Sunday, 17 March 2019


God of the sky, lightning, thunder, law, order and justice.
Zeus was the sixth child of the Titan Kronos. Kronos devoured his five previous children to prevent them from overthrowing him in the same way that he had overthrown his father, Uranus, ruler of the old gods. Zeus was born in secret in a mountain top cave in Crete, hidden well away from Kronos by his mother Rhea. 

He was raised in the cave by the goat Amalthea and the nymph Melissa. Amalthea suckled the infant and from her cornucopia came all manner of good things. The nymph Melissa also nursed Zeus and looked after him. She fed him her nourishing honey so that he would grow quickly.
When Zeus became a man he poisoned his father Kronos, King of the Titans, making him regurgitate his five siblings. His siblings then overthrew the Titans to become the new gods and goddesses.
Although Zeus was married to the goddess Hera, he also took many mortal lovers. A Phoenician princess named Europa became one of the objects of his desire. At his first sight of her he was infatuated by her striking beauty and grace. Not being one to ignore his desires, Zeus came up with a cunning plan to win her affections. He metamorphosed himself into a handsome, cute, white bull. Europa was busy gathering flowers along the shoreline, in what is today known as Lebanon, when she saw the bull. She was fascinated by its handsome appearance and gentle behaviour - she caressed and stroked him and then climbed onto his back. This was the opportunity Zeus wanted in order to abduct her,
he galloped into the sea and swam back with her to to the Island of Crete.

Abduction of Princess Europa by Rembrandt

They came ashore on this southerly beach in Matala. They were both hot and tired, and it is here that he revealed to her his true identity. He galloped on for a few more miles until he found a large shady Plane tree near the Roman ruins of Gortys, and it is here that he ravished her. As a result she became pregnant with Minos, who became the king of the ancient Minoans in Crete.     

There is a more recent story about Matala beach, but that will have to await another time.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

The Potato Farmer

The hot Cretan sun burnt down on the farmer as he toiled his land - digging, sowing, and harvesting his potato crop ready for market. Life was tough, in summer it almost never rains in Crete, but luckily the Gods had blessed this farmer with good fortune. His land sat on an underground aquifer which he could access simply by digging a hole so that he could always irrigate his precious potato crop whenever it was needed. 
The farmer loaded up his cart with his latest crop of potatoes to sell at the market, but on the way he stopped off at the jewellers. He told the jeweller that he wished to sell some of his gold. The jeweller invited him to take a seat whilst he examined it in his office. Little did the farmer know that he was in fact contacting officials from the local authority. When they arrived they questioned him and said "where did you get the gold". He replied "from my gold mine, of course".
By digging water holes for his potatoes he had unwittingly stumbled upon a 4000 year old Minoan Palace in Malia, a place that was completely unknown in terms of Cretan archaeology. The famous archaeological sites in Crete had all previously been discovered by studying the ancient tales and legends handed down over thousands of years from Minoan history. Malia never received a mentioned in any of these legends or tales from antiquity.
Amongst the gold that the farmer found was this exquisite, now famous, pectoral pendant, consisting of two bees depositing a drop of honey in their honeycomb. They are holding the round, granulated honeycomb between their legs and the drop of honey in their mouths. On their heads is a filigree cage containing a gold bead, while small discs hang from their wings and the sting. This is a true masterpiece of the Minoan's skill, combining repoussé, granulated, filigree and incised decoration. This beautiful gold pendant is 4000 years old.
Unlike the UK where treasure trove is rewarded both to the finder and the owner of land, in Crete you only own what is on the land and nothing beneath the land. The farmer was simply given another potato field as compensation and sent off on his way.
The farmer found the gold in the early 1920s.
In the Aegean culture, the bee was believed to be a sacred insect, especially associated with connecting the natural world to the underworld, and this helps to explain why the above pendant was placed in a tomb. 
The bee was also the symbol of the Minoan goddess Potnia, meaning "mistress" who was also referred to as "The Pure Mother Bee". Her priestesses were given the name Melissa which also means "bee".

Tuesday, 12 March 2019


Chania is Crete's prettiest town, with colourful old Venetian buildings set around a sheltered harbour that is guarded by fortifications. As well as Venetian ramparts and churches, a handful of old Islamic buildings serve as reminders of the 250 year Ottoman rule.
I was really impressed that so many of you guessed the island correctly. You certainly know your Greek Legends and Minoan pottery. 
The order in which the correct answer arrived are:-
1. Barbara
2. Jim
3. Patricia 
4. Ella
5. William
6. Janey
7. Susan
Congratulations and very well done to you all.

Monday, 11 March 2019

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.”

I have been holidaying on an island where ancient tales of yore are not only spoken, but are an integral part of the people's culture, but what is the island's name?

Hidden within these snow topped mountains there lies a deep cavern where a baby was said to be born in great secrecy...... 

but you will all know his name.
If you recognise who made these pots, which show a very distinctive pottery design and stylethen you are travelling along the right road. 
If you think in terms of Julius Caesar born over 2000 years ago and then think back to a time 2000 years before Julius - that is when these pots were made, so they are 4000 years old.
I have switched on comments moderation - if you answer correctly I will hold your comment back to give everyone an equal chance. 

Monday, 25 February 2019

The White Ferris Wheel

I saw this lovely photograph of a white Ferris Wheel taken by blogger, Jenny, on the same day that I happened to see one too when out shopping for the new camera. There must be a small army of them being deployed up and down the country!
Too busy to stop and admire, we were already busily making our way home, but I learnt later from a website that it would be leaving town after the weekend. It had been part of Cheltenham town's 2019 Light Up event where many of it's principal Regency buildings are lite up with coloured lights.
We happened to be returning the next evening for a Discussion Group Meeting so decided to take a ride on the wheel afterwards. As daylight faded following a perfect day of wall to wall sunshine, we took our place in the queue.
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing".
George Bernard Shaw
The bronze statue is of the celebrated composer of The Planets, conductor, and teacher Gustav Holst - he was born in Cheltenham in 1874.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Camera Woes

I have been wondering how long I should expect a camera to last? and whether, like our computers, there is an element of obsolescence built into them? 
For the past few months mine has been playing up. It has been acting like a mischievous child doing it's own thing, and certainly not what I want it to do! It seems that I shall simply have to bite the bullet and purchase another.

This almost end of February day was a perfect moment to walk along one of our many canal towpaths and take in some much needed February fresh air. According to the forecasters, our weather this week is coming up from the Caribbean!
 The Blackthorn blossom - Prunus spinosa is now fully open and busily decorating many of our hedgerows and byways. It is this blossom that produces the small deep blue damson like plums during the Autumn known as drupes or more commonly sloes.
Not much activity seen on the water, apart from much chasing and splashing about from the ducks - the drakes were busily pursuing any hen (female duck) that appeared in their view outnumbering them by at least three to one.
The canal boats were locked, shut up, and tied to their moorings following the winter months. Easter is late this year so they will probably begin sailing again before then.

It was lovely to walk in the sunshine and enjoy the surroundings which we had almost to ourselves. Birds were twittering and chirping in the hedge, and all was peaceful. There was just the occasional ringing sound of hammer meeting metal from across the water where the local boatyard were carrying out repairs.
Anemone blanda growing along the towpath.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Wall to Wall Blue Skies

We are enjoying some unseasonal skies and sun courtesy of a 'weather-front' brought to us across the continent from the Azores. It is predicted to last for at least another week.

Having attended our Fine Art Society to hear and learn more about a favourite artist, Stanley Spencer, it was far too lovely to return straight home again.
Lunch can remain on hold whilst we wander around the town enjoying the warm sunshine and the newly emerging flowers. 
Although February is the shortest month of the year sometimes it can feel longer - this weather is such a very welcome tonic.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Valentine's Day

Our local Fish & Chip Shop is quite unique, they really pride themselves on the quality and presentation of their food. A blackboard announces daily just where in the ocean their fish each day comes from, what kind of potatoes they have used, where they were grown, what they have been cooked in, and the food is always served up with large wedges of fresh lemon. 
Their offering for this Valentine's Day is a bouquet of fish and chips - potato roses on wooden stems with leaves made out of goujons of fish, all wrapped in some specially printed paper, and tied up with a red ribbon. 
We will not be indulging in this ourselves, as we are eating a special Valentine's Day treat courtesy of M&S. However, I must admit that this does look a rather tasty and a very unique presentation.

   ❤️Happy Valentine's Day to you all❤️

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Out of the Blue.......... when something unexpected or unforeseen happens as it did during the past seven days to me. Retired in the evening feeling normal and woke up in the morning unable to put my foot or leg to the ground. It was necessary to bang on the floor for help, I wonder what I would have done if I had been alone? As each day past the pain and disability in my knee deteriorated rapidly. Luckily when I eventually got in touch with my doctor, she saw me quickly, and within two hours of the phone call I was armed with some anti-inflammatory pills. She diagnosed inflammation behind the tendon in the front area of the knee. The experience during those first few days made me appreciate just how difficult it must be to be disabled and unable to carry out the most mundane or simple tasks we do each day. It is such a relief to be back to normal thanks to my doctor and our great National Health Service. 
Soon we shall be exploring sites from classical antiquity, hopefully in lovely weather, something that requires stamina and a good walking ability.
There is no blue without orange and yellow
Vincent van Gogh
In a letter to his brother Theo - Vincent once wrote "There is no blue without yellow and orange, and if you put in the blue, then you must put in the yellow and orange too, mustn't you?"
Be like the bluebird who never is blue,
For he knows from his upbringing what singing can do - Cole Porter
Once in a blue moon
Cotswold Church
Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see
Ella Fitzgerald
 Blue eyes
"Now she looks pale and small, but her eyes make me think of wide open skies."
Veronica Roth, Allegiant
Local Bluebell wood
Blue and green should never be seen!!!!
Blue horizon
Cape of Good Hope, South Africa 2017
No matter how far you travel, the horizon is always far beyond your reach.
"When we look up, it widens our horizons. We see what a little speck we are in the universe, so insignificant, and we all take ourselves so seriously, but in the sky, there are no boundaries. No differences of caste or religion or race.
Julia Gregson, East of the Sun