Monday, 26 September 2016

A Return To Rhodes

Tuesday 13 September 2016. Thomson Dream diverts to Rhodes for the day. We had been scheduled to spend the day at Syros, Turkey, but the wind was a bit too much for the single tugboat at Syros to bring us safely to dock. Our captain took the decision to divert and, as we love Rhodes, we are not too disappointed.

So we can pile off the ship happy that we will be able to wander round without getting lost. Moored opposite us on the narrow jetty is Costa Riviera. We exit the port by a different gate than we have been used to and walk along the coastal road towards the city.

The Marine Gate was the main entrance to the city. It has reliefs of St John and St Paul and the Virgin Mary. We decide to carry on walking around the coast road though.

Some of these boats are shops. Racks of shelves on the back swing open like doors to double the width of the ship and they sell goods made of shells and sea sponges and loofahs.

There is a small fortress on the corner of a dog's leg on the coast. It gave command of the approaches to Rhodes from the sea and withstood sieges from the Ottoman Turks.

It was the entrance to the city used by St Paul on his travels once he left the Holy Land. The bridge to the fortress is still known as St Paul's Bridge. From here the coastal path leads to the old harbour, now more a marina for private and fishing hire boats.

The two columns are said to be sited where the legs of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World once held up the mighty statue, so large that ships could pass between his legs without their masts bringing tears to his eyes...

We have a rest on a bench before heading into the town itself. We walk back, retracing our steps for a little while before entering the city here, on a path we aren't too familiar with.

We find ourselves walking round the main fortress in a part of Rhodes we haven't seen before.

The castle was the stronghold of the Knights Hospitallers, who moved to Rhodes following the loss of Jerusalem to the Saracens. The fortress is huge and it's a fair walk around the massive walls.

It is very hot. Small lizards bask on the warm stones, but scurry away as we approach. The dry moat that we are walking round is a perfect killing ground. Cannon embrasures are angled to cover the approaches from either side.

We are approaching the town and I start to recognise bits of wall towering above us that we have walked on top of on previous visits. We pass under the arch into the castle outer bailey and then through a tunnel under the main gate. You can see a couple in the distance on the left about to pass through the tunnel. Look for two grey dots (I did say they were in the distance) between the tree and the woman in the red top under the shadow of the arch. It is dark in the tunnel but not so dark that I fail to spot the large square murder holes in the ceiling. Hot oil or rocks could be dropped down these onto the heads of any invaders.

We come onto streets that we had trod before. Maris had told us to look out for a cafe called the Blue Lagoon near the castle. We would know it because there was a parrot in a cage near it. This one is called Mama Mika but it fits all the other criteria and the under tablecloth had a blue design of fish and shells so we wonder whether it had changed names. Our drinks come in glass wellington boots that are quite heavy!

There is no shortage of cafe bars in Rhodes! They line the streets everywhere. We take a turning from the main street and again find ourselves exploring new territory.

And then back to the main street leading down towards the ruined cathedral and the Marine Gate.

Pottery, dresses, jewellery, carpets, wall plaques are just some of the goods on offer. The cafe owners will quite happily watch you turn down half a dozen invites from cafe bars further up the road. Each time you refuse one of their neighbours makes them more convinced you are waiting until you reach their cafe bar...

We make our way back to the port. We walk past the gate where we usually had left and entered and reach the gate where we came out this morning. Which is locked... Back to the usual gate then! There is some restoration work going on to the old windmills and walls of the docks.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Creeping Bentgrass Harvest Song Fest

Last night David and I played at a Harvest Festival in Darwen, Lancashire. We were in a church hall which filled up nicely quite early on before we started and we played a taster of all the different styles of music we cover as we went through the night.

Two young boys were sitting right at the front and from the word Go they were playing imaginary guitars along to the music and looking as though they were having the most fabulous time. I dug out a couple of plectrums (guitar picks) from my supply and gave them one each and their smiles went skyward! As we took a break whilst food was being served they came over to talk to us - a 6 and an 8-year-old, bursting with things to tell us about all sorts of things, school, how they had a guitar at home. One of their teachers was called Miss Chadwick... They were lovely.

We spoke to their parents who were equally friendly and lovely and it turned out that they were a family of refugees who had been settled locally. They had been brought to the event by one of their local councillors as a way of introducing them into the community and he was almost overcome with the way we welcomed them. We had actually treated them as we would anyone else. That's all you have to do...

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Film Review, December 1978 Issue

Once again we are pushing through the heavy curtains behind the door to the cinema auditorium, late because the lights have already gone down and we try to hurry, heading down past the icky slurping noises coming from the back row to a spot about two thirds way down the rows of seats. Shuffling sideways in the darkness we sit briefly on someone's knee, shooting up in embarrassment at their gasp of outrage and finally sit down in an empty seat, having trodden on four feet, spilled two drinks and a carton of popcorn on our way. We shrink down into our seat and watch the Pearl & Dean adverts...

Once again the Box Office has sold us the latest copy of Film Review magazine which today means it's the December 1978 issue. John Travolta appears on the cover four times so we'll ignore him on the inside for this time. Meanwhile Robert Shaw and Harrison Ford prepare for derring do in a follow up to The Guns of Navarone and Burt Reynolds puts on a cowboy hat only to find that there's already one there - there's always one there...

Inside the front cover a German U-Boat has inconveniently surfaced from the depths of a young lady's swimming pool, just as she was enjoying her Smirnoff...

A couple of pages in we find actress Maia Danziger reading a back issue of this very magazine on the set of The Magician which stars Alan Arkin. She plays the magician's glamorous sidekick, which may go some way to explaining the strange designs drawn on her cheeks!

Here, Robert Shaw socks the lovely Barbara Bach around the chops in Force Ten From Navarone a wartime tale set in Yugoslavia. Made some eighteen years after The Guns of Navarone, producer Oliver A. Unger tells us "Wheras Gun was told in deadly earnest, Force Ten has a sense of humour." I'm not sure Barbara would agree with you there Olli...

Playing her part behind a camera is Faye Dunaway playing the title role in The Eyes of Laura Mars a high-end fashion photographer who starts having disturbing visions of friends being murdered.

Here she is, in the foreground, taking shots of models posing again the backdrop of a car crash. Well, if you insist on driving in your undies, girls...

Joan Collins is interviewed following the success of her film The Stud and announces she is to play the role of Fontaine Khaled again in the follow-up The Bitch, for which they are keeping their eyes open for a few new er... studs...

Following on the heels of Jaws come a rather less believable tale of military gene modification to breed piranha fish that can live in either salt or fresh water. So far so bad. But of course, the little nasties break from from their compound and have a hankering to eat nubile young flesh at a nearby lake holiday resort. Not only that, but one of those nubiles is Heather Menzies - Louisa von Trapp! Now, those fishes are not one of her favourite things!!!

Emma Samms makes her screen debut aged 18 as Princess Zuleira in Arabian Adventure. She is the step-daughter of the evil Caliph (he must be evil - he's played by Christopher Lee) She also falls in love with the handsome Prince Hassan, unaware and far too innocent to know that he is a bit a stud - The Stud in fact - in the form of Oliver Tobias.

Vladivar Vodka makes it's first appearance on this blog. The TV adverts in the 1980s were the brand's most memorable ads. Made at the time in Warrington, the ads ended with a heavy Russian accent announcing "Vladivar Wodka from Varrington".

Meanwhile the smoke from cigarettes is still stampeding the horses...

Coma was a rather strange film, but not without its suspense and nightmare elements. In a private clinic a higher than average number of patients fall into a coma during surgery. It becomes apparent that this is being done deliberately in order to harvest body parts for a lucrative black market.

Genevieve Bujold plays the junior doctor who finds her own life in danger as she tries to bring the issue to light. Michael Douglas plays her love interest, a fellow doctor who initially supports her until he realises his own job may be in jeopardy. Not recommended for people about to undergo an operation...

An excuse for lots of stunts and explosions with the addition of Burt Reynolds' grin and cowboy hat - there's always a cowboy hat...

Candy Clark plays the role of the nympho daughter in the Robert Mitchum version of The Big Sleep. I have to admit I hadn't heard of her, but a quick check on Internet Movie Database reveals she has 68 credits there so far with two films and an appearance in the forthcoming TV series of Twin Peaks all in post-production. A busy girl!

In the last issue I mentioned the start of a new series of articles celebrating 75 Years of Hollywood. The article in this issue covers the years 1928-1953 and includes the musicals of Busby Berkeley with their wonderful geometric if somewhat improbable dance routines. There are now lots of high quality photographs of these routines to be found by searching on the Internet and I still enjoy watching the films which are usually very witty and sometimes surprisingly naughty!

Well that brings 1978 to a close and before we move on I must make another trip up into the attic to do battle with spiders and who knows what else in order to find the next bound folder of Film Review magazine... Stand by your projection booths!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Cruising Into Bodrum, Turkey

Monday 12 September 2016. A new day, a new country! We are in Turkey today at a place called Bodrum. We are docked at the quayside today so can just walk off the ship without need for tender boats.

We had a light breakfast. "I'll have beans on toast, please," I said to the waiter. "One or two, Sir?" "Just one - er... one toast, not one bean..." I mean, you never know... I took this from the ship's Promenade Deck before we got off.

"We're not going to walk as far as the castle are we?" asked Fran. "I don't think so..." I answered.

Thomson Dream, docked in Bodrum with a catamaran moored on the other side of the jetty.

We came out of the port gates and turned left along the fence and then walked towards the town alongside a pebble beach.

Boats of varying sizes were moored at intervals along the shore. The land rose above this beach with bars and sun loungers and music playing. Dogs and cats were ignoring each other, finding any shade they could to stay out of the heat, even this early in the morning.

The larger masted ships are called Barkahans - the name I guess being the equivalent of a barque. They do trips around the bay, usually accompanied by lots of booze and loud music of the sort that makes you want to head butt something solid...

A smaller private yacht against the backdrop of the castle. Despite us saying we wouldn't walk that far we are already halfway there!

The barkahan boats line up waiting for someone to hire them. It tends to be the mock galleon types that do the booze cruises. These look like fishing trip or sight-seeing boats. I tried fishing a couple of times in my teens - lakes or canals not sea fishing - but I never really got into it.

It's mid morning now and we are approaching the town. The path moves back from the water's edge. We pass a few shops and buy some postcards. They are very cheap: Euros 0.15 each. I tell the girl that in UK they would be 40p each or 0.5 Euros and she gapes at me in astonishment.

Coming back out of a short covered market street (which we'll see on our return), we pass a mosque and more market stalls not yet opened.

Ahhh... we've walked as far as the castle after all! Bodrum Kalesi or castle was built and dedicated to St Peter by the Knights of St John from 1402. It has a three-storey English tower carved with the arms of King Henry IV. Since 1962 it has been a museum of underwater findings from shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea.

The site was also used for the dubious pleasures of hill-wheeling, a tradition originating in 1524 when Robbin del la Srosbrie chained herself to a mill wheel in protest at working conditions. This tradition later took the form of chaining visitors to large wheels and rolling them down the steepest hill in the town... What fun!

A fanciful bust of Herodotus outside the castle. He was one of the first historians - he is credited with gathering evidence of past events and arranging them into chronological order to make sense of what had happened in the past. Living in the 5th century BC, his history dealt with the Greco-Persian Wars. Cicero called him "The Father of History".

More statues outside the castle wall. This area was once a separate island from the mainland and before Bodrum it was known as Halicarnassus. It was here that another of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World was built - the Mausoleum of Mausolus (who gave his name to "mausoleum". This means I have now visited the sites of five out of the seven wonders. Still left to visit are the sites of the great lighthouse or Pharos at Alexandria and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Perhaps one day...

This was a nice shady spot and we took advantage of a bench. My arm suddenly went all wet and warm... A stray dog, a large beautiful labrador type had come to sit by us, friendly and trusting and was licking my forearm. Probably flea-ridden too, so we didn't attempt to pet it much, but I did say "thank you" for the wonderful friendly gesture by scratching behind his ear briefly on which he happily loped off a couple of paces and lay down near us.

We started to walk back. This is the covered market street. The lamps on the shelf at the right caught our eye. To be honest of course, the guitars caught my eye first...

The street was roofed with natural branches from trees. The shops do not extend far back so the trees were growing on the other side of them with the branches overhaging. A simple lattice stopped the branches from dipping down too much.

We bought a couple of drinks from a kiosk shop. A 500ml Coke and a Capri-Sun orange sachet. Priced in Turkish Lire, I asked for a price in Euros and after consulting a calculator I was asked for 80 cents... Even though stuff was really cheap I knew that was too little. I worked it out myself and left him with another Euro. He looked surprised for a minute then nodded at me. I've always found the Turkish people to be a lovely and witty people and I didn't want to cheat him because of a mistake.

When we got close to the port, we sat for a while on another bench, then went to look at a shop and bought some fridge magnets and a set of drinks coasters.

Back at the Thomson Dream, where we started, at the dock in Bodrum.

We spent the afternoon sitting on the Pool Deck on Deck 11 and I sketched the same view that we started with early this morning.

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