Monday, 25 May 2015

A rumbling in the Garden of England

Having spent much time in Greece over the last three years I have grown used to the occasional earth tremor. Nothing too serious, but still surprisingly unsettling.

So imagine my surprise on my current trip to the UK to experience a 4.2 magnitude tremor while staying in my mother's home in Kent, the county also known as the Garden of England.

I knew straight away what it was, but that still doesn't stop you wondering if there's more to come. There wasn't but this relatively insignificant seismic event still made plenty of copy for the following day's TV and newspapers.

We are fortunate not to have suffered anything catastrophic such as was experienced recently in Nepal, but much was still made of the tremor. As any reporter knows, sometimes you just have to work with what you've got, even if the material is a bit thin.

I'm trying to blog when I can, but I shall be a bit peripatetic over the next few weeks so the service might be a little erratic. AND I've still got to sort out the name change, which will probably also entail a bit of a redesign of the blog. Not exactly a seismic shift for my blog, but still a time of change.

Anyway, I'm in Devon now - on the other side of the country - and the sun is shining, a walk beckons, I think.

For a musical finish, I thought a little bit of Dr Feelgood doing Rolling and Tumbling would be quite good.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Thank goodness for those old guys

I've not been a very good blogger recently. It's a combination of a post A to Z Challenge slump and a certain amount of turmoil on the domestic front as we get ready to leave Greece to return to the UK.

My blogging "slump" might also be termed laziness and is overcome by pulling my finger out, but the turmoil takes a bit more working through.

I am beset by doubts about what we are about to do and, to be honest, my only response to those doubts is to plough on and hope that all will be well in the end.

But sometimes even that tactic can struggle. This morning, for instance, we were drinking coffee with friends in a harbourside café. It didn't take long before people started pointing out - I was among them - that the weather in Devon, might not be conducive to such outdoor gatherings. And that led to me wondering just what on earth I thought I was doing leaving Skopelos.

So what a relief it is to learn that such thoughts are nothing new. Romain brainbox Seneca the Younger, who lived from about 4BC to 65AD, offered some pretty incisive thinking to a friend who moaned that after a recent journey he didn't feel things had improved.

Seneca the Younger, although he's looking a
bit worn around the edges here.

In his no-nonsense way, Seneca told his friend: "You need a change of soul rather than a change of climate.

"What pleasure is there in seeing new lands? Or in surveying cities and spots of interest? All your bustle is useless. Do you ask why such flight does not help you? It is because you flee along with yourself. You must lay aside the burdens of the mind; until you do this, no place will satisfy you."

So while Seneca's advice will not lead to me staying put in Greece, it will encourage me to "lay aside the burdens of the mind" or at least recognise them for what they are. I know the reasons for our move are the right reasons, even if we have to experience a bit of angst along the way.

I wanted to put some music with this, but was struggling to find something I felt would fit and then I remembered Sit Down by James. I think it goes well with Seneca's talk of fleeing along with yourself and having to lay aside the burdens of the mind.

Postscript: I am still trying to come up with a name for this blog to be used after I return to the UK. I had a moment's inspiration in the middle of the night recently only to discover that there was already a blog with that name. As Mr Micawber said: "Something will turn up".

  • Picture of bust of Seneca: CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, 11 May 2015

It's not Berkeley Square, but it'll do

One advantage of not sleeping well  - actually some may say the only advantage - is that getting up in the middle of the night enables you to hear the nightingales singing.

They don't only sing at night, but it's easier to hear them in the quiet of the olive grove at 3am. It's a beautiful song. According to the RSPB the "high quality song is a fast succession of high, low and rich notes that few other species can match". I think that about sums it up.

Although the famous song suggests that A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, you'd have to doubt that anyone would have heard it above the roar of traffic in the West End of London, even 50 or 60 years ago.

Be that as it may, it's a good song and a fitting one to end this post.

  • Picture by Nachtigall_(Luscinia_megarhynchos).jpg: J. Dietrich derivative work: Bogbumper (Nachtigall_(Luscinia_megarhynchos).jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, 9 May 2015

All things must pass


Nothing lasts forever. Always an ambiguous phrase in my view. Do we mean that there is nothing which will last for eternity or do we mean that what we term nothing does, in fact, go on forever. In my typically equivocal fashion I suppose I mean both.

In this instance what will not last forever is my time here on Skopelos. After a lot of thought and soul-searching we have decided to return to the UK. There are a number of reasons for our decision, but most are bound up with our family.

While there is not always a lot I can do for my family when I am in the same country as them, there is virtually nothing I can do for them when I am on a remote Greek island about 1,500 miles away.

In addition, I will admit to feeling increasingly jaundiced about my life here in Greece. In Greek mythology the lotus eaters were a race of people on an island whose primary food was the narcotic fruit and flowers of the lotus. This resulted in them leading lives of peaceful apathy. Sometimes I feel that is what my life has become here.

I cannot pretend that I am not fearful about the future. Is returning to the UK the right thing to do? How will we manage? What will we do?

Also I know that Mrs C is less struck on the idea than I am. After a recent sojourn in the UK she returned to Skopelos complaining bitterly of the British weather. That is not her only concern about life in the UK, but it is one I understand. Also she will miss her beloved garden which she has worked so hard to create. I am troubled that she will be unhappy away from this beautiful island.

In her typically pragmatic fashion she has assured me that returning to the UK is something we will have to make work: no use whingeing and wringing our hands, we'll just have to get on with it.

Since coming to the decision to return to the UK there has been a General Election resulting in a Conservative government. This fills me with some foreboding, but then I am currently living in a country where foreboding is the default setting as it continues to lurch towards seemingly unavoidable economic doom. What will be, will be, wherever I live.

Today is my birthday, which is usually regarded as a cause for celebration. Still here, still above ground, not completely moribund, and yet I am writing this post which is more than a little woeful. I am sorry to be sombre, but today it is the way I feel. I'll cheer up later. I suppose I should take some consolation from the title of this post. All things must pass, nothing lasts forever.

I will get over this, but in the meantime, as is my usual practice with this blog, I'd like to finish with some music. I have chosen the very beautiful, but also rather mournful 1st movement of Elgar's Cello Concerto.

I'm now worrying that this is all getting much too gloomy so we'll have one more bit of music which will be much more like how my birthday ought to be.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Reflections on the A to Z Challenge

My second A to Z Challenge completed and a bit like getting home from a very frenetic party, everything seems very quiet now.

I enjoyed it, made some blogging friends and was constantly surprised at the various ways people approach blogging and the A to Z Challenge.

I'm speaking only for myself, but I think it makes good sense to write as many, if not all, of your postings before the event begins. Seriously, it's so much easier. I know some people like to wing it, but in my book preparation pays off.

Having said that, what I found difficult, last year and again this year, is trying to visit a good range of other blogs. I had some I went back to again and again, but missed out on many others.

In no particular order, blogs I enjoyed included: Angels Bark, which provided a musical extravaganza; Smidgens, Snippets & Bits, which had some useful life lessons for us all; Brits in the USA, which gave us a rollercoaster ride in novel form; The Odd Particle [Re}View, which lived up to its name; and That's Purrfect, wasn't the internet invented for stuff about cats?

There were many other blogs I looked at and liked so IF I do this again next year, I'm going to come up with a strategy for more meaningful visits to other blogs. Don't know what it is yet, but I'll think of something.

That's about it, really. Other than to say a big thank you to Arlee Bird and everyone else who helps with the organisation of this event.

I like to finish my blog postings with a bit of music and this song from Nat King Cole sprang to mind when I was wondering what might be fitting for my "Reflections" post. I hope you enjoy it.