Welcome to Martin Knight's Website!
 
             In the Table of Contents listed on the left you will see that the first web pages are devoted to recent pictures and news of the family; these are followed by observations and reflections on our travels, then samples of ongoing geographical 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 Christian (Anglican by tradition and inclination but ecumenical in outlook), and a family man who enjoys gardening, travelling, hill walking, and trying to organise a burgeoning collection of family photographs, colour slides, and holiday images.  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 local Guided Walks (I am increasingly consulted as 'Dulwich's Effra man'!) while 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.


2016-17 - 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 13 years to 18 months), horizons (and waistlines?) are expanding, and Margaret and I are growing ... er, beginning to feel our age!

     
     Margaret & I still enjoy the Brecon Beacons - nowadays with the newer & younger family members
 
 Family matters:    Bel is making creative GCSE choices at Sydenham High School, Katie and Abi are making very good early progress at Eliot Bank Primary School, and both adore their little sister, HollyBen's electrical business has taken off, and he plays his full part in helping Lizzy juggle her Home Office career with being home-maker and mum.  Andy is successful in his work with OfQual in Coventry, while retaining close contact with family and friends in London; he and his girlfriend, Sarah Rollason, are currently looking to buy a property near Birmingham.  Mary (-Ann) is very busy running her  nursery school in Lewisham, while Sarah continues to combine a successful career in accountancy with being a mum to Eddy, refurbishing house and garden in Lapsewood Walk and supporting Margaret and the rest of the family. It is rewarding to us that all our grandchildren so enjoy playing together, and that Eddy's Dad Gerald and half sister Grace have become an integral part of the family too: Gerald and Grace were introduced to the Talybont experience last summer, and are looking forward to going again in 2017.

Margaret and I are hoping to be able to spend more time at the holiday bungalow near Herne Bay this year, as well as holidaying abroad (see below). We are still very actively involved with
St Stephen's Church, and continue to sing week by week with our much appreciated Church Choir. We are always particularly busy during Passion and Easter Weeks and in the Advent and Christmas Seasons, with both family and Church commitments.
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              In 2016 Margaret and I looked back on many memorable Trips: to the Holy Land in February*, Crete in June, Talybont-on Usk with the family in July, and Crete again in September with long-standing friends Enid and David. In October half term we accompanied Sarah, Eddy, Bel, and Mary to north Cyprus.
 
We also celebrated Lizzy's birthday with the family at Hever Castle in Kent in June, and in December spent a murky but interesting day at Leeds Castle (near Maidstone) supporting a disabled friend from Church, and joined all the family again at the Christmas Lights display in Kew Gardens.

*
My 2016 reflections on the Holy Land are on the Pilgrimages page of this website; our June 2016 Cretan adventure is featured on the Crete and Cyprus page, as is the late 2016 trip to North Cyprus.
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                But now for 2017!

      
Our first excursion of the year was to Kew Gardens, which we have enjoyed a few times recently, once with the whole family just before Christmas.

 This time our main objective was the Indian Orchid Festival at the end of February, but we also wished to see the flower paintings in the Marianne North Gallery which were featured in a recent TV documentary, and which I had last visited with my father some 60 years ago!
The day did not disappoint, in spite of the fact that we went on probably the wettest day of the winter.  The orchids (hundreds of them, not counting the cut flowers and petals) were spectacular and colourful, the displays were beautifully arranged, and there was much interesting information - geographical and historical as well as botanical.

In spite of the rain and soggy ground, we managed to walk around most of the grounds and enjoy the hothouses and other attractions, often accompanied by curious but benign avian residents (except for the Temperate House which was being refurbished, and the Xstrata 'TreeTops Walkway'  which Margaret 's knees would not allow her to attempt!)

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Two foreign holidays had been lined up for the Spring of 2017, notwithstanding Margaret's dodgy knee:  a return to North Cyprus in March, and a week at the end of April to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.
           
           In the very early hours of Friday March 17th we flew out of Stanstead for a ten day half-board stay near
Kyrenia (Girne to the Turkish Cypriots) on Cyprus' north coast. The holiday package included airport transfers and shuttles to the city centre and the nearest beach, three days' car hire, and a guided tour of Nicosia (Lefkosa), the island's divided capital. We had visited Kyrenia and Nicosia once before, but only for half day tours; now we would have the time and means to explore more widely and fully (except where the Turkish military held sway!). We were close to the Kyrenia Mountains whose castles overlook the north coast beaches that include the Alagadi Nature Reserve and the site of the 1974 Turkish army landings near our hotel, and the quieter and more remote countryside of the Karpaz Peninsula in the east. Also we hoped to visit ancient sites at Soli and Vouni in the west, admire Kyrenia's picturesque town, castle and harbour, and the contents of Nicosia's fine Cyprus Museum, as well as sample beautiful holy places and evocative burial sites that our previous researches had highlighted.

                    
            The holiday started uncertainly, with cool, cloudy weather and the news that our promised hotel had been overbooked! Substitute rooms with meals had been hastily arranged in the large Acapulco Beach Resort nearby for the first night. This looked fine on paper, but the hotel was very busy, access to the chilly beach was via extensive building works, and our room was in a block 10 to 15 minutes walk up quite a steep hill from the restaurant and the reception; we effectively lost a day of our holiday as there was very limited access to anywhere attractive or of interest, and of course we were 'living out of a suitcase'.  However,
the next day we thankfully arrived at the smaller Malpas Hotel we had originally booked, which was much more to our liking, especially as we had been allocated a sea view upgrade (albeit north-facing and therefore rather chilly in March).
                                

Margaret on the bleak Acapulco Beach;    Hotel Malpas the next day;     Girne (Kyrenia) from our Malpas balcony

           Our three day car hire, and the minibus trips to Nicosia and Kyrenia were scheduled for the middle of our holiday, but the Hotel's excellent location between the coast and the mountains, its winding lanes through productive countryside, and the brilliant colours of the wild flowers in the spring sunshine, encouraged us immediately to start exploring on foot.
We quickly identified nearby coastal objectives from the maps and our balcony, and set out on an afternoon perambulation towards a small bay and headland that looked promising. Once we had crossed the busy main coast road we had the streets serving well-kept villas and gardens down to the sea virtually to ourselves.  The bay was mainly sandy, and backed by old sand hills that were carpeted with a myriad wild flowers and shrubs in full bloom, including bee orchids, rock rose, cyclamen,  miniature iris, poppies, and so much more; and then there were the butterflies ...!  The only disappointment was that we could not get onto the low grassy headland beyond (which the map suggested might have Bronze Age remains) because it was controlled by the military.

  
Margaret in the quiet bay below Malpas;  Malpas & Buffavento Castle from the bay; Iris reticulata on the beach

The next day we decided on an 8 km walk westwards into the hills south of Kyrenia, to the former Greek Cypriot village of Bella Pais, featured in Lawrence Durell's book 'Bitter Lemons'.  We had visited the village and its former medieval abbey briefly in 2014, as part of a coach party that drove up from Kyrenia via the main tourist road; they were more interested in the tourist shops, restaurants and bars than the countryside. This time we were approaching from the east,
via flower bedecked country lanes around the head of the valley which served the village and its water mill, and gave a much more interesting view of the village and its location.

  
  Bel Pais Abbey across the valley head, and from Durell's 'Tree of Idleness';  Margaret chats with the mill owner.

We walked back via Catalkoy (pron. 'shuttlecock'?! - the nearest village to our Hotel) whose Church is now a Mosque - a casualty, like so many of the Greek Orthodox religious and community buildings in northern Cyprus, of the Turkish invasion in 1974 (see my Crete and Cyprus page for more information).  Other local walks around Malpas and Catalkoy, and the excursions to Nicosia and Kyrenia, would have to wait until after the 3 days' car hire we had booked, since we wanted to use the car to search out more distant and inaccessible destinations.                Eastwards we drove (
via rocky coves that included the Turtle Beach and wave sculpted rock formations of Alagadi Nature Reserve) into the long finger of quiet countryside that makes up the Karpaz Peninsula, to discover the mosaics and geometric tiled floors of the Byzantine Trias Basilica open to the skies in a meadow near Yenierenkoy: 

        We had the Alagadi Beach Reserve, and the Agia Trias Byzantine Basilica almost to ourselves;
Early Christians 

 
 
had to remove shoes on entering; the busy main coast road (!); Toumba Bronze Age burials in a flowery meadow;

             Westwards we drove  to the partly excavated Bronze Age necropolis surrounded by orange groves at Toumba tu Skourou, and via the Episcopal Church and monastery of St Mama and a very interesting Museum in the town of Guzelyurt (Morphou to the Greeks). From there we drove on to the Roman city of Soli with its outstanding Early Christian Basilica, and the Greek Palace of Vouni with its Temple of Athena and unique well system, perched 300m above the Mediterranean Sea:
     
 
Morphou: St Mama's Church & Tomb and its iconostasis; A modern-looking 12thC BC glazed dish in the Museum 

 
     
Early Christian Basilica at Soli with its famous 'Swan' Mosaic; Well head in the Courtyard of Palace of Vouni 

         We also negotiated a narrow, tortuous road (thankfully empty!) into the interior of the Kyrenia Range from the coastal village of Esentepe to view substantial exposures of medieval wall paintings and frescoes in a remote, partially preserved monastery that was still in use until 50 years ago:

   
Colourful and enigmatic wall paintings in remote St Chrystassis Monastery; a late Roman fountain in Esentepe

        
We had a free day's guided tour of North Nicosia pre-booked. Although we had been on a short tour of the northern part of Cyprus' capital city before (in 2014), we decided to take the opportunity this time to cross the UN monitored 'Green Line' into the Greek Cypriot controlled south, so that we could view the substantial archaeological collections that were displyed in the Cyprus Museum, and we were not disappointed.  There were outstanding artefacts and treasures from all over the island, including Kyrenia, Soli and Vouni which we were seeing now, Famagusta, Salamis and Enkomi which we explored last Autumn, Paphos which we visited in 2012, and many other sites besides. It was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the holiday.
 
         
 
   
Girne Gate in Lefcosa (N Nicosia);Venetian Column in Lefcosa (brought from Salamis); former Gothic Cathedral 
                                                                                                                                                                    with added minaret;
 

  
'Green Line' (UN) Border Crossing; Cyprus Museum: part of Kirni burial cache, & bronze cauldrons from
                                                                                                                                                            Enkomi


  
Prominent Girne landmarks: 'Five Finger Mountain' from inland, and Kyrenia's Venetian Castle from the sea

  
Pretty Kyrenia harbour from the Castle;    Venetian Great Court from the Walls;         The lofty Crusader Tower

    
Ottoman Mausoleum & graveyard;  St Andrew's Anglican Church by the port; famous 3rdC Kyrenia shipwreck

 
          The last two days we reverted to local walks around Catalkoy. Firstly, we walked to another small bay below the village, where there was a rare Muslim shrine to six very early
soldiers (7th C, contemporary with Mohammed himself) whose bodies had been discovered, miraculously preserved, in a sea cave nearby.  From there we walked back to Malpas along the coast via jetties used to export carob beans and molasses in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 
      
   Catalkoy Mosque (former church);  Early Muslim martyrium near Malpas; cave where the bodies were found

            Finally, we walked inland from the village into the foothills of the Kyrenia Range, via a stony track that serviced local quarries, and the village water supply. This was a walk there and back of about four miles, with dramatic views up a steep valley towards 'Five Finger Mountain', along the wooded face of the craggy scarp, and down to the colourful coast we had been exploring: a fitting end to an active and stimulating holiday.


Nearest beach to Malpas looking east;  We walked up this valley into the Kyrenia Mountains on our last day

   Now we look forward to a more relaxing holiday in the Canary Isles!

Martin and Margaret