Welcome to Martin Knight's Website!
 
          In the Table of Contents listed on the sidebar the first web page is devoted to the year's family news, and the second to our Church connection. 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 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.

2018-19  Seasonal 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 2018), 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 School and has been awarded a Science Prize; 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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                           Our 2018 Christmas Letter:
 
            The year did not get off to the best of starts for Margaret and me. Foxes chewed their way into our garage, our central heating 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". Both Margaret and I took some time to shake off persistent respiratory infections in the spring, but more worrying news on the health front was to follow in the summer (more of that  below).
           
             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 were 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, but every one of the sites was well worth exploring.
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           Igalo, a month later, was always going 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).  The 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 private 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 left of centre


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 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 classical heritage, and is inevitably constrained by the country's high relief and restricted transport infrastructure. It has also repeatedly suffered from earthquakes. 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 along the way), and we used local buses around the shores of the Bay of Kotor to visit interesting geological, historic and prehistoric sites further afield.


Yhe former Dubrovnk railway crossed a river mouth near these sea caves.   Igalo from the Spaniola Castle above                                                                                                                                    Herceg, still in use in the 1990s Bosnian War

 
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 had heard there were unheralded Neolithic rock drawings, 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, crowded caves and could not be photographed. These were 10-15cm drawings of human figures hunting and herding deer, along 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 the main coast road, barely 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 on one mile to Risan, a Roman resort town, with  partially excavated remains and spectacular mosaics, which, this time, were very fully explained. On the way, we were able to sit in the cool of a large roadside cave above a coastal waterfall to enjoy our lunch. 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 this 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!
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           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 as a boy at Dulwich Prep

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

 Our annual family week in the Brecon Beacons in July was the hottest ever:

The family gathers on the Brinore 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 which started in October. One unforseen outcome was that I have had to give up driving for a while, which inevitably puts 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 also helped St Stephen's celebrate its 150th Anniversary in November, with displays, illustrated talks, and a specially composed Celebration Mass.
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                                                                                                                                                                   Our up and down year ended on a definite high: we squeezed in a week's holiday at Albufeira in southern Portugal in early December, which gave us some welcome winter sunshine, and some leisurely walks and places to visit:

Albufeira was a small Atlantic fishing village 50 years ago, but its year-round sunny weather, charming 'Old Town' and splendid beaches have now made it popular with Brits.


The town from our apartment.  We loved the many beaches, coves and cliff formations along the Algarve coast


Remote Paderne Castle and Bridge, reached via one of many steep valley walks. Lunch at the beach - with friend!

Note the warm sunshine we seem to be blessed with on our holidays - are we just lucky with our weather, or is someone 'up there' on our side?
                                                                                                                           
We thank you for your forbearance and support over the past year, and are looking forward  to showing you more great trips in 2019!

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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. We will be updating this page accordingly.

Santorini had for long been an island we wanted to visit, as a result of its 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).
          
        (Narrative: first draft , in note form):
 
Small, comfortable hotel; balcony on ground floor facing south, sheltered by colourful shrubs; no dining room: breakfast overlooking pool and mountain views.
Weather sunny all week, but wind a bit chilly at times.
Black sand beach at foot of very steep former crater rim with Ancient Thera perched at top.  Narrow coastal plain to north, with newish airport, and vine growing. Very small horse-shoe shaped island overlooking caldera of former volcano (with later small island cone in middle) - now deep-water harbour for cruise ships (Japanese tourist groups!). Spectacular views everywhere; more housing and hotel development than expected, but all low rise and villages well-connected by buses from Thera Town - main tourist centre. Pyrgos as popular village full of churches, Akrotiri as main archaeological site discovered 1967 - spectacular ruins under cover.

        Our activities & visits (see also 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 left bag behind - was returned to our hotel overnight!).
Wednesday May 1st: 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).

               (... more to follow ...)

              The Santorini caldera from space    Santorini's location in the Cyclades Is.     Kamari's black sand beach

    
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 excavation work

                                         
 The only road to & from AncientThera!                                              Evening serenade atTaverna Andreas

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

  
Steep uphill walk from our Hotel to Pyrgos, via Exxogonia & Mesa Gonia;  Donkeys are still used in the village!

  
 Our lunch stop on the way down   Neolithic cult figure in Thera's fine Museum,  A model of some of the finds             

  
A Minoanjug: swallows were a unique style. Wall paintings were famously well preserved

      
The !700BC eruption buried the ancient city 2000 years before Pompeii. Only rediscivered in 1967!

      
  These wooden beds were 'frozen' in the ash.  Me at Red Beach near Akrotiri. 

                                      
                                               Farewell, Santorini!

       Now we are off to Nerja for a week - watch this space ... !

Martin and Margaret