A World in Miniature in Baku

In an inconspicuous space the size of an average sitting room lies one of the most intriguing collections I have even seen – Baku’s Museum of Miniature Books in Azerbaijan.

Situated in the heart of the city’s ancient Inner City, an extensive exhibit of what I can only describe as miniature works of art, is laid out on display for your enjoyment for entrance is free.

The collection started by accident – the owner/curator, Zarifa Salahova, was offered the chance to purchase a complete collection of small format I Krylov fables in November 1982 and when she went to collect her purchase, she chanced upon a collection of miniature books and from that moment, a passion was born.

She now has a collection of over 6,500 miniature books of which 4,700 are displayed in the museum, published in 64 countries worldwide.

The smallest are three mini books in 2×2 mm format, issued by the Japanese publishing house, Toppan (smaller than the head of a pin).

And yes, Britain is represented here by The Bard’s own works and at the other end of the scale, a record of William and Kate’s marriage!

A “must visit” if you are visiting Baku’s Inner City – it is open from 11.00-17.00 – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Contributor:  Sue Lowry.  For sets of images of Baku, Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers, Khinalig, Gobustan, Ateshgah Fire Temple and Yanar Dag, visit Sue’s Flickr stream.

Sue Lowry travelled as a guest of Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers (a Magellan client) and British Airways.  For a three night stay, prices – to include accommodation and flights – start at GBP808 – subject to change.  A visa for entry is required which can easily be arranged through the hotel.

Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers is on twitter @FairmontBaku and on Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest: Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers.  Follow British Airways @British_Airways and on Facebook:  British Airways.

Magellan PR is on Twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on YouTube: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+:  Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry.  For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com.  Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.

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New header: Staunton Country Park, Hampshire

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Our new header is taken from a visit to Staunton Country Park, Hampshire, shot one sunny day last November.  Staunton is an extraordinary place – a former estate, the Victorian house was demolished leaving this gorgeous landscape and the property’s terrace behind.

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The footprint of the House still remains and it is strange when you stand on the terrace looking down on this view as you still feel the ghost of it behind you – or at least, I do.

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It’s an amazing resource – well worth a visit (the grounds are free to enter) – especially with a canine companion – and the views are simply beautiful.  For a full review of the country park, see A3Traveller’s post –Pawprint Series – Staunton Country Park.

Staunton is on twitter – @StauntonCountry – and on Facebook:  Staunton – Farm – Garden – & Country Park.

Contributor & Photography: Sue Lowry

Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+:  Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry.  For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com.  Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.

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Date for the diary – Fishbourne Roman Palace

If you are looking for ways to spend the weekend away from the humdrum, then our “Dates for the Diary” series is for you.

This week we take a look at Fishbourne Roman Palace, near Chichester. Dating back to late first-century and even possibly to the invasion in AD43, it is one of the biggest Roman villa complexes in Europe and was discovered by a workman in 1960.  The estate would easily have housed over 200 people and there is a debate in learned circles over whether the occupant was a Roman governor sent over to Britain or whether a local king was appointed as regional administrator.

What you see today is just one wing of the building – the North wing – as the entire palace burnt down and the stones were reused elsewhere.  Given the lack of value for building, the mosaics were left untouched and thus survived.  There is even one half of the central garden – now replanted and laid out on its original Roman plan.

The rest of the palace lies under a motorway and a row of houses but it is however, easy to imagine how it must once have been and you can see how impressive and imposing this structure must have seemed to the local villagers.

The intricate designs of the mosaic were created by skilled artisans who would have travelled the country, plying their wares – showing examples of the designs that a client could order – a sort of Roman catalogue of floor coverings!

If you would like to visit, the palace will be open daily in February from 10 am – 4pm and from March onwards, from 10am – 5pm. For more information, click here – it’s only GBP8.50 for an adult entry.

Contributor & photographer:  Sue Lowry.

Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+:  Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry.  For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com.  Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.

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Who’s cooking at Quarter Bar & Lounge?

Ever wanted to meet the man behind the platters? Well our next staff profile is for you… meet Head Chef Guy.

Guy has always had a passion to cook, ever since he was a little boy – “I was always going to be a chef”. He likes dishes with big flavours, which explains why the Deep fried brie with beetroot jam is a particular favourite.

With the menu for Quarter Bar & Lounge, Guy takes his inspiration from the local markets and their seasonal fair, to create a number of modern dishes with a British or Mediterranean flavour.  At home, however, he enjoys nothing more than traditional Congolese food.

So the all-important question that all chefs must be asked – what ingredient could you not cook without? A simple answer from Guy – all of them, they are all as important. Without salt you have no flavour but without meat and vegetables you have nothing to season!

Oh and one more – what football team do you support? Even faster with the answer this time – Man U!

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn Photography: Sue Lowry

Quarter Bar & Lounge and London Bridge Hotel are clients of Magellan PR.  Follow them on Twitter: @Quarter_Bar and @LondBridgeHotel and become a fan on Facebook: QuarterBar and LondonBridgeHotel or visit www.londonbridgehotel.com.

Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+:  Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry.  For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com.  Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.

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In the Frame: A killer on the wing

For this episode of “In the Frame”, we bring you the life blood of the Arabian Desert, the falcon.

The speed and natural instincts of this intrepid hunter were long admired by the nomadic peoples of the desert. Needing a tool to help them find food, the Bedouin would trap wild falcons, then use them to catch prey for a time before releasing them back into the wild.

These stunning birds are beautifully protected at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn

Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on YouTube: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+:  Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry.  For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com.  Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.

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Azerbaijan Week – Zaha Hadid’s Baku Vision

Zaha Hadid has created – in my humble opinion of course – one of the most beautiful buildings in the world with the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre in Azerbaijan’s capital city, Baku.

Sweeping curves twist around the visitor with no one side like the other.  Coloured white for purity with an ever-lasting line to depict eternity, this has to be one of the most difficult buildings to construct as well as one of the most intriguing.

Having just visited Basel or rather the Vitra complex just outside and seen her very first building, you can certainly see how her vision has grown and expanded with this work finally completed on 10th May 2012.

A series of overlapping fluid surfaces, with all evidence of the frame of the building concealed, the building seems to defy gravity with its very shape.

I have taken quite a few people to see the building now and none are left unmoved by it. For me, I could come back and walk around it and within it and take something new from it, every time.

Others might disagree – but I stand by my first statement.  It’s a masterpiece of modern architecture and a must visit when travelling to Baku.  It really is the perfect building to showcase Baku’s cultural programme.

Contributor & photographer:  Sue Lowry.  For sets of images of Baku, Fairmont Baku, Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Flame Towers, Khinalig, Gobustan, Ateshgah Fire Temple and Yanar Dag, visit Sue’s Flickr stream.

Sue Lowry travelled as a guest of Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers (a Magellan client) and British Airways.  For a three night stay, prices – to include accommodation and flights – start at GBP808 – subject to change.  A visa for entry is required which can easily be arranged through the hotel.

Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers is on twitter @FairmontBaku and on Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest: Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers.  Follow British Airways @British_Airways and on Facebook:  British Airways.

Magellan PR is on Twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on YouTube: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+:  Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry.  For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com.  Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.

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Azerbaijan Week – Khinalig – the highest village in Europe

If you are feeling adventurous and have a spare day to go exploring when next in Baku, Azerbaijan, then why not take a day trip to Khinalig, Europe’s highest village?  It’s the furthest excursion I could do to see something of the country, passing via Guba, without having to stay overnight.

It’s not for the faint-hearted however for the track through the mountains en route to the village is extremely narrow and at times, just a little – gulp – worrisome but the scenery becomes more and more dramatic.  I am told the road has recently been resurfaced and our 4×4 adventure would not have been possible in such comfort before.

It is an all day trip and we stopped en route for a traditional Azerbaijani meal which I will cover in another post.  Our outdoor restaurant was situated in a beautiful forest and the food – fresh and delicious – served with efficiency and speed – accompanied by tea, of course.

Generations of villagers have lived in Khinalig where the buildings are constructed on top of each other – the roof of one, the foundation for another.  The inhabitants are generous and hospitable – curious to know more about a visitor who has come to see them – and to share their own life stories with you.  One family invited me in to tea.

Numerous family members of all ages come in and out to sneak a peak at you, chattering on their mobiles, whilst rushing back to watch their satellite TV channels.   Tea and pakhlava is offered and accepted – a contribution towards the cost is courteously refused with thanks and smiles.

I have to say, I really enjoyed my visit to Khinalig and would recommend it to anyone but the apprehensive.  The scenery en route was truly spectacular.

Contributor & photographer:  Sue Lowry.  For sets of images of Baku, Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers, Khinalig, Gobustan, Ateshgah Fire Temple and Yanar Dag, visit Sue’s Flickr stream.

Sue Lowry travelled as a guest of Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers (a Magellan client) and British Airways.  For a three night stay, prices – to include accommodation and flights – start at GBP808 – subject to change.  A visa for entry is required which can easily be arranged through the hotel.

Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers is on twitter @FairmontBaku and on Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest: Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers.  Follow British Airways @British_Airways and on Facebook:  British Airways.

Magellan PR is on Twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on YouTube: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+:  Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry.  For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com.  Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.

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