London usually gets a snowfall about five times a year from December to February. Snow is both good and bad. Heavy snow causes delays and cancellations. But to walk around the city when it’s snowing is always nice…
The panorama from the Spinnaker Tower in Portmouth on the mouth of the Solent, a city with a Royal naval history, left me with a lasting impression. The Tower has a transparent floor which gave me a strange feeling when standing on the glass at a height of 170 meters. Have you ever flown over land in a balloon with a glass bottom basket? It was invented by aeronauts to give you a sharper acute feeling. When you fly over fields and meadows and it isn’t necessary to hang over the edge of the basket wall, because all is clearly visible under your feet, and picturesque views change one after the other. On the glass platform of the tower you can only see geometrical forms of the metal design and lapping sea waves under your feet. If you are brave enough to step into this limpid pool, first you will have to overcome your innermost fears.
The panoramic view of the sea and the landscape of the city visible through the transparent walls is the most delightful scenic view from the tower. In spite of the fact that views are stationary, it’s a breathtaking sight of the natural harmony of sea, carved coastlines of islands and the city’s modern architecture.
The naval history of Portsmouth is about 800 years old but legends about sea pirates date back to before the Roman invasion. Take a walk along the embankment, visit the museums and you will learn a lot about the history. In one particular exhibit, it’s possible to be photographed with sculptures of pirates, you can learn shipbuilding history and to see historical ships and fragments of more ancient vessels.
The Tudor carrack Mary Rose, a leader of the English fleet of the 15th century, sank off the coast of the Isle of Wight in 1545, protecting the island from the French. In a sea museum there you can see fragments of this sailing vessel lifted from the bottom of the sea 30 years ago. Similar ships were used on the oceans during an era of great geographical discoveries since the 17th century. Where can you find such a historical monument? HMS Warrior is the first iron-hulled warship to be built in the world in 1890. It never participated in any sea battles, probably a sad story for a frigate. But today it is a museum ship moored in Portsmouth harbour.
The legendary HMS Victory was the flagship of Admiral Nelson, famous for the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The ship is in dry dock by the sea embankment of the city of Portsmouth, on this ship the admiral went on his last battle, where he was fatally wounded. A statue of Lord Nelson is on top of a column in Trafalgar Square in London immortalising the chronicles of this piece of English history.
On the same embankment as the Victory in Portsmouth, you will find Henry the 8th’s sculpture. He was not only a King but also a dictator and a despot yet this significant figure created some of the history of this city. History will never judge people it simply portrays what events have occurred. The same goes with writers, we find their novels and stories very ingenious, the more known and respectable they are. People like Charles Dickens who was born in this city. We like to read their literary works but more often than not, we don’t really know what kind of persons they were in real life.
Since the invention of the airplane, airports became more important than seaports like Portsmouth because of their faster movement around the planet. But on a ferry from Portsmouth it is still possible to go to France, Spain and the beautiful Isle of Wight and board very large cruise ships for sea trips across the Atlantic and other destinations.
More to follow on the naval history of Portsmouth…
Poetical blue lakes, fairytale wild forests, lyrical mountain landscapes, empty beaches – all of these make up Snowdonia, the wonderful national park in northern Wales, once occupied by ancient Celts who worshiped pagan gods. They communicated with the spirits though the wildlife, they didn’t represent their deities based on an image of a human but based on natural things that surrounded them. It becomes clear when you admire this magnificent natural beauty created during the Ice Age.
Snowdon is the highest point in the Cambrian Mountains. One July morning we drove to this place along a road that runs through the empty hills and mountains of the National park. Looking at these lovely hills they reminded me of the movie of the Englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain. In Britain they tend call a hill a mountain if its height is more than 1000 feet. The story is about two Englishmen who arrived to measure hills in Wales, the proud welsh people in a small village couldn’t believe that the highest point in their district will be called a hill because it was less 1000 feet. So, all the inhabitants of the village were organized to build up this hill into a mountain, dragging earth to the top by all possible means. I smiled as I would have liked to have seen this mountain, but they told me it was only a legend and a film.
Nevertheless, in this legend the character of the Welsh people was beautifully portrayed. They are descendants of the ancient Celts who lived in Wales and they still speak the classic Welsh language as well as English. I could not understand a word when listening to the local radio station. The language was absolutely different from any others I had heard before. Maybe that is why it sounded so mysterious and mythical. This classic language keeps the history of Wales going down many generations!
Lonely hills and blue mirror lakes along our way seemed unreal in this beautiful area, mainly because it was absolutely silent. We had a nice journey along twisting roads and the heather fields seemed to be infinite in some uninhabited areas. As soon as we approached some high mountains, the woods appeared thicker with the rivers adding a pleasant natural noise.
Ancient Druids priests, considered three trees sacred – the oak, the elm, and the hawthorn. They created a horoscope, describing the characters of people on the basis of trees. Who am I on a druid horoscope? A jasmine, maybe this is the reason why this blossoming tree bewitches me! I looked at my partner and I started laughing as he liked figs since his childhood and the fig tree is his sacred tree. May be the blood of ancient Druids flows in our veins? Historians and researchers say that ancient druids occupied the territory of Western Europe, and moved to the British Isles when escaping from a glacier.
At last this mountain called Snowdon appeared in a gray-dark green landscape shrouded in fog. The cold penetrating fog came down from the surrounding mountain; it was cold and uncomfortable standing on a viewing platform in our summer clothes. I looked at an old lonely stone house in the valley below and dreamt about a nice warm fireplace. We set off again along the empty road in total silence, with the nature passing us by on the outside echoing of myths and legends of ancient times.
In Betws-y-coed, Welsh name meaning «the temple in the wood» the tourist center was nestling among dense greenery with water falls cascading into the river, almost like the wild Rocky Mountains. You can hear the Welsh language being spoken in the street. The old culture encompasses traditions in poetry and music. Another city on our way was Corwen where tales are told about the Welsh knights and the last Welsh prince, who protected these lands from English.
Snowdon in Snowdonia, Snow Dun translated from old English means “snowball”. In winter these hills and mountains are covered with a white dusting of snow. Let’s visit this white silence next winter…