Monthly Archives: May 2014

Let’s Party!

Fellow bloggers check out this blog idea – a great way to share your favourite blog piece again with others. Here’s my submission

Devon Day

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Today we have made our way back up the coast stopping off in the Tamar Valley and then driving across to Teignmouth to meet up with Anita’s cousin and her family.

Tamar Valley









Weekly Photo Challenge: Split Second Olympics Story

imageA submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Split Second Story

We were lucky enough to visit the Olympic Park at London 2012. We went on the first Thursday which was the day it all kicked off for Britain in terms of Gold! On our way in we passed many commentators from TV stations across the world doing “pieces to camera”. I captured one of these as We walked by. In error I had my camera switched to Black and White mode when I took this but I think it’s effective.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Split Second Story

A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Split Second Story
Each week of the year my church ( St Mary’s Bletchley) donates, packs and delivers a Food Parcel to many needy families from across the city.
At Christmas we add a gift parcel donated by church members and local community.
This photo is from Christmas 2011 (over 50 families supported), each year there are more and more families referred to us by Social Services across Milton Keynes.


Cornwall Mini-Break: Day 2

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Our second day in Cornwall involved a visit inland briefly visiting the Tamar Valley and Launceston and then Lanhydrock a National Trust Property (since our membership runs out tomorrow we wanted to get our money’s worth).

Tamar Valley







These gardens were stunning and contained my favourite Rhododendrons and Azaleas along with many others.














Home Comforts

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Moving to Africa with everything stuffed into 8 cases is a challenge but we do want to take some things from home.
We like watching Movies and have box sets of particularly favourite TV series (Star Trek, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Friends). There is no way we could take then as is and so earlier this week I purchased two DVD carriers from ASDA and we decanted our favourite DVD’s into them. The proper cases will go into storage and the new cases will go into our luggage.



20140530-082006-30006887.jpgThankfully music is digitally stored onto my iPod ( what did we do before MP3 players?). It’s just a pity that there is no video equivalent of iTunes.
Beyond this we are taking a keyboard for my daughter and, my son wants his Play Station.
Why are we squeezing in these peripheries and (in the case of the keyboard) looking to pay for additional luggage?
A good friend who has lived abroad advised us “that we should ensure we bring things that make us feel at home eg: pictures that hang on the wall”. So along with the essentials these home comforts will be squeezed into our cases.
We will be living in a culturally different place and over time we will make the adjustment but these things are part of touching base with our past as we move into the future.


Cornwall Mini-Break: Day 1

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We visited the North Coast of Cornwall visiting three separate locations to enjoy the coastline and take in the sea air.








Trevaunance Cove














Guess the Song? No.1

Listening to my iPod inspired me to come up with this post.

These are lyrics from one song on my iPod

“Can’t complain! Mustn’t grumble! Help yourself to another piece of apple crumble.”

Name the song and Artist?

Hint: I really like ’80s music. It’s as easy as that!

Here’s the YouTube video link

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist (8) Slowly


British Snail

A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist it’s been a wet few days in the UK. We’re up early today and saw these snails on the gate post. The twisting spiral of the slowly moving gastropod appealed at 5am so here it is.

Crete (1995)

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Nineteen years ago we headed off on honeymoon. It was our first holiday abroad as a couple. We travelled to Malia on the Northern Coast of Crete – in high season this is a busy resort full of young people. In May it is a little quieter, but with enough life to give it a good vibe.

Malia Dedalos

We arived at ‘Dedalos’ Hotel at 5am in the morning! Malia was to be our home for the duration of our honeymoon.Our hotel for the week was back from the coastal strip but close enough to the beach. We found a hairdressers ‘Anita’ juist round the corner from our hotel.
Outside the hotel and also down by the beach were lovely palm trees.

Malia Old Town

We much prefered the old town to the coastal strip which was a bit too ‘English’ for our tastes – we came to Crete to embrace Greek culture not to sit in bars drinking beer and eating fish and chips. So most evenings we found a local Taverna and had a Greek meal. The food was fantastic = we enjoyed sampling stifado, souvlaki and soutzoukakia to name but a few of the delicacies.


Here in the capital of Crete we spent a morning wandering the harbour, and enjoyed looking at the Venetian fort which has a sculpture of the lion of St Mark on all 4 walls.


The reason for visiting Iraklion was to travel to the Knossos. This Minoan Palace was the centre of a civilisation which flourished 10000 years ago. We were shown around by a guide who made the place come alive. She explained that the double headed axe was the Minoan symbol for sacrifice – similar to the cross in the Christian faith.

Malia Beach

The beach was an obvious ‘must’ and Malia had a lovely sandy beach with clean warm water. We bought a disposable underwater camera with which to take some fun shots (long before digital cameras of course). We also decide to splash out on Parascending it was great fun.

Aqua Splash
We decided to head out to a local water park – but thinking it was fairly nearby we decided not to take a taxi (which was very expensive) and there was no bus. So we decide to walk. It took us a couple of hours to walk 7.5km up into the hills in the hot sun, but it was worth it. There were numerous water slides, lazy rides and crazy rides we had a fabulous time. Fortunately there was a bus back!

One of the highlights of our holiday was a day trip cruising to Santorini and back. We got up at 4am to catch the bus to Agios Nikolaos where we caught the cruise ship. It was a 4 hour trip and we were accompanied by the sounds of Abba’s Greatest Hits all the way there. We docked at the harbour and looked high up the cliffs at the capital, Thira, right up the top. We decided the best way to get there was to go by donkey – it looked like it would be a long slow climb, but the donkeys ‘beetled’ up the mountain like there was no tomorrow and we were soon there. The view from the top was magnificent. The whitewashed stone buildings accompanied by deep blue roofs, doors and window shutters. There were a maze of side streets threading through the town and we followed these stopping off at a café and enjoying an ice cream.
After lunch we headed off to a volcanic island in the centre of the bay. Here we walked through ‘fields’ of black ash searching for the crater. It was so hot!
Someone even offered to take a photo of us together – in this time before ‘selfies’ it was the only photo of us together on honeymoon! Descending back down the mountain we took a plunge into the sulphurous waters, generated by volcanic springs. The water was warm. The t-shirt never recovered!

The journey home we were treated to a fabulous sunset and some Greek dancing.


One evening we went up into the mountains to a village where we enjoyed a Cretan Night of dancing and Greek cuisine. Beforehand we had the chance to wander around the village of Anapoli and look inside a very ornate Greek Orthodox Church.

Malia Palace

Smaller than the Knossos but within cycling distance was the Minoan palace. so we hired bikes and travelled the 3Km. With the help of the guidebook we were able to make sense of the ruins.

Weekly photo Challenge: Twist (7) Butterfly Eggs

A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist
The little red droplets are actually Butterfly eggs stuck to the twisting fronds of a bush at Studley Grange Butterfly Farm near Swindon.
These are butterflies in the same enclosure and possibly the one which laid the eggs.20140528-153842-56322031.jpg

Hidden Costs

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Moving abroad isn’t cheap!

Continue reading

Vendée 2010

The Vendée 2010 Page is now live in the Travel Section along with the Vendée 2007 page.

This time we crossed via ferry from Dover to Calais before journeying South along the Fast French Toll Roads.
We stopped off on route in Angers on the Loire where we had a wander around the town and grabbed some lunch.


Leaving Angers we headed South in the warm sunshine arriving at LPO in the evening – amazingly we had the exact same pitch and tent as our previous visit.

The weather was good so we made full use of the pool. This time around we generally spent a little more time on sight relaxing, but used our afternoons and evenings to visit local towns and beaches.

Le Pas Opton

Saint-Giles-Croix-de-Vie (S-G-C-D-V)
A lovely place to spend the evening. To stroll through the streets, enjoy an ice cream, browse market stalls,soak up the atmosphere.

Grand Plage
The weather remained good throughout the holiday and we spent a few afternoons on the sandy beach near S-G-C-D-V.


We had a great evening watching the sun go down and enjoying a meal. There was also the opportunity to try the bungee trampoline.

Water Towers
The Vendée region is low lying and is dotted with ornately painted Water Towers.


This island joins to the mainland via a causeway which floods at high tide.


La Rochelle

Beyond the Vendée lies La Rochelle a good place for a day trip – with its medieval fortress in the harbour.



The Feeling Forest
This place was similar to “Go Ape” in the UK series of high level walk ways, obstacles and zip wires. There were two different levels of difficulty based on your height.

The River at Apremont
Returning to Apremont we decided to spend time on the river and enjoy a pedalo journey complete with a surprise swimmer!


Le Trou du Diable

We returned here one evening, Anita having missed out on our previous visit). Then a walk along the beaches watching the waves crash.



A little seaside town south of S-G-C-D-V where Anita and I escaped one afternoon for a cuppa while the kids were at a group!

The Journey Home

Having had two glorious weeks is was time to return back to the UK, but we made the most of the journey visiting two places on route.


Anita and I had first visited Fougére back in 1996 on route to our Holiday Gite near the Loire. It is a fabulous ruined castle with lots of ramparts to climb and towers to see.


Leaving Fougere we headed for the coast of Normandy and a chance to visit Mont-Saint-Michel (St Michael’s Mount)

Weekly Photo Challenge : Twist (6) at Tivoli

A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist



Queuing up – with hardly a wait

Tivoli Gardens

Twists and Turns

Tivoli Gardens Roller Coaster

Loops and Drops


Tivoli Gardens was a great way to spend an afternoon / evening and even though it was in the middle of Copenhagen it was remarkably easy to get on the rides with only short queues.

Taken on our visit to Denmark in 2004  – Copenhagen has given me two submissions to this week’s challenge – the other is here


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Today is our 19th Wedding Anniversary and a time to reflect on the past as well as look to the future – I share here  wedding pictures from that day almost two decades ago. These come from Anita’s Creative Memories scrapbooking album. Continue reading

Weekly Word Challenge : Travel

A submission to the Weekly Word Challenge : Travel

As a child I wanted to visit every country in the world.
As yet this aim has not been achieved. However, I have traveled widely in Europe and can count the following in the list of places visited

Although I have been fortunate in recent years to travel more widely in Europe many of these countries were ‘ticked off’ in two family holidays as a child.
My dad drove for a living as a Food Technologist, so the thought of travelling across Europe with only the Ferry and first night’s accommodation booked was no problem to him. The first trip, in 1980, took us through Belgium, down through Germany following the Rhein, staying in towns (e.g Boppard) along the way – veering across Southern Germany and into Austria. We entered near Salzburg and tracked back towards Switzerland. The small town of Telfs in the Alps comes to memory as does Bregenz on the shores of Lake Constance. We then travelled on through Switzerland and back through France. The last night was memorable. Seeking to find a place in Luxembourg we did not realise that they did not accept French Francs and so ended up in Northern France in a run down town. The hotel was old and the owner somewhat intimidating – we asked for steak and were served horse (Dad was a Food Technologist and so knew the difference.

Our second trip in 1981 began as before but this time we travelled via Mannheim ( where we spent a surreal day watch the wedding of Charles and Di on TV in a Lounge accompanied by a German lady whose repeatedly commented “Schön Schön”). Leaving Manheim and on to to Southern Austria staying near Klagenfurt before crossing into what was then Yugoslavia. We turned up in one town Opatija in what is now Croatia, liked the hotel so much we stayed a week. We use the time to visit the caves at Postojna as well as spending a fabulous time on the beach. We travelled from there into Slovenia and up to Venice in Italy. Leaving Yugoslavia via Italy and Southern Germany where we stayed in the Black Forest before returning home.

These holidays were tremendous experiences in an age when petrol was a lot cheaper and company mileage included holidays! We couldn’t do it today unfortunately.

Other than this my only childhood experience of foreign parts were a German exchange and a day trip to France.
In more recent years I have travelled further afield travelling to

  • West Africa visiting The Gambia (with a brief sojourn into Senegal)
  • South East Asia visiting Vietnam and Cambodia (with an 8 hour stop over in Thailand and a journey across the city between airports – so it counts – just).


Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist (5) – Flower Power

A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

These close up shots were taken at Powys Castle, Wales in August 2011. I love the way the petals twist into an architectural structure.


Ultimate Bank Holiday Monday

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With awe I have just realised that this is our last Bank Holiday Monday in the UK. Another milestone! The next one will be three days after we leave on August 25th 😮
In general I’m not (like most people I think) a great fan of Monday’s. It’s not that I don’t like work per se although the first Monday back after a holiday can be a pain. I don’t get thoroughly depressed, work has it’s own interests too (and in teaching no two lessons are ever the same – even with the same classes week by week). For me it’s the return to structure and formality (in my case a defined timetable) after the freedom of a weekend which can feel burdensome. Bank Holiday Mondays are an exception, a day of possibilities. Today we are spending time with Anita’s family – a good chance to catch up with all, play silly games, go for a walk if the weather holds out.

Mondays often feature, often negatively in songs. On my iPod I have several Monday tunes – here they are (YouTube versions) for your listening pleasure.

New Order – Blue a Monday

Boomtown Rats – I Don’t Like Mondays

Bangles – Manic Mondays

Duran Duran – New Moon on Monday

Flunk – Blue Monday (cover)

Finally and because it’s a Bank Holiday

Blur – Bank Holiday

Have a great Monday wherever you are.

Donetsk Update: Pastor Sergey Kosyak

An insight in to what is happening in Ukraine – it is very sad to see the way people have been divided in to warring factions.

Voices of Ukraine

By Sergey Kosyak, Donetsk pastor.
Translated by Caleb Suko. Edited by Voices of Ukraine.

DONETSK UPDATE: Pastor Sergey Kosyakwrites about the events of 23 May 2014, “Friends, today was a tough day, but for me very difficult. To begin with, representatives of Donetsk People’s Republic destroyed our tent, and then there was the following story.

Several times I have gone to the city administration building to talk with the leaders of the Donetsk People’s Republic, so I went once again. I didn’t find the person I had talked with earlier there but happened to see someone who attended my church. I was glad when I saw him, but he didn’t seem too glad we met. He began to yell that I was manipulating the people and things like that. In short, the negotiations failed, in the eyes of these people I had become the enemy. You tend…

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Weekly Photo Challenge : Twist (4) in Copenhagen

A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

This unusual church  has a spiral staircase on the outside of the spire – an unusual twist on the norm!



Taken on our visit to Denmark in 2004  – I can’t believe it is 10 years since we went