I write from the usual extortionately expensive cafe at Piraeus, having wended my way here, with Pashazade via Istanbul, 35 hours on the Taurus Railway, once the continuation of the Orient Express, the legendary Hotel Baron in Aleppo, Krak des Chevaliers, Damascus, Beirut (courtesy of Itinerantsphinx) and an overnight flight. Unsurprisingly a bit knackered but all well. Time for a few days sleeping on the beach now. Toodle pip.
Glad to see Midsomer Murders remains as ludicrous as ever.
I am procrastinating again. I had decided, due to financial pressures, not to go to Georgia this autumn as planned but to leave it until spring. Until, that is, a colleague who was by coincidence also headed there ended up having to change his plans: shortly put his flights are available if I pay half the original cost and half the cost of changing them. Hmm. Saving is significant, but maybe not enough. The flights are via Riga (why?) and arrive at 3.30 am. A friend of his who lives in Georgia had assured him that this wouldn't be a problem, but since said friend recently cheerfully made a jaunt to Abhkazia from Tbilisi -if you aren't Nhw you may need a bit of googling to find out why this makes our eyebrows raise- we both suspect his views of what does and does not constitute a problem may differ from both of ours, despite our mutual penchant for mildly difficult travel. Ho hum. Bookings have to be changed by midday tomorrow...
Lots of points for the title source. I am unshaven, but no pockets alas, still, I have just returned from a port through which those currants would certainly have passed. Typical that when bookculling in a hurry at Gatwick I couldn't consider ditching that.
Am back in the Bar Ock, one of the long list of Liadnan's Favourite Bars Around That Bit Of The World He Has Visited after an eventful day. Among its benefits are ridiculously large measures and one of the best music collections in the known world (oddly enough, one of the few competitors of which I know is a bar in Monemvasia).
I'm not quite as foolish as I suggested in my last post: there have been three serious accidents on that path in the last fifteen years (which is about as far back as the collective memory of the regular visitors goes, probably as far back as tourism on this island goes) and I was actually waiting around for company on the walk over rather than doing it alone.
What I also didn't mention is that as I wrote a dose of the meltemi was coming in. Those winds are just one of the things that come with the Greek islands, so it didn't seem worth mentioning. However... this was a strong one. And when putting up my tent I had discovered (unusually, and carelessly, not having had it out since I packed it up a year to the day ago on pretty much the same spot) that one of the poles was slightly damaged...
OK for most times, but not last night. Yes, at 2.30AM last night, in pitch darkness, drunk and also nevermind, I stumbled to where my tent should be and discovered it had come down. These are not ideal conditions for putting up a tent (or any sufficient approximation to putting one up).
Never mind. Today I went and did something I have meant to do for years, discovered the secret (and totally deserted) beach in the north of the island (it's lack of use may have something to do with the fact buses go nowhere near there, and once you have convinced a taxi driver to take you up to the end of the road, you then have half an hours walk on a goat track before you actually get there); also went to the nearby Cycladic sites, not that there's much to see, and generally pottered about.
Writing one minute short of the end of the fag-end of August (so far as BST+2 is concerned), while drunk in the bar on Syros that serves as my home from home whenever I'm here. Shortly.. well, for certain values of shortly, I shall stagger in pitch darkness over a steep hill and down an extremely dangerous path on the other side in pitch darkness to my tent on a tiny beach. Life is good and the sun is very definitely shining. The only dark spot on the horizon is that due to being Done at Gatwick for (only slightly but they're tough under the new regime: I'm not sure I quite understand why) overweight handluggage and having to leave some behind I am undoubtedly going to run out of books. Ho hum.
I shall shortly begin my usual headless chicken packing as I am off to the Aegean in quest of the end of the summer at an ungodly hour on Monday morning, via party chez Steph and Rob's tomorrow and then, once again, dozing in Gatwick until the flight is called. In about 40 hours I hope to be here. Expect me when you see me. It's a hard and bitter quest I embark upon but I had a vision you see.
Hmm, 20 to midnight and nothing whatsoever is packed. Maybe not such a bright idea to go to the proms tonight, but I hadn't been all week, not since Gergeyev and the LSO's stunning Tchaikovsky 6 etc - a friend claimed that was possibly the best concert he had ever heard, since he has been spending a significant proportion of his disposable income on concerts and recordings since 1971 and is not particularly given to hyperbole this was significant praise. Tonight sadly a long way from that, though passable.
To Oxford on Saturday, to celebrate the fact Jen's wedding is next month by becoming horrendously drunk in old haunts. Vaguely amused to see this notice at the entrance to the Turf. Nothing changes, least of all on Saturday of 9th (or poss 8th) week.
Still suffering to be honest, in a mild "can't be bothered with anything" way rather than actually being hungover. Gorgeous day too, which is good for the Oxford nostalgia. Somehow it's the sunny drowsy days that are the Oxford you remember. Not the dark despairing ones...
I am procrastinating terribly over holidays at the moment, and allowing my work diary for the summer to fill up while I do so. But it looks as though I shall be going to Lebanon, and then to Greece later on for the usual. Georgia I'm still thinking about...
I have been up at 5 every day this week. Admittedly last night I went to bed at 9, but still.
Email from lastminute.com:
Smile, you've just bought something that'll make your friends green with barely-concealed envy.
We'd like to say "thank you" from the bottom of our dot com hearts for picking something from our box of delights. Now go tell the world what you got.
They possibly have a slightly low estimation of the envy-threshold of my friends. Economy return flights Jersey to London don't quite cut it.
Am therefore around in London Friday 17th Feb, mostly busy with the usual suspects the rest of the weekend.
Change of plans: scratch that, prob not available Fri after all but quite possibly Sat.
Being in London, briefly, for a short trial, has brought home to me that I'm uncomfortably rootless at the moment. I think feeling a sentimental rush of familiarity and love for the concourse of Victoria Station as I came in on the Gatwick Express on Saturday morning can be put down to having to set the alarm for 4.30 to catch the red-eye (incidental side-memo to self: just because you live at one end of the airport runway, it does not necessarily follow that you can easily walk to the terminal with your bag packed with heavy files and the like...). But I went up to Primrose Hill just now to see if any mail had escaped the re-direction net and was slightly taken aback by the extent a month away, and not having the flat to return to, can generate enormous home-sickness.
Frankie has been known to accuse me of being a vagabond, and to some extent I am. But I don't think I like this feeling.
Not that I have any regrets about what I'm doing of course, and actually I did yesterday go and see my mother, so I have been to the one place that remains more "home" than anywhere else this weekend. But I don't belong in Jersey yet, and I don't enjoy feeling like a stranger in my own city.
Still, for a few days I have access to my books. Shame I have a trial on and have to spend the time reading witness statements really.
I love travelling. But in the "being in different places sense". Not in the "being on modes of transport" sense: it's so dull. Even worse are airport departure lounges, and worst of all is Gatwick North (Air Side). So say I. And when you have just too little time between coming in on one flight and leaving on another (until your fight isdelayed by that crucial 40 minutes) for it to be worth going into town....
Not that I have good reason to of course, it's just I'm painfully aware I'm not going "home". Boo hoo, poor me. Nothing forit but to become mildly sozzled I suppose... Apropos of which, only this morning I thought 5 euro was a bit too much for a half litr of wine. Which was ratherbetter stuff than the glass of red I've just paid more for.
And this keyboard is very hard work.
ETA: One other thing: I have really had enough of bloody BA. If I see another of their smug adverts I shall feel inclined to break something. Nor do I understand how my return trip on a crappy 737 last re-upholstered in the 70s from Jersey to Gatwick (flight time about half an hour) cost slightly more than my return trip from Gatwick to Athens on a plush Easyjet Airbus (flight time about three and a half hours). The vile glass of wine can't cost that much. And guess which one ran late.
(Then when I reached the place I was supposed to be moving in to last night, it transpired there'd been a change of regime since I booked (and paid) three weeks ago and the new management knew nothing about me, nor did they have an empty cottage. Not what you want when you come back from holiday... Still, they put me up in their swish penthouse hotel room while they sort it out.)
...continues fine. And every evening I go and sit on the beach with an ice cream and watch the sun go down: I find this a remarkably civilised way to round off a day in the office. I have various half-finished posts in my head, including a particularly rambling one about class, but am currently too drunk (first time on Jersey, hurrah) to set them down. And tomorrow evening I fly to Gatwick, go into town to pick up my luggage for Greece, return to Gatwick, and catch the 6AM flight out to Athens, so it'll be a while.
When I'm back, the usual diet of half-thought through pontificating on politics, philosophy, history, religion and books, drunken ramblings, and general life-stuff will return with me. In the meantime, if you think of me with a cigarette in one hand, a book in the other, and frappé, retsina or metaxa depending on time of day in, err, the other, either lying on a beach or clambering over some ruin or other, you're most likely pretty accurate. See you on the other side (or on the verandah of Villa Onyro the day after tomorrow if you're Steph or Rob).
Watching Glastonbury footage on television in my hotel room, and feeling mildly nostalgic for, err, a month and a half ago... Isn't it a tad early to be re-showing the footage? Odd to see things from a different perspective, and also to see the things I missed, such as K.T. Tunstall. (I wasn't that interested and she was on the Other Stage, which, to be honest, was pretty much a no go area for me as far as bands were concerned throughout the festival. Even on the last night I remember straying off the track to cut across the back of the arena there was still a mistake: the worst-hit of all the main areas I think.)
It's raining here and there's no Amber Leaf rolling tobacco on the island. Still this hasn't dampened my cheerful, if somewhat shell-shocked and nervous mood. I haven't embarked on scary big things for a while and was missing it more than I realised. I'm more of an adrenalin junkie than I let on: it's one of the reasons I rather like my job.
The island's full of holiday makers at the moment, I imagine it becomes a very different place when the season's over. But I haven't really worked out what kind of place it is now yet.
I took the bus to the place I'll be living when I return from Greece this morning -seems wonderful- and walked back, which took me an hour and a half and involved steep hills (thankfully it was all downhill) and scary winding roads with no pavements and mad drivers. I've spent the rest of the day wandering round St Helier trying to gain some kind of sense of the geography of the place. They seem fixated on the history of the Occupation, which I suppose is understandable, but almost to the exclusion of everything else. Also, in accordance with mother's instructions, paid a call on the parish priest of St Helier (this was not entirely about being a good Catholic: he's been a family friend for many years, long before he came here, and is the one person on the whole island I actually know personally).
Oh, and the food I've had so far has been wonderful. Slightly worried that I haven't managed to locate anywhere that sells coffee beans as yet though: this is far more important than the rolling tobacco. Still, there's a Marks and Sparks, surely one can rely on them?
Oh, they're showing the Brian Wilson set. For all Brian's strangeness, what a fabulous afternoon that was.
I appear to be on Jersey. There were points this morning, as I attempted to complete final packing and clean the flat (which turned out to be pointless as the landlord is going to redecorate) while suffering a particularly vicious hangover, when I thought this would not happen.
The lesson for today, which really ought to have sunk in long ago, is never buy cheap luggage for it is a snare and a delusion and will fail at unhelpful moments.
There's a curious sense of freedom I had almost forgotten, which comes from the realisation that all your stuff is safe, over there (my office in this case) and from now on you're living from a suitcase and a rucksack (both weighed down with books, obvs). Almost like going backpacking again. Except this time I'm not trying to make my way round Europe on a small overdraft facility.
Just back from a long weekend that was rather less traumatic than expected. Today would have been my parents' 50th wedding anniversary and six months ago we were thinking about a major party. When my father died we decided we'd do something anyway, so all of us (four of us, three spouses, seven children from 6 months to 11 (12?), one bump) descended on my mother for the weekend.
Which allowed me to tell them all that (as of last Friday) I am (subject to it not all falling apart as it did last time something of the sort came up) going to A.N.Other, not too distant, jurisdiction, for six months. As soon as possible and at the latest by, err, the Monday after next (I then come back and fly to Greece the following Friday, but that's another matter). Can anyone suggest precisely what I should do with the 4000 or so books I have so painfully lugged from parents' to my London flat over the last several years? I spent a couple of hours on Sunday trying to clear a space in the lumber-room I used to call my bedroom... Anyone wishing to borrow books from me, this would be the moment to ask, so long as you appreciate you will be expected to give them houseroom for six months.
They were all pleased I was moving out of London, given recent events, which mildly and somewhat perversely irritated me. I will undoubtedly be back when the six months are up, though I've given notice on my current flat of course.
I expect to be back in London reasonably often, for those who may be desolated by my absence... I may or may not have time to arrange an evening when I shall Be In The Pub before I go.
Athens was fab, and far too short-lived. Best time I've ever had there (nb, Athens is usually somewhere I go through, on my way to more relaxed parts of Greece, sttautory sightseeing aside), fabulous food, and gorgeous spring weather. No pictures I'm afraid, you'll have to imagine it for yourselves. Memo to self though: flying while mildly pissed is fine. Flying while sobering up from being quite pissed is less so. And is it really necessary to have quite so many endless corridors at Heathrow?
I'm feeling marginally more positive and energetic about things, at least as energetic as I ever am, too. Not that that's saying a great deal, but it's something.
I'm also having vague thoughts about moving, mainly for financial reasons. No real prospects on a quick skim though, and there's the possibility of a Thing on the horizon that could have a significant effect on any such plans. And round here really is the best place inm London to live, particularly in spring.