July 08, 2006
Wrong again: Andros does have a vampire tradition. I was leafing through Theodore Bent's classic travel book about the Cyclades recently and it leapt out at me. The Albanian villages in the North of Andros, particularly Arni, had many stories of the undead in the 19th Century. Theodore Bent describes an old Arvanitiki (Albanian) wife relaying the story of a girl who had been buried. Her bones rattled (or was it the coffin that rattled?) and the poor old dear could hear them. The villagers opened the grave and found that the girl's skin was still intact and had a waxy complexion, so they had to put a stake through her heart. Hm, I'd better quadruple check this story, because Theodore Bent will be turning in his grave if I got the story muddled. So, after checking with the book, the beautiful village of Arni will be one of the first on my list when I arrive on the shores of Andros this year.
June 02, 2006
It seems that the great American author J.D. Salinger once worked in the meat factory which until very recently lurked behind the school where I work in Poland. Apparently the experience was traumatic, and he became a vegetarian as a result. Anything was possible in 1936 in Bydgoszcz. The meat factory, to the school's relief, has just been pulled down and moved out of Bydgoszcz. This is probably my last Polish entry, as soon I am returning to England to see the family and take a brief break before teaching at summer school. Then I will be going to Greece, where I shall no doubt put a few more entries in. I hope to set up a new blog when I arrive in Ljubljana in September. Well, that's the plan at the moment, but even the best-laid plans can go astray, as Holden Caulfield realised.
May 17, 2006
I am delighted to say that I have accepted a teaching position in Ljubljana for next year. It begins in September, so I am thinking of asking BNA for a new blog about that; no retro stuff, then, and there will be more pictures. But I am also hoping (as usual) to keep this blog alive until after I come back from Greece this summer.Continue reading "Bye Bye Bydgoszcz, Hello Ljubljana?"
April 08, 2006
Despina pointed at the Parapende, which we happened to be passing.
I was in the middle of telling Despina some tale about a wobbly Romanian soprano, and I thought it would work better when lubricated with coffee. So we went in.
March 22, 2006
In one of my TEFL teaching books (Inside Out Intermediate by Sue Kay and Vaughan Jones) are some questions students might ask each other about a 'dream weekend'. As there is no monopoly on such questions, I do not think I am infringing copyright if I quote them and answer them here.Continue reading "Questions people might ask"
February 20, 2006
Parent's Day.Continue reading "More Kastoria memories, pt. two"
Spring, and Kastoria became sensual and voulptuous, its narrow streets full of a greedy balm that stirred your senses, its promenade on the lake roofed by a green umbrella of leaves, its lake cooly kissing the edges of the pensinsula.Continue reading "Some more Kastoria memories, pt. one"
February 11, 2006
I've just been reading some other people's blogs and I think they fall into two types. The types I like are the less introspective, less ranty types, less about what a ghastly business life is. The type I prefer are about getting on with it, sharing their interests, their travel experiences, both good and bad, and so on, people who show a real love of life. Maybe shallowly, I want to be entertained, no matter how awful the experience, most of the time. I'm not interested in loads of pictures, but if the person who's writing the blog throws some excellent ones in, then so much the better, but it doesn't have to be picture-centred. Ranters for too long about their problems quickly put me off as do people who quote too much poetry. Some short pithy quotes are ideal.
Unfortunately, I don't like people who go on about trendy causes too much. Again, I think 'get on with it.' Now of course, people could say that my blog has its longeurs - every blog has its longeurs, and there are times when I rant a little too. And I am so fond of diversions (something you can't get away with in a novel unless its part of the character). So enough diversifying again, and let's get back to the vampires, werewolves and evil mystics that seem to have temporarily taken over.
February 10, 2006
My interest in human monsters is, of course, academic. I am not a vampire - the one Polish dish I don't like is blood soup, and I love garlic. So what has this all got to do with Greece?Continue reading "Monsters, mystics and magicians, part one"
January 30, 2006
The Katowice disaster in the South-West of Poland has brought home the point about not building houses with flat roofs near or in mountain areas, where the winter weather is even colder than up here in North-West Poland. (Recently we hit a gorgeously cold -20C). Whatever the actual reason for the roof collapsing on the pigeon fanciers, the extreme cold was a factor. Possibly the supports for the flat roof cracked under the cold; less likely, but intriguing nevertheless, is that the weight of snow pulled the roof down, which would have only been possible if the organisers of the pigeon conference had not cleared the roof of snow. They swear blind that the snow had been removed, and wheel on witnesses who back up their story. Another cold place in the winter that begins with a 'K' is Kastoria. There is a major contrast in architecture between the plains and the mountainous, colder, wetter, areas of Greece. Greece is a land of flat- roofed cities in its plains or basins, which is where the majority of its cities are actually built. Go to Kastoria in the mountains, and in the winter you get sub-zero temperatures. It snows enough to drown the place. Here you see the point of sloping roofs, apart from the fact that they are aesthetically more pleasing.Continue reading "The Katowice disaster"