Monday, 25 June 2018

Cyprus . . .An Unforgettable Island in the Eastern Mediterranean.Sea.

Re-visiting the sunshine island of Cyprus.

I introduced you to Cyprus last year on the pre-release tour of Island Interludes. Now let
us explore a little more . . . On the map you will find Cyprus nestling south of Turkey.

One feature of Cyprus for those nervous of driving on the opposite side of the road (left) in the UK is that in Cyprus it is just the same. On our first visit to this sunny island we took advantage of this and hired a car. These were the earlier days before we had ventured out on our Gold Wing travels and it was all new to us.
Picture of book on a beach.

Escaping from the intense heat of the south we headed into the cool forests and onwards to the Troodos Mountains.

Troodos Mountains.

"Heading inland from Limassol, our destination today was the Troodos Mountains and a visit to the Kykkos Monastery deep in the north-west of the mountains.
Away from the excellent roads of the coast we found a great difference as we ventured north into the mountains. Many very old trucks and other vehicles contrasted with newer and smarter ones. There were also, tractors. Driving high into the hills we were treated to spectacular views across the fertile land. The road was not quite so good here – just a tarmaced section with no markings and the sides of the road left rough.

Passing through a mountain village we stopped to explore. The streets of this village were lined with smart houses. Shop fronts were adorned with displays of lace, rugs and bedspreads draped over all manner of things like chairs and a washing line. Sunshades and umbrellas protected more delicate lace. A cat, from its position at the edge of a pavement, lazily washed itself. . . .
Eventually, we reached the Kykkos Monastery Museum. As no photographs are allowed we bought the video. We do remember that it was an amazing experience. From the back of our tickets, which cost £1.50 (Cyprus pounds) then, I can see from the small map that the main entrance led into a large courtyard. This led into another one and then a church.

On the left of the main entrance was the ticket office and sales room. From these led a room with ‘antiquities’ between these last two and the courtyard. Further on from the ticket and sales rooms was an enormous room which displayed Early Christian, Byzantine, and Post-Byzantine church vestments and vessels. Also, jewels and what jewels. They took our breath away. A small octagonal room housed manuscripts, documents, and books while a larger octagonal room on the other side displayed icons, wall paintings, and wood carvings.

Leaving the Monastery, we stopped along the road to drink in the views from this high vantage point in the mountains. The Troodos mountains with their many different types of trees are beautiful with the most fantastic views and between the leaves of the trees, glimpses of red-roofed houses tumbling down the mountainside. The whole setting was one of coolness, tranquillity, and timelessness. This coolness was greatly appreciated after the heat of the coast.

On the way down, we saw a garage/petrol station. It sported a Honda sign and proclaimed that it was a ‘Famous Garage’. The voices of children playing in a nearby school playground brought us back to reality. . ."

Rosalie Marsh

Friday, 1 June 2018

A Showcase Musical Interlude at Ty Pawb with '4 Squared' String Quartet.

A lunchtime event with a difference.

The latest showcase music event  in Ty Pawb, our new Arts, Community, Markets hub in Wrexham, was a medley of music from the talented '4 Squared' String Quartet of young musicians.
All are music students aged 18/19 years old who are going on to further studies at such prestigious seats of learning such a the Royal Welsh School of Music and Drama in Cardiff and the Birmingham Conservatoire.

Organised by the indefatigable and jovial Derek Jones of the Wrexham Symphony Orchestra,( it provided a platform for Abbie Jones (Viola), Catherine Gannon (Violin), Jes Holding (Violin) and Matthew Phillips (Cello) to not only share their music with the people of Wrexham at this free event but also to allow them to gain experience of playing outside of an orchestra.

From Shostakovich, Mozart, Dvorak and Edward Elgar to Ed Sheeran, Elvis Presley,Dexy's Midnight Runners, Leonard Cohen, Sam Smith and Lennon & McCartney the pace was ever-changing.

Well done to these young people. Helping to keep music alive in Wrexham.

(photos copyright Rosalie Marsh - by kind permission)

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

. . .and Onwards to Lanzarote.

Revisiting Lanzarote is Different Every Time.

Image of a map of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lanzarote lies to the north of Fuerteventura which we visited last time. You can see it on the map lying to the east of all the islands that lie just off the west coast of Africa. Arrecife is its capital city. On our first visit, my husband took the opportunity of going on an excursion to the late artist's unique studio home in Taro de Tahiche. (No photographs available.)

César Manrique.

No writing about Lanzarote would be complete without a mention of César Manrique, a native of Lanzarote and a famous artist and architect, who had a huge influence of the development and design of the island for the tourist industry into what we see today. He had was instrumental in stopping the development of hi-rise buildings which is why the tall hotel in Arrecife is the only one on the island. It can be seen for miles around. All other buildings are low rise.

My husband took advantage of the excursion to the late artist’s unique studio home in Taro de Tahiche where the Fundación César Manrique is based. He [my husband] was full of the design.
‘He built his home using the bubbles that had formed in the lava flow by joining several these bubbles together using excavation tunnelling to form rooms for various uses. Basically,’ he recounted, ‘it is all underground.’
My husband has recalled this after ten years, so deep are his impressions.

Following this visit, the tour headed towards the village of Guatiza, and the Jardín de Cactus or Cactus Garden, which again was designed by César Manrique. When he came back to the hotel, my husband was full of the amazing sights of the many cacti which are grown there but not being a botanist didn’t memorize details. Therefore, he has little recall of that visit, unlike the former visit which is imprinted on his mind feeding as it did his deep interest in his engineering and discovery side.

Below are some images of Lanzarote taken on a later visit- copyright Rosalie Marsh
Image of a volcanic eruption in Timanfaya National Park. Lanzarote
Image of Los Hervideros, Needles of Rock. Lanzarote
Image of a tall hotel on Lanzarote. Arrecife

Image of tLa Cueva de los Verde, Lanzarote

Rosalie Marsh

Friday, 11 May 2018

It is Good to be Back - Let's Go to Fuerteventura.

Island tour of Fuerteventura.

Taking advantage of the Saga included Island Tour we looked forward to an interesting and informative day with an opportunity to learn more about the island.

Caleta de Fuste lies south of the capital, Puerto del Rosario, on the east coast. Travelling on a well-maintained road we headed to the sand dunes in the north-east of the island. The coach disgorged its passengers so that they could wander over the dunes and take photos. In the distance was a large hotel on the seashore. The coach was on a section of hard standing [tarmac]at the side of the road. The guide explained that many people came here to park up and sunbathe. The hard standing had been provided at the side of the road as many park their cars on the sand; the car wheels would then gradually sink into the soft, fine sand as the wind blows the sand against the wheels and the cars become stuck. There were two men who permanently patrolled the area to rescue stranded motorists.

Travelling northwards we could see the many clumps of vegetation in the sand. The flat sea shore was clearly visible as was the small Isla de Lobos which has a National Park. Eventually, as we neared Corralejo the island of Lanzarote came into view. Corralejo is very built up and the main tourist destination. Fuerteventura lies to the south of Lanzarote [they are both the closest to Africa of all the Canary Islands] and it is from Corralejo that the ferries ply back and forth the short distance between Fuerteventura and Playa Blanca on the southern shores of Lanzarote.

Turning away from the north coast, the terrain became more undulating. It appeared in stark contrast to the interior of the island of Lanzarote which we visited in the previous chapter. The earth was a glorious mix of colours from red through to green and brown as vegetation covered the sweeping fields on the mountainsides with palm trees lining the road. We were now heading down the western side of the island towards Betancuria which is almost on a parallel with Caleta de Fuste. On the way, we had a glimpse of Tindaya Mountain which was considered by the original inhabitants to be a sacred mountain.

Next stop - Down the switchback road to Betancuria and the GoatFarm. . .

Rosalie Marsh

Tuesday, 1 May 2018



Lying here resting after my operation, I am looking at the beautiful Spring view from my bedroom window.
The trees, swaying in the morning breeze, are showing off their new clothes. All of a sudden, with new life, their small budding leaves have burst forth to wipe out the starkness of the winter scene as they embrace Spring.

The trees, waving at me through the window, are set against an almost cloudless sky. Today is May Day - the 1st of May.

The gentleness of yellow daffodils has been replaced with the vibrancy and elegance of tulips surrounded by grape hyacinths or silver-leaved cinerias.

I can only reflect on the beauty of nature; a beauty that survives all the trials and tribulations of the modern world; a beauty  that transcends all the destruction wrought by man. A beauty and cycle of life that reasurres us that, at the end of the day, life goes on. Plants push up from the cold earth to greet the sun and rejoice as their flowers bud and bloom. Majestic mountains still watch over us silently, and trees withstand the cold and wind of winter as God takes his paintbrush to remind us what a wonderful world we live in.
You only have to travel down the A5 through Llangollen to Snowfonia to see a new painting every week. Better on a motorbike though!
We have to be thankful for our health and strength and take time to 'stop and stare' while we reflect on life itself and its meaning.

My current series of excerpts from Island Interludes had been rudely interrupted but thankfully and hopefully I will be posting again soon when I get to my desk.
Currently posting in a limited way from my smartphone.
Let us also be thankful for modern technology!


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Let's go to the Sunshine Island of Madeira!

The floating garden in the Atlantic Ocean. Contrasts . . .

It has been raining heavily of late here in the UK. Yu could say that it is weather for ducks! This one has caught a cold I think!

But over in the North Atlantic there are clusters of islands where it rarely rains compared to the UK. There must be some rain however for Madeira to be known as the gloating garden of the Atlantic. Here is a flavour:

An amazing firework display.

You will be have heard about the firework displays over Funchal? For me they were a "total surprise as I had always thought that the fireworks were in the harbour area. In fact –all the villages in the hills above Funchal had set up synchronised fireworks. As these synchronised displays exploded in a blaze of colour and fire in the hills above Funchal at midnight, the brightly decorated cruise ships in the harbour sounded their horns in a wonderful noisy, medley of sound. The sound of car horns added to the noisy confusion as they were pressed to greet the New Year; more and more ‘gunshot’ sounds rent the air as fireworks exploded in bursts of colour, raining down to light the inky darkness of the sky. It was relentless.

Map of the islands of the North Atlantic Ocean - Madeira.The planned and coordinated display, exploding in the air for miles around as gunpowder, released from the confines of their containers in the ground below, sent bursts of colour again and again into the darkness of the night sky. It went on and on, appearing to be never-ending. It was truly wonderful and indescribable as eventually, momentum reached a climax. Ships in the harbour eventually sounded their appreciation and farewells before sailing away, . . This called for a glass of Champagne 

An abundance of exotic flowers.

"The lush and shady gardens spread out from the immediate grounds of the hotel, across a small narrow road from where the view down to the sea was picture postcard perfect, into another garden which led down to the pool area (where I almost drowned one day).
I often paused in this secluded garden with its winding paths and exotic trees such as kapok to drink in the peace and solitude, looking up through the trees at the clear blue sky at what I thought was paradise. At this point in my life I was in stunned awe of the beauty around me. Never had I thought that one day this distant dream of mine, to visit this floating garden in the Atlantic, would become a reality. Nor was I to know that we would re-visit twice more in the future."

"The colourful market is famous. Local ladies dress in the typical Madeiran costume of red skirt with colourful stripes from waist to hem, waistcoat, white blouse, and a pointed black hat.
In the market, the choice and size of fish seemed never-ending. One fish looked very unappetising. It was scabbard fish; the one that we had been advised to try before we saw it in the market as it its appearance belied its delicious taste; we would have been put of this delicate morsel if we saw it first as it came out of the sea before eating it.

The abundant displays of fruit and enormous vegetables in wicker baskets, the masses of flowers and the cries of stall holders shouting their wares all added to this unique atmosphere.

Photo of 'Just Us Two' in a wicker basket  ready for the ride down from Monte.
In the harbour, we were treated to the sight of a boat being built. Passing the many gardens with their tumbling profusion of lush vegetation and exotic flowering plants, the water playing from the cool fountains invited you to sit awhile and rest to enjoy the beauty around you. The old town is full of culture and history."

And of course, no visit to Madeira is complete without a fast and furious ride on a toboggan down from the hill village of Monte.


Photo copyright Rosalie Marsh
Illustrated Island Interludes: Just Us Two Escape to the Sun
Photos in the eBook are in colour.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Another Sunshine Island - Sao Miguel, Azores.

"On the map, they appear to be dark and mysterious, very small blobs in the vast expanse of the North Atlantic Ocean and seemingly inaccessible all those years ago. 

Map showing islands off the coast of Portugal and Africa.The Portuguese islands of the Azores lie in the North Atlantic Ocean on a parallel line between Lisbon and New York, about one thousand three hundred kilometres west of mainland Portugal. They are volcanic islands and, lying in the path of the Gulf Stream, winters are generally mild. Of the nine islands that make up the archipelago, São Miguel to the east is the largest with the city of Ponta Delgada being the capital of the region."

Ponta Delgada at Christmas.

"We flew in the setting sun to land at Ponta Delgada. I filmed the wing flaps opening as we came to land being entranced by everything – like a small child. A Saga representative met us at the airport which was re-assuring for us. The transfer by coach to our hotel in Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel was seamless with porterage of luggage taking the hassle out of everything. Our hotel had a lovely location with rooms and balconies overlooking the sea. They were well appointed, spacious and came with the special touch of fruit and bottled water in the room. This was welcome after a long journey."

Coloured map of the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores.Later . . .

"On his return to the hotel from his guided walk in the north of the island, my husband related to me how he saw dramatic coastlines and a farmer riding on a donkey collecting milk in milk churns in the fields, leaving dogs to guard the cattle. By contrast, the workday life in the south is more as we know it, with mobile phones in popular use in the city. He [my husband] surmised that the man on the donkey probably had a mobile phone in his pocket as well.
Later that day we walked into the city to explore. From modern cars tooting their horns to three-wheeled trucks noisily revving their engines, from cobbled streets and smart shops found in the unspoilt square, to solid buildings at every turn, everything was a bustling, thrusting, thriving mixture of sights and sounds as cars, bikes and people vied for space.
The contrast was amazing. It was Christmas – locals rushed about in shirt sleeves in the warm air and yet, in the square, there stood Santa’s Sleigh. An enormous display of lights like ribbons flowed from the centre of a maypole as the city prepared for Christmas which was only a few days away. Outside the fort, military guards paced up and down, swinging their swords. Overhead, the sky was blue. What a contrast."

Excerpt from Island Interludes: Just Us Two Escape to the Sun
You Tube video trailer 

Photograph copyright Rosalie Marsh. Maps by kind permission.

Rosalie xx

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Sunshine Islands - This week - Exploring Malta.

"Another day, another place, another island

What is it that draws us to the islands with their varied history, cultures, and geographical interests? Is it because we are from an island race? Whatever – we are drawn."


a"In the southern region of Malta, Qormi is known by its title Citta Pinto. It is the fifth largest city of Malta and has two Parishes – the Parish of St. George and the second one the Parish of St. Sebastian. My Maltese friend/colleague who shared this information, was

born, lived, and was married in Qormi.

The first part of today’s adventure was a visit to a typical farmhouse and a talk about the island. The farmhouse was not like any that we had seen before. The rooms were built around a central courtyard. Many archways led to the rooms within; the upper story was surrounded by a balcony running all around, from which hung a variety of greenery. The courtyard was laid out with long tables set out for our refreshments. As the courtyard was open to the elements, everywhere was a pleasant feeling of light and air.
Photo of a Craft Centre in Malta

After making an orderly queue to collect a cup of tea and typical Maltese cake that was set out on long tables, everyone found a seat to rest and enjoy the forthcoming talk on the area. This included how people lived and make a living from the wines and crafts made there. Afterwards, our route out to the coach took us – naturally – through the inevitable shop that sold all manner of goods including wine. We then went on to visit the Ta' Qali Craft Centre where the famous Mdina Glass is made. . ."

Around St. Julian’s Bay.

A view of the colourful St Julian's Bay. Malta"St. Julian’s Bay on the north coast of Malta, is the larger bay enhanced by smaller bays that follow the contours of the coastline. We were based at the tip of Spinola Bay with the sights and sounds of Sliema in front of us. Later that afternoon I continued recording.
‘There are quite a few boats on the horizon. I am not sure if you can see them from here [on the film].’
I was then able to capture St. Julian’s Tower that sits at the tip of land jutting out from Sliema and the many tall buildings that line the shore. Beyond that, the sailors taking advantage of the sunshine and coolness out on the water as they sailed their yachts in full sail. Of course, not everyone was so energetic. Many sleek motor launches and yachts were still sleeping peacefully. One boat was towing a smaller one behind, no doubt for getting closer to shore. As it was the middle of a major football tournament – don’t expect me to know what it was or who was playing – there was a lot of cheering across the bay that even my family could hear when I telephoned them later. . ."

An excerpt from Island Interludes: Just Us Two Escape to the Sun. Available in paperback, glossy hardcover and digital formats worldwide for most devices.


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Sunshine Islands - Sicily

Sicily is that wonderfully romantic and mysterious  island sitting at the foot of Italy.

Photo of the coastline of Sicily from TaorminaThe ancient Greek city of Taormina, perched on the hillside overlooking the sea holds a special place in our hearts.
"Reaching the town, it was easy to see how it was built on the mountainside, such was the sheer drop. Taormina is blessed with a glorious jumbled profusion of elegant shops, ancient churches and buildings, many restaurants, narrow streets where you can see glimpses of the sea in the distance, and a huge, wide piazza perched on the edge of the mountain...

Suddenly, the sun took off its hat and the rain came down; we were amused to see the stallholders putting away sun hats and quickly wheel out one of umbrellas. Needless to say, they did a roaring trade as we purchased our umbrella of choice.

Wandering through the arches into the vast expanse of the curved Greek Theatre we unexpectedly found that there was an abundance of orange trees growing and flowering in the sunshine which ripened the oranges nestling among the deep green leaves. From the Greek Theatre, the eye follows a line down a clear view to Giardini Naxos sitting in the
curve of the bay far below. Sheltering under our umbrella, we explored at will. The narrow, low tunnels in the ruins led to small rooms and passages where stone benches were engraved in Greek lettering. What was amazing also was to find words scratched into some of the bricks. Were these the names of the bricklayers who toiled in the Sicilian heat? Or were they simply the names of the streets or area in which we stood?"

Allen was fascinated by a loose brick in the walls of the archway to the theatre which was
Photo of an archway in the Greek Theatre Taormina Sicily
built many years BC. The bricks were red, long, and thin and he [Allen] had a high old time examining and exploring all facets of the brick which he patiently and enthusiastically explained to me He placed his fingers in the finger imprints of that long ago Greek bricklayer and was awed. The brick had finger prints in it where the bricklayer – no doubt in dress/costume of the time of a short tunic – had picked it up before it was quite dry. . .
‘Are you sure that you weren’t here two thousand years ago, making bricks?’ I cheekily queried.
‘They weren’t quite dry.’ Laughingly, he carefully placed the brick back into the wall of the arch.

By now the soft, gentle rain had stopped as quickly as it had started and we were able to appreciate even more the sense of timelessness as we gazed around the curve of this great amphitheatre slumbering in the sunshine. . ."

Author note: All photographs are from the authors own personal collection. Not all the photographs shown in the articles are displayed in the book. 


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Flavour of Sunshine Islands.

Tenerife. El Teide and Masca Valley. An Excerpt from Island Interludes.

"Turning off the main road to the Roques de Garcia, the most astounding rock formations left from  an eruption took away our breath. Essentially, these rock formations were in a crater, the sides of which had eroded away in places to leave the unique and fantastically shaped towering rock formations of a glowing, deep, rust colour." 
"Nearing lunch-time, we stopped at the charming coastal village of Chio where the owners of El Rancho were waiting for us with a simple lunch of soup or Spanish omelette, bread, wine or water, and coffee or tea. Chio is near the village of Guiá de Isora and was on our way to the Masca Valley. The restaurant was bedecked in heavily flowering bougainvillea on the terrace. Potted plants abounded while others contrasted with the white walls and the rustic feel presented to the onlooker." Moving on, we headed towards the Masca Valley and the towering Teno Massif which dominates every twist and turn of the switchback road that first climbed high before flowing down into the valley. We were now in the north of the island. La Palma was still visible against the clear blue sky as it nestled on its bed of cotton wool-like clouds." Excerpt from Island Interludes: Just Us Two Escape to the Sun.  Illustrated with twenty-five photographs and five maps. In colour in the eBooks.(Photos in this post are extras)                                  
ISBN 9781908302434 PB. Paperback, hardback, and eBook.                                                     Rosalie Marsh.