Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70

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[33] Caput Apri Defero

[33] Caput Apri Defero – A Blog about the Forest of Dean

This will be similar to [32] Slimbridge and [31] Pittville Park, my other blogs about birdwatching haunts. I will treat it as a walk round with pictures mixed from summer and winter just to confuse you. It’s slightly different because it covers a large area so I will stop at a few places.

The Forest of Dean

I will explain the first picture later but you are probably wondering who Dean was. There are several theories. It could come from ‘din’ meaning ‘hill-fort’ in either Welsh or Old English but an old reference to ‘Danubia’ suggests that it may come from early Viking (Dane) settlements.

It’s an area of about forty square miles of mixed woodland in the west of Gloucestershire roughly between the rivers Severn and Wye. Reserved for royal hunting before 1066, it’s an ancient woodland, in size second only to the New Forest as a crown forest.

Historically its main economic functions have been to do with forestry including charcoal production, iron working and coal mining. Now it acts as a nature reserve and is an area for leisure activities, especially walking and birdwatching.

There are many places within the forest where you can park and take a walk. I will concentrate on my main stops.


As for many of these places you probably won’t find Woorgreens on the map. You park on a bit of cleared mud by the road through the forest, big enough for about six cars, and walk on an unmarked footpath about a quarter of a mile.

The sign is new. I came here for several years before I discovered the name from someone else. Just beyond this gate and sign you come to the lake.

You can walk round a sometimes muddy path to the right to a spot with a little beach area (for dogs to splash into the water) and closer views of the island.

[That’s another very new sign!]

The lake is a good place to spot Goosander visiting in the winter and in theory it’s a haven for Dragonflies because it has no fish. But anglers like fish. They put them there to catch them. Every few years the lake has to be emptied to remove the fish.

Cannop North

The two Cannop ‘Ponds’ and the marshy area further north are special areas for wildlife. It is a short drive from Woorgreens to the northern lake with its winding car park within the woods. (I can’t call them ponds. They are much too large. They are lakes.) I start near the car park by the bird feeder area. As well as the more common birds you may see Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Jay, Treecreeper or Reed Bunting here.

It’s a very short walk from the car park to the bridge over the water leaving this lake.

Before going round the lake I head left down into the trees and the fast flowing water. Grey Wagtail are common here and Dipper may be seen occasionally.

The lake itself is always an impressive view.

We head next up the far side of the lake.

The Mandarin Duck is now quite rare in the Far East but a growing population of feral birds in England is now almost as large. They are water birds but they nest in trees which makes the forest an ideal habitat. You may see them anywhere in the Forest but especially at Cannop.

At the far end we meet a bridge and a narrow strip of land separating the lake from the marshy nature reserve. You may find the mixture of seasons confusing but there are other changes. I think of this strip of land as a thin muddy path between two rows of trees but on my last visit trees had been cut down!

We finish the loop round back to the feeders and the car park.

Cannop South

It’s a short walk following the water or a longer drive round a circuitous route to get to the South Lake. Created in the early Nineteenth Century to feed the now disused Parkend Ironworks, this lake is now used for the stoneworks at its southern end. There is a car park here by the lake and a small lay-by also used as a car park.

The lake itself is very similar to its nearby twin but it is less used by the public. There are walks into the forest from here.

There are bird feeders within the stoneworks maintained by someone inside. You can just about guarantee seeing Siskin at any time of the year.

I don’t go far here. I just look at the water outlet down to the stream which is the River Cannop, sometimes the haunt of Dipper.


My next two points to visit are not actually in the forest. They are on the Severn. Next on my schedule is usually the pleasant little town of Newnham with its clock-tower.

(The last building above is a house hat backs on to the river. It has been empty for over fifty years.)

One of my reasons for going to Newnham is the excellent George Café. It always seems to be coffee time or lunch time – I have been known to go there twice in one day.

But the river is also worth a visit. It is very tidal here.

Lydney Harbour

The road from Gloucester to Newnham follows the river and I head next further downriver to Lydney. Instead of turning right to the town of Lydney I turn left down along a mile long road – over level crossings, past lakes to a fairly desolate industrial estate and Lydney Harbour.

There are notices about redeveloping this site but at the moment you go down what looks like a private road to a car park. You can walk round the muddy locks at the harbour entrance. I have only just discovered that this is the end of the River Lyd.

You can walk (carefully!) to the end where you have an extensive panoramic view. To the north is the muddy bank of the Severn by the Yacht Club. As you turn to the east, south and west you see more of the river and the landscape behind it.

At low tide much of this is mudflats so you may see waterfowl, gulls or waders. There are also the remnants of some wrecked ships.

I do a little loop round passing a pale imitation of Stonehenge that is much more modern! The harbour at the centre of my loop is full of little boats.

Here is my attempt at a better panoramic view of the river just using cut-and-paste.

New Fancy and others …

For hundreds of years there has been free-mining of coal in the forest and there used to be some extensive mines in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, with some influence on the landscape. Not far from the Cannop Ponds is the New Fancy Viewpoint where the spoil heap from a former colliery has been turned into a hill. You can climb to the top for views of the forest all round you. It is visited by birdwatchers as an ideal point for viewing Goshawk.

There are dozens of other sites through the forest, many accessible only on foot but some with small parking areas. They have names like Boy’s Grave and Crabtree Hill and you can see more birds not often seen elsewhere – Crossbill, Hawfinch and Nightjar.

Wild Boar

The forest is also home to lots of other wildlife. You often see sheep on the roads and there are many wild boar. Generally the boar are elusive but sometimes they are fairly tame in areas where people try to feed them. They breed profusely and are regularly culled by the Forestry Commission. You can often see the damage they do to grass as in my first picture above.

Ok, I was desperate. I needed a quotation for a title. You will recognize it from the Boar’s Head Carol. At least you will if, like me, you used to sing it every year in the Sixties around the streets of Ilford.

As always, most of my information is from Wikipedia. This macaronic carol describes the very old Yuletide custom of eating a boar’s head probably predating its use as a Christmas carol. [It has always fascinated me that we have the word ‘macaronic’ for something so unusual. But it was common in mediaeval times when Latin was the language of scholars, universities and priests but songs and stories used the vernacular English. It comes from a Latin/ Italian word that is cognate with macaroni.]

The words used today were published in 1521 in one of the World’s first printed books.

The first of three verses is:

The boar’s head in hand bring I,

Bedeck’d with bays and rosemary.

And I pray you, my masters, be merry

Quot estis in convivio.

Each verse is followed by the chorus

Caput apri defero

Reddens laudes Domino.

[OK, if you didn’t do Latin at school, Caput apri defero means I carry the boar’s head.]




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[30] Health and Education

[30] Health and Education – A Blog about Cheltenham

Cheltenham is a very old town which rose to prominence as a spa town with the discovery of its waters. You can still sample the taste at the magnificent Pittville Pump Room – but I would not recommend it! The town became fashionable with the visit of George III in 1788 and much of the central residential area reflects Regency architectural styles. I have lived here for nearly fifty years so I think of her as my home town.

Flowing through it is the River Chelt. I don’t think he town’s origins or name derive from this quite small stream. It’s probable that ‘Chelt’ is actually derived from Cheltenham.

Cheltenham has grown in the last fifty years and is now a popular shopping centre, probably most well-known through the UK for its horse racing.

I won’t say any more about my home town. [No, we are not jealous of Gloucester because it’s a city. Everything about Cheltenham is better than our near neighbour.]

After a lot of failing to get on with this blog I just took a walk around on a nice sunny day and took lots of pictures. Here they are in order.

I started on the Gloucester Road by TGI Fridays and walked along the A40, passed Dean Close Preparatory School, (formerly Dean Close Junior School,) Cheltenham Police Station, the old Gloucestershire Police Headquarters building and Westal Green to Montpelier.

I did a brief walk round Montpelier Gardens with its Art Gallery and bandstand, then went through Imperial Gardens for a look at the Town Hall. In the Promenade I saw Neptune’s Fountain and the Municipal Offices then headed towards the Regent Arcade – to see the newly restored Kit Williams clock.

Coming out on the High Street I went eastwards towards the London Road turned into Sandford Park and looped back round to take the High Street westwards.

With a coffee stop at Marks and Spencers and a diversion for the Everyman Theatre I went on past Boots corner to the brand new Brewery Quarter, then back and into the Parish Church. I wish I had done this before [41] Churches because it’s the best church I have been in this year!

Back to the Promenade for Cavendish House and the Minotaur and the Hare before heading homewards via Royal Well Road and Royal Well Lane. I walked along beside the River Chelt, paid a visit to Waitrose and took the Honeyboune line back to the Cheltenham Spa Station.

Watch out for the buildings I have noted in bold but also some of our old houses, (many in Regency style,) shops and statues. You can also spot the Queens Hotel and several views of the Cheltenham Ladies College.

I have many more pictures including some equally impressive and famous buildings but I can’t fit them all in here! You could look at [20] Remembrance, [31] Pittville Park, [41] Churches, [45] Streets, [48] Statues, [64] Cheltenham Trio and all the posts about Signs for more of my home town.

‘Health and Education’ is a loose translation of the Latin ‘Salubritas et eruditio’ on the Arms of Cheltenham. Google Translate says ‘Healthfulness and learning’ but I’m sticking to my version. Wikipedia agrees with me. I can confidently predict that a version of these arms will appear in [58] Cheltenham Signs and perhaps some explanation in [50] Heraldry.




[36] Sgod a Sglod

[36] Sgod a Sglod – A Blog about Wales

The Royal Arms of the United Kingdom can be described as: Quarterly, 1 and 4 England, 2 Scotland, 4 Ireland. They have gone through many changes to reflect the arms of individual monarchs but basically they derive from the Fourteenth Century arms, which quartered those of England [Gules three Lions passant gardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure] and France [fleur-de-lis].

With the union, the arms of Scotland [Or a Lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules] were added and those of France were removed. The quarter for Ireland [Azure a Harp Or stringed Argent] was added later. (It still represents Ireland, not Northern Ireland.) The Union Jack has a similar story with the crosses of Saint George, Saint Andrew and Saint Patrick.

There is no reference to the area of Wales, which was effectively annexed in the Thirteenth Century and has been part of England, later part of the United Kingdom. The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 created a statutory definition of England as including England, Wales and Berwick-upon-Tweed! It was retrospective, making explicit what had previously been implicit.

When I was young, in the Sixties, Wales was still more or less just part of England like all of its counties. I think you could buy Welsh stamps but the county of Monmouthshire had an uncertain status – since the Sixteenth Century it had been considered by some to be part of England. (Its legal inclusion in Wales was clarified by the 1972 Local Government Act, which abolished the county as an administrative area. It used to be larger than the current county of Monmouthshire.)

I have checked on Wikipedia and in 1960 we had a Cabinet Minister for Housing, Local Government and Welsh Affairs. By the mid-Sixties there were separate Ministers for Wales.

To some extent Wales has always had its own culture but in the Sixties there were few people still speaking Welsh and the versions in North Wales and South Wales were distinct. Nationalism with Devolution has developed more recently and the Welsh language has been reinvented and reintroduced. Now most signs and information leaflets use both languages.

Newport (Trefdraeth)

Pictures for this blog come from a visit for a few days in July to the small coastal town of Newport in the little house above. Not surprisingly, ‘Newport’ is a very common name for a town. I don’t mean what Wikipedia calls Newport, Wales, the one that used to be Newport, Monmouthshire and later Newport, Gwent, but is now not in any county. I mean the one that used to be Newport, Pembrokeshire and later Newport, Dyfed, but is now back to Newport, Pembrokeshire again.

It’s easier in Welsh. One of them is Casnewydd meaning ‘New Castle.’ The other one is Trefdraeth meaning ‘Beach Town.’ [Don’t worry. There won’t be a test!]

It’s a small town with streets of old houses, churches, pubs and shops.

Newport is an ancient town at the mouth of the River Nevern Afon Nyfer. The port of Parrog is about half a mile away. We were near to the river, which is very tidal, little more than mud flats at low tide.

Dinas Head

Our family used to take holidays at Newport about forty years so the area was familiar. The town has changed little since then. One of the things we used to do is to walk around Dinas Head and we did this again this year. Dinas Head (correctly Dinas Island, Ynys Dinas,) is a peninsula between Newport and Fishguard. We took the circular path anti-clockwise starting at Cwm-yr-Eglwys.

The path rises steadily to its highest point to the north. Vegetation is mostly fern, grass and gorse.

The far point, marked by a triangulation point, nearly five hundred feet above sea level, gives excellent sea views.

The next section is downhill all the way to Pwllgwaelod with its car park and pub.

We decided not to stop at the pub her and took the path back along the swampy valley that separates the ‘island’ of Dinas from the mainland. The short, easy path took us to a caravan park and then back to our car.

Pentre Ifan

We also remembered Pentre Ifan, the best preserved Neolithic dolmen in Wales, and we paid it a visit. It is just a few miles from Newport, has easy free parking and is just a short walk from the road. It may not be as impressive as Stonehenge but it wasn’t swamped by visitors.

[The name is Welsh. It doesn’t seem to have an English version and I can’t find a translation.]


We did pay a visit to the town of Cardigan, known as Aberteifi in Welsh, in the tidal estuary of the River Teifi and I feel the need for another diversion about the madness of local government reorganisations. But first – a few pictures.

Cardigan used to lie in the county Cardiganshire (Sir Aberteifi) at its extreme end by the border with Pembrokeshire. It used to be the commercial centre but not the county town. The old county was absorbed in Dyfed, created in 1974 by merging Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. Dyfed was abolished later, in 1996, when the three original counties were reinstated. The new county of Cardiganshire was immediately renamed Ceredigion. The name ‘Cardigan’ is of course an anglicized variation of Ceredigion, a word derived from a kingdom of that part of Wales in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries.

[I know what you are thinking. What about the knitted garment?The cardigan, made famous by Perry Como, was named after James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, a British Army Major General who led the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. It is modelled after the knitted wool waistcoat that British officers supposedly wore during the war.]

Teifi Marshes

We were not impressed with Cardigan and did not stay long. We went just a little upriver to the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve. We walked round, popped into the hides and had lunch at the café there.


I took far too many pictures and have already thrown away several dozen. Here are just a few from an evening visit to Parrog, mostly the sunset as we sat outside by the sea.

Birds, Insects and Flowers

I will just squeeze in a few more pictures before ending with some bilingual musings.


You cannot fail to notice the signs in Wales.

I am not sure which of these two versions came first. I think the English one was added later, given obvious prominence by its position and the size of the letters. In more recent times everything is bilingual with Welsh coming first.

As part of the politics of devolution the Welsh language is given much more significance than it deserves. It is hard for an English speaking person to attempt to read past words in a foreign language using such strange orthography to get to the important words in English.

When I drive along westwards the M4 I often wonder how many accidents and fatalities arise from the need for politics to override Health and Safety considerations.


I saw the expression Sgod a Sglod on a Fish and Chip Shop so I checked on Google Translate. If you translate ‘fish and chips’ into Welsh you get ‘pysgod a sglodion,’ but it does also accept that sgod a sglod means fish and chips. Perhaps it’s a colloquial version.


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[37] Liquid History

[37] Liquid History – a Blog about the River Thames

The Thames is liquid history’ is attributed to John Burns, an English trade unionist and politician from the turn of the Twentieth Century. Several writers in modern times have used the expression ‘Liquid History’ in referring to the river and its archaeology.

The Thames is not quite the longest river in Britain. The Severn may beat it by a few miles. It’s certainly one of the most important and it links London to the sea.

The Thames Path

There is now a long-distance footpath, the Thames Path, opened in 1996, which more or less follows the banks of the river from its source. Our guide book goes 150 miles to Hampton Court but it continues from there through London as far as the Thames Barrier.

We have been walking this path in sections of about ten miles about once a month except in the winter. The source is not obvious but after a few miles the growing stream becomes an ever widening river. These pictures come from four sections roughly the middle third of the path described in our book, from Oxford to the outskirts of Reading.

For all of this section the river is quite wide and navigable with large meanders and a few locks. We kept close to the river for most of the time, occasionally crossing the river and skirting some small villages and towns. It’s mostly country paths some trees, fields and landscape views. We often had high reeds between the path and the river but there were lots of chances to see it.

The following pictures are in chronogical order as we moved along the path.



You will have noticed many pictures that might have been included elsewhere. There are Trees and Flowers; Birds and Insects; Landscapes, Buildings and Water; Signs and Transport.

They are all part of the River Thames.


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[38] I was Born for This

[38] I was Born for This – A Blog about France

At least, it’s a blog about the tiny bit of France that we visited on a short cruise. We went to Rouen then to Le Havre and from Le Havre I took a short coach trip to visit Deauville and Honfleur.

Joan of Arc

I will start with a brief introduction to one of the most famous heroines of France. You will find out why a bit later.

Joan of Arc did not come from a place called Arc. She was born in Domrémy in the northeast of France. In French she is always known as Jeanne d’Arc. She was Jeanne, spelt in medieval times as Jehanne, and her father’s surname was D’Arc. In the English language her first name has been always been Joan since the fifteenth century because that was the only English equivalent for the feminine form of John during her lifetime.

The surname of Arc is a translation of d’Arc, which itself is a nineteenth-century French approximation of her father’s name. Apostrophes were never used in Fifteenth Century French surnames, which sometimes leads to confusion between place names and other names that begin with the letter D. Based on Latin records, which do reflect a difference, her father’s name was more likely to have been Darc. Spelling was also phonetic and original records produce his surname in at least nine different forms, such as Dars, Day, Darx, Dare, Tarc, Tart or Dart. [Perhaps she was related to another hero – from Pride and Prejudice!] She also has the common nickname la Pucelle d’Orléans (“the Maid of Orléans”).

I won’t say much about her life. As a young peasant girl, she had visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine speaking to her. She left home; supported King Charles VII against the English in the Hundred Years War; was apparently important in the ending of the siege of Orléans (hence the nickname) but was captured by the English. After a trial she was burned at the stake in 1431 at the age of about nineteen. It was not until the Twentieth Century that the Roman Catholic Church finally made her a saint.

While Our Lady of the Assumption, the Virgin Mary is the patron saint of France, Joan of Arc is one of the nine secondary patron saints of France, along with Saint Denis, Saint Martin of Tours, Saint Louis, Saint Michael, Saint Rémi, Saint Petronilla, Saint Radegund and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.


Rouen is a city on the River Seine in the north of France. It is the capital of Normandy, formerly one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe. It was founded by the Gaulish tribe of Veliocasses, who named the settlement Ratumacos. The Romans called it Rotomagus, the second city of Gallia Lugdunensis, after Lugdunum (Lyon). In the Fifth Century it became the seat of a bishopric and later a capital of Merovingian Neustria.

During the Hundred Years’ War, in 1419, Rouen with a population of 70,000 surrendered to Henry V of England, who annexed Normandy once again to the Plantagenet domains. It became the capital city of English power in occupied France. When the Duke of Bedford, John of Lancaster bought Joan of Arc her liberty from the Duke of Burgundy who had been keeping her in jail since May 1430, she was sent to be tried in the city during Christmas 1430. After a long trial by a church court, she was sentenced to be burned at the stake. The sentence was carried out on 30 May 1431 in the city. Note this date as we visited on 30 May 2017.

For our very short visit we were deposited by the shuttle bus near the old city and started with Rouen Cathedral (Cathédrale primatiale Notre-Dame de l’Assomption de Rouen.) the see of the Archbishop of Rouen, Primate of Normandy. Our visit was quite late in the evening when the cathedral was shut but even from the outside it was impressive, starting with its pointed spire currently being restored.

With no real aim in mind we followed the narrow street from the cathedral towards the market square. The buildings still had a mediaeval look to them and we passed under an arch bearing large ornate clock faces.

We came to an insignificant church and tucked behind it was an unassuming statue of a young girl.

There was a large cross and a little garden area.

We had just come to see an old French city and it was strange to discover this monument almost by chance.

And we realised that we were there on the anniversary of the day Joan of Arc was burned. 586 years later we had the opportunity to reflect how much the World has changed since then – and how much it hasn’t.

At Sea

I will say very little about our cruise. Here are just a few pictures of our Ship, Magellan – outside the ship; the Bridge room where we spent several hours playing cards; and part of the long corridor leading to our cabin.

It was a short cruise and we had just come from Antwerp. The Seine was very wide as we made our slow progress over several hours passing under some impressive bridges to Rouen and after our visit we made the return journey through the night.

The first bridge, nearest to the estuary was the Pont de Normandie a cable-stayed road bridge that links Le Havre to Honfleur. Its total length is 2,143.21 metres – 856 metres between the two piers. It is a motorway toll bridge, but there is a footpath as well as a narrow cycle lane in each direction allowing pedestrians and cyclists to cross the bridge free of charge. The bridge was constructed from 1988 to 1995. At that time the bridge was both the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world, and had the record for the longest distance between piers for any cable-stayed bridge. This what it looked like as we passed underneath.

It was only a day later when I took the coach from Le Havre. To get to Deauville and Honfleur we had to cross the same bridge.

Le Havre

Our second port of call in France was Le Havre, an urban French commune and city in the Seine-Maritime department in the Normandy region of northwestern France, situated on the right bank of the estuary of the river Seine. Modern Le Havre retains its maritime traditions. Its port is the second largest in France, after that of Marseille, for total traffic, and the largest French container port. The name Le Havre means “the harbour” or “the port”. The city and port were founded by the King Francis I of France in 1517. Celebrations were starting for the six hundred year anniversary.

The city was largely destroyed (by the Allies) during the Second World War, and rebuilt according to the plans of the architect Auguste Perret between 1945 and 1964. Only the town hall and the Church of Saint Joseph were personally designed by Auguste Perret. UNESCO listed the city of Le Havre in 2005 as a World Heritage Site. The architecture of the area is characterized by the use of precast concrete using a system of a modular frame.

We didn’t venture into Le Havre but here is the view from the ship.


Deauville is a commune in Normandy just beyond Honfleur. With its race course, harbour, international film festival, marinas, conference centre, villas, Grand Casino and sumptuous hotels, it is regarded as the “queen of the Norman beaches” and one of the most prestigious seaside resorts in all of France. It is the closest seaside resort to Paris, and has long been home to French high society’s seaside houses and is often referred to as the Parisian Riviera. Since the Nineteenth Century, the town of Deauville has been a fashionable holiday resort for the international upper class and the wealthy. In France, it is known perhaps above all for its role in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.

We were dropped by the coach by the very expensive Normandy Hotel and the Casino and walked to the famous boardwalk with the row of beach huts, each bearing the name of one of its famous Hollywood visitors. I walked out over the beach and briefly visited the harbour and marina area.


Honfleur is a commune in the Calvados department on the southern bank of the estuary of the Seine across from Le Havre and very close to the exit of the Pont de Normandie. It is especially known for its old, beautiful picturesque port, characterized by its houses with slate-covered frontages, painted many times by artists, including in particular Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet and Johan Jongkind, forming the école de Honfleur, which contributed to the appearance of the Impressionist movement.

From the Eleventh Century it was variously named Hunefleth, Hunefloth, Honneflo, Honflue and Honnefleu, up to the Eighteenth Century. It was traditional pronunciation with the h strongly expirated as in ‘loch’.

The marker -fleur, formerly -fleu which is widespread in Normandy means ‘stream, or river running into the sea’ and was still in use in the Thirteenth Century. It is probably cognate with the English ending -fleet seen in place-names. The element Hon- seems to come from an Anglo-Saxon personal name Huna or the Norse Húni.

[The port of Honfleur is le port de Honfleur, not le port d’Honfleur. Those interested in linguistics will note that Le Havre and Honfleur both use the rather uncommon ‘aspirated H’ (“h” aspiré) an initial silent letter that represents a hiatus and prevents the normal contraction and liaison processes. It does not represent aspiration but derives from the voiceless glottal fricative [h] of Old French and Middle French, now remaining only in some words in Belgian dialects.]

We started our visit to Honfleur with a walking tour through the mediaeval streets and an excellent guide.

Saint-Catherine’s Church

The church, dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, is the largest church made out of wood in France. The first nave, the oldest part of the building, dates from the second half of the Fifteenth Century right after the Hundred Years War. It was built on the model of a market hall, using naval construction techniques, which gives the impression of an upside-down ship’s hull. Then the bell tower was built a good distance away, so that parishioners would not be burnt in case of a fire. In the Sixteenth Century, a second nave was added. This second part was rather rounder, and did not look like a ship’s hull. The famous “Axe masters” of the naval yards of the city created the building without using any saws, just like their Norman ancestors.

The beams used to create the pillars of the nave and the side walls are of unequal length, because there were not anymore any oak trees long enough to construct them. Also, some have a footing of stone, some of greater or lesser height, and some have no footing.

Here are outside views of the twin naves from the front and the campanile and two inside views.

The classical organ comes from the parish St. Vincent of Rouen. It is situated at the back of the church and the seats can be reversed by flipping the backs!

I had a little time to see the port, which is still used for fishing.


There is a small municipality in Quebec called Honfleur, founded in 1904. It is similar to Honfleur in France, from where many sailors came from during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries to North America.

There was a plaque on an arch of the Lieutenancy building at the port of Honfleur commemorating some of these early settlers.

Much of the information in this blog is taken unashamedly from Wikipedia. The pictures are, of course, all my own.

I will end with the source of my title. As Joan of Arc was leaving Vaucouleurs to begin her mission to save France she was asked by a woman: “How can you make such a journey when on all sides are soldiers?” to which Joan responded: “I do not fear the soldiers, for my road is made open to me; and if the soldiers come, I have God, my Lord, who will know how to clear the route that leads to the Dauphin. It was for this that I was born!” The original in French is: “Je n’ai pas peur des soldats, car ma route m’a été ouverte, et si les soldats viennent, j’ai Dieu, mon Seigneur, qui saura comment libérer la route qui mène à Sieur le Dauphin. C’est pour cela que je fus nais.” It is often quoted as just:

“I am not afraid, for God is with me. I was born for this!”


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[39] Lijepa Naša Domovino

[39] Lijepa Naša Domovino – a Pictorial Blog about Croatia

As I am sure you all know Lijepa Naša Domovino is both the title and the opening line of the Croatian National Anthem. It starts:

Lijepa naša domovino; Oj junačka zemljo mila;

Stare slave djedovino; Da bi vazda sretna bila! …

The English translation is:

Our beautiful homeland; O so fearless and gracious;

Our fathers’ ancient glory; May you be blessed forever …

This is one of three blogs about Croatia. It will be mostly pictures in a fairly random order and it’s really about some time we spent there in May. Most pictures are from an area of a few square miles around our hotel including the town of Rovinj [Rovigno] and the Golden Cape Forest Park to the South. Some may come from the wider area of Istria [Istra]; the towns of Pula [Pola], Koper [Capodistria] (in Slovenia) and Trieste (in Italy) and the island of Brijuni [Brioni].

It’s an area with a complicated history and towns all have Italian names. You can see more about the area in [47] Istria and [18] Croatian Wildlife has an introduction to the Forest Park and many pictures of the animal life.

Our Hotel

I will start with some pictures of the Hotel Eden, our home for two weeks. It was not the high season but I was up for an early trip to get shots of it empty!

The outside area was generally fairly empty.

Some views from our balcony.

Some Buildings

Not far from our hotel is the town of Rovinj, dominated by the tall tower of it church on a hilltop.

It used to be an island town and the little circle of the old town projects into the sea.

Here is the arch to the old town, shown from both sides.

It’s a steep climb up to the Church of Saint Euphemia.

The houses within the old city look largely unchanged.

We couldn’t get near to this chimney in Rovinj but I think it’s from an old factory that may have something to do with tobacco.

The last buildings shown here are an old house in the Forest Park, the castle at Miramar, near Trieste, and a bell tower in the town of Koper in Slovenia.


Here are some pictures that might have appeared in [66] Clocks.

The first clock tower was prominent at the centre of Rovinj. Others include pictures from Koper and Trieste.

The last one is a large sundial on the side of a building.


This really was a diversion. Until recently you could walk from the hotel along the sea edge to Rovinj. It was a pleasant scenic walk. Now if you try it you come to a fenced-off area with cranes and building works as another nearby hotel is being re-built. The new building will include a new marina so there is no way along by the sea. The diversion is quite a steep climb of a hill taking you almost back to the hotel where you started.

The quick way is out of the front of the hotel where Rovinj is still a short walk away. It’s just not quite so pretty.

The Forest Park

We often walked in the Park. Here is one entrance and the walk down by a high stone wall.

Further on is another entrance and the roads inside are well managed.

The last picture above shows a walk along by the sea. Below is I think what we might call a folly.

There are nest-boxes for birds and others for bats!

There were also the remains of extensive Venetian quarries.

Plant Life

Most of the trees of the Forest Park and elsewhere were pine trees, sometimes almost horizontal as they leaned over the sea. Olive trees were also common.

This olive tree at Brijuni is over a thousand years old.

The pine cones are a colourful orange as they emerge.

Rock Rose (Cistus) was common but there were other wild flowers.


Here are some of the goods on sale at the local market and in the shops.

The Tower

For my last pictures of Rovinj here are some from the climb up the tower and some views from the top. The stairs were narrow, wooden and old with large gaps between them.

Pula Amphitheatre

Wikipedia says it is known locally as the Arena but we all called it the Coliseum because of its similarity with the one in Rome.

There must have been a way inside but I just walked round the outside.

Don’t forget the other two – [47] Istria and [18] Croatian Wildlife.


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[31] A Walk in the Park

[31] A Walk in the Park – A Blog about Pittville Park

This is mostly about my local park which has served as a local birdwatching patch and now helps me with my searches for insects, flowers and blog pictures. But we start a little south of the actual park with some history.

Pittville Gates

A little to the north of Cheltenham town centre you come to a magnificent arch over equally magnificent gates. They have recently been restored (2012-16) by the Friends of Pittville.

The sign over the arch proclaims it as the entrance to Pittville Park but it actually the entrance to something even grander. Just inside the gates are two notices. One describes the gates and the other is about the Pittville Estate.

The Pittville Estate

Joseph Pitt (1759-1842), a local lawyer who prospered from property speculation, wanted to create a large estate of houses and gardens to the North of Cheltenham with its own Pump Room – a new spa town to rival Cheltenham. The gates would have been the entrance to this estate.

The estate was only ever partly completed. The housing development is relatively small but a little further north we will come to Pittville Park and the impressive Pittville Pump Room opened in 1830. It’s all now included in the expanded town of Cheltenham.

Pittville Park

As part of his new estate the area of Pittville Park to the East of Evesham Road with its ornamental lake was formed about the same time as the Pump Room by damming the stream called Wyman’s Brook. Originally it was enclosed by railings for the private use of residents and subscribers to spa facilities. It was formally opened to the public in 1894 just after its purchase by Cheltenham Borough Council.

There are several informative notices in the park and we will come back later to the useful map on this one.

The area of the Park to the West of Evesham Road, not included in Pitt’s original plans, is called the Marle Hill Annexe on its notice. It has a Boating Lake, formerly known as Capper’s Fish Pond. I hardly ever see boats on the lake. The Boathouse opens in summer providing ice-creams and other refreshments.

(While some of my information comes from these signs, I have also turned, as always, to Wikipedia.)

A Walk Round the Park

I will take you on a route round the park and point out areas of interest. I have several routes that I use but they are all similar to the route I will use here. Here is a map from the park notice on which I have numbered some locations to guide you round. (My pictures come from two or three visits so the weather and vegetation may appear to change suddenly.)

To the Boating Lake

I won’t start anywhere near Pittville Gates. North of the Park, just off Albermarle Gate there is a rough car park marked [1], which I use when I drive to the Park. It’s one of the few places around Cheltenham where I can park free.

Not far from here is one of my favourite trees, this tall redwood.

From our starting point it’s a short walk downhill to the lake. This large grassy area is used for ‘Pitch and Putt’ golf in the summer. Here is one of the greens almost ready for its flag.

We come to a path by the lake marked [2] on my map. Note the chair and the bridge.

I stand behind the chair turn a little right and photograph a group of six young trees.

Then I go to the middle of the bridge and photograph the view of the lake and its surrounding landscape.

My plan is to do a blog showing you how these two pictures change through the year.

Here is the path continuing along the northern edge of the lake.

A little further on the lake widens. Here are two views showing how it changes with the seasons and the weather.

The Far West

I will come back to the lake but we have to cross Tommy Taylors Lane to an extension of the Park, a wilder area normally not frequented by park visitors – just dog-walkers! On the map we go from [3] to [4].

Sometimes I start here when I have walked to the Park. I follow the edged of this section clockwise, starting with the trees at the edge by the Prince of Wales stadium.

At the far end we come to a corner [5] with a wild area nearby.

From here the short walk along the far edge is ideal for summer visiting birds.

This area of land that we are circling used to be an extension of the mini-golf but it hasn’t been plain grass for a few years. It’s now left as longer grass with wild flowers.

As we come round back to the road the back gardens of houses provide the habitat for sparrows and other garden birds.

Albermarle Gate

After crossing back at [6] I don’t always do the next short section along the edge by the street known as Albermarle Gate.

There is some more rough grass with wild flowers and an expanse of grass that includes the mini-golf area.

There is another impressive tree followed by a development of houses jutting into the park.

Some of these houses share a small open area by the park with another one of my favourite trees at [7].