Welcome to Martin Knight's Website!
 
          In the Table of Contents listed on the sidebar this first web page is devoted to the year's family news. This is followed by observations and reflections on our travels, as viewed through the eyes of a geographer. Then there are samples of ongoing research interests of mine in South London, North Kent, and South Wales. 
          As well as having been a keen geographer and teacher all my working life, I am a committed Anglican, and a family man who enjoys gardening, travelling, hill walking, and working on this website.  In my retirement I continue to have a keen practical interest in landscape and photography, local history and archaeology, and geology and ecology. I research and lead Guided Walks, write short articles on local topics, and am increasingly consulted and quoted as 'Dulwich's Effra man'! Margaret manages our family properties and her shares and investment portfolio, and researches our holidays on the Web. The above interests are all reflected in the pages of this website.

2018  Greetings from leafy Dulwich! 

Our family is still growing - in every sense of the word! We have a widening  extended family, the grandchildren are growing fast (four girls and two boys now, ranging from a few months to 16 years (baby Jack was born to Lizzy and Ben on June 23rd), horizons (and waistlines?) are expanding, and Margaret and I are growing ... er, beginning to feel our age!

 
  Margaret & I still enjoy the Brecon Beacons after forty years - nowadays with the younger and wider family
 
 Family matters:    Bel has had very successful GCSEs at Sydenham High School and has been awarded a Science Prize; Katie (having been fitted with hearing aids) is now making very good progress at Eliot Bank Primary School, and both she and Abi play with their little sister Holly and brother JackBen's electrical business has taken off; he has put a lot of effort into refurbishing the town house in Forest Hill, and he plays his full part in helping Lizzy juggle her Home Office career with being home-maker and mum; they all live very active lives.  Andy still successfully leads his OfQual team in Coventry, while retaining close contact with family and friends in London; he and his partner, Sarah Rollason, have now settled into a 3-bedroomed semi near Solihull in the West Midlands, along with Sarah's cat and Andy's puppy Roscoe.
        Mary (-Ann) has been officially promoted to Assistant Head
in Lewisham, while Sarah continues to combine a top-level career in accountancy with being a mum to Eddy (supported by his dad Gerald). All the grandchildren live close and see a lot of each other, and now that Eddy's step-sister Grace has become part of the family too, Gerald and Grace spend increasing time with Sarah, Eddy and all our family at Lapsewood Walk and in Herne Bay.

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            2018 did not get off to the best of starts for Margaret and me. Our central heating had packed up over Christmas and New Year, and we developed a leaky roof that caused damp patches and drips in our dining room and lounge well into January.  Thankfully, those problems had been resolved before the arrival of February's snow - the "Beast from the East". However, both Margaret and I took some time to shake off persistent respiratory infections.
In mid-March we visited Andy and Sarah in their new house near Solihull for the first time, while the rest of the family visited Center Parcs in Suffolk: damp but enjoyable weekends resulted:


Andy & Sarah's semi in Olton, nr Solihull; the smart and comfortable interior; the Grand Union Canal is nearby.

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       We then looked forward to two holidays in the Spring: 5 days in Limassol (Cyprus) just before Easter, and a week in Igalo (Montenegro) in late April.
           Our trip to Limassol (Lemesos to the Cypriots) was a very welcome break after the cold east winds we had experienced during the winter (and which was forecast to continue over the whole of Europe while we were away!). Happily, we had mostly warm, hazy sunshine, breezy, with some cloud, but no rain!                                        
            (See 'Crete and Cyprus' page of this Website for details and pictures).
 
          Looking back over the 5 days, the only disappointment was that there were no guided tours and very little published information available at any of the sites, so we had to interpret most of what we were seeing for ourselves, which was a bit of a  challenge!
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           Igalo, a month later, was always likely to be a contrast. There was less modern tourist development, and fewer British holidaymakers (they too had had a late, wet, spring, and their tourist season was only just beginning). Because of the very convoluted and mountainous nature of this part of the Dalmatian coast, accessibility and orientation were difficult at times; everywhere we looked there were tantalising views across sweeping bays or narrow inlets to rocky cliffs, steep verdant hills and enticing villages. Inland there were few valleys with fertile farmland, while the coast was very steep with rocky beaches abutting little sheltered landing places.

 
Fjord-like Kotor Bay (Igalo is bottom left, Tivat Airport is at centre). 1 hr transfer to Igalo included a ferry crossing

There were cultural challenges too: Serbo-croat dialects, the Cyrillic alphabet, and recent Balkan history are hardly our traditional strengths, and reading of maps, road signs and information boards was often a problem. However, the weather was good, the views spectacular, and our newly refurbished hotel (with a tiny sandy beach) was located near the interesting old town of Herceg Novi.

 
Igalo & Mt Orijen from our room; the hotel's own sandy beach; Palmon Bay from Igalo with our hotel to the left

         Herceg Novi is the nearest Montenegran town to the border with Croatia. It faces south inside the entrance to the large, irregular Bay of Kotor and is sheltered by a long peninsula and island separating it from the open Adriatic. It was founded in 1382 and has a battered (and oft rebuilt) citadel, fortress and town wall. Igalo is the adjoining suburb to the west overlooking Palmon Bay, and there used to be a railway along the sea front which is now the main esplanade and cycleway linking a series of little bathing and boating beaches similar to ours, and which they rather hopefully refer to as their 'Dalmatian Riviera'. So steep and narrow is the coastal strip that the main coast road and its associated development is all on the cliffs above the town, up narrow twisty streets (usually one way) and challenging flights of steps that offer amazing views and give real character to the town; even the town buses could only go one way round from the bus station inland.

 
An old railway tunnel at Herceg novi;  Steps everywhere: up to the main square, and down beside the town wall

Kanli kula: Herceg's 'Bloody Tower'; me below the original main gate; view of Forte Mare Tower & the Bay behind

          Montenegro is a small country with limited resources, only now developing after years of political and economic stagnation resulting from the many wars and conflicts that have affected the Balkans over many centuries. Because of the country's geography, that development is based more on scenic and outdoor activities than on family recreation and cultural heritage, and is inevitably constrained by the country's high relief and restricted transport infrastructure. Membership of the EU will hopefully go some way towards reducing the constraints, but is inevitably controversial in such a small, marginal country, as recent election results demonstrate.
           Once again, Margaret's researches were critical in enabling us to get the most out of our limited stay. We enjoyed excellent walks in and around the town, along the coast and into the hills (with several medieval and baroque churches of course!), and we used local buses around the shores of the Bay of Kotor to visit interesting historic and prehistoric sites further afield (with some limestone caves on the way).

St Savina Monastery Church (with wedding); its fine Screen and Iconostasis; 15C frescos in the original Church

  
Old railway from Dubrovnk crossed a river on our way to these caves; Igalo from the Spaniola Castle above Herceg

The coastal walks were obvious enough, and the main mountain trails in the interior had red and white markers, but the links between the two were sketchy to say the least, often resulting in either dead ends or forays into gardens guarded by angry and noisome dogs. We were able to follow one recommended hill walk onto the ridge visible from our hotel room, via remote Orthodox chapels sited at the source of local streams. These eventually led us back to Igalo via a steep rocky zigzag track that reminded me of the gorges we had walked two years ago in Crete.


Goats at an abandoned farmhouse; waymarkers nr Mt Orijen (1980 m); the path down was hard on feet & knees

            The main highlight of our holiday in Montenegro was the hour long bus ride round the Bay of Kotor, firstly to a tiny village called Lipci, where we heard there were unheralded Neolithic rock drawings to be seen, and then on to visit the Roman remains at Risan, whose  mosaics have been given Unesco World Heritage status. We were particularly keen to see the 10 ooo yr old Lipci rock drawings, as those we had visited in France and Spain some years ago had been deep in dark caves and could not be photographed. These were 10-15cm drawings of human figures hunting and herding reindeer, with various ritual shapes and symbols, and they were not fenced off or guarded in any way. They were up a narrow, overgrown footpath off a busy main road, not signed or indicated until you reached them, and then were difficult to distinguish because of the intense light and shadow on the rock face. However, with the help of Margaret's sketchy online information we found them, and I managed to take several phtographs for later study:
  
 
Lipci's reindeer (lower left to top right) and other strange symbols; and as interpreted on an information board 

          From Lipci we walked one mile on to Risan Roman city, with its partially excavated remains and its mosaics, which were spectacular and, this time, very fully explained. On the way, we were pleased to be able to sit in the cool of a large roadside cave to enjoy some refreshment. From Risan we caught the bus all the way back to Igalo, reflecting on the outstanding success of our day.

 
The cool cave at Strp near Risan;           Hypnaeon, God of sleep;   there were five fine mosaics just in the one house
 
          We were very impressed with the Herceg Novi area, especially its spectacular scenery, and certainly would like to go back and see some more of Montenegro, especially as we didn't even get to the main tourist centres of Kotor and Budva, let alone Podgorica the capital city!

           In the summer we were looking forward to the arrival of a new addition to our family (Jack, born to Lizzy and Ben in mid-June), a 'Vicar's Oak' Walk I was to lead around Crystal Palace the same weekend, and hot sunny weather at Studd Hill:

    
The resited 'Vicar's Oak'; Crystal Palace High Level Station site; I used Barry's Station on my way to DulwichPrep

     
The girls enjoying the garden at Studd Hill;       Me with Baby Jack;                  Roscoe, Andy's spaniel puppy

 as well as the annual family week in the Brecon Beacons in July:
The family gathers on the Brimore Tramroad; new pipework at Talybont Dam; Andy & me in Upper Blaenyglyn

         Unfortunately, our more adventurous foreign holidays had to be put on hold in the summer when a recurrence of the melonoma I had first been treated for in 2013 was diagnosed. A whole new series of hospital tests and treatments had to be slotted in (including radiation treatment for a small brain lesion), culminating in an Immunotherapy Drugs Trial starting in the autumn. One unforseen outcome was that I have had to give up driving for a while, which puts even more pressure on Margaret.
        I had already decided to cut down on my local Guided Walks this year, which has given us more time with the family, and encouraged me to write a series of articles for 'Spire', the St Stephen's Community Magazine, extracts from which appear on the 'St Stephen's Church' page of this website. We have now arranged a week's holiday at Albufeira in southern Portugal in early December, which should give us some welcome winter sunshine (and no doubt Margaret will have found some interesting walks and places for us to visit!):


Albufeira was a small Atlantic fishing village in the 1950s, but its 'Old Town' overlooking the 'Fisherman's Beach' has now become a popular holiday destination
                                                                                                                                
Meanwhile, we thank everyone for their interest,  forbearance and support!

Martin and Margaret