Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Brown vs Blair on the moral issues

Here is how Blair has voted.

Blair, Tony C L (Labour)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service
Voting Record

Voted against "mainly Christian" Religious Education throughout England and Wales in 1988
Abstained or was absent on the votes for Section 28
Voted against banning experiments on human embryos
Voted for reducing the abortion limit to 24 weeks
Abstained or was absent on the vote for making doctors specify the handicap when allowing abortion up to birth
Abstained or was absent on the vote for a public register of pro-life doctors
Abstained or was absent on the votes for an incitement to religious hatred offence in 2001
Voted for 'no-fault' divorce
Abstained or was absent on the votes for an 18 month or for a 2 year waiting period prior to divorce
Abstained or was absent on the vote for removing the ban on homosexuals joining the armed forces
Voted for reducing the homosexual age of consent to 16
Abstained or was absent on the vote for allowing greater freedom for religious broadcasting
Voted for research using human cloning
Abstained or was absent on the votes for preventing euthanasia
Abstained or was absent on the votes for the Second and Third Readings of the Civil Partnership Bill
Abstained or was absent on the vote for extending the Civil Partnership Bill to cover siblings
Abstained or was absent on the votes for restricting the parental right to smack
Voted for allowing unmarried and homosexual couples to adopt children
Abstained or was absent on the votes for the Second and Third Readings of the Gambling Bill
Abstained or was absent on the votes for the Second and Third Readings of the Gender Recognition Bill
Abstained or was absent on the vote for including protection for churches and religious organisations in the Gender Recognition Bill
Abstained or was absent on the vote for reclassifying cannabis
Abstained or was absent on the vote for abolishing the blasphemy laws
Abstained or was absent on the votes for the Religious Hatred Bill on 21 June 2005
Abstained or was absent on the vote for the the 'Lester Amendment' which deletes the incitement to religious hatred offence and instead modifies existing law on racial hatred
Abstained or was absent on the vote for Third Reading of the Religious Hatred Bill on 11 July 2005
Voted against the Lords amendments to the Religious Hatred Bill on 31 January 2006 in the first vote and was absent on the second vote
Abstained or was absent on the vote for keeping the presumption that religious charities provide public benefit
Abstained or was absent on the vote for increasing the number of regional casinos from 1 to 8

8 votes against what I would call the Christian position and 21 abstentions. Pathetic for a man who professes to be a believer.

Now Brown

Abstained or was absent on the vote for "mainly Christian" Religious Education throughout England and Wales in 1988
Voted against Section 28
Voted against banning experiments on human embryos
Voted for reducing the abortion limit to 24 weeks
Voted against making doctors specify the handicap when allowing abortion up to birth
Abstained or was absent on the vote for a public register of pro-life doctors
Abstained or was absent on the votes for an incitement to religious hatred offence in 2001
Abstained or was absent on the vote for 'no-fault' divorce
Abstained or was absent on the votes for an 18 month or for a 2 year waiting period prior to divorce
Voted for removing the ban on homosexuals joining the armed forces
Voted for reducing the homosexual age of consent to 16
Abstained or was absent on the vote for allowing greater freedom for religious broadcasting
Abstained or was absent on the vote for research using human cloning
Abstained or was absent on the votes for preventing euthanasia
Abstained or was absent on the votes for the Second and Third Readings of the Civil Partnership Bill
Abstained or was absent on the vote for extending the Civil Partnership Bill to cover siblings
Abstained or was absent on the votes for restricting the parental right to smack
Abstained or was absent on the votes for allowing unmarried and homosexual couples to adopt children
Abstained or was absent on the votes for the Second and Third Readings of the Gambling Bill
Abstained or was absent on the votes for the Second and Third Readings of the Gender Recognition Bill
Abstained or was absent on the vote for including protection for churches and religious organisations in the Gender Recognition Bill
Abstained or was absent on the vote for reclassifying cannabis
Abstained or was absent on the vote for abolishing the blasphemy laws
Voted for the Second Reading of the Religious Hatred Bill on 21 June 2005
Abstained or was absent on the vote for the the 'Lester Amendment' which deletes the incitement to religious hatred offence and instead modifies existing law on racial hatred
Abstained or was absent on the vote for Third Reading of the Religious Hatred Bill on 11 July 2005
Voted against the Lords amendments to the Religious Hatred Bill on 31 January 2006
Abstained or was absent on the vote for keeping the presumption that religious charities provide public benefit
Abstained or was absent on the vote for increasing the number of regional casinos from 1 to 8

Identical numbers to Blair. We are losing Tweedledee and getting Tweedleglum.

So I thought I would look at some other professed Christains.

Frank Field Pro-Chrisitan votes 10, Otherwise 11, abstain/absent 8
Simon Hughes 9, 9, 11
Ian Paisley 19, 0, 10
Anne Widdicome 24, 0, 5
So full marks to Doris Karloff.
Our local MP is bettter than his leaders.
Stephen Pound 4, 13, 12.
David Cameron 8, 2. 7.
I think he may have been there for fewer parliaments than the others.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Headingley


Plunkett, very erratic, bowls to Joseph in the West Indies first innings of the second test. My brother and I had a very good day, much better than the last time I was there in 1961 when I saw England score about 123 in a day against the Aussies.

England resumed at 266 for 5 with Pietersen on 130. When he was out for 226, Vaughan declared at 570 for 7. The Windies did not do well despite Plunkett and Harmison being erratic. They had to follow on at 140 all out, 23 of which were extras. The closed at 22 for 2 with Powell, their time wasting night watchman, fittingly dismissed by Sidebottom's last ball of the day. He was by far the best bowler with 54 for 6 on the day.

The next day was washed out so we had picked the right day to be there.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Perfect example of the nanny state

From the BBC,
Pregnant women and those trying for a baby should avoid alcohol completely, according to new government advice.
It replaces existing advice that one to two units such as a couple of glasses of wine per week is acceptable.

The change follows concern from some sectors that there is no safe amount of alcohol that mothers-to-be can drink.

While heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy is known to be damaging to the unborn child, the effects of more moderate intake are less clear.

There is no proven safe level of alcohol to drink during pregnancy because any amount can pass through the placenta to the baby

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says there is no evidence that a couple of units once or twice a week will do any harm to the baby.

The Department of Health said the revision was not based on new scientific evidence but was needed to help ensure that women did not underestimate the risks to their baby. end.

So, no science, only Big Nanny here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What happened to the presumption of innocence?

BBC reports that Criminal record checks have not been carried out on tens of thousands of NHS staff, including those working with children and vulnerable adults.

This seems to wory people. Why should every person in some official contact with children be so checked unless it is that everyone is now a paedophile until they prove otherwise? Presumption of paedophilia has replaced a legal presumption of innocence. I refuse to undergo such a check. It is bad enough having to prove to a bank that I am not a money launderer. When I first opened a current account my father took me to the manager and I was issued with a cheque book. There was trust. Now there is nothing but distrustful bureaucracy.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Prison visiting

Yesterday, for the second time in my life I was in prison.....as a visitor.I knew the procedure. The prisoner has to send you an official visiting invitation. You have to book a visit. You need ID and may take nothing, absolutely nothing in except up to £20 for snacks.

A couple of observations. Political correctness rules. In the waiting area there are posters about how to report racist incidents and a booklet with IIRC instructions in 12 languages. A racist incident is one which someone perceives as racist. Victim culture rules!

One is searched on entry but the search was not as thorough as when I travelled through Stanstead Airport.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Will Blair become RC?

Blair it seems is following his wife and children. The surprising bit is that he is joining a conservative church radically opposed to the homosexualist and feminist agendas Blair has promoted for 10 years in power.... and what about abortion?

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Planning permission

BBC reports, "Plans to cut red tape and make it easier to build home extensions are expected to be announced by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly next week.
A White Paper will propose an "impact" test for developments which would currently require planning permission. Under the proposals, such developments would no longer need permission where there is little impact on neighbours. "

The BBC fails to report that no-one needs planning permission for anything provided what is done complies with curent planning law. This is because under English common law everything not forbidden is permitted. So if the planning law does not prohibit what you are going to do you are at liberty to do it. You do not have to ask permission to obey any law. Contrast this with European law where everything is forbidden unless the law allows it.

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Woman Beaten For Being Muslim

It is disgusting and the perpetrators should suffer the due penalties. However, the lady in question could protect herself in a very simple way; dress that integrates with the majority culture. My wife does it in Islamic countries as my blog evidences if you look for Afghanistan. I suggest Muslim women should do so here. It can be done with modesty and will promote harmony.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Judicial review needed?

Did you see it reported yesterday that a high court judge aged 59 did not know what a web site was? Where does the Lord Chancellor get them from? Burke and Hare?

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

England but not as you think you know it.

Waiting for a bus outside the local station I noticed I was the only white among a dozen or more in the queue. Then I started observing cars passing. I counted 50 before the bus came and I saw no whites in them. On the bus I was quite taken aback. 3 whites out of 16 travellers.

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HM and I go to Lords - separately

First day of the first test of the year was delayed by rain then spoiled by bad light decisions. I only saw 48 overs for my £40.I left at 5pm when they went off yet again for the light. I had to visit Katy in hospital recovering from back surgery. Only 8 more overs were bowled.Colleymore bowls at Cook.
Cook finished the day 102 not out. I also saw him make a century here on day one against Pakistan last year.
The Queen arrived just before tea and straight away they were off for the light.
She met the teams. I am pleased to get these from right across the ground.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Islam’s apologists completely miss the point.

What the apologists seem to miss, however, is that, even if their watered-down, made-to-accord-with-the-West version of Islam is more authentic, that doesn’t really change a thing. Repudiating the validity of “literalist” interpretations of the Koran is totally beside the point. The issue isn’t which “version” of Islam is “correct.” The issue is that there are Muslims who have interpreted, do interpret, and always will interpret the mandates of Islam literally. As long as the Koran contains a plenitude of verses commanding Muslims to be in a perpetual state of war with non-Muslims (e.g., Koran 9:5, 9:29, 9:123), to “strike terror into the hearts of infidels” and “to strike their heads off” (Koran 8:60 and 47:4), all with assurances that “Allah has purchased the lives and possessions of the Believers in exchange for paradise: they fight in his cause, slaying and being slain” (9:111) — there will always be those faithful (Ramadan’s “minority of literalists”) who take these words for what they plainly mean.

Thus, even if we were to agree with Ramadan that the vast majority of Muslims are “moderates” and that, say, only a mere 20 percent of Muslims are “literalists,” that simply means that some 200 million Muslims in the world today are dedicated enemies of the infidel West. At any rate, when it comes to instilling terror, numbers are of no significance. It took only 19 to wreak great havoc and destruction on American soil on 9/11. It won’t take much more to duplicate that horrific day. This is precisely why, to use Ramadan’s own words, “we are obsessed by the few [radical Muslims] and not seeing the many [moderate Muslims].” That most Muslims are good, law-abiding citizens and that only a mere minority of the umma, say, 200 million, are hell-bent on destroying the West — how is that supposed to be any comfort to us? - Raymond Ibrahim

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The blindness about Eurovision

BBC says The Eurovision Song Contest voting system needs to be changed because it is "harmful to the relationship between the peoples of Europe", an MP has said.
Countries voted for their neighbours rather than the best songs, Liberal Democrat MP Richard Younger-Ross said.

Come on. get real. Europe hates us, especially because of Iraq and we hate the E.U. The sooner we are out of stupid Union and Contest the better.

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Providences

There are no accidents in the life of the Christian. ROWLAND BINGHAM

Very often people ask why bad things happen to them, rarely do they give thanks for good things. They ask why God does not protect them from misfortune but rarely give thanks that he protects them from evil.

This morning I had occasion to give such thanks. I had it seems mislaid my car key from yesterday. I found they were in the door of the car left in the drive at the front of the house.They had been there 11 hours. If the car had been stolen the insurance would not have paid out due to my carelessness.

Providence; The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Kent Earthquake

My son David who lives in Canterbury gives this commentary on the day the Kent earth moved.

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The Bargain by Ian Curteis

Usually our theatre choice is determined by the play, with the Bard, Wilde and opera as favorites. But sometimes it is the actors influencing our choice. So it was when we chose to see a modern play starring Susan Hampshire. We had enjoyed her so much in The Lady in the Van we risked a play first performed only two months ago.

It is an imaginative piece of writing about what might have taken place when Mother Theresa visited Robert Maxwell (Michael Pennington). Both wanted something form the other. Maxwell was the more ruthless bargainer, to the point of blackmail, but Theresa was the more skillful, harder, bargainer who got her way in the end. To our surprise, Susan Hampshire did not play Mother Theresa but her personal assistant, Sister. She was too tall for Theresa played by Anna Calder-Marshall . The cast was completed by Maxwell's Sidekick as he was known, played by Jonathan Coy.

This was a very enjoyable evening. A fascinating story superbly acted. It explored the strengths and weaknesses of all four characters in the cast in a very witty and humorous way. Excellent. See it if you can

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Three score and one


Birthday boy had a great day which started inordinately early, rising 3.15 am to take Debbie and three friends form church to Heathrow en route for two weeks helping AID's sufferers in Ethiopia.

Later in the morning Carlo came to cook an authentic Italian four course lunch.
Course number three, the main one after the pasta.
Tiramisu to finish but a strawberry special for the girls. David and family were absent as they were celebrating Elizabeth's granddad's 90th.
Elissa, the youngest present, at one month.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

The joy of EU membership

From the BBC,
Europe children flood into Slough
A Berkshire town has been struggling to cope with nearly 90 children who have arrived unaccompanied from Eastern Europe.
The Roma children, one as young as ten, have apparently paid someone in Romania to send them to Slough.

The Borough Council does not know why it has been singled out but has been forced to set up a special team and spend £150,000 helping the children.

It has called for more government help to offset the strain on other services.

Family members

The authority has revealed that since 1 January, when Romania joined the European Union, 88 Romanian Roma children have arrived asking for help.

The children usually arrive in groups of three, but six have had babies of their own and seven have been pregnant.

The local authority has had to set up an emergency Roma assessment team.

It is currently supporting 53 children while others have been sent to live with family members who have been located in other parts of the UK. end quote


Come friendly gypsies, descend on Slough.
The only surprise to me is this is the first report of Romas I have seen. Having seen the prejudice against them in Romania I expected thousands of them to migrate here once Romania joined the detested Union.

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Intimations of mortality

I am 61 today. In the last year I have produced a family tree with over 1000 entries. Looking at the direct male lines, paternal and maternal I have five paternal generations and these men lived 51 to 76 years averaging 64. On mother's side four men 62 to 72 averaging 65. So there is hope yet.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

He IS going!

No tears shed here at Tony's going, unlike Maggie's. One thing in his favour to damn him with faint praise,"Better the devil you know... than that Scotsman". Click on the link and you have the assessment of three historians. I do not think a lot of them.

Blair has to be one of Maggie's great achievements. Why did he have to move Labour away from the left and to the centre? Because Maggie had changed the political landscape.

Blair has asked to be remembered as an honest man. I do not doubt his sincerity but do not join with Dubya in lauding his integrity. He lied over the promised EU referendum. He has strengthened the special relationship and one is pleasantly surprised at his cordial relations with Bush after being such a friend of Clinton too.

Blair did nothing to rescue us from the ever encircling tentacles of the EU. At least he kept us off the Euro but we have more and more legislation from Brussels including the appalling human rights nonsense. He lost the rebate Maggie secured.

He has encouraged the break up of the Union by Scottish and Welsh devolution which gives benefits to the Celtic fringes at the expense of the English tax payer. He continues to let Scotstish MPs vote on matters which belong to England alone

He may be remembered for progress towards a more peaceable Ireland but will there be any lasting peace without justice. Where is justice when murderers walk free?

Iraq is the popular stick with which to beat Blair. I am not wielding it. I am for the overthrow of tyrants with or without the approval of that third world talking shop, the UN. I think he was sincere in his belief about WMDs. I think Saddam gor them out to Syria. However the future of Iraq was not thought through. I did not support him in Kosovo, an intervention that was of no relevance to the UK. I regret he saw no need to intervene in Sudan or Zimbabwe. He has been commended for his actions after 9/11. I believe neither he nor any other western leaders have the resolve to deal with the fifth column which is Islam in our midst. Islamism is an inherent part of this religion. It is a persecuting religion which must dominate. The clash of cultures is inevitable. Multiculturalism is a broken reed.

He sought to be a populist latching onto the appalling Diana sentimentalism with "the peoples'princess".

He destroyed the hereditary principle it he Louse of lords yet could find no solution to what to do with the upper chamber. His record on the misuse of the Parliament Act to overrule the Lords, especially on moral matters not part of the manifesto was a disgrace.

His press man, Campbell famously said they did not do God. Very true. Some fool hailed Blair as the most christian PM since Gladstone. Blair is not fit to carry the GOM's bible. he has a totally privatised religion which is never evidence by his voting record. Blair has promoted homosexuals and their orientation. Mandleson twice had to resign before he was pushed off to Brussels on the gravy train.
Blair gave us a lowered age of queer consent, civil parnerships and SORs. He will answer the the judge of all.

The economy has been safeguarded pretty well but he was given a good base from Major. A fine piece of sophistry raised National Insurance instead of income tax. Did that money ever go to the bottomless pit of the NHS?. Overall we have had huge tax increases. The state has grown. All professions are snowed under with paperwork. The dependency culture thrives. Students are forced into more and more debt.He wants more and more a police state EVERYONE CARRYINH AN ID CARD.

Immigration has been out of control, especially from the EU. Out of that bugbear is the only way to control our borders.

Blair has liberalised drinking, encouraged gambling and treated smokers as pariahs, as morally reprehesible as fox hunters.

He has moved the Conservatives to the left. His millennium celebrations were a disgrace to our history. He has promoted the nonsense of green taxes. He has restored to London a totally unnecessary tier of government. His party could not find a mayor better than the maverick Red Ken.

Blair chose old left for his deputy, a man given to violence and adultery, a man kept and defended by Blair. One of the best things about Blair going is Prescott's going too. Imagine him as a lord.

I shall be generous. Marks 2/10.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

More on Icons of England

A year ago I discussed the Icons of England. The compilers have added more and I wish to comment.

The Archers
Now known as the politically correct adulterers and civil unionists.

The Bobby
I did suggest Policeman's Helmet. Sadly we see little of either as the police are busy filling in forms at the station when they are not persecuting motorists.

Bonfire Night
Yes and remember the effigy is really the pope.

Bowler Hat
Like all hats, increasingly rare but another of my nominations.

Cheddar Cheese
I prefer Blue Stilton or Wensleydale.

Doctor Who
Who?

Fish and chips
Another of mine. Increasingly expensive since the EU let the Spanish loose on our cod and tied up our boats

Fox-hunting and the Ban
I nominated the former and object the latter as a piece of class warfare.

Hedges
Losing more and more?

The Iron Bridge
Yes but we need something from Brunel in the list.

The Lake District
With Wainwright to guide.

Magna Carta
Before EU dictats replace it all

The Mini
Good design.

Monty Python
Representative of English humour but no icon.

Mrs Beeton's Book Of Household Management
Old but better than interminable TV cooks, the gorgeous nigella excepted.

Narrowboats on Canals
Iconic of the Industrial revolution.

Oak Tree
Hearts of oak were our men but now they surrender to Iranian pirates.

Oxbridge
A couple of provincial universities but OK.

The Oxford English Dictionary
How many volumes? I ask because there are at least three editions.

Parish Church
Amen and non-conformist chapels too.

The Peak District
Where are the Yorkshire dales and moors?

The Phone Box
Only in red.

The Pint
Cheers!

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
Told you so last year

The Robin
Sentimentalism. Where are the pets?

Robin Hood
Icon of redistribution of wealth or of lawlessness?

Rolls-Royce
Haven't we sold the car business?

The Rose
White please.

Rugby
Of two varieties.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Too recent for an icon.

Sherlock Holmes
Elementary.

Stiff Upper Lip
We are losing it.

The Thames
Yes.

Tower of London
I have nominations for imprisonment and appointment on Tower Green.

The Tube Map
Original.

The V-sign
Two sorts?

The Weather
Or conversation about it?

Westminster Abbey
Especially the tomb of the Unknown Soldier

White Cliffs of Dover
The view of England.

Wimbledon
Or merely strawberries and cream?

Winnie-the-Pooh
And the rest of the cast.

So there remain my additions.

Statue of Oliver Cromwell, Westminster.
Last Night of the Proms.
Oxford Martyrs' Memorial.
Kings College Chapel.
John Bull
Guardsman
Old School Tie
Paradise Lost
Cliff Richard
Margaret Thatcher
Windsor Castle
The Boat Race
The Grand National
Coarse Fishing
Mallard
Vintage Bentley

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Chalk and cheese in N.I.

So Big Ian and the republican Bearded Wonder are going to govern together from today. I wonder what oath they are swearing? Adams and his ilk have always refused to be sworn in as M.P.s are they will not swear loyalty to H.M.

Am I as cynical as the Times cartoonist?

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Monday, May 07, 2007

The joy of having a practical son in law

This afternoon there was a big crash at our back. Eric, our temporary lodger was out. he had failed to obey Katy's instruction to close open windows or fasten them properly when open. A window had swung in the wind and the 70 year old frame which was somewhat weak had broken and the window was smashed on the ground. I measured up and looked for wood in the shed. Katy sensibly phoned Adrian who came and took over. We now have wood in the window from an old door I saved for 20 years. It should last until we get some more double glazing done, probably next January when it is cheapest. Thank you Adrian.

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Beard survives

Despite the distaff side verbal assault my beard survives. This is due to stubbornness and good hermeneutics.The latter because this morning I read Ezekiel 5:1 with its clear instructions to shave off the beard. But good hermeneutics means you read in context. The command was to Ezekiel not Graham. Thankfully I am not one of those evangelicals who say, "The Lord gave me a verse this morning". He gives me 66 books every day though average reading is only four chapters daily.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Farewell to Istria

Clicking on the header will link you too the home page of our kind hosts' apartment.Goodbye Rovinj.It is Friday night and tomorrow we fly from Pula to Standstead. Borko's taxi is excellent value at £15 to the airport and he has alawys been on time.Bye bye Istria. We are over Limski Canal and I still have not seen the huge nudist camp down there.Back to pharmacy on Monday. Not this one. It is in Pula museum.

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Around Rovinj


Walking from the harbour we are going round through the old town and up by the church.The path is on the right.Looking back to the harbour from near the church.
Looking west across the Adriatic.
Looking north towards Venice.
Lizard on the rocks by the church.

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Buzet

The ancient town of Buzet, called Pinquentum during the Roman times, is situated in the heart of Istria at the top of a hill, at the foot of the impressive Čičarije, near the source of the Mirna River.It has changed masters throughout its history, and received its present day look in the fifteenth century under Venetian rule. The town fortress and two town gates have been preserved from that time. The baroque fountain, restored in 1789, is one of the most beautiful, preserved town fountains Population 6,059 (2001)but only about 500 living in the city itself, the largest settlement being Funtana in the valley below Buzet. .Already at the time of Venetian rule Buzet supplied military stations and the local population with potable water. Today the region of Buze-stina is the central area of the future Native Park of Istria. Exceptionally beautiful, almost intact nature and an abundance of cultural and historical monuments, together with wholesome, home-made food (especially wide known funges - truffles), exquisite local wines, folklore (ancient music playing - lamentations and dances - balun, legends of citadels) and pearls of small towns on conically shaped hills (Roc, Hum, Vrh and Sovinjak) are a real promised land for peaceful rest.

The parish church of the Assumption of Mary, carved into the bare rock, dominates the town's main square.
A new settlement has developed at the base of the old town core from where I took this view and where I had a good haircut for £4.
One drives up round haipins to the old city and enter a one way system through this gate.The Venetian-style Large Gate and Small Gate date from the late 16th century and the town's most outstanding monument, the Church of St George was built in 1611. Amazingly there are no parking restrictions. What can it be like in summer?
Leving Buzet.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Not pleasant matters

Is this fine beard too much? She Who Must Be Obeyed says it has to be trimmed :-(

As if that were not enough, this is my left abdomen at present, just to educate those who do not know what shingles looks like. I am off work for a week. Every cloud has a silver lining.

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A snowman without snow

We stand now in the Hall of Statues, the last room of the cave.In the end Jama Baredine presents us again a wonderful panorama. The most striking calcite formation is the Snowman, the biggest stalagmite in the cave with more than 2,5 meter of height. Some of the formations are still permanently active, that means they are still sprinkled by running water and are still growing. Such startling formations are especially attractive to watch.The snowman grows a centimetre a year, much much faster than stalagmites.
After rainfall and in spring there is a little lake formed in the hall, which increases the magic of this room.



The ascent out, over 60 metres to climb, left me puffing and in need of a local beer at £1.50 for 0.5L. I also brought some honey grappa to bring home but I am not enthusiastic as it has a strange taste not noticed when sampling.

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More from Baredine

In the following chamber grows the tower of Pisa.
There is an important detail to be seen at the ceiling, the so called initial channel, the first way of the water, along which the whole cave was formed.


Steps lead down to the fourth chamber. In front of us huge draperies of more than 10 meters of length hang from the ceiling. (Their age is presumably more than 100 000 years, because they grow only a few millimeters in 10 years!)

To the right we look into the Big Shaft, which leads down 60 meters in three steps and is filled with water at the bottom.
There is the habitat of the famous Proteus, the biggest real troglodyte.
As a special attraction we can have a close look at one specimen in a small pool left of the path.
The animal is perfectly adjusted to live in eternal night. It is white because it doesn’t need any protection from sunlight. Its eyes became stunted but the constitution is still there. This shows that it lived in former times above ground. It is believed that it fled at the end of ice age into the coolness of the caves. By the way it lives very long - as long as a human being?

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Baredine caves

Jama Baredine means translated Cave on the fallow land. The word Jama means in Croatian (in contrast to the Slovenian usage) shaft cave, that is a cave, which partially leads down vertically. Nowadays the visitor can climb down 221 steps into a depth of 60 meters without any danger and covers about 150 m of an easy passageway, which lasts about an hour. Thanks to the skillfully chosen electrical lighting he can admire the partially exceptional splendid, varied and enormous calcite formations
You also can see large frogs.
In 1926 a group of cavers from Triest found its way for the first time down to a depth of 80 meters.It was 1974 when the cave was explored and surveyed again by a group of young cavers from Porec under the direction of the present owner and cave guide Silvio Legovic to the full extension of 116 m of depth. (The group was organized as speleo club Proteus two years later.)The development for a show cave began in 1994 and finished in 1996.Since that the cave has a constantly increasing number of visitors and offers to them an insight into the world of caves and Karst.
We arrive at the entrance hall with dimensions of 6 x 15 meters and the first enlargement of the way. The ceiling is here about 10 meter high and first deposits of stalagmites can be seen, which, as in many other places of the cave, attract attention through their red color. Their origin lies in the infiltration of red earth (Terra Rossa) which is typically for the surface of this region.


We continue to go down the boulder slope, the original cave floor is a lot more deeper., material from outside has filled up the entrance part very much.
Then we pass through some draperies. The ceiling lowers and we arrive at the Red Hall. The calcite formations of the cave become more and more beautiful. Specialties are completely white crystals, which show up at different places. At the left-hand wall in half height they form a whole line.
At the bottom of the Red Hall we stand in front of a huge boulder of about 40 m³, which fell from the ceiling a long, long time ago. The ceiling is about 25 meters above the floor at this place. You can also see there for the first time the original cave floor. The walls are completely covered by calcite. At the left-hand wall it has the form of cauliflower. It’s interesting that the stalagmites and stalactites shine through, when you hold a light behind them.


Soon the ceiling lowers down up to 1,70 meters in places. We are now in a real wood of calcite formations. Stalactites which hang from the ceiling and stalagmites which grow upwards from the floor are there in all forms and sizes. The thin from the ceiling hanging straws have given this chamber the name "spaghetti chamber".
The way passes by a beautiful, startling calcite pillar. Directly beside the way we can marvel at formations in 3 colors: red ones, snow white ones and almost black formations grow there side by side.

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Istrian agriculture


Istria was a major supplier of wine and olive oil from Roman times.

In April the vines are starting to grow.

One sees many olive orchards but there is also much undeveloped land.

Seeing the old spud lug tractor and threshing machine took me back to my Yorkshire boyhood.

Wine press and mill for olives.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dvigrad


There are not many such beautiful and exciting dead towns located so near an urban area like Dvigrad in Istria. There are numerous remnants of towers, castles and ancient cities, but Dvigrad is absolutely unique. It was not destroyed by some military power, or devoured by fire; it was rather abandoned by its inhabitants to undergo its solitary death. The ruins remain as a warning to the passers-by, and as an example to its visitors and guests of what Istrian Medieval towns looked like.
The history of Dvigrad is usually seen in its remains - the ruins. But those very ruins, those great stones, long to unfold its story to the unexpected guest.
Dvigrad is situated in Draga - a deep valley that stretches from Pazin to the sea, ending in a sea chanel - Lim. Lim served as a border between the Pula and Porec territories. In prehistoric times and in the classical period a way ran through the Draga valley connecting the coast with the inland of Istria. Dvigrad - as its name implies - consists of two towns. Today, only one town can be seen on the norhtern side of the valley, and it is in ruins. Parentin, that used to stand on the other side of the valley, cannot be seen at all. Only the plateau has remained of the other town. Dvigrad already existed in prehistoric times, and its history can be traced through archeological finds and later through the written documents. As a part of the Roman province of Istria, Dvigrad stood on the borderline between the Pula and Porec “agri”. That was an excellent position, since very important roads crossed here. According to the archeological finds, as long as the Roman Empire prospered, Dvigrad thrived as well. And when the great Roman Empire finally perished under attacks of the barbarian tribes, the Istrian towns began to wither away, especially after they were afflicted by the terrible and devastating diseases that were quite common in that unhealthy region such as the one around Dvigrad.

After a terrific toll was taken among Istrian population in the 6th and 7th centuries through various epidemics and wars, new peoples started to inhabit Istria - the Slovenes and Croats. No government was established by this time,and the land was in the state of neglect. The Benedictine monks, that could already be met in the Lim region in the early Middle Ages, started to cultivate the neglected land.
At the beginning of the 14th century, the Aquileian patriarchs fought fiercely against Venice that had already gained considerable influence on the west coast of Istria. The well known aristocratic family from Pula, the Castropols, got involved in this battle siding with Goricias dukes who fought as patriarchs’ lawyers. During the heavy clashes between Genoa and Venice, Dvigrad was besieged by the Genoese admiral Paganin Doria who sacked it in 1345.
In the year 1383 in the battles that followed, Dvigrad was reconquered, but this time by the Venetians, who burnt it, slaughtered its population and took the relics from the basilica of St. Sophia to Sveti Lovrec Pazenatički. In spite of that, Dvigrad did not become their possession. Systematically enlarging their dominion in Istria, the Venetians tried to bring under their influence all of the bigger and stronger Istrian towns, either by promises or by violence.
Dvigrad came under the rule of Venice in 1413. The Venetians nominated a nobleman chosen among the aristocracy of Koper, who reigned over the town. The town was obliged to pay him an annual tax of 390 liras. Dvigrad prospered during the first century under the Venetian rule. After that, this region was frequently afflicted by plague, and almost incessantly by malaria, which caused an increase in the mortality rate, and a considerable reduction of the population of Dvigrad.
The span from the middle of 1544 till the end of the century was a period of endless clashes between the Venetians and Austrians. The inhabitants of Istria were unsafe in their villages and towns. After the Venetinan-Austrian war in 1615, and the Uskok attacks, Dvigrad went through some very difficult times. It was besieged by the fierce Uskoks who, being unable to capture it, revenged themselves on neighboring villages burning, plundering and devastating them.
About the year 1630 the town was completely deserted. Only a few very poor families remained, awaiting their town's dissolution. In 1650 bishop Tommasini visited Dvigrad, finding only three families there. When the church of St. Sophia got abandoned in 1714, the town was left to its inexorable fate. The house walls crumpled, the town walls collapsed, the well was polluted. Snakes, weeds and underbrush moved into the town. It has remained so until today.

We can enter Dvigrad through the city gate which has remained intact, and we reach the lower town which was protected by the first ring of the city wall. Following the way that Dvegrajci (as the inhabitants of Dvigrad are called in the Istrian memoirs) used to take for centuries, we arrive at the second gate, built in the second ring of the city wall. That's how the town was actually entered: from one gate to the another. We follow the way up to the third and the last gate, passing by an enormous guard tower situated in the southern part of town. Throught this gate we finally reach the centre of Dvigrad.


On this highest position, as on a living rock, the early Christian church of St. Sophia was erected. It dominated the town due to its height, width and beauty. It had three naves, and in its centre, leaning against the pillars of the middle nave, a pulpit was constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The pulpit’s brim was decorated by beautiful reliefs. The most remarkable of them is the relief depicting St. Sophia holding one town in each hand. This is the symbol of Dvigrad. At the beginning of the 19th century the basilica collapsed, the roof fell in, and from that time on, this magnificent building has completely deteriorated. At the end, the question remains how much longer this deceased town will bear witness to the time, how much longer it will take before it has completely perished.

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