Where ancestors rest (part 2)

You may know that the tall person is English. His ancestors were landowners in the County of Somerset in England.

On his last visit to England, the tall person went to see his brother who lives in their ancestral village of Stogursey in Somerset.

The village is very old and contains the remains of a moated 11th century castle built after the Norman Conquest.

The tall person and his brother went to the village church of St. Andrew where several of their ancestors from the seventeenth century are buried.

The church is a legacy of a Benedictine Priory that was established by a Norman lord, William de Falaise, who had been given the village by William the Conqueror as a reward for faithful service.

Remains of the Priory walls and a beautifully restored Dove Cot still remain.

The church was already in existence when the monks took over the Priory. The herring-bone in the tower masonry uncovered during restoration work in 1954, together with the pier capitals in the church, date the building to the last decade of the 11th century.

The church tower, which is capped by a spire, survives from the late 11th century and holds six bells, the oldest of which dates from 1611.

The bells are still rung regularly. The tenor bell weighs an impressive 1.25 imperial tons!

The beautifully carved pew ends date from 1525. The tombstone is one of the tall person’s ancestors.

It is set in the stone floor in front of the sanctuary inside the church, a place reserved for important members of the community. The tall person’s ancestors owned much land in the parish of Stogursey and also in surrounding parishes.









The church has a graveyard that has several very old lichen covered tombstones.

This one probably pre-dates the tree that has grown alongside it and displaced it.

My bus stop can see for miles!

On the way back from my forest walk this morning I saw one of Tbilisi’s distinctive yellow buses. The tall person told me that lots of people use them and they are often crowded but they are cheap and there is a good network of routes. You board the bus by either door and put coins in a ticket machine or use a pre paid swipe card. There is a flat fare of 50 tetri (about 30 US cents). Apparently, you must always remember to pay for a ticket because inspectors sometimes board the buses and check tickets and they also wait at some bus stops and check tickets when people get off.

You have to be careful if you are standing by the door because people are often in a hurry to get on or off.

This a bus stop. Unlike mini buses, that will stop anywhere along their route, buses will only stop at bus stops. This makes them a little less convenient than mini buses but you don’t have to walk far to find a bus stop.

This bus stop in my neighborhood has a new electronic sign that lets people know what number bus will arrive next and how many minutes they have to wait. Amazing! These new bus stops must have incredible eyesight to see that far down the road!

Going underground

No, I am not going to dig a big hole! The tall person travelled on the Metro yesterday and he thought you might like to know what it is like.

When it opened in 1966 the Tibilisi Metro was the fourth Metro system in the former Soviet Union (after Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kiev). It consists of two lines with 22 stations on 26.4 kilometres of track.

The Metro is a great way to get around the city and avoid traffic jams. It is also convenient as trains run from 6:00 a.m. till 12:00 a.m. This is an entrance to a Metro station.

Until quite recently, entry to the system was by small plastic tokens which could be purchased at kiosks inside the stations. However, these have now been replaced by plastic smart cards that can be topped up. There is a flat fare of 40 tetri (about 24 U.S. cents) but the tall person read somewhere that if you make more than one journey in a day the price reduces – the second journey will cost 30 tetri and the third 20 tetri.

Most of the stations are deep and reached by long escalators. It sometimes takes a while to actually get down to platform level. The tall person says that the escalators remind him of the ones in the Moscow Metro, which are also very long. This is a picture of one of the platforms.

The platforms are often quite busy (an estimated 300,000 people use the Metro each day) but trains are regular and you rarely have to wait more than a couple of minutes. Notice how clean and shiny the platforms are.

Signs on the platforms and in the underground corridors are in Georgian script, which can be very confusing for foreigners but when you are on a train announcements for arrival at each station are made in both Georgian and English. However, the tall person suggests that you take a map of the system and count the stations as it is easy to get confused!

This is a picture of one of the train carriages. They are rarely this empty and sometimes you will have to stand! Notice how clean the carriages are!

This is our stop! I hope you enjoyed the tall person’s guide to the Tbilisi Metro.

Walk with me

Have you got your shoes on? Good, because we are going for a walk. You won’t need your jacket because it is mild outside today. Okay, stay close to me and I will take you for a little tour of my neighbourhood. Ready? Great. Off we go.

Keep up! The tall person has long legs and takes big strides, which is good because I like to walk quite fast.

This street goes all the way down to the railway. I will try to keep my tree and lamp post sniffing to a minimum so we will have more time to see interesting things.

Hmm, bear with me for a few moments. Another dog has visited my favourite bush.

Sorry about that, it’s a territorial matter.

Okay, we are now at the bottom of the hill and have crossed the road by the bus stop. You will have noticed that there are traffic lights here but you still need to be very careful because some drivers ignore them.

The tall person has to be particularly careful crossing roads because he is English and used to driving on the left hand side of the road. This means he naturally looks to the right when crossing a road. Here in Georgia cars drive on the right hand side and you have to look left when crossing the road. The yellow minibus that has just passed us is one of a new fleet recently introduced for one of the routes. The little person calls them ‘Sponge Bobbies’ because they are the same colour as the popular cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants.

If you look across the road you can see our shopping mall that was opened last year. I’m not allowed in there. It has a no Bassas sign.

My butcher works in the supermarket in the shopping mall and you may remember that he saves the best juicy bones for me.

Opposite the shopping mall is the railway that separates my neighbourhood from the one that leads down to the Mt’k’vari (Kura) River that flows through the middle of Tbilisi. We are not going that far but we do need to get to the other side of the railway. If you look over this wall you can see the railway. I can’t because I’m not as tall as you but I can hear a train passing.

To get to the other side we will use an underpass. It’s a little dark but I am with you so don’t worry. Okay, we are now on the other side and walking towards the train station. This is a very busy place because it is also a shopping mall and a terminal for mini buses. Stay close to me.

We are now outside the train station. Phew! Is any one thirsty? A popular drink is Burakhi. It is mildly alcoholic but apparently very refreshing. I’ll wait here while you get a cool Burakhi from this street vendor.

You are hungry? Okay, there is a hot dog seller over there. I’ll wait in the shade.

Right, you have had a drink and a hot dog – let’s go. Everyone keep together. It will become very crowded soon because we are nearing the big market. There will be lots of interesting things to see so give me a shout if you want to stop and look at something.

Ah, I thought you might be interested in those. This stall has pictures of religious icons. They are very popular in Georgia. In the Old Town, the oldest part of Tbilisi, there is a whole street of shops selling icons and other religious artifacts.

Wow, I think you got a bargain there. Let’s keep walking towards the big market and we might see some more interesting things.

Would anyone like some cakes? The ones dusted with icing sugar are delicious!

Would anyone like some bread? I haven’t seen this type before. De! Can you get some for me please. Thank you.

Whilst we are waiting for De to buy the bread have a look around at some of the other shops and stalls. If you want to buy anything it might be an idea to let De get it for you. If they know you are a foreigner they might increase the price! De never lets the tall person speak when they are in the markets!

I see you have noticed the pigs heads and the fish!










Perhaps some fruit?

Much of the big market is covered and is a rabbit warren of hundreds and hundreds of stalls selling anything that you might want and need. I’m not allowed in there so I’ll say good bye. Thank you for walking with me through my neighbourhood. You’ve been great company! Come again soon and we’ll go for another walk through a different part of Tbilisi.






Say cheese!

Sulguni is a very popular curd cheese that has been produced in Georgia for centuries. I like it a lot. It is made from cows milk and has a soft and springy texture and a slightly sour, salty taste. It is a favourite ingredient in Georgian cuisine, most commonly in the famous Georgian cheese-bread called khachapuri. It is great in salads and can be added to practically any dish which requires a mild melted cheese. De says it is perfect for pizzas and I agree!

De will always ask to taste a cheese before she buys it and will reject it if it is not perfect. Sometimes, she will go to three or four or more cheese stalls before she finds one she likes. The tall person says it reminds him of women buying shoes!

Tbilisi’s markets have mountains of these disc shaped cheeses but you can also buy them in little shops or from kiosks like the one in the photograph below and from old ladies who make their cheese at home and sell it to passers by in the streets.

They must be nuts!

I have mentioned before that Georgians love nuts and seeds, especially fried sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and peanuts. To meet this very popular need almost every street will have at least one ‘resident’ seed seller who sits on a low stool under the shade of a tree or umbrella and sells nuts and seeds in small paper cones to passers by.

The tall person took this photo yesterday of a ‘mobile’ seed seller who has made a very clever conversion of a baby’s pram to convey her stock of sunflower seeds and peanuts. The folded paper tucked between the compartments is used to make the small cone-shaped containers for the seeds and nuts. The sellers use thick bottomed glasses to measure out the nuts, which makes it look as if you are getting more than you actually do! A small cone of sunflower seeds will usually cost 10-15 tetri, which is less than 1 US cent.