Wisley Garden/UK

29 Sep 2010 – Back in the UK

Mon: arrived back in Gatwick. Appreciations to David KRAUSE/Paul’s brother who met me and drove me to meet up with Paul, Lilian and their adorable princess Anabella/3yrs. Paul crossed my path when I moved to SIN 10yrs ago. He was then working for Philips and was in SIN quite often for work projects. Being an orchid fan, we became friends and it is always a pleasure to show SIN to him.

Tue: a delightful day in the Wisley Garden, Woking/Surrey.

The Glasshouse has a nice collection of orchids and other tropical flowers. The English certainly has a way to plant perfect gardens!

One of my favourites… the Alpine Display House.

Was fortunate to see the sculptures exhibited thru’ out the gardens. Thank you Lilian for taking me there and to Anabella for her patience and her willingness to walk many hours. Great to catch up and to meet Paul & family. Gratitude for all their hospitality. Grateful to David who drove me from and to Gatwick to Ashtead.

I sometimes wonder if the hand is not more sensitive to the beauties of sculpture than the eye. I should think the wonderful rhythmical flow of lines and curves could be more subtly felt than seen. Be this as it may, I know that I can feel the heart-throbs of the ancient Greeks in their marble gods and goddesses – Helen Keller

Montenegro

26 Sep 2010 – Perast & Kotor

Sat: Montenegro=Black Mountain is a country of its own just south of Dubrovnik. The drive took app 2hrs and we needed our passports to cross the border. In spite of the rain (all day), one could still appreciate both the beauty and culture here. The history of Montenegro dates back to 9th century with the emergence of Duklja, a vassal state of the Byzantine Empire.

A sovereign principality since the Late Middle Ages, Montenegro saw its independence from the Ottoman Empire formally recognized in 1878. From 1918, it was a part of various incarnations of Yugoslavia. On the basis of a referendum held in 2006, Montenegro declared its independence then. With a pop of 673,180 in an area of 13,812 sq km/5,014 sq mi, this exciting country is a must-see if in the region.

Perast is located twelve kilometers from Kotor and was once one of the most beautiful baroque towns on the Boka Kotorska. But the earthquake in 1979 left almost nothing but rubble and ruins. The two small islands off the coast are Sveti Juraj and Our Lady of the Rock/Gospa od Skrpjela. On Sveti Juraj is a Benedictine monastery; on Gospa od Skrpjela a baroque church built in 1630. Below 3 pix credits to: http://www.galenfrysinger.com/montenegro_perast.htm

Located along one of Montenegro’s bays is Kotor, a city of traders and famous sailors. The Old City of Kotor is a well-preserved urbanisation typical of the Middle Ages, built between the 12th and 14th century. Medieval architecture and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have made Kotor an UNESCO listed ‘World Natural and Historical Heritage Site’. The Cathedral of Sveti Tripun , a monument of Roman culture and one of the most recognisable symbols of the city.

Kotor has been fortified since the early Middle Ages, when Emperor Justinian built a fortress above Ascrivium in AD 535, after expelling the Goths. Today Kotor is one of major tourist destination in Montenegro. It has one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the Adriatic. It has numerous other sites with the ancient walls which stretch 4.5km/2.8mi directly above the city.

There was in a traffic line on the boarder back to Dubrovnik… maybe only red cars get to cross the boarder 🙂 Went grocery shopping and was caught in the storm, nearly got swept by the flooding waters and was totally wet with a broken umbrella! Was later told that it was the worst storm even.

Sun: the day started with pouring rains but cleared up for us on the cable-car to view and say our goodbyes to Dubrovnik/Croatia. It has been wonderful meeting up with childhood friends in this part of the world. Swam 6 days in the Adriatic Sea, walked & crossed beautiful paths and had yummy food. Thank you to all our Croatian hosts and hostesses/Mr & Mrs Zoran Franotovie, Mrs Nada Stražičič, Mrs Ivana Bego and especially to Tomislav Črorič/Viator Travel for their kind services.

Where will 2011 take us???

Saying goodbye doesn’t mean anything. It’s the time we spent together that matters, not how we left it – Trey Parker

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Dubrovnik/Croatia

25 Sep 2010 – Happy 34th Anniversary Peggy & Ian

Fri: a feature of Dubrovnik is its walls that run more than 3km around the city. The walls run from four to six metres thick on the landward side but are much thinner on the seaward side. The system of turrets and towers were intended to protect the vulnerable city with a pop of app 43,770 in an area of 21.35sq km (8.2 sq mi) In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

The prosperity of the city of Dubrovnik has always been based on maritime trade. Supported by its wealth and skilled diplomacy, the city achieved a remarkable level of development, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries. Although demilitarised in the 1970s with the intent of forever protecting it from war devastation, in 1991, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, it was besieged by Serb-Montenegrin forces and heavily damaged by shelling.

Our guide provided us with interesting info she has learnt from the U course, but even then as she said… next year might be a different history! With all the wars and political disagreements, the facts get confused, not easy to understand! It is doubtful if I will return to hear the new history but will follow-up reading updates. It is not my scene with crowds and over-commercializing. The wall is the high point and Kenson flying off to Paris is the low point, as that means the Croatia trip is nearing to it’s end 😦

It is a great pity that every human being does not, at an early stage of his life, have to write a historical work.  He would then realize that the human race is in quite a jam about truth – Rebecca West

Mljet/Croatia

24 Sep 2010 – Polače/Mljet

Tue: 0600hrs ferry from Korčula to Orebic/app 10mins, 2hrs drive from Orebic to Dubrovnik and 1.30hrs ferry from Dubrovnik to Mljet- the most southerly and easterly of the larger Adriatic islands of the Dalmatia region. Mljet is of volcanic origin, with numerous chasms and gorges, of which the longest, the Babino Polje, connects the north and south of the island.

Port Polače, the principal harbour in the north, is a port of call for tourist ferry. The National Park, built in 1960 lies on the western part of the island covering an area of 54 sq km. Stayed in Polače/pop 123 at a B&B located by the edge of the National Park and the last house numbered 46! Walked 4km to Pomena/pop 50 as Ian did not bring his swimming trunks and had to buy a new pair there! Yummy dinner of wild boar with local wine back in Polače@Antika****

Wed: Mljet was discovered by ancient Greco-Roman geographers, who wrote the first records and descriptions/6th century BC. The Benedictines became the feudal lords of the island in 1151, having come from Monte Gargano in Italy. They came ashore, built and donated to them the Church and Monastery of St Mary on the islet in the Big Lake (1187–1198). Walked from Polače to Pristaniste, ferry to St Mary, ferry back to Pristaniste, walked to Soline where 4 families live in that village. After lunch continued walking uphill but unfortunately the map is incorrect and we made a turn half way up the hill instead of continuing straight 😦 Thank goodness the delicious dinner@Antika(fish stew & kid/baby goat made up for that extra 2hrs walk) 🙂

Thu: relaxing morning swimming and reading. Kenson was rather perturbed about losing his hat yesterday but thank goodness he found it early this morning. Ferry left Mljet 1600hrs arriving 1730hrs in Dubrovnik. Staying in a 16th century mansion/Pension Ivana with a lovely garden outside the old city. An evening guided tour in the old city to celebrate the full moon festival (Chinese Lunar calendar)!

No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back – Turkish Proverb

Korčula/Croatia

20 Sep 2010 – Hvar & Korčula

Sat: ferry from Split to Hvar took app 1.30hrs with a wedding group making merry and drinking when the ferry took off at 1130hrs. Hvar is app 68km/42.25mi long, known for its exports of lavender and rosemary production for the French perfume industry. An afternoon is not much time but then, there was not much to see! Left Hvar 1815hrs, arrived into Korčula town 1930hrs.

It was dark by the time the ferry docked and we were met by our taxi driver who drove us app 15mins away from the town center to Lumbarda. According to legend, the island was founded by Trojan hero Antenor in the 12th century BC who is also famed as the founder of the city of Padua.

Sun: walked around Lumbarda and its surroundings with the lighthouse being the most southern end of the island (over 10km app 5hrs including a lunch and swim stop). The are plenty of vineyards in this area and the most important settlement dated 3rd century BC/ruins by the church. It was indeed a refreshing 1hr swim (clear salty water of the Adriatic Sea) across and back in the tiny bay where our accommodations are located/app 10mins walk from the center of Lumbarda.

Mon: a day in Korčula old city was delightfully charming and seems like Peggy, Kenson & I are the only Asians here! The old city with it’s Renaissance & Gothic architecture is surrounded by walls. The streets are arranged in a herringbone pattern allowing free circulation of air but protecting against strong winds. Korcula is tightly built on a promontory that guards the narrow sound between the island and the mainland. Building outside the walls was forbidden until the 18th century and the wooden drawbridge was only replaced in 1863. All of Korčula’s narrow streets are stepped with the notable exception of the street running alongside the southeastern wall. The street is called the Street of Thoughts as one did not have to worry about the steps!

The tomatoes here must be the best I have ever tasted and the seafood has so far been deliciously fresh. We have also been blessed with perfect weather… hopefully this will continue!

The Mediterranean as it once was – tag-line for Croatia

Split/Croatia

18 Sep 2010 – From Antiquity to Present Day

  • Ancient Greek: Aσπάλαθος Aspálathos/app 200BC…
  • Latin: Spalatum/app 300AD…
  • Medieval Dalmatian: Spalatro=little palace/10 century…
  • Today Split.

After the end of World War I and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the province of Dalmatia, along with Split, became a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which in 1929 changed its name to Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Croatia declared its independence again in 1991.

Split is one of the oldest cities in the area and is traditionally considered just over 1,700yrs, while archaeological research relating to the ancient Greek colony of Aspálathos/6th century BC, thus establishes the city as being several hundred years older. In the years following 2000, Split finally gained a momentum and started to develop again. The focus mostly came on tourism. From being just a transition center, Split is now a major Croatian tourist destination, home of Diocletian’s Palace and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many new hotels are being built, as well as new apartment and office buildings. Large development projects are revived and new infrastructure is being built.

Founded in 1820, the Archaeological Museum is the oldest museum in Croatia. It has a large stock of archaeological objects from prehistoric times, from the period of the Greek colonization of the Adriatic and from the Roman, Early Christian and early Medieval ages. The impressive collections of coins, glass etc makes the visit a most interesting and educational one.

With perfect weather in this antiquity & medieval ambiance, life is like a fairy-tale in the delightful company of my childhood friends Kenson, Peggy & her husband Ian 🙂

Plato, who may have understood better what forms the mind of man than do some of our contemporaries who want their children exposed only to REAL people and everyday events—knew what intellectual experience made for true humanity. He suggested that the future citizens of his ideal republic begin their literary education with the telling of myths, rather than with mere facts or so-called rational teachings – Bruno Bettelheim

7th Heaven

15 Sep 2010 – Another Piece of Paradise

Hemingford Abbots:  located in Huntingdonshire, now part of Cambridgeshire. It is a village near Hemingford Grey south-west of St Ives. There has been a settlement on the present site since at least Roman times. In Anglo-Saxon times the neighbouring villages of Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots were a single estate. In the 9th century they split and in 974 the manor fell under the ownership of Ramsey Abbey, where it remained until the dissolution in 1539.

In 1250 the village was listed as having 96 holdings, but numbers fell following the Black Death. The population grew from 306 in 1801 to 564 in 1841, but dropped as many moved to towns and cities. It grew rapidly after the Second World War, reaching a peak of 628 in 1961. Its 2001 population was 584. Today there are 244 dwellings in the village and nearly 600 people. There are very tempting foot and cycle paths. The thatched roofs are absolutely beautiful and my favourite of all favourites is the boat house by the river… my dream summer-house 🙂

St Ives: formerly known as Slepe, in the old county of Huntingdonshire, this ancient riverside market town St Ives is now named after the Persian Bishop, St. Ivo. St. Ives, now within the county of  Cambridgeshire stands on the River Great Ouse and is world-famous for the Chapel on the Bridge

Kimbolten: a large village in Cambridgeshire. It is app 24m/39km west of Cambridge. The centrepiece of the village is Kimbolton Castle which forms the main building of Kimbolton School (now an independent day and boarding school), but its predecessor on the same site was once home and prison to Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII. Katherine died at Kimbolton Castle in 1536 and was transported from there to Peterborough Cathedral to be buried.

The bells of St Andrew’s Church rang to welcome us. Somehow, church bells have been ringing during our visits the past few days! Thanks to Christine and KV for their kind & generous hospitality & company, for driving & sharing their piece of paradise. Enjoy your retirement… Christine with her beautiful quilling cards and KV with his music. KV is my first non-family visitor in 1965, first week in boarding school/Dublin and at long last I had the chance to remind him and to let him know how touched I was for his visit then.

He who sings scares away his woes – Cervantes