Category Archives: Personal

A Heart is like a Compass

A Heart is Like a Compass

A heart does not understand boundaries
A heart is like a compass
It only knows what it feels
and points that way

A compass needle knows only to point to true North
A heart only points in a direction it feels True
My heart only points, without shame, to you
The same, no matter where I turn, or what I do

Loving you seems the only thing to do

By James T Adair

Boxed compass - photo zoedawes

“Life is a journey” is seen as a cliché these days yet, as with many clichés  it has a resonance to which we can all relate.  The compass is a tangible symbol for the adventure that is life and the different paths and directions we take along the way.   Continue reading

My very easy plum jam recipe

As summer drifts into autumn, fruit is in abundance, not only in our gardens and allotments but also in grocers and supermarkets. One of the easiest ways to use up a glut of fruit is to make jam. Plums are full of pectin that makes jam set easier, so here’s my easy plum jam recipe.

Plums from Farmers Market - Seeminglee

Plums from Farmers Market – Seeminglee

I’m no Domestic Goddess so if I can make it, so can you! Continue reading

Athens – reflections on a first visit many years ago

In October this year I hope to return to Athens, a city I lived in for four very happy years in the 1980s, for this year’s TBEX Europe conference.  I haven’t been back for 30 years and am wondering what it will be like.

Acropolis-in-athens-greece

You know how it is when you look back on a time that you remember with great affection; everything is seen through a prism of filtered sunlight. Continue reading

21 things I really love about Lancashire

Born in Southport, when this seaside town was a part of Lancashire, not Merseyside, I moved far away for many years but have been living back in the Red Rose County for a long time now.  My current home is Carnforth on the Cumbria border.  It’s a straightforward little place with a strong railway heritage, famous as the setting for classic 1940s weepie, ‘Brief Encounter’.

A porter's trolley loaded with suitcases at the top of a ramp below the station clock at Carnforth Station, a location used for the 1945 film 'Brief Encounter', Carnforth, Lancashire, England.

Here are 21 things I really love about Lancashire 

  1. Sunny beaches, brash piers, crazy fairground and Victorian architecture in Blackpool.
  2. The butteriness of Chorley Cakes
  3. The clanking of halyards on yachts in Glasson Dock

Continue reading

Zoë Dawes aka The Quirky Traveller

Welcome to my quirky world…Zoe Dawes outside Anne Tyson's Cottage Grasmere

This is a place to share a love of travel and life’s more quirky paths.  As well as my own musings on a wide variety of  topics, guest writers contribute their own thoughts on an aspect of travel that appeals to them and hopefully many others …

QUIRKY Travel is about seeing life from a different angle, looking at things from all sides, finding the unusual, the interesting, the fascinating. It’s about quality combined with reality, it’s about being curious about everything and wanting to know more…

Meeting new people, discovering fascinating cultures, eating strange foods and seeing curious customs have fuelled my fascination with the breadth and depth of experiences that travel gifts us.

Born in the seaside town of Southport, NW UK, I have lived and worked all over the world.  Having originally trained and worked as an English teacher, I gave it all up to live in Greece, exploring the Mamma Mia life.  Then I moved to the Far East, having great adventures whilst living in Hong Kong and Singapore.  During those years I journeyed to many different countries, including Egypt, Turkey, South Africa, Nepal, America, Thailand, Borneo, the Philippines and Malaysia.  More recently I have visited Finland, Norway, Canada, Sweden, Iceland, travelled around Spain and had a truly memorable trip to Australia to learn aboutAboriginal Food and Culture and spent time in uplifting Uluru.

I live on the Cumbria-Lancashire border, one of the most diverse and lovely parts of the world where I share my passion for life with my family and friends throughout the UK and beyond.  My website is The Quirky Traveller and you can find me on Face Book, Google+ and Twitter.

This quote by Marcel Proust probably best sums up my philosophy on life AND travel …

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”  

A Winter Break in Prague …

This time last year I spent a magical week in Prague. It’s a perfect time to visit – not too many tourists, wintry weather which fits with the scenery, lots of cultural things to go to ie opera, ballet, concerts and theatre – and you can get a table at any bar or restaurant with no hassle. We were there during Obama’s inauguration and spent a memorable evening with locals & foreigners at the American-run Globe Bookstore watching the historic event on a huge screen and celebrating with excellent local ‘champagne’.

Here are five things to do in that wonderful city …

1. Indulge in the glories of Art Nouveau. Visit the Mucha Museum and learn about Alphonse Mucha, one of most famous exponents of the form. You can find wonderful original examples of his work, including his Four Seasons posters and those he did for his Muse, the English actress Sarah Bernhardt. There’s a beautiful stained glass window by him in St Vitus Cathedral (See pic above) and many fine examples of Art Nouveau architecture and design all over the city. My favourite building was the Obecní dům (Municipal Building), a fabulously ornate concoction to delight the senses.

2. Walk around medieval Staroměstské Náměstí (Old Town Square) and look at the fantastic collection of buildings from over 400 years. One of Prague’s most atmospheric Churches, Our Lady Of Tyn is beautifully silhouetted against the sky. Find a table at one of the restaurants (expensive but what a view!), watch the world go by and wait for the most beautiful Astronomical Clock in Europe strike the hour.

3. Slow down and get into the Cafe society. This city must surely rival Paris for the variety and quality of its Coffee houses. One of my favourites was the Grand Cafe Orient with its unique Cubist decor. Its other name is the House of Black Madonna, in honour of the statue on the corner. Behind Our Lady of Tyn is another gem – the Cafe Ebel Coffee House; very cosy and quirky – with excellent carrot cake. If you fancy trying the local tipple that drove Toulouse Lautrec and others mad – Absinthe – then go to the Art Deco gem Cafe Slavia and have their Seksinst Cocktail. It’s a potent mix of champagne and Absinthe – you have been warned …

4. For a slightly different perspective visit the The Vysehrad Cemetery Vysehrad, the burial place for many famous and important Czech people. You’ll find the composer Dvorak just round the corner from Smetana and in the large Slavin Memorial many illustrious Czechs including the Art Nouveau artist, Alphonse Mucha (see above). The cemetary is in the grounds of the Vysehrad ‘Castle on the Heights’ and there are great views over the city from its ramparts. To get there, you can walk there along the river, get the Metro or try the excellent tram system.

5. Watch the Changing of the Guard at Midday Prague Castle In the winter the Guards wear great-coats and furry hats (unlike their powder blue & decidedly fey summer uniform!) and at Midday when they do the Banner exchange, they march about to music that sounds vaguely reminiscent of the Thunderbird Theme tune. You can then go round Prague Castle, a glorious hotch-potch of buildings from different periods and also see the magnificently Gothic St Vitus Cathedral.

There are lots of great websites and guide books to help you enjoy your stay, but I found the best things of all was to simply relax into the rhythm of the city, take time to absorb the multitude of glories that this city presents and let it work its magic …

For a longer version of this article with a few more quirky things to do in Prague visit my Blog site at Wandering Educators

Personal & Quirky Reflections & Intentions

As we shift from one decade to another I’d like to share with you what I’m really grateful for.  Please do share your thoughts, resolutions, gratitudes, intentions …  

I am really grateful for:

  • My son Alex, who’s grown from a toddling 2 year old to the threshold of teenagerdom and brought us such joy, fun, enrichment and learning…
  • My Mum, who died 7 years ago and whose wisdom, beauty and grace is with me every day. I thought I had lost her when she died but have learnt that she is all here all the time …
  • The rest of my family for ‘being there’, keeping me sane and sharing the good and bad times, even when we drive each other crazy 🙂
  • Dear friends who share the journey, allow me to fail, be ‘out of order’ and forgive me every time … and for those friends who I have lost touch with but who are still in my heart ….
  • All the very special clients, colleagues and people I have worked with – thank you for sharing your lives, loves, aspirations, hopes, problems and dreams – such a privilege …
  • Living and working in such a beautiful part of the world
  • Good health and that of those around me
  • The luxury of being able to look forward to the coming decade from the warmth and safety (hopefully!) of my own home
  • For learning the difference between desiring what I don’t have, and being content with all that I am blessed with …

My INTENTION for the coming decade is to live as much as possible in the PRESENT, to appreciate all that is good around me, to share what I can with others and be open and  positive to whatever DESTINY may have in mind in 2010 and beyond  …

I wish you all that you wish for yourself in the coming year, with an extra dash of magical  quirkiness 🙂