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When the winter finally settled in properly, and we had one of those bright crisp days with ice lingering in the shadows, I managed a walk along the Thames Path between Twickenham and Richmond.  It’s one of my favourite walks to do anytime with no special planning, and there’s always a fine hearty lunch waiting somewhere at the end of it!

On this day, the path was almost empty with the occasional dog walker and a robin who followed me a little of the way.  And in the top left picture you can see the old Star and Garter home for ex-service personnel, now being converted to luxury flats  – I would certainly be tempted by that view if I had the odd couple of million to spare!

Autumn brought a trip to Woburn, and it was a truly spectacular time to see the gardens in Woburn Abbey with the firing up of autumn colour in full glory.

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As you can see from my header photo (of Hayling Island), I have an irrational fondness for beach huts.  I’m obviously not alone, since many of them around the UK are now so popular, that to buy one will set you back more than the cost of a castle in Scotland.  I was particularly taken with these huts on Mudeford Spit, which overlooks Christchurch Harbour on the South Coast.  They are also famously expensive – Hut 39 is currently for sale, price £250,000.  Many of them are micro designer crash pads, some even having upstairs areas for beds, as well as gorgeous views whichever way you look, with the harbour on one side and a soft sandy beach the other.  But there is no road access and residents have to use a toilet and shower block.  Still, they really captured my imagination and I really did fancy staying in one for a while!

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During a trip to Italy last week, we spent a gorgeous afternoon in the city of Balzano.  The reason it has three names is that this region has a complicated history and the people speak Italian, German or a local language called Ladin.  It has been an important trading post since at least 1190 as it sits between two major cities – Venice and Augsburg

Some of the city’s history is dark.  Having been part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, it was annexed by Italy after World War I.  It was mostly German speaking at the time, but underwent an intense period of ‘Italianisation’ under Mussolini during the 1920’s.  During World War II the city was held by the Germans until the end of the war and for nearly a year there was a Nazi transit camp here.

Today the city is rather serene, with beautiful architecture set against a dramatic mountain backdrop.

The Duomo in the corner of Piazza Walther, completed in 1420.

One of the two lions holding up the porch columns of the Duomo.

Lion number 2!

The Obstmarkt on Goethe Strasse. This famous market is open 6 days a week selling food and flowers.

More colour at the Obstmarkt

Carciofi and carciofini (artichokes) at the Obstmarkt.

The famous Laubengasse or Portici – the heart of the medieval commercial centre, with its historic arcades and archways.

A chemist shop on the Laubengasse.

Advertising the Walter opticians on the Laubengasse.

The historic Amonn House on Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square), at the end of Laubengasse.

There’s a beautiful park and walkway alongside the River Talvera / Talfer, with a view up to the Dolomite mountains.  The walkway leads from the bridge in the city centre.

Maretsch Castle, from the 13th century. The vineyard within its ancient walls grows Lagrein grapes.  The castle is only about 5 minutes walk from the Tafferbrucke bridge along the river walkway.

An evening view from Piazza Walther / Waltherplatz.

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