Blog Roll

Got something interesting to say?  Informative?  Thought provoking?  Funny? Don’t keep it to yourself – join Never Mind The Bus Pass’ Blog Roll and let the world know what you’re thinking. Join here

The Quirkiness of Japan’s Sakaiminato in the North

Whenever you get off a cruise ship and dedock at a port you’ve never heard of or know very little about, you’re never quite sure what to expect, as was the case with Sakaiminato in northern Japan. Of course I had never heard of Mizuki Shigeru, the famous Japanese comic celebrity, known for his work around Yokai. He is most known for his motif of Yokais, especially the notable Ge Ge Ge  no Kitaro. Nonnon baa to Ore was awarded the Best Comic Award at the Angouleme International Comic Festival in France in 2007 and he himself was honored as a Person of Cultural Merits of Japan in 2010. The legacy of his comic work is prolific in…

Lessons from the Journey: “All You Have to Do Is Put One Foot in Front of the Other”

From my own 193-country journey to the stories of many other people who were kindly willing to share, The Happiness of Pursuit attempts to extract and convey the lessons of modern-day quests. This series explores some of these lessons. Lesson: “All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other.” Most&hellip

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bars

♥ NO oil required for these soft & gooey zucchini bars ♥ It’s a safe bet that if you invite [&hellip

Galicia – almost a religious experience

From mediaeval churches to foot-sore pilgrims, from delicious seafood treats to rural retreats, travel writer BrendanHarding prays at the altar of all things Galician.
Sunset on the Galician coastline
Brother Laurence has the voice of a BBC Radio 4, Saturday-morning guest presenter. It is textured, alive, confident and possesses a deeply melodious, honeyed quality. He is also highly articulate on matters of mediaeval architecture, art, history and of course, religion; and to boot, he is utterly, utterly listenable.

A slight, unassuming, bearded and bespectacled gentleman, without his Trappist ‘uniform’ he would pass simply as another ‘man on the street’. But, standing in the great, stone-bare nave of the cathedral of the Mosteiro de Santa María de Sobrado dos Monxes in the Spanish province of Galicia, the monk has a mischevious gleam in his eyes.

In response to a question regarding the number of monks who still reside within the Abbey, Brother Laurence raises his eyes – as if to examine some hidden, masonic jewel secreted in the dark shadows of the cathedral’s highest gargoyles and curlicues –  lifts his hands Christ-like and atones almost solemnly, “I’m afraid, the monks-per-square-metre ratio has dropped significantly of late.” He lowers his spectacles, winks secretly and leads us onwards.   

Let sleeping knights sleep

The Abbey is an unadorned but renovated jewel, a place where sword-wielding knights cast in stone lie silently in eternal slumber, slanted columns of mote-filled light fall on invisible worshippers and ghostly voices still echo and linger from choir to altar. 

Together with the Mosteiro de Santa María de Sobrado dos Monxes the province of Galicia holds many such jewels strewn across its rolling emerald-green countryside. There is scarcely a town or village which dares not hold the remains of some bishop or nobleman’s attempt to ascend the ladder to heaven. Towers and spires fill the skyscape from east to west and north to south. Holy battlements overlook the soldierly lines of peas and grapes, and metre-thick doors are barred against the invasion of time and decay.

Towns like Lourenzá – long a place of Christian hospitality – and Mondoñedo – whose cathedral houses the statue of Nuestra Señora la Inglesa, rescued from St. Paul’s Cathedral in London during the protestant reformation; along with many other eclectic items of religious curiosity, including one small statue of a porkishly fat infant Jesus. Near to Lourenzá, there is the wonderfully restored and newly opened El Pazo de Tovar; a typical Galician mediaeval manor house, which still manages to oversee the undulating landscape with a nobility which has outlived the centuries.

Even in the rugged nature of Galicia, a religious presence seems to hold sway. Time your arrival just right, when the tide is at its lowest, and add your presence to one of the most visited sites on the crenelated Galician coastline

Spectacular rock formations at La Praia das Catedrais

Near to the town of Ribadeo, on La Praia das Catedrais (Cathedral Beach) – so called because of the gargantuan buttress-like rock arches crafted by Mother Nature’s stonemasons; wind and water – join the masses that come to photograph this natural phenomenon at sunset and worship at its altar. The place is also a firm favourite with newly-weds, she in lacy whites and he in top hat and tails, as they come to be imortalised on film, wading knee deep in playful waves as nature provides an unforgettable backdrop.

But it is for the continuous lines of foot-weary, staff-carrying, backpack-toting pilgrimsthat Galicia is best known by most. Each year, over 200,000 pilgrims undertake the famous Camino de Santiago along its various routes, ultimately making their way through the bottleneck of the Galician countryside as they near their personal goals and the great cathedral in the city of Santiago de Compostela

There are as many pilgrims as there are reasons for undertaking this arduous trek. Personal satisfaction, promises made, hope for others, forgiveness from sin, or just to delete its name from some imaginary ‘to do’ list and feel the pride of accomplishment.

Familiar scenes along Galicia's Camino de Santiago

Most pilgrims pick a starting point on one of the many routes, hoist their belongings onto their back and put one foot in front of the other until finally they reach their goal. For others the Camino is an accumulated thing, done in broken sections over a longer period of time. And then again there are those who wish to combine their pilgrimage with the opportunity to take a well-deserved rest in a beautiful place. For these there are specialist tour companies who will transport their luggage from point to point, meet them at the end of each day and return them to overnight at some idyllic rural hotel and enjoy a deliciously cooked meal at their leisure.

And speaking of religious pursuits, there is another altar which lies very close to the Galician soul; food.

Many choose Galicia as a place of culinary pilgrimage

While Galicia is known mainly as a place of religious pilgrimage to those living outside of Spain, it is also a place of epicurean pilgrimage to the Spanish themselves (and those who appreciate good food). Year in and year out they come in hungry droves to dine on the bounty of the Galician seas on; hake, cod, golden bream and bass, goose barnacles and a hundred other types of sumptuous shellfish, steamed pink crab and lobster, tender baby squid and the ubiquitous Galician staple, octopus

There is also the food of the valleys and the mountains; venison prepared with aromatic rosemary and peaches; fresh green spinach salads with deep fried goat cheese, delicate lamb chops and mouth-watering sirloin steaks from animals fed in the wild on mountain herbs and spices. Hearty bean stews and fuelling, filling breakfasts of tortilla and jamon, salchichons and eggs whose shells still carry a coating of morning dew.

Galicia really is a place of pilgrimage, but what’s your reason?

Santiago's main Cathedral, the final goal for many
AER LINGUS – fly to Santiago de Compostela –

Hotel O Cabazo de Zacurro, Ribadeo – Very welcoming and comfortable hotel, close to Ribadeo town centre. High speed Wi-fi, in-house restaurant and bar.
Hotel Bi Terra, Friol, Lugo
– A rural hotel set amongst a series of stunningly rescued and renovated farm outbuildings. The hotel is idea for those wishing to enjoy the Camino de Santiago(Camino del Norte) with full services of transit, food and accommodation. Perfect, revitalising countryside location –
Hotel Gelmírez, Santiago de Compostela
– Perfect hotel, perfect location in the heart of Santiago. A newly renovated modern hotel with all you might expect from a luxurious retreat at the end of your Camino –

Restaurante San Miguel, Ribadeo
– Busy seafood-based restaurant overlooking the river (The seafood soup is especially great). –
Hotel Spa Attica Vilalba, Lugo region Boasting one of Galicia’s finest spas, this luxury hotel is perfectly located for rural relaxation –
Restaurante Casa Grande
Rural charm combined with rural food. Don’t expect frills, but do expect great local food such as scrambled egg with cod, stewed shin of beef and exquisitely baked hake. Worth tracking down for sure. Praza da Ponte, 8. 27393 Friol, Lugo, Galicia.
Restaurante Bodequilla de San Roque A veritable institution in Santiago de Compostela. Famed by locals and judging by the lunchtime crowds it would be wise to book in advance. One of three restaurants in the Bodequilla stable in the city –
Restaurante O Dezaseis – Santiago de Compostela At your peril, do NOT walk past the unimposing doorway of this piece of Santiago dining history. Enough said. –
– for everything you need to know about visiting Galicia –


A mish-mash of all things Galicia


LibDems Presume They Will Form Government Post-2015

At least the LibDems can be relied on for blinkered optimism in the face of impending doom. Recipients of the party’s promotional “Brochure 2015″ were amused at this plug for the annual LibDem business dinner due to be held in September 2015. The discussion on “sustainable long-term growth post-2015″ boasts: “attendance from the entire Liberal Democrat business team including […]

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Physically Bring Your Architecture Projects to Life: Arckit by Damien Murtagh

Irish Architect Damien Murtagh took the idea of creativity in architecture to another level when designing Arckit, an ingenious kit that enables everyone to physically bring their ideas to life. Three years in the making, Arckit is a revolutionary freeform Scaled Architectural Model Making Kit based on a real modular housing system that Damien devised. […]

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What books Abnormal Returns readers purchased in October 2014

A monthly post looking at what books Abnormal Returns readers purchased at Amazon in the prior month is a great way to scan the month’s […]

The post What books Abnormal Returns readers purchased in October 2014 appeared first on Abnormal Returns.

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Catford Constitutional Club

I'm a fan of Antic pubs. The Royal Albert was my stalwart local during my four years in New Cross, and I could while away hours in there with friends, sipping on pints and playing Shithead. I frequent the East Dulwich Tavern often, and I've thrown myself around the dance floor at The Effra Social several times. I've also had quiet pints in the sunshine out the front, as traffic roars past the busy road. The less said about The Job Centre in Deptford, the better though. That one is a bit weird. 

I recently went to the Catford Constitutional Club, and if you've been to The Effra Social you'll be familiar with the style. Old-style bunting, mismatched old chairs and sofas have been carefully curated to give the place a feeling of comfort, like you're at your batty old aunt's place. I don't know if you've ever been to Catford, but it's not that easy to find a good pub that sells beer in clean glasses and might actually feed you too. The place was pleasantly busy, the clientele mixed, with mainly older couples and friends. They do a big range of bottled craft-y beers if that's your thing, but also the standard lagers and some interesting ales.

The food was pretty good, too. We waited a while for it, and when it came it all came at once but the deep-fried calamari were crisp and hot, perfect snacking food with an appropriately garlicky mayo. My own pork chop was served with wholegrain mustard mash and a baked half apple, and the crisp sage leaves added another dimension. The pork chop was obviously of good source - you can tell by the delicious, creamy fat, and a little less time in the pan would have made for a more tender chop. 

My friend's smoked haddock with kale, a poached egg and a hollandaise-like sauce didn't skimp on the new potatoes and I assume it was good, as it was finished off in no time. They do that annoying thing where they charge around £2.50 for sides, which always makes me feel like I have an incomplete meal when I don't bother with them but we were happily full without them, if a bit vegetable-deficient. I imagine it's a welcome addition to the residents of Catford and the surrounds; we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening there. 

(If you're in Catford do check out FLK Groceries - it's a great little Chinese shop. The owner is really lovely, and on hand to impart advice.) 

Catford Constitutional Club
Catford Broadway
London SE6 4SP 
020 8613 7188