Evening in Istanbul

Evening in Istanbul
The alluring and beautiful Aya Sophia

Thursday, September 29, 2011

From Diyabakir; we've done our dash!

Breathtaking and impressive; mountains between Hakkari and Şırnak

Arriving in Diyabakir from Mardin at midday, that was it for the driving; about 2800kms of it. The filthy dirty car, and we, survived intact, which was a relief. Would we do it again? Probably not, because there are heaps of other things waiting in the world for us both to do, but having said that, there were many amazing adventures. I think we were in Doğubeyazıt last time I posted, so we've been down the eastern side (somewhat disappointing) of Lake Van since then, onto Van City itself, and then south to Hakkari, Şırnak, Cizre (all on the Iran and Iraq border) and onto Mardin, having travelled along the border with Syria. Fascinating stuff. We've met many Kurds, and have even learnt a few Kurdish words, like rozbag and sirbag – good day and good evening – people's faces lit up when we said them – doesn't pay to say them in Istanbul though; much anti-Kurd sentiment there.

Dramatic Mt Nemrut, including rubbish
A drive up Nemrut Dağı (Mt Nemrut – the one near Lake Van) was a challenge. There weren't any roadsigns for 30kms, after the initial one at the main road. The road got narrower and narrower, and we nearly packed it in after finding a wee turtle (maybe a terrapin) at a lake – we'd decided that it must be the crater lake we were looking for, until we checked our Rough Guide, and then graunched and bounced our way up further to the rim of the caldeera – what an incredible and massive sight. (Darcy – you'd have been fascinated!) Apparently 1500m blew off the top in 1500, when Lake Van was formed by all the debris blocking the outfall of a river. It was dirty all around the lake edge though, like it was through most of the areas that Turks would visit and have picnics. Disgustingly dirty at the Nemrut Dağı lakes, enough to put us off and make us leave; no picnic for us there.Yuck! I have seen similar dirty places in the world, but somehow I think the Turks have got the infrastructure to do something about it, if they want to. They just chuck anything and everything out their car windows, or leave it behind if they picnic. There are the exceptions though, like Vedat, our kayak guide – we all had a plastic bag and picked up rubbish before we established each camp.

One of Jenny's beautiful carpets
We visited the appealing church on the island of Akdamar at Lake Van, plus the Fort at Van, although a dust storm blowing up forced a hasty retreat. There were some intriguing artisan shops at the bottom, so the dust storm was soon forgotten. I succumbed, and bought my first ever kilim in Turkey. Dirty tan brown (probably matches the bottom of my feet), with a pattern, and stick camels; I love it! Jenny has had an eye out for furnishing her new home on Kangaroo Island, and has bought 3 eyecatching rugs.

We had a great tour around the unusual and very prominent Hoşap Castle on the way from Van to Hakkari. The instigator, a local Kurdish lord named Mahmudi Suleyman decided he needed a new home in 1643, and obviously lonely in bed by himself, had a harem built for 100 beautiful maidens. Plus two hamams, a Bank, and a large socializing area for himself and his men friends. No socializing for the maidens though; only amongst themselves.

A typical Cay cafe; in Van this time
Seems as though not a lot has changed in some areas of Turkey. During our stay at Adilcevaz, on the east side of Lake Van, Jenny walked up to the village while I tried unsuccessfully to find access to the Selçuk fortress on the top of the hill. We both arrived back at the hotel feeling that 1. we’re better ‘out there’ together and 2. and that the place was absolutely dominated by men. It even felt a tad oppressive. They’re everywhere, like ants, usually sitting on tiny stools outside çay (pronounced chai and meaning tea) houses and drinking çay. Plus playing games. Sometimes they could be very helpful (how many men does it take to read a map? In Turkey, maybe 20), but other times they were absolutely indifferent, even to ignoring us at petrol stations when we wanted oil. Lots of Kurds, Iraqi ones, and goodness knows what horrors they’ve gone through to end up in Turkey. You hardly ever see a woman, and when you do they’re 98% wearing scarves, and often a long coat or a chador, some even only have their eyes showing. It’s far far East out in Adilcevaz!

We found the scenery after Van amazing, and even more so after Hakkari, although our information had indicated that the best was before; maybe that's because not too many tourists go past Hakkari – we didn't see any others. We had differing opinions on the route we took, some saying we'd be okay because we were 'just' tourists, or else a shake of the head and saying it was dangerous.

It had the potential to be dangerous, especially every time we went through a check point, with the AK47s pointing right at us, but it never actually was.The checkpoints became more frequent and intense the closer we got to Iraq; soldiers checking the boot, suitcases, passports, rental car agreement, looking on the rear seat – we kept our cameras out of sight. The soldiers were all courteous except one man at very 1st stop, where I was seen taking a pic of the sign (which read Hoşgeldiniz, meaning 'Welcome') above the bridge – fortunately innocuous, or maybe I could have been in trouble.

One soldier at the last checkpoint, closest to Iraq, wanted to know if we'd found Turkey 'güzel', or lovely. He was just being friendly. How ironic, to be asked if you think that Turkey is lovely, while you've got machine guns pointed at you, an armoured vehicle with a man in the whirly thing on top with the gun at the ready, and it's all bristling with soldiers. Lovely? Of course its lovely! An oxymoronic (can it be an adjective?) situation for sure.

Hakkari, Şırnak & Cizre were worth the driving, because of scenery, and people we met – we were just about mobbed by children in Şırnak. I have an enduring picture in my mind of Jenny being surrounded by about 20 children, as she showed them the photo she'd just taken of them. The driving conditions ranged from excellent, to terrible. Great potholes in the roads were common down there, ruts rocks and random signs everywhere, and we had to keep our wits about us. A saying that was common on Darcy and Marie and my trip last year was 'Drive like a Turk' – we had to do that this year too. Take the bull by the horns, and get on with it.

Things went a tad belly up for me in Mardin. Its a very pretty town, built high up on a hill in pale gold sandstone, and dominated by a fort all along the ridgeline. The Fort has been taken over by the military, as it has a clear view right over the Syrian plains. They must get a brilliant sunset most nights. I ended up with a tenacious tummy bug, which I finally took medication for after 7 hours of continual bathroom trips. Jenny succumbed to probably the same thing 3 days later in Diyarbakir, and is only now coming right in Istanbul. We enjoyed Diyarbakir (I was about 50% by the 2nd day), and included a visit to a Christian church, which has suffered terrible deprivations as the result of – well, being Christian in a Moslem (technically secular) country. No fond feelings for the Kurds there. It had me thinking about Robbie Burns poem The Dirge, and - “Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!” Earthquakes in New Zealand are one thing, but the horrors that man can inflict on man are unspeakable. Better get off that soap box . . .

Yes we're in Istanbul, and had an engrossing day yesterday, visiting the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque and ? - wandering. We found our way to the area I stayed in last year, and although close to our present hotel it took us about 45 minutes to find our way back through a rabbit warren of shortcut streets. Most amusing. We did go back again last night though, and had a delightful, delicious and delectable (any word other than 'wonderful') meal at the Albura Kathisma cafe/restaurant, in Akbiyik Caddesi (Street). You can even visit some remains of the ancient Grant Palace under their cafe, which they've excavated more since my visit there last year. Our final fling. We're off on Swiss Airlines tonight, to Zurich and Hongkong, and then AirNZ to Auckland. There's so much to see here in Istanbul though . . . . . .

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Keeping an eye out for the Ark; getting caught up in a bomb scare; climbing to Camp 1 on Ararat!

Mt Ararat, from 2100m Pass near Suveren Village

We were thankful it wasn't real
Would we be keeping an eye out for the Ark? Yes of course! In the meantime we got caught up in a bomb scare near the Iranian border with Turkey. An effigy of a soldier had been hung from a road sign, with a note attached saying that there was a bomb in the ditch. So there were trucks and cars lined up for kilometres, soldiers everywhere toting bomb detectors and machine guns, armoured vehicles dotted along the road verge, and us two Kiwis somewhat bemused by it all but pretty well entertained at the same time! And we got caught going both ways – towards the border, and then after having türk çayı (turkish tea) with 4 Iranians and 1 Turk (all men of course) in a teahouse, we got caught again for a longer bomb searching spell on the way back. And of course we didn't even get a glimpse of the Ark. But I did manage to fluke the attached photo of the body (fortunately not real) hanging from the road sign. I've floated the idea of my being a war correspondent in the future (still unsure of my future in Christchurch) but I've not yet had any encouragement from anyone!

We didn't catch a glimpse of the Ark today either, when we climbed “slowly slowly” up to Camp One on Mt Ararat. Maybe we didn't go high enough. We couldn't have missed it though if we'd gone past it – we were going far too slowly! Actually, our guide Netin (Kurdish) said we'd done really well, and we were up there by lunchtime, and back down again by about 3pm. Fantastic views of the mostly cloud-free mountain nearly all the way, and a feeling of elation and immense satisfaction on both our parts for having been there, and done that! Secretly, I'd love to go to the top. Maybe another time . . . . . . . ?

Our time in Dogubeyazit has been fantastic. As Jenny is saying, we've loved being here, have felt much more as though we've been part of the Turkish culture, and have been intrigued by meeting Kurds and hearing them speaking Kurdish. And as a final coup d'état, Jenny has bought a gorgeous large Kurdish kilim this evening!

Off to Ahlat in the morning . . . .

Monday, September 12, 2011


From gridlocked traffic at Sumela Monastery, to a high altitude walk near Mt Deniz in Eastern Anatolia, and a visit to the ancient city of Ani right on the border of Armenia, it's been a intensely occupied time for the first half of Jenny's and my four week drive in Eastern Turkey.

Beautiful frescoes are on the walls inside the Sumela monastery
We decided to visit the Sumela Monastery, high up on a cliff, not far from Trabzon on the Black Sea, and fortunately for us, we left earlyish in the morning. By the time we'd walked back down the 850' slippery stoney path from the breathtaking Monastery everyone from Trabzon and surrounding area had arrived, for the last day of their holidays. Everyone. The narrow mountain road was lined for kms on both sides way back to the toll gate, traffic was stalled bumper to bumper coming up, while we were trying to go down past the mad Turkish drivers who kept on trying to come up the road on our side and completely blocking the road in the process. Some Gendarmes were trying fairly ineffectively to sort the shambles. We did manage to coerce people into letting us through, and stopping others coming up on our side, and so we escaped. We reckoned some of them would have still been there at midnight; there was simply nowhere for them to go.

From the town of Of we made our way over a high 10,000' pass, and through narrow winding mountain roads to Yusefeli, and then Barhal village, and met up again with Vedat Vural, his family and some other trekkers. We mainly did our own thing though, including a 7 hour hike (yep, I did it, ankle and all) to a high mountain campsite underneath Denizdagi, or Mt Deniz. The scenery was astounding and massive, we had perfect weather, and walked up through old stone villages with the houses half set down into the ground, surrounded by crocuses and gentians. It's covered with snow up there for months in the winter, and was cold enough when we were there.

The beautiful Church of St Grigor at Ani
In fact, it's still cold, and we're in Kars, further east still, passing by haymaking time at beautiful Lake Cildir, a place which has a reputation of being fiercely miserably chilly in the winter – you go there for icefishing. We managed to find a young girl who happily guided us around the ancient city of Ani, which only has a river gorge between it and Armenia. In fact my phone decided it was in Armenia, and I got a message from TelecomNZ telling me to check the rates, and did I want the 2 hour time difference updated. It's hard enough for Turks to get into Armenia; the border is absolutely closed to Kiwis. Built by the Armenians in the 10C, and added to by the Selcuk Turks, and demolished by succeeding marauding armies, it's a wonder so many of the churches are still standing, and are such a wonder to gaze on. You can see Armenia on the other side of the Akhurian River, with houses for the Armenian guards in the distance

We're heading south today to Dogubeyazit (door-beer-zit – but we're privately calling it DB for short), and hopefully will be walking on Mt Ararat!! (Ağrı Dağı). Marie has just climbed Mt Sinai, so maybe we're trying to compete!, but we won't be summiting like she did. 
If you scroll right down to the bottom of the blog, past the other blog posts, there are more photos at the very end.
Yani şu an için uzun (So long for now . . . . .)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Waking to a Turkish crescent moon

Turkish baklava, metzes, vin rosé, bread cheeses and yoğurt – I think I'm back in a foodie's healthy heaven. And with Vedat Vural in charge of our kayaking expedition cuisine, the standard is the highest imaginable. Even Jenny, with sensitivities to dairy and gluten, was in raptures about the food.

The notes from Alternatif Outdoors about our kayaking read
An expedition through a really remote region of southwest Turkey, the Gulf of Gokova. Although we start and finish near Marmaris, this 6 day expedition takes us far from the Turkey known by most holiday makers. Starting at Bordubet, in the neck of the Datca peninsula we follow the remote and rugged coast round to the small fishing village/resort of Akyaka. It is a chance to explore little visited islands and bays. Camping on remote beaches in sheltered bays, snorkelling to admire the sea life, exploring ancient ruins, this is a chance for people who enjoy paddling to experience a wilder, more natural Turkey

So - Jenny had worries about the food, I had worries about my chronic tennis elbow and recent ankle sprain, and it all turned out amazingly well. Six days of paddling, some quite long, with rough sea conditions, and we loved it all. The Mediterranean is such an amazing blue, with luminous turquoise in shallow water, so clear and warm. We were encouraged to swim out of our kayaks – to make sure we were able to get back in again! - and sometimes chose to fall in, just to cool off. We had many swims, even submersing with all our clothes and kayak gear on, before setting off for the next paddle. Yes it was hot. One lunchtime stop saw us on a beach with no shade anywhere, so Vedat fashioned a shade out of a tarp, paddles, stones and string. It was wonderful when we could stop under trees.

It wasn't all light and bright though. Our 1st campsite was at the far end of a narrow cove, and up a bank – having to step up onto that ankle wasn't a joke, and then into mosquito mayhem wasn't much fun. A young 18 year old girl from Istanbul, Tugce, and I were obviously just what the mozzies were waiting for . . . . . you can imagine! Fortunately that was the worst mozzie night, but they made their stinging presence known in other places too; as did the wasps and bees – only one wasp sting this year, but at one beach I could hardly land because of the B welcoming committee! Vedat tells me not to wave them away, that they feel my fear – takes much self control for me not to do that.

One of my most precious 'land' memories was camping on a headland the 2nd night, just Jenny and me out there under millions of stars, and a crescent (had to be a crescent moon in Turkey) moon rising over the horizon. What a treat!

The scenery was simply beautiful, with a looming mountain range, craggy headlands, leafy light green pine and scented liquid amber forests, ancient wild olive trees, sea birds, goats and even a few rabbits.

Jenny here :
I have just spent a wonderful 6 days paddling amongst crystal blue waters with stunning patterns created underwater by the reflections. Add to that balmy weather, wilderness camping and campfires, and you have my recipe for total relaxation. I feel most like myself when feeling windswept and salty and I discovered the real me again! Highlights for me were the scenery and variable sea conditions. At times in rougher conditions I felt my confidence and experience increasing, as I am relatively new to sea kayaking. My favorite camping spot was a cove in English Harbor on Day 4. We enjoyed an open ocean view, a campfire, and a glorious red, pink and purple sky ; a breathtaking sunset. All in all a fantastic experience in a spectacular environment with great company and a gracious host and guide. I would highly recommend this adventure to anyone. Thanks to Vedat. Kia Kaha.

From us both:
Vedat Vural's guiding, care and concern for us, and ability to improvise help in any situation, made this a most enjoyable experience for us both. This is guiding of a very high standard indeed. Wow! How lucky.
You can find more information about his Alternatif Tourizm at http://www.alternatifoutdoor.com/

If you scroll right down to the bottom you'll find more paddlings pics down there. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

LA FRANCE – Friend or Foe? Un petit problème en Provence

Sandra and me, near the village of Gordes, Provence

Walking along the banks of the Seine on our first evening in Paris, watching people dancing, seeing many people having piqueniques on pretty tablecloths, and enjoying a vin rosé at a corner cafe, Sandra Brooks (my French travelling companion) and I little knew the challenge that was soon going to be thrown at us in Provence. We passed Notre Dame cathedral on the Île de la Cité, and were intrigued by the intricate manoeuvring of five young rollerbladers, daring and inventive.

Our third day was a tour to the lavender fields near Avignon, taking many photos in the beautiful sights and perfumes of the purple meadows. Going on to the village of Sault we were initially held up by the traffic involved with the weekly market, and then by the throngs of shoppers and touristes, which proved to be the harbinger of our stay in Provence. All the world was there. It was August. Don't go then if you don't have to. It proved to be difficult to see the market stalls, so we made our way to a shop selling lavender icecreams. I can't remember what mine tasted like, as completely surrounded by people I missed a step and went heavily over on my ankle. Quelle horreur!! Now 2.5 weeks later it is mending quite well, albeit far too slowly for my liking, but it surely took some of the shine off Provence for us. Sandra had to do all the driving, and lots of waiting for me; a terminal snail pace was about my top speed. Crutches, and a brace, meant that getting around stone paths and flights of stairs was possible, but difficult, tiring and inhibited doing many things. Sometimes Sandra went off on her own and explored. We stayed in the villages of Sault and Gordes, driving over towering Mt Ventoux and wending our way through the flocks of cyclists putting a tick on their bike Cvs, through the impressive Gorges des Nesques, and enjoying much French cuisine and vin rosés. The final part of Provence was the seaside town of La Ciotat, where we thoroughly enjoyed the swimming pool, plus a voyage along the coast admiring the impressive calanques (cliffs).

After a night in Marseilles we travelled to Mont St Michel, being stunned by its incredible beauty and the size and amplitude of the crowds – thousands and thousands of people. Nose to tail; like the traffic before getting there. Unreal. Don't go in August! We absolutely loved the Abbeye, taking in as much as we could in one early morning sunrise photo shoot, and two visits inside; morning and evening. Walking up and down all those steep stone steps would leave a gym visit for dead, especially with a dud ankle. Not only astonishingly beautiful, it's an engineering masterpiece, and is a World Heritage site.

Back in Paris, we revelled in a grande finale with a Citroen 2CV tour around the main part of the city. Sandra returned to a 4ºC arrival in Auckland. Mark arrived this morning, and he and I grabbed hire bikes this afternoon and took ourselves around the Latin Quarter, before riding back to the Hotel Terminus Lyon. Yep, the ankle's improving! We've bought the necessities for a piquenique by the Seine, and will ride back soon to sit and people watch, and take in the music and dancing.

Off to Turkey on Monday, with Jenny Fraser.
à la prochaine - Jillian

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Paddling at midnight with Kerrie Pain
Oh what excitement! I could never in my wildest dreams have thought that the Svalbard voyage would be so amazing. My constant hankering to see a polar bear, a dream that I'd nurtured since 2008, to see one in the wild (instead of stuffed or in a zoo) had precipitated me into booking this 10 day trip with Aurora Expeditions, on board the Polar Pioneer. We certainly saw bears, 14 of them! The second sighting was a Mumma Polar Bear with two youngsters, from a distance of about 10 metres. We were cruising around a lowish island near the Monacobreen (Monaco Glacier) when the bear was sighted well above us on the ridge top. Stopping to gaze from a distance, and take photos if we could, we were amazed to see it come walking down a slope towards us, with two youngsters in tow, and then amble along right in front of us. Even the staff were flabbergasted by our luck. We saw bears on ice floes, bears on other islands, and on one of the last days the walkers on shore, high up under some bird cliffs, had a bear appear between them and their zodiacs. After it tried to get a bite at one of the boats a warning flare was shot and the explosion frightened it away, into the water, where it took off swimming not too far from where we were paddling. It got to the stage that we were almost hoping there wouldn't be a bear on land, because it meant we couldn't go ashore!

Not too far from where we were paddling? Yes – my tennis elbow had recovered sufficiently for me to do about 2/3 of the kayaking, and actually improved over the 9 days we paddled. I'm amazed! Thanks Dr John Lyftogt for your amazing prolotherapy!!! You're a star. Now I can look forward to paddling in Turkey.

As if that wasn't enough we also saw many walruses, either swimming or sleeping. One afternoon saw us visiting walruses at Torellneset, this time a pulsing and heaving mound of about 40 huge mammals, in various states of rest and irritation, wriggling and scratching, heaving and sighing, and settling back down to sleep again. It was like a huge undulating collective sleepover. Some five more wakeful walruses were in the water, obviously an easier environment for their huge bodies. We watched entranced as they wallowed and scratched, and then abruptly sat up to investigate the row of expeditioners sitting on the beach, waiting for the next walrus exploit.

Beluga whales provided the final coup de grace. Aurora say they're happy if they get one sighting a season; we had four. To my absolute amazement two of them swam right under my kayak – my excitement was right off the scale. They're called white whales, but seen next to an ice floe they're more creamy in colour, long and sleek, and very fast through the water. Their heads swivel, and they pop their head up as they speed past. We also saw two pods of fin whales – they're huge, and blow huge sprays of water when they come up for breath. Gorgeous numerous so photogenic puffins, kittiwakes fulmars, guillemots, little auks, pharalopes – hundreds and thousands of birds, many nesting way up on the cliffs, and waiting for their babies to pop out; the foxes down below wait too, for their next meal. Not so many seals; I was surprised not to see more.

For the technically minded amongst you, we reached a latitude of 80º50 N, which was about where we saw the 2 polar bears on the North Pole pack ice – we were about 600kms from the pole. We completely circumnavigated Spitsbergen, as well as two other smaller islands of Svalbard. We were fortunate to be able to get the whole way around as the pack ice in the Hinlopen Strait had forced the previous voyage to retreat. I can't remember the total distance covered, and can't check – info left in luggage back in Paris, and I'm on a TGV train going to Avignon.

For those of you who enquired – yes the tooth got dealt to in Longyearbyen. The problem was around the edge of a temporary crown that I'd completely forgotten I'd had done. That's what earthquakes do to your memory; that's my excuse anyway! I met up with Sandra Brooks last night, and we celebrated with champagne and a long walk on a beautiful balmy Parisian evening, ambling along the Seine and around Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame. We're on our way to go and find what's left of this season's blooming lavender fields.

Bye for now, Jillian

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sizzling in Svalbard – for sure!

Arriving at the Isfjord Radio Station, Spitsbergen, Svalbard
I'm away travelling again, but this time with two major differences. For the first 3 weeks I'll be on my own, until meeting up with Sandra Brooks in Paris, and Jenny Fraser in Akyaka, southwestern Turkey. Secondly, switching from earthquake ravaged Christchurch to what seems like frivolous gallivanting is quite a mindset switch. I have sudden anxious moments, worrying about what's happening back home, quite unbidden and most unwelcome!

At 78º North, Longyearbyen in Svalbard is in a little world all of it's own. Not far from the North Pole – I think about 1000 miles – it's varies between cold in midsummer, to freezing. Today though it's higher than balmy, has been bright sunshine all night, and this morning there's scarcely a cloud in the sky; trying to be cool enough for sleeping has been a challenge the last 2 nights, with the small window only opening a crack, and a huge puffy duvet on the bed! Today was a great day for hiking on the Foxfonna Glacier, with glorious scenery, miles and miles of tundra, mountains, slushy icy snow, and jumbled rocks galore not making for easy footing. It was such a treat, and just what I needed.

Three days ago I came back from a three day (approx) 90km trip by RIB to the Isfjord Radio Station, with eight other adventurers. The boat was an experience in itself, especially when the sea got up, and wearing a full immersion suit, thick woolly lined Arctic hat, and thick gloves was mandatory, otherwise we'd have been very very cold. We passed by immensely high bird cliffs, with deep bright green swathes underneath, where the bird droppings have fertilized the grass, and where ever hopeful arctic foxes roam to catch unaware young chicks. The Radio Station itself has until recent times been an active link between Svalbard and the mainland, but at present only 3 of the masts are operating. The buildings have now been largely converted to a very comfortable remote outpost for visitors who want to experience being in such a wild part of the world. Our 2nd day took us over the mouth of the Isfjord to visit The Protector – a huge pyramid shaped rock dominating the bird cliffs where guillemots and little auks were nesting in their thousands upon thousands. We ventured further to glaciers up a side fjord, surprising a few basking bearded seals lying on little icebergs. Lunch sitting on reindeer skins overlooking an ice studded glacier terminal lake? Hmmm – different indeed from quakey Christchurch.

The third morning saw us walking along the tundra and seashore, out on the open water side of the peninsula, seeing many birds, beautiful little flowers including the plentiful purple saxifrage, but not a hint of that polar prowler, the isbjorn/ icebear. Hopefully we'll see one while sailing with the Polar Pioneer. The colourful buildings of the Barentsburg coal mining town were an interesting highpoint of the boat trip back, which seemed to be over and done with almost before we'd left, with calm waters making for a faster passage. A wonderful group of fellow travellers too; loved it all.

Believe it or not I've got toothache . . . . . I wonder if there's a dentist in town???