Tag Archives: Life

A to Z of Postcards – M is for Montreuil Sur Mer in France

Montreuil was once an important strategic town on the English Channel but by the nineteenth century after the sea had withdrawn over ten miles away which meant getting a boat in the water was becoming increasingly difficult it had become a sleepy medieval town of no real importance except for passengers on the coaching road from Calais to Paris.

The weather was accommodating and we enjoyed good views across the surrounding countryside.  Our stroll returned us to the centre of the classic French market town and we walked through its attractive streets with its lively fountains and vibrant floral displays, its  shops, restaurants and cafés  and we finished back in the town square right next to a convenient bar where we had a drink before moving on.

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A to Z of Postcards – K is for Kefalonia

In the first half of 2000 work was getting onerous and less enjoyable and I was beginning to lose my enthusiasm for working for a company (Onyx UK) that was financed by public taxes but was providing an ever deteriorating level of service.  I had a new boss who I didn’t get on with and I needed a holiday so at the beginning of June I went to the Ionian island of Kefalonia with mum and dad and son Jonathan.

As it happened it turned out to be the last time that I went away with dad because he became too ill to travel soon after that.

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A to Z of Postcards – J is for Jackson Hole in USA

 

Tonight we stayed at the Painted Buffalo Inn in Jackson or more correctly Jackson Hole. which was close to the town’s main square with arches of Elk antlers and close to the shopping and restaurant areas of this busy tourist town.

Later we had buffalo steaks at the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, which is a cowboy restaurant with lively entertainment, saddles for bar stools and an impressive collection of western memorabilia and cowboy theme bars.   Jackson and the Grand Tetons have been a popular western movie shoot location and includes one of my favourites – “Shane”.

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A to Z of Postcards – G is for Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria was formed by a volcano that grew out of the sea and continued to spew enough lava onto the surface to break through the ocean and form an island.  It is circular in shape with a mountain peak in the middle which separates the island into two distinct sectors, north and south.  Viewed from above it looks rather like a beached jellyfish.

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A to Z of Postcards – E is for Extremadura

This part of the journey was reminder of just how big Spain is as we motored for mile after mile without meeting any other traffic or without passing through towns or villages.  The road just kept grinding endlessly on in an easterly direction in a way that reminded me of the tortuous journey through Andalusia in a clapped out Ford Escort in 1986.

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A to Z of Postcards – C is for Cantabria

I had always thought of Spain as a Mediterranean country but closer inspection of the map shows that a third of the Country’s coastline is along the much more dramatic Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian coast is over two hundred kilometres of panoramic beaches, hidden coves tucked into the pleats of the cliffs, green headlands and little towns where fishing boats shelter below harbour cafés.

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A to Z of Cathedrals – Z is for Zadar in Croatia

My A to Z of Cathedrals finishes today with Z for Zadar in Croatia…

We flew to Zadar because the air fares were absurdly cheap, our plan was to drive south so we didn’t stay long which in retrospect was rather rude.

Zadar was pleasant but the weather was poor and a couple of hours were just enough to see all of the things that needed to be seen.  In the centre were the ruins of the old Roman Forum and just as in Pula the previous year old bits of Roman buildings, columns and artefacts were strewn about the main square and the adjacent streets and there was an area of what looked like very important excavation work that was completely accessible to the public to go and make their own important archaeological discoveries.

A to Z of Cathedrals – X is for Xwekjia in Gozo

When it comes to the letter X then thank goodness for Malta where the language does’t shy away from the 23rd letter of the alphabet.

The village of Xewkija on the island of Gozo 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!

A to Z of Cathedrals – W is for Wroclaw in Poland

In Polish Poland is called “Polska”. It literally means “The Land of Fields” and it comes from the word “pole” meaning “a plain/a field”. However, the story behind the country’s name is  more complicated than that.  “Polska” derives from the name of one of the main tribes which established Poland in the 10th century.

In a recent survey 75% of the population of Poland said that they were practising Catholics.  Nearby Italy (where the Pope lives) only registered 74%.  Malta had the largest positive response at 95%. The least religious countries were all in the north where 80% of respondents in Estonia, Norway, Denmark and Sweden all said that religion isn’t important.

Rather odd that bearing in mind that they believe in Elves and Fairies and Goblins.

Interestingly this survey didn’t seem to include the Vatican State where there is a population of only about five hundred official citizens and three-quarters of these are clergy so I imagine the response would surely have been no less than 100%.

I wasn’t surprised by this high response in Poland because there are twenty churches on the map of the old town area of Wroclaw and three of them have towers to climb and I do like climbing towers and we set about tackling them in a sort of church tower triathlon.

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A to Z of Cathedrals – U is for Castro Udiales in Spain

Around the harbour side women were working under parasols repairing fishing nets and past the fish market at the far end of the harbour a set of weathered stone steps took us up to castle which stands on an elevated rocky outcrop.  We made the tour of the restored fortress and then walked around the outside of the impressive medieval parish church, the Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Asuncion, which had the external appearance of a much grander cathedral.

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