Trying to write in the wonderfully balmy sun of Pembrokeshire this week has been a struggle! But I’m not complaining. it’s been a joy to be down here, heatwave and all. But I’m particularly thankful to have got out for half a day yesterday to visit Skomer Island at last (been coming to Dale for years, but this was a first). So here is some jollity from the delightful puffins of Skomer. What fun they are… Read more
It has been a schoolboy dream to visit this place (yeah, I know; I was, and am still, a bit of a classics geek): the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion (the southern tip of Attica, just below Athens). There’s not a lot of it left sadly. But it is one of the most spectacular spots for any building, let alone one of such antiquity and distinction. Having had an action-packed but positive few days doing some Langham teaching in Athens, it was a joy to get out to the cape for Monday morning, followed by a great seafood lunch with good friends overlooking the Aegean. Read more
What an extraordinary night. I’ve never been to an athletics event before in my life (not since defying the odds and coming second in the U13 100m at my prep school – nb there were only 3 other runners and only about 4 others in the qualifying age group in the whole school). But this was one not to miss – a night at the Olympics. Our seats were very high up ‘in the gods’ – but what a perspective, what a joy, what a privilege to witness.
Wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Read more
I had one day to sightsee in Turkey last week which was fabulous. I even came back a bit sunburnt (much to the chagrin of every rain-drenched colleague on my return). Quite fun to be able to say that I got a tan at Laodicea. So here are a few photographic highlights. For the full Flickr set, click here. Having been based in Antalya (ancient Attalia) had a chance to visit Perga and Aspendos (along the coast to the east), and then travelled inland to the north west to the Lycus Valley (where Hierapolis, Laodicea and Colossae are).
First a general map and few panoramas from the trip… Click on each image for a closer view. Read more
Thanks to a brief profile in Wired last month, I’ve been mesmerised by the ‘hyperphotos’ of French photographic artist Jean-Francois Rauzier. It is definitely worth spending some time exploring his worlds. And they are worlds – each image is deceptively simple but like all great art, draws you in with a summons to contemplate and wonder. Read more
Back on Saturday from a wonderful family time in Sicily. The last week was spent at the foot of Mount Etna. It was only a few days ago that this great volcano was erupting, but during our time, we only saw her steaming. Impressive nonetheless. One day we took a cable car (only 6-seater, so not for the vertiginally challenged!) up to 2500m and walked around for an hour or two. An extraordinary, eerie lunar landscape, and if you stray from the trodden tracks, you find yourself in gravelly lava fields. Walking in them is hard work, rather like trudging through fresh deep snow. Spectacular though. Read more
Just back from a week over New Year in the glorious Derbyshire Peaks. We walked up Dovedale several times over the week, including a wonderful ascent (which makes it sound far grander than it really was!) of Thorpe Cloud just as the sun was setting. Truly magnificent. I can assure you that no filters have been used in the production of these images…
A hatched together panorama from Thorpe Cloud looking due west:
Some views along Dovedale:
Then some from earlier in the week
Click here to see the whole set…
This rather unprepossessing, pock-marked (i.e. bullet-riddled) house was Sarajevo’s lifeline during the 4 year siege in the mid-9os. I posted about that siege the last time I was here. Am here for the first ever Bosnian Langham Seminar (the preparations for which brought me here in February) and had an afternoon off yesterday to visit the Tunnel Museum. Road signs near by direct people to Tunel Spasa – the tunnel of hope or salvation. And it was well-named. For it kept a city of 1000s of people alive.
From the outside, it looks like many of the other buildings in this area – a narrow strip of land by Sarajevo airport which was held by the UN during siege (the main runway is beyond the end house’s garden fence in the right photo above).
The city was completely surrounded by Serb forces apart from the airport – an area that cut the city off from the Bosnian forces up in the mountains (as this map below shows). The UN was only allowed to occupy the airport (the blue strip crossing the neck of Bosnian territory) on condition that they did not allow Bosnians to cross it. As a result, the Bosnians were forced to build a tunnel underneath the airport. The Serbs knew it must exist, and they shelled the area constantly – but never actually found its exact whereabouts.
It was an extraordinary feat – nearly 1km (half a mile) long and only 1.6m (ca 5ft) high. It’s impossible for a man of average height to stand up straight in it – as my good friend Slavko Hadzic proves. But this was a lifeline – as someone rather ironically highlighted in the sign above the entrance (left): 1993-1995 SARAJEVO CITY GATE
Through this tunnel came troops, weapons, food, oil (in pipes along the roof), animals, supplies – everything in fact. It was controlled by Bosnian military police – and could only work if traffic travelled in one direction, and then swapped around every 30 minutes or so.
In my two visits to Sarajevo, nothing has brought home to me the horrors of a living in city under a 4-year siege more than visiting this place.
It was just a few years ago. 1966 in fact. An Albanian (Vangjel Toçi) living in Durrës (the country’s largest port and site of the ancient Roman city of Dyrrachium), noticed that a fig tree in his garden had suddenly sunk a few feet into the ground. All very weird. Read more
I got a bit carried away with my panorama pics this year (made by stitching lots of individual snaps together). Thought I’d post one or two… Click on each image to get the full effect
Here is the view from the wonderful Gardens of Marqueyssac, on a long escarpment overlooking the Dordogne as it meanders past Roque Gageac (on the left) towards Beynac and Castelnaud. A truly heavenly place.
Here is Roque-Gageac itself:
The river flowing through Montignac (the location of a real surprise: an annual Bee festival, during which the whole town gets covered in bizarre oversized flowers made of plastic bags – check it out).
Finally here is the spectacular view from the Chateau de Castelnaud