Paris’ most famous cemetery

Great post from blogger friend Heide on the Père Lachaise graveyard in Paris, which is the resting place of Oscar Wilde, amongst many other notables.


Friends think I’m macabre (or maybe just weird) when I urge them to visit Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. But this is no common graveyard: It’s a living museum, filled with the stories of more than one million souls.

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The luminaries’ names span the centuries — from the 12th-century lovers Héloïse and Abélard to the 20th-century Lizard King (Jim Morrison). Frédéric Chopin and Gertrude Stein are here. So are the writers Honoré de Balzac and Marcel Proust, the dancer Isadora Duncan … painter Eugène Delacroix … the list goes on and on.

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Chopin’s tomb is always adorned with flowers and little Polish flags.
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And it’s all set in 110 acres of contemplative, tree-lined cobblestone streets.

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Père Lachaise is so vast that if you wander along the walls — or pause atop the hills — you may even forget you’re in a cemetery.

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How it all started

Père Lachaise was…

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It’s the weekend

Dhow boats fly the Qatar flag on Doha Corniche, with view of the Westbay skyline in the distance. As shot by MB on an evening walk earlier this week.



It’s the weekend

Weather – Qatar.

Irish people love to talk weather-talk. ‘Fine day’ or ‘soft day’ are often conversation openers, and are very acceptable replacements for ‘hello’ or ‘howrya’.

The Irish in Qatar sure had a lot to talk about last Saturday.

Saturday last witnessed an entire year’s average rainfall of approx 75mm in a torrential 6 hours, replete with ear-shattering thunder and a most impressive display of forked lightning. And like all countries of the Arabian Gulf where such weather is a rarity, when heavy rains arrive, the roads and road drainage systems of Qatar are unable to cope. Minor roads in particular often have low-lying sections (many of them) with no drainage outlets, or sand-clogged drainage outlets, so deep flooding is the order of the day. Cars regularly get stuck or abandoned.

MB was stuck in almost-static heavy traffic in the midst of it all when his car lost all power for a minute or two, except for the merciful fact that the engine did not cut out and thankfully kept ticking over. Thankfully also, this happened when the traffic was actually static. The same thing happened another five or six times during the 1.5-hour journey, a journey that normally takes 10 minutes. But each time the car lost power, it regained power moments or minutes later, and moved on.

It was real heart-in-the-mouth stuff on MB’s journey back to the office, assuming that the car would konk out at any moment and thousands of cars would start tooting their angry toots at MB, who had already decided that waving and smiling would be his response.

Today, five days later, some minor watery evidence of last Saturday’s biblical event is still evident, and MB’s car engine just doesn’t sound so healthy each morning when it starts. A visit to the car doctor is on the agenda in the coming days.

Have a nice weekend!


Nepal, India or China? Know your tea!

For the tea lovers amongst you……

Buddha walks into a wine bar ...

So which tea do YOU prefer? Even if it’s “Yorkshire” or “Tetleys” it has to come from somewhere and it’s most likely from one of the big three.
We have experienced tutored tea tastings in Nepal and China which were just like wine tastings in France, but instead of different grapes, regions or vignerons……. it was tea.

Tea tasting, Shanghai

To a couple of tea lovers like ourselves the coffee-shop explosion in the U.K. is a mystery, everywhere you turn there’s a Costa, Starbucks, Nero, Coffee One, Wild Bean, Coffee Republic ……and also places where coffee is “free” such as with your Waitrose card in the supermarket. Every garage has a Coffee takeaway and people fill up with fuel then buy their obligatory coffee in a cardboard cup to go. Whatever happened to pots of tea in Lyons, Kardomah, Ceylon Tea Centre? These were the places where you weren’t just…

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Doha Corniche

MB’s below shot is a close-up of part of the skyline of Doha’s Corniche (seafront). The view towards the sea at night throws up the outlines and lights of Arabic dhow boats taking tourists out for a short spin on the Arabian sea, which is somewhat flat and a tad boring. But if one turns one’s head, then one catches the below far more exciting – some would say – view.

The 5km corniche circumference is fully pedestrianised and is a haven for joggers and families out for a walk, at weekends in particular once the sun goes down. MB regularly walks and runs its length. FYI – The yellow building is known locally, colloquially, as ‘The Condom’!



It’s The Weekend

The Holy Trinity Abbey Church, Adare, County Limerick, Ireland

The Holy Trinity Church in Adare is some 800 years old and has a very interesting history. Read More

It’s The Weekend

Ballybunion Beach

Ballybunion village and its adjoining beach are called after the Bunyan family who lived in the castle (in pic) in the early part of the 14th century.

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MB’s Online Degree

MB has mentioned in recent posts that he would get ’round to the reason he found himself in Lancaster in the north east of England a few weeks back, mere spitting distance from the Scottish border. If one is blessed with a powerful spit.

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Scenes from the homeland – 2

There’s a relatively little-visited hill next to the lake in MB’s HX homeland called Carraig Aile. Read More

The Session

MB has just returned to the hot desert climate of Qatar from his heavenly Irish homeland replete with it’s temperate (highly eclectic) weather, and great social living conditions for its inhabitants, in many respects. The traditional Irish music session is one such contribution, which one can find in  various pubs in any given village or town if one cares to visit and explore.

Take for example, a session from a pub in MB’s local city:

And in relation to a very recent post from the city of Lancaster in England, MB will soon compose a post on the reason for his Lancaster visit.

But in the meantime, enjoy the music session from Dolan’s Pub in Limerick, South West Ireland.

Cheers, from a slightly nostalgic MB.


Scenes from the homeland

MB arrived in his HX homeland a few days back. The following shots are taken mostly around his HX village locality. A few are taken in the Lough Derg area of south-east Galway, where youngest-sister-of-MB lives.









































Lancaster Castle

MB’s post of last weekend was written from a bar stool in the historic Robert Gillow pub in the medieval town of Lancaster, UK. MB’s Lancaster story now continues with a tale of his visit to Lancaster Castle of only a few days back. For many reasons, it was a visit that will live very long in the memory.

The castle reeks of history from every pore. It is a stunning Grade 1 listed building set on a high point of the city next to the Lune River and dates back almost 1,000 years. It was a functioning prison up to 2011 and remains the venue for the Lancaster courts. It’s open to the public seven days per week, and if you happen to get local guide James, as MB fortunately did, then you are in for a real castle tour treat. The building’s earliest history is somewhat vague and if followers wish to investigate that aspect some more, they can check out the castle’s website.

In 1322, the Scottish army under King Robert the Bruce invaded from across nearby Morcombe Bay and caused damage to the castle structure. In 1612, the castle was the site of the famous Pendle Witches trial, named after the Pendle Hill area of Lancashire from where the twelve accused hailed. Following the trial, nine of the ten found guilty were hung from a gallows on the moors above the town, the tenth being hung at York. Convicts found guilty in the castle courts-of-old were often sentenced to transportation to Australia, and that being the case, prisoners had to walk in chains from Lancaster town to the ports of the English channel, a long wearying journey south that must surely have taken many weeks or even months.

But for MB, the most stunning revelation encountered on the castle tour was the fact that the castle was the venue of the trial of the Birmingham Six in 1975. The castle was chosen on that occasion because the case was considered very high-risk from a security point of view, and in the opinion of the authorities provided the most secure location for the case, the court area being inside a secure live prison/castle.

For followers who may not know the story, the Birmingham Six were six Irishmen sentenced to life in prison in 1975 for the Birmingham Pub Bombings of November 1974 in which 21 people died.  The convictions were quashed and the men released in March 1991, sixteen sorry years later. In a nutshell, and very simplistically, the original convictions were largely based on forensic evidence, but it was later discovered that the chemicals discovered on the hands of the convicted could have also come from playing cards. Hence the men were released, but with lives then largely past.

It was not allowed to take photos in the court area of the castle which was a real pity as the court interior is truly stunning. But if MB was to be sentenced to life in prison at any future date, then he would certainly want the sentence to be passed in Lancaster Castle court!

An entire wall of the courtroom is full of Coats of Arms from the Kings of 12th century England and right up to current times. Tour guide James pointed out the insignia of King James ll and King William of Orange who fought a defining battle in Irish history at the Boyne River in County Meath, and many more interesting references.

On a floor level below that of the court lies the jury room where those who considered the Birmingham Six case had sat. The jury sits at a circular timber table, some 8 feet in diameter. MB sat on one of the red-cushioned chairs at that table on Tuesday just past, placed his hands on the table surface and wondered what the conversation had been like on 15 August 1975 when the guilty verdicts were reached and the judgment of 21 life sentences was passed on the accused. Incidentally,  and to add more poignancy to the situation, 15 August is also the birthday of MB.

So dear followers, if ever you visit the English Lake District or happen to be in the vicinity of Lancaster, do not miss the chance to visit Lancaster Castle. And tell guide James that MB said hello and extends well-wishes!









History & Tasty Ale

MB watched the movie Lincoln on a flight from Doha to Edinburgh in Scotland earlier today.

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Romania – 7/7 – Dracula

And why, pray tell, did you travel last week to Romania, MB?

Because nothing would do daughter MB2 better than a trip to Transylvania and the dark forested, wild bear-infested Carpathian Mountains, to climb the steps, amidst the dank damp scent of stale human blood, to enter the bowels and entrails of Dracula’s Castle.

And did you enter the castle MB?

Yes. We did.

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Romania – 6/7 – Sundry

For MB’s next-to-last Romania post, he is giving followers some sundry shots taken in various locations inside Bucharest and out, with a little commentary on some. Read More