Wednesday, 26 March 2008


Some days ago I found an interesting site "The Man In Seat Sixty-one" where there is great quantity of intersting information. And among all it, tips how to travel in Europe with train.

I like train travelling. More. I like trains from my childhood. That special "tac-tac", odour -and pictures that fly for the eyes.

Today I try to come from place A to place B in less time as possible for headaches and prefere airlines if can, but I like trains.

With Internet the life of a traveller in Europe became very simple.
If you have to travel in Italy, you can and HAVE to visit the railway-site first. And there - promotions and offers. Because sometimes there are very interesting promotions like tickets of the last minute ot 10 -19 euro-tickets. So, you can spend not 60 but 10 euro for a ticket, for example, and with 50 euro go in an interesting place next day.

Than, you can buy your ticket online and avoid many problems in the railwaystation when you have not time to look for the pay desk or to wait your turn. It's very important, you know. You are quiet and think only where you can sit to relax a little. So open Michelin maps, find where is the next to your aim railway-station and turn to railway site and book your ticket.

It seems simple, but you do not think about these possibilities when you plan your trip.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Knightshayes Court

This National Turst property is not actually in North Devon, its at the Tiverton end of the A361, but its only 40 minutes out of Barnstaple so not too far to go if you feel like a visit, or only a few miles out of your way if you are on your way into the area for a holiday. We've nver been before and decided to go today for their Easter Egg Trail.

On arrival the children were given a leaflet each (at a cost fo �1.50 per child) and instructed to search the ground for ten animals which laid eggs. The animals were also hidden in a wordsearch so my children had found several before we'd even visited the toilets! It was fun though. They raced through the walled kitchen garden and found five. We stopped long enough to look at a few plants, although they found the chickens and geese more interesting. Then it was off to the main house.

The other five animals we found hidden around the terraced garden at the front of the house. The grounds at Knightshayes are lovely and carpeted in thousands of daffodils. There are also some fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. We did a trip around the inside of the house too. We were given another trail to follow inside, although there were no prizes for completeing this one. In every room we had to find certain animals and plants. There were guides in several of the rooms, some of whom were more helpful than others. When we got to the end and my youngest daughter realised we'd missed some of the things she insisted on going back around to find them.

It was a pleasant afternoon out, we collected our Easter eggs on the way out and we even had a few flurries of snow to add a bit of excitement. Being towed back home by an AA truck fnished off the day nicely. "Cool," said daughter number two.

Monday, 17 March 2008

A Whistle as Security Weapon

I wanted to finish this internet-day this evening, but suddenly found an incredibly article in It's a little but very significant notice. I laugh else after I read it. So, decided to share it -to know if it's true too, because I have some friends-bloggers from Thailand.

Yes, it's about Thailand.

They say, the very popular beaches and places of interest in Thailand are dangerous for tourists, specially if they, tourists, are women, and more if they are women that travel alown. Not only because criminal situation in these places is not good, but all types of criminal organizations and their bosses like to relax there too. writes about too many tragic incidents with tourists in the last period (about a year).

After the next case on the island Phuket (Map from Wikipedia) when a Swede woman was killed, authorities decided to adopt resolute solution. Now every tourist-women visiting the Island Phuket will receive a whistle. The notice has to come from Thailand Tourist Ministry. I don't know to say you precisely when begins this security action. You have to inform before you leave.

Read what say about it
PK from Thailand: Phuket Advice in the comment to this post and here:
Hello! Not sure if the site could deliver message in russian. It's true about Sweden woman killed on beach recently. Anyway Phuket is one of the safest places on Earth because it's about 1 from a million chance to die there for tourist (4 deaths in this season: this poor woman + 3 men).
Thank you, Pavel for your collaboration!

�?????, ???????, ???????? ?????? ????! ??????? ????, ??????! :-)))� ?? ??????.??????

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Heddon's Mouth

Heddon's Mouth is on the Devon coastline on Exmoor. It's only a tiny little bay but the walk down to it through the woods follows the river and is very picturesque. You can walk to it from Trentishoe, or take the cliff path to view it from above (on a good day you can see across to Wales - the cliffs are the highest in Devon), but the easiest way to get there is to park at the Hunters Inn . From Barnstaple take the A39 towards Lynton and Lynmouth and about three miles past the Blackmoor Gate crossroads Heddon's Mouth and The Hunters Inn are signposted to your left. A long, single track road brings you out to the Inn and its surrounding National Trust land. There are public toilets and a National Trust shop there also.

To reach the coast path you have to follow the road past the Inn. Once on it its an easy stroll down to the beach on more or less level ground, with the odd patch of mud and several slopes of scree that the children enjoyed climbing until my littlest one found it rather tricky coming down from. "I'm not going on the stones again," she said on the way back.

Signs of spring were everywhere and the daffoldils were lovely - see my Photo Journal blog for more photos. Once at the beach we threw a few pebbles in the swift-flowing and noisy stream then ambled back to the Hunters Inn for a hot chocolate before making our way home.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Enter Time Machine in Salerno

The possibility to plunge in past millenniums is most interesting in Salerno, when you visit it. I think, there are not so many towns that not only have millenniums of history but allow you to look into them. Here I present you one of these itineraries that we will walk together with Archaeological Group of Salerno .

Turn up your imagination and follow me.

Our route begins in one of the largest squares of the old town, I think. I post this photo only to make you easier the confront with the place we are going to see than. So we pass it and enter in the one-car-street on the left of the church on the photo here:

Every step you make here remembers past times. Like this Roman column built in the wall of the house. There are many of them here in the town. Probably, persons in the Middle Ages loved splendor of the life in Roman Empire. :))

Maybe you will say: that houses look not very good here. It's right. All streets have new pavements, but it's really difficult to repair all houses in the short time. But municipality makes it's best in this sense.

And our group gets going in the street you see in front of you on the right.

Finally we reach the little square where the church of our interest is. The old town is situated on the mountainside, that is why many streets have steps here.
An other interesting thing you can see on this photo. The population of the town was growing with time, but persons were afraid of bandits and military troups and prefered to live inside the town wall. So, dwellings were built were residents could find some place and old towns are similar on the vespiaries.

Sincerely, I don't know to say you precisely, but I think, the ascendant steps of this church are an other prove that it was very important at the time of it's splendor. I know that other front staircases of this type were built to create "ascendant in the sky" impression to the visitors of the churches. Everything was aimed to create this feeling. Because the faith is the connection with God existing over the everyday life.
And here we can begin to speak about time machine we are entering in.

Do you like those documentaries where scientist tell you everything about a person that lived 5 000 years ago? Or something like this? This is the same.
The plant of the church tells us that it is not a simple church but basilica, and it was not catholic but orthodox. Here we are in the XV century.

You need only to go down the steps to return some centuries back in time. The crypt presents pictures of different Saints here. And some of them come from XIII century, others from IX-XI cent. Today the crypt is under ground-level but in that period it was a normal building and was used as private chapel. Floods changed the foot-level of the city that is 7 meters higer as in Roman time today.

Here on the right is the first part of wall-paintings, those from IX-XI cent.

But the story is not finished here. The wall, that Director of the Archaeological Group, Felice Pastore, is showing to us (photo down here), was built by Romans. And it was not a private house but public building in the time of Empire and precisely in II century.

After the Roman Empire was destructed by Babar's and the town was many times buried by floods and eruptions, persons cleaned the rests of the Roman town and built in and over them their houses and churches... and live in them till today! Incredibly.

With this post I wanted only to show you how is it interesting to know what is situating under your feet. And how archeologists discover the truth about the life of our ancestries. That is why there are not stories here. The place of a post is not enough for great article. It could be an other post, the stories of these persons.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Longer Days

Despite continued cold temperatures, I can tell that we have turned the corner on this winter. The last several days have started out with either single digits, or well below zero. But the March sun is doing its thing, so that by midday, it's much warmer out. Combine that with the new daylight savings schedule, and it feels like we are well on our way to spring.

Now I must say that the arrival of spring in the Northwoods is much different than in other areas. When I say that this new season is coming, it still means that it will take weeks to get here. We will see temperatures that go up and down, even way down, I'm sure. We'll see sunny days, and probably snowy ones. We may get a March blizzard. But the duration of the weather events will lessen, and the episodes of warmer weather will lengthen. Already I've noticed two of my late-winter harbingers.....the birds are very active at the feeder, and I've seen the squirrels chasing each other a lot more.

The next thing to listen for is the crows. For whatever reason, the crows don't winter with us here at Heston's. Maybe it's the ravens' doing. They are larger members of the same family, Corvidae, so maybe like older siblings, they send the crows off to to other hang-outs for several months. I've heard that they are as nearby as Grand Marais. What I know for certain is that within a few days, they will be back up here, ravens or not. Sometime between the 15th and 21st of March, we'll hear them in the early morning, communicating to each other in their rough, throaty language. It will wake us up and make us smile, knowing that the season's change is signaled in another form. I love these markers in the natural world.

It was another great weekend here. The snow is still in good shape, and several people hit the trails. We heard an excellent fishing report, so there are still trout to be had out of the iceholes. The sun was shining each day, and the best part...the Northern Lights were out on Saturday night. Though I don't keep a formal record, it seems like it has been a long time since we've seen much of them. It was quite a treat to once again see the shimmer and dance of the pale green light across the northern sky. There were even a few rays shooting towards the southern sky. Perfect.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Narrow Streets of Salerno

Last time I was in Salerno I made some photos of the streets of the old city.

Once I read a post about the only very narrow street in a native city of the blogger and it made me laugh. Really narrow are the medieval streets in Italy and France. Streets, where one person can pass with great problems (S.Paul in France) and if a car could pass there, it was an enormous avenue.

All those were normal rules of city building in Europe in that time to protect residents from the bandits of all sorts. The life was too dangerous. Every family had more than 10 children and when they were big, the family has not possibilities to give them to eat, to give them a house ecc. So all those man without earth and money made their fortune in the way they could. Mostly killing others to take their goods and soil.

In the times before Christ, when there were places without population, Greeks, Italics, Sannits could send those youngs all together in far countries, where they could find free soil, but in Middle Ages it was not possible more. So Vikings or Normans and European guys (remember crusades) went in southern countries to kill residents and to become residents themselves. Logically they killed only men (normally).

20-30 years later (or 5-10 too) the other wave of "disherid" youngs came in the same places. But the residents were ready to accieve them...
This is the reason of the narrow streets.

Photos below I made more bright.
The last photo has naturally light.
Imagin ventilation of the streets and how they are wet...

And this is a really narrow street: one-man large (look down)

Read More:
Visiting Medieval Salerno

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Back in the Saddle: A Winter Tracks Wrap-Up

Those who know me remember that a year ago, during the Winter Tracks festival dance, I managed to confirm my middle-aged status by rupturing my achilles tendon. I guess that I was having a little too much fun while dancing with my husband and teenaged children, celebrating that all of the planning of the previous year had culminated in a successful event. I learned that I am probably too old to pogo dance anymore, and I learned what it is like to have day surgery, recovery, and how to cope with an "old dance injury". It has been quite a year in that respect.

This past Saturday, it was time for our 4th annual Winter Tracks banquet and dance, appropriately named the Snow Boot Ball. Greg informed me that I should definitely plan to dance, stressing the importance of, as he puts it, "gettin' back up on the horse what throwed ya." During the band's break, he asked one of the musicians if they could play "Dirty Deeds" by ACDC. He agreed, and said it would be in the second set.

The band soon started up again, and by the fourth song, they were queuing up for it. Imagine my surprise when the guitarist announced the song and said that he had learned that last year, someone had injured herself while dancing to it. Greg grabbed my hand and pulled me up to the dance floor. I implored Addie to join us---"He's making me dance! Come with!" Soon the three of us were up there, dancing away with several other folks. Many of my fellow Winter Tracks committee members were out there, too. When Greg started to pogo during the song, one gal hollered to him, "Don't do that! You'll get hurt!" I shouted back, "It's okay! He's not middle-aged yet!" We all had a great time dancing our way through the song, and I am very happy to report that I made it through, injury-free. I learned that my legs are not as strong as they had been a year ago, so more walking and skiing is in order for the upcoming year. But it was great to be back out on the dance floor, movin' and groovin' and having a good time with everyone.

Our pizza party went very well on Friday afternoon. We prepared nineteen pizzas, which were consumed fast enough so that they didn't freeze. I joked that there was a short window of opportunity where a pizza slice would not burn the roof of one's mouth, but still be hot enough to enjoy. The ingredients, on the other hand, were a different story. About an hour into the fun, I noticed that the veggies were frozen, and the sausage crumbles were not far behind. The sauces, too, were beginning to get quite thick. Once they were on a crust and tossed into the oven, they thawed quickly, and the cheese melted nicely. The results were delectable. Some folks skied on down the highline trail, and had a few slices right away. There is something quite memorable about eating food like this outside on a brisk winter day.

From the reports I received, many of the other activities of the weekend were well-attended and lots of fun. If you want to get in on the good times next year, mark your calendar now for these dates: Thursday, February 26 to Monday, March 2, 2009. Hope to see you there!