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Friday, 24 May 2019

British Council Celebrates 80 Years of Presence in Greece

"The Council opened its first office in Greece in 1939 in Athens".

Number of Greeks studying in UK rising, says British Council head, eKathimerini

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Simon Armitage Translation (BBC Sounds)

Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage's translation of the medieval verse romance is narrated by Ian McKellen.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - "Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the poem of the knight who interrupts King Arthur's Christmas celebrations, challenging someone to chop off his head if he can do the same in return".

Poet Simon Armitage on his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The First Language, Michael Rosen, BBC Radio 4, Word of Mouth

The First Language - listen

"There are thousands of languages today - is it possible to trace them back to a single ancestor? Michael Rosen and linguist Dr Laura Wright investigate our earliest languages".

Also from Word of Mouth:


"Damian Le Bas talks to Michael Rosen about the Romani language and his experience with using it. Damian is the author of The Stopping Places: A Journey Through Gypsy Britain".

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Prestbury and Cheshire's Golden Triangle


River Bollin

St. Peter's Church, Prestbury

Searching for the grave of an ancestor.

Victoria Pit Moorings, Macclesfield Canal

 With thanks to Roland

About Victoria Pit Moorings

Coal and Canal:

Culture and Sustainable Development, UN Debate

"In accordance with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 72/229 on “Culture and Sustainable Development”, the President of the General Assembly convenes a one-day high-level thematic debate on this important topic, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The transformative power of culture for social inclusion, resilience and sustainable development is increasingly recognized as a key enabler for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marked a major turning point in global efforts to address development challenges and opportunities, as the local authorities and communities take an increasingly important role in this global momentum alongside international and national actors and other relevant stakeholders. Culture is also an essential component of human development, representing a source of identity, innovation and creativity for all, it provides sustainable solutions to local and global challenges.

The debate will focus on the contribution of culture to the achievement of the sustainable development goals from the national, regional and international perspectives, building on national experiences, existing policies and frameworks and cooperation. The debate will also mark two important United Nations milestones, which acknowledge the importance of cultural diversity and recognize the critical contribution of indigenous cultures to sustainable development. In this context, the debate on 21 May 2019 will also mark the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (21 May) and the International Year of Indigenous Languages (2019)" - UNESCO

The programme details (pdf)

Nina-Maria, Moderator:

Friday, 17 May 2019

Guest houses financed with EU funds; EU Funds Misused to Build Private Accommodation?

Not just in Bulgaria?

Bulgaria announces probe into all guest houses financed with EU funds (The Sofia Globe)

"Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has ordered the police to carry out an investigation into all guest houses in the country financed with European Union agricultural funds for rural development, to establish that they were being put to their intended use, the Prosecutor’s Office said on April 24".


"An investigation is underway into 746 guest houses in Bulgaria developed with EU money, following allegations of the money being used to build private accommodation instead of it being used for its intended purpose".

"The investigation is specifically focusing on whether EU funds were used by Bulgaria's State Fund Agriculture department to build hundreds of private guesthouses", Euronews., 14 May, 2019.

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development -

European Regional Development Fund -

Related (Google online): Guide on EU funding for the tourism sector (EC pdf file)

In some member states, EU funding and subsidies (of 45% to 50%) are available for small-scale or alternative tourism projects, or for hotel accommodation projects within traditional settlements, on condition that the unit or facility operates for at least five years.

China and America: The Economist Special Report

Published in The Economist today, David Rennie's thirteen-page print edition Special Report on China and America

Trade can no longer anchor America’s relationship with China - The world should be worried about that, says David Rennie. Current edition dated May 18th, 2019.

China and America: Trade can no longer anchor America’s relationship with China 

The view from Washington: In Washington, talk of a China threat cuts across the political divide 

The view from Beijing: In Beijing, views of America have become deeply cynical 

Down on the farm: Why Iowa is Xi Jinping’s favourite corner of America 

Slow boat: Ordinary Americans and Chinese seem to be drifting apart 

Competing in technology: America still leads in technology, but China is catching up fast 

Military development: America’s military relationship with China needs rules 

Trade: The trouble with putting tariffs on Chinese goods 

The future: America and China must manage their rivalry or risk disaster

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Corfu, Greece: Nine Blue Flag Beaches, 2019; ΓΑΛΑΖΙΑ ΣΗΜΑΙΑ


Canal d’ Amour

Agios Ioannis Peristeron/Marbella Corfu

Alykes Potamou/Family Life Kerkyra Golf

Dafnila/Grecotel Daphnila Bay Dassia

Issos/Labranda Sandy Beach Resort

Kavos/Mayor Capo di Corfu

Kommeno/Corfu Imperial

Kontogialos/Mayor Pelekas Monastery

Kontokali/Kontokali Bay Resort


Δελτίο Τύπου Ανακοίνωσης - Γαλάζια Σημαία 2019 - Βραβεύσεις ακτών, μαρινών και σκαφών

Elsewhere in Greece:

Where Are You Really From? Two Podcast Episodes with Louisa Adjoa Parker; Rural Dorset

Listen on Soundcloud

Dorset Echo article - New podcast reflects on experience of growing up as a minority in rural Dorset

A US-China game of nerves (Money Talks, Economist Podcast)

Listen to the podcast

The History of Rock 'n' Roll, Song by Song

Spontaneous Lunacy

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Corfu Literary Festival, 23-30 September, 2019

I'm looking forward to participating this year.

I feel very honoured to have been invited.

List of events:

Bluegrass Blues

Shared country roots - it seems I'm still back in the USA:

Dim Light, Thick Smoke and Loud, Loud Music,  Flatt and Scruggs (YouTube)

A country song in the same vein:

Charlie Walker, Who Will Buy the Wine

Of the less secular bluegrass songs, this is one of the best:

Rank Strangers, The Stanley Brothers


Doc Watson, Farther Along

The Carter Family, The Church in the Wildwood

The Carter Family, Keep On the Sunny Side

Strangely, I find a link between this type of song (Bluegrass Gospel and Appalachian folk music) and the Dorset poems of William Barnes! I wonder if Cecil Sharp would have sensed it when he was collecting songs in Appalachia?

A further example: Bill Monroe, Y'All come

The geate a-vallen to.

In the zunsheen of our zummers
Wi’ the hay time now a-come,
How busy wer we out a-vield
Wi’ vew a-left at hwome,
When waggons rumbled out ov yard
Red wheeled, wi’ body blue,
And back behind ‘em loudly slamm’d
The geate a’vallen to.

Drough daysheen ov how many years
The geate ha’ now a-swung
Behind the veet o’ vull-grown men
And vootsteps of the young.
Drough years o’ days it swung to us
Behind each little shoe,
As we tripped lightly on avore
The geate a-vallen to.

In evenen time o’ starry night
How mother zot at hwome,
And kept her bleazen vier bright
Till father should ha’ come,
An' how she quicken'd up and smiled
An' stirred her vier anew,
To hear the trampen ho'ses’ steps
An' geate a-vallen to.

There’s moon-sheen now in nights o’ fall
When leaves be brown vrom green,
When, to the slammen o' the geate,
Our Jenny’s ears be keen,
When the wold dog do wag his tail,
An' Jean could tell to who,
As he do come in drough the geate,
The geate a-vallen to.

An' oft do come a saddened hour
When there must goo away
One well-beloved to our heart’s core,
Vor long, perhaps vor aye:
An' oh! it is a touchen thing
The loven heart must rue,
To hear behind his last farewell
The geate a-vallen to.

William Barnes

The Vaices That Be Gone

When evenen sheädes o' trees do hide
A body by the hedge's zide,
An' twitt'ren birds, wi' plaÿèsome flight,
Do vlee to roost at comen night,
Then I do saunter out o' zight
In orcha'd, where the pleäce woonce rung
Wi' laughs a-laugh'd an' zongs a-zung
By vaices that be gone.

There's still the tree that bore our swing,
An' others where the birds did zing;
But long-leav'd docks do overgrow
The groun' we trampled beäre below,
Wi' merry skippens to an' fro
Bezide the banks, where Jim did zit
A-plaÿèen o' the clarinit
To vaices that be gone.

How mother, when we us'd to stun
Her head wi' all our naisy fun,
Did wish us all a-gone vrom hwome:
An' now that zome be dead, an' zome
A-gone, an' all the pleäce is dum',
How she do wish, wi' useless tears,
To have ageän about her ears
The vaices that be gone.

Vor all the maidens an' the bwoys
But I, be marri'd off all woys,
Or dead an' gone; but I do bide
At hwome, alwone, at mother's zide,
An' often, at the evenen-tide,
I still do saunter out, wi' tears,
Down drough the orcha'd, where my ears
Do miss the vaices gone.

William Barnes

Come down to-morrow night; an, mind
Don’t leave thy fiddle-bag behind;
We’ll sheake a lag, an’ drink a cup

We’ll snap the tongs, we’ll have a ball,
We’ll shake the house, we’ll lift the ruf,
We’ll romp an’ meake the maidens squall...

Popular Music of the Greek World, Conference in Athens, 17-18 May 2019

All information below from the British School at Athens:

"The diversity of Greek music is apparent from the rich variety of local traditions and from the richness of urban popular music both established and emerging. This conference aims to explore and evaluate that diversity, and its causes, from broader musical, sociological and artistic perspectives. This is of great value in itself and also sheds light on the ethnomusicology of better-studied aspects of Greek music such as Rebetika, which also features as one of the subjects of the conference.

The Organising Committee comprises: Roderick Beaton (King’s College London), Eleni Kallimopoulou (University of Macedonia), Panagiotis Poulos (University of Athens), Chris Williams (KCL/BSA), John Bennet (BSA). The following have confirmed their participation: Nikos Andrikos, Stathis Gauntlett, Ofer Gazit, Labri Giotto, Reguina Hatzipetrou-Andronikou, Michael Herzfeld, Eleni Kallimopoulou, Tony Klein, Daniel Koglin, Leonidas Oikonomou, Chris O’Leary, Nikos Ordoulides, Risto Pekka Pennanen, Nikos Poulakis, Panayiotis Poulos, Venla Sykäri, Aspasia Theodosiou, Dafni Tragaki, Ioannis Tsioulakis, Tassos Vrettos and Vassiliki Yiakoumaki.

A more detailed programme is available here.

Since space is limited, please register for the conference – without cost – via Eventbrite here.

With thanks to: The A G Leventis Foundation, Chris Williams, Nicholas Petmezas and the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King’s College London

When: May 17 - May 18
Where: British School at Athens, Upper House – Athens – 52 Souedias Street


An update of my April 2009 posting on Rebetiko and General Scobie

Some poems:

A recent book:

Mediterranean World Heritage Sites at risk from sea level rise; Corfu Old Town; Climate Change; Global Warming; Corfu, Greece

From Carbon Brief  "Mapped: The Mediterranean world heritage sites at risk from sea level rise"

From GTP  "UNESCO Sites in Greece Among 47 in Danger Due to Rising Sea Levels"

From Smithsonian  "Rising Seas Pose Imminent Threat to Dozens of Historical Sites Across the Mediterranean"

Corfu Forum  "Is there a serious discussion anywhere about the problems that big parts of coastline Corfu will face in the coming decades as a consequence of global warming and sea level rise?"

The answer can be found here:

A fictional, allegorical prophecy of how the end might come (although it won't need an earthquake or a tsunami) - an extract from To Poulima tis Panoreas (2008); English translation included in When the Sun Goes Down, Island Stories, 2013, by Maria Strani-Potts (also available as a Kindle edition)

The wind was blowing from all directions. The Sea became wild.

    “I’ve also had enough. We must save ourselves,” the Sea screamed, retreating rapidly from the shore and from her friends, and rushing away towards the far horizon.

      The dogs barked. The mice ran and hid under mountains of rubbish. Stars started falling from the sky. The earth shook. Those among the young and old who were asleep at home awoke in horror. The rest of the clan, who were passing away the night having fun, abandoned their amusements and ran towards the shore.

     “Panorea, what’s going on?” they shouted.

      “I’m thirsty! Water, water!”

      “Well, that’s not a reason for an earthquake. Calm down, come and drink a bottle of water.”

       The roaring intensified. The people couldn’t hear each other speak. The moon vanished. Suddenly the sea changed direction. She turned back towards the shore. Although it was dark, she could be seen charging towards them. A bright beam emanating from Kalosinatos’s palm lit up the waves and the horizon and broke the darkness of the night.

       “Kalosinatos, the sea is coming towards us. We’ll be drowned. Do something!” they all screamed.

        A second earthquake shook the land. Mountains split in the middle. Houses collapsed. Chunks of cement, bricks and iron bars fell on the heaps of rubbish scattered all around. The clan members were yelling. They saw the swimming pools bursting. The water was pouring down towards the sea, taking with it dead cats, drowned rats, plastic and cars.

        “Panorea, Kalosinatos, Eternal Beings, save us!”

        Twelve-foot-high waves were chasing in, one after another. Thunder and lightning were followed by a hailstorm. Hail stones as big as rocks were landing everywhere, hitting everything.

         The shore where Panorea and Kalosinatos were sitting broke away from the land. The great chasm thus created sucked in whatever was nearby. Panorea and Kalosinatos were nowhere to be seen. The men in charge of the supermarket where Kalosinatos was forced to sell his wares were running away in despair, only to fall headlong into the widening chasm, still holding their huge bags full of money. The Sea swallowed up whatever managed to escape the widening chasm.

         The turmoil had brought the birds out of their nests; they were flying in crazed circles above the devastated land. Following the mysterious light, they saw a single majestic white wave travelling out to sea at an amazing speed, leaving all the devastation behind. The birds suddenly saw Panorea and Kalosinatos lying peacefully upon the wave. They were holding hands. They, in turn, saw the birds and smiled.

        “Come and join us!” they called.

        The birds hovered above them a little and then sat on Panorea’s lap. She stroked them gently and they grasped her torn skirt for safety.

         The tempest lasted until daybreak.

         Nobody could have predicted such a disaster in the Mediterranean. At dawn the Sun appeared, pinkish, warm, timid. He emerged from behind the grey mountains and looked around for Panorea. A rainbow had appeared. The Sea was now calm and had returned to her usual seductive shades of blue. The Sun couldn’t see Panorea or Kalosinatos anywhere.

         “As soon as I warm the place they will come.”

         He looked closely at the land and saw ruins everywhere. Broken fridges, burnt-out cars, iron pipes, great chunks of cement and wrecked and capsized boats were scattered all around. There was not a living soul to be seen.

        Then the faint bleating of sheep was heard in the distance, mixed with the gentle cries of babies. “Any minute now they’ll turn up. They must have gone somewhere, but they always come back,” said the Sun to himself, with a knowing smile.


Simon Armitage to be UK's next Poet Laureate


Friday, 10 May 2019

Patrick Leigh Fermor: The Man of the Mani (BBC Sounds); Kardamyli

Listen to the 2015 BBC Radio programme (BBC Sounds)

John Humphrys travels to Greece, to the village of Kardamyli in the Mani, to explore the life and work of travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. Fermor is arguably the most influential travel writer of the 20th Century. At the age of eighteen he took off, with notebook in hand, on a walk across Europe. During the Second World War he fought in Greece and Crete, and is still remembered in the country today for his daring exploits with the resistance. His most celebrated action came in 1944 when he led a commando operation to abduct the German General Heinrich Kreipe. In the early 1960s he moved to Greece, to the Southern Peloponnese. He built a house in the village of Kardamyli in the Mani. It was here that he wrote much of his most celebrated work and where he remained until his death in June 2011. John Humphrys visits Fermor's village to explore the influence that Greece had upon his life and work, and also to consider the impact that he had on the village and the people he lived alongside. John visits Fermor's former home, now in the care of the Benaki Museum in Athens, and discusses the plans for its future. He meets those in the village who met Leigh Fermor when he first arrived in the 1960s - a man in his nineties recalls how they "danced on the tables into the night" - and he hears tales of influential guests, great writers like Bruce Chatwin and John Betjeman, even a King and Queen. Accompanied by Fermor's book 'Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese', John Humphrys also travels into the deep Mani, one of the remotest, wildest and most isolated regions in Greece".

Producer: Kevin Dawson A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Thanks to blog for the link


Greece’s most Instagrammable island; Santorini's Future; Overtourism

From The Economists' 1843 magazine

"A recent report on overtourism by the European Union’s transport committee warned that Santorini is failing to manage the increasing numbers of tourists, spelling disaster for the local community and environment, and putting “the future of the destination at risk”.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Dorset: Large sink-hole opens up on Dorset coast path

From BBC News

"A 30m (98ft)-wide sink-hole has formed beside a national trail in Dorset. The pit first appeared on Bronkham Hill near Dorchester in February as a small hole "the size of a dinner plate", Dorset Council said".

Anglo-Saxon Burial Site in Southend

From BBC News

"It is said to be the oldest example of a Christian Anglo-Saxon royal burial".

Brexit: Behind Closed Doors (BBC 4 Storyville)

Appalling, rather than 'gripping', 'excruciating' or 'revealing' - depending on your viewpoint? Episode 1 available for 29 days.

"The gripping untold story of the Brexit negotiations... from the other side. For two years, Belgian film-maker, Lode Desmet, has had exclusive access to the Brexit co ordinator of the European parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, and his close knit team. This revelatory fly-on-the-wall film captures the off-the-record conversations and arguments of the European negotiators as they devise their strategy for dealing with the British.

Episode one watches as the Europeans’ respect for a formidable negotiating opponent turns into frustration and incredulity as the British fail to present a united front. At moments funny and tragic, it ends with the debacle in December 2017 when Theresa May flies in to Brussels to finalise details of a deal and is publically humiliated by her coalition partner, Arlene Foster of the DUP, who refuses to support the deal".

Episode 2, 9th May, 2019.  Equally sickening.

"Episode two follows the rollercoaster events from December 2017 to the present day. Europe watches on incredulously as divisions in the British parliament and cabinet become more bitter and leave the talks paralysed. Eighteen months after the referendum, Britain still does not know what it wants and spends more time discussing internally than negotiating with Europe. Respect for Britain turns to irritation and finally ridicule".

See also:

Storyville: The Spy Who Went into the Cold: Kim Philby, Soviet Super Spy (2013 documentary, available for 20 days)

"Documentary exploring the murky circumstances behind the escape of one of Britain's most notorious spies.

In 1963, at the height of the Cold War, a well-educated Englishman called Kim Philby boarded a Russian freighter in Beirut and defected to Moscow from under the nose of British Intelligence. For the best part of thirty years he had been spying for the Soviet Union, much of that time while holding senior jobs in MI6.

Fifty years on, more questions than answers still surround his defection. Had he really confessed before he went? Was his escape from justice an embarrassing mistake or part of the plan? This film, shot in Beirut, London and Moscow, sets out to find the answers, revealing the blind spots in the British ruling class that made it so vulnerable to KGB penetration".

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Ways to Boost your Creativity (BBC Arts)

Tips from the BBC: Seven simple ways to boost your creativity

Any more ideas?

World Questions: Addis Ababa (BBC World Service); Ethiopia; Jonathan Dimbleby

On Saturday, 11 May, 2019, at 1906; also Sunday 12 May at 1206:

Addis Ababa

"World Questions comes to Ethiopia at a crucial time in the country’s history. Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has initiated a series of unprecedented reforms in his first year in office. He's made peace with Eritrea, freed 60,000 political prisoners, unbanned opposition groups and appointed women to half his cabinet. He's pledged free elections in 2020 and now faces one of his biggest challenges - moving the economy from state-led to market-based growth while overseeing far-reaching political reforms. If he succeeds, Ethiopia could cement its position as one of Africa’s biggest players. The BBC’s Jonathan Dimbleby is joined by a panel of leading Ethiopian politicians in a debate led by questions from the audience".

The panel:

Mustafa Omer: President of the Somali region
Merera Gudina: Leader of the Oromo People's Congress
Tsedale Lemma: Editor of The Addis Standard
Eskinder Nega: journalist, campaigner and former political prisoner

Producer: Helen Towner


Feeding on Ethiopia's famine, Jonathan Dimbleby, Independent, December 1998

"Twenty five years ago, in 1973, I was responsible for an ITV film called The Unknown Famine which exposed Ethiopia as a crumbling empire stricken by mass starvation. Within Ethiopia the film aroused shame and anger. As a direct result, The Unknown Famine became the catalyst for the overthrow of a feudal emperor in favour of that gruesome dictatorship which soon became synonymous with the name of Mengistu" - Jonathan Dimbleby.

The Unknown Famine was first broadcast in the UK on 18 October 1973. In Ethiopia it was later televised, for propaganda purposes, with the scenes of starvation inter-cut with sequences of the Emperor's lavish official State banquets.

Also, on BBC Sounds, The Arts Hour, On Tour in Addis Ababa (from February 2018)

"The Arts Hour on Tour comes from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where Nikki Bedi is joined on stage by star guests and the best performers in the city. Nikki's guests are the award-winning film director Abraham Gezehagne, internationally renowned photographic artist Aida Muluneh and prime time TV, theatre and radio writer/director Meaza Worku. The programme also has live music, with Ethio Jazz from Kayn Lab, featuring bass guitarist and co-founder of JazzAmba music school, Henock Temesgen, singer/songwriter and best actress of 2017, Zeritu Kebede and Ethiopian Armenian singer Vahe Tilbian. And there is live performance poetry from Yordanos Wolde".

UK: The Need for Nurses; Shortage of Nurses, and General Practice Doctors

From The Times, yesterday, 7th May, 2019 - NHS looks abroad for thousands of nurses

"The NHS is to begin a global recruitment drive for tens of thousands of foreign nurses over the next five years as it struggles to fill gaps on wards".

From The Times,, January 27, 2017 - Staff crisis grows as foreign nurses abandon the NHS

"Hospitals are already struggling to find enough qualified nurses, with tens of thousands of vacancies and many wards dangerously understaffed".

Related: GP pressure - Numbers show first sustained drop for 50 years, BBC News, 8 May, 2019

"The NHS is seeing the first sustained fall in GP numbers in the UK for 50 years, the BBC can reveal. An analysis by the Nuffield Trust for the BBC shows the number of GPs per 100,000 people has fallen from nearly 65 in 2014 to 60 last year".

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Hunt for next Poet Laureate still on

From The Guardian (May 3)

Biodiversity and Ecosystems. UN Report. Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

From the UN

PARIS, 6 May – "Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary, meeting last week (29 April – 4 May) in Paris".

“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

“The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”