November Blog: Clap Hands, Grow my Hair

My hair is now officially an art project. I am not going to cut it until the pandemic is over - at least by my own definition and I don’t know what that is yet. Sometimes I wear it in a ponytail although I think that really makes me look like someone living in a midwest trailer park. Make mine a double wide. I just had to say that. I try a sort of man-bun by tucking the end under and catching it in the elastic band (special, grippy) but this really tears at my hair when I take the band out after swimming. The best solution has been to plait it - although this prompts Al to call me Gudrun! It takes me back to being 6 years old.

A Room of One’s Own

I seem to have the best blog thoughts when I am out and about, shopping, driving, walking dogs. Then when I sit down to write, they quickly and quietly vanish away. The place where I write in this house (actually in every house we have occupied) is at the table in the kitchen-living-dining room, and I guess this state of affairs will continue. Actually, I like it. Al has a table in one corner and I have a corner of the ‘everything table’ diagonally opposite. Right now he’s playing his mandola, a weird double-necked weird Nordic instrument. I also have a view of the hills to the west and if I come around a bit, I can see Polyrinia, my favourite Minoan hilltop site. Living with a view like this is a new experience for me. Our previous house here (the village house) had no view to speak of until you went outside and walked to the edge of the concrete ‘patio’. In August and September we lived with the door open in the cooler parts of the day and closed up as the sun came around. This house (Gareth & Liz’s house) has big sliding patio doors facing North and windows facing West, so the view is near panoramic. In the summer I am sure that these doors would be open all day. At the moment, we don’t, since if we are mainly sitting or, in my case, doing yoga, the temperature is just a bit too cool, at around 15ºC. Also we have a young cat - probably more about him soon.

Our Cat

So he’s called Our Cat, not because we are too lazy to find him a name but because when he first approached us at the village house, we kept saying - no, you’re not our cat, go AWAY. But of course he didn’t, and of course, we started to feed him - he was a scrawny little thing.

He would hang out with us, take off for a while, come to the rattle of cat biscuits. We fed him at night and then firmly shut the door. In the morning he would be sleeping on the mat outside the door. Then we went to Kythira for 5 days, and a strange thing happened. Our neighbours made sure he was fed, and things were fine. Before we went away he seemed to hold his own with other cats, they would not try to take his food even when we fed him outside. When we got back, we had moved out of the village house, but were still going to go and feed him every day. We walked up to the house, fed him as usual in his own little dish. Again, no interference from another cat close by, a female, about the same age. But as soon as he finished eating she attacked him. He was absolutely terrorised, no fight back, a quick retreat then she cornered him again, even though he was bigger and stronger. Al’s theory - as soon as he was without his human protectors, he was an easy target. It really looked as though he had strong pet cat genes. Anyway - we walked away, to go to our new home, and the little cat followed us, and followed, and followed down the track. When we got to the ‘main’ road, the little cat was still with us. What could we do?

Now he has his paws comfortably under the table, 60 grammes a day of quality cat biscuits and 2 visits to the vet, for vaccinations. Now he’s filled out, looks like an adult cat, and is due another visit to the vet on December 9th for microchip & snip, so to speak. At the moment his hormones are kicking in, and there’s a bit of disconsolate yowling as he asks to go and check out the wider world. The vet says, for his own sake, keep him inside until he’s ‘done’. Male cats that are intact have a short and sometimes ugly life as the testosterone imperative renders them run over, injured and unpopular. He’s growing into a handsome cat, loves body contact, favourite toys are pieces of nautical string. He sleeps on my hoodie, loosely folded outside our bedroom door. He’s discovered that the computer keyboard is warm and recently took a bath whilst sitting there during a yoga Zoom class. Made Lois Steinberg laugh, she loves yoga pets.

ΤΟ Μεγάλο ΟΜΙΚΡΟΝ

It’s funny to hear people debating how to say ‘ομικρον’ but not at all funny to consider why it matters. Well, of course it doesn’t in the context of the virus. In the context of the Greek language, it is interesting that the sound of the name of the letter in the Greek alphabet always reflects that the sound the letter makes. I will try to watch the unwatchable Greek news and report back.

It seems that many countries have been shocked into the precautionary principle, and this might turn out to be the right thing. Greece has taken a big step, with cases already rising, the Government from mid-January has decided to fine over 60s 100 euros a month if they don’t choose to be vaccinated. We show ID and vaccination certificates at all public indoor spaces, except food shops.

A Fridge Freezer, a Washing Machine and a Dishwasher

I spent a fat hour yesterday in the basement of a Chania store looking at ‘white goods’ - actually brushed stainless steel in one case. Our last FF was still going strong after 20 years in our Bristol kitchen. We wish it another 20! So I found that the decision weighed quite heavily, bearing in mind that this one might outlive me! You might know that the energy rating system has recently changed, so your AAA fridge has now sunk down to a C or D. Maybe manufacturers are currently trying to up their games to claw their way up the eco ladder, but we have to ‘sail on the wind we have’ and buy one now. Ditto the washing machine, but that seems an easier call. Our rented house has a modest Bosch that used to have a great energy rating, so I’m happy to go for a similar model. Interestingly the glossy brochure from the store majors on machines that cost a thick end of 1K euros. Seems to me you only need to pay that if you actually want to devolve some of your decision making /brain space to the thing. It’s the FF decision that has been stressing me. Buy a cheap one that I’m not going to want to live with for the next 2 decades (Imshalla) and sell it or donate it when the new lower energy models arrive or go for one that is much more expensive, looks better, has more space for veg and might be out of date in 5 years. I suppose that because I spend a lot of time in or near the kitchen, the appearance of the thing seems to matter! OK , rich world problem, I know. I am grateful every day to have food to put in it!

ONE DAY LATER

Fortunately or otherwise, can’t fit the 4-door FF into the kitchen at the apartment, so have gone for a more standard 2 door Grundig on the grounds that it might play AM radio as well. Bosch for washing machine at around 450 Euros, not the 1K jobs. I guess they make lunch and feed the cat as well. Dishwasher, also Bosch. Has the word ‘Silence’ on its front, let’s see. More on domestic machines in future blogs, I’m sure.

You say oh-mikron, I say om-ikron

I’m not going to get too embroiled here, but for excellent up-to-date information, research and explanation, Indie Sage has it. This week a really clear exposition of how vaccines work, really helpful for those trying to understand immunity, natural and via vaccination.  Indie Sage on You Tube Watch today’s episode (3 December). Some interesting news for immune compromised people and those who have vaccinations following natural infection.

Also I have had an email from a friend posing the following question:

I've always been taught Oh-MIKE-ron. Virtually the whole of the USA, including Gayle, says OH-mick-ron.

How do the Cretans say it?

My reply: So far haven’t heard it, but I checked Greek dictionary and found that the letter omicron seems to be pronounced as in ode. The first O is stressed, but not the second. There is always an indication which is the stressed vowel. So Gayle is right! Όμικρον. Greek is obligingly phonetic.

Like Knitting a Scarf

I really need to put this blog to bed. That’s the thing if I leave it too long, processes of free association take over and I keep thinking I’ll just put in one more colour.

I haven’t even told you about our visit to Antikithera and the Pangea project. Here’s a tease:

https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20200929-the-remote-greek-island-seeking-new-residents

Watching

I liked The Power of the Dog directed by Jane Campion. Slow burn but delicious photography. Also Stray - a lovely documentary with no commentary on life as seen by a Turkish street dog. Reminded me of White God, another doggy film from Hungary.

Listening

The Reith Lectures

Stuart Russell - Living With Artificial Intelligence

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00729d9

Eating:

Apparently the most popular recipe in the world (or the world of TikTok: One-Pan Feta Pasta With Cherry Tomatoes. I used the New York Times recipe. Hit’s lots of taste receptors. And I forgot to pick the herbs, so used dried oregano instead.

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1022087-one-pan-feta-pasta-with-cherry-tomatoes

1800 EEST, it’s a rainy afternoon. More soon as we gear up for our next move.

Greek Cotton

It’s the first time I have done any ironing in hmmm maybe a decade! This morning we still had damp linen from yesterday’s was hanging outdoors. Rain, yes rain, promised for this morning and the sheets and towels still damp. Remembering what our friend Shehina said, when I caught her ironing her sheets, I got out the ironing board and set to. Yes, it works! Slightly damp sheets and towels CAN be turned into a pile of lovely stuff, all neatly folded. Amazing!

In a process that we used to call ‘surfing the net’, now sadly transformed into ‘Googling’ I checked out whether Greece still has a textile industry. The answer does seem to be that it does, but I am struggling to find out whether the sheets and towels I bought yesterday were actually Greek cotton.

Remember those blue and white striped bedsheets we all loved? We used to use them as bedspreads and throws. I’m sure they are still around but haven’t seen them for a long time.

Kythira

You might wonder why people living on a Greek island might want to go on holiday to another Greek island. I think the answer has to do with the different characters of the islands. Kythira lies between the Peloponnese and Crete – around 3.5 hours by ferry (the Aqua Jewel, for those of you who like marine movements apps). It’s directly South of Elafonisos island, and to the East is Cape Maleas. This is the turning point for ships coming from the West and turning NE for Piraeus. Al and I made yacht delivery trips from the Canary Isles to Greece back in 1987. We were on different yachts, and arrived at the Cape days apart, but we both had the same experience – big winds on the nose, preventing the yachts from rounding the Cape. The engine on 33 foot Liokri just couldn’t get us any way forward at all so we turned tail to Nafplion. Where we were ‘arrested’ and held there for a couple of days by the Port Police, who sent us on to Gythion to pay a 30 pound fine – or its drachma equivalent. I digress.

Kythera is much more like your Greek island of the holiday brochures than Crete is, with ‘Cycladic’ architecture – based on the white cube with blue paintwork – classic postcard material. The snorkelling was good, with clear blue water and the usual sorts of fish to meet. Very quiet and out of season, with few tavernas open. Waterfall was dry, Potamos busy on a Sunday morning with locals drinking coffee and a tiny market. We stayed in Avlemonas – a small but nice apartment near the sea, next to the mini market and the restaurant. Fortunately we weren’t in search of a warm welcome or a gastro experience from the latter, and managed to feed ourselves breakfast and a map of the island rom the former. Our host told us that the island is mayhem in August with everyone searching for a meal in the evenings and a swim spot during the day.

On the ferry,

Looking down from Chora (Kythira town) to Kapsali.

Why Blog?

Do you believe in Synchronicity? After I wrote the title of this section, I flitted over to email and found a prompt from one of my blogpsreading friends, telling me that it might be time for another one! The reasons I do this are as follows:

  • it keeps me writing and thinking about writing
  • it keen me in touch with all of you – whatever orbit we occupy in each other’s friendship universe
  • I enjoy it; there’s a sense of quietness that comes with writing; right now I am writing in a very quiet state, following Stephanie Quirk’s ‘Lying down’ yoga session. Her teaching is deceptively simple and very effective. Stephanie studied in Pune with the Iyengar family for many years and has settled now in Australia. She teaches at, or in the case of Zoom, through, the Marrickville Yoga Centre in a district of Sydney, I think. My Australian geography is pretty vague. Marrickville has been a real anchor for me, despite being on the other side of the world. Their Zoom classes are excellent, and there is a positive atmosphere in the classes that really calms and focuses, without any of the noisy cajoling that can sometimes happen in classes. Yes, I have done this myself, and sometimes it is exactly what’s needed, but not always, and maybe not for these times when we seem to need to be gentle, rational and kind.

Before I leave yoga altogether, let me share this image with you. As Stephanie encouraged us to connect with space, and with gravity (to many of you this will sound like hippy dippy stuff, but trust me), I let my perception go down – to the floor I was sitting on, actually tile and concrete, then through the concrete structure of the house into the basement and down into the ground that the house stands on. But something compelled me to go further until I reached the centre of the earth, presumably the point towards which all free weights fall, and to which our own bodily ‘centre of gravity’ is attracted. We have got so used to our feet down, head up position that we might forget that gravity even exists, until maybe we stumble and get a painful reminder. But, here’s the thing: gravity is really ’spooky action at a distance’. The foot that is off the ground is as much subject to gravity as the one that’s on the ground. You don’t have to be an astrologer to believe that the positions of the objects in the solar system influence the earth – just look at the tides, the phases of the moon, the sun rising and setting, I’m sure you get what I mean. Now think about each of those humans, animals, trees, plants, each of them with that special connection with the earth’s centre of gravity, like an invisible thread leading to the core. It’s an image I wish I could implant into all the COP26 attendees.

For any of you curious about Marrickville – they are really in control of their Zoom technology and deliver many classes online, some of which are made available in a content library. There’s an online Beginner’s Course – great place to begin a yoga adventure.

https://www.marrickvilleyoga.com.au/myc-online-beginners-membership/

My yoga helper!

What about your house?

As some of you know, we are hoping to buy land and build a house here. Here being Crete, and more specifically Western Crete, near the town of Kissamos. This has not been an easy ride in any respect, but finally the lawyer, the public notary and the engineer seem to have brought the seller to the table, all paperwork complete and signed. So now we have a Pre-contract to buy the land, which ensures that the seller can’t change his mind, and a building permit will be applied for. This permit is not for the final house, it merely ensures that if it is granted, the land is ‘buildable’, and we can move on to the actual purchase which will enable us to submit the actual plans for an actual house. Just as a reminder, here’s the plot:

You may be able to click here for the location.

Of course, there’s a lot of ugly detail to this story, but no point in dwelling on the might have’s or should have’s. The point is that we are where we are now!

Maybe we could have felt a little more celebratory if it hadn’t been such a long haul.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned where we are now! We are living temporarily in our 3rd house in Marediana. This one just a couple of houses away from where we started out. Great views, but the house is quite hard to photograph, standing as it does overlooking an olive grove, and a lot of sea! We can even view the ferry again. Here’s a shot of our house from Max’s.

White cube with Papapaschali stone house next door.

White cube with Papapaschali stone house next door. And here’s the view from our house over to Max’s this morning.

Maxine’s house – Mouraki. Ferry port in the distance

Kythera again

Speaking of the ferry, and back to the beginning – the ferry leaves Kissamos, calls into AntiKythera a couple of hours later – or not – it’s a kind of request stop before stopping at Kythera and going on to the Peloponnese . I’m a bit disinclined to go into a travelogue. Enough to say that having watched the ferry go out for the best part of 2 years, we thought it was time to go with it. Also a complete break from the logistics of houses, cars and cats. Maybe more soon when I get hold of Al’s many photos.

I think I will make a French Onion soup for lunch. Some rough red wine from Kythera needs using up. Nigel Slater’s recipe, minus a couple of ingredients; no beef, of course, and only have red wine. And no way I am waiting around to put the soup in the oven. Will serve with toast and grated cheese.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/feb/21/french-onion-soup-recipe-slater

As I said, this is a way of keeping in touch, so please don’t hold back on comments, emails etc. Sorry, no music this time, just the sound of the South wind.

Location Location

with music link

Well so here we are still in the pretty little village house. There’s an occasional soundtrack of cock crow, villagers shouting conversations over a quite impressive difference, kids playing, the odd bark. The plan is to stay here until the end of September, or maybe a bit longer, but in our experience, the tail end of October gets a little chilly. The heating here is the reversible air conditioner – not very effective. Using the oven might actually heat the room too. So the hunt for our long-term rental is on. We have seen maybe half a dozen places. Of course nothing is perfect, but it’s a question of locating the best compromise.

I was going to give you some images of houses we have seen, but I took fewer photos than I meant to. I will see if Al can help out.

For any masochists amongst you, check out

https://en.spitogatos.gr/

to see what we are up against. Of course you will see lots of places and think we have oodles of choice. Problem – the best houses are in the wrong place! We thought we might be prepared to go as far as Chania, 40 minutes away, and we even considered Akrotiri (peninsula adjacent to Chania, now home to the airport as well as part of the American base). After a couple of viewings (one house very high spec. with a fridge I could fall in love with), we decided that it’s just too spoilt, too far and not enough quiet places to swim. Every time we return to ‘our’ end of the island, it feels like home, so we are trying our best to stay West of Chania, and preferably close to Kissamos. At the moment we are trying to decide between a house that might be available and an apartment – surprise, surprise. Problem: the house might be sold, and the apartment not available until New Year, leaving us with a possibly chilly November/ December problem. If neither work out, we will just have to return to the drawing board!

Lots more detail about our lives and relocation are available on request! It’s a bit of a kaleidoscope of looking at houses, buying a car, generally taking care of business. Too much detail I think.

Wednesday 22 September

Exactly a month since we woke up in Marediana again, to a full moon, high and silver in the Western sky, and a layer of cloud lying like a duvet in the bay. Yesterday we bought a car – hope to take delivery in the next few days – pic to follow. Al has gone to the local KEP office (a kind of multi-purpose Government office) to begin the process of exchanging his UK driving license for a Greek one – essential since Brexit for people who are living here.

We have spent a lot of the last month dealing with business. The land purchase remains in the balance. We met with Lola the lawyer last week – she’s energetic and thorough and has come up with a couple of ideas for the pre-contract that will give us a little more protection. The seller is difficult to communicate with, and has no lawyer so its down to the persuasive powers of Kostis, his engineer (surveyor) who brokered the deal in the first place. Keep wishing us luck!

As a backstop, we have been combing the market for a suitable house. We have seen the ‘enchanted house’ – fabulous, on a hill top with fantastic views but appears jerry built with many cracks and damp patches, the multi-part Topolia house (actually 3 living spaces stacked up above the road to Elafonisi) and the workable but a bit boring house in outside a village whose name loosely translates as Mouseville. The last house has exactly what we need in terms of living space (3 bedrooms), self-contained guest apartment in semi basement (surprisingly light, kitchen installation not yet complete) and a massive cellar that could house a studio. The situation is good, views to sea and mountains, olive trees space for swimming pool, not too far from the epicentre of our search, but I find myself unmoved. Maybe something to do with it being just not in the area we want, west of Kolimbari. Maybe because the house layout just not interesting enough.

Sunday 26 September

The news on the plot is still no news, with no clue as to whether the engineer (surveyor) has approached the seller, whether the seller has considered the pre-contract terms, or whether the seller actually wants to sell or isn’t too bothered. I am seriously thinking that we should try to organise a meeting with the seller, so that we can ask him directly. Many things in Greece seem to be resolved by a face to face meeting. Wish us more luck!

Today we went down to the port to find out the timetable and price of tickets to Kythira – about 4 hours away by Seajets Ferry. The answer is 3 times a week and 202 euros for ourselves and the car (hopefully the new car). We think it’s time for an island holiday – I know it must seem as though we are already on one of those, but we have spent most of the month we have been here securing the foundations of our lives for the next year, at least. We could do with a break.

Since we arrived in March 2020, we have watched the ferry leave, and it’s time to get on it.

Sally Randle and I went to Greece in 1983, I think. On a whim, because I think I had seen the island whilst on a ferry from the Peloponnese in 1980. It has an umbilical connection with Australia, and when Sally and I arrived, it was packed with Aussies visiting their Greek families. We failed to find a room so slept in a half-finished hotel. Looking forward to seeing it again. The island, not the hotel, which I doubt I could recognise.

What am I Reading?

I seem to be hitting a seam of fantasy, sci-fi – perhaps on my way to Greek mythology…. Having finished Harry Potter, and revisited Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust, I found the above – I think you might be able to download free using the link. It’s a story of a historian’s time travel back to the 14th century. Will she, won’t she find her way back to her own time. Meanwhile a new virus invades the Oxford College that is her base, complicating plans for her rescue. A lot of domestic detail about life in 1320 which as an ahistorical person, I found fascinating. Who has glass in their windows? What colour were women’s clothes? How cold were the winters?

And watching?

Hmm. Succession, sort of reluctantly, but it’s quite hookey.

And eating?

Our cooking facilities here are a bit limited. There are 2 rings, but can’t use 2 large pans at the same time. Sink has a single drainer and there’s a tiny preparation space. The oven/grill is up on a shelf, and at the moment, all cooking makes the living space too warm, so meals are simple – pasta with variety of vegetables, lentil and veg soups, Greek salads, and hummus when I remember to soak the chick peas. I have bought a can of coconut milk and I am planning a curry. Huge gastric excitement. Maybe I will find some Tofu. Watch this space….

Crete at Last

Crete at Last!

Sometimes the dreams of the future can be fragile as a Beeswing so here’s today’s music choice that simultaneously takes me forward and back in time.

It feels like there is a huge amount of ground to cover since Hereford. For those of you who like detail, I will include some here. Some of you will have heard bits of the narrative - so you can skip.

Let’s start at the end of the story - here’s our little stone hοuse in the older part of the village of Marediana, originally Πάνω (Upper) Marediana. What you need to know is the village was originally just 2 families. There is still no cafe or shop - the population is much too small. Now converted as a holiday rental, our house is a cute lower floor of a village house.

We have 2 rooms with a ‘corner kitchen’, a bedroom, a good bathroom and a large sitting area outside with a shade. The host, Elli is a keen collector of driftwood and curiosities and these turn up in some unexpected places. It’s small, but workable for now.

Marediana House

And how did we get here?
It was a very strange few days from last Thursday to Wednesday. Remember we were leaving my late cousin’s house in Hereford with the remainder of our Bristol belongings to be deposited with Nomad (our removal company) in Peterborough until we have a more permanent place here.
Thursday 19 August
We looked at the load for the van (Transit size for those of you who remember the 1970s) and I was worried it wouldn’t fit.
Friday 20 August
I called the hire company - larger van not available until lunchtime. We packed the one we had to the roof, including my bike, and it just about fitted. Phew! So Friday saw us driving to Peterborough. If it wasn’t for Al’s musical instruments and other studio gear we would be moving like normal people! But then we wouldn’t have any money either. Traffic was terrible on the way to P’boro with massive jam due to an M6 closure so we had to take a much longer route. They had to wait for us until we arrived 20 minutes after 5pm on a Friday, but they were pretty good humoured all the same. The return journey was much better apart from Al taking his eye off the ball and looking for cars in Greece. He went onto a car buying App and we overshot our exit by about 20 minutes, adding another hour to the journey. I was so exhausted I had to go straight to bed nursing a rum and almond milk! I didn’t even shout at him. He said he was sorry a lot.
The next morning I went to use my wallet and couldn’t find it. Distraught!! We looked everywhere. Couldn’t figure it out at all as I didn’t even remember getting it out at services we stopped at. Of course we searched the van, and it turned up second time around wedged between seat and handbrake. It would have bolloxed whole plan since my driving licence was inside, essential for all the car hire plans in UK and Greece..

Saturday and Sunday 21 / 22
Sorting and packing for Greece. Finding things that should have gone on the van, sorting out the last of Kay’s jewellery bequests, taking her house plants to friends etc etc.

Monday 23 D Day-1
With everything packed except all the hand luggage bits and pieces and things I couldn’t decide about, including a lifetime supply of essentials like sun protection, massage oil, cotton buds, plasters and fuck knows what else that packs out bathroom cabinets, we head out to Bristol for a last visit to Sally and Rik, then over to Chitra to leave the car. She takes us to have a tea at the local Weatherspoons. Rough but the only outdoor cafe for miles around. Back to Hereford for final night and morning pack, now 4 bags and a box as well as hand baggage.

Tuesday 24 August

We get to Birmingham Airport and the drop off (18 minutes at 8 quid) was a bit of a shocker, plus I’m not sure how much for the trolleys (4) since a helpful man in a uniform helped me with their release from a mysterious machine the wouldn’t work for me. Clearly a dark art. Birmingham Airport not at all crowded and Ryanair surprisingly efficient and generous spirited about Mr Extra Seat (a Ronroco in a case). So much room on the plane that we could be reseated having a row to ourselves - Al, me and the ronoroco. Most people were wearing their masks more-or-less properly with a few exceptions. All paperwork went through smoothly at each stage - European Vaccination Certificates and Greek PLF.

This morning I watched a yoga video from Australia - part of a series on the use of ropes. Really useful in planning the yoga room that I hope I will eventually have.

Our pressing problem is that we need a car. The mini market is probably at least a 2 hour round trip. Great exercise of course, We pray for the health of Max’s car!! There is a possibility of buying a Honda Jazz from a couple returning to Devon after 15 years here. Only problem is that they need a car until they leave and we need one now. We pray for good fortune. Actually, of course we don’t pray at all, just hope, envisage positive outcomes (me) and try to figure out alternative strategies.

The village is much quieter than we thought. We are quite close to the road, but there are few cars. Several village houses are being rebuilt as AirBnbs, but not many operational yet. I will leave you with some of Elli’s work - she’s an avid collector of shells, driftwood, bric a brac and there’s never a dull corner in the house.

Flight a bit late and as always we are last out of the baggage hall, almost forgetting the last suitcase (hastily appropriated from Kay’s house).

We arrived at the village well after 11pm. Our host, Elli, meets us. The place is small, with a tiny kitchen, but pretty and we are making it work. There is a good outside terrace and no immediate neighbours, apart from the hosts upstairs. They shout kalispera from their balcony. Our previous hosts have left us supper - stuffed veg and green beans stewed in olive oil and tomato. Delicious. Also some pastries filled with dried fruit and nuts - I suspect Despoina made those. I would have put in a photo but we were too busy eating to think about that

Wednesday 25 August Marediana
We are predictably dazed and disoriented and completely exhausted. I felt as though I needed to sleep for 12 hours straight, and that night we almost did. We have visited with all our neighbours, and done a supermarket shop, courtesy of Max’s car, Al is working on his mixes and I am trying to get organised! As you can imagine, there’s a lot of discussion about ‘what happens next.

A Few Days Later
Sitting outside the house on a crumbling concrete bench. It’s warm, and there’s a west wind. Confused cock crow, intermittent dog barks, and distant cicadas. We feel that we have arrived. This house will do for now, but by the end of October we will need something a bit more permanent and perhaps easier to heat.

DD6186E6-1245-4B1C-ADEC-269A2616BBB7_1_105_c

This morning I watched a yoga video from Australia - part of a series on the use of ropes. Really useful in planning the yoga room that I hope I will eventually have.

Our pressing problem is that we need a car. The mini market is probably at least a 2 hour round trip. Great exercise of course, We pray for the health of Max’s car!! There is a possibility of buying a Honda Jazz from a couple returning to Devon after 15 years here. Only problem is that they need a car until they leave and we need one now. We pray for good fortune. Actually, of course we don’t pray at all, just hope, envisage positive outcomes (me) and try to figure out alternative strategies.

The village is much quieter than we thought. We are quite close to the road, but there are few cars. Several village houses are being rebuilt as AirBnbs, but not many operational yet. I will leave you with some of Elli’s work - she’s an avid collector of shells, driftwood, bric a brac and there’s never a dull corner in the house.

Coming soon:

The adventure continues...

Moomins-6-scaled

Nomadland

9 August 2021

We watched the film Nomadland last night and of course the title also reflects a bit how we feel at the moment, only without the van! We are looking at at least 3 more moves in maybe as many months. But the trick will be to enjoy the changes, and whatever each one brings. Here in Hereford, it is the ability to get outdoors into woods, hay meadows, nature reserves, riverbanks – not enough, since our work is indoors, but still, keeping us sane.

It is definitely still threshold time for us. Of course the incendiary news coming from Greece is giving us some pause. On the one hand, from the frying pan into the fire, almost literally. On the other, the necessity for a good eco-build is clear, somewhere that will be warm in the winter, cool enough for the summer, and low enough in its carbon footprint and energy costs to be sustainable beyond our own lifespans. And segueing through to mortality: as some of you know, we are temporarily living at my cousin Kay’s house. She died in April after around 5 years of widowhood and a year of lockdown. Dealing with her earthly goods brings about quite a bit of reflection on our own lives. My friend Chitra, familiar with Hindu traditions, says that this involves a lot of negative energy and perhaps that’s what I am feeling. She says that in India the possessions of the deceased are dispersed within 14 days. Here the process seems to drag out, assisted in this by the legal process of probate. Maybe also my own reluctance to tackle the job in the absence of clear cultural guidelines. Yesterday I managed to overcome some of that and called some recipients of bequests from Kay. I was moved by their humanity, as well as curious to hear their experiences and impressions of my cousin, with whom they had had long friendships. I am sorry not to be able to meet them. They are mainly sheltering from Covid, as we are ourselves, keeping social contact to a minimum.

Dealing with someone’s clothes – such an intimate thing to do. The hopes, dreams, expectations that must have gone along with each purchase, the vision of themselves gardening, on holiday, at a wedding or funeral. The task has been made more difficult by charity shops apparently bottlenecked by a lack of volunteers, a dearth of shoppers or a flood of donations. Whatever it is, it makes it more difficult to disperse Kay’s clothes. She was a person who cared about clothes, and had a lot! She clearly looked after them – washed, cleaned, hung, folded…. She was the sort of person to have a wedding outfit.

Music

I am afraid that today’s music choice is ‘no music’.

Sunday 15 August

I really need to let this blog go….

We managed a micro-adventure this week and took a couple of blankets out to a dark field to lie on our backs and watch for shooting stars, of which we saw a few, and satellites of which we lost count. A couple of planes flying high – so strange to think of the people up in their tin can, drinking, sleeping, watching movies. What an odd world we live in! Surrounded by countryside, yet so little that’s natural and none of it unaltered by human presence; I think maybe that’s why I am drawn to rocky landscapes.

I have found some interesting g poppies growing wild in cracks in the pavement and lane edges, pale orange and mauve.

Now only just over a week before our flight. We have our European vaccination passports – hoping that RyanAir recognise these!

After the Goldrush🎵

Sometime in early July

Spellcheck suggests After the Goldfish. Well, why not? This morning has a kind of random feeling about it. I spent yesterday wading through a boxful of the last 18 months worth of mail that we have managed to live without. Worse, it’s missed the commercial shredding…. Well, there will be more.

The above is a fragment of an attempt at starting a blog last week, I think. It didn’t go anywhere, so I am going to start again!

Afterthought: Too many tracks? They outrun the text, but they all say something in terms of mood. Use them as you will.

The Tightrope Walker🎵

19 July 2021

This is the best image I can come up with at the moment for the way I feel. We are poised halfway along the high wire between Bristol and Crete, between homes, between lives. Today I almost felt my foot slip. Was it a feint, or an actual slip? I will interrogate my dreams. The other image it conjures is the high wire act that we are all performing, as we cross the territory of the pandemic. At one side, the scientists, firmly anchoring their end of the wire in the concrete base of research and statistics, and at the other end a bunch of clowns. The walk is a wobbly one.

I was reading a feature earlier on today, picnicking in a Bristol Park. It was written by a consultant, and what really stuck in my mind, was the following sentence – not an exact quote, but something like this: people try their best, follow the rules and do all the right things, and still wind up in hospital with Covid. The consultant was warning that NHS resources are stretched too thinly, staff exhausted and/or absent; I can only imagine how they feel when asked to open another Covid ward. And yes, there’s flu and the other thingy that kids get, also affecting the respiratory system. So today felt bleak. Al and I have been talking about how the current ‘Freedom’ is messing with our plans to spend time with our friends in this precious window of time before we return to our lives in Crete. As cases accelerate away, the more travel, the more contact, the more risk, to ourselves and others. Of course it’s not the only opportunity but the twin giants of Covid and Climate Change are the gatekeepers to the future. I warned you that I felt bleak.

21 July 2021

England, your England🎵

Just to be clear, regardless of my genetics, I am Welsh, and from time to time, I am strongly reminded of that. Here we are literally in ‘border country’ and of course that reflects my state exactly.

The house we are camping in belonged to my cousin Kay, on my Dad’s side. It is a 4 bed detached in the English style, in an area of suburban housing, bordering the agricultural countryside of the Wye Valley – a traditionally beautiful area. Down the road is Nimrod Drive, named for Edward Elgar who lived in one of the rambling early 19C houses nearby. But neither the house nor the area are really to my taste. We are camping not because the house lacks basic amenities, but because it just isn’t a good fit with what we do are how we are.

The countryside might be calendar pretty, but diversity is limited with a very limited population of flowers, birds or animals. The English suburban garden is supposed to be a haven for birds and butterflies, but we have seen mainly starlings and wood pigeons, despite rigging up a bird feeder when we arrived. The rivers here are swimmable, but don’t seem clean. Reports of barely legal discharges bear this out.

This is interesting – a medieval hay meadow in a state of preservation. It borders the River Lugg. About 15-20 minutes walk away. We discovered it in the heat of the late afternoon, and are planning an early morning hit. Hay meadows were a big feature of a countryside that depended on animals (oxen as well as horses) to power the machinery of plowing and harvesting. Hay was the fuel they ran on after the summer grazing was finished. The smell reminded me of the circus.

We have also found a local managed woodland. Herefordshire has some spectacular trees.

We drove to Hay on Wye at the weekend. No cream teas, no bookshops or other attractions for us – we shy away from human contact in the face of the wildly accelerating disease situation (as Alice Roberts said – we can learn to live with Covid like we have learned to live with traffic accidents, but it doesn’t mean we cross the road in front of an articulated truck. Was that Alice? I digress.) On the way we stopped to check out a stream next a very old, very English church.

I like the smell of churches, old stone and wood. Some beautifully made and cheerful tapestry work in the hassocks and other church paraphernalia.

All today’s photos taken from Al’s phone. He is fonder of the English countryside than I am.

Coming soon: Picnics and People

Thresholds

4 July 2021

“It is wise in your own life to be able to recognise and acknowledge the key thresholds:

to take your time, to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there,

to listen inwards with complete attention

until you hear the inner voice calling you forward.

(This is one reason why such vital crossings were always clothed in ritual.)”

John O’Donohue, Thresholds

It’s not often that I throw quotes into the blogosphere, but this one emerged in Stephanie Quirk’s yoga class this morning – the last of a short series on Yoga Appropriate for this Time. The course acknowledges the huge upheaval that we have all undergone in this so-not-over Pandemic. Personal lives, social lives, politics, all up-ended. Opportunities for change grasped or slipping through our fingers. Of course what happens on the yoga mat is personal, but also universal. We all breath, and if we put our bodies in a particular posture, the breath changes. As the breath changes, so does the mind. So that’s why the experience is both personal and universal. The practice is to learn the asanas – the postures, and also to learn to observe the changes that they engender in breath and mind. The practice this morning was designed to calm anxiety and encourage the qualities of assurance and resolution. I will follow it for a while, because it is exactly what I need at the moment.

In the above quote, I have transposed the line about ritual, because it follows my train of thought better in this position. The idea being, that ritual helps us recognise the threshold we are about to cross. I am tempted to put a photo of the Sydney Row (Blue House) kitchen here, but I can scarcely bear to look at it at the moment, not because I miss it, but because it belongs on one side of the threshold, and I am on the other.

Moving house is not only a practical exercise, it is a ritual. The van, the packing, the sorting… all practical, but also ritualistic, and that ritual is a necessary part of helping to recognise, and feel, that something important is happening.

Privet Drive

Some of you will recognise the address! I am immersing myself in the Harry Potter novels. Each book has a threshold, and all form part of what we might call ‘a hero’s journey’. In the ‘real’ world, I am staying in my cousin’s house in Hereford. It’s convenient, since we have sold ours, and also I need to fulfil some of my duties as co-executor. It seems important to take care of Kay’s personal things, as well as organising valuations, house clearance – all the practical stuff. It has also lead me to reflect a bit on what houses are for. Apparently a lot of storage for a lot of stuff. I can count 16 x 60cm cupboards, and 13 drawers, and that’s just the kitchen! Keir Starmer thinks that we should ‘make, sell and buy more in Britain’. I think we should build better and more sustainable houses and apartments, with reasonable amounts of ‘storage’ and space to carry out activities of our choice.(By the way, what are we meant to be storing?) I want better stuff that doesn’t need to be junked. Sell and buy less. Sure, make it local, but shopping as a hobby is a futile pursuit! In my experience, so much easier to buy a thing than to use it. You catch me hovering over buying a book of poetry. Do I read poetry? Usually, no, but maybe in this new life…. So buy it for the shelf? Or buy it to actually read? Watch this space.

Apologies for the introspection.

Afterlife – or Moving Day + 3

Music: return to Radio 3

Well the blogosphere has been dark for just under 2 weeks, and I have missed it. I was overtaken by a tidal wave of sorting and packing, and for the last 2 days catching up on yoga and sleeping, both of which suffered in the run up to moving day. I am happy to report that it went pretty well, all things considered.

The Nomad crew were amazing and a steadying influence on a potentially chaotic situation. Rob and Jock worked away solidly from Monday lunchtime until the deadline of Wednesday morning, and were gone by 1100. They slept in the cab, (comfortable bunks, we were assured) and watched England win the footy in the pub. Rob organised, packed a ton of books, (probably literally) and carried a lot of boxes. Jock, head bowed Ito accommodate the low ceiling in the basement, performed a miracle of packing a miscellany of tools, accounts, and a million things we forgot we had. (How could we have divested so much and still have so much left?). Amazingly, once the van had swallowed it all up, it really didn’t look like much!

Easily the worst part was the last couple of hours when we had to transport left-over unsorted, wanted or not wanted stuff to the storage unit across the river. And then the last grab of the bits and pieces still left – half finished bottles of household cleaners, jars of pens, bags of foreign coins…. And, as it turned out, my passport, chucked into a market bag. Of course, the incoming buyer also turned up later, preceded by a couple of well-muscled Bristol types in a Luton Transit loaded with furniture. She was very nice, her partner somewhat overwhelmed by the whole thing, or maybe just very cool. The muscle chaps carried the remainder of Al’s gear down from the first floor studio as they took the buyer’s boxes up. I really didn’t want to see how ‘real furniture’ fitted into our lovely, but compact house. We were always furniture light – 2 small sofas, 1 bed, 1 futon, 2 tables, 1 futon, TV cabinet, filing cabinet, something to put the printer on and an assortment of folding stools and chairs. Oh, and a yoga ‘back-bender’. And my beautiful blue stained ash bed, disassembled in the attic for more than a decade. That sounds like quite a long list…. But the majority of the move was Al’s collection of musical instruments and other studio gear, and our books and videos. I have the paperwork to prove it. All now safely ensconced in a shipping crate in Peterborough, waiting until we can find it a home.

On e-scooters

The mystery – how are they charged? Do elves come out at night and wave a magic wand? Are they picked up by council workers in trucks and taken to a central station where they are charged and dumped back randomly in the street in the morning?

I have mixed feeling about them – on the one hand, my old fogey / grumpy old woman self thinks that they are too dangerous to the riders and to the rest of us. The other side is my memory of my childhood scooter, red and yellow with a black footboard. The sensation of flying downhill, and the freedom it brought to my 10 year old self was incredible – I can almost taste it.

Spoiler – here’s the answer to the charging question!

Moving Day -9

Blue

Actually more like 7 days since the Nomad van arrives next Monday. Still feeling quite panicky, as you can imagine. Impossible to treat the task as if this was someone else’s house, someone else’s ‘stuff’.

One of the challenges of the basement (from Hell) has been wading through masses of old programme research, schedules, edit notes and scripts, especially the animal films – sharks, sea lions, white tailed eagles, and of course, chimpanzees. In making the Horizon film, Chimp Talk, I was processing many of the ideas that were the subject of my academic work – the relationship between thought (cognition) and language. Unlike my never-to materialise thesis, the TV medium forces a conclusion. The appeal of TV for me was all about the necessity to do, to make the decisions, to get the material ‘out there’. Left to myself, I could see that I would wade around in the knowledge swamp for ever.

I won’t go into the rabbit hole of Chimp Talk, but enough to say it looked at the various attempts to teach a form of language to chimpanzees, and what the results might mean. For me, an amazing opportunity to immerse myself in this research and to have the privilege of meeting these amazing animals and some of the people who literally dedicated their lives to working with them.

More about the chimp research

I am also fascinated by my very physical and ‘analogue’ approach to the films and the edit.

All the research notes mostly handwritten in ink or latterly bashed out on a variety of devices. But the edit notes – script and transcript folders with flags, often on 2 axes, tops of the pages as well as the open edge (is there a word for this?). Colour coded flags, colour coded pens, all helping me to navigate through hours of material, bringing it down to the TV hour or half hour. I can’t help wondering whether the methods of e woking don’t result in a different product? One of my schedules had a quote from Picasso, something about if you know the outcome, what’s the point in doing the work. My reluctance for pre-scripting had at least three executive producers tearing out there hair and shutting me out of the cutting room, only to let me back in when they realised it was the only way to get the programme on the air.

A heartfelt thanks here to Sally Anne Wilson and Charlie Foley who stuck with me throughout the film that became Beyond the Jaws (or Shark Psychologists if you saw the American version).

Today’s music – chosen for it’s vintage and the feeling of a life ahead. I think that it was actually Clouds that came out when I was 21 and living in Oregon, experiencing the first taste of the outdoors, and the research life. But this isn’t a memoir, now is it?

Next: the attic – going further back in time…

Thank Heaven for Little Gulls

Moving Day – 11 -10 -9

Somehow the more we sort out the stuff, and give / sell / donate /recycle there seems to be more clutter everyday. We can’t go upstairs without passing piles of books! There’s a ladder and a large pile of VHSs on the top landing, and everywhere I look there’s a huge task waiting to be done.

For the last few years, every year, we have seen a pair of gulls, the same pair, I am sure, arriving in late December, hanging out together in January, and getting closer and more bonded through the spring, repairing the previous year’s nest, always in the same place, a messy construction on the roof of the industrial unit at the back of our house (soon to be not our house). For the last few years, at least three, (not counting last year when we weren’t here) they have raised 3 chicks to noisy fledging around August / September. This is a pretty amazing achievement and I think they could only have done it because they were a well-established, mature and practised couple, able to protect and feed the brood. Herring gulls have a lifespan of 10-20 years (one source says up to 50!) and it may be that these two were reaching retirement age. I am no longer sure how long I have been watching them from my desk, or the bath.

This year has been different. As I watched them, I noticed something different, hard to put my finger on it to begin with. Just after we arrived back at the end of May there was definitely something going on in the nest, and somewhere back in the Blog, there’s a pic of a small chick on the roof. I have seen two chicks only once, but the parental scene has changed too. In previous years both parents have hung out near the nest and the growing chicks often trotted around on our side of the roof, learning to hop over the ridges and exploring the gutters. We also saw quite a lot of feeding going on, chicks begging from the parents, even late into the year bustling along behind a bored looking parent making themselves small and squeaking. This year things have been quite different, with only one gull at the nest, and now only rare sightings of one chick. It’s looking very like a single parent family. Of course we can’t tell if we are seeing a male or a female, since both parents usually do the feeding.

I feel sad to see this brave urban partnership ending, although, as we know, all things must pass.

At this time of year we wake up to the sound of gulls gossiping, chatting, telling off the kids, making much smaller and more varied noises that the raucous seaside squawk that people associate with this fearsome, beautiful animal. Yes, I will miss them.

Zen and the Art of Susie Cooper

Music

Having counted up to the 14 day s of quarantine, we are now counting down to our first removal day, 28 June. That’s 12 days from now, so that’s why I feel physically anxious. Short nights as Midsummer approaches don’t help with this, and there is a lot of time pressure on blog writing and yoga practice. Also taking a little time to see the friends that I haven’t seen ‘in the flesh’ for almost a year and a half.

I am afraid I am still wrestling with my books. This is a really visceral struggle, and I can’t seem to develop a grounded position from which to make proper judgements. This morning I looked at the shelves and saw this book:

Now, I know that this book was influential in my life, but how? Why? Now I am intrigued. I open it up at random, and here we are. It’s an American road trip, combined with elements of philosophy.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has become the best-selling philosophy book of all time.

Aha! Now there’s a reference to The Rubáiyat of Omar Khayyám. We were introduced to this in the 6th form in ‘Cultural Studies’ and a seed planted in the fertile mind of a 17 year old is bound to take root. This is not even my original copy, a bootlegged hardback copy with thin paper and a mostly green cover. My current copy was bought at a charity shop for £1.50. I could replace it for 20$. There is a fascination in dipping into this river and maybe finding a rock that seems entirely familiar, but perhaps the trees behind it are much taller, or have disappeared or an entire housing development has been built, or maybe it just stands out as a mental landmark with perfect clarity.

And Susie Cooper?

You wouldn’t think that we would be buying anything, when the main task is to persuade stuff to leave the building. There are a couple of exceptions. Al has bought ANOTHER guitar (don’t ask how many that makes!). I have say, it’s a very pretty black and cream electric, an Epiphone version of the Gibson played by Jimmy Page on Whole Lotta Love.

And Susie? I had never heard of Clarice Cliff or Susie Cooper until I made a short piece for ‘Craven’s Collectibles’ for Anglia TV (yes, laugh away but those gigs paid the rent and I learnt lots about collecting and collectors.) Our crockery is mainly about Ikea plates and glasses, now all the £1-a-plate blue edge Habitat has all found its way into flower pots. So what’s the point of carting it to Crete? I am going to try buying a very few Susie Cooper pieces that we can enjoy eating from until we break them or wear off the designs in the dishwasher. Yes, life is for living and things for enjoying.

END MUSIC – just for the energy

Quarantine Day 14

Last day of quarantine was Saturday. Now we can go out into the world tomorrow, I rather feel as though my shell is being peeled away. Of course, the house move is scary, as our new shell has not grown yet. A lot of decisions, paperwork, legwork etc etc to do in the next 2 weeks, so I won’t necessarily be writing a daily blog, although it is helpful to sit down at the keyboard and feel that this time can be shared a bit. Some of you respond as if it is a personal email, which of course it is. I think of you out there reading this, and appreciate your reactions. After all, you are my friends: the group that I have made for blog posts is called ‘Friends of Snork Maiden’.

Actually, I am finding Tove Jansson helpful in this rather stressful time, as I try to find my courage.

Music Links

There is always a music link somewhere in the blog, but maybe not always obvious. Sometimes the illustrations have links, usually they appear below the title. Best, if you can, choose to open them in a separate tab so you can listen and read simultaneously.

Quarantine Day 12/13

Waiting

Unusually writing this in a post lunch torpor. Also listening to Indie Sage to get the most detail and best discussions around the issue of Covid-19. Recommended.

I am also slightly miffed that it’s quite hard to remember yesterday, in particular. Oh yes, Chitra and Tom brought our /their car back. So we got to see actual human beings on our front path, and had an actual conversation with people other than each other. Very welcome.

Today:

Always easier to write this in the morning!

Yesterday was VHS tapes and finishing clothes. I know, you are asking ‘why keep VHS tapes, are they crazy?’ Well, maybe. The hard thing to reconcile is how happy I have felt in Crete, without the baggage of my past, my overstuffed wardrobe, the books I don’t have time to read, but can’t quite manage to leave them behind. But it doesn’t seem right to shake off the past so thoroughly on a more permanent basis.

Back to the VHS problem.

These tapes represent the best part of 3 decades work in the TV industry for me, and many of these overlap with Al’s scores. Of course he also has his own stack, larger than mine. So why? One of the attractions that factual TV had for me was that it offered constant opportunities to move on from topic to topic. I stated with space (Is Anybody There? 1976), went through a re-evaluation of current affairs programming, (The Friday Alternative, Diverse Reports) finishing up with big sharks (Beyond the Jaws etc). Lots of other rent-paying stuff in between and a Horizon about Chimps and Language – the film I always wanted to make. Generally, I have avoided watching any of the programmes after they went to air. A couple of times I went to the BFI archive in London to view a couple of films made at Diverse Productions. So why now? Maybe I feel that this very rich part of my life needs some processing. I am really not sure. Oh no! Am I heading for a memoir?

Clothes: I am supposed to value my clothes for insurance purposes. That lead me to reflect on how many I have. Too many for sure. I have lived with a restricted wardrobe in Crete, but never lacked an outfit. OK I bought a couple of T shirts and one or two other items from the UK but there will be an end to that. A few years ago I decided not to buy anything new for a year, and that worked well, encouraging me to investigate what I already have. Part of the problem is that clothes encourage a kind of fantasy life. I could be a dominatrix, a vicar’s wife, I could sail around the world. You get the idea. My current wardrobe mostly reflects things I will actually wear, apart from a dark fuschia ‘cocktail dress’ that belongs in a 1960s B feature. So I have my lifetime supply of T-shirts and probably more than a lifetime’s supply

of yoga kit. A decade’s worth of jeans. Enough black merinos to get me through any number of Cretan winters so long as the moths don’t follow us.

Al is easy with a good collection of mainly second hand red label Levis culled from eBay, and a pretty good supply of seemingly indestructible black T shirts.

How are we feeling? Thanks to Tove Jansson for this thought:

Quarantine Day 11/14

So Tired!

Oh dear. Really not enough sleep. It’s 0715 and we’ve been up for 2 hours without much happening except 2 cups of tea, recycling (several years Sound on Sound mags), veg delivery from Riverford. I can’t quite understanding what is happening with food.

Grocer Jack

So far we have been back for just over 2 weeks, and have had 3 Waitrose deliveries with another one due this morning. Also 3 Riverford deliveries. And the fridge still seems a bit empty. In Crete I shopped for the week every Tuesday, first the greengrocer where I would spend around 30 Euros (pronounced Evro, in case you ever need to know that). Then the supermarket for everything else. Average spend here around 100 (I can’t even find Euro on my keyboard this morning.). I haven’t quite worked out the UK bills but it feels like more.

I have a ZOOM yoga class at 0800 so short blog today. Maybe I will write about that tomorrow.

Why Day11? Oh because we, along with a lot of other people, haven’t received test results. Omnishambles doesn’t even cover it. So we will complete 14 days. Actually Quarantine or not doesn’t feel very different. More about that on Day 15 perhaps!

Quarantine Day 10

What Took You So Long?

Yesterday evening, a fun Zoom with Tom, who was on the line to his car insurers to add us as additional drivers: our car now on semi-permanent loan to our friends Tom and Chitra. After his first attempt fell at the fence of not knowing any personal information about us (and why should he?), and since we can’t be in a room together, Zoom felt like an ideal solution. It was quite delightfully domestic, with me cooking a dal in between shouting dates of birth, mother’s names, number of cats owned etc. Also a glimpse of Chitra as she came through from her yoga practice on her way to the kitchen. Zoom has provided this window into people’s lives, as well as a continuity with work, yoga, Greek classes. What would the past year have been like without it? How was it for the old and/or technophobic? Or people without the resources to get the technology, or even the room to house it?

I digress. The outcome of the kitchen / insurance Zoom was an outstanding success. AL and I are both able to legally drive the Citroen. On the LEFT. On the LEFT. On the LEFT. I didn’t even have to produce my Greek driving licence. (Actually looks pretty much like the old UK one – pretty pink with a European flag in one corner, only inside the circle of yellow stars it says GR, not GB.)

In the course of our chat, Tom asked what was taking so long with our packing. We’ve been back 10 days and not a single box packed. Well, if you put it like that…. What have we been doing?

Al has finished his tracks for Universal – Life in the Sun. (Watch this space – I will link to them when they are officially released. ). I have dealt with various bits of paperwork, explored what’s in the loft, prepared around 20 meals, written 10 blogs, done one Greek lesson and tried to sustain my yoga practice. Also been through all books (except the boxes in the loft), and I am more than half way through sorting our clothes.

I have been trying to think about previous house moves. They have all been so different. London to Bristol was a DIY move using a transit van with a tail lift. I drove the van, Al drove our car to Bristol. Then he hurt his back and we had to hire a man without a van to help unload! We left shelves and a bed back in London, and we were living in a 1- bed flat, so not much to that one.

Moving out of my amazing place in Shepherd’s Bush in 1987 – also DIY with possessions dispersed to my parents and friends as I prepared to go out to Kiwi Star in Yugoslavia (the island of Krk, now in Croatia).

This time it’s complex. We are not simply moving down the road into another house. And we are moving Al’s studio gear and a lot of musical instruments. Immediately the bulk of what we have will go into storage in Peterborough; we will take what we need for a temporary studio, yoga props etc. to Hereford, where we will stay in my cousin’s house for a couple of months. (She died in April, leaving me as co-executor, so some work to do there).

If we were just moving down the road, I guess we would just get the whole lot into boxes and ask Pickfords to cart it away to its new home. Isn’t that what people do? But this move is a whole big change, coloured by the experience of living for more than a year with out any of this stuff. So part of me just wants to walk out of the door and leave it all behind.

Add to this the general feeling of uncertainty which the pandemic has brought. Also the feeling that the world has been pushed over a threshold of overdue change, not knowing yet what those changes will be.

Stephanie Quirk

One of my wise yoga teachers is teaching on the theme of Grief this week. (It’s not all about strength and flexibility. Or maybe it is.) She talks about suffering loss, as we all have, putting us in a time when we can neither go back, nor forward into the future. We are suffering a mild version of grief mixed with anticipation.

On the Road Again

Covid-19: Day 10

No test results, even for Day 2. Checking #eurofins we discover that we are not the only ones. So we are now supposed to extend quarantine to 14 days.

Quaratine Day 9

Quarantine Day 9

Books and Midsummer

Perfect summer morning here. The 52º N Latitude really makes a difference after the 35º of Marediana. The nights really noticeably shorter, we are waking well before 5am and it is already light. Curtains? I really don’t like shutting the light out. It feels more natural to let the body cope with seasonality and geography. Of course in Crete we are also 23º East, not so much an astronomical difference as a cultural one. So there is something unique about every Lat and Long on earth. This morning is undeniably sweet for not being cloudy or rainy, given that we are where we are. I am grateful for the summer weather and being able to treat our tiny garden as an outside space while wrestling with the sifting of belongings etc. Segue to:

Yes, back to books. Not just books, it’s DVDs and VHSs too (only our own films, I swear). I belong to the FT Books Cafe on FB and I asked that group for help in developing an algorithm for keep / lose. I suppose predictably they leapt into the keep camp, almost to a person. But here’s my dilemma, the books played a big part in making me who I am, but now I am who I am, do I need to be reminded of the process? I have changed; my interests have shifted, and as we can’t dip into the same river twice, I cannot re-visit the pool in which I was baptised. Sorry about the complex image, but I am really struggling with this. In my current yoga study and practice, the stress is definitely on the NOW. Difficult enough to perceive the moment, let alone the thread of moments that lead to this place. So if I followed this thought to its logical conclusion, I would divest myself of all my psychology and feminist books.

Of course they carry a lot of nostalgia, taking me back through the past in a surprisingly visceral way. Is that a good reason to keep them?

Song Link

Now the counterargument: I can open almost any of those influential books – an example, Winnicott’s THE PIGGLE – and read a couple of pages.

Out jump associations, place, time, ideas, threads….

Realistically, my thin trickle of a lifetime is nowhere near enough to float this ship of desire to immerse, to know, to envisage, let alone to work with this flood of material.

Fiction is proving a bit easier, you will be glad to know. I will keep a few personal classics that I might read on the beach or in my future shady garden hammock.

Maybe I am working toward a solution. I will confer with Al, as he says that books are an excellent way of improving a room’s acoustics.

Covid-19 test done on the morning of Day 9 and posted. Complete failure to log in to Eurofins website so who knows where in the ether those results will go.