Time Flies in Hunstanton, England!

The Breckland Brass Band played in Hunstanton.

The days are flying past. I can't believe that I have been in England for two weeks already and haven't done half the things I intended to do! Last Sunday, Jessica and I went to Hunstanton,with Clare, where she was playing in the Breckland Brass Band. We had such fun taking photos and listening to the band.

 Clare can be seen in the centre, playing her E Flat Horn.

 Jessica with her camera.

All this week, John and Jessica have been at Barracudas, where John is the manager. It is a children's activity camp, designed to keep children occupied during the long summer holidays. They cover an enormous amount of activities, Jessica's list of activities for this week includes Aqua-slide, Archery, Arts and Craft, Badminton, Bench Ball, Bouncy Castle, Circus Skills, Climbing Wall, Dance/Drama, Dodge Ball, Face Painting, Football, Motor Sports, Parachute Games, Rounders, Swimming, Trampoline and Water-fights. Jessica loves going to Barracudas and thoroughly enjoys taking part in all the activities.

Clare had a day off on Friday, so we took a trip to Holt, a place we had last visited in July 2008. Holt is a very popular tourist destination in Norfolk and everywhere was quite crowded. We enjoyed walking around the ancient streets and had lunch in Byfords Restaurant and delicatessen, which is in the oldest house in the village.

David and Clare in Holt. (They hadn't realised they were standing under this sign!) I might add that the the term "Normal for Norfolk" (or NFN) is used by doctors to describe someone who, anywhere else would be considered strange, but is not unusual in Norfolk! I think is is something to do with the fact that, in olden days, Norfolk was quite isolated and in-breeding was fairly common.

 Clare and David each chose the Cheeseboard

I chose the Deliboard for lunch.

In Holt, we came across these strange creatures with their handler.


A Very Busy Week in Norfolk, England

We've had such fun this week. We arrived at Stanstead on Friday, to be met by Clare. On Saturday, we drove to Boston to meet Margie at the Spirit of Endeavour, and swapped David for Jessica (Jessica had been staying with Margie for a week). After an amazing lunch, David departed with Margie for New Waltham, and Clare, Jessica and I headed for Hockering.

That evening, we attended Professor Chris's retirement party. It was a party with a difference. John organised games to begin with - we played handball, football and rounders. This was followed by a wonderful curry supper, during which everyone had a chance to say good things about Chris, and we ended the evening with a lesson on Salsa dancing.

All through dinner we could watch photos from Professor Chris's scientific career.

 The assembled guests. Can you spot Clare, John and Jessica?

On Sunday, we were thrilled that Séan and Beth were able to join us for lunch at the Rivergarden in Thorpe St Andrew. It always makes me so happy that the younger generation of the Coughlan clan keep in touch with one another. We are all so blessed to have such wonderful children, they are such a joy.

 From the left, Jessica, me, John, Séan, Beth, Clare and John.

 Séan and Jessica met for the first time.

 Jessica and Séan played together.

On Monday, Jessica and I were 'ladies who lunch', before catching the train to Thetford so we could watch John's school production of Grease. The evening was a great success, and the children put everything into the songs and choreography. Well done all round!

For the rest of the week, Jessica and I have been mainly shopping, although we did manage one lovely walk in the countryside with Grandpa.

We saw this piper in Norwich.

 On our walk we came across this lovely lake...

...and these strange-looking haystacks.


A Beautiful Day on Burgazada

Every time we passed by Burgazada on the ferry, we wondered about this church. 
Now we know that it is the Greek Orthodox Church of St John.

On Tuesday, we spent the day on Burgazada, one of the Princes Islands off the coast of Istanbul, in the sea of Marmara. Burgazada is the third largest of the 9 Princes Islands, and is a lot quieter than either of the two largest islands, Büyükada oand Heybeliada. We have been meaning to visit this island for a long time, as we have been curious to see the Greek Orthodox Church of St John, that towers over the settlement there. The day was glorious and we deliberately took the slowest ferry from Bostancı, the one that visits Büyükada and Heybeliada first, so that we could enjoy the sea air.

David surveys the scene.

On arrival in Burgazada, our first task was to have a full Turkish breakfast in one of the beach-front cafés, before touring the island in a horse drawn buggy. The tour didn't take too long as the island is only about 4 square kilometres in size! But the trip was well worth it, as we saw some spectacular views and, travelling in a horse-drawn buggy, always induces in me a feeling a calm and tranquillity.

David enjoying his typically Turkish breakfast.

Our carriage awaits.

After our tour, we walked up to the church, known locally as the Aya Yani. The original church is thought to have been built in 876, although its present form is a result of major restoration in 1896. The church is very beautiful inside with lots of valuable icons, and other religious artifacts. Interestingly, it is one of three Greek Orthodox Churches on the island, alongside only one mosque and a synagogue.

The richly decorated iconostasis that separates the Sanctuary from the nave.

The pulpit and lectern.

One of the many beautiful icons.

A painted wooden panel depicting Saint John.

Burgazada was once entirely Greek, and the Patriarch Methodius was exiled here. Other notable inhabitants were Antigonus, one of Alexander's generals, and the Emperors Vasil, and Michael III. Today, the island is also noted for Sait Faik Abasıyanık, a famous Turkish writer, who made the island his home. Burgazada has 1,500 inhabitants in the winter, which swells to 15,000 in the summer when people from Istanbul arrive to take up their summer residences.

Turkish Fishermen on the Sea of Marmara.


Rain or shine, it's all happening here in Istanbul!

The vuvuzela has come to Istanbul and is being sold all along Bağdad Caddesi. Fortunately, all we can hear is the odd mournful bleat, as no one seems to have fully mastered the art of blowing one yet. I await the coming football season with trepidation. Will the vuvuzela become an integral part of Turkish football matches or not? For those who missed the graphic representation of the first vuvuzelas, I reproduce it here (unashamedly lifted from Vanessa's Facebook page). It is too funny!

The vuvuzela: annoying people since 1660.

It is summer here in Istanbul, but what a strange summer it is. The weather ranges between searing heat and cooler days with pouring rain, which is surprising, as the climatic patterns in this part of the world should be hot and dry in the summer, and cold and wet in the winter.

On good days our local beaches are full and there are far fewer people in the streets. Many people have already left Istanbul for their summer homes.

Locals enjoying a lazy day at the beach

Some have taken to the water to escape the heat.

This is good news for the traffic, which is managing to flow swiftly along our street, making it difficult to cross. David and I were standing on the edge of the road waiting for a break in the traffic the other day, when a taxi driver, who was parked nearby, got out of his cab and escorted us across the road. He just held up his hand and stopped the traffic. I think he thought we we were being too cautious.

On sunny weekends, we often hear bands playing as they pass by, leading a group promoting one product or another. They often give out free samples too. These were giving out free caps.

...and these two were giving out free Menthos peppermints.

But today it is raining, so there are no bands, but plenty of people shopping (a non-stop activity in our street).

Les Parapluies d' Istanbul

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I couldn't resist this one!