Welcome to Martin Knight's Website!
 
          In the Table of Contents listed on the sidebar the first web page is devoted to this year's family news, followed by observations and reflections on our travels, as viewed through the eyes of a geographer. Finally 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 updating 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 on different 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 (five now, ranging from 3 to 16 years), 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 is gearing up for GCSEs at Sydenham High School, Katie has  been fitted with a hearing aid and is now making making very good progress at Eliot Bank Primary School, and both she and Abi adore their little sister, HollyBen'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.  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 spaniel puppy.
        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 five 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 Studd Hill.

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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.  This was happening during the busiest Choir season we can remember at St Stephen's, and while I was having to cope with new hearing aids. Thankfully, all those problems had been resolved before the arrival of February's snow - the "Beast from the East". However, Margaret then took some time to shake off a persistent respiratory infection.
In mid-March we visited Andy and Sarah in their new house in 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 were then looking forward to two holidays in the Spring: 5 days to Limassol (Cyprus) just before Easter, and a week in Igalo (Montenegro) for my birthday in April:
           Our trip to Limassol (Lemesos to the Cypriots) was a very welcome break after the very poor weather we have had this winter (and which was forecast to continue over the whole of Europe while we were away). However, we had mostly warm, hazy sunshine, breezy, with some cloud, but no rain!                                                           Margaret had researched online a series of ancient, classical and religious sites that we might be able to visit in the five days we had available, but because we were restricted by available buses and timetables, and some sites and museums were closed on Saturdays and Sundays, we had to prioritise somewhat. However, we managed several very interesting visits via Limassol and Larnaka. The Unesco Neolithic village site at Choirokitia near Larnaka on the first day was certainly a highlight:

 
Choirokitia Neolithic village: aerial, as excavated, and as reconstructed using traditional methods & materials
 
So too were the Greek acropolis and agora, and Roman nymphaeum (spa complex) on Amathous Hill; they were dedicated to Aphrodite and Adonis, and within walking distance of our hotel:
 
The main Roman Site from the Greek Acropolis at Amathous, with a huge ceremonial basin, and agora remains
 
  Amathous'  Nymphaeon, springs and main baths, with its ceremonial paved way, and a late Roman bath house

The coup de grace, however, was the Roman city at Kourion near Limassol, with its prosperous villas, colourful mosaics, agora, and huge basilica:

Bronze Age tombs outside Kourion; the reconstructed Roman Theatre, and the entrance mosaic in Eustolius' villa

 
Forum, cistern & colonnade destroyed by earthquakes; a re-erected Corinthian Column & early Christian Basilica  
                                                                                                                                                                                       
From there we walked up the hill to Kourion's impressive Roman stadium, and then on to the Hellenistic 'Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates':                         
The Roman stadium on the hill above Kourion. The Sanctuary of Apollo had Bronze Age, Greek, Roman & Byzantine                                                                                                                                                                              religious importance.
             Around these primary objectives we fitted windswept coastal walks, including the site of Amathous' harbour, two Nature Trails which were at their most colourful in the warm spring sunshine, two medieval castles containing interesting local museums, and early Byzantine churches, one of which (in Larnaka) featured the alleged tomb of Lazarus whom Christ had once raised from the dead, and another (near Amathous) destroyed by 7th century earthquakes, and associated with Santa Barbara (Agia Varvaras). Needless to say we had little time for swimming (and the water was too cold for me anyway)!
The beach at Larnaka from the Castle;  Lazarus' Tomb in Agia Lazarides;  Amathous Hill from our balcony.
 
          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  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; evrywhere we looked there were tantalising views across sweeping bays or narrow inlets to steep verdant hills and enticing villages. Inland there were few valleys with fertile farmland, while the coast was very steep with rocky beaches alongside 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 (they reminded me of the Italian Lakes), 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 wistfully refer to as their 'Dalmatian Riviera'. So steep and narrow is the coastal strip that the main coast road and its associated development is 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 local buses can only go one way round from the inland bus station.

 
The 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 affected the Balkans in the 19th and 20th 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, and that we certainly felt we managed. We enjoyed excellent walks in and around the town, along the coast and into the hills (with several medieval churches of course!), and we used local buses around the shores of the Bay of Kotor to visit two interesting historic and prehistoric sites further afield (and 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 nr Herceg

The coastal walks were easy enough to follow, and the main mountain trails 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 noisy dogs. We followed one recommended hill walk onto the ridge visible from our hotel room, via two 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; path markers nr Mt Orijen (1980 m); bridleway down was hard on feet & knees

            The main highlight of our holiday was the hour long bus ride round the Bay of Kotor, firstly to a tiny village called Lipci, where we understood there were unheralded Neolithic rock drawings to be seen, and then on to visit the Roman remains at Risan, whose  mosaics have been given World Heritage status. We were particularly keen to see the Lipci Rock Drawings as those we had seen previously in  France were deep in caves and could not be photographed. These were 10-15cm drawings of human figures hunting and herding reindeer, with various ritual shapes and symbols. 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 Web information we found them, and some limited onsite explanation (in English translation), I managed to take several phtographs for later study:
  
   

          From Lipci we walked one mile on to Risan Roman city, its partially excavated remains, and its mosaics, which were spectacular and, this time, very fully interpreted. 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 cave at Strp near Risan;                         Hypnaeon, God of sleep;     there were five elaborate patterns in 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, and Podgorica the capital!  
                                                                                                                                     
Meanwhile, we thank you for your interest, forbearance and support!

Martin and Margaret