Saturday, 30 June 2007

We're Fine

We're all saddened by the news of the Glasgow attacks, but we are now far from there, and we're all fine.

Atlantic Bridge

This bridge was the first bridge to span any part of the Atlantic. It reaches from Argylle to the tiny slate quarrying isle of Seil.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Wandering through the abandoned village of Kilmory Oib lets me step back in time, entering a magical world of wildflowers and holy wells.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Temple Wood

This is the little stone circle at the heart of the sacred landscape of the Kilmartin Valley, which is one of my favourite places on the planet.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

With Thanks

As I think back over the experiences of the past few weeks, I do so with a sense of profound gratitude. To live in a day and age where this sort of travel is possible is a great privilege, one I do not take lightly. And to be able to travel in the company of interesting, enthusiastic friends who share our passion for labyrinths is quite amazing. I honour the connections that are made and strengthened as walk our varied paths....

A special thanks to Lisa Moriarty who shared her photographs with me, some of which I used here. I am a dreamer, not a photographer, at heart. While others have the ability to use a camera capture their connections with time and place, I struggle. My best memories are, perhaps, more energetic than visual. So I am especially grateful for those who have both the eye for a good photograph and the presence of mind to press the shutter!

I have gone back through my earlier posts and added appropriate pictures, so even if you read them as they were posted, you might want to go back now to see the images.

A slideshow of our Paris experiences can be seen here: SpringtimeInParis

I will continue my blogging on my regular site, though it has been sadly neglected of late. The link to that site is Our travel dates are posted there, and I will do my best to keep in touch through this blog while we are on the road.

In closing I want to share a last image of what might have been one of my best labyrinth walks of this trip. There was a very organic, labyrinth-like pathway on the beach at Folhammer. The path spiralled around in a marvelously fun free-form way, but eventually lead to the goal. Now, we can say all we like about a classical or medieval labyrinth representing the journey of life, but this wibbly-wobbly path was certainly more representative of MY life!



On Returning Home...

I've always believed that journeys have three parts, the departure and all that leads up to it, the journey itself, and the return, where all that has been seen, experienced, and learned is integrated into one's "normal" life and routine.

Lisa Moriarty accompanied us on this return, spending one last day with us before making her own return. We shared shellfish, wine, aquavit, and laughter, reliving memories of this trip and planning for future travels. But more personal and significant for me, was a bit of time spent out in our garden, listening for a labyrinth.

Hearing its whispers, Lisa took a bit of rope from the rope labyrinth kit that Lea Goode-Harris made for us last year, and helped me make a little labyrinth just opposite the badger gate. It sits under the watchful eye of our little Tiki god (named Bob because he reminds us of Sideshow Bob when his head is properly planted). We have now placed the two chairs we got as a wedding present in the little opening in the trees that you can see just at the back of the picture. Voila! a labyrinth garden to welcome us home.


Our final labyrinthine adventure was truly an off-the-beaten track adventure, taking us to the small island of Oja in the southern end of the Stockholm archipelago. Bo and Anita Stjernstrom and John Kraft met us at our hotel in Nynashamn and accompanied us to Ankarudden where we caught a little passenger ferry out to the island, which is usually referred to as Landsort. By some fluke of nature, we had the most spectacular weather imaginable, with scarcely a cloud in the sky all day. John told me that he had dreamed of this day for years!

We were met by master pilot Bjorn Oberg, a lifelong resident of the island. His labyrinth connections began with his father's insistence that the historic labyrinth on the island not be destroyed when military operations occupied it during World War II. Barracks were built directly over the old labyrinth, but it remained intact beneath the foundations of the building, and the remnants remained when the buildings were finally torn down at the end of the Cold War, some decades later.

In the early 1980's John, Bo, Anita, and Bjorn worked together to research, document, and restore the labyrinth, which remains intact and beautiful to this day. Made of stones laid onto the grasses at the side of a track, some of the stones go up and over a rocky outcrop, with the stones just sitting on the bedrock, something I'd not seen before. I found it difficult to walk, feeling it would be easy to trip over a stone or twist an ankle, which makes it all the more interesting in light of what we learned about it later in the day...

As we were leaving on the evening ferry, the ticket-taker saw Bo's t-shirt, which of course sported a labyrinth, and asked if we had seen the labyrinth on the island. A fisherman in his off-duty hours, he told us he walks the labyrinth for luck with his fishing -- proof positive that the ancient tradition still survives! He also told us that if someone is ill, an "innocent child" can walk the labyrinth to bring a restoration of health.

Our day on Landsort was a delight, a journey out of the ordinary. Anita had prepared a picnic for us with potato salad, roast beef, and traditional Swedish kanelbulle (cardamom rolls). With no vehicles allowed on the island, we walked in peace, enjoying the birds, the wildflowers, and the glorious weather. There is a beautiful lighthouse on the southern tip of the island, which was made all the more spectacular by the appearance of a sundog around it while we were there.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Sunset over the Baltic

Just in front of our hotel was a little knoll... and beyond it the sea, giving us a front-row seat for watching the setting sun. We were fortunate that the weather was warm and clear, so sitting outside until the 10:30 sunset was a pleasure. We were just ahead of the hordes of tourists who will descend on Gotland in the next week or so when the days are at their longest, so we had the beaches and shops to ourselves.

The medieval walled city of Visby on the island of Gotland was once the seat of the Hanseatic league, and therefore the trading center of the region, bringing wealth that created a rich heritage of beautiful churches, strong walls, and skilled craftsmen. The cultural diversity can still be felt today.

Gotland is home to some dozens of labyrinths in different forms, some laid in stones, others painted onto church walls. The quest is as important as finding them...

Perhaps the most well-known of the labyrinths is the one just outside the city walls. Centuries old, it is still in remarkable condition, and is obviously walked frequently. After visiting it as a group, we each made little individual journeys back for personal visits, often late in the evening or early in the mornings.

Our days were largely filled with driving as we covered the length and breadth of the island in search of the labyrinths. Why is it that the journey to the labyrinth is often as labyrinthine as the labryinth we journey to see?

After walking this little seaside gem, the urge to create was too strong to resist and the labyrinth-builders amongst us took to the rocks:

Monday, 4 June 2007

Maze Inspectors and Correctors

I'm giving up on the picture uploads. It just doesn't seem to want to happen, so these next few posts are probably going to look a little bleak until I get home next weekend and can upload pictures from my camera. I have some beautiful pictures -- lovely views of stones, windmills, sunsets, and labyrinths. I find myself looking for little stories to tell about the scenes I photograph, wanting to share the experience with those of you who have written to tell me you're following our travel escapades. It's frustrating to be blocked by techno-gremlins, but I promise to get the blog updated with good pictures as soon as we get back to England.

So, here's today's story:

When we were travelling with a group through England a few years ago
, we had dinner at a pub in Rutland, just down the road from the labyrinth in Wing. We were a good-sized group and we were energetically and enthusiastically discussing the labyrinths we had been visiting. When we finished eating, I lagged behind a bit, and was summoned to a nearby table and asked what we were doing -- specifically they wanted to know if we were Maze Inspectors.

We got a good laugh out of that, of course, but the name stuck and from then on we referred to ourselves as the Maze Inspectors. Four of those original "inspectors" urged us to take a group to Sweden, the result being the tour that we're now doing. And true to form, we each explore and interact with labyrinths a bit differently -- measuring, walking, tidying, photographing. And as we have come across those labyrinths which have been a bit (or a lot) neglected, weeds have been pulled, stones moved, and pathways adjusted. Today we realized we have truly grown into our roles as Maze Inspectors and Correctors.

We are quickly losing count of the labyrinths we have seen -- but happily the ones we visited today and yesterday all showed signs of being loved, walked, and maintained. After our disappointing day on Saturday, this feels quite heartwarming!
And the sunsets over the Baltic have been spectacular as you will see in a few days....

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Misty and Mystical

This misty, mystical scene is a ship grave, an elongated stone "circle" that marks a Scandinavian iron-age grave field (about 2000 years old). This one is in Bohuslan, in Western Sweden, just below the Norwegian border. As you can see, the weather was pretty dismal, but it gave plenty of atmosphere for this particular site.

We drove down into Goteborg to see a prehistoric labyrinth on top of a hill on the edge of the city. Unfortunately, recent winter storms had felled several trees, obliterating about half the labyrinth. This seems to be a trend.... we have found a number of labyrinths in varying states of disrepair and overgrowth. One we visited today was in particularly poor condition and we felt that we were probably going to be the last people ever to see it. This is particularly sad in that they have managed to survive for so long, only to disappear in our technologically advanced modern age.

Leaving Goteborg, we drove east across the southern part of the country, spending the night in Nykoping, home to another prehistoric labyrinth. Yesterday we took the ferry out to the Baltic island of Gotland. The main city, Visby, is an ancient walled city, full of charm and beauty. Yesterday's weather was so bad that our afternoon ferry was cancelled so we had to take the evening ferry which didn't arrive until nearly midnight. Today, however, dawned bright and clear. Our hotel is right on the city wall, overlooking the harbor. Between the seabirds and the plethora of labyrinths int he area, Jeff is really in his element!

Tomorrow we will exlore the southern half of the island, hoping to see at least 6 labyrinths. And while we're at it, we might even make a new one to leave as a mark of our having been here.....