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 2 to nearly 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 between Solihull and Birmingham.
        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 see a lot of each other, and now that Eddy's step-sister Grace has become part of the family too, Gerald, his mum and sister, and Grace spent time with Sarah, Eddy and our family over Christmas at Lapsewood Walk.

        However, Christmas and New Year did not get off to such a good start for Margaret and me. Firstly, our kitchen hob all but packed up and had to be replaced. Then a fox got into our garage, and chewed his way through the door and our outdoor Christmas lights. Our central heating packed up on Christmas Day, and we had to rely on temporary convector heaters for a fortnight, and then we developed a leaky roof that caused damp patches and drips in our dining room and lounge well into the New Year.  All this was happening during the busiest Choir season we can remember at St Stephen's, and I was having to manage without one of my hearing aids!
          Ho, hum ...  !
       
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[     Our 2017 Trips and Holidays:-

          (NB: as of January 2018, the 2017 events will be successively removed to save space - photos first, then captions and text).
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         There has been much family activity at Studd Hill (Herne Bay) this past year, including surgery on the big old poplar tree in our garden, and some much needed plumbing: the latter carried out for free through a former pupil of mine. We also moved the small garden shed to make room for a larger new one for storing patio furniture and bikes, the first stage in a bigger project to clear and demolish the unsightly caravan that had been languishing for forty years at the front of the house:
 
The new shed under the lopped tree; the old caravan during demolition; the whole family BBQ on the beach
     
          Gerald (with Grace) and Gary (Ben's Dad, with his partner Wendy) came down to help us with the shed demolition and disposal, on the same August weekend as Herne Bay's impressive Air Show, and we all had a barbecue on the beach and watched the aerial displays. There were acrobatic biplanes, a veteran Spitfire and Hurricane, two vintage Vampire jets, a 'James Bond' Girocopter, and a helicopter that saw service in the Falklands War, topped off in the evening by the RAF 'Red Arrows' and air-borne fireworks!
          That was quite a weekend, but everyone loved it!
     
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        In mid-September I published an article in our Church Magazine on the 'Vicar's Oak' Boundaries Project at Crystal Palace. I became involved through my Effra in Dulwich researches (see adjoining webpages), and because St Stephen's was the successor to one of four medieval parishes (and modern Boroughs) that met there. Margaret and I were also pleased to visit the ornate brick subway that once connected Joseph Paxton's magnificent 'Crystal Palace' to Charles Barry's cavernous High Level railway terminus (the station I used on my journey to school 65 years ago!). I will be writing further articles for the Magazine during 2018.
At the end of the month we escorted Catriona, our disabled friend from Church, on an excellent visit with Dulwich's 'Out and About' Club to Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing and others helped to break the German 'Enigma' Codes during the Second World War:


Site of the Vicars Oak Memorial Path; Barry's 1865 Crystal Palace Subway; Top Brass arrive at Bletchley Park to                                                                                                                                                   review Turing's decoding of Enigma
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         In early October we enjoyed our third holiday in two years in Madeira, this time at Machico on the east coast. The journey out was testing to say the least: the plane was delayed and couldn't land at Funchal because of gusty winds, so we were diverted to the much smaller island of Porto Santo, resulting in very complicated onward travel arrangements. We didn't finally arrive at our hotel until gone 11pm, the whole journey by bus, train, plane, coach, ferry and taxi having taken 21 hours from home!

  
Porto Santo beach: it's a breeze here!  The ferry finally came at sunset;  Funchal port at last, but our luggage ...?                                                                                                                                                           ...  and where's Machico?
         From then on, the holiday was delightful.  The hotel was at one end of a wide promenade fronting a beach that was part imported golden sand, with a spectacular cliff behind. Our room faced south, with a view of both the sea and the cliff, and there was a beautiful chapel below that was floodlit at night. The town itself dated back to the very earliest Portuguese adventurers, and served a verdant, prosperous and well-populated valley behind. There were plenty of walks from there (if steep!), and the bus station gave us good access to a number of other, more challenging, walks and visits, along the north coast and into the hills:

 
Our hotel overlooking the seafront; we walked the pretty Levada do Canical, and the spectacular coast of the                                                                                                                                                       Sao Lourenco Peninsula         

             After two days finding our way around the historic town (it was the 1419 landing site of the first Portuguese colonists on Madeira) and sampling the views from the roads and byways in the valley, we set out on one of our main objectives: a bus up the valley to the village of Marocos, to start a walk along a levada (artificial water channel) contouring around the perimeter of the Machico Valley, and back down the steep valley side to our hotel. It was a delightful walk above steep but productive hillsides, lined with colourful shrubs and flowers and an array of ripe fruit trees and vegetables, and the views were impressive at every turn.
 
Machico Bay from the valley side; the Levada above Ribeiro Seca; excess water released down the steep roadside

               Encouraged by our experiences in the valley, we took a bus early one morning to walk the Peninsula of Sao Lourenco on the north-easternmost corner of Madeira. This was more challenging, as it was composed of rocky lava fields, in parts narrow, high and steep, with no shade and little shelter from Atlantic winds. The main objective was a Nature Reserve at the far end (two miles away), and the coastal scenery was certainly spectacular.  We started when the sun was barely up and we had the path almost to ourselves, but Margaret began to experience vertigo, and decided reluctantly that she would sit by the path and watch me continue the walk. I carried on to the start of the Nature Reserve, but by midday it was getting very hot and I decided I would not venture any further, but would return to check on Margaret.

 
Ponta da Sao Lourenco at sunrise; spectacular volcanic formations; the Nature Reserve at the end of the Trail

          We met more and more tourist groups (showing varying levels of fitness, interest and awareness) on our way back to the bus park, and were actually very glad to have started early and not to be sharing the path with them.  Margaret spent the rest of the afternoon by the hotel pool, while I went for a walk up the steep cliff track across the road to take more pictures!
          We used the buses on two other occasions: to see more of the interior, and to visit remote  village resorts along the north coast. We were amazed at the skill (and daring) of the bus drivers, who seemed to make a point of driving their overworked buses up and down every steep hill, round every hairpin, and through every village at impossible speed: it was exhilirating, but bone-shaking and exhausting!
                                                                                                                                                               
  
Porto Cruz on the north coast, reached via hairy bus rides in the hills; a viewpoint we climbed to above Faial: the                                                                                                                                                        cove can only be reached by boat

             We had heard that the Madeirans were very fond of Festivals, but what we witnessed over the weekend of October 8th and 9th took us completely by surprise. They celebrated the island's Republic Day, combined with the local festival of the 'Lords of the Miracles'. Its centrepiece was a moving candlelit procession around the town on the Sunday, culminating in a late-night Barbecue and Fair on the front, which attracted crowds of people who drove, bussed or walked in to the town from miles around. The next morning there was a Band Parade and Flag Raising Ceremony at the Town Hall, and in the late afternoon another procession commemorating the miraculous recovery from the waters of Machico Bay of a much revered Crucifix that had been swept out to sea in a great storm centuries earlier. The storm had flooded the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miracles that was originally built in memory of two young English lovers who had set sail from Bristol in a small boat in the early 15th century, were swept far out sea, and shipwrecked three weeks later in Machico Bay, only to die poignantly in each others' arms. We were struck by how reverently the locals of all ages, gender and background took part in the Processions, and we felt moved, and privileged, to join in too. The Madeirans obviously take their seaborne heritage very seriously, so we could understand why they were nervous about recent hurricane activity further west in the Atlantic.

Machico's 'Lord of the Miracles' Candlelit Procession + Veneration of the Cross.  View from our room as Hurricane                                                                                                                                                   Ophelia approached on our last day!

Our return to London was mercifully troublefree, and we looked forward to quietly celebrating Margaret's birthday!
Then there was the busy run up to Christmas, which included lots of singing at Church, 'Rigoletto' at Covent Garden, and another visit to Kew Gardens for their Seasonal Light Show - with the family, of course!  ]
 
         We have so far booked two foreign holidays for Spring 2018: to Limassol (Cyprus) in March, and Igalo (Montenegro) for my birthday in April.
    
 Meanwhile, we thank you for your continuing interest, forbearance and support!

Martin and Margaret