Tag Archives: religion

Full-Blown Wedding Preparations

Last November, my partner and I decided on taking the next step in our relationship. Both being on the same page with regards to what we want in life, we started discussing on the biggest level of commitment two adults can show towards each other: marriage.

I would not get into the topic of a relationship vs marriage, as this is a topic for another blog post.

When we went to the wedding fair, which was coincidentally the next weekend after our “big talk”, we wwedding dayere so unprepared! We had no idea on a date, venue, or setup. We walked aimlessly in the fair, stocking up on leaflets until we saw the stall of what would be our venue of choice. We knew right there and then, this was it. We did not have to discuss it, we did not have to argue. It felt right, the one.  Upon deciding, we made a list of its availability in June and July 2019. It was then that we were told that couples have already started booking for 2020. That’s 3 years before the wedding. Wow!

The next day, early Saturday morning we made our way to our ideal chapel, which is in close vicinity to the venue. Luckily, the chapel was available on the same day of our preferred wedding day, the 19th of July 2019. Feeling like this was meant to be, we quickly made our chapel reservation and phoned the venue to confirm.

We did keep our wedding date a secret for a whole month, before we got our parents together to tell them the news! It was one of the hardest things we had to do… Keeping the most exciting and most important day of our lives to ourselves. But it was all worth it when we saw our parents cheering and hugging us. They kind of knew something was up, but they never thought this was the news we wanted to share.

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Llandaff Cathedral, Wales

Possibly one of the most underrated cathedrals in Wales, can be found in Llandaff, in the outskirts of North Cardiff. The Anglican cathedral is extraordinary, both visually and historically.

On the 2nd of January, 1941; during world war 2, Cardiff suffered the worst bombing of the war. With around 165 people killed and another 427 seriously injured, the city was at a chaotic state. The UK’s major towns and cities have been bombarded by then. And so, was Llandaff. Landmines have fell and exploded in the churchyard, cathedral spire and the roof. It destroyed many a graves, but especially the roof which collapsed inwards destroying most of the furnishings. Luckily a lot of its valuables such as the Victorian stained glass was taken out and put into into storage, and there was no outbreak of fire.

The architect, wanted to restructure the remaining parts of the cathedral by including a modern additional plaque to support the building itself and give it a new feature. To this day, visitors comment about this choice; you either love it, or hate it!

 

 

 

Seven Incredible Places In Thailand You Just Have To Visit

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Thailand is such an incredibly rich, diverse, and beautiful country. If the food doesn’t make you fall in love with it, the people certainly will. And its history and culture have remained untouched, despite the fact it is one of Asia’s most frequented countries by visitors. If you’re considering a trip to Thailand, or you knew you wanted to visit East Asia, but you couldn’t decide where, let this be all the incentive you need to book your flights to Thailand and have the adventure of the lifetime. Here are seven things you just can’t miss.

  1. The sights of Bangkok

Understandably, the capital city of one of the most beautiful counties in the world is absolutely stunning. Even if you have no interest in a city break, and your holiday is purely for relaxing on a beach or exploring the jungles, don’t miss out on a couple of days in Bangkok. The sights such as the Grand Palace and marketplaces make this a truly unique city, worthy of a day or two of exploration.

  1. Visit the long neck hill tribe villages

The culture of Thailand has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years, and this includes some of the tribes in the rainforests and mountains. The hill tribe villages are still known for their beautiful handmade clothes, traditional crafts, and their original look with long necks, elongated by brass bands wrapped around their necks.

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  1. Explore the Chiang Rai White Temple

The stunning temple was built to symbolise Buddha’s purity, but the style does not follow suit of other more traditional styles of Thai architecture. It’s a visually interesting piece of art and place of worship that is an absolute must for anyone staying in Chiang Rai.

  1. See the Bo Sang umbrella village

Near Chiang Mai, the umbrella village features handmade bamboo umbrellas and parasols, made in the traditional way. It is free to watch the women expertly craft these umbrellas, and visitors can buy them to take home as mementos if they wish, but it’s also just a beautiful place to visit and experiencethailand-3Image Credit

  1. Take a boat at the Damnoen Saduak floating market

East Asia is famous for its many styles of floating market, and Thailand is no different. In particularly watery areas of the country, their markets have been this way for hundreds of years, so there’s no plan to change them yet. They’re visually stunning, vibrant, and exciting places to visit, and the street food is exquisite.

  1. Visit Chiang Mai

The city of Chiang Mai is perfect for a few days exploring, or even a while longer. It’s a popular place for people to volunteer in Thailand teaching English and computer skills, as it’s very traditional, but the locals are friendly and welcoming.

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  1. Explore the Ayutthaya National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage site is full of the mystery of the Orient, with incredible archaeological sites from when it used to be the second capital of Siam. Explore the ruined temples, palaces, and Buddha statues, and the iconic overgrown Buddha head at Mahathat Temple. The whole park is awe-inspiring for people of any age.

Hopefully, you’ve got all the reasons you’ll ever need to visit Thailand, because when you’ve been once, you’ll want to return again and again.

 

Stuck For Words: Supporting A Grieving Friend

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The loss of a loved one is one of the hardest things we go through as human beings. You can’t fathom the depth of pain and sadness without experiencing it firsthand. It’s also difficult watching a friend go through a bereavement. It’s natural to feel helpless and to worry about saying the wrong thing. You can’t bring their loved one back, but you can help them through the pain.

Stay In Touch

The important thing is to stay in touch. You may not know what to say, but don’t let that stop you from being present. Your friend is likely to feel hurt if you avoid her. Be honest and explain that you have no words. Tell her that you’re so sorry and that you’re there for her in any way she needs. Take a little token of your friendship, such as flowers or chocolate. This is not to make things better. It’s to show you care.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Tears

Your friend may cry, and that may be painful to watch. But tears are important. They are a way of releasing the painful feelings. Don’t run away and don’t try to make her stop. There are few greater acts of friendship than holding someone else’s pain.

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Practical Things

When someone dies, there are lots of practical things that need to be done. People need to be notified, and funeral preparations need to be made. Often this is overwhelming. Find out if there’s anything you can do to help. It may be little things like making phone calls. Or your friend may need help with sympathy and funeral flowers.

Sometimes asking what the person needs isn’t helpful. They may be inundated with offers and not know what to say. Therefore, suggesting ways in which you could help is an option. Food is always a good place to start. Even at the most difficult times we still need to eat. People will be visiting, and food may need to be provided. Preparing some meals is likely to be welcome.

Avoid Cliches

In difficult situations, it’s easy to reach for cliches. However, where grief is concerned, they are not always well received. If you have just lost someone you care about deeply, you don’t want to hear that they are in a better place. Or, that God only sends you things you can deal with. This is likely to provoke sadness and even anger. Keep it simple. Be honest and truthful. It’s better to acknowledge you don’t know what to say, rather than reaching for a cliche.

Don’t Tell Them What To Do

Everyone grieves differently. There is no right or wrong way of navigating bereavement. Everyone must find their own process. So don’t tell your friend she’s doing it wrong. Don’t tell her the ‘right way’ to do it. Let her experience this for herself and steer her own course.

Like grieving, there’s no right or wrong way to be there for someone. First and foremost, show up. Be honest if you don’t know what to say. Try to be helpful. And then take your cue from your friend. Listen to her and be there, in whatever way she needs you to be.

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey has been in my must-see list for years. The reason it took me this long to visit is because it is in the South of Wales, and I have mostly traveled to the North and Mid Wales as it is more accessible for me, due to Manchester and Liverpool airports being so close to my destination (also I have never driven in the UK, but I probably should…).

I would say that the Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the most beautiful monastic ruins, not just in Wales or the UK, but within Europe. The location of the abbey is very scenic, and the village of Tintern is tiny. In fact, after spending hours in this serene place, we walked to the village for a snack. We even watched River Wye which runs behind the abbey and through the village. The river has been an important source of water which sustained the villagers and monks, and is till useful at this day and age.

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The abbey was founded in 1131, by the lord of Chepstow and the building and its surroundings kept growing exponentially until its closing down around 400 years later. In the 13th century, Roger Bigod rebuilt the church, and as a thank you his coat of arms was put in the glass of the east window. This church forms the largest part of what is still remaining today, and is a great example of welsh architecture of the medieval period, even if in ruins.

Although it did not have much importance history wise, what is left of this abbey is a major tourist attracting in the South of Wales, as is Caerphilly Castle, Raglan Castle and Cardiff Castle in the capital city of Wales.

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Find Your Centers Of Spirituality Around The World

Human nature leads many of us to find spirituality during our lives. You may seek religion, meditation, or community. Whatever your choices in life, it can be a wonderful experience to seek out other centers of spirituality. We’re all different, but many of us are united in our love for travel. Why not check out some of these wonderful places next time you take a vacation?

India

The Garhwal region is home to four of the holy shrines of Hinduism collectively known as Chota Char Dham. The area itself is stunning. Just being here can be an experience you’ll never want to forget. The landscape is so beautiful and so peaceful, it’s no wonder people come here to explore the spirituality of the region. The rivers here are very significant, so it’s worth making an effort to explore their paths.

You can also find an important center for Yoga here, with many options for a retreat. If you enjoy the physical side of Yoga practice why not come to explore the internal or spiritual side? If nothing else, it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with new people. Cities like Mumbai offer plenty of fascinating temples to visit as well. Some are an integral part of beautiful cave systems. Others are magnificent stone structures of extraordinary architectural design.

United Kingdom

Stonehenge is a mystery. It has been there for thousands of years, but nobody can determine with certainty why. Even more mysterious is the answer to the question how. It doesn’t seem to be humanly possible for the stones to have been erected in that place at that time. Yet they exist, and they continue to be an important center of spirituality for people all over the world. The position of the sun has been successfully charted using these giant standing stones. This makes it an important place for gathering during the solstice.

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Standing stones are more common than you think in the UK. Orkney’s Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar are Neolithic. These ancient structures must have been incredibly important to our ancestors. It was during a time when life on earth here would have been harsh. While they don’t draw as many visitors as the Salisbury Plains, the atmosphere here is no less captivating.

Egypt

Ancient Egyptians worshiped their pharaohs but also had deeply held beliefs of their other gods and deities. Animal shaped statues and ornaments are still revered, and many are on display for visitors to see. The connection to their past is still highly regarded by modern-day Egyptians. But is it perhaps the magnificent pyramids, like those at Giza, that we marvel at.

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Getting in touch with an ancient culture’s spirituality is more than just an educational experience. It can be a route to finding your own interests and perhaps even the roots of some of your own ideals. More than anything it is a connection to past civilizations not so distant from our own.

We all find spirituality, faith, and connection in different ways and in different places. Why not add a few more places to your list?

 

Of Tree Spirits and Fascinations

I think, that as a person, I hold a very strange obsession and fascination towards trees. It is not something that bothers me, in fact to the contrary, I love it. I find it very pleasant and relaxing to spend hours walking in the countryside and admiring all the gorgeous trees in the environment I am in.

I must admit, I have hundreds of photos portraying trees and close-ups of branches contrasting the sky. If you are curious, have a look at my Instagram profile, here.

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Sometimes I even wonder if in my past life I was a tree… Or a tree spirit….

Have you heard of Nymphs?
Nymphs are female spirits of nature in Greek mythology. They are protectors of all things nature; springs, mountains, grottoes, trees, the sea and rivers.

Depending of where they resided, the Nymphs are as follows: Dryads (forests), Naiads (springs and rivers),  Oceanids (the sea) and Oreads (mountains), Limoniads (meadows), Limniads (lakes, marshes and swamps), Meliads (ash-trees), Epimeliads (protectors of sheep) and Napaea (valleys and glens) etc.

Nymphs are not considered as eternal creatures; although they lead a long life they are fated to die eventually. The male version of a nymph is the Sat.

My top 3 Nymphs:

  • The Dryads are the female spirits of nature who take care of the forests. Once born, dryadeach one is born and destined to one particular tree, which she watches over all her life. In some cases a dryad lives within the tree and are not tree spirits. These type of dryads are called Hamdryads. In both cases if the tree perish, they will die with it. If a mortal kills the tree, it is said that the Gods will punish him for the said deed. The dryad, as the protector of her own tree, would also punish a mortal should they cruelly injure their tree.
  • The Oreads; from the Greed word oros, which translates to mountains, are the nymphs of the mountains and grottoes. It is said that these nymphs would come out in joyful and rather loud groups to hunt animals and birds of prey with their arrows.
  • The Naiads are fresh water nymphs. They are said to preside over streams, springs, fountains, lakes, ponds and rivers. The Naiads were considered to be very loyal to their body of water; to the extend that if it were to dry up, they will die. The water which is taken care of by the Naiads is believed to be endowed with powers; be it inspiration, medical or prophetic. So much so, that these nymphs were continuously worshipped by the ancient Greeks for fertility and growth.

 

 

 

 

Mosta Dome

The Parish Church of Saint Mary, is popularly known as the Rotunda or the Mosta dome due to its large dome; which can be seen from most parts of Malta.

The church was designed by a Maltese architect called Giorgio Grognet de Vassé. The church’s design was closely based on the Pantheon in Rome; 6 columned portico with a circular 39.6m diameter dome. It was built between the 1833 and 1860 with funds raised by the local people.

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During World War 2 in 1942, a bomb fell through the church and it didn’t detonate. This was considered as a miracle especially since around 300 people were in the church waiting for the mass to commence. A replica of the said bomb is available to see in the sacristy, left of the altar.

 

The many sunsets of Fawwara

Some of the most beautiful areas for walks or hikes in Malta are situated in the limits of Siggiewi. One of the spots goes by the name of ‘Fawwara’. The word fawwara translates to spring in English, and this name was chosen for this stretch of land due to the fact that in the past it supplied a large amount of water.

The history of this area goes as far as when the Arabs took over Malta, it has seen the death of many christian women, and proof of this is two chapels within Fawwara which are still standing to this day. These were built in 1616 and 1575.  The latter even had a small village surrounding it (Hal Kbir) during the Medieval area. Needless to say, Siggiewi has existed on our little island for a very, very long time.

Below are some photos I have taken of the area, showing sunsets as well as some picturesque captures. Can’t wait to return back here in the next couple of days 🙂

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St. Paul’s Catacombs, Rabat Malta

The underground roman cemeteries are dated to be
used up until the 4th century AD. Since the roman law at the time, prohibited burials within the city, these are catacombs2found on the outskirt of the capital of Malta at the time; Mdina.

The name of the these catacombs derives from the widely known story which relates to St Paul’s Grotto. As such, these catacombs are a great example of Maltese underground architecture as well as it represents the earliest evidence of Christianity in Malta.

The site itself consists of two large areas, with a good number of burial chambers. During a talk with one of the curators, I was told that there were more than 30 underground burial chambers.

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Should you be interested to visit, the opening hours are 9:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday.
Tickets cost €5.00 for adults, and €3.50 for youths

How to get there
– By Public Transport: From Valletta Routes 51, 52. From Bugibba Route X3 (Airport Route). The catacombs are situated in St. Agatha Street which is a narrow street running through much of the town’s core. Follow the signs to St. Paul’s Catacombs.
– By self-driven car: Drive towards Rabat and park close to the Domus Romana. The St. Paul’s Catacombs are around 5 minutes away by walk.