Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Fairy Mound

When I was a teenager, I used to cycle to this mound and imagine it was the gateway to an underworld. That if you lay on the grass and listened hard enough you would hear unearthly music coming faintly from below.

Where elves and gnomes waited to ensnare the unwary or lovely elven maidens with large eyes and few clothes offered enticements to cast off a familiar and comfortable life...

That on moonlit nights the crown of the mound would lift on columns for the creatures of mythology and wonder to come out, looking for those who strayed...

Then I'd think... "Nah!"

But... what do you think?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Another Random Offering...

The slides are still going through the scanner slowly but surely. But still as mixed up as ever! So today's offering is a mixed one again!

Starting off with a visit to Blackpool Tower Circus sometime around 1979/1980. I'm not quite sure of the year. The photo is of an acrobatic troup who had the spot right at the end of the performance after the circus ring has sunk down to allow sea water to flood in.

It was always a spectacular end to the seasonal circus show but this troupe were quite spectacular themselves - semi-naked and coated in oil and glitter, they were almost as erotic as they were acrobatic - though you get some idea of the balance and strength required for their act in this photo... Try that with the missus, later tonight!

The next photo couldn't be much more different! St Chad's church, the Parish church of Rochdale, my birth town, taken again in 1979, several years after we had moved to Blackpool. Rochdale is an old town - mentioned in the Domesday Book and, of course, the place where Alan A'Dale comes from in the Robin Hood legends.

St Chads has a strange legend that it was to have been built at the foot of the high hilltop that it occupies, but that the collected building materials were moved each night to the top of the hill by supernatural means!

The next shot is from 1990 and one of Fleetwood's Tram Sunday events. These events invariably involve far more cars and buses than they do trams - in fact these days more than ever, due to Health & Safety rules keeping the trams from trundling slowly down Lord Street whilst visitors are wandering all over the road.

Back in 1990 we just used to push the crushed and dead bodies to the kerb with the side of a foot whilst we took our photos of the parked cars.

Like this 1950s Ford Popular. This was the last Ford "sit-up-and-beg" model before more modern styling gave them a flat boot that stuck out behind and a flatter shape to the bonnet that curved gently into the wings. Dad had one of these - his first car and I remember the great excitement when he came home with it. I must have been 5 or 6 at the time. I remember he spent as much time lying under it with a spanner in his hand as we did riding inside it...

And to finish with - a disdainful opening sentence with the word "and" at the front... and a shot of a 1940s London Routemaster bus on Blackpool's Golden Mile in (I think) 1985.

It was the start of the Routemasters disappearing from London streets and it was to the advantage of Blackpool as the Routemaster made a fabulous sight in its old Blackpool livery.

A Rummage in the Attic

Well that's the end of Summer for another year. Can't remember when (or if) it actually started this year. I suspect we went straight from Spring into Autumn...

Anyway after several nights shivering I was persuaded to climb up to the attic and bring down the heavier duvet.

It took ages. There's all sorts of interesting stuff up there, from old computer bits and books and magazines to my old stamp albums and 78rpm records and slide projectors, Super8 film projectors, old cameras etc.

There's stuff that would make people on Ebay slather with desire I'm sure...

Like 4 bound volumes of Film Review magazine from 1977-1980. Only the January 1978 issue is missing. What would that collection be worth now, covering Star Wars films, Close Encounters, Roger Moore as James Bond, Saturday Night Fever and Grease and ...er... Mary Millington, Bo Derek and The Muppet Movie... Plus more Joan Collins and Burt Reynolds than you could shake a stick at! Priceless!

Wading waist deep through a huge pile of empty boxes for Lilliput Lane cottages I came to several large record boxes containing my collection of 78rpm records - Elvis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly vie with Doris Day, Teresa Brewer alongside Russ Conway, Winifred Atwell and Joe Loss. Not to mention Jack Hylton, Bing Crosby, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Sid Phillips, Ted Heath, Frank Sinatra, Guy Mitchell, Max Bygraves, Debbie Reynolds, Lena Horne, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Gracie Fields, Spike Jones & His City Slickers, Chris Barber, Anne Shelton, George Formby, The Platters, Bill Haley & the Comets, Louis Armstrong, Lita Roza, Frank Crumit and Enid Blyton reading her own Noddy stories... I wanted to bring them all downstairs and play them!

Then there was the Commodore 64 computer - almost directly responsible for the direction my career took after I bought it with my redundancy money in 1981 when the wholesale Cash & Carry warehouse I helped manage was merged with another following a takeover (no such thing as "mergers"...)

That computer and this book by Peter Gerrard (where is that man today? I want to shake his hand!) gave me the insight to take an old Commodore Pet at the first college I worked at and I wrote an accounting package to deal with orders and invoices. That led to work on Student Records systems, to managing departments and administration in colleges, then to networks and managing IT and the fledgling e-Learning, to a national award and then to working as Senior Adviser in a support organisation hosted by a university. That book was the kick start in all that.

Oh... and having brought the duvet down I'm too bloody hot at night now...

Monday, 21 September 2009

Scanning! I'm Scanning I'm Scanning I'm Scanning...

Yikes, I've taken a lot of photos over the years! I'm currently up to 13,750 files on my hard drive with 4,161 of them currently available from my Flickr account but with many more still to scan from years gone by!

I'm currently scanning slides of the Lake District and some of those are finding their way to Flickr. I'd collated lots of slides into collections of the same subject for projecting (remember those nights spent in the dark watching a big screen?) and that means they are jumbled up a bit so I can't easlily tell which were taken when.

So I'm having to cross reference with my black and white negatives and do some intelligent guesswork (that doesn't come easily!) as to when each one was taken.

I've gone through around 10 projector magazines each of 50 slides and am currently scanning through the albums of slides that I didn't have spare magazines for. I have 4 albums for slides each containing 20 sheets of storage pages each page with pockets for 20 slides. So that's 400 to an album and I'm on the third album.

Fans of the Blackpool photos may be interested to know that the fourth album is the one that contains most of the older Blackpool photos. And after that I've got four albums of black and white negatives to go at, each of which contains around 400 strips of 5 negatives - so around 8,000 black and white images! So a few months spare time still to go then...!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Slob-Around Day

Miss Franny has decided we are going to have a "slob around in PJs day" as this is the first day since getting back from holiday that we haven't had anything planned on the agenda.

Our slobbing around so far has included tidying up after the pots were left last night, emptying and repacking all the cables, foot pedals, microphones and spare guitar strings into the band's gig bag - I can actually shut it now! Also I've finally created the Recovery DVDs for my computer that is over a year old...

And now the Dyson is leaping up and down with excitement, waiting for me to help it fulfil its function...

Bloody knackering, these slob-around days...

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Blackpool Zoo in the 1980s

It's been a busy few days and not only have I not been posting here but regular visitors will know even the Flickr account has been a bit quiet!

So I'm delving into the past here going back 28 years or so which is a little frightening because that only takes us back to 1981 - sheesh, I'm in danger of becoming a Crumbly!!!

I used to take a lot of black and white photos back then as I was freelancing to magazines quite a lot. However I did take a few colours as well - on a variety of film stock! I used to use Ektachrome 64 a lot for colour slides as I used to process the film myself with some rather nasty chemicals and a bath full of hot water to keep them at the right temperature! It was a finicky business, but I'd been processing my own black and whites for years and wanted to have a bash at colour too.

Blackpool Zoo had a couple of tigers at that point and they are seen above making the most of the sunshine!

The camels had a spot near the entrance - as the entrance to the zoo at that time was along the path past the elephant enclosure. The elephants in those days shared the outside enclosure with giraffes and rhinos. Indoors were three different pens and only one species was allowed out at any one time of course!

All these photos are from colour slides, but when it came to colour print film I experimented with all sorts of stuff! Technicolor, Kodak, Agfa, Barfen (which I bought in 100ft rolls and loaded 35mm cassettes myself), Sakura, and loads of other weird names produced film that I tried out. Some of them were really grainy, lots of them have now discoloured making scanning the negatives a nightmare!

Azimat was the name of the zoo's most popular orangutan at that time. She had her little baby, Victoria, in the very early 1980s and I was there to celebrate! Azimat gave me a set of pictures that I had published in She magazine and the American National Enquirer and so was a favourite of mine!

Sadly she is no longer with us but Vicky is still at Blackpool and is now the matriarch of the orangutans at the zoo.

Kumba was the star of the gorilla pen and was the male silverback gorilla with the haughty stare and a disquieting way of handling his own droppings as though considering lobbing them over the wall at you...

Lomie, one of his female companions was another favourite of mine. She and Azimat both got used to me, I used to visit that often and they would be quite unperturbed at me pointing a "long tom" at them. I had a 400mm lens that was around a foot long on the front of my camera!

Who would have thought then that not only would miniature cameras be able to zoom into such faraway details but that film would not be necessary and that you would be able to take photographs on a telephone that you could carry in your pocket!!!

What a strange place the world seems now if looked at from the perspective of 30 years ago!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Wedding Bells in Durham

Last night we stayed over in Durham, after joining in the wedding celebrations of one of my work colleagues, Andy Stewart who married Verity amidst the wonderful setting of Durham Castle.

We motored over from Blackpool yesterday afternoon and met up for a meal with other friends from work. We had an excellent meal then a quick drink in a packed and noisy pub where I expected to be called "Grandad" at any point and then climbed the hill to the castle.

The reception was being held in a hall worthy and remeniscent of Hogwarts dining room! In fact after a few glasses of wine, I wouldn't swear that the paintings weren't wandering about and trying to converse with us...

Verity looked beautiful, Andy, every inch the proud husband. It was a good night.

This morning Fran fancied a swift look around the shops before we came back. I made sure she knew where she was going and then went back towards the river and along the bank to a sheltered spot from where I could sketch the hill and castle from the river bank.

I was under the shade of overhanging trees which was quite lucky as at one point it was raining heavily - the splashes in the river before me showing just how heavy. I hardly got wet and was able to carry on sketching.

This took about an hour to do on an A5 size sketchpad. I left a few details of shrubbery blank to finish later when Fran had found the shops she had wanted to look around were either not open or hadn't got what she wanted. I finished them off once we got home.

A good weekend!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

A Hot Morning in Corfu

28 August 2009. The ship returns to Corfu and we must prepare to return to the UK. However, our flight is a late one. We are not due to leave the ship until 7:30pm and so we go out to walk into Corfu.

It is first thing in the morning and yet the temperature is soaring way into the 90s.

By the time we reach the old - sorry make that the New - Fortress, we are hot, a little footsore and wanting a drink.

We walked past and then up the side of the fortress. It was built between 1572 and 1645 by the Venetians, with further work done to the defences by both the British and the French. Above the gate that is behind the palm trees there was a carving of a winged lion that I found later to be the emblem of St Mark.

In fact it's official name is the Fortress of St Mark, but everyone calls it the New Fortress because there is an older one that we saw on a previous cruise.

We reach the Old Town, a place of narrow streets, marble paving underfoot and full of character.

Arcaded walkways shelter you from the sun and provide some cool against the glare and heat of the sun. On the left of the photo is a large pile of boxes. A van has made a delivery to a shop and unloaded quickly and moved off. On roads of this width even one parked car means the road is blocked until it moves.

The old town of Corfu has some interesting corners - or perhaps I should say curves... Surely her shorts are falling down??? The Old Town is full of little squares like this - if not all so splendidly adorned by near-naked maidens... In the centre is an old covered well.

A larger square gave us a chance to rest our legs and admire the scenery. From here we retraced our steps until we hit the edge of the more modern town where we sat on a corner and ordered drinks at a street cafe. Two other passengers, Robert and his grandson Ryan came past and joined us for a while.

Having had our rest we walked slowly back to the ship, my shirt almost entirely darkened by sweat as the temperature was now over 100. Our cases had been taken from the cabin late the night before, ready for going to the airport so there was nothing we could do about getting changed. But once back into the air conditioning onboard we started to cool down and feel better. We had lunch and then wandered the ship for a last look round before heading for our usual refuge in the Horizon bar.

I read for most of the afternoon - finishing the book that I had meant to read on the flight home...

Then the usual wait at the airport, enlivened for a moment as I walked through a cloud of what I thought was smoke, as I was walking behind a lady and her son. She dropped her "ciggy" in a bin and there was a shout of laughter from her family. She had been spraying deoderant to cool herself and then realised she shouldn't have still had it, having already passed through security!

Christopher Biggins was waiting to fly back home and was incredibly patient with the queue of people who lined up for an autograph. No one asked for mine... Homeward bound!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Katakolon

27 August 2009. We returned from Ancient Olympia to the port of Katakolon and as usual we had some lunch and then disembarked once again to walk around the port.

There was an excellent view of the ship and what there was of Katakolon was only a few steps away.

In fact the village only exists to serve visiting ships. there is a street of shops and at the rear of the shops that back onto the harbour, a row of cafe bars. But once the last ship leaves they turn out the lights, close up and all go home, leaving the village deserted.

The shopping street is filled with pretty much identical shops. They are all aimed at the tourist and therefore all seem to sell the same stuff. They all had photo calendars, guide books, postcards, belts, jewellery...

Oh and a calendar showing scenes of pornography taken from ancient pottery jugs and bowls... Nothing left to the imagination there (I'm only aware of this from the covers of course - I didn't browse...) I did wonder whether to take one back for Grandma... "Hey! Gran! Look what I got for you!" But then I thought better of it. I don't have any grandparents left anyway...

There was another ship in port besides the Thomson Celebration. This was the Splendour of the Seas and with two cruise liners in port the cafe bars had a few customers to keep them going.

It took us all of half an hour to fully explore the place...

We walked back to the ship and watched the Splendour of the Seas raising anchor, ready to depart. Then it was back to the Horizon bar as usual.

"Sir John, are you going to draw me today?" asked Karen. Now... when asked this by a very attractive Filipino lady, you don't readily turn them down... But then she was working and didn't have an hour or so to disport herself in front of me and there were too many other people there anyway, including Miss Franny, so I drew the view from the window instead... The safer option you know...

I have to say that lounging in a comfortable leather armchair whilst sketching is definitely preferable to standing in 100 degrees of heat under a baking sun!

People kept coming to look over my shoulder as I was doing this - I wasn't even aware of most of them, though quite a few struck up conversations and John and Sue from Poulton came in and he said "Oh wow, look! Bispham!" in a way that made it very funny.

Anyway the afternoon passed very agreeably with some good conversation and a relaxing drink by my side!

All photos and sketches can be seen large size at Flickr

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Olympia and the Temple of Zeus

27 August 2009. Our port today is Katakolon and we jump onto a coach for a tour to the ancient site of Olympia. Not Mount Olympia, but the site of the ancient Olympic Games.

What makes this site somewhat different to some of the other sites we visited during the week is the fact that there's actually a bit of greenery knocking about. It is quite pleasant to walk around Olympia and there is some shade to be found. That's the plus side. On the negative side there are so many lumps of what used to be parts of impressive buildings that it's difficult to make much out apart from the one or two bits that are obvious.

Unless you like listening to guides rambling on I'd suggest learning a bit about the place and its history beforehand and what I wish someone had told me - find a map of the site and print it to take with you.

The Philippeion was an Ionic circular building of ivory and gold, built by Philip II, King of Macedonia. It contained statues of Philip's family, Alexander the Great, Olympias, Amyntas III and Eurydice I.

Somewhere behind it is the place where they light the Olympic torch by sunlight reflected and concentrated by a curved mirror. Runners then carry it in relay to wherever the games are being held.

In the very early days the Olympics were for men only. They competed nude and women were not allowed to enter the site on pain of death and being chucked over the cliff into the river as well!

This is the actual stadium on the edge of the site. The site includes temples, bath houses, practice gymnasiums, the workshop of Pheidias, who sculpted the statue of Zeus for his temple - we'll hear of that in a moment - and a villa of Nero's.

There's a good map on Wikipedia that would be worth having with you. I've had to go looking to make sense of what we saw - I soon tired of the guide I'm afraid and anyway she had such a quiet voice that only those who were treading on her toes could hear her...

There were temples to both Zeus and his missus, Hera in the sacred area or Temenos.

Shown here are the remains of the Temple of Zeus with a single column re-erected. The temple held a fabulous statue of marble covered with ivory and gold of Zeus, seated with a small statue of crowned Nike, goddess of victory in his right hand and a sceptre in his left. The statue was considered one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and stood for 600 years here before being either pinched and whisked off to Constantinople and perishing in a fire in 475 AD, or perishing in the fire that destroyed the temple in 425 AD.

The workshop was discovered in 1954 - a momentous year as that's when I was born - and it contained not only a cup with an inscription "I belong to Pheidias" (honestly!) but some of his tools, moulds used for parts of the statue and even an elephant's tusk from which some of the ivory was used. Rumours that the cup had an inscription on the other side "so keep your bloody hands off!" are sadly untrue... Pheidias did come in for a bit of criticism as apparently if Zeus had stood up, he'd have banged his head on the roof of the temple. I wonder if Pheidias was ever struck by lightning...?

All the photos from the Pearls of the Aegean cruise can be found at my Flickr account

The Athens Acropolis

26 August 2009. We sail into Piraeus and head for the breakfast restaurant extremely early - our coach to Athens and the Acropolis sets off at 7:30am!!!

Mind you, it was worth it as we were only the second coach to arrive at the Acropolis.

The photo shows the Propylaea - gateway to the Acropolis. We had climbed up roughly 200 steps and several ramps to get here and we were feeling thankful it wasn't in the midday heat!

The Parthenon. Already the crowds were starting to gather and we ducked out of the lengthy explanations from the guide in order to grab photos whilst there was a chance of finding room to move about.

The Parthenon is a temple of the Greek goddess Athena whom the people of Athens considered their protector. It was built in the 5th century BC and is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece.

In the 6th century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman Turk conquest, it was converted into a mosque in the early 1460s, and it had a minaret built in it. On 26 September 1687 an Ottoman Turk ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures.

In 1806, the Earl of Elgin removed some of the sculptures, with Ottoman Turk permission. These sculptures, are the Elgin Marbles or the Parthenon Marbles and reside in the British Museum in London.

The Erechtheum, seen across the ruins of the fallen Temple to Athena. It has the famous "Porch of the Maidens", with six female figures supporting the porch roof.

Apparantly there was a snake that was kept in the foundations and fed honey cakes and if it refused to eat, it was taken as an omen of disaster.

The Theatre of Dionysus at the foot of the hill of the Acropolis was dedicated to the god of wine and fertility. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes have all appeared here - but not for a number of years...

In the distance are the remains of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It took 650 years to build.

By the time we had seen all these sights the Acropolis was heaving with people to the extent that we had to push our way through people, particularly at the Propylaea and steps down from the gateway.

All the photos from this cruise holiday are to be found in a set at my Flickr account

Monday, 7 September 2009

The Thomson Celebration Late Night Buffet

25 August 2009. As we sailed away from Samos, we were determined to not give in to sleep and to stay out of the cabin long enough to visit the late night buffet.

Now that's what I call a meringue!!!

You will get at least one of these special buffets each week onboard a cruise ship and even if you can't face eating another thing, it is worth taking your camera and going to have a look.

Some ships specialise in making recogniseable models or sculptures such as this Red Indian head dress, made from melon and pineapple whilst others simply create abstract patterns of colour and texture from different foods. There was a mixture of both on the Celebration.

I loved the 3-piece band in the centre piece of this cheese display!

Generally these buffets are opened firstly for passengers to look and take photos for a half hour before they allow anything to be touched and eaten. So there is plenty of time to walk around and see everything before it is spoiled. There were a good two or three hundred passengers had come to see the buffet and we were moving in lines in order to see everything on this night.

An entire poached salmon with head and tail and decorated with cucumber and tomato, oranges and lemon and what on earth the blue thing is, I don't know!

In front of it are slices of salmon decorated with a pea resting on an olive and then a sliver of red pepper.

All the photographs from the cruise are no uploaded to the set at Flickr and I've added links there to each of the blog entries here.

Likewise, I've started to add links to the blog entries of previous holidays to the respective sets of photos at Flickr. You will find them in either the Great Britain or Travels Outside UK collections.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Mooching Around Samos

25 August 2009. The Captain announced last night that we could not sail into Thira, on the island of Santorini, because of bad weather. So instead we sail into Samos town on the island of Samos and the tenders take us into the small dock.

As we climbed out of the tender boat we could see a fortress high on the hill in front of us and decided to walk up to it. We went up the hill to a dead end that delivered us to someone's front door and we swerved to the right and then up a bit more only to find we had gone past the fort and landed at a church on top of the hill.

The church had the ruins of a far older basilica on the land adjacent and we had a look at that for a while then headed inland to find ourselves on a busy main street.

I enjoyed the bustle of locals doing their shopping or standing on corners to people watch - I suspect they were watching us actually as I must confess there were a few sights amongst the passengers, as there are in any large group!

At the top of this street was another ruin - a temple to the goddess Diane, the Roman name for Artemis. However this had at the most a couple of stones and it was the equivalent of knocking your garden shed down and erecting a sign saying "the site of..." A bit like New Brighton did with their open air baths actually... Several decades later there is still a big empty oblong sunken patch on the grass with a sign next to it!

We walked back down the hill to the harbour and then walked along its length. Two young children were begging, a boy of around six, sitting cross legged in the baking heat, playing a tiny bazouki stringed instrument. He was getting a tune from it too. A girl of at the most three years old with a small accordian around her shoulders that she squeezed in and out, looking lost and obviously not wanting to be there. Heart rending, but then you see the mother, sitting in the shade, smoking and reading magazines, taking money from the kids whenever they had enough to give her and sending them back, scolding the little girl who wanted some shade... You can feel sorry for the kids but it's not them that end up with any money you give.

On the other side of the far harbour wall was a crowded beach, people swimming and laughing, unaware of the tragic little drama being enacted on the harbour wall.

We walked back along towards the point where the tender boat would pick us up, but I wanted to sketch the view of the castle first.



I spent half an hour capturing the outline and some of the detail and we went for a drink in one of the cafe/bars before heading back to the ship. I finished the sketch later in the Horizon bar, adding all the stonework and roof tiling detail and scribble hatching the trees and shrubs.

We were wondering again about tomorrow. We had heard Athens was affected by fires. However the captain had good news - we would be going tomorrow.

Cap-Firing Bombs and Rockets

Just a swift diversion from the holiday for a moment! I'm not sure what made me think of these things, but anyway...

(Photo by Sarky)

Come on lads - you remember these don't you? A favourite toy during the 1950s right through to the 70s was the cap bomb. Firing paper caps - they had a paper backing with a blister that was filled with a tiny amount of gunpowder and were used in toy guns, either singly or you could buy rolls of 50.

In these bombs you had to either use the single ones or rip a cap off the roll and put it under a spring-loaded plate attached to a rod that made the nose of the bomb. You then threw it upwards as high as you could and - if it hit the pavement when it came down - the cap fired with a bang. But not a big one...

I had an older lead bomb that had a nose that came totally off. You placed a cap against the body of the bomb, put the nose against the body and then tied a piece of string around from front to back in a groove that ran up the bomb. The deep groove ensured that the string didn't have a cushioning effect when the bomb hit.

I had a piece of string tied as a lasso. All I had to do was place the cap and tighten the lasso then I could twirl the string like a slingshot and send the lead bomb high into the sky. It made a far better bang when it landed than these very light plastic bombs, but it was absolutely essential not to be standing underneath when it fell!

Some of the bigger rocket type bombs came with a catapult to send them up.

Ahhhhh... I want to play now!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

The Temple of Artemis

24 August 2009. We left the more modern delights of the steam locomotive museum at Camlik and travelled to a car park by the side of a marsh.

The ground was, thankfully, dry and covered in fallen stone. In one place a single column had been re-erected. I have seen photographs that look like the column rises from a lake...

This was the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The list of awe-inspiring buildings and sights of which the only one left standing in a condition to give sightseers any idea of what it may have originally been like is the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Of the sites, two were in Egypt; two in Greece; two in Turkey and one in Babylon.

You can get an inkling of what this temple may have looked like if you visit (as we shall, later on this trip) the Parthenon, high on its hill at Athens. But the Temple of Artemis was almost four times the size of the Parthenon.

The Turkish Artemis is not the same goddess that the Greeks worshipped. She was a godess of fertility and hunting and was depicted with either many breasts or perhaps with eggs, hung from her body to represent motherhood and fertility.

In fact there was evidence of five temples built one above the other. Wars, earthquakes and vandalism had done for them. The previous temple had been the pride of Ephesus. It was burned down in 356 BC by a young Ephesian, Herostratus, who wanted to go down in history. It was such a hideous crime that his wish was quashed by a law making the mentioning of his name punishable by death. And yet... we know it...

The rebuilt temple was the first building to be constructed entirely of marble. 425 x 225 feet, it had 127 columns to hold up the roof. It was still under construction when Alexander the Great came here in 333 BC - by coincidence he had been born the night Herostratus had burned the previous temple down. The building reportedly took 120 years, although some now dispute this and think half that time would be a better estimate.

It was built on this marshy ground to try to save it from the effects of earthquakes. Silting of the river and coast had caused the ground to rise by at least 4 or 5 metres since the 8th century BC when the first temple had been built. To prepare the ground large quantities of charcoal and fleeces were trodden into the marsh.

It stood until destroyed by the Goths in 262 AD when both Ephesus and the cult of Artemis were in decline. Constantine, the Roman, rebuilt Ephesus a century later, but left the temple crumbling. The single column is all that remains standing of the temple.

Beggers, mostly children, swarm around visitors with hands held out. Their controller, their Fagin, sits by his car, watching...

We didn't stay long. It was enough to see what there was to be seen and to be able to say we were there.

The coach returned to Kusadasi and the Thomson Celebration, stopping on this hill for a photo opportunity overlooking the port and ship.

That brings to an end our day in Turkey. Tonight the ship will sail back towards Greece, though we have a change in destination for tomorrow. We were due to visit the port of Thira on the island of Santorini. But the port is a tender port - the harbour is not large enough for the ship and it would anchor offshore and ferry passengers in by tender boat. The weather is such that this would be too dangerous and so we will be heading for Samos instead.

Going Loco in Turkey

24 August 2009. This was a little bizarre...

After leaving the House of the Virgin Mary and Ephesus we travelled to Camlik Steam Locomotive Museum. We had lunch here, in a huge dining room and sitting in groups of eight. The couple at the far end of our table announced they were from Poulton le Fylde! They were John and Sue, who we got to know more as the week went on. The meal was Turkish fayre and was very tasty. I really enjoyed it, though Fran wasn't in as adventurous a mood!

After the meal we had a short time to wander around the museum to look at the steam locomotives before carrying on in the coach to our next ancient site.

Now, when you're on a day seeing things like the house where the Virgin Mary lived and Ephesus where two of the Apostles preached and the Temple of Artemis (still to come) which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World... it is just a little strange to have lunch in a train museum! So we entered the gardens of the museum without any great expectations.

How wrong could we be? This place was amazing! Almost strewn about the landscaped gardens were scores of steam locomotives. There were no guides, no attendants to say you couldn't prod, poke or explore...

Just everywhere you looked there were huge locomotives, from England, France and Germany, many with strange wheel combinations: 2-10-0 ???

There was a turntable with locomotives surrounding it, there were short lengths of track with a complete train, there were trains just standing in the gravel, there was even a wild west type hand cart with see-saw action handle!

There was nothing to stop you from entering carriages except from a lack of platforms. If there were steps you could get up and go in after making your own mind up whether the steps were safe or not. How refreshing not to have Nanny Britain making decisions for us! How delightful to know that had we fallen through stupidity we would have simply been told "Well it's your own stupid fault!". I hate this current culture we have where people can do the most stupid things and then sue someone else when they come to grief.

So I climbed into this carriage after examining and gently testing the footplate and step to get up and walked through, feeling my way before placing my full weight on the floorboards!

A mosque on the edge of the site suddenly crackled loudly with static and the tinny amplified sound of the call to prayer rang out - a strange tune to western ears and an ancient language that we could discern no words in.

What a magical place this was. A short time of contrast with the really ancient and religious sights we had already seen and were about to move onto. But all these engines... standing in a garden... Bizarre! Wonderfully bizarre!
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