Mount Etna, Sicily

[ Photo Blog  #65 ]

 

Giardini Naxos is a small town situated on the coast of the Ionian Sea at the foot of Mount Etna, in north-east Sicily.  This is the town outside which the cruise ship I was on in 2006 anchored enabling us to go ashore.  The approach from the sea is dramatic with the continually smoking volcano looking very close and dangerous to the town.  In fact the volcano does erupt regularly but appears to find a different exit point each time along the crest of the hill range, thus leaving several old craters which it is now reasonably safe to visit, or so we were assured!   In the past Etna has deposited its lava all along this coast and the evidence is easy to see in the long-since cooled and solidified lava floes now forming shelves of rock jutting out to sea all along this coast.  I have included two photographs of this below. 

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The sea approach to Giardini Naxos with Mount Etna smoking in the background

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Lava outcrops, now solidified spill into the sea all along the coastline

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Close-up of the lava deposits

My wife and I accompanied a group from the ship to take a coach to the mountain top – a journey of about 30 miles which takes approximately one hour along the winding uphill roads.  I include further  photographs of this dramatic journey below.

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A Giardini Naxos beach looking towards the ancient town of Taormina and its Saracen Castle

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Another idyllic beach and rocky outcrop near Naxos

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Looking back from the road leading to the summit

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Several views of the craters of old eruptions

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Flora gradually reclaiming a foothold on the barren earth

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The tour guide serenades us with Italian operatic arias as we descend the mountain on the return journey

 

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Death Is An Unmapped Sea

IntoTheUnknown

Photo:  ‘On Chesil Beach’ by WHB – 2007   ©

 

Death is an Unmapped Sea

Day dawns and life now reasserts its sway;
Sleep ends and dreams now slowly fade away,
Leaving behind the gains which I thought real.
Reality and the sun the truth reveal,
That time has shattered youth and brought old age.
Shall I depart midst over-arching rage,
Those aspirations which I held most dear,
Abandoned now as hope gives way to fear?
Now that I’m hurt, unheard and unfulfilled,
Can I refute those truths my life distilled,
And face what unmapped seas fate holds in store,
Without a faith to bear me to the shore?

 

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Mock Battle

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MOCK  BATTLE

When Normans fought
As Normans did
Upon their mighty battlefields
When once upon a medieval time
Warriors vied in combat
Life was hard
Was short
Was brutal
Living was for the nearly dead
And death was bones amongst the grass

Now we are pleased to read our books
Our Idylls
To watch staged tourneys
Of legend
chivalry
of honour
and Medieval Romance
With little sense of cut and thrust
of jab and slash
of block and parry
a jousting game
bereft of passion
foam-tipped swords
and rubber blades
plywood shields
and plastic helms

men of steel
of acrid smoke
and blood-red trenches
barbed wire and bursting shells
we might know how you felt
on the fields of Passchendaele
the trenches of Mons

Verdun and Arras
The beaches of Dunkirk and Guam

If only we
And these toy soldiers
Shared the hurt
And owned the blame
Of those who gave
Their all for victory

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The photographs were taken by me during a mock medieval battle display by modern-day enthusiasts of the period.  This was presented on the top of the giant keep of Arundel Castle, West Sussex, on my recent visit there in October.

 

 

Arundel Castle, West Sussex, U.K.

Arundel is an ancient town situated on the River Arun in West Sussex, England.  Its castle, massive and dominant in the landscape, dates from the 11th Century, although considerably altered and added to since that time.

Arundel Castle has undergone many restorations and extensions since it was first built in the year following the Norman Invasion of England in 1066.  It was officially  established by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067.   By the grace of William the Conqueror, he was the first to hold the earldom of Arundel.   The castle has remained in the possession of his descendants ever since and is now the home of the Duke of Norfolk, who is the Earl Marshal and Hereditary Marshal of England.  The current duke is Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk.

My photographs, featured below, are amongst those I took on a recent visit there in October 2017.

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Arundel, showing its position just a few miles inland from the English Channel and about 65 miles from London.

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Showing how the castle position dominates the town and the surrounding area

 

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Looking up to the massive southern wall of the castle

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The Castle’s Western Gateway

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Part of the extensive castle gardens, looking towards Arundel’s Roman Catholic Cathedral

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The more private part of the castle where the present Duke of Norfolk lives

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Further view of the gardens

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The Root Garden, planted with the upturned roots of trees lost in the great 1987 Storm

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It was pumpkin time in the castle vegetable gardens, and Halloween was approaching

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A medieval montage within the castle keep

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An important 12th Century visitor to the Castle

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A re-enactment of 12th Century knights in battle

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More Norman knights

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A view of the River Arun and its bridge at Arundel after several days of rain

 

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A Trawler’s Resting Place

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Photograph at the Stade, Hastings, by WHB – October 2017   ©

 

THE STADE  (Hastings)

A Trawler’s Resting Place

 

desolate and deconstructed
now at rest
my remnant life
so inexorably sea-linked 
still confronted
and yet consoled
by those waves
forever beating
on the shingle
of my shore

here on the stade
in the first throes of death
it is my destined fate
to pass on my faith
to those who succeed me

for hope exists
rebirth is on offer
amidst the rigours
of a relentless sea
on my pebbled bed
above the tides
prow still proudly fronting
those endless tides
white waves
bursting at my bows

resting at last
only my memories
trawling my sea-going past
recapturing the rapture
of my vibrant youth
the courageous tenor
of my old life
now entombed
beside my brethren
brothers in desuetude
companions of my death in life
the mystery of my history
encapsulated in this
maritime minster
my tomb inscribed
with my exploits
embedded
within the planking of my hull
and the bulkheads of my carcass

but … no shipshape shrine
rather sea-scavengers paradise
Davy Jones the organ donor
salty entrails examined
my sea-going body parts
prized and picked over
human gulls
ancient sea-dog mariners
making claim again
to my once upon a time worth
my parts in death available
transplanting hope
bringing new life to old

what the sea has not already claimed
remains
to tempt a new generation
regeneration offered
my hull disembowelled
stripped to its frame
rust freed
reclaimed
renamed
fading sea-life re-empowered
man’s eternal battle with the sea
love-hate affirmed
continued and confirmed
empowering new sea ventures

harbingers of a new generation
to be subjected once more
to the ocean’s
recondite whim
and arcane  grace

 

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Hastings – The STADE – #2

[ Photo Blog #63 ]

Hastings – The STADE – #2

Last week, on Thursday, 16th October, I featured my visit to this unique beach in Hastings, East Sussex, UK, from which fishing boats are launched directly into the sea.  If you have not read my introduction and viewed the photographs on that particular blog, then I would advise you to visit it first in order to gain a clearer picture of this area’s history and current function.  Click on this link to do that . . .  Hastings – The Stade #1 .  My photographs below were taken as I wandered around the beached fishing fleet, showing the boats, some now hardly seaworthy, but the majority still working boats plying their trade in the waters of the English Channel from the Stade Beach in Hastings.

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Stillness

 

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‘Solitude’: Rydal Water, Cumbria, The Lake District, UK … Pen & Ink – WHB 1991  ©

 

STILLNESS

 

This stillness and the beauty all around me

Bring with them peace and grace for which I yearn;

For here among the lakes and mountains resting

I sense my hopes and dreams will now return.

 

For now I’ve reached a time when life has bitten,

Reminding me of pleasures once enjoyed;

Since lost in cares and daily obligations

How Nature can supplant and fill the void.

 

Its healing powers I know and cannot question;

They bring delights I cannot bear to miss.

They sing to me of other loves and places,

And speak to me of other times than this.

 

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The PIER

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Eastbourne Pier, Sussex, England: Photo – WHB, October, 2017  ©

 

THE PIER

As bravely my finger points to the sea
my peninsular pretences extend
for a while
my efforts at ocean reclamation
enabling land and sea to merge
countryside and shore
to meet and mingle
in mutual admiration

Taking my insatiable
search for pleasure
beyond its brief

Public pleasuring
made manifest
another pleasure garden
to add to nature’s own
another wonderworld
to vie with nature’s gifts

My destiny
Buffeted by wind and wave
invaded by rust and rot
attacked by frost
at risk from fire

I exist
On time borrowed
from the eye of the storm
grateful
whilst it continues
for the ocean’s grace

and so
I continue to proffer my splendours
To the denizens of my retreats
sea anglers and photo booths
Shops and tearooms
wurlitzers and waltzers
penny arcades
mirror halls
ghost trains and dodgems
all beneficiaries
of my daring
my bravery in simply existing

 

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Hastings – The STADE – #1

[ Photo Blog #62 ]

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THE STADE

On the sea front on the eastern side of the East Sussex coastal town of Hastings, I recently discovered this fascinating area.  It is called the Stade, a name dating back to the first millennium and meaning simply a landing place or area from which sea-going boats can be launched. Here, on the shingle beach,  for over 1,000 years, boats have been used to fish the nearby waters of the English Channel.   The building, in the latter part of the 19th Century, of groins along the western shore of the town restricted the movement of shingle towards the east, resulting in the area known as the Stade, which grew out towards the sea as a high bank of shingle.  This eased the once difficult access of the fishing boats to the sea and created a large area from which boats could be beach-launched and later brought back to land with the use of winches and tractors.  The Stade now provides safe harbour for Britain’s largest of all beach-launched fishing fleets.

I am told that, nowadays, because of European impositions of fishing quotas, the boats are only allowed to be launched on two days a week.  As a consequence of such restrictions, many fishermen are finding it difficult to maintain a viable livelihood.  Consequently many of the boats to be found here are used infrequently and they and the accompanying tractors , winches and metal hauling ropes and chains are rusting and in a less than pretty  condition.

Although several attempts have been made to build harbours at Hastings for the boats, these have never been successful, so boats have always had to be pulled out of the sea up the sloped shingle bank.  Because of this, their length has to be restricted, so they are able to carry only a small  amount of tackle.  This means that their range is also restricted.  Every ship, therefore has its own dedicated engine, tractor or winch in order to get the boats into and out of the water, especially at low tide.

NET SHEDS

Another unique aspect of the Stade is the Net Sheds.  These are on the landward side of the shingle bank, above the high tide line.  They are very tall wooden weather-boarded structures, all of several storeys and tarred to their full height to protect them against the weather.  They are used to store the fishing gear, including the nets.

Today I am including my photographs of the Net Sheds and the area surrounding these.  Next Thursday I will showcase my photographs of the beach and the boats themselves.

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The Stade Trail

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The Net Shops – 1

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The Net Shops – 2

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The Net Shops – 3

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RX134 and Anchor

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RX134 & Net Huts

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Net Huts

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Fishermen’s Chapel, boats and Net Huts

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Half-Boat House

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Charity Ship

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Sea shore memorablia

BRUGES – Revisited

[ Photo Blog #61 ]

I have previously blogged photographs of the Belgian City of Bruges (q.v.) 3 months ago on August 14th.  I made a further long weekend visit there the following year, and present below a different set of photographs of its stunning views, architecture and history . . .

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A reflective view of one of the city’s beautiful canals

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Another canal view

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… and a third

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. . .  a shop selling – you guessed it – vintage dolls

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another view of a roadside lace-maker

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. . .  with a close-up view of the technique

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The famed artist, Jan Van Eyck, lived in Bruges from 1429 until his death in 1441

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I visited an exhibition of Salvador Dali prints whilst in Bruges in 2004

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This poem had been posted in a closed Bruges restaurant window on a Sunday morning

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Spectacular painted interior walls and decorated ceiling of the Stadhuis, the City Hall in Burg Square

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An imposing canal-side Crucifix

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Another canal-side view

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View to the side of the main market square

 

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