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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Back in England! The homesick snowman.

It's not as cold as I expected, down 'yere in Darrzet. In fact it's a lovely, sunny day, and the temperature is much more agreeable than it has been in Greece recently. My brother tells me that today is the first decent summer's day. I had a fabulous swim at Bowleaze Cove, Weymouth, and a pint of bitter at The Smugglers, Osmington Mills.

The photo reminds me of a song I once wrote when on a World Bank consultancy assignment in Northern Nigeria, circa 1978. It was a Mass Communication Feasibility Study, I seem to remember. Here are a few verses:

Trying to keep cool in Kano

I've got no sense of direction,
I don't know which path I should choose.
I'm just trying to keep cool in Kano;
Last week I had snow on my shoes.

The roads were all blocked by the blizzards,
I half hoped I might miss the flight;
But as soon as I checked in they grabbed me,
They strapped me in for the night.

So I'm back with the dust and the lizards,
Open drains and gastric despair.
Why did I ever leave Dorset,
Green fields and that smell of sea-air?

I'm deep in the North of Nigeria,
The harmattan's blowing today.
They've never seen a homesick snowman,
They won't mind if I just melt away... 

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Platytera Monastery, Corfu

The monastery where John Capodistrias and Fotos Tzavellas are buried.
I recently discovered that a cousin of an old friend - and koumbaros, the late and much-missed Jimmie Katsaros (Demetrios Katsaros of Sebastopol, California), is a monk at the monastery. His name is Pantelis Tzekos, and he's 85 years old. I plan to look him up when I get back to Corfu.

Here are two old photos of Jimmie:

(Jimmie in centre; Chester Chan, right)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Outstanding Underwater Photographs

Bluewaters Photos

Including Paleokastritsa caves


On sale now, in all good bookshops in Corfu (eg PLOUS, APOSTROFOS, MOUSTAKIS etc)- and throughout Greece, the Greek edition (Kedros) of this novel of Corfu life, Η ΓΑΤΑ ΤΟΥ ΠΟΡΤΟΒΕΚΙΟ

Online sales here (

I Gata tou Portovekio:

ΠΟΡΤΟΒΕΚΙΟ: ένα πολύβουο, γραφικό ψαροχώρι της Κέρκυρας. Κάθε κάτοικος έχει μια ιστορία να αφηγηθεί και συχνά οι ζωές τους διασταυρώνονται.
Η Ζωή θρηνεί τον νεκρό σύζυγό της και η μικρή Λουίζα τη μητέρα της. Ο παπά-Αντώνης συνωμοτεί και ραδιουργεί. Νεαροί εραστές συναντώνται κρυφά. Η Χαρά είναι μια σκληραγωγημένη ανεξάρτητη γυναίκα κι ο άντρας της, ο Σπύρος, είναι ο ομορφότερος άντρας του χωριού.
Ανάμεσά τους κινείται και η Μαμή, η γάτα του Πορτοβέκιο, όμορφη και πονηρή, προκαλώντας αισθήματα αγάπης αλλά  και απέχθειας στους κατοίκους του χωριού. Ψάχνει για τροφή καθώς η μυρωδιά από τις κουζίνες των σπιτιών αναδίδεται στον αέρα. Οι αναγνώστες μοιράζονται με τους ήρωες του βιβλίου την προετοιμασία των φαγητών. Οι κάτοικοι του Πορτοβέκιο απολαμβάνουν ψητό ψάρι, μαγειρίτσα και φρέσκα, καλοκαιρινά λαχανικά με σάλτσα ντομάτας. Δοκιμάζουν χταπόδι ξιδάτο, ψητό σκαθάρι και χοντρό λευκαδίτικο σαλάμι, το λευκό λίπος του οποίου προβάλλει μέσα από το πορφυρό κρέας κάνοντάς το να μοιάζει με εκτυφλωτικό διάστικτο μάρμαρο. Οι μεγαλύτερες κοινωνικές εκδηλώσεις τους – ο εορτασμός των Χριστουγέννων και του Πάσχα, οι ονομαστικές γιορτές, τα γενέθλια, οι γάμοι – γίνονται αφορμή για πρωτότυπες γαστρονομικές απολαύσεις.

Ένα μυθιστόρημα με νοσταλγικό άρωμα
από τη νησιωτική Ελλάδα της δεκαετίας του ’50.

Η ΜΑΡΙΑ ΣΤΡΑΝΗ - ΠΟΤΣ γεννήθηκε στην Κέρκυρα το 1946. Αποφοίτησε από τη Σχολή Σλαβικών και Ανατολικοευρωπαϊκών σπουδών του Πανεπιστημίου του Λονδίνου. Από το 1969 ταξίδεψε πολύ με το σύζυγό της, ο οποίος εργαζόταν για το Βρετανικό Συμβούλιο. Έζησε στην Αιθιοπία, στην Κένυα, στην Αγγλία, στην Ελλάδα, στην Τσεχοσλοβακία, στη Σουηδία και στην Αυστραλία, όπου πέρασε εφτά χρόνια με έδρα το Σίδνεϊ.
Η Μαρία Στράνη-Ποτς ζει σήμερα μεταξύ Κέρκυρας και Λονδίνου.


John Clare again

John Clare never ceases to surprise me.

"Written in a Thunderstorm"

Greece could use a few good thunder-storms right now.

Greece's Debts: Have they increased?

So argues Hugh Dixon, of Reuters Breakingviews

Theresa Nicholas, 80 Today

Happy Birthday, Theresa! Congratulations on the publication of your excellent Corfu novel, "Suntouched"!

Two images from Corfu Sketches, A Thirty-Year Journey:

Sinarades, Theresa Nicholas

"Rhythm 'n' Blues", Art Cafe, Corfu

Rhythm & Blues
The Melting Moment Band
Tuesday 26th July
Art Café, Gardens of the Palace of St. Michael and St. George | 21:00 | Free Entrance

"An outstanding Rhythm 'n' Blues concert, with leading vocals by Teri Vakirtzoglou, a genuiune talent coming from the Ionian University". 

Teri Vakirtzoglou, voice
Yannis Papadopoulos, piano
Kostas Pasiotis, bass
Elias Sillas, Guitar
George Kosteletos, drums

Enjoyable evening. Great venue. A tight sound, a talented group, but more jazz-pop-funk than rhythm 'n' blues, by my definition.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Michael Cacoyannis, Two Obituaries and an Interview

Bergman, Bunuel, Cacoyannis...

The greatest film directors of all time?

The Telegraph Obituary (today's paper)

The Guardian Obituary

My own interview with Michael Cacoyannis

Michael Cacoyannis Foundation

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Famine in East Africa

Open Democracy article

A higher priority than Eurozone bail-outs?

Internet Archive (Blues)

There's some good blues music to be found here at the Internet Archive

Greece: News Sources Online

A useful checklist of news links

Catching up with Nina-Maria

 Peter Zumthor,  Swiss Architect , re Hyde Park Pavilion

On Andy Coulson

And an ABBA song from back then!

Ancient Somerset Cemetery

BBC Report

From Southgate to Camden: North London Soul (Amy Winehouse)

Like losing a close neighbour one never really knew:

Michael Gray posted this video of the late Amy Winehouse.

Rehab, Official video

BBC Obituary

Prospero, The Economist

The final interview

Two Serbian Riddles


"One plate serves the whole world".

What is it?


"I came out on the silver threshing floor, played on a golden pipe; everyone heard me, no-one saw me".

Who or what is it?

From "The Golden Apple", compiled by Vasko Popa, translated by Andrew Harvey and Anne Pennington,
Anvil Press Poetry, 1980.

(Answers: 1. nus, 2. dniw)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Cat of Portovecchio, Greek Edition (Kedros, 2011)

I'm delighted to be able to tell you that "The Cat of Portovecchio, Corfu Tales", a tragi-comic novel of life in Corfu, by Maria Strani-Potts, has just been published in Greek translation, by Kedros, Athens.

PLOUS Bookshop in Nik. Theotokis Street, Corfu Town, received its first consignment today.

Jurassic Coastal Voices Project, 2012

BBC report

Friday, 22 July 2011

Blues Latitude, Pelekas

Blues Latitude, Pelekas Gig

 I finally caught up with the new Blues Latitude line-up.

Maria Goros sang a stunning version of "I'd rather go blind".
The Greek Etta James?

They certainly socked it to us.

But I got home only to watch the devastating TV news from Norway, which was even worse this morning.

Statement by EU (Eurozone) Heads of State

Here is the statement

NB Para 2:

"We will monitor very closely the strict implementation of the programme based on the regular assessment by the Commission in liaison with the ECB and the IMF."

Para 4:
(30 years late? see my posting on the Greek economy before EU accession)

"Member States and the Commission will immediately mobilize all resources necessary in order to provide exceptional technical assistance to help Greece implement its reforms. The Commission will report on progress in this respect in October."  

And a nice comment from Keep Talking Greece:

"From what we heard so far, one thing is clear: Greeks will remain economic hostages for the next 40 years. That means, I have plenty of time to keep feeding this blog. Therefore I’m off for a long weekend. The same I wish to you: Time for a nice and news-free Break."

Epirot Identity

Interesting academic paper on Epirus

Prestonhall, Midlothian; Henry Callander (25.2.1862- 16.11.1928); Preston Hall; Henry Burn Callander

Prestonhall (Prestonhall, PrestonHall, Parish of Cranston), Pathhead, Midlothian (Wikipedia)

Dundas Clan Tartan

Photogravure portrait above from 
British Sports and Sportsmen- Shooting and Deerstalking,
 The Sportsman, London, 1913.

Preston Hall Shoot, from Carberry, early 20th Century

During World War I, B (or "Bee") worked for the War Office in London.
Henry had various addresses in London, at different times:
25 Belgrave Square, 61 Cadogan Square, 23 Cork Street
and he also lived at The Grange, Uppingham, Oakham, Rutland, for a time.
 After the War, Henry, Bee and Nina went to live in Bath,
at Luckington House, Marlborough Lane.

See also, National Records of Scotland, Last Will and Testament of Henry Callander, dated 27 October 1927, recorded Edinburgh 1 May 1929, SC70/4/633 f.233-235

Marlborough Lane, Bath, April 1942
From this slide show 
The Bath Blitz and aftermath, April 1942

"I Mean Well" ; "Et domi et foris" ("Both at home and abroad")- Callander crest mottos;"Tendit ad astra fides" (Burn motto).

Another view of hunting and shooting, "Manly Sports"

Frances Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1882-4:

"Preston Hall, a mansion in Cranston parish, E Edinburghshire, near the right bank of Tyne Water, 1¼ mile N by E of Ford, and 4½ miles E by S of Dalkeith. A splendid classical structure, it consists of a centre and two wings, connected by lower buildings...The present proprietor, Henry Callander, Esq. (b. 1862; suc. 1865), holds 4869 acres in the shire, valued at £6865 per annum.—Ord. Sur., sh. 33, 1863."

On Alexander Callander (1741-1792), who served for 25 years with the East India Company in Bombay.

Some more photos

More information (No longer available at

Further details

More (on the Temple)

Doors Open Day

Scotland's Places

Crichton Castle

More about Crichton Castle

Photos of Crichton Castle

Callander Family Information

I was sad to see this excerpt from an obituary notice (published in The Times, November 8- November 9, 2010) on the internet:

John Henry Callander
Major John Henry DL of Preston Hall, on 4th November 2010. Beloved husband of Jackie and loving father of Alice, William and Harry.

The gardens are now open to the public on occasion

Country Life, August 24 and 31, 1961

Images of Crichton Castle, J.M.W. Turner:

  Ruth (Burn-) Callander (born 1887), B's half-sister

"B" or "Bee", my grandmother

My mother

Henry Callander with Eleanor, Countess of Suffolk

Arthur Coventry was born in Melton Mowbray in 1852. He was the son of the Hon. Henry Amelius Coventry, of Coventry House, Burton End, Melton Mowbray (after his mother died, they moved to Pickwell Manor) and grandson of the eighth Earl of Coventry. He was the youngest brother of Eleanor, Countess of Suffolk. His London residences were at 53a, Pall Mall and at 83 Piccadilly. He was 73 when he died, at The Old Manor, Salisbury, Wilts. He is buried at the Parish Churchyard, Charlton Close.

My mother, later years:

Bee and Nina

A few old family documents concerning my grandmother:

Henry Callander (or Henry Burn-Callander; the preferred name is Callander) 
was a descendant of James I and VI of England and Scotland, and of Charles II and Nell Gwyn, of course. See this genealogy,
and Part 13 - which, I note, is incomplete.

Postscript: the glamorous Gunning sisters:

Maria Gunning, Countess of Coventry

Elizabeth Gunning, Duchess of Argyll

Crichton Castle

(from Marmion, Sir Walter Scott)

AT length up that wild dale they wind,
Where Crichtoun Castle crowns the bank;
For there the Lion’s care assigned
A lodging meet for Marmion’s rank.
That Castle rises on the steep
Of the green vale of Tyne:
And far beneath, where slow they creep
From pool to eddy, dark and deep,
Where alders moist and willows weep,
You hear her streams repine.
The towers in different ages rose;
Their various architecture shows
The builders’ various hands;
A mighty mass, that could oppose,
When deadliest hatred fired its foes,
The vengeful Douglas bands.

Crichtoun! though now thy miry court,
But pens the lazy steer and sheep,
Thy turrets rude, and tottered Keep,
Have been the minstrel’s loved resort.
Oft have I traced, within thy fort,
Of mouldering shields the mystic sense,
Scutcheons of honor or pretence,
Quartered in old armorial sort,
Remains of rude magnificence.
Nor wholly yet had time defaced
Thy lordly gallery fair;
Nor yet the stony cord unbraced,
Whose twisted notes, with roses laced,
Adorn thy ruined stair.
Still rises unimpaired, below,
The courtyard’s graceful portico;
Above its cornice, row and row
Of fair hewn facets richly show
Their pointed diamond form,
Though there but houseless cattle go,
To shield them from the storm.
And, shuddering, still may we explore,
Where oft whilom were captives pent,
The darkness of thy Massy More;
Or, from thy grass-grown battlement,
May trace, in undulating line,
The sluggish mazes of the Tyne.


Update, June 2014; Just Published:

From History of Parliament: CALLANDER, Alexander (1741-92), of Crichton and Preston Hall, Edinburgh and Elphinstone, Haddington - "Callander was an applicant for a writership in 1758, and spent the next 25 years in the East India Company service in Bombay. He evidently prospered: on his return home he bought extensive landed property in the shires of Edinburgh and Haddington and in 1789 Lawrence Hill reckoned him to be worth £6,000 a year. He invested in East India Company stock".