56 days ago
Jaya never met Dad. She was born five weeks after he died. But she knows about the Grandpa who is in heaven not least because of a battered green arm chair in the corner of our kitchen where I slump between articles. It was and is Grandpa’s chair. Joshua used to visit my father with me as Grandpa lay bed-ridden in Shipston. My Dad always had chocolates by his bed so Joshua enjoyed those visits and could not remember Grandpa as anything other than a bed ridden old man being, oh so slowly, eaten away by cancer.
786 days ago
Actually, I had not given it much thought which I feel rather ashamed about. I was aware that today was the day but the last 48 hours of childcare have been rather manic and I just want to get to the end of this day without another crisis. My baby daughter Jaya is still not well enough to go to nursery but I was meant to be relieved at one O’Clock today. However..
884 days ago
You have already seen the whole town of Metsovo from Anelion, on the other side of the valley, HERE. And yesterday I considered how this Vlach town in Greece has only been under Greek rule for 109 years HERE.
885 days ago
My new Israeli friend from the Metsovo hotel pondered why Israelis are so frantic and busy while in Greece life is all about “avrio”. He speculated that it was because his country is a young one and has suffered so many wars. I pointed out that Greece is not that different. Below, you see Joshua at the war memorials in the small town of Metsovo and tiny village of Anelion. Anelion first with fewer names.
887 days ago
When I first came here, there was no road from Metsovo to Anelion; you walked down one side of the valley and up the other side. It was steep. Then, a few years later, there was a road winding along the mountains. There was nothing at the edge of it, just a drop. I told Joshua all about a taxi driver chasing rabbits with his car on this road, causing terror to my whole family. My sisters will be delighted to know that there are now barriers on the side of the road but I still took each turn very slowly. I drove so slowly that when I spotted a tortoise, I was able to pull up, stop and lift it to the side. That was, I think, a lucky omen.
888 days ago
After a delayed start from the Greek Hovel, making sure we had all we needed and shuttering the place up, a bit of a schoolboy error saw me leave the Motorway on the way up to Corinth and thus I found myself on a “short cut” to Patras. That is to say a non-toll old road. What a disaster. 110 km an hour became 60 and I compounded that with a wrong turn. Having seen signs saying Patras 40 km, suddenly there were no signs at all to Patras.
889 days ago
The pool is getting closer to blue here at the Greek Hovel but needs a couple more chemical dumps before myself and Joshua can use it and so while we wait, it is time to introduce him to the Vlachs: road trip!
891 days ago
My step brother T has sent me a photo of our late father sitting, topless, holding a large chicken and wonders if it was in Greece. It is not terribly flattering so I shall not publish it but it is the sort of memory of an eccentric man you treasure. It reminds me of a story from when we were very young and my father had just returned from a trip to the mountains of Northern Greece. We had stayed at home with mum.
892 days ago
We now have water and that should speed up the cleaning of the pool. But pro tem, Joshua and I can watch but not use. At least the view is spectacular. But with the pool out of action for another few days, as more chemicals are added, I am seriously considering a road trip.
892 days ago
There is a Winnifrith family phrase coined by my late father, for reasons I cannot remember, “a beautiful Balkan spy”. In my own family, when the Mrs is giving me, almost certainly with some justification, a bit of grief, I say to Joshua “That’s is it, we are off to Mother Russia where the streets are paved with gold and where we will be served caviar on gold plates by a beautiful Balkan spy who will then let us win at chess.” Having watched a TV show on life in Russia, Joshua is now suggesting that the streets of Moscow may not be paved with gold but he knows all about the beautiful Balkan spies.
2292 days ago
One day the Mrs will learn that me and the seaside really don't mix. She has booked us into a pleasant hotel, the Baywatch, which to her annoyance, is nowhere near the sea. It does, however, have a wonderful view of the bay of Kalamata, a pool which Joshua, the Mrs and I like and is relatively quiet. The guests are nearly all young couples so I am the oldest there and find the music at the bar mildly irritating. That is to say it is all post 1995 and thus, by definition, utterly crap. But the internet works so I can relax by tapping away while Joshua crawls around the floor, licks windows, pulls books apart and does all the other things that make him happy. The Mrs is reading a book on the philosophy of marriage and occasionally draws my attention to a passage which highlights one of my rare failings as a husband.
2489 days ago
I am here in a warm hotel room in Metsovo in Northern Greece. I am pretty shattered after 22 hours of travel from Bristol to here. Tomorrow is the last leg, a walk to to the vlach village of Anelion. Pro tem a short offering as it will take ages to transmit anything back to England. I look at companies that change their name, ref Guscio (GUSC) and Wishbone Gold (WSBN) which really is a buy despite today's statement.
2490 days ago
My father's oldest Greek friend Mike the Vlach was due back at three. This being Greece he was bound to be late and so his wife Alega insisted I hang on as the day dragged on. Heck I had travelled by bus for nine hours to get to Metsovo and then walked for an hour and a half to get to Anelion to see Mike, I was not leaving. I could not explain this but I sat there drinking coffee and enjoying a lunch of lamb, rice and a lump of feta, I was going nowhere.
2490 days ago
I have happy memories of church in the little Vlach village of Anelion back in the 1970s. Everybody attended and was dressed smartly.Men sat in one room and women upstairs. Sadly it was locked but as it is just spitting distance from Mike's house I took a brief wander around just for old time's sake. The third photo below is the view down the valley past the big bridge to a snow capped mountain. The air is clean, the snow pristine. What more could you want?
2491 days ago
As the road enters Anelion there is a sign advertising the fact that there is now a four star hotel in the village. Boy is this different from 40 years ago when here was not even a road to this place and there was no main street either. We just walked along cobbled pavements. The houses of today are nearly all post road, modern constructs and it brought back no memories at all. The smell of woodsmoke had not changed but everything else had. I started to panic - how on earth would I find Mike the vlach (if indeed he was still alive)?
2491 days ago
With the snow still blowing, I set off on the walk from Metsovo to Anelion not really believing that it would take only half an hour as the chap I met last night had told me. Perhaps it was because I took the scenic route through the lower terraces of Metsovo, following the signs marked with a bear print. Evil Knievil has emailed to suggest that we bears stick together and do not eat each other but, more importantly, as I headed lower I remembered that bears, like snakes, hibernate. So the bears of the Pindus will be sleeping, dreaming of honey and Rob Terry. The wolves on the other hand...
2491 days ago
It felt decidedly nippy last night as i wandered out for a light meal of calf in tomato sauce.I was struck by how the only language I heard was Greek, not Vlach, But also how the waiter spoke English. Fourty years ago more or less no-one here in Metsovo did. The other big change was the women.
2491 days ago
So asks a daughter of the 21st century.The answer is that I could discover whether my father's oldest Greek friend is alive and make contact via the interwebby thing.
2503 days ago
As you know, I head off soon for Greece and will be making a pilgrimage to the tiny village of Anelion in the snow covered Pindus mountains of Northern Greece. The aim is to see if my father's oldest Greek friend, Mike the Vlach, is still with us, as I explained here.
2509 days ago
In the high Pindus mountains of Northern Greece is a small village called Anelion, a place where we spent a number of childhood holidays. It was home to a man who was a friend of my father's, Mike the Vlach. It may still be, I have no idea if he is dead or alive. I was dreaming of Anelion last night and feel a very strong urge to go.
I am not sure how dad got to know Mike. I think that the first person to meet him was my father's mother Lesbia. This is a woman named after a Greek island and whose brother, David Cochrane, died falling down the mountain opposite Delphi. Greece is in the blood in our family. My grandmother had a real love of Greece and of languages and so it was she who introduced my father to the world of the vlachs.
2649 days ago
The fifth film in this series, with the simple title Jason Bourne, has won mixed reviews but the Mrs and I really enjoyed an afternoon showing yesterday. For us, naturally, the early part of the movie shot in Greece was a hoot.
4190 days ago
I am asked why am I so fascinated with Greece? In part it is a romantic thing – the idea of brave Hellas reasserting its independence and history – see my great hero pictured here. But it is more a family thing. My father’s family have been Helleno-nuts for 200 years. I shall touch on Lesbians, in that vein, below.