Every October in the 8th month of Kartika, business and religion come together and the quiet town of Pushkar is transformed into the circus that is the Pushkar camel festival. Thousands of livestock owners stir in the Thar desert, pack family and belongings onto wooden carts, trailing camels, horses, and cows behind them, to trade on the Mela ground – a huge, dry, expanse of … Continue reading Pulsating Pushkar.
It was a complete gift. We knew nothing about it; on a whim decided to chance it, and then just fell head-over-heels in love with it. Poetry in stone. A beech-hedged drive. A sixteenth-century dovecote. A bridge over the river Wye. Turrets and battlements playing hide-and-seek with tree tops and the hall sitting on it’s limestone bluff above us. Past the Elizabethan stables, through the … Continue reading Haddon – a hall and a home.
Above me a velvety night sky full of stars. Concentric circles shimmer. I’m in a vortex. Static but giddy. Drowning in light. It is a beauty that knocks me off my feet. For days now, I’ve been standing, head knocked back at a curious angle, neck cricked, staring up at apses and arches, mesmerised by sparkling, spangling bits of coloured glass. The mausoleum is small, … Continue reading Ravenna: Meals and Mosaics.
We almost missed it. Just slightly off the beaten track. Huge and labyrinthine. We searched for the way in, while people on the inside looked for a way out. Once a Carthusian monastery. Now a cemetery. Colonnades. Cloisters. Loggias. Mausoleums and monuments. Marble, mosaic and wrought iron. Wealth and luxury. Art and beauty. Haunting, heart-stopping, jaw-dropping and even a tad horrifying. Our legs gave out … Continue reading The Charterhouse of Bologna.
I have just finished an online learning course on the Book of Kells. It was offered for free and I wanted to stretch my brain. And stretch my brain it did. In fact it quite bent it out of shape. A whole lot of facts to ponder and wonder over, and, rather surprisingly for a religious work, an inordinate number of cats prowling through the … Continue reading Cats and the Book of Kells.
We stepped into the courtyard and straight into the heart of a little family business. And it was more heart than business. On a low bench along a wall a young man sat pencilling designs on small rounded tan-coloured gourds. Two young women next to him, carving out his drawings, using nothing more than a nail sharpened to a point. I noticed the plasters wound … Continue reading The Gourd Man.
Once you went in, you never came out. Santa Catalina: a pretty prison, but a prison nonetheless. Painted letters over the entrance to the first courtyard urge SILENCE, yet noise from the city surrounds you: the cries of street vendors, the clop of horses hooves, the hum of voices, the sound of life. There are forty-foot-high walls, but your prison is open to the air; … Continue reading Sisters Doing It For Themselves.
Set high, amidst pock-marked mined mountains at 4,100m, the town of Potosi has a faded, drained air. It’s glory days are long gone, and while remnants of beauty remain, the flesh has clearly been picked from it’s bones. Twenty-three kilometers, 30 minutes, and another world away, lies the rich fertile valley and hacienda of Cayara; the oldest country estate in the continent of South America. … Continue reading The Time Machine of Hacienda Cayara.
We were hemmed in by one of Cadiz’s narrow old-town streets. The ‘You are Here’ souvenir shop to our right, clothes and shoe shops all around, most of them shuttered. It was four in the afternoon and still siesta time. Wider than some, the street was still slightly claustrophobic; cobbled underfoot, and lined with enormous, seemingly impenetrable arched doorways. We were early and no one … Continue reading ‘Our’ Watchtower in Cadiz.
Tokyo’s obsession with cats. ‘Hello Kitty’, cat-ears in pop culture, maneki neko lucky cats, the home of the original cat cafe – Japan is seemingly obsessed with moggies, and Tokyo is no exception. There are temples dedicated to cats. In a small corner at Gotokuji there are hundreds of lucky cat figures, their little arms raised in greeting. Small ones perched on stone ledges, looked … Continue reading Hello Kitty!