Welcome to Martin Knight's Website!
 
          In the Table of Contents listed on the sidebar you'll see that this first web page is devoted to the year's family news, and the second to our Church connections. 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, reading and research.  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 frequently consulted and quoted as 'Dulwich's Effra man'! Margaret manages bookings for St Stephen's Church Hall, our family properties and her shares and investment portfolio, and researches our holidays on the Web. We both enjoy singing each week with St Stephen's Church Choir. The above interests are all reflected in the pages of this website.

2019  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, ranging from one to 16 years (plus one more due in December). 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 GCSE results at Sydenham High, and is now looking to make university applications; Katie (having been fitted with hearing aids) and her sister Abi are making very good progress at Eliot Bank Primary School, and both enjoy playing with their little sister Holly and baby brother JackBen's electrical business keeps him busy; 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 Sarah R have now settled into a 3-bedroomed semi near Solihull in the West Midlands, along with Hughie the cat and their young spaniel 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 is regarded as part of the family too, Gerald and Grace spend increasing time with Sarah, Eddy and all of us at Lapsewood Walk, Talybont and Herne Bay.

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          2019  started quietly, partly because we had to settle into a complicated pattern of medical treatment at Guy's Hospital, and also because of increased commitments at St Stephen's Church: apart from our weekly choir singing, I edited the Easter edition of 'Spire', and Margaret took on the booking arrangements for the Church Hall. There was also variable weather and winter aches and pains to contend with.  However, we did have two holiday deals for late spring to look forward to: one week's bed and breakfast on the volcanic Greek island of Santorini in late April, and one week in a self-catering apartment at Nerja on Spain's Costa del Sol in mid-May.

Santorini  had for long been an island we wanted to visit, as a result of its dramatic volcanic origins and features, its historical connections with Crete (which we have enjoyed many times), and the Minoan civilisation which flourished there before the eruption of the Thera volcano about 1700 BC). It did not disappoint ...

       
The Santorini caldera from space   Santorini's location in the Aegian Sea. Kamari's black sand beach on east coast

      Hotel Alia was a small and comfortable hotel less than half a mile from shops, bars and restaurants, and the beach. We had a one bedroom apartment with balcony on the ground floor facing south, sheltered by colourful shrubs. There was no dining room: breakfast was in the sunny bar area beside the pool, with fine mountain views. The weather was sunny all week, but the wind was cool at times.
       Kamari has a black sand beach at the foot of Santorini's very steep crater rim, and the start of the tarmac zig-zag road up to the ruins of Ancient Thera perched at the top.  There was a narrow coastal plain to the north, with Santorini's new airport, set amongst vineyards - wine being the main commercial product these days. Thera is the modern capital overlooking and dominating the small horse-shoe shaped archipelago which is all that remains of the caldera of the original volcano - now arcing around a sheltered deep-water harbour for cruise ships (seemingly mainly hosting Japanese and German tour groups while we were there). There is no modern harbour - seaborne visitors are ferried in, and then either ascend to the town by cable-car, or have a hair-raising bus transfer.
       There are spectacular views everywhere, with more housing and hotel development than we expected, but it was all low rise, and the villages were well-connected by buses from Thera, the only real town.  Pyrgos was a particularly pretty hilltop village (a former capital with a dozen churches and basilicas) within sight of our hotel which we could walk to, while Akrotiri (the main archaeological site with its spectacular Minoan and early Greek ruins) was only two short bus rides away. We decided to pass on joining the dozens of tour groups that visited the many Winery Museums, and descended on the northernmost resorts to view the sunset every evening.

     Summary notes of our Santorini activities (see pictures below ...):
   Saturday April 27th: NorwegianAir flight - arrived Alia Hotel @ midnight to fireworks (Greek Easter)!
   Sunday 28th: Hotel and Kamari Beach resort tour, incl. supermkt etc. (B&B)
   Monday 29th: V steep path behind town up to Ancient Thera, via Zoodechios spring, chapel and cave; explored prehistoric and Greek city remains, with fine views all round. I returned same way and struggled, M returned down only proper road (zigzag) and got there first! Meal @ Taverna Andreas, with bazouki music.
   Tuesday 30th: Modern Thera by bus: explored crowded touristy town with more amazing views over caldera; most churches etc closed for Easter!? Evening meal at 'Happy Grill' in Kamari (unaware I left my bag behind - it was returned to our hotel overnight!).
   Wednesday May 1st: Walk to Pyrgos via quarries (unintended!), and steep paths from traditional Mesa gonias and Exxagona villages. Friendly locals happy to chat. 'Happy' meal #2.
   Thursday 2nd: Thera #2, incl Archaeological Museum (excellent info and finds!).
   Friday 3rd: Akrotiri bus trip - Minoan city site (dusty because buried by volcanic ash, but outstanding remains)! Pm walk to Red Beach (geol. interesting!); lunch @ Gusta fish restaurant.
   Saturday 3rd: Last look round Kamari and pool area, before late night flight home (easyJet).
 
    
Kamari lies at the foot of the main peak on the east coast. The steep path up to Ancient Thera, via a holy shrine

   
Kamari & the airport from near the top; Margaret walking along the agora; Minoan & Greek excavations

                   
     The single zig-zag road to & from AncientThera!     An evening serenade atTaverna Andreas

      
Thera, perched on the caldera rim, overlooking the former volcano;  The Old Port from the present island cone 

  
Steep uphill walk from our Hotel to Pyrgos via Exxogonia & Mesa gonia historic villages; Donkeys are still used!

  
 Our lunch view on the way down.  Neolithic cult figure in Thera's Museum; some of the finds reconstructed             

  
A Minoanjug: swallows were a unique local style. Akrotiri's wall paintings were famously well preserved


     
The !700BC eruption buried the ancient city (cf Pompeii 79AD).; Amphora chamber, & House in Triangle Sq.

      
  These wooden beds were 'frozen' in the ash. We walked to Red Beach from Akrotiri in the afternoon. 

                                      
                                               Farewell, Santorini!

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On May 17th we were off to NERJA (Costa del Sol) for another sunny week ...

        Any reservations we might have had about a second Mediterranean holiday so soon after Santorini were quickly dispelled - Nerja was different in so many ways: southern Spain is near Gibraltar at the western end of the Mediterranean, and has more connections with Moorish North Africa and the Atlantic seaboard than with the classical civilisations of Greece and Rome. There are few signs of volcanic activity, and Nerja's main geological and historical attraction (apart from its sunny beaches) is the colossal underground cave system at nearby Maro, where  the high limestone mountains of Spain's Sierra Nevada reach down to the sea. These mountains back a narrow, rocky coastal zone with steep valleys and few harbours; they also formed a barrier until recently to transport, and reduced the impact of the medieval Moorish Caliphates of Cordoba, Granada, and Sevilla further inland. They have provided some mineral resources, especially, iron, lead and zinc, and are the source of abundant fresh water which has been used for irrigating a variety of crops (notably, sugar cane) for local use and for export.

 
       Our Norwegian Air flight to Malaga was uneventful, and our prearranged transfer to Nerja dropped us at the top of a long hill up from the seafront, right outside the Reception of our Rosas de Capistrano Apartments - which were locked and all in darkness, as was the big supermarket next door! Fortunately, we met someone who knew the whereabouts of the Nerja Club Hotel where the keys might be available, and so it proved. We eventually gained  access to a well-appointed  self-catering apartment on the first floor of the modest garden-girt complex. It had a large balcony facing west, which overlooked a pleasant pool and bar area. Beyond that, there was a large but quiet municipal sports complex, with distant views of the sea on one side, and the foothills of the Sierra de Almijara on the other. We soon made ourseves at home, even without the bottle of wine we had hoped to buy in the supermarket!

  
Las Rosas de Capistrano Apartment: our balcony, and the pool area.  Nerja town on our first (Saturday) morning

       After a much-needed night's sleep we were eager for action: we admired our balcony views, had a token breakfast of items brought from home, shopped for the main essentials next door (bread, milk, wine and beer!), and then set off down the hill to find the nearest beach (Playa Burriana), the Tourist Office, and then to explore the resort before the afternoon heat set in. We visited the brand new Archaeological Museum  (where we inadvertantly got involved in an hour long children's drama about the Caves of Nerja, all in Spanish of course), and admired the coastal views from the 'Balcon d'Europe'. The town and its beaches were quiet, clean and civilised, and well supplied with small shops, hotels, bars and restaurants, although there was a distinct early-season air about the place. It has no port, modern industry or commercial functions and, because of its lack of rail and motorway connections, and its distance from Malaga Airport and the more familiar hotspots of the 'Costas', it only developed for family holidays relatively recently. On the plus side, it avoided the worst excesses of 20th century mass tourism and urbanisation. 
         We returned in the afternoon to relax on our sunny balcony, then went out in the evening sunshine into the nearby countryside, so establishing the daily schedule for most of our holiday. To our delight, our evening walk eastwards along the N340 road was level, surprisingly quiet, and gave us a preview of some of the sights we had been introduced to earlier in the day, as well as snapshots (literally) of the local landscape and farming. We had already seen and done more than we anticipated, and it was only Day One!
        On the Sunday we walked inland up the Chillar river valley into a Regional Forest Park, which for some strange reason the Tourist Office had declined to recommend the previous day. The walk offered pleasant shady woodland, colourful plants and trees, and sparkling streams with little waterfalls, all in an attractive limestone gorge (we had to have a gorge walk, didn't we?). The path crossed the shallow but fast-flowing river a couple of times as the valley got narrower, and when Margaret lost one of her only flipflops just above a bouldery waterfall and mill site with a spectacular spray, we decided to sit in the shade, paddle our feet, and enjoy a late packed lunch, before walking back to our apartment.
                            
           
Coast view from the Balcon de Europe.  Remains of Nerja's main Sugar Mill.   Steep lanes in Frigilliana village
 
  
  Nerja Caves: Huge scale of karst formations (note tiny figure lower right), and signs of ancient occupation:

              
Nerja Archeological Museum: neolithic cave paintings and reconstruction of a double female burial.    

        
   Margaret in Chillar Gorge     Spray from a natural side spring;    Aguila Aqueduct alongside the N340.
 
                     
Cliff overhanging Pl Burriana; access to the v hot shingly beaches was steep; Nerja from the Sierra above the Caves
 
Summary of our Nerja Week:
   Saturday 18th May:  Town exploratory walk down to Playa Burriana (nearest, largest beach), then up to resort centre: Tourist Office (not very helpful), Plaza Espana, Archaeological Museum, 'Balcon de Europe', &c. Evening Walk along N34o road to Aguila Aqueduct, old road bridge near Maro, and back (past irrigated fruit & veg farming, and gaunt remains of abandoned sugar mill.
   Sunday 19th:  Rio Chillar walk along river bed from hotel into Regional Forest Park  (8km).
   Monday 20th: To Bus 'Station' (middle of main street - chaotic!), to take crowded bus to Frigilliana - attractive historical hillside village two miles inland - very steep and narrow access. Walked up to a mirador (viewpoint) beside Sugar Mill (under restoration as museum) for views down to the coast and into the Sierra valleys. Then followed steep mule track up to medieval Castello on top of the hill with even better views - had it to ourselves. Back down to explore more of the village, including stepped and cobbled streets, attractive Church, and shady squares, to wait for return bus (8 km for round walk). Evening walk around urbanisation behind our Appts. Well-kept and colourful, but no access to countryside - mainly second homes (one of which we later discovered belonged to the family of a close friend of our Andy's!).
   Tuesday 21st:  Walked to Cuevas de Nerja near Maro (spectacular  (see pictures above - best caves ever!) - bought Booklet (Italian version!) Walked down to Maro village, past Botanic Garden and over fine new motorway footbridge. Aiming for Maro Beach, but mistakenly took steep winding lane toward Playa Caleta, which we reluctantly decided to abort (heat, feet & knees!). Lunch in Maro Restaurant, then walked back via the old road bridge and Aqueduct once more (10 km altogether).
   Wednesday 22nd: 2nd visit to beaches, town and Archl. Museum - reviewed what we had seen previously, esp. in the Caves, and visited Iglesia Church. Walked on to the western beaches and along lower Chillar valley - lunch beside 'La Dorada'  (boat featured in popular 1970s Spanish soap - 5 km). Margaret had first dip in Las Rosas' pool!
   Thursday 23rd: 2nd Cave visit (to exchange book!), then explored 'Costas' Botanic Garden (impressive specimens and info); also the large 19th & 20th century Sugar Mill - surprisingly little vandalised after fifty years or more. Afternoon on Burriana Beach (5 km).
   Friday 24th: Packed for going home, stored bags, then spent day in Nerja: Balcon, then  Burriana, with late lunch & celebration wine & brandies (3 km)!  Transfer to Malaga at 6 pm.                      (Thanks for sharing yet another excellent holiday with us!)

        In June we celebrated Lizzy's and Jack's respective birthdays. On the first (only?) really hot, sunny day of the month, Margaret and I were invited to join them, with Ben and the girls, at Gary and Wendy's mobile home at West Wittering near Chichester.

         
Eddy on the Tube with Sarah & Mary;  Lorenzo's for Lizzy's birthday meal;  Margaret feeding Jack.

                             
                                                  Happy birthday, Lizzy and Jack!

       At West Wittering we walked around the village (two or three times, because we'd forgotten to bring the directions!), and then all enjoyed Wendy's barbecue on the beach, while the kids went body-boarding. Gary took Margaret and me on a very pleasant walk around East Head in the early evening before our drive back to London.   
       
 Snow Hill Mobile Home Park, West Wittering;  St Peter and St Paul Church behind;  Ben's hired Motorhome.
                   
               The barbecue in the dunes;            Katie on the beach; Lizzy, Abi, Holly and Jack at the water's edge

        
      Jack under the umbrella;            Margaret & Gary seting off for East Head; the saltmarsh behind the dunes.

         It was a long drive there and back in a day for Margaret, but we agreed it was well worth it: an impressive coastal area we didn't know, within a day's drive of London, and one we would certainly like to visit again.
         We have recently booked an all-inclusive week in October at Kusadasi in Turkey (near Ephesus), but first we are looking forward to our usual late July family week in the Brecon Beacons - ah me!!
Martin and Margaret