The Gerrard Chronicles 2007

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Traveller's Tales


The Albrighton house

An unusual trip. We visited Ken's Aunt Win just before Xmas to give her a present & lunch & after, went West to stay first in Telford, a Fordist nightmare of a town. Then, we visited two of Avis' one-time residences: a flat in Somerford Hall while waiting for the Albrighton (no website!) house, behind the fat trees, to be built. We went on to Church Stretton to stay in the old-worldly Longmynd Hotel before being driven home by bad weather.

Somerford Hall

January 27th - KEN SKIES ALONE

Hotel Rauscher

Avis has given up skiing, so Ken went to Bad Hofgastein alone & stayed in the cheap but very good Hotel Rauscher. Fortunately, he had a compatible table companion but, although the skiing was good, it is not so much fun without Avis, so that's that & Ken will give up, too.

Hofgastein from above

Ken at the Austrian Evening

Panorama from the top - weather ok

March 31st - TRIP TO WHITBY

In a last ditch effort to find the church with an illuminated manuscript that Ken saw in 1946 or 7, we drove up to Ranworth Broad in Norfolk but this did not seem to be the place either. We stayed the night in Kings Lynn & next day, found a Portguese café in Boston that must be the only place in England to serve real coffee. We spent the night in Beverley, after Avis was amazed by the Minster. The next day, on to Whitby via Scarborough Castle & the splendid Bagdale Hall Hotel before coming back to Islington because of the deteriorating weather.

Ranworth Church

The view from Ranworth Church to the North-West

North-Elmham Cathedral

Beverley Minster

In Beverley Minster

Ken frozen in
Scarborough Castle

Whitby Inner Harbour

Bagdale Hall huge bed

May 23rd - ISCHIA TRIP

A rather unorthodox package arranged by Philip Davies of Real Holidays took us to the Hotel Punta Chiarito, discreetly built on a headland to the South of this island opposite Capri in the Bay of Naples. The swimming pool was heated by volcanic springs & was in two parts connected by a tunnel of water. The food was excellent.

St Angelo from the hotel

The hotel almost hidden on
its headland

Sorgeto Bay below the hotel.
The white stuff is a hot spring.

We had a trip all day to the neighbouring island of Procida in a micro-taxi driven by Salvatore who knew everyone & must have been 70. He arranged everything for us & two Gerries, Werner & Andrea & their two dogs, including the ferry over for E40 each (dogs free).

Andrea, Avis & the micro-taxi

South side of Procida

Repairing nets

Another trip was to Villa Mortella, the house & fantastic garden of Sir William Walton & Susana, who is still there. After this, we visited Lacco Ameno & later, Forio. Then, right round the island, calling at several villages, including Fontana, below. The bus service is, like most Italian bus services, superb

Mortella gardens

In the hot house

The rock containing William Walton's ashes

Lacco Ameno




This was the year to finally visit Zinal, across the röstigraben from Zermatt (i.e. French-speaking). A tremendous first day towards the Mountet Hut produced the front of our Xmas card. Then, up the Corne de Sorebois, a good viewpoint with an army alpine trainer Sergeant Major, who was sufficiently impressed that I kept up that he bought me a pot of tea (honest!)

Zinal Old village & Le Besso
(that's the hill)

Sergeant-Major Stuart & Ken
on the Corne de Sorebois

The Forcletta Pass - this party waited
for me to catch up so I could cut new steps
(upper set), as they did not have ice-axes,
the idiots.

I walked out of Zinal over the Forcletta Pass to Gruben, a variation on the Chamonix-Zermatt Walk & the next day, over the Augstbordpass, going down a different way from 1982 & making another variation. That was one tough day & I thumbed a pair of lifts to Zermatt, a resident on Täsch kindly taking me up all the way out of his way. Then, three nights in Zermatt. A misty day for arty photos & one over the Hohe Balmen, good for wild flowers & some improved photos for the web site.


After Avis' foot operation, Ken swept her off to the Old Swan Inn at the perfectly preserved Cotswold village of Minster Lovell, where she would have no stairs to negotiate in her giant Japanese sandals & crutches.

The Old Swan Inn

Minster Lovell Hall

Minster Lovell sunset

We attended the Witney Carnival, which was a bit much for Avis but great fun.

A childrens' float

Local belly dancers

There's always a traction engine

We got to Gloucester before the floods did, just & also the Witney Coates Farm Museum & Northleach, an old wool town with a good Musical Museum with mechanical instruments.

Old Gloucester

Click for a bigger one

Cathedral cloisters

In the Farm Museum


We were put in the Barn, a converted goat shed & more comfortable for us than the Farmhouse. The island had been ravaged by fire & it was only thanks to the Albanians bailing the swimming pool onto the flames that saved the Farmhouse villa. Geof was still in his wheelchair & could only watch.

The black thing is Geof's
melted water tank

Unbelievable devastation.
Geof's estate is the green patch centre

Shrubs by the Farmhouse

Avis outside the Barn

The Old Harbour of Skiathos

In the Car Park Church

Evangelistra Monastery
restored by EU funds

Inside the monastery

The City from Platonos

Geof makes his money these days as a villa broker, helped by Jackie & Gigi. Mara was in Athens, so we did not see her

Jackie, Geof & Gigi



Fierce surf at Aselinos beach


To halve our carbon footprint, we drove our little Peugeot 206 truck onto a P&O giant ferry & off to Larboard (or Euskal Herria for Basque speakers) to stay with the Jones'. We got to La Rochelle in one day, thanks to the exellent, empty French motorways, so we had time to look round this Huguenot stronghold & the Île de Rey, their last hold-out. Then, we went on to Royan, where Avis had stayed in a former life but which she no longer recognised after 40 years. We called at Blaye because of Ken's family history interest. Then, on to the Jones'.

La Rochelle-dull in the morning

St Martin le Rey on the Île de Rey

Blaye fortifications

Glorious ginkgo

Biarritz Old Port

Biarritz - Villa Belsa

Remembrance Sunday

We had a walk up by the Spanish frontier (or, if you are Basque, in the middle of Euskadi) & took the Jones' to Ken's ancestral village of Fourcès (village link) (family history link) in Gers Dept, which they found quite enchanting before we headed home.

Ken on the fort
on the Spanish frontier

The Auzoue at Fourcès

Gascon prayer

Much improved rations at the Fourcès Auberge,
thank to Alexia & Bernard

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Contact: Ken Baldry or Avis Saltsman, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)020 7359 6294 or e-mail him or her
This page's URL: Last revised 1/12/2007 Copyright: Ken Baldry 2007 All rights reserved but print it off if you want to.