Author: jimholroyd365

Hi, my name is Jim, I am an Englishman living in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. I started this blog to share my interests, my photos and to make sense of my world. I take a lot of photographs of various subjects, some of which I intend to share here. I collect diecast cars and get the same thrill at 50 as I did when I was 8, when I find a car I'm searching for, Don't worry, I have a separate blog for this hobby. Please feel free to comment and ask questions on what I blog. I am quite new to this blogging, I was inspired by reading a book, which began as a blog of a London Ambulance Driver: "Blood, Sweat and Tea". I hope my blog will be entertaining and amusing, I did try stand up comedy in the UK and had seven gigs before I left to teach English in Georgia. I love reading and so the blog will include book reviews of books as I finish them.I don't know about which direction this blog will go, I am a great believer in serendipity...let the journey begin...

Interspecies Water Fountain

Outside our block in Varketili (Tbilisi) is a water fountain.

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On a hot summer’s day it is a magnet for thirsty children.

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But it is not just children drawn to the cool water.

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Horses get thirsty too, and not just mammals but also our avian friends, the little sparrows like to take a sip now and then.

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I’ve seen dogs drinking here, too. But have yet to get a photo.

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Weekly Photo Challenge : Heritage

Georgia, my adopted country, has a rich religious heritage. Georgia was the second country to adopt Christianity as the official religion, after Armenia. Religion is important for the majority of the population, despite Stalin and the communists attempts to eradicate religious practices in the Soviet years.

An Excursion to Dashbashi Canyon

route to Dashbashi

We assemble at 8am by Marjanshvili Metro, a group of 29 of us with Hiking Club Adrenalin, too big for one minibus, so we will ride out in an additional vehicle, a seven seater Honda Stream. On the map Dashbashi Canyon doesn’t look too far but the roads are twisty and uneven.

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Banners unfurled

It will be a long day. First stop along the route is Manglisi Sioni, an important Georgian architectural monument and one of the oldest Christian centres in Georgia. The first church was built in the 4th Century, today’s cathedral dates back to the seventh century, renovated in 1002.

Arriving around 11am, there was a church service being celebrated but in Georgian churches it is not unusual for people to amble in and out of the church during a service.

Next stop on the journey was Lake Tsalka.

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Lake Tsalka

Near Tsalka lake we visited “Fathers Region a Monastery of Three Priests” with its trout and holy water.

A second lake, Paravani Lake is located 2,073 m (6,801 ft) above sea level and has a surface area of 37.5 km2.

Near to the lake was the Convent of St Nino in Phoka village with a small shop selling artisanal cheese, jam and liquor.

Finally at 6pm we reached our main destination, Dashbashi Canyon. A canyon carved in the volcanic rock by the river Ktsia.

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Dashbashi Canyon

We descended to the river where we gaped at the waterfall and had some fun splashing about in the river.

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waterfall

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No Georgian excursion is complete without a supra (Georgian feast). Having climbed out of the canyon, we gathered around a fire, where Georgian Mtsvadi (Sashlik) was grilled and consumed.

We got home at 1.45 am!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!

This week’s photo challenge is Danger!

smoking and kids

Smoking around children

Here the danger is not immediate but cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general. Secondhand smoke can be especially harmful to your children’s health because their lungs still are developing. I don’t like seeing adults smoking around young children, even if they are outside.

Weekly Photo challenge : Wanderlust

This week’s challenge asks “Have you traveled anywhere exciting lately? ”

I love travelling.

If you look at my last two posts you will see I’ve recently visited Cappadocia in Turkey.

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Khato wandering in Cappadocia

Other responses to the challenge can be seen here: Wanderlust

More about our travels in Cappadocia can be seen here: Cappadocia

Cappadocia

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Göreme

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We took a bus from Ankara on the day of the Turkish referendum (April 16 2017), south to Göreme in the heart of Cappadocia.  My wife had wanted to visit Cappadocia for a long time, many saints revered in Georgia like St Nino and St George had come from that region. In both directions our bus was stopped at police/army checkpoints so the authorities could check everyone’s ID.

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Heading out of Ankara on the bus

The bus stopped at Nevşehir, where we took a smaller shuttle bus to Göreme. The Göreme National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. After we had found a hotel (a cave hotel) and booked a tour for the following day. We headed out to the Göreme Open Air Museum.

The churches and other dwellings in the rocks are reminiscent of  Vardzia Cave City in Georgia . Entrance to the Museum was 30 TL with an extra 10 TL if you wished to visit the “Dark Church”. The Dark Church has the best examples of seccos (like frescoes but painted on dry rather than wet plaster): multicoloured angels cover the pillars and vaulted ceilings, along with scenes such as the birth of Jesus, with an ox and ass poking their noses into the manger. As the church’s name suggests, the lack of light has preserved the representations, which still look fresh and vivid after a millennium.

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Volcanic eruptions created this surreal moonscape: the lava flows formed tuff rock, which wind and rain sculpted into sinuous valleys with curvy cliff faces and pointy fairy chimneys.

Capadoccia means “the land of beautiful horses”, there were certainly a few about but we didn’t go for a ride. There were some other interesting fauna: birds like the Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), for example.


After the sights of the Göreme Open Air Museum, we had a meal in a cafe in Göreme  and retired to our cave hotel (Coco Cave Hotel). On the second day we took a tour with Insider travel, there were three tours to choose from we chose the “Green Tour”.

geen-nevsehir-mapOur tour began with a stop at The Göreme panorama with a view over the area, before a visit to the local onyx factory. Here we had a demonstration of how onyx is shaped and also a chance to peruse some local jewellery. The sultanite jewellery was impressive as it changed colour according to the light from brown to red to green (Its gemological name is diaspore. It contains traces of chromium, iron, manganese and titanium.).

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At the Onyx workshop

Then it was a long ride to the Ihlara valley, where we had a 4 km hike along the valley to work up an appetite for our lunch taken at a restaurant along the river. It is believed that the valley housed more than four thousand dwellings and a hundred cave churches decorated with frescoes.


We just visited one church along the route, Agacalti Kilise (the Church under the Tree).

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walking the Ihlara Valley

At the end of the walk was the Selime Monastery, an impressive cluster of buildings carved out of the rocks.

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Selime Monastery

Then it was back into the bus to the impressive Underground City of Kaymakli, discovered in 1964. It is believed to have housed thousands of people from the 6th to 9th Centuries. Five of the eight levels are open to visitors.

Kaymakli

Here our guide, Alli,  decided it would be fun to film a video clip for the “Mannequin Challenge”, we had to freeze in interesting positions while he filmed us, I was impressed by the results (here is the link): Mannequin Challenge inside Kaymakli Underground City

Our final stop was for some Turkish Delights of a sweet nature, a chance to try some local specialities, as well as loukum there were dried fruit, nuts and dried apricot kernels.

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Turkish Delights

A room at the Coco Cave Hotel cost 100TL a night and the Green Tour with Insider Travel  was 100TL per person. Cappadocia is an amazing place.