Almond little fish, Hello Kitty, and sushi on the move

We are now safely back from Japan, an epic return journey involving 18 hours on two separate planes, a hotel at Heathrow, and a short train journey back, including going in a wonderful little Pod transport from the hotel yesterday morning.

This is the future people, the pod seats four, and runs on a little track that looks a bit like a mini roller coaster. It looks like the sort of thing that you would find in a Star Trek movie and was a fun end to the trip.

I have so many things that I want to share with you, and it was difficult to know where to start but I thought that I would begin with the food. There was so much wonderful food available and it really made the holiday.

We were doing lots of sight seeing, so time was limited, and if there is one thing that Japan excels in, it is very good quality fast food. We tend to think of the USA as the home of fast food but Japan wins, as the choice, quality and cost was amazing. Especially for Ellen, as she has quite serious wheat intolerance, so it was lovely to go everywhere, and have lots of choice in what she could eat, rather than the usual limited options.

The choice of food from the convenience stores was what amazed us the most. Jake had said they were good, and that he bought most of his meals there but we didn’t realise the range, and the beautiful fresh options that you can get every day.

Much of it is very healthy as well, with lots of salads. There were also so many delicious varieties of drinks on offer. Our favourite were the rice balls, ‘onigiri’, which come in so many different varieties, with or without seaweed wrapping.

The train station also had amazing food outlets everywhere, with the most beautiful bento boxes, one of which I had for tea one day.

This delicious selection of salmon, rice, chicken and veg cost the princely sum of £6.60, which is amazing when you consider that it was bought at Tokyo central train station. Far better than the usual sandwich or salad meal deals we have in the UK.

There were some very unusual offerings as well. There were lots of food stalls selling delights such as kits to make your own versions of snack food out of what appeared to be jelly, many different varieties of favoured hard boiled eggs, and flavoured beans,

I was delighted to see that you could could get filled, deep fried Hello Kitty at one of the many food stalls in Ueno Park. It was incredible to watch them pour batter into the moulds and produce these tiny little fried cakes.

We weren’t brave enough to try the various squid options, although ‘Almond Little Fish’ and dried squid on a stick of varying varieties were plentiful.

As we were there during blossom time there were many blossom, or ‘sakura’ flavoured options, such as this ice cream, so we had sakura chai, sakura sweets and sakura moochi, a type of sweet rice bun.

The Japanese clearly love sweet foods, I have never seen so many stalls selling versions of biscuits, cakes and chocolate in so many varieties. These macarons were so cute, especially the ones with eyes!

We ate at restaurants most days as well, some were more like fast food chains, such as the ‘beef bowl’ restaurants. These had a wonderful selection of not only bowls of beef, chicken, with rice or noodles, but also sides.

My lunch one day was this delicious miso soup and salad combo. The prices here range from £2 to £4 a dish and it is all freshly prepared and served within minutes.

Our favourite restaurant, which we visited twice, was one called, ‘Sushi Ro’. You order from a tablet at your table, and the food is delivered by a little conveyer belt which runs alongside.

Absolutely delicious fresh plates of sushi and sides and a meal for three of us was about £24 with drinks and desserts.

I was so impressed with the value, I was expecting Tokyo to be an expensive place to stay in but it was brilliant and very budget friendly. You could feed yourself very well eating out for under £10 a day here which would be challenging in other major cities like New York or London.

As well as generally being a great country for lots of different diets, the specific gluten free options Ellen found meant that she could have ramen. Helpfully they had a little pot with hair bands so you could avoid getting your hair in your bowl!

She also found a gluten free pancake place, that serve the traditional very fluffy pancakes, which looked incredible.

We also ate at some food courts, where the options were helpfully displayed in plastic versions, so that you could see what they looked like.

Even the food at Disneyland was varied and well priced. I will post separately about our trips there but have to commend them for their creativity with the Mickey’s hand shaped bao bun chicken sandwich and the Mickey’s head shaped boiled egg. We are still not quite sure how they did that!

I am flying back to Spain tomorrow so will be able to post again soon about more of the things that we saw. It still doesn’t seem real that after all these years we got there and it was particularly special to spend so much time with Jake and see all the things that he has told us about over the last few years.

I hope you have been having a good time, and having a good Easter break if you celebrate. We have missed that this year, but have had so much lovely stuff to eat that we haven’t missed the chocolate!

Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Greetings from Japan!

I didn’t want to say anything before we got here so I didn’t jinx anything but we finally made it to Japan to see my son, Jake.

We were originally going to come and see him in March 2020, as he had moved out here the previous August to teach English. That obviously didn’t happen but 2 years, 363 days after the original date we made it!

This is just a intro post with not many photos as I want to be able to edit the photos properly, which I can’t do on my phone, but we have already seen and done a lot in the 5 days that we have been here.

It took a long time to get here, we left Ellen’s at 9.30 on Saturday morning and arrived at the hotel at midnight Sunday, Japanese time, as they are 7 hours ahead of us.

A total of 4 hours on trains, 15 hours on two flights, with a brief stop in Korea to change planes, an hour on the bus, and we were in Tokyo. Korea looked amazing from the air, so many little islands.

We are staying at a really gorgeous 4 star hotel, the Shiomi Prince, just outside the city centre on one of the artificial islands near Tokyo Bay.

I don’t normally book such luxurious accommodation, but the hotel and were both giving discounts to encourage tourists back. Japan only opened to visitors in Oct last year. So it worked out at only about £60 a night for the double room which is a real bargain.

The location is excellent, right next to a train station which is 10 minutes from Tokyo Central Station. That is where we have been meeting with Jake every day, as he lives about an hour out of the city.

Tokyo is vast, it is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with a population of 30 million. It is actually made up of many smaller cities, though they all merge into one.

There is an excellent, efficient, cheap and clean public transport system so we have explored lots of the area this week, including a trip to the hills for a forest walk.

We have also visited Disneyland yesterday, for Ellen’s birthday, which was excellent fun. Ellen made us custom Minnie Mouse ears as everyone wears them when they visit here.

We have another trip to the unique Disney Tokyo Sea planned for next week, as well as lots of other exciting sightseeing.

Today is a quiet catch up day, to do laundry and visit the hotel spa pool, so I am just having a convenience store picnic for lunch.

The food options here are brilliant, all the stores have so many lovely things for us to eat which is not often the case for when you can’t eat gluten.

I return to Spain in just over a week so will do some more posts then as I have so many wonderful things to show you. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A tale of two museums

I visited both the archaeological and the ethnographic museum in Paphos which were both excellent, but very different.

The archaeological one, like its counterpart in Larnaca, was really well interpreted. The various displays were informative, and there was very clear signage, with illustrations and some great mock ups of things like burial pits and kitchens.

It made the whole of the experience really interesting, something I have not really found with previous Neolithic collections. I loved this display of different sized needles, the smallest was about an inch long.

One of the most interesting, and unique, was this set of terracotta hot water bottles, shaped to fit various parts of the body. They dated from the Roman era and were fascinating. Not so very different from what I do now when I’ve got a bad back!

The timeline display made it easy to follow the development of things like the pottery, and the way that devotional figures were used, and it made it a very interesting experience. You really got a sense of the people who had made these things.

The second museum was the Ethnographic Museum, which is in the centre of the town. It is the collection of one man, George Eliades, who in 1958 opened his home to show off his collection to the public.

It is an amazing place to visit, not only to look around a traditional house, with room underneath to store wagons, and I assume stable horses. There is also space for workshops, one of the rooms was set up as a weaving workshop.

Outside there is a millstone, and a bread oven, water troughs and underground storage.

Three of the upstairs rooms are open, the library, dining room and entrance hall, all crammed with textiles and collections.

It is a beautifully eclectic place, a huge contrast to the carefully displayed and interpreted archaeological museum, but what a fascinating place.

As always my favourite part was the textile collection. There were some gorgeous woven hangings in the upper rooms.

One of the lower ground floor rooms was set out as a bedroom, with hanging garments and some splendid and unusual seat covers made of pointed scraps.

The interpretation was limited to framed information taken from reference books, and some photos like this one of a woman spinning.

However, it was the sheer enthusiasm of the original collector, and his family in keeping his collection, that was the real star of the place. It was an amazing collection and I am so glad that it has been preserved by them.

Both types of museums have a place to play in heritage, they represent very different aspects, and both have their merits and disadvantages. I am so glad that I have the chance to visit all of these wonderful places.

I am now back at Ellen’s for a little while, leaving Katy behind at my sister’s until July. I have been spending a lovely afternoon booking my campsites for the summer, and my channel tunnel crossing 🙂

I am so excited for that, and for all the lovely adventures yet to come. It will be great to get back to Spain, especially as I am going to do lots of research on my trip through France and Spain in October when I return to Spain.

I hope that you all are looking forward to the rest of the year, it really doesn’t seem possible that it is another season here in the UK, time is going so fast. I hope you are enjoying whatever you are doing, and are able to plan nice things for the months ahead. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A wander around Wolverley

The planned visits to Trust properties didn’t happen due to some heavy rain so instead I have been taking advantage of the time to organise the van and have a walk around the village.

This is what I love about being able to travel with no time restrictions, I can spend my life being able to not worry about seeing everything at once, and just enjoy where I am. I will be back in this area in the summer so will add the properties to my list for then.

Wolverley is a very cute little English village, and had a couple of unusual features that make is special.

The first is a local legend concerning the Lord of the Manor, Sir John Attwood, who went off to fight in the early 1200s in the Middle East. He was injured and captured, but was then allegedly mysteriously returned home by a swan.

The legend is commemorated by a carving near the river and the knight’s effigy can be found in the local church.

The Manor House is now a nursing home, but there are many other beautiful old houses, showing this has always been a place of importance. This one below was built in 1876 and reminds me of Lacock Abbey, another Trust house.

There are also some very cute cottages in the middle of the village, some made even more special by the matching garlands on the doors!

I love the idea of spring or Easter wreaths as well as Christmas ones, these tulips are so pretty. It was lovely to see all the trees in blossom along the river.

The village is dominated by a beautiful church which sits high on the red rock outcrop, with a winding path up to it.

As with all old churches there were some gorgeous headstones.

There was also some beautiful embroidery done by the local Mothers’ Union and WI.

I have seen a similar Mary stitching in other churches so maybe it was a common thing for the Union to make.

In the church there was also this very unusual stitched map. There were cross stitched pictures done from photos of village locations with an embroidered map of the village, and information about the houses.

It was there I discovered that the village had some old Rock houses. Similar to the cave houses in Spain, these are a feature of this area.

There were two old ones in the centre of the village, clearly long abandoned but it looked like one had maybe been used for a Nativity or Santa’s Grotto.

I love little wanders like this, off the main tourist trail, it is so interesting what you find. I ended with a nice pint of cider watching a boat go through the lock, all in the name of canal history research you understand!

The van is now sorted properly, I needed to live in it again for a while to work out where things would be be stored and maximise my space.

I will be going back to my sister’s tomorrow and leaving Katy behind for a few months. I still have lots of adventures planned though so will be back here with more of those soon.

Hope you all have a good week, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

‘Here within the Severn Valley ‘

The secondary school I went to was a very traditional one, with a founder’s day and a school song which started with this line. I do also remember something about it being ‘bright with gardens and rich in streams’.

We also had four different houses that you belonged to, a bit like Hogwart’s, and my house was Severn. The others were Avon, Bredon and Cotswold.

So I grew up knowing the Severn Valley quite well, at least my part of it, but have been keen to explore other areas on my UK trips. I am currently camping in Worcestershire, just outside a little village called Wolverley.

I chose this location as it is right by the canal as well so I’ve been doing some canal walks and visiting some canal heritage sites. There are also squirrels that play in front of the trees and I love seeing them.

The River Severn was a very important one in terms of trade in the area. It is the longest river in the UK and runs from its source in Wales, through the major cities of Worcester and Gloucester to join the sea near Bristol. This meant that the river, and the canals that joined it, were vitally important for trade.

I have always loved visiting canals, living so close to the one in Marsden I walked there a lot. It was doing the history of canals course with the WEA last autumn thar gave me a new appreciation of what feats of engineering they are. I love all heritage and appreciate industrial heritage just as much as the grand houses that I love.

Walking alongside this part of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal you can only marvel at the rock that had to be cut through to make the route. Many routes followed contour lines and so this canal has many bends in it.

It is also very wide in places, making it good for trade, though there are lots of locks that can still only take one boat at a time. Ultimately it was these delays that made the new railways so much more competitive, and so many were closed.

Happily there has been a lot of restoration for leisure purposes and so boats can be seen up and down this canal. Many of the houses also have their own moorings. I love the decorations in the second photo from one of the canalside houses.

I also visited Stourport on Severn, which in the Georgian era was the second biggest inland port in the UK. The canal linked with the river and with the Trent and Mersey canal, enabling goods to be transported north.

The river was very high, probably as a result of all the snow that we had last week melting. There are often floods in this area.

Thankfully the canal basins have been saved and although there is no trade now, there are places to hire narrow boats and the surrounding wharves and canal hotels have been preserved.

It has been lovely being back camping in Katy and I have not been too cold at all. There was one night where it was -3 and I woke up to ice on the inside of the windows, but I was warm and toasty with my fleeces and hot water bottles.

I have a couple of new things in her, the mandala I stitched looks very lovely and I have a cute new storage tin. A friend had a similar one which I loved so found this on Ebay.

I was also given these cute lavender sachets for Christmas and they have the same fabric as my cushion backs. So all is very pretty in Katy!

I am also planning a couple of National Trust visits and some woodland walking so will hopefully be able to post about those before I return to Ellen’s next week.

I hope that you are all having a good weekend, the sun is shining here and it feels very spring like, there are so many daffodils around which is lovely.

Whatever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A little rest stop

I am currently enjoying a longer than planned visit to my old home village of Marsden. I spent a week at my sister’s getting Katy sorted, and then had a wonderful drive to Ellen’s. It was brilliant to be back driving Katy after 5 months away. At Ellen’s I was able to volunteer at the food bank for a day.

They have so many new projects starting. They have recently set up a mobile supermarket for rural areas. They are also planting an allotment and orchard, and have plans for fixing donated white goods, such as washing machines and fridges, to donate to families in need. Although it is not good that they are still so needed, it is brilliant to see everything that they do.

I drove over to Kerry’s last weekend, and we went to Hardwick for a research visit. I have written most of one character timeline for my first novel, and am now starting on the other, which is set in the 1940s. I wanted to see what interpretation they have for Evelyn, the last owner of the house.

There were some really interesting display boards referring to the notebooks she kept when she started conserving the textiles. I am going to contact Chatsworth, where the archives are held, to see if I can visit in the summer to look at these.

One of my favourite displays was of Evelyn’s reproduction of one of Hardwick’s most famous pieces of embroidery. The original has ES in the centre, for Elizabeth Shrewsbury, Bess’s last married name. Evelyn’s had ED, for Evelyn Devonshire.

What was even more exciting than seeing that piece, was seeing her sewing bag. It is often these little human touches that mean the most when looking at textiles, and that is really what the novel is about. I have always been interested in the people behind the textiles, whose stories are often lost.

The plan was then to do a short tour of friends in Yorkshire before heading off to Derbyshire camping, but snow has altered that somewhat.

My lovely friends had all offered me accommodation for my stays, but when I got to Marsden on Monday it was clear that the forecast was not good for the rest of the week.

Two days of snow later and we were digging the cars out of 14 inches of it. In the picture below you can just see Katy buried in the snow!

So I am still at my friend Jane’s house, where I am house sitting for the weekend, and looking after her lovely Frankie, who is not very impressed by the snow as it is so deep. We have been cuddling up on the sofa in fleecy blankets.

Jane managed to get away to see her family by train, but was delayed by 24 hours. The snow has caused a lot of problems here with road closures, as the village is surrounded by moorland.

This has meant though that I have had chance to catch up with everyone here, and go to the new knitting group, which is located at the new wool shop in the village.

Woolly Tap is a gorgeous place, and they have knitting and crochet groups three times a week. If you are in the area do call in, they have so many beautiful things, including accessories and very cute bags.

The wool shop is located in one of the old mill buildings, very near these original tenter posts in the photo above, which were used to stretch the cloth as it dried. This is the origin of the phrase ‘on tenterhooks ‘ as the woollen cloth was hooked between the posts.

I am currently working on a little dress to go with the rainbow dolls that I shared with you a while ago. This yarn is from a friend and is a lovely variegated denim colour. As I will now be here until next week I am hoping to get the last bits of the other set of reindeer knitted, just the feet to go.

I am still hoping to do one week of camping, further south, weather permitting. I will then be back a Ellen’s for a while so can post the last pictures from Paphos then.

It will not be long until I am back in Spain, where it is currently 24 degrees, rather than 1, but I have really enjoyed being back here for a bit.

I hope you have all had a good few weeks, and have coped with any strange weather. Have a good week ahead, and see you all soon. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Paphos – old and new

My last few days in Paphos were spent visiting the local museums and the last of the archaeological sites. There are some wonderful things at both of the main sites, Tomb of the Kings and Nea Paphos.

I hadn’t expected such a wealth of ancient history and it was very well interpreted with QR codes to access a detailed guide and audio tour.

I was also very lucky with the weather, it was beautiful both days and there were stunning blue skies. After visiting the Tombs of the Kings I went on a walk along the coast as the sea was so beautifully blue.

The Tombs of the Kings are hugely impressive structures, it is not known if any actual kings were buried here, there may have been an Egyptian Ptolemy, but they were probably built for local dignitaries from the 4th century BC.

The scale of the site is very impressive. There are a range of different types of tombs, all carved down into the limestone.

My favourite one was this with the beautiful columns, the light inside the tomb was fantastic.

The second site, Nea Paphos, is near the harbour and the castle.

It contains remains of Roman villas, and a medieval castle. The site has been used for thousands of years and contains the most beautiful mosaics.

The largest house had mosaic floors in all of the rooms and this was in a covered structure.

Of course I kept seeing quilt inspiration everywhere!

It is very clear to see where the architectural inspiration comes from for modern Paphos, and indeed the world.

These fragments below were part of the collection at the Archaeological Museum in Paphos, which I will write more about in the next post.

The iconic architecture of columns is everywhere and there were some beautiful examples on the official buildings in Paphos.

I had an absolutely amazing time in Cyprus, I feel that I really managed to see a lot of the country in my five weeks,and really enjoyed all of the different walks I did, and the museums that I visited.

I have been back in the UK for a week now, briefly at Ellen’s, and mostly at my sister’s in Worcester. We went to a very good music festival at the weekend. I have also been getting the van MOTed, insured, and sorting out booking campsites for the rest of this trip, and when I return to the UK in the summer.

It has been wonderful to be re-united with Katy, I have bought her some new seat covers which go beautifully with the latest mandala embroidery. When she is all set up again in a couple of weeks I will take some more pictures of her. I also bought a great new sticker for her from the festival.

I am off back up North tomorrow, spending a week catching up with family and friends before setting off on my next set of camping adventures. I’ll be doing some walking, hopefully, and a little bit of visiting canals, following upon some of the things that I learnt in my recent history of canals course.

I will be back soon with the final one of the Paphos posts, until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A cluster of cloisters

I don’t know what the collective term for cloisters really is, but I saw so many on my trip to the Troodos mountains. The trip specifically exists to visit three of the many monasteries in the Troodos mountains here in Cyprus, and was an excellent day out, combining two of my favourite things, mountains and religious architecture.

As you may know if you are a regular reader, I love going on coach trips. Even though I now have the van, being on a coach trip with a knowledgeable guide, and a driver who can cope with the endless, very twisty mountain roads, is an excellent way to see the area and the trip was brilliant.

I was picked up at one of the local hotels just 10 minutes walk away, and we also got to stop for a delicious buffet lunch, and visit one of the mountain villages as well. A very worthwhile day out that I highly recommend if you come here.

The drive through the mountains was well worth the trip alone, it was brilliant to see such a different side of Cyprus, including quite a lot of snow.

They have actually had less snow here than previous years, however there are four ski resorts in these mountains. We drove all the way around Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Cyprus.

The first monastery was the very small Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery, in a beautiful location overlooking one of the dams.

This monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the legend of finding an icon in a golden pomegranate tree.

The monastery was a beautifully kept stone structure, and you can see how life there would have been peaceful and allowed for lots of contemplation.

The second visit was to the Kykos monastery, where the icon in the church is said to have been painted by St Luke.

There are lots of representations of this icon, in mosaic and wall paintings. I bought a small version to bring home with me as well.

This is one of the largest, richest and most famous of the Cypriot monasteries, as it is where the first president of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios 3rd, was educated and was a monk. Our guide told us a lot about his life and filled in some of the gaps in Cypriot history for me.

The archbishop was heavily involved in the fight for Cypriot independence from the British and in the later invasion by the Turkish army.

It is a stunningly beautiful place, everywhere you look there are courtyards and wall paintings and the most incredible mosaics.

I think these are my two favourite paintings, the Annunciation and the Nativity, both from this painted ceiling.

There is just so much to see and take in.

Cypriot monasteries, and churches, are not without turbulent histories. Many have been damaged by earthquakes, the last large one here was in 1953.

There have also been long periods, such as during the Ottoman Empire, when the dominant religion has changed, so monasteries have been abandoned or heavily taxed. This monastery is the fourth rebuilding on the site and dates from the mid 1700s.

There were no pictures allowed inside the church so I found this one on the internet.

It doesn’t really do justice to the absolutely stunning ceiling, which was painted in the most gorgeous shade of blue. There was also an amazing reliquary display next to the church. Many items have been donated to the monastery by visiting officials, and there are multiple saints’ bones in decorated caskets here.

The final monastery was in the village of Odomos, a wine region village which has been restored.

The village houses around the monastery square now host cafes and shops, as the area is very popular with tourists.

It was lovely to see some of the traditional old buildings, as I have not had the opportunity to do that before now.

This monastery is now closed, though its church still remains open. Here there is a piece of rope which is said to have come from when Jesus was tied to the cross.

This was reportedly given to the village by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, while she was travelling through Cyprus from Jerusalem. There is also a piece of the cross that she gave them as well, both relics encased in silver crosses within the church.

They also had a great little museum with some 18th century Russian goldwork.

I found a lovely shop selling actual traditional lace so bought a little doily. I plan to frame it for the craft space at home. Truly a wonderful day with lots of my favourite things 😉

I have been to see the Roman sites here over the last few days as well, and visited two very different museums. I’m hoping to squeeze another couple in before my return to the UK the middle of next week.

I have also spent time with my friends from Spain and we are having a Cyprus branch of our Knit and Natter group on Monday afternoon. Lynne has promised to teach me how to finally crochet flowers, so I am very excited about that!

Will return with some more loveliness for you soon. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.


Now that I have been retired for 18 months I have had plenty of time to think about my life, where I have been and where I am going, in both a literal and metaphorical sense.

I have spent a large amount of that time outside, because I am now able to do that. This is in stark contrast to the year before I finished work, where like many people, I was at home more than ever, stuck at the kitchen table in front of the laptop. We didn’t go into the university at all for 6 months of that year, a fact that seems unbelievable now.

It is especially strange as my job used to involve so much travelling. To and from work every day, two days a week out doing placement visits, and sometimes even to places like China, which I was lucky enough to visit three times for work.

A large part of my professional life, as a teacher trainer, and working on an early years degree, was encouraging students to reflect on what they were doing. It was an essential part of their assessments, writing reflective journals, summarising what they have learnt. I have spent hours teaching people how to reflect, using theoretical models.

My novel, which I have been spending lots of time working on recently, has as one of its main characters a newly retired teacher who is passionate about embroidery, (not an autobiography I promise!), who spends a lot of time reflecting about her new life and the contrast with her old one.

So what have I learnt? I have always loved being outdoors but have realised that it is absolutely essential to me to be out, seeing hills, clouds, rivers, the sea. I know I am very lucky to have been able to travel extensively, but am just as thrilled by the Peak District that I spent 35 years living next to, as Cyprus or Spain. A beautiful forest or sky can be found anywhere, most of these pictures were taken in accessible parts of the UK.

I have learnt that I love being by myself. As a teacher you are always surrounded by people, you talk to them all the time. There are many days now that I don’t talk to anyone at all. I stay alone in my house in Spain, or my van, or the apartment I am staying in, and I am perfectly happy being by myself. After so many years of talking, talking, talking every day, I was often sick of the sound of my own voice. The silence in my life is wonderful.

I have confirmed that I am a creature of habit, even in a new place I like to quickly create a little routine for myself. That may sound strange given that I am travelling so much, and constantly changing things but essentially each day comes to have a similar structure.

I also know that I am still very goal oriented. However, the life that I used to have was all about completing targets set by others, and how I could make that work. Mark eight assignments today, prepare two powerpoints by Wednesday, write 4,000 words of your doctorate at the weekend.

My goals are now directed towards my crafting, my novel and general self improvement. That last one makes it sound as if I think there is a lot wrong with me 😉 but by that I mean studying, such all the courses I have been doing, and improving my fitness by walking, cycling and swimming.

I have learnt that other people consider me very brave, to learn to drive at such a late age and go off in a camper van, to travel alone so much. That has surprised me, as I consider what I am doing as very normal. Millions of people travel all the time, and the fact that I am technically on my own doesn’t really concern me as I am always surrounded by people on the planes, trains, buses, roads and campsites. I always work on the basis that people are generally kind and someone would help me if I needed it.

I have learnt that I need to work on being more flexible in my approach to the future. I used to be a big fan of the 5 year plan, but a bit like when governments try it for the economy, life often gets in the way. The situation with Brexit, visas, political events, and post Covid situations, have meant that I am not really sure where I am going to be next year, or the year after. And that is ok, if a little mind blowing to someone who always knew what she would be doing at every point in a year!

I am not sure where I will be in the future, but do know that it has to involve lots of opportunity to be by the sea, or moorland, or in the woods, or just anywhere that is not a building. My life has become focused around the line from one of my favourite poems, ‘Leisure’, by William Henry Davies. He had a very unconventional life, so if you are interested in finding out more, follow the link.

The poem starts , ‘What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare?’

This post has been illustrated by some of my favourite stand and stare moments over the last 18 months. All those moments where the place that I am in so beautiful in some way I could just stay there forever, standing and staring, watching the clouds or the sea.

Thank you to all of you for reading my blog posts, and for all the lovely comments and likes that I have got from you. It means so much to me to have this blog, and to know that other people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I hope that you also get time in your lives to appreciate what is around you and just enjoy being where you are.

I have been exploring ancient Paphos today, and have an exciting coach trip planned for tomorrow, so will be back soon to share all of that with you.

Meanwhile have a good rest of the week, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A walk around Paphos, and surprise, I found crafting!

I have now been in Paphos for a few days and am loving the small town vibe here after being in such big cities for the past two weeks. I am back in an apartment which has a lovely balcony where I sit every morning in the sun and write.

Much as I loved Larnaca, and at the risk of sounding spoilt, hotel life is fine for a little time, but it’s lovely to have somewhere you can just chill and not go out if you don’t want to. That is part of what this trip is all about, I will be spending winter somewhere new each year, so I want to work out what suits me best.

I have met up with friends, from Spain and Cyprus, and am looking forward to seeing them again before I leave next week. The rest of the time has just been beach walks, trips up to the old town and practical things like doing my washing and shopping.

The coast here is beautiful, very much like Aiya Napa, as it is mostly rocky coves with the most gorgeous hotels and houses along the beachfront. The sea is wonderfully blue again, I have been so lucky with the weather, it was even a bit too warm at points yesterday!

More million euro plus houses to admire!

The old town has been extensively restored, unlike Larnaca and Nicosia there are few derelict buildings, and one of the things that I really love is that all of the buildings have been painted different colours. Around the old market hall there are lots of cute little shops and cafes in pastel colours.

As with all of Cyprus there is a great focus on the arts and one of the places that I came across was the old caravansary or han. This is a resting place for long distance travellers who were travelling in caravans with their animals.

There were several in Paphos and this one was operational until the 1950s, having accommodation upstairs and stabling below. The building then fell into ruin until it was restored in 2017, and now is full of craft shops and cafes, as well as hosting events on a stage built within the complex.

It was brilliant to see photos of the restoration outside the building and great that it has been preserved for other uses.

I was busy taking pictures and initially didn’t notice that one of the external walls was covered in crochet mandalas.

They covered the whole wall, and they have all been made by a group called Peace2Peace who work to promote crafts amongst women of different cultures. That is such a brilliant idea, a friend in Marsden runs a similar group through her refugee support project and a lot of my old craft room stash went to them.

The display looked fantastic, and reminded of the gorgeous mandalas I bought from my friend Gale in Spain for mine and Ellen’s bedrooms. They were all beautiful designs and it is hard to pick a favourite but I think these two are gorgeous.

I love mandala designs and have just bought some new seat covers for Katy with a mandala print on that I can’t wait to fit next week.

One of my targets for when I get back to Spain must be to get someone to teach me how to crochet flowers. We have some excellent crocheters in the group, and I have had this book for about 10 years now. Just think of all the places I could put crochet flowers in Katy!

Because there has been so much restoration there were not too many old doors and balconies but I did spot a few, along with many lovely shops selling arts and crafts.

This was the entrance to a gorgeous little taverna, with a courtyard garden. It reminded me of the one described in the novel I recently read about Cyprus, ‘The Island of Missing Trees’.

I loved these hand painted shoe makers lasts.

I will be spending the rest of my time in Paphos visiting the archaeological sites and museums so will be posting about those before I leave. I also intend to wander along many more beautiful bits of coastline before I leave to go back to dear old England next week, just so I can remember what sun looks like after I have been there a while 😉

I hope that you are all having a good week and have nice things planned for the week ahead. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.