Some while back we drove through the area of county Clare called The Burren. Geologically speaking this is a fascinating place, also for botanist. This area is known for and covered in karst, limestone that is so weathered and cracked that several small plants and flowers grow in the cracks, some of the plants are only found in the Alpine and Mediterranean regions of Europe. Now we did not do any trekking or hiking, we just drove through the area and mainly looked at the interesting landscapes. Partly along the coast, and partly inland.
A typical and fine example of Karstic landscape. Karst is a special type of landscape that is formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks, in this case limestone. Whole landscapes are formed in this way and the Burren is one of those areas, as seen in the photo below.
We decided to stop for lunch in Kilrush at a traditional Irish pub for some much needed nourishment.
This is just yet another part of Ireland that’s nice to explore. There is plenty of interest there for anyone liking or studying geology, botany, or archaeology. We did not even scratch the surface. I hope it gave people a taste though.
The other day, while Ian was undergoing tests in the hospital in Cork city, I decided to overnight in Bandon, which lies close enough to Cork, and I took the time out to explore a little of the town. I had never really explored Bandon, I only ever travelled through it. But I was nicely surprised, it has got a rich history and many interesting buildings. As I did not know much about these building as yet, I decided to do some research on Google and I used some history books to enlighten me. I had planned a visit to the local Heritage Centre, but it was closed. So I decided to take a walk down the long street past the Children’s Charity Store (a delight in itself). The street was mostly lined with houses to the left and an old empty brewery building, as well as a new one, to the right. Some of the terraced houses had been build by the Town Commissioners as artisan dwellings in 1912. Eventually I saw more detached houses and many beautiful mature native trees, the entrance to an estate looked picturesque.
Bandon town as it is now spans two sides of the river. At some point in time a bridge was built connecting the two sides, probably in 1864. British protestant Settlers were introduced into Bandon and the town became part of the Munster Plantation. A wall was built around the then town between the year 1620-25 of which parts remain to this day, use was made of slate stone. Every year a Walled Town Festival takes place in Bandon.
Photos below and above: So far these buildings or ruins remain a mystery to me, as I learn more about the town I will be able to fill in more information on these, some of which do look quite old. Townscapes can be quite beautiful to the eye I think. I often think that I would like to paint them.
Photos below: Interesting doorways, some Georgian (one on the left), some, I believe (the one with the pointed portico) was a style brought here by the Huguenots.
Below, looking toward the spire of Christ Church which is now the Heritage Centre.
Photos below: I found this intriguing wall all along Chapel lane and do not know if it is part of the old town wall, or not but I have asked for advice from Bandon facebook site and hope to be able to shed more info on this soon.
The Courthouse, in pale blue, and the Town Hall, which was built in 1862, to the left of it.
The photo below is of the side of the Courthouse. It shows a fine stone building underneath the plaster and paint of the façade. I loved the arches above the closed off windows. Also the old gate was of interest.
Although most of the houses’ facades are plastered and painted, I did see several stone facades too, dark grey, rough, slate stone. Some limestone too was used. And then there are many walls, skilfully built along the roads leading out of town (photos below), but also many to be found within the town. There is a great revival of conservation going on, the old town wall – part of which remains in existence are being preserved.
Photo below: This 16-sided stone building is the former Shambles, or meat market, and dates to 1818.
A view toward the St. Patrick’s church, a fine Gothic revival church, along which some of the old town wall runs.
I have so thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to Bandon town and will return for more, as there is much more to explore, and read up on too. I hope that you enjoyed it a little too. These small towns are found all over rural Ireland and though very different from each other, they have many similarities too. I’m on my quest to discover more about them.
One of the publications which I read and found quite useful is: Irishwalledtownnetwork.ie
Some photos of our last visit to Lier this past autumn. Lier is a charming and beautiful place to visit with many interesting sites, such as the begijnhof and the Saint Gummarus church, built in Brabant’s Gothic style. I hope that you will enjoy my short photo album.
Today I found a very old recipe book in the library in Ghajnsielem. It dates back to 1958 and it was compiled by Carmen Carbonaro, it is called ‘Maltese Dishes’ and seeing that I cannot find copyright information I am going to use some of the information to share it here. It is a wonderful little book! Apart of the interesting recipes it has also got illustrated advertisings from the time period it was written in, fabulous bit of information for foodies and those interested in traditional facts of twentieth century Malta or Gozo.
Even before I got home and had a good look at it, the little book was the topic of conversation big time. I stopped at the organic vegetable shop in the village across from an ancient church with the nice baroque façade and on the pleasant Piazza Indipendenza. Doris, the young woman that owns the shop (Pomona) started to check the recipes, she told me that in the time of her grandmother people did not use butter in Gozo, only lard and this, she said was reflected in the recipes. In walked Charlie, one of her nice and regular customers and he added more information to the conversation, we had got on to vegetables, artichokes as a matter of fact, which is a vegetable that I have never cooked myself and was rather interested in and luck would have it that they are in season at the moment, so I bought some. I intend to try out the recipe on page 27 of the little book, there it gives the recipe for ‘Stuffed Boiled Artichokes’ or ‘Qaqocc mimli’ in Maltese. Among the ingredients I will need are Olives, Parsley, more Olives, Breadcrumbs, Anchovies and Chives. And of course globe Artichokes.
WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT…… I have to ‘beat’ the artichokes it says!?! Beat them, but well that does not actually surprise me as Doris was telling me that in the ‘olden days’ they also used to ‘beat’ the calamari to tenderise them before cooking! What I am rather surprised of though is that at the end of the recipe it says to serve the artichokes when cool, with mayonnaise, and in those days that would have been home-made mayonnaise, the way we used to make it in Belgium last century. I guess that here it would be prepared using olive oil rather than corn oil like we did.
I cannot wait to try out this Artichoke recipe and, after making more marmalade from home grown bitter oranges today, I feel like a real Gozitan woman, getting into the spirit of this lovely island and enjoying it to the full.
Charlie, Doris and myself then got on to more about wild foods and how we can use the flowers of the artichoke to eat as well as the globe. The globe I presume is the flower bud. I glean so much local information from those two very pleasant people, I just love to shop there.
Other interesting recipes in the little book that I think might be worth trying out are:
• Chestnut soup (Imbuljuta)
• Ministra (a Maltese very delicious soup)
• Vegetable hot-pot (Kawiata)
• Timpana, a most popular dish on the Maltese menu it says.
• Rabbit stew and spaghetti (I have tried this out in a restaurant – very nice)
• Tunny fish stew
• Lampuki pie (a popular fish during August and September.
• Imqaret (date slices)
• Xkunvat – a special Maltese sweet.
• Marmurat, a sweet made with almonds
There are many more interesting looking recipes in the little book. At the end of it there is a menu for the week page, I had a look. Monday it says: Spaghetti, Meat Balls using the meat left over from Sunday dish, cheese and fruit. For Tuesday it says: Meat Soup. Meat from Soup (Buljut) with lemon juice and salad, Custard, Fruit. I won’t give the whole week but interestingly I read that on both Wednesday and Friday fish is recommended, I guess that in those days the church still had two fasting from meat days in the week. All the other days have meat on the menu.
Interesting too is that there are 24 different advertisements in the little booklet, the advertisements themselves are of interest if looking up dietary information of the time.
The little book was published by Empire Press in Malta. It sure is something to treasure. I’m going to have some culinary experiments with it in the next two weeks. I do look forward to learning and to tasty dishes.
Looking back on my days in South India I must say that I enjoyed the food very much there. All the dhal dishes, the variety of vegetable dishes, the spices and fragrant herbal dishes were all very much to my taste, and rice as a accompaniment was delicious. While sorting through photos the other day I found some of my visit to Vijayawada and the surrounding area in Andhra Pradesh, and I picked out some of the ones that portrayed foods, street food sellers, and chai shops.
Man selling his vegetables using his bike as vehicle, both practical and colourful. The carts on wheels are also very practical and you see them a lot in all the towns and villages. The young boy was minding a cool water stall, big smile on his face as he was obviously enjoying this job.
Harvesting the rice under a very hot sun
Along the road on the way to Vijayawada we came across a rice harvest, the people harvesting were working in the hot sun, laying the stalks of rice on the road, we were told that the trucks and busses driving over this would dislodge the rice grains and make the job easier for them to gather the rice.
A lovely lady preparing vegetables, and a storage place where the cabbages and green chillies seem to be a popular food item.
Another popular street selling item would be the bananas, I ate some lovely little bananas in South India, they tasted so creamy, a bit like banana ice-cream, delicious. The hot food stall in the dark, this was around Christmas 2009, the smell was very nice and wrapped itself around us while we browsed the other stalls in the area. It was the first time I saw the Christmas stars on sale, beautiful crafted from light cardboard, I bought some and took them home to give to my grand children.
I’m always fascinated with the vegetable types that I am not familiar with, here are quite a few on display, the okra, and the bitter gourd (though I have tried to grow these in Ireland), not even sure what the purple vegetable is. I would want to try them all out. And when I find spices or herbs between them I go altogether enthusiastic. Loving it all.
Another street food seller, love the amount of green beans, they make any meal worth eating. So colourful too.
Here I cannot remember what this man was selling, I thought some sort of nuts perhaps. And on the right it was the children that caught my attention more, they were very curious about me for some reason.
About the chai houses I have fond memories too, you would be walking or driving along the road and there you would regularly come across a chai seller, lovely to sit in the shade and drink a delicious glass of chai, and chat with the local people who would be just as curious about you as you about them. A relaxed way of living, having all the time in the world, the way it should be. Materialism has not reached these parts it seems. I still think that rural areas are healthier and nicer to live in wherever you go in the world. In India you are never far away from other people even in rural areas, it is not a lonely sort of place. It’s colourful and friendly. I was fortunate to travel both in Tamil Nadu, in Andhra Pradesh and in Kerala, in each place I made very good friends. In Kerala my good friend Mary even gave me demonstrations in preparing traditional Kerala dishes, she and her husband also took me into the mountain areas where they showed me a variety of trees that produce spices, very interesting, but I will write about that another time. My friends, I do hope you enjoyed my little photo journey through this delightful part of the world.
Some years ago Ian and I spent a few weeks in Central Portugal. In memory of all the forest fires which destroyed so much trees plants and animals (and most of all human life) that was lost there over last summer, I have decided to enter a few thoughts, photos, and words from my journal of those days. It will show the fresh beauty of the place, and like many I hope that the land will recover in all its glory.
We were staying in a small village called Orca in the centre of Portugal, close to the town of Penamacor and Castello Branco. It was very hot already during our stay even though it was only towards the end of April. One day we decided to travel to Covhila which lies on the foot of the Serra da Estrella Natural Park and mountain range. Here is a little of what I noted down at the time.
Journal entry of April the 28th ~ INTERESTING ROCKS AND MAGNIFICENT VIEWS
We made a day trip to the Serra da Estela mountain range, the highest mountains in Portugal, while we were staying in a lovely little hotel in the historical centre of Covilha. It was possibly one of the most amazing days we spent in Portugal. The beauty of the landscape, plants and rock formations, topped up with actually being able to hold snow in my hand, while we had been baking in temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius in the valley below, was lovely. There were interesting stones and flowers to discover. We drove down into the Glacial Valley where the village of Manteigas was to be found, the views leading up to discovering this village were wonderful. It is a trip I would advice anyone to take when visiting central Portugal.
LOOKING DOWN TO THE GLACIAL VALLEY
This was not only a fantastic view, it was also very interesting of geological interest. This U-shaped valley was gouged out by a glacier during the last Ice Age. Manteigas is a very lush and quite large village surrounded by mountains, it lies bathed in the sun and water streams down to it from all sides. This assures a good supply to make everything grow well and look very green and fresh. We had a lovely traditional Portuguese soup there with Spinach in it, after a generous helping of fresh Olives and bread. We finished off the meal with a nice desert made of layers of coffee ice-cream and pastry, delicious!
Granite rock formations
You are climbing up to nearly 2000 meters high, a very good road, the views magnificent!
AMAZING SCENTS AND A WELCOME COOL BREEZE
The scents all over central Portugal are just so sweet and lovely, so much so, that you breathe with pleasure. The heat does help with this, but even high up on the Serra da Estrela I experienced these lovely scents. I wish that I could bottle it and bring it home, but meanwhile I did breathe with pleasure.
SNOW AT A HEIGHT OF 1750M
Well I have enjoyed this little journey into my past. I’ve got lots more that I will share. At the moment I am going through many photos of the past few travels, on some of my memo sticks. I’m taking at least a year off Facebook and it is amazing how much time more time I have to spend on other things. Wading through thousands of photos is no mean task, but it is enjoyable. I hope that you have enjoyed my journey into the past too.
In India, somewhere about 15 km from Jammalamadugu in the Kadapa district, in Andhra Pradesh, there lies a village called Gandikota. It lies on the right bank of the river Pennar. This river creates a deep gorge while it runs through the ancient red granite rocks of the Erramala hills, whole big bolders of them, a magnificent sight! About seven years ago I was there. It was new years day of 2010 and together with some friends we visited the fort there and the temples and mosque all well maintained ruins now. Gandikota Fort was constructed around the 12th century during the Pemmasani Dynasty, and became one of the most prominent forts in the country. Gandi is the Telegu name for gorge and the village and Fort got their name as a result of that. There was quite a bit to see at Gandikota, most immediately when you enter the area there is the impressive ancient Jamia Masjid mosque with its beautiful architecture, its elegant arches. Then there is the granary which is a very robust and dark building, very cool inside while intense heat outside, only air vaults letting in a tiny ray of sunlight. Before long the eye catches another interesting building, this is the ruin of the Ranganatha Swamy Temple, very impressive with its magnificent carvings and pillars. The carvings depicting scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. There are also the ruins of the Madhavaraya Temple and some other ruins in the vicinity.
The rock structures of the gorge are magnificent, the red granite majestic in huge blocks precariously grace the tops of the gorge, you have to climb over them to get to the edge and see the view. Granite is an igneous rock made up of a variety of mineral, like quartz, feldspar, mica, and hornblende. The composition of small amounts of mica, amphiboles, and other mineral is what gives granite its red colour.
I spent many months in this vicinity over several years but alas it is now seven years ago I was there last. This visit was one of the outstanding natural and archaeological beautiful places that I visited in Andhra Pradesh, but there are many more. It’s been too long since my last visit to India, me thinks.
I would like to share some much treasured memories of my travels in South of India with you all. Somehow being in Gozo reminds me of my time in India, not sure what it is that brings up the memories but there you are. A page out of my travel journal describes a trip that I made by taxi from Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu to Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh, it was a most interesting and beautiful journey.
We left very early in the morning while it was still dark, this meant that we would be able to watch the sun rise over the landscape.
I was simply glued to the window of the taxi, this was a large comfortable Indian taxi, in front the driver and our friend Ramesh and beside me the friend that I was sharing the journey with.
We travelled fast at first, there were many signs of people, of life starting to happen in the little hamlets which we passed, though I saw far less people than I had seen in Tiruvannamalai the last few weeks because of Deepam Festival. I saw the sun rise over the farmers already working on the land, early and in the cool of the morning.
The landscape started to change, the mountains became quite different in shape, edges more sharp and irregular.
The vegetation and the trees became very lush. In the hamlets along the roadside we passed women getting their children ready for school, we saw them carrying colourful plastic water containers on their head. We passed men herding large flocks of goats with silky coats.
Many of the houses and huts, some of them circular in shape, were made of woven materials, making full use of locally produces building materials, the roofs becoming a bit higher as we got nearer to Andhra Pradesh, but we also passed many of the cement houses, they have flat roofs with railings and stairs leading up to the roof. Roofs are made good use of in India, these houses too were changing in appearance becoming more elaborate in their decorations, often with iron and stone trellises.
Many farmsteads have chickens running around. These hamlets and roadside villages are centres of commercial activity, shops, teashops, workshops, craft shops were people were working at making the crafts such as basketry.
Outside the villages and along the road there were also many brick making places where people would be making the bricks and they would all be piled up and then baked either in the sun or in a special system of piling them and firing them.
Lots of basket weaving places near to Vellore also. Vellore is a large town with lots of colourful shrines and temples along the road, their use of colour reminding me of the choice of colour used in Celtic art, very vivid and bright.
It was very hot in the taxi, we were drinking some water to keep going.
There was so much to see along the way. I noticed two high Termite heaps which really impressed me.
The journey now took us into a much more agricultural land, with lots of crops tended along the roadside, crops such as peanuts and rice.
Wonderful trees also, and banana plantations. In Kanumolapati we came across a very ancient Hindu temple, but the closer we came to Tirupathi the fewer the Hindu temples became, I was now seeing the equally lovely and interesting minarets of the mosques, some of them very beautiful.
In Kadapa town we had a bit to eat at the AP Tourism restaurant which had very good value for money, lovely food and good restroom facilities.
This journey took 12 hours, we stopped off at Agaral about 20km outside Tirupathi at the Park Avenue Hotel Gardens to have some excellent Thai.
To say that England has a lot to offer in terms of history, interest, and beauty surely is an understatement. We have been here in Norfolk now for several days, while it is mainly as a family visit, the family has generously shown us around the area, and we took a great, long walk along the salt marshes at Burnham Overy Staithe. How nice to get to see this and get acquainted with a variety of the birds and plants found in this habitat. I did hear a curlew, nice to hear as in Ireland they are heard less and less.
One of the main noticeable find here though are the what the houses are all built with lots of flint stones on their facades, no even all over the walls of the houses, I had never seen anything like it before and am fascinated. Flint is a very hard stone and those walls much be so strong and well able to endure the winds and weather in those areas. It is great to see locally sourced rock used as a building material. More information about the use of flint in Norfolk can be found here: http://belongathoughton.com/introduction-norfolks-natural-heritage/gallery ids=”13797,13790,13784,13792″ type=”rectangular”]
We took Ian’s grandchild and daughters on a steam train ride from Wells to Walsingham, the ride took us along many different wild shrubs and the berries were plentiful, among them hawthorn and rosehips. The birds will have plenty of food this winter! The train ride was quaint, lots of time to take in all we saw along the track.
The flowing fields along the railway track were beautiful to watch. Skies were also very interesting.
We had cream tea in a teashop at a place which is dedicated to the virgin Mary in memory of her visitation by the angel Gabriel. A pilgrimage from London to this village goes back a very long way. There is a well there with waters that are said to cure people. Mostly the place is very peaceful and beautifully laid out with lovely trees and flower beds. In mediaval time pilgrimage was very popular but people had to go a long way and the road was often not very safe. Today many people will visit places like these to get in touch with themselves and meditate on the meaning of their life.