Tuesday, September 19, 2006


My great-great grandfather, Giuseppe Scettrini, was born in 1835 in the mountain village of Corippo in Ticino, Southern Switzerland. I had a wonderful week based in Locarno exploring in this area.
These first two photos of Corippo are taken from the track that leads to Mergoscia.

In this photo I am standing on the path leading down the mountain towards Mergoscia and the mill at Corippo. The houses are all made of slate in a Ticinese building style.
These last two photos are of the parish church in Corippo, Our Lady of Mt Carmel. Giuseppe was baptised in this church (though I am not sure how old this particular font is.)

Rome for Easter

I was in St Peter's Square for Easter Sunday Mass. Even with the zoom lens on full you can't see much, but I was there! The first photo was taken during the Mass, and the second one when the Pope was giving his Easter speech from the balcony above. And yes, they had big screens there so you could actually see what was happening! Even though it was so far away it was still wonderful to be in the international crowd. The music was amazing for starters.

Here is a 'spring' shot over the Tiber. I have a 'winter' one from another trip. I can't imagine ever wanting to be in Rome for the heat of summer, but maybe one day I will get an 'autumn' shot. (And maybe I just shouldn't be so greedy!)
This last photo is of the Appian Way, taken when I went to the Catacombs. The road was quite busy closer to the city, but got quieter the more you got out from it. And of course, not so many modern cars want to travel on this old section of cobbles, so as you can see I nearly have the ancient road to myself at this point.


Naples was a great base to see Vesuvius from. This first photo is the view from my hostel window, straight out to Vesuvius. Now would you want to live in Naples with that lurking in your back yard??? I really wanted to climb up to the crater of Vesuvius. OK, this is Europe so there was a minibus most of the way up! Pretty impressive and vast crater.
Once down I went to see the ruins of Herculaneum. These are much smaller than the ruins of Pompeii, but in many ways they are more atmospheric as the modern day town surrounds them.

Pompeii, with Vesuvius in the background.

Florence and Assisi

Two "local" shots of Florence. Most people used bicycles or motorbikes in the narrow streets. So the 'parking issues' were not the same as other cities!
Came out one morning to find the Firenze marathon was in full swing with a good contingent of locals cheering them on.

When I realised that I could get to Assisi en route to Rome, I booked the trains that way. Luckily there is a shop where you can leave your packs as 'left luggage'.
Assisi was very beautiful, set up on a hillside. These two shots were taken on a walk up the hill. I loved looking down below through this belltower on a little church. And at the top there were definite signs of a storm brewing.


Prague had quite a few memorials that reminded you in various ways of the horror of some of its recent past. One day I passed this sculpture of a set of humans who appeared to be marching down the steps on the hillside. When you saw the figures from the side it became apparent that the figures had varied parts of their bodies missing. The image of these figures was haunting.
The plaque reads: "The memorial to the victims of communism is dedicated to all victims not only those who were exiled or executed but also those whose lives were ruined by totalitarian despotism. "

Prague - springtime

I arrived in Prague at the very beginning of spring. The week before it had snowed, and it seemed like the week I arrived there was suddenly a dramatic warming.

But with the warming came problems. Heavy rainfall elsewhere in the country, as well as snowmelt, led to flooding. Here people are checking the river and erecting flood barriers.

Jersey - coastal walks

I ended up staying eleven days on Jersey, and it is only a small island, 9 miles by 5. Partly I stayed because the people were so friendly. But also because in the summertime there are extra buses to get to various bays. I ended up walking quite a bit of the coastline by catching a bus to one bay, walking, then catching a bus back again to St Helier. Here is a shot of some coastline north-west of Rozel, and also a sign in "miles" along the coastal footpath.

Jersey - Payn

The reason I went to Jersey was because my great-grandfather, Francis Davis Payn, came from there. This posting has a few family history bits and pieces!
This is St Martin's Church where my great-great grandparents, Thomas Payn and Elizabeth Mourant are buried.

The old family home is still standing though has been much changed from its days as a typical Jersey farmhouse. You can see on this end-shot of the house how walls have been added to add a second storey in more modern times.
But there is still a sign proclaiming the house as "Les Ruettes" as it was when my Payn family lived there in the mid-1800s.

Prehistoric Jersey

For those of you who don't know, this Jersey is off the coast of France. In the days when more water was locked up as ice, you could apparently walk across to France. One of the surprises for me about Jersey was how much evidence there was of prehistoric people.

This mound, La Hogue Bie, contains a passage grave that they believe had ceremonial uses.
You can see that you need to stoop quite low to actually enter the doorway. Hardly any tourists here really, compared to the so, so busy site of Newgrange in Ireland.

This is the neolithic dolmen of Faldouet, la Pouquelaye de Faldouet.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Prehistoric Ireland

Ireland, like Jersey, has an impressive array of prehistoric sites. I only saw a small but interesting smattering of these. I show just two Irish photos here. One is the Poulnabrone Tomb in the Burren region, dating bck to 3000BC. The other is the Hills of Tara, the seat of the Irish Kings. I had great delight being here as my surname means "Royal Bard". From what I have read, the Kings had to be a bit wary of the Bards, lest they ridiculed them with their words!

Giant's Causeway

A real highlight of my time in Ireland was a day trip from Derry to the Giant's Causeway. Walking on the clifftop pathway and amongst these strange rock formations was very special.


After a few days in beautiful Donegal I travelled into Derry and Northern Ireland. I had not realised I was arriving on the day of the Apprentice Boys' March when tension was heightened.

Maybe on another day I would not have noticed things so much, but there still seemed to be trouble near the surface of this rather beautiful walled city. This huge tower has cameras trained all over the Bogside area.
There were a few vehicles burned out, and a few bonfires lit.

The murals on some of the Bogside buildings were very powerful and said a lot about the time of the Troubles.
The hostel I stayed in in Derry was very welcoming and a great place to talk to others. They had this wonderful Tintin outside the front door!

Croagh Patrick

Climbing Croagh Patrick is seen as a penetential experience by the Irish and now I understand why!
As a girl who grew up by a mountain I should have known a 'cap' of cloud on top of the mountain would mean bad weather, but as I reached Croagh Patrick, the cloud appeared to be lifting. Just as well I took a few photos of the view on the way up as there was absolutely no view left on the way down!
The dome behind the statue of Patrick is the toughest part of the climb. It goes straight up, and it is hard to maintain your footing on the rocks you walk over.

This is a photo of the bay below with some of its many islands. On a good day, the view from the top must be absolutely magnificent.
However, such a view was not to be had the day I climbed. By the time I reached the top, you could not tell this chapel was actually on the top! Getting down again was very hard work as the wind was really strong. But it was a great sense of achievement at the end!


Wow, this is a really quick tour! I am skipping over time spent in Cork, Glengarriff, Kenmare and Killarney now to reach Dingle. It's not the isolated place that Lonely Planet had led me to believe, and at first I found it far too busy for my tastes. But there was actually a lot about Dingle to enjoy eg a marvellous concert, the atmospheric bare stone exposed in the local church, the Clarke stained glass windows.
I went on a couple of interesting tours in Dingle. This man runs Sciuirid Archeological Tours and his tour was wonderful. He is full of knowledge and explains things very well. He also makes it fun. Here he is explaining to us about Ogham stones.

This is a view of "sunny" Dingle. I was very glad when I found this coastal path.
However, I am not sure that sunny Dingle happens all that often. These two shots were taken on a misty day where you could barely see the hills on the other side of the harbour. I actually loved this misty atmosphere.
I found this kind of 'stile' intriguing: it allowed humans to slip through very easily while stopping the cows from coming through.