Photography: Nostalgia

These photographs were taken on approach to Cyprus earlier this year. I have always had a keen interest in photography, and so it remains a firm hobby of mine. But even with a phone camera, the stunning sky and colours are captured. Now, as with any photographs looked back on from a holiday, there’s a great sweeping rush of nostalgia. I would just love to be back on that plane!

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Travelogue: Conques, France

 

Conques; my favourite little village

Conques; my favourite little village- with Abbey-Church of Saint-Foy at the village centre

A few months ago, I travelled with my family to the quaint village of Conques, located within the Midi-Pyrénées region in France. Although we didn’t stay there overnight, I wish we had. Just driving past this hidden, picturesque site is breath-taking, with the magnificent architecture of Abbey-Church of Saint-Foy at the heart.

On arrival, the intwined, medieval streets lead to the village centre. Cosy shops selling local produce, candles, fresh bread and souvenirs left their doors open invitingly. The smells of freshly baked food and faint humming of conversation really made it feel like a warm, French village. Each of the gardens and terraces, although small, accentuated the wonderful character of the village.

‘Office de Tourism’ 

The village itself is located within a valley, with its name originating from Old French- Conche, which is from the Latin Concha shell. The narrow streets and hillside location deters many vehicles from entering, which has allowed relatively new paved roads and prevented a lot of construction work to the historic village.

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A doorway ornamentation carving set to remind the pilgrims of the purpose of their pilgrimage

The history of St. Foy Abbey-Chuch began as a stopping point for many pilgrims who were travelling to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. But in 886, a theft introduced the relics of St. Foy. A monk from Conques disguised himself as a highly regarded monk in Agen for almost 10 years in order to steal the relics, but was unsuccessful. The original building of the monastery was built by monks from Spain, however it was later knocked down in order to build one much larger to accommodate the relics from Agen. The exterior ornamentation of the Abbey-Church included many images of doom, in order to remind the pilgrims of their focus on the pilgrimage. One of the many legends set in Conques includes St. George the dragon slayer, with the belief that his arm is located somewhere in the village. Although I didn’t have the opportunity, during peak tourist seasons tours are available to discover the Abbey-Church, particularly on its upper level, with live music and creative lighting particularly at night.

To end my visit, the Brasserie, located just outside of the Abbey-Church, is a perfect spot to people-watch and relax in the sun.

People-watching outside of Abbey-Church at the heart of the village

People-watching outside of Abbey-Church at the heart of the village

 

Journey home

It was a bleak afternoon in year 11. Winter was imminent, with short days of sunlight and chilly gales. Another long school day had passed and darkness was already creeping into the school. My friend had offered me a chewing gum, which I eagerly accepted to keep me awake on the coach journey home. With my bus pass in hand, I approached the arriving vehicle, knowing not to push for the front if I wanted to remain in one piece. Stepping up onto the coach, I skilfully balanced on the step, avoiding the steep fall below into the gutter and the overly impatient younger years behind me. The queue was caused by the bus driver wanting everyone to spit out their chewing gum and to set down some rules. The girl in front of me threw her gum into the overflowing Sainsbury’s carrier bag sprawled on a reclined seat. But I stubbornly did not. I thought I would get away with it as long as he didn’t see me chew. Of course, I forgot to stop chewing when I was balancing on the coach step and observing who was around me. So the bus driver knew straight away that I had some. He shouted, demanded I sat downstairs and threatened to take my bus pass off me. Luckily he didn’t take it off me but made me sit downstairs. After seeing my confused friends’ faces travel upstairs, I angrily stuck my earphones into my ears and sulkily stared out the window.

My mood didn’t last long. Sun rays began breaking through the oppressive winter clouds as we approached nearer home. My music changed- Muse, The 2nd Law: Isolated System. But most prominently, three beautiful horses were running through the traffic. They ran with such grace and sheer prominent beauty, with their manes flying and shimmering in the rays of sunlight, galloping towards freedom. They ran as though they were finally able to run again. They ran as though their life depended on it. The power and determination in which they ran was astounding. The scene transfixed me. Buses began to stop, passengers began to turn their heads, people finally began to notice. Nothing seemed to stop them as they raced towards the clearing in the traffic.

As the coach turned away and my music began to end, I looked back at them. They were still racing; towards what I don’t know. But if I hadn’t of sat downstairs, away from my friends, I may not have seen them or experienced such a surreal and beautiful moment.

The beauty of flying

There is something so magical, so astoundingly beautiful when gazing out of an aeroplane window 14,000 feet in the air. The roundness of the plane window delicately captures a truly astonishing view, framing the clouds and distant horizon exactly like a picture frame or carefully sown tapestry. The fluffy clouds appear to just hang from a piece of transparent string, quietly swaying in their solitude. The view below of the world left behind is stitched with fields and beads of shrubbery, encompassed with lacy, twisting roads. The sprinkles of reality are left amidst the chaos woven into the cities below.

Beyond and above the clouds is the smooth journey alongside the sun. Small, delicately perched frosted flakes form in between the sandwiched glass of the window; glistening. Radiant beams of sunlight bounce off the glazed tops of clouds and exquisitely intricate flakes. Sleeping next to a view such as this, with wary eyes and a dozing mind, allows so many problems and worries to slowly drift away. Would it cost us to just stop, be glad and grateful for the sheer vastness and beauties of the world? How prominent are our worries and hectic our lives to forget about appreciating what makes us happy?