Monthly Archives: May 2020

9 Greek Islands – Rhodes

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Rhodes.

Visiting the old town of Rhodes is a memorable experience as there are historical sights from different eras rubbing shoulders with each other at every turn. Most of the old town is medieval and was built in the 14th Century by the Knights Hospitaller. The old town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and is an incredibly popular place to visit. Indeed, when a cruise ship arrives in the harbour, avoid the main arterial streets, Sokratous and Ippoton, and head south into the warren of cobbled alleys where there are fewer shops and restaurants, and discover the many interesting sights of this area, not all of which are mentioned in guidebooks.

Starting in the north-west of the Old Town, the first major sight the visitor comes across is the Palace of the Grand Masters, which was rebuilt by the Italians after an ammunition explosion destroyed the original building in 1856. The idea was that the reconstructed Palace would be an ideal place for Mussolini to spend time during the summer, but he never came near the place. The outside appearance is true to the original building, as authentic medieval plans were used in the reconstruction, but the same can’t be said for the inside, which was designed to make a Fascist dictator feel at home.

In front of the restored palace, the Street of the Knights heads due eastwards towards the sea. Known as Ippoton, this street housed several of the Inns where the Knights were housed, based on their ethnic and linguistic background. Knights from Provence were based at the Inn of Provence on Ippoton. Also housed on Ippoton were Knights from France at the Inn of France. The Inn of The Auvergne and the Inn of England are found on the street called Appelou, which intersects with Ippoton at the Archaeological Museum.

This Museum is housed in an airy building, formerly the Knight’s Hospital. It’s not hard to like a museum where the staff have gone to the trouble of stacking the cannon balls into pyramids. The main objects of interest, for me at least, mostly dated from the 6th-Century BC. Faience vases in the form of hedgehogs, tweezers and cheese graters, terracotta donkeys, and a faience pendant of a lion, no bigger than a thumbnail. Also of great interest were objects from nearby civilisations including figurines of the Egyptian gods Bes, Thoth, and Horus looking like Aztec gods, bedecked as they were with feathers.      

9 Greek Islands – Delos

When you read this book, you will learn about the island of Delos in The Cyclades.

The inspiration for my travel is my own father. He always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Delos.

Today, few people live permanently on Delos. There are no hotels on the island and no boats or yachts are supposed to moor there overnight. Ferry boats can come to Delos from Tinos, Naxos, and Mykonos, so it is best to arrive early. 

After paying the entrance fee, grab a free map, and head into the site. On the map, I followed the Blue Line around until it intersected with the Brown Line, which I followed to the Stadium Quarter. I retraced my steps and then continued on the Blue Line. I retraced my steps again and followed the Green Line to the Theatre Quarter. All this took about four hours. This is a big sight and take plenty of water with you on your journey around.

The first open area is called the Agora of the Competaliasts, who were Roman merchants who worshipped the Lares Competales, the gods or guardian spirits of crossroads. There are two small temples dedicated to Hermes here. The path continues to The Sacred Way, formed between two porticos, which leads to the Propulaea, the main gateway to the Sanctuary of Apollo. The first features in this area include The Agora of the Delians, The Temple of the Athenians and the Poros Temple. There’s also the Oikos of the Naxians (people from the island of Naxos) and the base of a huge marble base of a colossal statue of Apollo dedicated by the Naxians around 600 BCE. An oikos is a treasury where the offerings given by the people of Naxos were placed for safekeeping. Nearby, there are five further treasuries where the offerings of other cities were kept. These treasuries are close to the Bouleuterion, the Prytaneion, and the Ekklesiasterion used as assembly rooms for the deputies, dignitaries, and citizens respectively. All these different buildings/areas are shown in detail on the map, but walking around, there are so many walls and parts of columns scattered around that occasionally it’s difficult to discern where one temple or building ends and another begins. Even though there are no restricted areas in this part of the site, visitors are not allowed to walk on the walls to get their bearings.

The path continues past the Temple of Leto and the enormous Agora of the Italians before coming to the most famous part of the site, the Naxian Lions. Sadly, none of the lions on their plinths are originals dating from the 7th Century BCE. Three of the original lions completely disappeared and no one knows where to, another was looted by the Venetians, and the rest are in the on-site museum. Opposite the lions is the Sacred Lake where Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis. This lake was filled up in 1925 due to an epidemic of malaria, but it would be wonderful if this could be reversed and the lake restored to its former glory as it would certain bring some variety to the landscape. To the north west of the Naxians Lions the columned building housed the association of merchants from Beirut.

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.

Manton Rempville – 6

This is my second homage to the detective story. I’ve always loved mystery stories by Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, and Dorothy L Sayers. I watched many DVDs of detective series from the UK and this was the spark to start the creative process. I have tried to add some humour into the book. The Manton Rempville Murders is the second in the Inspector Knowles Mysteries and reacquaints the reader with Knowles and his Detective Sergeant Rod Barnes, who were first introduced in The Goat Parva Murders.

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“They sound like a firm of undertakers to me,” replied Barnes, “but presumably they’re the gardeners or the chauffeurs or one of each.”

Barnes phone rang and he listened intently for around a minute, while Knowles tried to work out why anyone would shape a box hedge into the shape of a box. “These people have too much leisure time and too much money,” he thought as Barnes finished his call and look at him with a smile on his face.

“That was PC Smythe – she has run some checks on Edward Morgan and guess where he used to work?”

“He was a knife-grinder,” said Knowles, not expecting to be right – he didn’t like it when Barnes smiled at him; he felt like Barnes enjoyed knowing things that he didn’t.

“He might have done something similar in his role as a sub-gardener here at Manton Rempville Hall.”

“When did he stop working as a knife-grinding sub-gardener here at Manton Rempville Hall?” enquired Knowles.

“Three months ago, yesterday. He was dismissed because some money went missing from the house.”

“Really, well I wonder whether he was ever given the opportunity to deny the allegations? I don’t suppose we shall ever know, now that he’s dead.”

As he spoke, Miss Newton returned with two 17-year old boys and a strikingly beautiful red-headed girl of about 19.

“Hello, I am Toby Johnson,” said one of the boys, shaking Barnes by the hand, “this is my friend from Harrow, Basil Fawcett, and his amazing sister Henry. She’s a stunner isn’t she? You must be the police who want to interview us.”

“We are Toby,” said Knowles, “I am Inspector Knowles and this is Detective Sergeant Barnes.”

“Anything of importance?” enquired Basil Fawcett, tossing his head slightly so that his brown hair fell in front of his eyes. He cleared it away with the back of his left hand.

“It’s very important I can assure you,” said Knowles, “and we will let you know in the fullness of time.”

“Come on Basil,” said Henry Fawcett, “Let’s leave the policeman to their own devices and go in to the lower library. By the way, Sergeant Barnes, my real name is Henrietta, not Henry. If you’d like to make a note of that.”

And with that the three walked into the hall followed at an appropriate distance by Miss Newton.

Barnes had turned slightly red. Knowles looked at him and shook his head.

“Have you made a note, Sergeant?”

“No sir, I haven’t – I had realized she was a girl.”

“I can tell, Sergeant Barnes, as I think she could too. Think of a nice cold shower and you’ll be fine.”            

“I wonder who this?” said Barnes, pleased to be able to change the subject, “it’s probably the gardener judging by his gloves.”

“Afternoon, gentlemen, are you the police who require my presence in the lower library?”

“Indeed we are, I am Sergeant Barnes and this is Inspector Knowles.”

“Please to meet you both, I am the gardener, Jim Jenkins, I will see you in there in a few minutes; it’ll take me an age to take my boots off.”

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing mysteries and thrillers, especially on topics close to my heart. A list of my books, both about travel and other subjects, can be found here.

9 Greek Islands – Mykonos

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Mykonos.

It may seem strange to include Mykonos in a book about history, but there’s plenty of things of historical interest to see on this lovely island. In Mykonos town, there’s a Folklore Museum, an Archaeological Museum, and a Maritime Museum. There are the famous windmills and the area known as Little Venice where the houses come right up to the water’s edge. Lena’s House, next to the Maritime Museum, is a completely restored merchant house from over one hundred years ago.

There’s an interesting church called the Paraportiani, which means “Our Lady of the Side Gate” in Greek, as its doorway was found in the side gate of the entrance to the Kastro area. Construction of this church began in 1425, but wasn’t completed until the 17th century. This whitewashed church comprises five separate chapels which have been joined together: four chapels (dedicated to Saints Anargyroi, Anastasia, Eustathios, and Sozon) form the ground floor and the fifth chapel has been built above them.

On the waterfront near the Old Harbour is where you will find the Kazárma building, which provided accommodation for the soldiers of Manto Mavrogenous, a heroine of the Greek Revolution. The first floor served as her personal residence. When the war began, Manto went from Tinos to Mykonos and invited the leaders of the island to join the revolution. She equipped, manned and “privateered” at her own expense, two ships with which she pursued the pirates who attacked Mykonos and other islands of the Cyclades. On 22 October 1822, under her leadership the Mykonians repulsed the Ottoman Turks, who had debarked soldiers onto the island. Manto also equipped 150 men to campaign in the Peloponnese and sent forces and financial support to Samos, when the island was threatened by the Turks. Later, Mavrogenous sent another corps of fifty men to the Peloponnese, who took part in the Siege of Tripolitsa and the fall of the town to the Greek rebels. 

Alefkántra or “Little Venice” is an 18th century district, dominated by grand captains’ mansions with colourful balconies and stylish windows overlooking the waves as they crash onto the shore.  

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.

My lucky travels

Travel is an amazing privilege, you probably realise that now you’ve been deprived of it. I know I do. We should never take it for granted. 

Julian’s Journeys is a collection of 34 travel stories. These stories are part memoir, part travelogue, and part revelation about the effect travel has on me.

The tales are very local – in Italy, the nun at a bus station in Catania in Sicily was incredibly knowledgeable about the local delicacy, mortadella. I was waiting for a bus to the beautiful town of Taormina with views over Mount Etna, the active volcano. Later in the day, the nun’s recommendation proved accurate.
In Bulgaria, I became slowly drunk when a local villager offered me the opportunity to sample his homemade slivovitz in his garden – all the while we wrote down football results on a piece of paper as the sun beat down from a blue sky.
I report a conversation I had with a super-smooth carpet-seller in Istanbul. He was giving me directions to the major tourist sights and, strangely enough, all those directions went past his shop. How amazing is that?

9 Greek Islands – Paros

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Paros.

The early Christian complex of the Ekatondapyliani comprises a large basilica dedicated to the Assumption of our Lady, the elegant chapel of Aghios Nikolaos to the northeast and the ceremonial Baptistery to the south and is all found within a walled compound which also contains The Byzantine Museum, places to eat, and also areas where people attending weddings and funerals can relax before their service. 

Entering the church, the marble pillars soaring to the ceiling in the nave immediately catch your eye. Worshippers are busy moving around the various icons within the church, kissing them, hanging votive offerings in front of them, and praying in front of them. The votive offerings depict the subject of what the worshipper was hoping to receive help about, so people with an injured arm or leg left a votive depicting an arm or a leg whereas people seeking a house left a votive depicting a house. Other votives depicted ears, eyes, and attractive men. The votives were coloured bronze, silver, and gold and had obviously been bought somewhere. I wondered whether the person choosing the colour of the metal genuinely felt that buying a gold-coloured votive instead of a bronze-coloured votive would make the slightest difference to the saint shown in the icon?

Without any warning or fanfare, a coffin was brought into the centre of the church and placed on a table. The top was removed and taken outside. The most important icon in the church was positioned to the left of the coffin and four chairs were set up to the right.

The mourners, dressed in dark clothing without being formal, came into the church, five priests, in full Orthodox regalia, appeared from behind the altar, and three casually dressed singers, forming the choir, stood in front of microphones that had magically appeared from behind a column. A man holding an ornamental Greek cross stood at the front of the coffin and four female mourners seated themselves to the right of the coffin – they were the dead man’s immediate family. The male mourners, one wearing a T-shirt that had the word “Affliction” emblazoned on the back, stood behind the coffin

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.

She’s Coming For You

She’d loved animals her whole life.

When her friends expressed their sadness that no one was hunting the hunters of animals, she decided to rectify the situation. She was the ideal candidate. In her normal job, as a soldier behind enemy lines, she’d killed animal abusers when given the chance and the animals were given some respite from their ordeals.

Now she was not undercover. She was on holiday, travelling on the trains in Spain and Portugal.

There were no colleagues to back her up. She would have to take risks.

She doesn’t keep a diary of the deaths, but does like to write about the history of the places she has visited. This makes her seem like a normal human being – even when she isn’t.

Let the hunt begin here

9 Greek Islands – Tinos

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Tinos.

Tinos is recommended for those people who want to visit an island in The Cyclades that has more visitors from the rest of Greece than non-Greek visitors. Tinos is the most important Orthodox centre of worship in Greece but is also an important Catholic centre too, due to the Venetians holding out against the Turks until 1715, a lot longer than the rest of Greece. This mixture of religions is so rare in Greece and gives the island a particular character.

The main reason for the influx of Greek visitors is the church at the top of the hill in Tinos Town. The Panayia Evangelistra was built on the spot where an amazing icon was found in 1822 by a local nun, Ayia Pelayia. The nun is now the ‘patron saint’ of Tinos. The timing couldn’t have been better as the Greek War of Independence had only started the previous year and the ‘chance’ discovery served to reinforce the relationship between the Greek Orthodox Church and the cause of Greek independence from Turkey. 

In the church today, visitors can still pay homage to the icon, even though it’s well hidden beneath a layer of jewels and other gifts. Some pilgrims ascend the plush, red-carpeted stairs to the church on their knees, symbolising the veneration the icon can generate in some believers. In the crypt there’s a mausoleum to the sailors who were killed when the Greek cruiser, Elli, was torpedoed by an Italian submarine when she was at anchor of Tinos in 1940. There’s another memorial to this ship on the waterfront about three hundred yards to the east of the ferry terminal. The tragedy was that the Elli was taking part in the celebrations of the Feast of the Assumption when she was torpedoed and no one was on lookout as Greece was still at peace with the Fascist states of Northern Europe.

Tinos is renowned throughout Greece for the excellence of their craftsmen in producing marble ornamentation and this is particularly evident in the town of Pyrgos with its School of Fine Arts and Museum of Marble Crafts. Tinos is also famous for its dovecotes – there’s even a dovecote trail to follow if you hire a car.  I’d heard a village called Tarambados had a great selection of dovecotes, so I caught the bus to the interior and got off at the village. There was no one around, but I saw at least five dovecotes in the mid-distance and sure enough there were soon some signs, which took me by streams, through fields, and along walls. The fields were full of vegetables and the hedges and low trees were full of the sounds of insects, especially bees who were attracted by the copious wild flowers. The dovecotes were bigger than the houses in the village and were attractively decorated with intricate triangles, circles, and honeycomb patterns.

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.