Just to the south of York lies the market town of Selby. Many people will perhaps have never heard of this smaller neighbour.
At the heart of the town is the beautiful old Selby Abbey, especially popular with American tourists due to a stained glass window depicting the coat of arms of the Washington family – the ancestors of George Washington – from the fifteenth century. A stunning building and a worthwhile detour if you are in North Yorkshire!
After nearly 3.5 years away from my native shores, I recently returned for a 3.5 week trip. Everyone in a similar situation who I had spoken to before expressed their dislike of taking a trip back to the UK and the constant travelling round visiting family and friends, they related their blatant dislike of the country, its weather, big population, aspects of its culture and the places.
The media (doom-mongering muppets that they are) is constantly painting the UK in various shades of doom and gloom following Brexit, the various terrorist attrocities and the recent general election…so how did I find it?
Well, the following series of posts will delve in further detail but let me just say this, those of whom I spoke earlier must either visit bad places, have dubious friends and family, really dislike their homeland or just generally be miserable because I had a fantastic holiday! And as for the media…well as usual, if you look beneath the surface, you generally find that the truth is rather different.
Here is just one photograph to illustrate the delight of the UK…the history!
I have been writing this blog now for around 3.5 years. When it began, my intention was to use it mainly as a way for friends and family to keep in touch and see what I’d been up to after moving to New Zealand from the UK.
I quickly realised – perhaps unsurprisingly – that not many people you know are actually that interested in what you are doing or saying (quite sad really as you might think that friends and family would be a main audience) but yet they are happy to share and read inane content on things like Facebook. Go figure. The flip side of this, however, is that I have been delighted to discover so many other blogs which are out there on WordPress and it has been fantastic to create new connections with people who have shared interests in many different parts of the world.
I thought I would therefore share just a few of these links with you in case you wish to explore them further yourself…
Nature Has No Boss – Mike Bizeau regularly posts some truly amazing landscape and wildlife photography from around the USA, often in wilderness areas like Yellowstone.
Uthamz – Utham captures some stunning images of big game animals in Africa, amazing to see.
Through Open Lens – Lucas Kondraciuk posts a good amount of excellent bird-based photography but with a twist – there is always a light-hearted joke to go with the facts in the post to brighten your day.
Nature’s Place – Mark posts truly incredible photos of insects. If macro photography and seeing the small residents of our planet is your thing, you will love this.
Travelling the World Solo – Ellen is from Australia and travels a lot, with a particular fondness for Greenland and Scandinavian countries. Some lovely photos and experiences are there to explore.
Stephen Liddell – Stephen has possibly the most fascinatingly researched blog that I follow, he regularly posts really interesting insights into the world and its history. He is an author with a varied portfolio too.
That will do for now – hope you enjoy exploring! I will share some more in future!
I recently visited the Auckland War Memorial Museum which sits atop the Auckland Domain (one of the many volcanic craters in the city). It is a beautiful edifice with a genuinely lovely space where those who served in battle are commemorated. As I was on my own and in no rush to move along, I had time to ponder something…namely the words on the war memorial which stands outside the museum (shown above).
Both of my grandfathers fought in WW2 and thankfully survived (else I wouldn’t be here!), and it is interesting that one of them never talked about his experiences in Africa, while the other wrote about his time in the Merchant Navy in his memoirs (but never really delved into aspects of this in detail) including how he was torpedoed several times! I get the impression that perhaps they were glad to survive and would rather have forgotten the harsh realities of war in the main. To them, and to others like them, we owe a debt of thanks that Hitler was not able to succeed.
It occurred to me, however, that those three words – “The Glorious Dead” – raise a lot of questions…
- Where is the glory in death exactly?
- Is giving up your life heroic?
- Would anyone sign up to be a soldier if it wasn’t a celebrated choice?
- Isn’t war a savage experience which demonstrates the very worst qualities that the blood-thirsty human race has to offer?
- Are there genuine acts of selfless kindness during war which should be celebrated the most?
- Should we remember the reasons we stepped into war time and time again so as to avoid it in future instead of continually making the same mistakes?
- What if those who would commit a nation to war had to serve on the frontline?
- Is a neutral country truly neutral or do they benefit from the suffering around them?
- Does it take many lives lost to make it horrific or is just one enough?
- Will rich countries ever stop trying to take advantage of poor ones?
- In a time when the media bombards you with information, who is to be believed? Is it your own side or the opponent? It seems rather naive to assume that you are being fed the truth and not propaganda at times.
- Will our society ever be able to ostracise those individuals who would abuse power?
- Can religion serve as a medium of good instead of being twisted to evil ends?
- Can we ever justifiably call ourselves civilised by working together as one rather than against each other?
On an associated note, I was recently in Stratford in Taranaki and saw their Hall of Remembrance. Everyone who had died in WW1 or WW2 had their photograph and a note about where and how they died…far more poignant than a list of names which you usually see and really emphasises the horror, especially in a small rural town. Congratulations to the town on this remarkable insight. May these people’s sacrifice be remembered.
I don’t have the answers and I don’t expect it will change in my lifetime. But here is hoping that maybe one day we can achieve enlightenment and perhaps celebrate those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for showing us the way to be the glorious living.