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

 

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?

Gate number

I have wanted to write about this surprise trip for some time. Not just because it is one of the most famous, inspiring and magical cities in the world, but for the reason that it was probably one of my favourite childhood memories and an experience I’ll never forget.

 

This trip began as a complete surprise. My mum’s 40th birthday was quickly approaching and my sister and I had been debating with my dad for weeks on what to plan for her. One day after school, my grandparents came round with a birthday card for my mum, apologizing for not being able to make her birthday on the weekend. Shortly after, my dad left the room to get something, returning with three sealed envelopes. Holding them out to my mum, he asked her to choose one, with the remaining two given to my sister and I. Eagerly opening them, it revealed very little, but explained that we had to pack our bags and passports for a long cold weekend. Almost immediately I was phoning just about everyone I knew; the excitement was unbearable. No amount of bribery or begging allowed my dad to cave into any clues as to what the weekend consisted. But it just added to the sheer elation of a complete surprise.

 

The following day involved frantic packing and a seemingly never-ending journey to the airport. Even as our baggage slid away from us, I had not a single idea as to where I was travelling. Once through security, my dad checked the gate opening time, but wouldn’t tell us the number just yet. He seemed to enjoy our impatience and theories on the destination, having guessed just about every reasonable and, at the time, imaginable destination we could think of. After coffee and trudging round duty-free, he finally revealed the gate number; of course we did not believe him. Looking across to the destination of gate 12, New York was uncovered. For around an hour, all we would ask him was the same one-worded question of “really?” As we approached the gate, the Virgin Atlantic gate 12 destination screen gleamed the words ‘New York.’ I turned to my dad and gave him the biggest bear hug I could muster.