Majorca – Palma and Valldemossa

 [ Photo Gallery # 94 ]

Palma is capital of the Spanish island of Mallorca (Majorca), in the western Mediterranean. The massive Santa María cathedral, a Gothic landmark begun in the 13th century, overlooks the Bay of Palma.  West of the city, hilltop Bellver Castle is a medieval fortress with a distinctive circular shape.

Valldemossa , directly north of Palma, is a favourite stop for fans touring the island.  The area is famous for one landmark in particular.  That is the Royal Charterhouse, built at the beginning of the 14th century.   Since the 19th century Valldemossa has been promoted internationally as a place of outstanding beauty.  In the 1830s the Spanish government confiscated monasteries and the historic estate has since that time hosted some prominent guests. These have included the Polish composer Frederick Chopin and his lover, the pioneering French writer known by her pseudonym, George Sand.  Every summer the monastery stages an acclaimed Chopin Festival, and visitors can tour the cells where the outrageous couple resided.

Despite problems encountered during their visit, their time there proved a famously creative period. While Sand’s book on Majorca has proved to be an enjoyable portrait of the island,  Chopin meanwhile, although he realised whilst on the island that his sickness was incurable, wrote or completed some of his most loved works, including his Prelude in D flat major, appropriately known as the “Raindrop”.
Saint Catherine of Palma (1533–1574) was a Spanish nun canonised in 1930.   She was born 1 May 1533 into a peasant family. She worked as a servant in a household in Palma where she learned to read and embroider, before joining the Canonnesses of St Augustine at the convent of St Mary Magdalene in Palma.  She was visited by devils and angels, and went into ecstasy for the last years of her life. She died 5 April 1574 at Palma, Mallorca.   The house in Valldemossa where she was born has become a shrine, and many houses in the village bear a plaque in her honour.

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The photographs below were taken during my visit to the island in 2006 . . .

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The sea approach to Palma – early morning
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 Santa María Cathedral  in Palma
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Palma with the hilltop Bellver Castle
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View of Palma from the nearby heights
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Santa María Cathedral – from my coach window
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The hills around Valldemossa
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View of Valldemossa village
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La Vila De Valldemossina – Entrance
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View from Valldemossa
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Room in the Charterhoue, Valldemossa
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Bust of Chopin at the Charterhouse
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During a Chopin piano recital at the Charterhouse
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Ceramic plaque telling the story of Saint Catherine in Valldemossa
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Ceramic telling the story of Saint Catherine in Valldemossa
 

Killarney

[ Photo Blog #54 ]

One of the highlights of my visit to the South West of Ireland in 2003 was a tour by horse-drawn Jaunting (or jaunty) Car of Killarney’s Muckross House and gardens and of the world famous Killarney National Park and its lakes and mountains.

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A still extant relic of the reign of Queen Victoria

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This nineteenth century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park.

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The jaunty car taxi rank

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By Killarney’s Lakes and Fells

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A pause to take in the view

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The Ruins of Killegy Chapel

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In the graveyard of Killegy Chapel

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Wild flowers in the Graveyard overlooking the lake

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Tree growing inside the roofless nave of the chapel

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The roofless chapel

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Close-up view of a memorial – now open to the sky.

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Return to Mucross House

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G.K.Chesterton: ‘Wine And Water’

 (Poem No.47 of my favourite short poems)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874 – 1936), was an English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic.  He was a large man, standing 6 feet 4 inches and weighing over 20 stone (130 kg).  His girth, perhaps in part due to his great fondness for wine,  occasioned a famous incident when he remarked to his friend George Bernard Shaw  “Look at you, anyone would think a famine had struck England.”  Shaw retorted, “To look at you, anyone would think you have caused it”.

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Wine And Water

Old Noah he had an ostrich farm and fowls on the largest scale,
He ate his egg with a ladle in a egg-cup big as a pail,
And the soup he took was Elephant Soup and fish he took was Whale,
But they all were small to the cellar he took when he set out to sail,
And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine,
“I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.”

The cataract of the cliff of heaven fell blinding off the brink
As if it would wash the stars away as suds go down a sink,
The seven heavens came roaring down for the throats of hell to drink,
And Noah he cocked his eye and said, “It looks like rain, I think,
The water has drowned the Matterhorn as deep as a Mendip mine,
But I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.”

But Noah he sinned, and we have sinned; on tipsy feet we trod,
Till a great big black teetotaller was sent to us for a rod,
And you can’t get wine at a P.S.A., or chapel, or Eisteddfod,
For the Curse of Water has come again because of the wrath of God,
And water is on the Bishop’s board and the Higher Thinker’s shrine,
But I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

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To reinforce Chesterton’s delight in the drinking of wine, I quote a verse from another of his poems on the same subject . . . 

“Feast on wine or fast on water,
And your honour shall stand sure …
If an angel out of heaven
Brings you other things to drink,
Thank him for his kind attentions,
Go and pour them down the sink.”

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St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Isles of Orkney

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St.Magnus Cathedral, Kirlwall, Orkney Isles … Photo – WHB, 2010

 

 

 

The northernmost cathedral in the British Isles is dedicated to St. Magnus.  It holds a dominant position overlooking the Orkney capital of Kirkwall.   The building of this magnificent cathedral, was commenced in 1137 at a time when Orkney was ruled by the Vikings.  Masons who had helped build Durham Cathedral came north to build the magnificently stout Norman pillars and arches which remain today.  Originally under Norwegian jurisdiction, the cathedral became a possession of the people of Orkney, not of the church, following a decree of King James III of Scotland in 1486.

 

The building of the cathedral continued for approximately 300 years from 1137.  It is built largely of yellow and red sandstone.  It was dedicated to Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney who, as a result of greed and jealousy engendered by his cousin, Haakon, was  martyred on the island of Egilsay in 1117.   Magnus was later canonised and his remains brought to Kirkwall from Birsay and interred in a column of the cathedral now dedicated to him.

Orkney-Scotland Map

Map of Scotland – Orkney Isles & Kirkwall at the top

I publish below just a few of my photographs taken in the cathedral when I visited in 2010.  They are in the form of a slide show, the picture changing every few seconds.

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Easter, Love & Cricket

Three RICTAMETERS

A Rictameter is a fixed-syllabic poetry form, similar to the Haiku and the Cinquain   ( Click here See my own cinquain in an earlier blog.  ).  The rictameter starts with a two-syllable word as the first line.  Then the line length in syllables is consecutively increased by two, i.e. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.  Then down again, from 8, 6, 4, 2.   The final of the 9 lines is required to be the same two syllable word as in the opening line.

The format was created in the early 1990s by two cousins, Jason Wilkins and Richard Lunsford, for a poetry contest that was held as a weekly practice of their self-invented order, ‘The Brotherhood of the Amarantos Mystery’, which was apparently inspired by the Robin Williams film ‘Dead Poet’s Society’.

I have attempted three versions of this format below . . .


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EASTER

Absolve
The human race
Release them from their sins
Forgive them their indiscretions
Instead torment me on that cruel cross
That I might thus remind them all
That God our father loves
And all our sins
Absolves.

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LOVE

Love hurts
It burns the soul
From lust to jealousy
It does not let up from that pain
So put alongside with its times of bliss
The memories of anguished dread
When all seemed to be dead
All reason says
Love hurts.

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straight bat

CRICKET

Cricket
Keep a straight bat
All that they throw at you
Face up to it with fortitude
Don’t be average be an all-rounder
And when it’s time to pull up stumps
Try to carry your bat
Don’t declare, that’s
Cricket.

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