After India

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We had a great time in India, but all good things must come to an end so back to the UK we came!  When the weather is on your side this country is the place to be, and our first week back turned out to be bright and sunny!

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We live not too far away from the National Trust property of Mottisfont, and we can be there in 10 minutes to have a look around and enjoy the gardens as the seasons change.

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The early spring flowers were just beginning to show their heads, and with the clear blue sky it all looked wonderful.

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We are 10 minutes walk away from the world famous Hillliers Gardens, so again we can take the opportunity at the drop of a hat to see the trees and flowers as the seasons change.

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The magnolias were out on our last visit and it looks like the rhododendrons are about to burst into bloom so another visit is on the cards! One of the bits I like the best is the fine selection of cakes they have on offer after our leisurely stroll!

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We also took a short break in Devon at Crofton Farm so we could enjoy some sunshine and a few clifftop walks. We did get a little sun but most of the time it was really chilly!

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On one of the colder days we took a train ride from Starcross to Paignton along the Devon Riviera. It was great to get a view of the sea for virtually the whole journey. When we got to Paignton it was so cold that after a brief stroll along the prom we decided to go to the cinema and see Dumbo (we know how to live)!

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There were a few lovely days where we could stroll around in shirt sleeves, one such day was when we visited Hope Cove.  We had a lovely meal there at the Cove Cafe Bar, it’s great to find a locally owned restaurant which sources all its food from local suppliers and the food was excellent.  We would both highly recommend this place!

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We were joined in Devon by Kevin and Maggie with “Scruff and Dottie” their dogs. Kevin pushed their pram for 7 miles just in case they got tired and couldn’t make it back to the campsite!  I think you can tell from the look on his face that he didn’t really mind.

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The bluebells were just about to show but I think the cold weather made them change their minds!

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It’s not often you see a storm trooper walking along the coast path; this one was on his way to Exeter raising money for charity.  I hope the force was with him!

We took a drive down to Coleton Fishacre, a National Trust property once owned by the D’Oyly Carte family.  Richard D’Oyly Carte was famous for bringing together the librettist Sir W.S. Gilbert and the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan producing many of their operettas in London’s Savoy theatre, which he had established in 1881.  The house was lovely with a great garden and stunning views.  I only wish the weather had been warmer so we could have fully enjoyed this place!

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We cycled from our campsite along the river Exe to Exeter. We passed the grounds of Powderham Castle where we saw the deer grazing and they were completely oblivious to our presence.

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I can’t understand how the deer missed me………no one else did!

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Time for another cliff-top walk, this time with a bit of geocaching thrown in.  Still bloody cold though!

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The sun came out briefly on our trip to Salcombe.  I liked this place and would like to return for a bit more exploring.

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When the tide goes out along the River Teign it exposes a footpath on the west side of the river. A brisk morning walk along here, then a roast dinner in the local pub followed by the papers is in my mind; a great way to spend a Sunday!

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I have managed to get quite a few rounds of golf in since I’ve been back…………

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And it’s lovely to still be able to play a few holes with dad.  In this photo it looks like he has shrunk, but really it’s just an extra long flag pole!

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Down to Chideock to catch up with K&V, time to drink a few glasses of wine and sort out a few more caravan trips!

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Oh and whilst we are there, take in another stunning coastal walk!

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Life On Board The Constellation

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I have never been a great fan of curries so it was with great delight that I boarded the Constellation and knew that food wouldn’t be an issue for the next two weeks!

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It was nice to get onboard ship safe in the knowledge that we didn’t have to get up early anymore to catch a coach to our next destination.  Here we could have a meal, take in a show, have a few drinks and when we woke in the morning…………….

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we were already at our next port of call.

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Most mornings I got up early to go to the gym.  It was quite nice to walk outside on the deck as the sun was rising at that time of the day and it was so peaceful.

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Also at the other end of the day it was great to stay up on deck sipping a cocktail and watch the sun sink slowly into the sea!

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I don’t know where Jane got this fish from but it tasted delicious!

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During the day it could be a bit of a struggle to get a sun lounger next to the pool so we had to venture to the front of the ship to do our sunbathing…………

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Even the sight of me in my best poolside attire didn’t put anyone off (and you can’t see the knee-length black socks!)

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Not a bad place to have a morning coffee and check the emails!

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Jane warned me that if I didn’t cut down on the eating this life belt wouldn’t fit me! So of course I took this advice to heart and from then on only had two desserts with each meal!

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You had to be up early to get a well-positioned sun bed.  The professional cruisers were out with their towels well before breakfast time. Already having a golden tan it didn’t bother me………….

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I could always go to the back of the ship and watch a bit of telly!

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Jane found a beverage that she liked so much she had it every day and sometimes several times a day.  Apparently it was called wine, and she would recommend it!

 

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There were other drinks available on board and this likely looking couple introduced us to the finer points of cruising, namely the cocktail bar! Mike and Sue and Jane and I were often to be found here………..

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watching the entertainment……..

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and sampling the cocktail of the day!

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It was always nice to meet a fellow traveller who had the same sense of sartorial elegance as myself.  I feel he went one better here with his socks matching his shirt!

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We met another couple who were also called Mike and Sue which was great for us when it came to remembering everyone’s names!

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Well here we are again at the Martini bar, just off to dinner, with Sue and Jane looking as lovely as ever and Mike his usual colour coordinated self!  What do you think of my new Indian shirt, is a little too subtle and understated?

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There are many things I miss about the cruise, but the biggest thing is the breakfasts ……..

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so until next time, farewell my little eggs benedict.  I will miss you!

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Driving in India

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Driving in India is a real art in itself. Not only do you have to master the skills of manoeuvring your car, bike or bus, but you also have to have a sixth sense as to which way the traffic, pedestrians and/or animals are going to move!

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The Indians do drive on the left, well that is to say that they mainly drive on the left, but if it is quicker or easier for them to drive on the wrong side of the carriageway then that’s what they will do! Many times we saw cars, motorbikes or bikes with trailers coming towards us in the ‘fast’ lane of a motorway.  Thankfully we missed them every time, but I don’t think I will volunteer to sit in the front seats of the coach again!

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It was amazing to see how many people they managed to get on a motorbike, the lady here sitting side saddle is cradling a small child, in front  of them is a small boy and then dad!

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Horses and carts didn’t really slow the traffic down in town very much at all, it couldn’t get much slower with them or without them.

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Getting the milk from your dairy to the market was easy, just put it on your motorbike!

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Watch out for the cows!

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Four on a bike!

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Good views from on top of the elephant.  We didn’t see that many on the road, they were mainly at UNESCO sites!

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The lorries were all decorated very ornately and sometimes I wondered how the drivers saw out of the windows!

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I nearly became a nervous wreck sitting in the front seat of the coach for a day as you were witness to many many dodgy overtaking manoeuvres!!

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Due to the extreme heat and the lack of air-conditioning most buses and coaches didn’t have any windows!

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From what we saw most public transport seemed to be very busy and in a lot of cases there was standing room only!

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It’s amazing to still see so many of the Hindustan Ambassadors cars on the road. These cars were based on the old Morris Oxford, and have been built in India since 1957.

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The last “Amby” rolled of the production line in May 2014 so I expect they will still be around for a few more years yet!

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Riding a pushbike is still the most popular way of getting around………

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And its amazing what you can carry on a bike, this guy is taking Jane’s new shoes back to the hotel!

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If the bus is full then a tractor and trailer will do!

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It does take a time to figure out who wants to go where at busy road junctions!

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Some cows had a little more sense and sat in the middle of the road out of the way!

And if you can’t fit in the car then just hang on to the outside!

And if the cab’s full then sit with the cargo….

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And then there are the cities, just don’t expect to move anywhere in a hurry!

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Cows take priority!

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Motorbiking with a hijab!

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The family out for a ride!

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Yes, no problem I can get that bag on the back of your bike!

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And if you need to take a break then there’s no better place than a traffic island!

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Sadly this was an all too common sight!

However, considering the strange chaotic ballet of Indian driving we thankfully left India unscathed.

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The People of India

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Here are just a few candid pictures of the people I saw whilst  travelling with Jane  in India.

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One thing you notice straight away are the bright colours that everyone wears, some by choice………

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Some because they look cool!

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and some because they just have to!

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Most people that I met were only too happy to pose for a few pictures, but others, mainly in the towns and cities often asked for a few rupees!

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Others were so engrossed in their own little world that they didn’t even notice me taking a snap!

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Some looked like they might be rather hot, especially when they have to wear the burka!

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Some just proud to be in front of their own store!

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Some looked like they were having a lot of fun after a hard day at school!

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Some just liked acting a little coy!

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Some were just enjoying a romantic interlude!

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Some were just rushing off to their next lesson!

Some off to lunch and some lucky enough to be off home!

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Some were happy just to make a sale!

Some were barely able to keep a roof over their heads!

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Some, well most actually, were striving to make a living!

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Some had the entrepreneurial spirit to make a living, I think it would have driven me nuts though!

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Some had the knack of keeping an old machine going………….

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While his mates were just larking about!

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Some were not afraid of a little bit of hard work…………..

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Or in this case a lot of hard work…………

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Some were happy just keeping their little patch of India clean and tidy……………

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Some, especially  in the cities were eager to get to the next money making opportunity!

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Whether  you were working in an up and coming auto spares shop…………….

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Or India’s answer to Kwik Fit ……………

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You just had to have some angle…….

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to make enough money to survive!

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You never found yourself too far away from a roadside snack, and if you were all you have to do is wait a minute and one would come to you!

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This hectic, frantic, lively and energetic society just keeps buzzing along from dawn to dusk and then some!

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With so many bicycles and motorbikes you take your life in your hands just crossing the roads. This is one of the rare occasions you could make a dash for it, this chap didn’t look the type to knock you down!

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Wherever we went people were always very welcoming, and we were always greeted with a  polite wave and a smile………..

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And the traditional salutation of “namaste”!

 

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Mumbai

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“Welcome to Mumbai” the sign on the wall that we see from the ship says, “who on earth is going to get their photo taken there?” I wondered.

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Oh well, might as well while we are here!

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We had berthed in the main dock in Mumbai which was also shared with the Indian Navy……..

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The Southern Naval Command (one of 3 such commands) is based here, which explains why there are more ships on show here than when I last sailed out from Portsmouth to France!

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Mumbai dock seemed very busy when we were there…………….

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Frigates letting of a bit of steam………….

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Taking a break whilst refitting a submarine!

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Flying the flag!

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From our ship we can look over the top of the navy ships to see the skyline of the city in the distance.

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The building in the foreground is what’s left of the slowly crumbling ocean terminal which is now being rebuilt……….

 

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We were in Mumbai quite early in the day so we were able to experience a big city rush hour……..

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This the Chhatrapati Shivaji station, formally known as the Victoria terminus. This station was built in 1887 and is now a World Heritage site and is considered by many to be the most beautiful railway station in the world.

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There is no easy way to get around Mumbai and you certainly have to be blessed with patience if you want to drive!

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The bus lanes were very few and far between.  The bus pictured above is a luxury bus, as at least it has 1/2 windows! But then again with the high temperatures that they experience here, no windows at all wouldn’t really be a problem!

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This is the Gateway of India built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911 (which is when the foundation stone was laid – the actual building wasn’t completed until 1924).  This arch was used afterwards as a symbolic ceremonial entrance to India for Viceroys and the new Governors of Bombay.

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This is the Taj Mahal Palace hotel which is just across the road from the Gateway of India. It first opened its doors to guests on 16 December 1903.  It is widely believed that Jamsetji Tata (Tata Steel) decided to build the hotel after he was refused entry to one of the city’s grand hotels of the time, Watson’s Hotel, as it was restricted to “whites only”.

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Mad dos and Englishmen go out in the midday sun………so they say, this one was just looking for a bit of shade!

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These colourful ferry boats are just some of many waiting to take passengers to Elephanta Island to see the caves. The caves are rock-cut temples dating back to the second century BC.  This is one UNESCO World Heritage site that we didn’t get to visit as we just didn’t have the time. Next year’s cruise will spend 2 days in Mumbai as there is just so much to see, and this would have definitely been on our list of things to see. Maybe next time!

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When you see the amount of tourist ferry boats you get a feel for how important a place Elephanta island is!

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On the way to our next stop I saw this bike parked beside the road, you certainly need nerves of steel to cope with the busy city traffic and carry 20dz eggs on the back of your bike!

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Next stop Churchgate station, to see the dabbwalas in action as they move the 1,000s of tiffin lunchboxes each day.

P1020238The tiffin lunchbox is a great idea.  It’s a homemade lunch, delivered to office workers who can’t go home for their midday meal, which formed the beginning of the humble lunch box.

Also known as dabbas, the delivered lunches come in large circular metal tins that more closely resemble small milk pails. They’re often made by family at home, which is not only to avoid expensive eateries, but because many prefer what they’re used to and often there’s a fear of getting ill from other food. Each dabba comes in two, three or four tiers; the bottom is the largest, with rice, while the others include a curry, a side of vegetables, dal and flatbreads and a dessert.

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Just as the Indian railways are insatiably busy and incredibly complex, so is the dabba’s delivery system, ferrying out an estimated 80 million lunches a year. And no better example of this intricate system shines through than in Mumbai.

The delivery system uses dabbawalas – the people who deliver the pails – which literally translates to “one who carries a box”. They’re identified by their white kurta (smock style) uniforms, topped off with the traditional Gandhi cap, and will often ride bicycles.

Most of the dabbawalas even come from the same village, Pune, which is just over two hours south-east of Mumbai.

Dabbawalas collect the tiffins from the people who made them at around 10am (often a wife or mother – as India still adheres to gendered roles), where anything up to 30 will be taken on crates and via bicycles through the busy roads to the nearest train station. They are labelled using a system of symbols and colours, denoting where the tiffin is picked up, which station it will be sent to, and the final address of the owner, all hand painted. The tiffins then travel on the city’s train network where at the other end the local dabbawalas pick them up for the last leg of the journey – the lunchtime delivery, which is never late.

Every day in India alone, some 200,000 dabbas are moved by an estimated 5,000 dabbawalas. It’s a system of mathematics, carried out by people who are most likely illiterate, but who have made the process an efficient breeze for the last 127 years, feeding thousands daily. But it’s not a simple operation.

And what’s the financial cost for this time-saving exercise? Around 450 rupees a month (£5.40) – depending on distance. That’s about the average for a sandwich and a packet of crisps in a city, let alone a delivered meal. And on the other end of the deal, each dabbawala is self-employed and paid the same, around 8,000 rupees a month, translating to about £95. It’s seen as a job for life, where the workers live by the philosophy, “Anna daan is maha daan”, translating to “donating food is the best charity”.

 

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And so efficient is the system that the president of the Mumbai Tiffinmen’s Association claims that dabbawalas only make a mistake once in every six millions deliveries, translating to about one going missing every other month. It works so well that it has been studied by Harvard Business School and is reportedly the envy of FedEx.

(Just to let you all know I took the pictures, but  I did copy some of the text from an article in the Independent!)

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After seeing the dabbwallas in action it was our turn for a ride on the train………….

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Mike and Sue were really excited!

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As was Bruce Forsyth!

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The train was nearly empty but hanging on seemed to be the thing to do!

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Oh my god there’s that shirt again!

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Next stop the Dhobi Ghat

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Dhobi Ghat is an open air laundromat in Mumbai, India. The washers, known as dhobis, work in the open to clean clothes and linens from Mumbai’s hotels and hospitals. It was constructed in 1890.

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It’s very hot work in the blazing sun!

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Outside the Dhobi Ghat it was time for some more serious bartering……..

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Good news, a deal has been struck……

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Let’s see if Jane can do as well!

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Maybe not!

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Wherever we travelled in this country, let alone this city, whenever there was an opportunity or the space, a game of cricket was being played!

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Next stop on our whistle-stop tour of Mumbai was Gandhi’s house.

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A very interesting place to visit telling the story of his life. He lived a very spartan life as can be seen by his bedroom!

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I mentioned earlier about how the road was delivered for lunch, the Amazon delivery service here is not quite what it is at home!

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So as the sun sets on a really fascinating day……

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We sail out of the truly lively city……..

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With time to reflect on our day!

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Goa

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Goa is a state in western India with coastlines stretching along the Arabian Sea. Its long history as a Portuguese colony prior to 1961 is evident in its preserved 17th-century churches and the area’s tropical spice plantations. Goa is also known for its beaches, ranging from popular stretches at Baga and Palolem to those in laid-back fishing villages such as Agonda. (I might have copied this from wikipedia!)

Our trip from the ship today took us to the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The Basilica of Bom Jesus or Borea Jezuchi Bajilika is located in Goa, India, and is part of the Churches and Convents of Goa UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The church is located in Old Goa, which was the capital of Goa in the early days of Portuguese rule.

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After another exciting drive (all drives in India are exciting!) we arrived in the historical city of  Old Goa, or Velha Goa as it is sometimes referred to.

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This far into the holiday we were both getting a little “churched and templed out”.   They were all very beautiful but you can have too much of a good thing!

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So the plan for the afternoon was to go to a beach, sit and chill. On the way our coach passed some locals who were drying their rice on the hard shoulder of the motorway!

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Quite an ingenious use of a major roadway! I hope it gets fully checked before it gets packaged, as I wouldn’t want a bit of tyre in with my dinner to add to the spare tyre I already have!

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At last the beach! Bogmalo beach to be precise. It was so hot here that it was difficult to walk on the sand, so Jane thought it would be a good idea to visit the Coconut Grove Beach resort and sit in the shade and drink cocktails all afternoon. Well that seemed a fine idea to me, and as they had free WIFI a carefree time was spent in the shade of a tree catching up with our emails and watching the goings-on the beach.

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Well to be honest there wasn’t a lot going on just the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore…..

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The local dogs knew the best way to spend a hot afternoon!

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We did manage a stroll along the road behind the beach to search for a geocache (which was hidden in a bar, so that was handy) and on the way back to the coach this smiley young lady convinced Jane that she needed a few more new tops.  She didn’t need too much persuading………and I have to say they all look lovely!

 

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New Mangalore

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My first impression of New Mangalore wasn’t great.  We were berthed in a commercial port and the view from our cabin was one of rusty ships and large mounds of coal and iron ore, so not as picturesque as some of the ports we have visited!

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We decided that a stroll around the port area wasn’t  going to be high on our list of things to do today in New Mangalore!

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So we were glad that we had planned a trip to a Temple (well it’s been a couple of days since the last one!) and a spice farm.

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As soon as we were out of the port area everything got a lot brighter and the colours that we have come to expect from India were everywhere to see!

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Even the tuk-tuk rank was under some colourful posters, and soon the rather grim start to the day was forgotten!

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After  hours of “hairy” driving we arrived at the 1,000 pillar Jain temple at Moodabidri……also known as Saavira Kambada Temple.

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Jane was very interested to find a religion in India called Jainism and is now looking at ways of resurrecting it and introducing it to Hampshire!

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The 1,000 pillars of the temple were all intricately carved and the details are amazing, considering these were all hand carved many many years ago!

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This temple was built around 1430AD. This gold statue is in the middle of the temple and you are not allowed to get very close.  This photo was taken at full zoom on my camera and although its a little blurred you get the idea!

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Here is Jane wearing one of her new Indian tops, leaning against one of the 1,000 pillars, I managed to lean on the other 999, it was so hot!!!

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This temple was quite a long way from any large towns so we were thankfully saved from the constant hassle of hawkers and beggars, and we were able to enjoy the peace and tranquility of our surroundings.

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Jane loves elephants and was in her element at this place! (Jane is the one in the blue!)

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A rare picture of us together as generally it’s me taking the pictures.

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The next stop was at a spice farm…………these were cashews drying out in the sunshine, it drove me nuts trying to get a good picture!

It’s unusual to see star fruits growing on trees and rows of pineapples in the fields, along with many other erotic fruits, or should that be exotic?

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I got told off as I walked off the path to get a better picture…”watch out for the snakes under those leaves, they are poisonous”.  I took heed of this advice and made sure that I stayed on the straight and narrow!

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It was lovely to see all the bright colours on the plants this early in the year, we had left the UK in late February and everything at home was a little bit dull and drab!

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Did I tell you it was sooooooooo hot!!! This headwear is a little reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia don’t you think?

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Our tour guide on the coach today was a lot of fun; he showed us how to put on a sari, which must be difficult enough to do at home let alone on a coach travelling at 50mph around windy roads!

 

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Cochin

Cochin (also known as Kochi) is a city in the southwest of India’s Kerala state. it has been a port since 1341, when a flood carved out its harbour and opened it up to Arab, Chinese and European merchants. The Cantilevered Chinese fishing nets in the photos above have been used for centuries.

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This ferry was taking people to work as we sailed in to our berth; I’m not sure that they could fit anyone else on!

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We had chosen a trip from the ship to see the canals of Kerala………

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Kerala is famous for its houseboats which for many years have been home for the locals, though these days more of them are used as floating hotels.

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Although some of the locals have still got their houses moored to the river bank………

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There are many smaller tributaries leading off from the main canal, which look very inviting, but our boat was way too big for us to go and explore!

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All life can be seen on the water – here they are off to do a bit of shopping after having picked up the kids from school……..

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There is plenty of parking available available at the side of the main canal………….

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…… which is just as well because it’s busy on the main drag!

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But there are still places where you can find a bit of peace and quiet and cross from one side to the other….

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I’m not too sure if its legal to row and talk on the phone at the same time but with that hat on I’m sure the police won’t see him!

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There are many ways to get picked up from school, you can go in the minibus …………

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Or get your grandad to pick you up……………

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Or if you are one of the older girls you just walk home!

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Well that’s the last of the kids on their way back home “just sit down mum, or we will tip over!”

 

Why have a washing machine when you have a river running by your back door?

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It was obviously washing day as we cruised by on our pleasure boat………

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And if you haven’t got a washing line there is always a handy tree!

Everywhere you looked there was either someone doing the washing or getting it dry!

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What a good looking bunch cruising down the canals of Kerala, that’s Mike and Sue in the background.  They are the couple who showed us how to make the most out of an all inclusive drinks package!

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Now those of you who know me would never have thought you would see a photo like this – me eating a curry and drinking a beer………….both things I don’t really like but when in Rome……. (what do you think of the new shirt?)

Alongside the canals are paddy fields and the rice here has been harvested and left out in the sun to dry, then bagged and loaded aboard a boat ready to go to the market.

 

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When you live on or around the canals everything you need has to be readily available to you, especially medical services !

As you can imagine there were photo opportunities at every turn, so here are just a few more random shots!

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Well if your husband has taken the boat to work then you just have to walk to the shops!

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More tourists!

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A friendly wave from a fisherman on his way home with a full catch!

 

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One last look at the Chinese fishing nets before we head back to the ship!

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One last thing to negotiate before we get back on board and that’s the market…..can we avoid it????

 

No chance….. after a bit of haggling everyone got what they wanted at the right price!

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Oman

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The face you first see when you arrive at Muscat in Oman is that of Qaboos bin Said al Said who is the current Sultan of the Sultanate of Oman. You can tell by the size of the cars and coaches in this photo that the mural on the wall is absolutely HUGE! He is obviously not a shy and retiring leader and this is one of many images that can be seen around the city of Oman.

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Oman is one of the most conservative of the UAE states, you won’t see any of the high rise buildings that are prevalent in Dubai. Old and new seem to blend quite comfortably together………..

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Dhows, cruise liners and navy ships are all on view in the main port, as are small fishing boats.

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While on the ship you really notice the dry rocky hills that hug the coastline………..

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You also see buildings old…………

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… and new, like this one perched up high with a lovely view of the bay below!

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These forts are strategically placed along the coast to safeguard the port.  I wouldn’t want to climb these steps during the heat of the day!

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The city is all at low level and in my view this makes it far more attractive a place to visit than that of its neighbour Dubai.

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The infrastructure that we got to see was all top notch, modern and clean and tidy. Apparently it is illegal to have a dirty car in Oman, there is a fine but generally you are let off if you clean it immediately!

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Colourful flowerbeds are prevalent in the city and add a well-needed touch of brightness to the greyness of the rocks and the whitewashed walls of the buildings.

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And in one of these lovely flowerbeds I got to find my first geocache in Oman

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Hidden under a rock…………

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So another cache to add to the list……….

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Followed by a very pleasant walk beside the sea back to the ship.

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Apparently feeding  seagulls and other small birds and animals is an act of karma, “Spread wheat on the tops of mountains so it cannot be said that a bird went hungry in the land of muslims…..Just a reminder to have respect for all. Even the smallest deeds could be our saving grace!”  Umayyad calph Umar bin Abulaziz

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After our long walk it was time for a drink.  Jane wanted her normal glass of dry rose but this wasn’t to be as Oman is a dry country, so no alcohol can be sold from bars.  You can apply for a licence to buy alcohol for consumption at home, but Jane thought on this occasion it would be too much trouble, and she settled for a milkshake whilst I had a delicious blend of fresh fruit juices!

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But good news was at hand as when we got back onboard we found that we had been invited for cocktails on the helipad as we sailed away from Muscat…..

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We got a prime position right at the very front of the ship as we left the port.  Jane wanted to reenact that scene from Titanic, but surprisingly enough I was too shy to indulge her…… as if!

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The officers who were there to greet us were a little more extravert………….

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So off we sailed in to the sunset.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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Dubai

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The first port of call on our two week cruise around the Middle East and India was Dubai. We had landed here less than 24 hours before on our mad dash to catch the ship, so we had already had a taste of the high rise city.

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The road system in this mega city was, as you would expect, far more organised than we had been used to in the past week. The coach driver told us that the speed limit for his vehicle was 80kmph, with large fines for going just 1km over the limit!

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We took an open-top bus tour to get a feel of this futuristic city where it appears that no expense has been spared to get the biggest and “supposedly” best buildings in the world. The largest indoor skiing centre in the world is situated here in one of the many huge shopping malls. We heard that they even have an M&S, and Jane was a little disappointed that we didn’t manage to find it!

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We have ridden on quite a few open top buses whilst we have been travelling, but this one was probably the warmest and at one stage I had to put on my jumper  to avoid my arms getting burnt from the blazing sun.

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The Burj Al Arab is the world’s only 7 star hotel and has been designed in the shape of a dhow’s (Arabian boat) sail. So if you feel like treating yourself you could try a suite for about $19,000 a night.  Disappointingly for us we had booked a table on board our ship and didn’t want to let them down so we decided not to stay here!

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You can see this hotel from a long way off so you would always find your way home, mind you that wouldn’t really be a problem because the courtesy cars are Rolls Royces and if that doesn’t suit there is always a helicopter on hand to meet your travel needs!

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The Burg Khalifa is the tallest building in the world at 160 storeys high, and if you fancy a cocktail there is an outdoor terrace in the world’s highest lounge which is at a height of 585 metres from the ground!

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The Frame is fast becoming one of Dubai’s main attractions for tourists and residents alike.  It is 150m tall with a bridge connecting the two towers and one of its unique features is that the bridge is made from opaque glass with underlying liquid crystal which becomes clear when a visitor steps on it………not for me!!!!

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I think one of the best jobs in this city is to be a window cleaner…………

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I thought the best part of Dubai was the old part.  With the dhows moored on the quayside loading their cargo the atmosphere felt more “alive'” than the clinical feel of the modern city……….

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This part of the city seemed more real and I only wish we had started our tour of Dubai here because I would have liked to spend more time here to explore.  Mind you I wasn’t too disappointed that we didn’t get to the gold souk…….it might have cost me dearly!

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I don’t think I will be rushing back to Dubai as I found it a rather soulless place.  (I hope I don’t get arrested for cyber crimes if I do have to change planes there again!!!) The old quarter would be my only reason to explore further!

 

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