Author: restlessjo

Hi! I’m Jo! Johanna when I’m feeling posh, Jan to my Dad, and Joasiu to my Polish family. A bit of a mix-up, that’s me. The one constant, however, is my restless nature. I love to travel and to explore our world. It doesn’t have to be the big wide world. I can be ridiculously happy not too far from home, so long as I’m seeking new horizons. Of course I have a wish list, and it was to help me fulfil my dreams that I started to write travel guides for a venture called Simonseeks. I’d always kept a travel diary, and it was hugely satisfying to share my experiences and to make new friends who shared my passion for travel. Alas, Simonseeks hit a few troubles, but I still find myself writing about my travels. I’ve become addicted. I’d love to share them, and to make more friends. So, it has to be a blog- right? Or do I mean- write?

Jo’s Monday walk : Arbeia Roman Fort

Meeting friends for coffee in South Shields, nothing was further from my mind than a Roman Fort.  Remember Crossing the Tyne when I took you inside the National Centre for the Written Word?  It has a nice little cafe with a view (and strawberry and rhubarb cheesecake), and this particular day there were Monsters in the exhibition space.

It’s a good starting point for an amble south of the river and, once outside, my eyes lit up when I read on a signpost ‘Arbeia Roman Fort – 1 mile’.  Now that’s a destination you won’t find every day!  Farewells were bid.  I was on a mission.

The area was once a hive of industry, rich in pubs for slaking a good thirst.  A well placed mural brings it all back to life.

The Metro now runs across the High Street, a straggle of shops, pubs and restaurants with a few allusions to the past.

I almost missed the clue, but a left turn took me in the direction of the river, and a few minutes later I was staring at the reconstruction of the West Gate of a Roman fort.  Slightly incongruous, but impressive, in the midst of a South Shields housing estate.

Arbeia Roman Fort, standing above the entrance to the River Tyne, guarded the main route by sea to Hadrian’s Wall and was thus of great strategic importance to the Romans.  It was a key garrison and military supply base to other forts along the Wall.  It  surprised me to find that this reconstruction, on the exact site of the original fort of AD160, was recreated 30 years ago.

There are numerous information boards around the site and, within the West Gate, models of how the fort once looked and an Armoury.  You can climb to the turrets of the gate to look down upon the ruins, and north to the Tyne and Wallsend. (Segedunum in Roman times)

In addition to the West Gate there is a Commanding Officer’s house, partially rebuilt using some of the original floor and foundations.  It includes a palisade and summer dining room, with lovely frescoes on the walls.  The Barrack Block was built using traditional Roman techniques from the 3rd century.  Soldiers usually lived here, 8 to an apartment.

I was very lucky to get inside.  It was still pre-season, but a school party were paying a visit.  Excavations have been ongoing at the fort since the 1870s, with significant finds enabling us to piece together the life of a Roman soldier.  The website gives details of opening hours and how to get there.   It was a lovely afternoon as I headed down through the park to the mouth of the Tyne.  On the far shore, Tynemouth Priory and, looking south, far along the coast, distant Souter Lighthouse.  The day had not turned out at all as I expected.  Extraordinary, in fact.

I hope you enjoyed accompanying me along the Tyne.  Our heritage is fascinating, isn’t it?

Lots more walks to share this week, so pop the kettle on and have a good read.  Many thanks to all of you for keeping this going.  Join me any time.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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How’s morning where you are?  Come and sit harbourside with me and Drake!

Idyllic maltese mornings

You really wouldn’t want to hurry if you could spend time in Bhutan, like Ann Christine :

Walking Home – Slow Contemplation

My mother always loved lupins and Lisa’s are in a lovely location :

Return to Lupin Hill

Marsha takes some rather odd walks, don’t you think?

What you Should Know about Alligators : Instructions at Gatorland

Kathrin’s post epitomises sunny California.  Spot the ‘hidden’ beach!

Point Lobos State Reserve

Let Dippy-Dotty Girl brighten your day.  I can promise you a smile :

A Day in Lund

Never a dull moment with Jesh, either.  Anyone identify the flowers?

Enjoying The Park

I may be giving away secrets, but I hope Emma won’t mind :

Walking the Gower Coast : Pwll Du and Hunts Bay

You’ll be ready for food after all that walking.  Where else but Jackie’s place?

Luscious Lemons

Save some for the ducks and swans, with Lady Lee :

Swan Lake

Time spent with Pauline and Jack is always interesting.  Check out their sketches :

Time in Tenterfield : Road trip day 3

And day 4 takes us adventuring with boulders :

Into the Mountains : Day 4 of the road trip

When a photographer finds me, I have to reciprocate.  Meet Avirup at Walk of Life :

Photowalk at Territy Bazar – Kolkata

A sad little place?  Take a stroll with Irene :

Never Ending Trail

Now, for something completely different, a walk with my favourite beaver.  And Carol, of course!

Into the Blue

And here’s Carol, all alone (well, not really because Glen will be about too) :

Taking a Break

Still on the beautiful Australian coast, a walk with Karen rounds us off :

La Perouse Headland Walk

No complaints this week.  The amelanchier is blooming beautifully in our garden, and any chance I get, I’m out there.  Wishing you a week full of sunshine and blossom.

Six word Saturday

A hint of blue should do!

Most of the UK will have their share of blueness this weekend.  I’m just contributing a little more.  It was actually a cool, damp day in the Algarve when I wandered into the museum and church of Igreja da Misericordia de Tavira.  I had the place entirely to myself and spent a very pleasant hour browsing.  I’d say that the pretty blue ceramic tiles, azulejos, are Prolific in Portugal, wouldn’t you?

Enjoy whatever blue skies and sunshine come your way, but don’t forget to share Six Words with Debbie.  You may be bamboozled!

Jo’s Monday walk : Interrupted, in Knaresborough

It was Mother’s Day back in the UK, and I was fancying a treat.  Somewhere I hadn’t been in a while definitely appealed, and Knaresborough fit the bill very nicely.  This North Yorkshire market town lies on the River Nidd, and an iconic railway viaduct carries passengers into town, high above the river.  Even on a rather murky English day, it’s a splendid sight.

We parked just off the A59, on the edge of town, and strolled towards the centre.  Almost immediately we become aware of one of the quirkier aspects of Knaresborough, the painted trompe l’oeuil windows that adorn many of the buildings.

Town Windows illustrate characters and events from the town’s long history, and you can download the guide to find them all.  Many of the Georgian buildings were designed with blank windows, to avoid paying window tax.  The town has no shortage of interesting characters, two of them sitting side by side on benches in Market Square.  Sculptures, of course!  Ursula Southeil, a medieval seer, was known as Mother Shipton, and was said to have been born in a cave south of the town.  ‘Blind Jack’, or John Metcalf, lost his sight following smallpox in childhood, but that did not prevent him going on to become an accomplished violin player, and later a pioneering road builder.

I followed my nose into Green Dragon Yard, in search of tearooms, but was immediately distracted by the artwork.  ‘Art in the Mill’ is a contemporary gallery situated in a former flax mill.  The manufacture of linen was a cottage industry in Knaresborough, and flax was combed by hand in the mill, which dates from 1808.

Castle ruins with a mighty history next.  Built in 1100 by a Norman baron, Hugh de Moreville sought refuge there in the 1170s, after assassinating Thomas Becket.  In 1205 King John invested considerable money strengthening the castle, to use as a hunting base for Knaresborough Forest.  It was here that the first Royal Maundy took place, on 5th April, 1210, with the giving of alms to 13 poor men.  Extensions and rebuilding, including the Keep, were completed by the King Edwards.  The castle survived intact until 1648.  It was taken by Parliamentarian troops in 1644, during the Civil War, and was largely destroyed by them, as a Royalist stronghold, by decree of Parliament.  Admission details here.

It’s in a wonderful situation, looking down onto the viaduct and the weir.  Most of the town is at this upper level, steps leading down through gardens to the riverside, far below. Our intention was to follow the river beneath the overhanging cliffs, find the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, and then to cross over to the far shore.  As it happened the chapel wasn’t open, but it’s a pleasant wander, with the river meandering below.

There was a house or two that might have suited, though probably not the fortified House in the Rock.

A text message disrupted further progress.  Might we be heading to Leeds, half an hour away, where our son was happy to be included in the Mother’s Day celebrations?  What else do you do when your grown up offspring has time to spend with you?  The other bank of the river would certainly keep for another day.  But first, a scone for sustenance.  Honey Bees at Hannah’s, on Castlegate- simply scrumptious!

And a few more murals.  They’re great, aren’t they?  I hope to get back to Knaresbrough in the Summer, and show you Mother Shipton’s Cave.  For now, we’ll pop the kettle on and settle in for a good read.

Please find a little time to visit these, especially if it’s somebody you don’t know.  Many thanks to all you lovely contributors and patient readers.  Anyone can join in.  Just see my Jo’s Monday walk page for details.

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Drake to start us off again this week, with a hint of North African sunshine :

Glimpse of Tozeur

It takes more than a bit of Scottish weather to put Anabel off a lovely jaunt out!

A walk on Great Cumbrae

Candy shares beautiful images of nature in the north of Portugal.  And there’s cake!

The NIS PR3 walk at Velada

It’s that gal with the long post titles again!  Cheers, Marsha :

Why you don’t want to overlook the Boggy Creek Airboat Ride

How to open a pomegranate!  You never know when you might need this.  Thanks, Jackie!

Let’s do Lunch

And to wash down all that food, Lady Lee has a solution :

Sunday at the Beer Garden

You know what I’d really like to do?  Join Irene in the desert :

Morning Walk

Or I know Elaine would make excellent company, in sunny California :

A flower power walk

I don’t know about where you are, but me and Shazza have seen a lot of this lately :

The Tolkein Trail on a Rainy Day

And I know Eunice has had her share!  Wellies at the ready :

Exploring on the doorstep

Emma combines history and art with the beautiful Welsh coastline (and a bit of sunshine  🙂  ) :

Walking the Gower Coast : Caswell Bay & Brandy Cove

I love it when a plan comes together!  Denzil finds a guardian angel :

GR571 Stage 6: Gouvy to Verleumont

Truly exotic and stunningly beautiful photography- don’t miss Aarti!

A Walking Tour of La Paz

While Pauline finds somewhere that does a little good in the world :

Road Trip Flashback…

And, still in Oz, Carol watches another lovely evening fade :

Down to the Sea

I know there are rather a lot this week, but they’re great reading!  I may have to take my laptop into the garden, if the weather matches up to the forecast.  Hooray!  Make the most of it!

 

Six word Saturday

Random images remind me of ‘home’

In the midst of packing, and abysmal English weather, I pause to look back at what I have to look forward to.  One of these images might get me into trouble when I return.  My very last day, when the dry river beds weren’t, but the company was good.

I hope Spring has sprung for you.  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!  Let’s get straight to the point with Debbie and her Six Words.

My Call to Poland

Sukiennice, the impressive Medieval Cloth Hall, in  Kraków’s Rynek Glowny

You might call me unimaginative, but I’d never thought a great deal about Poland until that strange evening, 12 years ago, when Dad got a phone call from ‘home’.  For 64 years he’d had no contact with his Polish family, leaving the farm aged just 15, and in German custody.  That phone call turned our lives upside down.  Until then Dad had been my only Polish relative.  Imagine, overnight, you belong in an enormous family, who don’t even speak the same language as you.  But who welcome you with open arms.

That’s just how it was, and when Cathy asks ‘what is it that draws you to a place?’ then the lure of family surely has a part to play.  Over at Wanderessence she’s been exploring the reasons why we travel, and so much more.  I’ve always had that restless urge, but my first visit to Poland was a revelation.  I’ve never been hugged and kissed so much in my life.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Outside of family and friends, Polish people are not normally smiling nor especially welcoming.  Given their history, they have good cause to hold a little in reserve.  But Dad was the long lost brother, and was treated like Polish royalty, while I followed along in his wake, smiling fondly but often with little real idea of what was going on.  The language barrier, you see.

Coach and horses have right of way in Rynek Glowny

The country looked so very different to the one I was used to calling home.  The chalet style houses looked different, out in the countryside.  One of the things I found really strange was that pipes often ran overhead alongside the country roads, rather than underground, as I was used.  But in the historic centres of the cities, the intricately painted and decorated facades had me stand and gaze in awe.   Kraków and Wrocław- I’ve been privileged to know both of these beautiful cities, because of my family.

Polish eating habits are different too.  Second breakfast, lunch at 3 in the afternoon, and cake before and after almost everything! (that must be where I get it from 🙂  )  In the previous year, I and my husband had acquired a holiday home in Portugal.  Totally different culturally and in climate too, yet I found myself wondering, if we had known of the existence of the Polish family sooner, would I have been looking for a house in Poland?  I suspect I might.  I’ve always had the sea on my doorstep, and Poland is landlocked on 3 sides.  The Baltic coast is too far from family, but I’ve always been drawn to lakes and mountains too.  A visit to the Pieniny Mountain range, and the spa resort Szczawnica, linger in my memory.  Rafting through the Dunajec Gorge was a totally unforgettable experience.

I have shared some wonderful times with my Polish family, and written about them extensively, while trying not to give embarrassment.  The series My Personal A-Z of Poland has many tales to tell.  Dad died in October 2016 and I haven’t been back to Poland since.  But I can still feel the call.  Writing Easter cards took me back into each of their homes.  New youngsters have been born since my last visit, but my elders are growing older and, in some cases, frail.  I’m feeling the need to return, just once more, before starting my new life in the Algarve.

Dad with Uncle Wlodek, at home in Zgorzelec

I’m linking this to Cathy, on her series A Call to Place.  The lady is a human dynamo, seeking to improve her travel writing and to entertain us along the way.  Pay her a call.  She’ll be so glad to see you.

Jo’s Monday walk : Furnazinhas

This isn’t a walk so much as an amble into the sunny Portuguese countryside, but with the potential for a great deal more.  Furnazinhas is a small village, sometimes used for an overnight stay, at the eastern end of the Via Algarviana.  The whole walk runs from Alcoutim on the River Guadiana, the border with Spain, all the way to Cabo S. Vicente on the west coast.  You can break it down into stages, whilst taking in some of the Algarve’s most picturesque scenery.  Furnazinhas is a tranquil and lovely place to stay.  There’s a sense that time has passed the place right by.

It’s a small village and, arriving by car, we passed swiftly through it, then parked alongside the narrow roadside and walked back in.  It was one of those days that wasn’t going to plan.  I had tried and failed to join an exercise class in Tavira that morning, and plans to join Becky and Robert for lunch had fallen through.  The sun was shining brightly, so I tucked my pet lip away, and we headed for the hills.  My husband was convinced that the village would be a disappointment too, so I was wearing flip flops and intending to go to the beach afterwards.  For once, he was totally wrong.

Some places just speak to you immediately, don’t they?  As we strolled into the village, absorbing the silence, this sleepy little place was already getting under our skin.  Almost our first sighting was the signpost pointing out the PR10.  A stone slabbed lane led off through the village towards the hills beyond.  The realisation dawned that I needed my hiking boots to do this place justice.  Or at the very least, trainers.

We stopped to examine a map, and realised that we could have had two choices.  The PR9 was a circular 7.7km route, with a variety of ups and downs, while PR10 was a linear and flatter 7.8km, and a part of the Via Algarviana.  Unable to sensibly follow either, I determined to explore as much as I could of the village.  An elderly gentleman, seeing our interest, seemed happy to chat.  Before much longer he was leading us across the road, to his father’s former stables.

What a lovely surprise!  First he showed us the house where he and his wife live, when they don’t have guests for the Summer.  Then he unlocked the door of the smaller house opposite.  Steps lead down into a beautiful dining room, with a bedroom sleeping 4 above.  The old stone walls and ceilings of wood and bamboo give the place wonderful character, while spanking new bathrooms wouldn’t be out of place in a glossy magazine.  A small kitchen sits at the rear of the property, with barbecue looking onto an expanse of garden.  It had so much charm, I couldn’t stop smiling.

He explained that he’d worked in Faro until his retirement, but now he liked the peace and quiet of the countryside.  Who could blame him?  He said with a smile that he could always pop back to the city if he needed a bit more ‘life’.  Meanwhile Casa do Lavrador, the conversion of his Dad’s place, seemed to provide him with contentment and a living.

Having walked as far as I could through the village, I crossed over to explore the back streets of the opposite side.  An old lad, on a disability scooter, looked rather incongruous as he performed circuits, nodding at us as he passed.  A couple, deep in conversation on a doorstep, looked up, but scarcely paused to draw breath.  I was starting to feel hungry.  In the garden of a house set back from the street, a couple of gents were busy tucking in.  I could see no sign to indicate a restaurant, but it might well have been.

Like most Portuguese villages, there were signs of abandonment.  The young have to leave home to find work, and not everyone wants to return.  Terraces of crops and trees lined the fields behind the village.  Somebody had been hard at work.

I expect you’ve guessed that I’ll be going back, equipped with water and some proper shoes.  We may even rent the cottage and relish the peaceful life for a few days.  If that’s something you’d like to do, Casa do Lavrador is a Turismo Rural, and the phone number is +351 281 495 748.

The Via Algarviana stretches for 300km across the Algarve.  The website includes details of the trail, places to stay and a very seductive video.

Something to think about for the future?  I hope you’ll join me next time.

Many thanks to all you lovely people who follow me, and especially if you’ve shared a walk.  Please find time to read and share.  You can put the kettle on first, if you like.  I’ll wait.

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Join Drake in the desert?  He always makes such excellent company :

Sand excursion

Or simply gaze at the still, calm water with Irene :

Mirror Reflections

Emma has a good grumble in Mumbles.  Justified, I think :

Walking the Gower Coast; Limeslade and Langland Bays

What has Marsha been up to lately, you might be asking yourself?

Thrill of a Lifetime: How Novice Kayakers Navigate the Mangrove Tunnel of Doom

Feeling intrepid?  Sue leads the way.  Even on holiday, that girl can’t rest!

10 Tips Before Hiking Camelback Mountain, Phoenix

Treat yourself to the sweet scent of rosemary and lavender.  Becky had a wonderful Easter Sunday :

The ‘carpet strollers’ of São Brás de Alportel

A blockbuster of a share next, from Denzil :

The ‘In Bruges’ movie walking tour

No Jude this week, but Victoria does a stirling job on the Cornish coast :

4 Stunning Walks on the North Coast of Cornwall

Let’s finish with a flourish (and an icecream) and go hunting Eastern Water Dragons and penguins, with Karen :

Spit Bridge to Manly Wharf

That’s it for another week.  I think I’ll be back to sharing an English walk next Monday.  My Jo’s Monday walk page will tell you how to join in.  Please do!