Chez l'abeille

Culture. Travel. Writing. My world in words and pictures


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In which I go to Crete. Part 2: Heraklion

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I was a little apprehensive about my time in Heraklion; having finally read my guide book (on the bus), I was expecting a city full of fumes and dirt. Instead  I found a delightful “Old Town” that is easy to walk around and full of  comfortable cafes and bars where I could sit with a glass of cretan wine. It also has one of the best museums I’ve been to in a long while.

Day 3: Heraklion

Arrival in Heraklion from Chania is at the imaginatively named Bus Station A. I’d deliberately picked Hotel Lato for two reasons: proximity to the bus station and the roof top bar. It was an excellent choice on both counts and I was soon checked in and heading back out again to visit the Archaeological Museum before it closed at three.

For someone who loves beautiful pottery, this museum was like being stuck in a veritable sweet shop. From the moment I entered the first room I was hooked: each and every case is crammed with stunning Minoan treasures. It was hard to focus on each one because there was always another, more attractive looking item, glimpsed from the corner of my eye! The main ground floor rooms focus on the Minoan civilization, which flourished in Crete from about 2600 to 1100 BC. Just looking at these finely considered art works gives you some idea of what was important to the people who lived on the island in this Bronze Age world. A few hours just wasn’t enough and closing time came around far too quickly.

Day 4: Knossos.

There was a surprising number of athletic types hanging out at breakfast and some probably not so subtle stalking around the cheese pastry buffet, revealed that Agrotikos Asteras F.C. were in residence, for a Greek football league match against local team OFI. So I lingered over my tea and toast for a bit until only the coaching and physio team were left and set off for the days main appointment.

Bus Station A is also the starting point for bus route 2 , which handily heads directly to the ancient palace of Knossos. This is not so much palace in the traditional Buckingham sense, more a labyrinthine township tumbling down into the valley below. I knew Knossos is bound up in the Greek myths of King Minos, Theseus, the minotaur and the labyrinth but I didn’t know that it was also linked to Daedalus of the wax wings and Icarus fame. He was apparently the architect of the labyrinth before he turned his hand to flying. As in all legends there is probably a grain of truth in the mythology and walking around the site it is not too difficult to imagine how complex this site would have been, layered up on the floors below to create a maze of buildings, rooms and terraces. Highlights were the underground clay water pipes which are very similar to the ones regularly exposed by Thames Water around my street and the “Royal Apartments”  with their hidden doors, designed to give both warmth and ventilation as the user required.

Around the site some replica murals and painted pillars help give some idea of what this site may have looked like, yet so much about the Minoans is pure conjecture. What isn’t in doubt is the sheer size of the place and the sense of culture that existed here nearly 5000 years ago.

20170406_182151Back in Heraklion it was time for some excellent stuffed squid at Ippokambos, some more home grown wine and then a stroll through the old town market area and the El Greco Park gardens back to the waterfront and my hotel where the roof top bar was the top spot for a nightcap.

Day 5: Heraklion and the bus again

The Agrotikas boys were all back at breakfast but they couldn’t hold a candle to my destination du jour – I had time before my bus to go back to the museum and catch up with the rooms I hadn’t seen already! After my day in Knossos I really wanted to see the original murals.Original fresco work from Knossos  Once again the Minoans didn’t disappoint. The ochres, reds, whites and blues which they made from the plants, minerals and shells they found around them, are still as vibrant as when they were painted onto wet plaster somewhere in the palace. Only tiny fragments remain but the restorers have managed to fill in the gaps so you get an idea of just how beautiful these walls would have been.

Time was racing by so rather reluctantly I was tracking back down the hill to Bus Station A and off to the final stop on this trip – Rethymnon.

©Chez l’abeille  2017


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The Streets of London: Postman’s Park.

For years I have listened to Robert Elms on BBC Radio London. His knowledge of things both London and arcane in equal measures is legendary. Many times I heard about Postman’s Park, but had no real clue as to where it was hidden.

So, there I was one day, getting a bit lost whilst trying to get to the Museum of London when I accidentally stumbled across it and of course I had to stop and look!

Postman's Park, St Martin's Le-Grand, London EC1A

Postman’s Park, St Martin’s Le-Grand, London EC1A

This tiny garden in a churchyard acquired the name because postal workers at the old General Post Office would use it as a lunch spot. It also houses one of the most unusual memorials I have seen – the Watts memorial, built in 1900 by Victorian painter and philanthropist GF Watts to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee year.

G.F Watts's memorial to heroic self sacrifice

G.F Watts’s memorial to heroic self sacrifice

The Doulton plaques are lovely and tell each story so clearly. The small acts of heroism also give us an insight into how dangerous life in Victorian London must have been – but don’t be fooled into thinking they are all from the 19th Century.

Here are a few I chose because they link to bits of London I live or work in or were just interesting. I shall let them speak for themselves.

©Chez l’abeille  2016

Postman’s Park information can be found here


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Christmas blogger gift swap: my present arrives!

Back in November I stumbled upon the greatest idea – a Christmas gift swap for bloggers organised by Viola. The idea is very simple; you are paired with another blogger, get to know them through their blog/email, then go and find a great present based on what you have found out.

I was paired with Safeera, who has a very engaging lifestyle blog: Habibi lifestyle. We spent a while getting to know our likes and dislikes, before I felt I could go out and find the perfect present!

I had also set myself the challenge of buying presents that were from local’ish places. My first success was at the Hither Green Christmas fair, which although not in my actual neighbourhood, is at least south of the river! I met up with several old friends there and we enjoyed a pleasant sunny afternoon wandering amongst the stalls and buying quite a lot between us. The second part of my present was from the shop around the corner. However, it’s for Safeera to tell you more about her surprises so I won’t spoil them now!

We were expected to post our parcels by December 17th, but we both posted a bit earlier. My parcel arrived safely and I have to say I was impatient to see what I had been sent! I was touched that in such a short time someone could gauge my likes so well and choose such great gifts. I love them and will be making much use of them in the coming year. I’ve actually been after a cake stand for ages and the notebooks are just perfect for all those blog and picture book ideas.

I’m really pleased I was able to take part in this great Christmas event, so big thanks to Viola for organising (whilst prepping for University interviews too!). As well as some great gifts, I have gained a new blogging friend and I look forward to reading more about her adventures in style in the future.

Happy Christmas one and all!

Camberwell Beauty ceramic butterfly


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The history of the Old Kent Road.

I found myself walking down the Old Kent Road today, in search of builders’ rubble sacks (but that’s another story for another day). Heading home I walked past the old North Peckham civic centre, which currently houses a church. Now I’ve gone past this building hundreds of times on the bus but I don’t think I’ve ever actually stopped to look closely at the large polychrome frieze that decorates the exterior of the building. What a surprise it is.

It is called “The history of the Old Kent Road” and does what it sets out to do, depicting the history of the area from the Romans arriving in Kent to the Canterbury pilgrims on through to modern (60’s) times. The piece is constructed from irregular shaped tiles, with well defined and boldly drawn figures and designs. I particularly liked how each figure had a completely unique face and expression! I also liked the use of the locally named Camberwell Beauty butterfly to form the surround to the entire frieze.

I discovered that, at 1000 feet square, it is the largest secular work by the Polish sculptor, Adam Kossowski (1905 – 1986). Kossowski arrived as a refugee from the Soviet labour camps in England in 1943. This work was designed in 1964 and completed in 1965. It now appears to be under the protection of the Twentieth Century Society.

From the bus it looks rather grimy and unloved. Up close you can see the hand of a skilful ceramicist at work and how beautiful it actually is!

I also liked this blog I found which describes the frieze too .

©Chez l’abeille 2014