I’m sure everyone has seen the footage of Notre Dame in Paris on fire.
I have spent a lot of time in Paris – much of that time on my own. I used to walk to Notre Dame on many days, and simply sit in the cathedral for a while, occasionally attending a service, even though I’m not religious.
I thought it was terrible when far-right “activists” would go in there and shoot themselves at the altar to protest abortion or whatever. I thought that was as bad as it would get.
There was scaffolding on the part of the building that caught fire. Restoration work is so, so dangerous for historic buildings. Something very similar happened in Belfast when I was there last year.
The Lavra in Kyiv
In a centuries’ overdue move, and one that is going to lead to more Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Constantinople Patriarchate approved Ukraine’s split from the Russian Orthodox Church overnight. It is being called the biggest split in all of Christianity in a thousand years.
Russian Orthodoxy was forced on Ukrainians over several centuries, finishing with the forced conversion of my family’s Ukrainian Catholic villages in the west of the country when Churchill gifted the country to Stalin after the Second World War (thanks for that, Winston!).
What will happen now? Well, in anticipation of this move, the Russian military has already stepped up attacks in Ukraine’s east, with people being killed in record numbers again. It has to be understood that Russia’s Church – in the past decade or so – has become a weaponised political party that effectively runs the country, behind only Vladimir Putin.
Additionally, experts are predicting staged attacks on Russian churches, so that Putin can blame them on “fascist Ukrainians”, and attack and invade even more.
What I’m worried about is attacks on the thousand-year-old Orthodox monasteries and cathedrals in Ukraine, such as the Lavra complex in Kyiv. I sure hope they’ve stepped up security at those locations.
This move removes a major aspect of Russian colonialism from Ukraine.
I’m not sure why Russia never comes up alongside the likes of France and Britain and Spain in discussions about colonialism and cultural appropriation (because people think Russia is romantic?). The Russians were just as brutal as anybody else (see the Holodomor). And – unlike other nations – their behaviour is ongoing (see the annexation of Crimea, the invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine, the ongoing invasion and occupation of one-fifth of Georgia, and the illegal occupation of Moldova).
The next few weeks are going to be chaotic for Eastern Europe.
The weather in England on Thursday was absolutely gorgeous. Warm, bright blue skies.
Here are some images from Derbyshire: a trip to Haddon Hall, and the countryside of the Peak District.
A visit to the famous Chatsworth House two days ago.
I have one week left of this trip, and it is being spent in a cottage in England’s Peak District. In the village of Bradwell, with horses riding up our street, the area looks like something out of a Jane Austen adaptation.
We had lunch next to Chatsworth today, and then stopped in Bakewell, where Austen allegedly wrote Pride and Prejudice.
This is one part of England I haven’t visited before, and so far it is even prettier than I expected.
The view from my bedroom:
We’re finishing up a week-long stay in York, and nature has given us a gorgeous Monday morning. Yes, it’s cold, but… it’s so pretty!
Also, here are some pictures from our trip to the enormous (and spectacular) Fountains Abbey yesterday (you can thank Henry VIII for destroying it!).
The luxurious Harewood House in Yorkshire, England. We stopped for a visit on the way to York two days ago.