

If I was compiling a top three of favourite TV sitcoms then “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads” would definitely be in there along with…

“Dad’s Army”

and “Father Ted”

No one at the Barrasford Arms knew anything about the Likely Lads or seemed interested in what happened to them; well, it was almost fifty years ago and most of the staff were under thirty and from Eastern Europe.

It hasn’t changed a great deal over the years, Bob and Terry would still recognise it…

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…

People Pictures – Posing for a Picture

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 Polish City of Wroclaw, a party of nuns visiting the Cathedral…

Read The Full Story Here…

A to Z of Statues – L is for Lenin in Moscow

When Lenin died in January 1924 he was acclaimed as ‘the greatest genius of mankind’ and ‘the leader and teacher of the people’s of the whole world’.  Time Magazine named him one of the one hundred most important people of the twentieth century (Albert Einstein was first and Mahatma Ghandi and Theodore Roosevelt close runners-up).

According to the article in Encyclopaedia Britannica: ‘If the Bolshevik Revolution is, as some people have called it, the most significant political event of the twentieth century, then Lenin must for good or ill be considered the century’s most significant political leader… he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx’.

Read The Full Story Here…

A to Z of Balconies – Zamora in Spain

And so I come to the end of my A to Z of balconies and finish in the delightful city of Zamora in Northern Spain.

Zamora is only a small city for a provincial capital, close to the border with Portugal and situated on the river Duero (Duoro in Portugal) and most famous for having the greatest number of Romanesque churches of any city in Europe.

Read the full story Here…

People Pictures – Mobile Phones

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.

Kim it seems has a fascination with Greek Orthodox Priests especially when they are on the telephone.  I wonder who they were calling?

A to Z of Balconies – Castilla y Leon

In my A to Z, W and X were difficult and Y has been no easier.  This is a hotel balcony in Segovia in Castilla y Leon in Spain…

We were staying at the Sercotel Infanta Isabel and we had one of the best rooms in the hotel  on the second floor with a perfect view of the Plaza Mayor lined with cafés and bars and with the Cathedral directly opposite.

As it went dark it was nice to sit and watch the square melting from afternoon into evening with plenty of sociable activity.  There were lots of Segovians walking out in families and we joined them in the busy streets and looked for somewhere to eat.

Click on an image to view the Gallery…

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…

People Pictures – Street Beggars

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 a gondola ride through the back canals of Venice…

Begging is quite normal in Europe, I don’t quite know where I stand on it, I am certain some of it is based on genuine hardship and some is based on a scam.  I quite often hand over some loose change just to massage my conscience.

We had spent 100 euro on a gondola ride and she was asking for just a few cents.

I sensed this woman was genuine, she has the look of being genuine and I would have gladly tipped some coins into her collection cup but we were in the middle of a canal  and how was I to get it to her.  I felt guilty about that.

Some people however I would never give money to, like this pair of scammers in Oviedo in Northern Spain…

 

A to Z of Statues – I is for Imre Nagy

At one other end of Louis Kossuth Square in Budapest is a statue of Imre Nagy, another Hungarian martyr and hero, who was Prime Minister during the post war occupation  years and led the ill-fated 1956 anti-soviet government after the revolution of the same year attempted to break free from Soviet control.

Nagy’s government formally declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections.  By the end of October this had seemed to be successful but on 4th November, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest and during a few days of resistance an estimated two thousand five hundred Hungarians died, and a further two hundred thousand more fled as refugees. Mass arrests and imprisonments continued and a new Soviet installed government was installed and this action strengthened Soviet control over Central Europe.

Charged with organising the overthrow of the Hungarian People’s Republic, Nagy was executed by hanging for treason in 1958 .

Read the full story Here…