A wish for a ghost

Don’t you just wish sometimes you saw a ghost?

Walking through the park at dusk I saw a white haired man

from the corner of my eye.

I turned and looked at him. He was still,

quietly sitting on the bench at a distance.

I looked away ahead towards my destination.

And then I thought to myself wouldn’t it be cool if he wasn’t there

If I turned to look at his direction again?

And I did look that way and he was there.

I felt bad for wishing him gone.

He hadn’t done anything wrong.

He just reminded me of a ghost.

Notting Hill Carnival, in love again

Now was this another carnival to remember?

Come carnival Monday the clouds were hanging low over the sky. That never and didn’t either in this occasion, stop over 1million revellers going on the road.

Windrush scandal overcasting, Brexit bringing more tensions, and the usual fair amount of racist press and media coverage did not stop us having a blast of a time. The stupidness of anyone reporting on crimes before carnival are equal to those not understanding that in 1million drink fuelled crowds, the crime figures are low and well below what could have been in other crowds. Stormzy rightly pointed out they should start reporting the drug den bust ups of pre-Glanstonbury season for the shake of fairness.

I am a firm believer if you put the kids from Glastonbury in carnival, not only they would have had a lot more fun, for much less, they would definitely stay away from the hard drugs that are being sold freely during the field based event.

Notting Hill Carnival was buzzing, end of. On a personal level, I could not have asked for more. The day begun downbeat, given that most of my Caribbean friends are either in the Caribbean itself or were not up for the road, for the first time in many years we have been going together. I would have gone on my own, happily and by lunch other friends decided to join.

The beauty of having the afro-caribbean community being free and expressing itself is invaluable. The rest of the year, people hide away at home or community aimed parties, the vibe that we, the rest of us are missing enormously. This always makes me feel like I’m missing out.

I was really lucky to come across one of the carnival bands I was involved in many years ago. I got to see some beautiful and familiar faces, still spending their summer months in preparation for this beautiful event. I got to carry a large costume for a couple of hours to give one of the masquerades a break. I got to climb up the bus and see the enormity of the crowds on the road on that beautiful evening sunset on this August Bank Holiday.

I will have to wait another year before this, unless of course, I choose to go to Trinidad carnival.

Love ya carnival crews, keep it alive and don’t let anyone blame you for anything otherwise.

Tragedy, in the home of tragedies

This summer I went to Epidaurus (/ ˌ ɛ p ɪ ˈ d ɔː r ə s /; Ancient Greek: Ἐπίδαυρος Epidauros) was a small city in ancient Greece, on the Argolid Peninsula at the Saronic Gulf, because I always wanted to watch an greek tragedy in the ancient Greek open air theatre.

I picked the play Elektra because it is a classic and a true tragedy, set in the city of Argos a few years after the Trojan War, it recounts the tale of Electra and the vengeance that she and her brother Orestes take on their mother Clytemnestra and step father Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon.

The play was directed by a relatively new director, Thanos Papakonstantinou, who has found increasing attention, in a relatively short space of time, and in a very competitive genre.

I really loved the drive to Epidaurus, in the late afternoon, nearing sunset, travelling through the mountains with many other thousands, for the one purpose, to be at this venue and watch an ancient play. My expectations were close to none, as it would have been my first experience. I only assumed, Elektra would have been translated into a slightly more modern version, as many other cultural references and movements in Greece nowadays do.

I only realized the enormity of the crowds gathering there when I saw the size of the carpark and the queues when we got to the theatre gates. The ancient stone carved and built space welcomed us with a stage made in the same shape of its roundness, all in white with a round hole cut out on the white backdrop, linking the stage with the backdrop, by steep dramatic steps.

Epidavros

The tragedy begun and it was a disorienting and confusing experience. There were women covered in see through cloths, moving effortlessly like on-screen ghosts from the 70’s era. They reminded me of Catholicism and that became even more apparent as the play evolved. They were judgmental and backbones-less. The main character squeaked and screamed in unconnected personas making it even more uncomfortable. Yes she was going through a huge trauma however she did not need to be portrayed in such a misogynistic way. She was neither a woman, nor a devil. She was bitter and lost but the character portrayed was uncharacteristically poltergeisted for the pain and revenge she was planning. The whole lot of the other characters played out the same, they were either too weak or a copycat of Dracula like comicon characters that lacked dimension – this was a huge disappointment. The director could have played out the roles much more and did not think about their human element. It felt like he imposed his impression of the story on the actors. This left me with the impression the actors did not connect with the Director, and that is was pretty obvious he had made little effort to collaborate them even between them.

At the end of the tragedy, a bigger one happened. As the actors were bowing to their audience and receiving lots of thanks, the director, Thanos Papakonstantinou, went to the stage, dressed in an outfit resembling a German soldier outfit from the 2nd world war.

I did not find that funny or creative. I understood well his tendency to associate with the dark wave movement in Athens, after all I once was part of it too and remember al the boys getting excited with memorabilia, only to find themselves very isolated in the end. His choice was distasteful and inappropriate given we are at the verge of fascism all over Europe.

Thanos Papakonstantinou, failed on all fronts. It sounds like someone is pushing him to the front stage, however unqualified.  The Greek economy may be small, and opportunists like him can get attention and success, however Greece doesn’t deserve people like him mocking the situation (this is not a creative license, whatever he may come up to say) and fueling the division in our society further.

I wish to not see Thanos Papakonstantinou getting opportunities any day soon and for greek stages to host the original grassroots talent that exists but doesn’t try to buy in their way, through controversy. This is not USA, and there is no reason to be wearing an offensive outfit, not un-similar to Melania Trump’s ‘I don’t care’ outfit as she visited the children immigrant detention centres.

Messene western Peloponnese from Methoni

So here I am, baggage dropped off at our spacious apartment at Ilias apartments on Methoni beach and I find myself having late lunch on the seafront at the brilliant Varka Bay restaurant (biggest portions of homemade delicious Greek cuisine around at incredibly reasonable prices) in camping Methonis, reflecting how I got to decide what brought me here given I have no family connections, neither special recommendations by friends or acquaintances.

Earlier in the year, late in the heavy British wintertime, I was trailing Google maps for the perfect spot on the beach. I sought the experience the Ionian sea following the many summers I have spent riding ferry boats for hours to the beautiful yet overpriced cycladic islands.

This time I was looking for a shorter journey time from Athens, and a solid mainland vibe of Greek culture, with a smallish village for the ultimate necessary ice cream and souvlaki supply. And I got my dream in Methoni.

In my blog I will talk about the best bits of my holiday here and highlight a couple of things worthwhile your visit in the region of Messene.

Methoni is a village on the west coast of Peloponnese featuring a brilliant castle from 14th century. The village has an array of corners and squares connected by two main roads the upper and lower streets. It is truly homely and unpretentious.

On the seafront there’s a castle built on the contrasting, to the sandy waterfront, rocky outpost. Methoni Castle is the perfect afternoon walk offering unique views over the sea with plenty of areas for exploration in the castle grounds. You can also walk around it on the clear water beach to the fishing boat pier moorings, and on its other side for dramatic views over the rocky landscape, the Ionian sea and the sunset. It costs a mere 2 euro.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My friend turned up from his archaeological work at Nestor’s Palace to join us for kayaking and drive us to more unique finds in the region.

Nestors palace

We went to Voidokilia, the whale tail water shaped beach where surfers have the safest low surf. The water is warm but do bring an umbrella or visit in the afternoon, the trees are far and few, but there’s cold coffee delivery from the turn up the road a few miles up, so do bring a phone!

Voidokilia

My friend also talked of the Griffin Warrior. An unidentified man of leading importance in the region excavated from his tomb recently alongside thousands of mycenaean gold and bronze swords cups, boar tooth helmet parts, body armour and all sorts of antiquities. I’m waiting on edge to find out more about this man and it will only be down to the work of scientists.

Please donate here http://griffinwarrior.org/griffinwarrior-excavations.html without them we would be in the dark about our history or even worse the looters could have gotten to it before us.

In Methoni town h Palia Istoria restaurant and Nontas souvlaki are my favourite eateries in the village. The decor in the form has rainbow umbrellas so I guess gay friendly, and an outdoor nursery space so kids can do their thing out of your way.

Palia Istoria restaurant in Methoni

On the beach, Kotronakia cafe is the ultimate bohemian oasis. Hanging off the rocks above the beach you get the best sea breeze under the shade and beautiful views across the bay to the castle.

In front of the Kotronakia bar
Messenea is rich in ancient history. Nestor Palace is a must historic place to check out. It was discovered in 1950s and recently got a canopy for our enjoyment and its protection out of the sun.
On our way back we stopped at the Kookoonari beach cafe bar where you can use the kayaks for free or play beach volleyball up the walkway. I really loved my time at this place. The vibe of the staff there is as cool as it gets.
Kookoonari beach bar

In the evening, we headed to Finikounda, a young family haven built off the pier with restaurants patisseries bars and shops lay on the paved high street, the central walk to spend time. A mile away are camp sites and wide pavement makes cycling back and forth fun to any time of the day. Boat trips are on offer to explore more of the region by the sea.

Finikounta

Staying in Methoni is the perfect holiday choice. The sea is clear and shallow and the length of the bay offers light busy and really quiet spots overlooking the two islands of Sapienza and Schiza.

Methoni beach view

The locals are friendly as you get and you run no risk of being overcharged. If your idea of a beach holiday is to spend peaceful hours swimming, tasting many greek dishes in very reasonable prices and discovering greek history, you have

arrived at your destination.

Bath and Wiltshire

So I decided to pull this guide together after having visited Bath and the wider Wiltshire a number of times over the last two years, visiting friends who moved there from London, for a change of lifestyle.

Wiltshire is a true representation of rolling English countryside, opening up to create the setting for the landscape of fields further afield in Devon and Cornwall, and to the end of the land of the British Isle. Scenic drives, quaint old cotsworld like villages dot the landscape, however note these are increasingly interrupted by new housing developments.

The area is knows for its afluent resident demographics. Housing is as expensive as it is in London, and Bath is a catwalk of contemporary design options, found in inoffensive gorgeously lit boutique shops. There are a lot of options to choose from, and an equal amount of cafes and foodie options to satisfy the pickiest of the souls out there.

Some of my favourite moments are both in Bath and the surrounding Somersetian countryside. When I get there, on a Friday, we head for the Star, the only – I believe – authentic pub, a mix of old and new, music or not, regulars and all embraced in a coffin shaped building. The walk there is equally cool, strolling past residential windows of yellow brick roman dwellings, sitting on the rustic raised walkway above the passing traffic passing below.

On days out, more recently I discovered Corsham. The walk through the tiny village, or the walk of the green space outside the stately home, are true to form of cutiness. The home itself and the gardens are architectural highlights so pick based on the season, trusting both will be a very rewarding experience.

Castle Combe is another little wonder to check out. I loved the walk from the car park to the village itself, hanging branches of tall trees canopying over the road. Prettily decorated door fronts, stone buildings, stone brick bridges, and water streams would have you thinking you are visiting Smurf land. It is not too far off that, hoping no offense caused by this description.

My earlier experience of Wiltshire was visiting Avebury stone circle. If you haven’t, this is a piece of british ancient history that equals Stonehedge. Avebury stone circle is the largest, with a village in the middle of it, supported by numerous super natural stories. I think my dream home is also in that village. Walk around the circle, but also do go for a walk through the village. I am sure you will get lost.

Box is known for the train tunnell and Thomas the tank. There is an underground town down there built out of sight to evacuate local residents on occassion of need.

Devizes has an eerie story of its own. The Black Swan is known to harbour ghosts of past times, and I did stay in room no 4 where numerous signtings and disturbances are known to take place. I must say I did not enjoy neither slept much and things happenned that I can not explain. The landlord soon sold the pub and moved on, like many others. However can’t fault the pub food and the atmosphere – warm, cozy and lively.

Devizes is also known for another trouble – that of its locks. If you own a riverboat, you will know the ladder of locks one has to wait through to get one side to another. A friend that did it told me that it took them around 9 hours to do Caen Hill. Not a feat for the lighthearted boat dwellers.

There is a lot more to see in this wonderful area however I will leave you with these pointers to begin with. I am sure you will be soon returning for more.

What I learnt from not running the marathon

On Sunday, London hosted the annual marathon event, with thousands of participants running the 26 something miles.

The weather was a sizzling 24C with clear skies posing a number of health risks even for the most experienced athletes.

I stood by in Canary Wharf, planning initially to stay only for a few minutes, which turned into hours, after seeing, and being mesmerised by the Kenyan athletes. Their energy is unfathomable, unaffected by the elements, running solidly on their feet, unstoppable towards their own personal target to a medal. Following closely a number of vehicles with cameras indicated the presence of someone important and there you had it, Sir Mo Farah powering through. I was saddened to hear nearing the end of his run that he was seeking a bottle of water, only to be ignored by bystanders wanting to take the best shots as up close as possible. The inhumane treatment of fame, in full display.

Kenya’s Elliud Kipchoge followed by camera crews during the Virgin London Marathon 2018

Wheelchairs, the visually impaired, following through continued the display of incredible strength of spirit.

Not too long after, people aiming for the 3 hour finish mark, powered through. Pouring sweat and having sustained a considerable amount of sun exposure, gradually more and more were slowing down, even stopping to a walking pace. That was the point, the energy of the crowds and their value, really shined through. At the point where really experienced runners were stopping crowds gathered to encourage on, shouting names of people they didn’t know, edging them to continue on. Strangers, flooding their energy to strangers. The effect was magic happening before our eyes. The runners’ faces lightening up, pace quickening, invaluable seconds saved.

The human endurance has layers unexplored by the majority of us. It doesn’t entertain fear or weakness as concepts. It merely facilitates strength. The psychological status is about completing the task with ease, and resourcing a little more energy for overachieving, unravelling that extra bit of energy as it replenishes itself from the invisible source of confidence.

The fear, and doubt gradually appeared in the lesser trained athletes. You didn’t need to have a discussion. Their feelings stood in front of their faces, attached like a bubble of energy, with rights restricted to the owner exclusively.The take over of these feelings, may as well had been rolled out in a banner. External conditions had made their internal challenge furthermore complex.

This in itself is a very intense experience. It places the human spirit and our conditioning, in the heart of the matter. Challenging mental energy and channelling as well.

Every year I forget… Until I stand by again to watch. And every year I read another layer, of someone running past, a different story, equally important as the very first one, let it be that of the Kenyans or Mo Farah for that matter.

The invaluable value of encouragement. One step at a time, through the stages of being and feeling.

Everything has to do with the mind, and with the limits we have put in and the fact we can overcome them to break them. And what I have done is doping of the mind.

Until the next marathon, exploring the well of our course.

Liguria, La Spezia and Cinque Terra

Best known for the five cliff hanging villages along the coast, Liguria offers an authentic taste of Italian daily life by the seaside.

I will begin with La Spezia. A true working port, La Spezia stole my hear not just for its maritime history. It is a truly multi cultural town, dotted with people from accross the globe. Along with the traditional Italian shops and cafes, many other outlets are run by North Africans, Colombians, central Africans, and Asians.

Architecturaly the town is brimming with traditional sepia coloured three floor tall houses, churches from centuries ago and stately complexes embracing church squares. The buildings feature high ceilings, large windows caressing the sharp shadows cast by the blissful Ligurian sun, spacious rooms and grand communal spaces.

The pace of life in La Spezia is slow. Even though I visited during a cold spell in early March, no rain or dropping temperatures can hurry the locals. And that’s the uniqueness of the town in comparison to other. Even though it is the gateway to Cinque Terra, and tourism is a key component to the local industry, it didn’t feel rushed or a place where locals hassle for a quick return. They appear relaxed, welcoming, open to chat and give directions.

The station is a central hub for trains to neighbouring towns and the main big cities in Italy like Genova, Rome and Milan. With a day travelcard, all of the five villages in Cinque Terra are made accessible in less than twenty minutes. Trains run twice an hour until midnight. In the summer, for those seeking the options of a town, an affordable option is staying in La Spezia and coast hopping across the beaches and fishing enclaves of Cinque Terra during the day.

The winning factor in all of this is the weather. The climate is mild, with plenty of sun and a light humidity bringing up the smells of the sea and mixing them up with that of the coastal flora and fauna and the warmth of the earth. Palm trees, pine trees, cactuses…you get the picture. For a real treat take the train from Milan trailing through Genova along the coast where you can discover the many more picturesque towns and villages spreading all along the coast, with none being similar to the other.

Cinque Terra is definitely the right choice for the most romantic and adventurous out there. The five villages of Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza are stunning clusters of pretty multi levelled dwellings swirling down to the fishing ports, interconnected by a maze of steep climbing stairs, walkways and paths layered at variable levels of cobble and tile alleys between, under and below each architectural masterpiece.

The train service makes this a really accessible adventure, with the option of spending a couple of hours at each village, feasible, and even more so being well connected to major city airports a mere couple of hours away.

For a memorable breathtaking break in Europe, search no further. This is truly a stunningly beautiful and unique yet low budget opportunity for a break away from the city hassle in a landscape laid out unlike anything you may have seen before.

Italian Elections

So it’s election day here and I am disappointed to see how Conservative and right wing the party options are. The five stars is yet the most dangerous with an apparent popular new wave of rebels, not different to UKIP voters. Uncoincidentally UKIP and Five Star leaders are best buddies. Dangerous times indeed. The Pope has become the only remaining sound of reason in this troubled society.

Building health

Stop building hospitals. That is how you really do not help people to cure, but you reinforce their belief in illness.

People do not need someone to support their sick perception of things, someone who will perpetuate their erroneous thinking and ill thoughts.

Stop enhancing their view that the body is getting sick on its own or because of poor diet and abuse.

Stop casting responsibility for heredity, exonerating the choices of their thoughts. The only heredity is the perpetuation of a misconception, of an already ill-founded reasoning.

The body is diseased after the mind has already been ill.

Stop stroking the bodies, and start bothering the mind. If you really want to help, build mind schools and clinics. Build schools that teach you how to use this perfect tool, that every single one of us has; our mind.

And a hospital. Not for bodies, but for minds, to cure one who has a manifestation of an illness, by bringing his mind into balance, and in good thought.

We believe that because we are thinking, we know how to use our minds correctly, that we can pride ourselves on being more sophisticated than animals.

And yet, every single thought is full of deficiency, hatred, anger, guilt and judgment for others, and for ourselves.

Our thoughts are mainly catastrophic, and this slowly, or quickly manifests itself in our relationships, in our work, and of course in our own body.
Make or build something that is actually used for healing. And this can be anything to do with mind.

Take care of something that is actually in charge. Because the only thing that is truly in charge is the Mind.

Written by Gerasimos Pavlou

Tai Chi Instructor and Alternative Healing Practitioner

In Greek:

Σταματήστε να φτιάχνετε νοσοκομεία. Μ’ αυτόν τον τρόπο δεν βοηθάτε πραγματικά τους ανθρώπους να θεραπευτούν, αλλά τους ενισχύετε την πίστη τους στην αρρώστια. Οι άνθρωποι δεν χρειάζονται κάποιον που θα τους υποθάλπει την αρρωστημένη τους αντίληψη για τα πράγματα, κάποιον που θα διαιωνίζει το λάθος τους σκεπτικό και τις αρρωστημένες τους σκέψεις.

Σταματήστε να τους ενισχύετε την σκέψη τους ότι το σώμα αρρωσταίνει από μόνο του ή λόγω της κακής διατροφής και των καταχρήσεων. Σταματήστε να ρίχνετε την ευθύνη στην κληρονομικότητα, απενοχοποιώντας τις επιλογές των σκέψεών τους. Η μόνο κληρονομικότητα, είναι η διαιώνιση μιας λάθους αντίληψης, ενός ήδη αρρωστημένου σκεπτικού. Τίποτα άλλο.

Το σώμα νοσεί αφού έχει ήδη νοσήσει ο νους. Σταματήστε να χαϊδεύετε τα σώματα, και αρχίστε να ενοχλείτε τους νόες.

Αν θέλετε πραγματικά να βοηθήσετε, φτιάξτε σχολεία και θεραπευτήρια για νόες. Ένα σχολείο που να διδάσκει πώς να χρησιμοποιείς αυτό το τέλειο εργαλείο που έχει ο καθένας μας και όλοι μαζί. Το νου μας.

Και ένα θεραπευτήριο. Όχι για σώματα, για νόες. Για το πώς μπορεί κάποιος που εκδήλωσε κάποια αρρώστια, φέρνοντας τον νου του σε ισορροπία, σε ορθή σκέψη, να μπορέσει να θεραπευτεί.

Θεωρούμε ότι επειδή σκεφτόμαστε, ότι ξέρουμε να χρησιμοποιούμε ορθά τον νου μας, και υπερηφανευόμαστε ότι είμαστε πιο εξελιγμένοι από τα ζώα γιατί έχουμε μυαλό. Και κάθε μας σκέψη είναι γεμάτη ελλειμματικότητα, μίσος, θυμό, ενοχή και κρίση για τους άλλους και για τον ίδιο μας τον εαυτό. Οι σκέψεις μας είναι κυρίως καταστροφικές και αυτό αργά η γρήγορα εκδηλώνεται στις σχέσεις μας, στην δουλειά μας, και φυσικά στο ίδιο μας το σώμα.

Φτιάξτε κάτι που να χρησιμοποιείται πραγματικά για ίαση. Και αυτό δεν μπορεί παρά να είναι κάτι που να έχει να κάνει με τον νου. Ασχοληθείτε με κάτι που είναι αληθινό. Γιατί το μόνο που είναι πραγματικά αληθινό είναι ο Νους.

Why Corbyn needs to go.

Not only he is not interested in some of his hardest working constituents by bringing them up to date with their rights at work, in life, in the UK and abroad, he is selling them extreme nationalistic lies of working class sovereignty. And that is his biggest failure of all. Supporting the concept of a class system that is so inbred in the British society.

Working classes don’t need Corbyn to continue slaving them away. They need confidence building, finding their equality in the society for all, not being looked down from some tyrant, watching down from his throne. In Greece, I supported Tsipras since we first heard his name. Tsipras is the right medicine for Greece. He can think, he pacifies, he is progressive, he has clamped down on some of the half century long corruption of the political families in power and their national wealth and societal stealing ways. He said way before winning the elections:I can bring socialism to Greece but it is down to the Greek people to adopt it. Years down the line, Greece is ahead of economic development to the UK, and with a Nobel prize for the refugee crisis. New institutions and investments are popping up everywhere and people participate, volunteers, help each other. This is a miracle and it is getting more vivid by the day.

Corbyn is not what we need here. There is Theresa May and Nigel Farage that stole his voters. The Conservatives lost their liberal and internationally brought up voters to the left, not for Corbyn, but for Brexit alone.

Corbyn needs to go. His far right labour sentiment is dwindling as people can only hate their neighbours for so long before they realise, it is their own home they shit in. Corbyn needs to stay and burn on his dictatorship styled throne, by a new party which needs to form today.

Corbyn is not the man of the future, he is a man from a hellish past, where working class people were the dirt. The working class has created powerful art, technology, reinvented technology, feels and associates, none of the sentiments Corbyn’s dry meat sole of a dinner served tastes like. Successful societies are build on trust.

Don’t be fooled that Corbyn trusts or cares for the poor, the unemployed, the homeless. His plan is to let the disenfranchised rot in poverty while he lives up to some sort of a utopian power trip. He is shallow and out of date.

Exactly like Trump, he is a miserable man waiting in the shadows for the time his opposition is at its weakest, to gain his two pennies of rule.

UK needs a new political party now, and we may be in a position to get out of this nationalistic mission within a decade. Corbyn and his far right labour party needs to go.

The working class needs no longer to be told they will be ripped off and taken advantage of. That is no longer viable in a progressive society.

That’s the reason Corbyn needs to go. To stop threatening people of what will not happen in a society build on trust and equal rights.

Thank you for reading.