Europe 2004

by Harry & Iris Matthews

Picture titles

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Natural colours. This wall is in Kentmere on the southern edge of the English Lake District. While this wall is modern, as identified by the plaque, the Lake District is well known for its heritage of old dry stone walls that stride up, down and around the local hillsides (known as fells). The old walls have no cement but the stones are just like these, with the green slate being especially interesting.


Portal to the World. The red box is a rural mailbox. The 'GR' identifes it as being from the reign of King George who preceded the present Queen Elizabeth. These mailboxes date from Victorian times and have been charmingly integrated into English rural life since then.


Still Life. This was taken on a typically grey English day with a bitterly cold wind, although it was July, and occasional drizzling rain. We were walking on the towpath of a canal. The towpath was originally used by the horses that dragged barges along the canals. We met a local couple, also walking on the towpath, one of whom greeted us in a broad Lancashire accent with: Luv'ly day, isn't it? As we shivered in our thermal underwear and wet weather gear, we could hardly keep a straight face and collapsed with laughter when the couple passed out of sight.


Holy Trinity Church. Coventry is justly famous for its modern cathedral built to replace one destroyed in the second world war. Visiting it and its nearby ruined predecessor are a testament to the horrors of war and to its ultimate futility; two lessons I wish our Iraq-invading politicians would consider. Who said that: Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. However, this picture is of a much older stained glass window in the nearby Holy Trinity Church, which survived the war.


The Next Generation. One of my father's great grandchildren in the garden he created and cared for in Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, England. The picture was taken on the day of his memorial service.


A Garden in Partnership with Nature. Minterne Gardens is in Dorset, England. Minterne House has been divided into flats or condominiums but the garden is still open to the public. It was designed to emulate a natural environment, although much of the river and waterways in the garden were created as part of the garden design. It is now charmingly maintained in the same spirit and is a peaceful change from the more manicured gardens found elsewhere in the region.


Defiance. This rocky arch extending into the English Channel off the coast of Dorset is known as Durdle Door. It is resisting the erosion that is steadily demolishing the chalk cliffs of this part of the South Coast of England.


Swords into Ploughshares. This marvellous ruin is owned by the National Trust and the public, for a small entrance fee, can wander around, climb on, picnic among, and generally enjoy this well-known monument. The castle was built by the Normans after they invaded England in 1066. Nearly 6 centuries later, it was an important military base for Royalists but was eventually taken. It was blown up by order of Parliament in 1646 and has remained essentially unchanged since then.


Living History. This vintage steam train runs a regular schedule from near Corfe Castle to Swanage on the Dorset Coast. It's the ultimate Park 'n Ride for visitors to Swanage which is a busy seaside resort.


Six Hundred Years and Counting. St. Catherine's Chapel was built about 1400 for Abbotsbury Abbey, which was located in the village below. The Abbey is now in ruins but the Chapel survives and is used for a service once a month. Its location makes it a valuable landmark for sailors on this difficult coast but it's a steep climb up the footpath that is the only access.


Medieval Art. The South Downs, and other places in England, have several examples of white horses created hundreds of years ago by removing the top soil to reveal the underlying white chalk of the hillside. This one is near Osmington in Dorset and is the only one on the South Downs with a rider.


Thatches are not just for cottages. The Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England is in many ways a step back in time, illustrated by the many thatched roofs. This church near Freshwater is an outstanding example.


Queen's residence. Osborne House is one of the primary attractions on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England. Osbourne House is on the north coast of the Island and its grounds can clearly be seen from the mainland where, as a child, I played on the beach.


Victorian Sculpture. This bronze dog is on the terrace of Queen Victoria's summer retreat, Osborne House, which is now owned by a private organization that has opened the house and grounds to the public.


Formal Gardens. View of lower terrace and gardens leading down to the sea at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, England.


Optical Illusion. The seaside resort, Cascais, in northern Spain has used this paving ferquently in the tourist areas near the beach. This pedestrain mall, for example, is paved completely flat but looks like rolling waves. It is quite strange to walk on.


Casablanca. Casablanca, Morocco, was our favourite port between London and Rome. This modern mosque, still in the final stages of construction, is second only to the one in Mecca in size and its minaret is the largest of all. The soft yellow colour of the stonework and the mild green of the roofs and decorations worked beautifully together and were in contrast to the the predominant bright blue of the older mosques we had seen a few months before in Uzbekistan.


Dominant Species. For the last 300 years, Gibraltar has been a British colony on the southern tip of Spain at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. Legend has it that the wild Barbary Apes that live there are essential to the continuation of British rule and the apes are accorded every protection possible. This one is enjoying a free lunch of fresh fruit and vegetables put out for the apes' dining pleasure.


Barcelona Detail. Barcelona is chock full of architecture and scultpure both ancient and modern. This 'monumnent a colon', with its soaring angels, graces the centre of a square near where our cruise ship docked.


It's in the Can. Can Cannes entice you to the Riviera? This shows a small patch of public beach which we found among the expensive private beaches with their regimented chairs and umbrellas. It's quite close to the theatre that I believe was built for for the annual Cannes Film Festival. The ship is the Royal Princess en route from London to Rome.

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