I’m also on Instagram

As I’m not getting out and about so much at the moment, those if you with an instagram account might like to follow me there, if you so wish. My account name on instagram is, surprisingly, – markchesterton.

Every few days I plan to put up a selection of my favourite images taken on my travels around the world and the UK over the years. I hope to see you there. Here are a few to start with.

Dusk in Jaxi in southern China
Unloading melons in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Robin Hood Bay on the North Yorkshire coast, UK
Ankle Bones at the annual Nadaam Festival in Mongolia, added to ‘the three games of men’ in 1998.

A UK Coastal Trip – Mevagissey

Read and look with caution. This is a virtual section of our coastal trip, with images and blurb taken from Tourist Board and town websites.

Porthpean cornwalls.co.uk

Just two miles from St Austell, Porthpean Beach is safe and sandy, ideal for families and popular with windsurfers, swimmers and sailors. The parish church is dedicated to St Levan and was built by the Sawle family as part of the Penrice Estate. It was given to the parish on the death of Mrs Cobbold Sawle in 1981.

Pentewan visitcornwall.co.uk

Over half a mile of east-facing sandy beach, mostly in front of Pentewan Sands Holiday Park, suitable for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, sea canoeing and with a slipway for sailing (canoes and dinghies available for hire). Free car parking, cafes and toilets are provided in Pentewan village 500 metres from the beach along the old harbour lane with disability access.

Mevagissey visitcornwall.co.uk

Narrow streets and steep valley sides lead down to the centre of the old Mevagissey where the distinctive twin harbour provides a safe haven for the many fishing boats that land their daily catch of skate, lobster, plaice and sole. In typical picture postcard style, pubs, cafes, galleries and shops cluster around the harbour walls and line the pretty streets. Named after two Irish saints, St Meva and St Issey, the village dates back to at least 1313 and during the 1800s, Mevagissey prospered on the back of the abundant source of pilchards out to sea. Around the maze of streets, you’ll find plenty of seafood restaurants that the village is renowned for and there is nothing more sublimely Cornish than tucking into some local scallops and mackerel and ending the evening with a walk along the harbour wall with lights of the village twinkling on the water.

Portwellen cornwall-beaches.co.uk

In a valley, just over the hill from Mevagissey, is the little village of Portmellon. The beach here is flanked by rocks to either side but is itself sandy. At low tide there is a good expanse of flat sand, however, this all but disappears as the tide comes in. It does seem there is always a good covering of seaweed which detracts from the overall appeal of the beach. The east facing cove is quite sheltered and when the tide is in is considered fairly safe to swim in, although with no lifeguard service, care should be taken. The beach runs right up to road. At high tide the water laps only a few feet away from the passing cars. A quick glance at the wooden shutters on the houses that line the seafront across the road are testament to the occasional storm that sends waves washing across the road here.

Gorran Haven visitcornwall.co.uk

This is an east-facing sandy beach, popular with families for swimming and surfing. There is a beach shop, pub, car parking for 500 vehicles and toilets. Kayaking is very popular at this sheltered bay with reasonable hire rates. At the heart of the village is a cluster of fishermen’s cottages which remain much the same as in years gone by.

Portholland visitcornwall.co.uk

Two small, secluded beaches of grey stones and rocky outcrops backed by a granite sea wall serve the tiny hamlets of East and West Portholland inhabited by just forty local residents. Clinging to the coves in which they are situated, they bask in glorious sunshine during Spring through until Autumn. Look out for the locals offering tea and cakes from the house.

Portloe cornwalls.co.uk

Portloe is considered by many to be the jewel in the crown of the Roseland peninsula and one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall. Its steep sided valleys have meant that it has managed to escape development over the years and many buildings differ little from when they were built. Sir John Betjamin said of Portloe “One of the least spoiled and most impressive of Cornish fishing villages“.

Its name develops from the Cornish Porth Logh meaning “cove pool”. The naturally sheltered position meant that the village grew in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as a busy pilchard fishing port. At the beginning of the twentieth century there were more than fifty boats fishing here – now only three boats work from the cove mainly for crab and lobster. Smuggling, as elsewhere in Cornwall, has played a part in Portloe’s history, with many a documented tale of cat and mouse games between locals and the excisemen! French brandy was the main contraband, brought ashore by fishermen and hidden in cellars and local farms. In fact, in 1824 the problem was thought so bad that the Customs ordered the erection of a watch, boathouse and slip in a vain attempt to deter the illicit trade.

Portscatho visitcornwall.co.uk

This scenic village beach facing east on the beautiful Roseland peninsula overlooking Gerrans Bay is mainly rocky, with sandy patches. Beyond the village the beach stretches all the way up the bay at low tide. There are lovely walks around the small village harbour and along the South West Coast Path.

A UK Coastal Trip – Brighton

From Newhaven the coast road trims the clifftop villages of Peacehaven and Saltdean. There is no access down to the beach along here, only a wonderful panorama of the coastline as its curves and slopes stretch into the distance.

Brighton

Some consider Brighton to be the queen of British seaside resorts. Its centre piece is the Royal Pavilion, created in the early 19th century by the Prince Regent, later George IV. Fashionable society followed and the town expanded, its elegant terraces and squares surrounding the old fishing village of Brighthelmstone. The narrow streets of the old village are pedestrianised and known as The Lanes, their many antique, clothes and jewellery shops popular amongst visitors & townsfolk alike.

The beach of smooth pebbles is lined with bars, cafes & restaurants, seaside paraphernalia, crafts, rides and spaces for basketball, beach volleyball and other sports activities. The British Airways i360 a 162-metre observation tower is a new addition, opened in 2016.  A wide path weaves its way around, linking them all up together. A series of steps lead up from here to a wide esplanade and a cycle path and crossings over the road into town.

Brighton has two piers. The Palace Pier, with its arcades and funfair at the far end, keeps company the skeleton of its poor relation. The old West Pier remains a wreck after it was destroyed by fire in 2003.

Volk’s Electric Railway, the first such railway in the UK, opened in 1883 and still rattles along the sea front.

Hove

Hove merges seamlessly into Western Lawns and Portslade-by-Sea. Brighton’s sister resort along the beach is more sedate with many elegant crescents and terraces.

Southwick

The road then moves away from the beach along a small inlet, the commercial part of Portslade with warehouses and timber yards, until it reaches Southwick. On the landward side residential homes keep an eye on the comings and goings on the water.

The River Adur flows downstream through the busy port and village of Shoreham. In the summer, a ferry takes passengers across the  estuary to reach the beach which has been built on a shingle bank between the river and the sea. The Adur enters the sea at Southwick and the modern lifeboat station.

 

A UK Coastal Trip – Eastbourne

Eastbourne

The golden domes of Eastbourne Pier glisten in the full glare of the sun. The pier stands tall and elegant out from the three miles of an attractive seafront of grand Victorian buildings. The palm-lined promenade and the colourful public gardens add a further dimension to this great seaside experience. The pier puffs out its chest to complement the seemingly freshly-sprayed pastel whitewash of its terraced neighbours and the subtle hues of pebbles and groynes that stretch along the beach in both directions.

Four small hamlets existed here before 1849 when the railway arrived. It grew as a fashionable resort largely thanks to prominent landowner, William Cavendish. In 1859, an entire new town was laid out – a resort built “for gentlemen by gentlemen”. And so a period of growth and development began. The centre of the town lies a short distance from the front. Museums are housed in a former Martello tower, a former Napoleonic fortress and a former lifeboat station.

 Beachy Head

Out of Eastbourne, the massive chalk headland of Beachy Head interrupts the progression of seaside towns and villages. From the edge of Eastbourne rises to 162 metres above the beach. Beachy Head Lighthouse, on a spur of rocks below, was built in 1902. After the Seven Sisters, a series of bright-white chalk cliffs that face out to sea, the road, and the paths on the South Downs, drop to sea level.

Seaford

The shingle beach bordering this quiet, mainly residential seaside town shelves steeply and at high tide swimmers should beware. It has a peaceful air with a terrace of well-maintained beach huts to give colour and refinement. A Martello tower still guards the town against foreign invaders, now a museum of local history.

Newhaven

This working port town has a charming side if you look for it. The Dunkirk to Dieppe channel ferry plies back and forth from the harbour on the eastern bank of the estuary of the River Ouse, with two sailings a day. The redeveloped West Quay is home to the fishing fleet that still unloads its daily catch here, with the subsequent presence of seafood eateries and stalls. There is a marina for yachts and pleasure craft and a shingle beach to the east of East Pier. West Beach, though, is privately owned. Due to safety concerns about the crumbling sea-defences and the harbour steps, a fence prevents access to the beach, the breakwater and the lighthouse.

A UK Coastal Trip – Folkestone

Dover

Dover has always been hugely significant as a naval town. The Romans made it the headquarters of their northern fleet. In medieval times it was one of the Cinque Ports. It was shelled and bombed from over the channel during both World Wars. The huge Dover Castle, first started in the 1180s, stands guard over the town.

Today, cross-Channel ferries, liners and cargo ships come and go relentlessly from its giant harbour. The old Cruise Terminal, an enclosed walkway used for boarding and disembarking cruise ships provides excellent views of all the activities of the harbour and access to the pier itself. The famous white cliffs can be seen in the distance in both  directions. On the quays of the Outer Harbour huge ferries wait, with mouths gaping wide, to swallow their cargoes of cars and lorries, ready to regurgitate them on the other side. The south side is more small scale with a line of ramshackle huts standing haphazardly at the top of the pebbly beach. There is little activity. A few individuals work on small craft.

The main human activity is on the pier itself. Two small doors at each end of the walkway give access and out in the full glare of the sun, up to 100 men, drivers(?) are busy fishing & chatting & snoozing.

Folkestone

The Leas, a superb clifftop promenade with wide lawns and colourful flowerbeds stretch for a mile or so. On the landward side are tall stucco Victorian houses and large hotels. On the seaward side steep cliffs overlook the Old High Street which slopes down to the harbour where small boats bob about in the water at high tide and languish in the mud when it is out. The arched viaduct over the  harbour provides memories of yesteryear when trains used to arrive from London for the boat-train. The carriages were loaded onto ferries for the journey across to France. This service stopped in 1980.

Sandgate

Old fishermen’s cottages and one of Henry VIII’s castles share the sea front of this charming village. Amongst the smart houses, cafes, pubs & small shops edge up wooded slopes.

Seabrook

Seabrook is a small village separated from the shingle beach by a raised embankment and the coast road. Modern apartment blocks & Victorian houses line the village streets.

Hythe

In medieval times Hythe was right on the coast. Today the centre of the old town is half a mile inland, separated from the Victorian resort area by the Royal Military Canal.

That’s a Martello Tower in the background, a series of defensive forts built across the UK from the time of the French Revolutionary Wars of the 19th century. They stand up to 12 m high with two floors and typically had a garrison of one officer and 15–25 men. Their round structure and thick walls of solid masonry made them resistant to cannon fire, while their height made them an ideal platform for a single heavy artillery piece, mounted on the flat roof and able to traverse, and hence fire, over a complete 360° circle.

Dymchurch

Dymchurch crouches behind a massive embankment, several metres below sea level. It is now full of amusement arcades and funfairs. For centuries the Romney Marsh drainage system was run from the Court Room in New Hall.

Unlocking the mosaics of Ravenna

All memories of yesterday’s storm are forgotten when drawn curtains reveal solid blue sky. Today Ravenna’s secrets are to be unlocked. This is why I love Italy. To walk around narrow streets and piazzas, shaded by ancient buildings and chapels and churches and statues on pillars and surrounded by history and culture and food and coffee. Cafes with tables line the cobbled streets with men drinking their espresso behind their spread newspapers as I seek that restaurant for dinner where the locals will be eating. A gentle trickle of folk pass – mamas with shopping bags half full, classy ladies struggling to keep up with their scuttling dachshunds, tattooed youth on their way somewhere or other. In these car-free streets a constant stream of cyclists gently avoid the pedestrians with a tinkle of a bell – sexy girls with long tanned legs in short shorts, elegant moustached gentlemen and the whole gambit of Italian society on their way to work, to shop, to play.


Nothing out of the ordinary you might think. It sounds like a typical Italian town. But Ravenna is like a geologist’s display cabinet. It has been the capital city of three different civilisations in its time and so is quite an important place. From 400 AD the early Christians have impacted on its society and its buildings. Religious buildings cover the old centre, mostly red-bricked. Crack their dull, dusty shell open and be aghast. As each reveals their glistening, sparkling, crystalled inside,yourr breath will be dragged from your body in awe. Mosaics have used as an art form for centuries to decorate and commemorate the inside of churches and mausoleums. Here are a few.

I am going to start with the old library which is upstairs in the new library. Whilst not a mosaic in sight it feels to me like the Bodleian in Oxford and I wanted to share.


The crypt of the church of San Francesco its mosaics underwater. You may be able to spot the carp.


The Mausoleum di Galla Placidia, an important lady of the 13th century, is small and intimate and glorious. Mosaics, remember. Little bits of tile.

Basilico di San Vitale has these positioning around its dome but the whole alter is surrounded by a gargantuan spread of mosaic saints.


Battistero degli Ariani, Basilica di Apollinare Nuono and the Neonian Baptistry are three more temples to the mosaic.

 

South to Fishguard: guarding fish?

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South of Llangrannog lie several settlements. First is the small village of Tresaith. Just a few houses huddle around a steep descent to the beach. One tea room serves the few families who are exploring the sands. The ubiquitous mobile homes gaze down from the surrounding cliffs.

Next, just before the estuary town of Cardigan (Aberteifi), comes Aberforth.

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After the glorious view of the two beaches from the cliffs on the approach to the town, my lasting impression of Aberporth is the smell of old oil that oozes into the atmosphere from the chippy and rests in nostrils, hair and clothes. Shame really as the beach is great.

Gwbert lies on the headland overlooking Poppit Sands on the estuary of the River Teifi. Yep, a good location for a holiday home park.

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Newport (Pems) is a lovely small village with tea rooms, quaint nik-nakky shops and a classy oasis for visitors and locals alike. Down through its heart one comes out over Parrog and its beach and harbour. From its flat, muddy banks can be seen the silt of Newport Beach in one direction and the casual meanders to the Irish Sea in the other.

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Finally Fishguard plonks itself on the coast.

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The small old harbour is lovely, lined by brightly coloured homes and a wonderful Victorian factory of some kind. It is overlooked by the fort with its cannon peeking over the battlements, keeping an eye on the far quays & sea defences where the huge Stena Line ferry waits for its cargo of cars and lorries to cross to Ireland. The road climbs up and over the headland and there is the town , the working, seaside port spread below, helping to provide income and jobs to the area.

I’ll let you know when I go back to complete more of the coastal settlements of the UK.

 

 

Across to the high life & markets of Kowloon

With an early start I get the tram to Central & walk down to pier 7.

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Once across the water I head up Canton Road where the rich & famous, well, not famous to me, are seen to do their labelled shopping. It seems bankers & property owners are particularly keen. All the big names are there & provide a wonderful backdrop for some interesting images. Can you guess these –

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Up past the glitter & the golden reflections real Kowloon emerges with ordinary people living & working ordinary lives.

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More to follow as I go deeper into the delights of busy Kowloon.

 

 

Drive along the banks of the Neretva River to Mostar in Herzegovina

The river splits the city of Mostar with Croats on one side and Muslims on the other. The city saw intense fighting during the civil war & still carries the scars with bombed buildings, shell holes & bullet marks throughout. The bridges were bombed and destroyed and were only rebuilt in their original style in 2004.

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The local boys show off to tourists by diving from the centre some 20 metres from the 13° water below. These guys seem to just hang about – doubt if they done much diving recently.

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Some locals like a more chilled Sunday.

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More my cup of tea ( rather coffee). Around the bridge cobbled streets pack in bars & restaurants & tat shops.

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Then on the Muslim side we find the shade & solitude of a traditional Ottoman house.

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