Thursday, 19 November 2015

Hokusai Says...

Today, given the rain, wind and dark nights that have made up my week I could be forgiven in thinking that last week's Cretan adventure, full of sunshine, warmth and walking with glimpses of the sea, was just a dream.  And then I remembered the poem Jonathan read to us as we drove to the airport, with the knowledge of the dreadful atrocities which had taken place in Paris the day before. Of all the reading we had shared that week it is this one which moved me to tears, so I thought I would share it with you:

Hokusai Says by Roger Keyes
Hokusai says look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
He says look forward to getting old.
He says keep changing; you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself as long as it’s interesting.
He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child, every one of us is ancient, every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.
He says everything is alive –shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.
He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home and stare at the ants on your verandah
or the shadows of the trees and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength is life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

The only way is up...

Today for our last day of walking we headed back into The White Mountains.  Leaving Charnia behind us we drove through mile after mile of orange groves , through the olive groves and chestnut woods and across the Omalos Plateau.  Goats and hardy Cretian sheep wandered across our road, too set on grazing to give us much thought.

The going was steadily upwards around the Agia Irini Gorge, and if we were silent there was nothing to hear except for the occasional bird song.  It was as though the earth was as content as we were.

The terracing to the left is originally where wheat was cultivated, which can't have made for an easy life given the remoteness.

The way was 'paved', after a fashion and was probably done when Adam was a lad!, if not many years earlier!

Eventually, the higher we walked, the trees petered out to be replaced by othe plants more resilient to this climate.

Light relief was a key hole, set into a piece of foam board.  Don't ask why,  it was just there!

This sign keeps you on the route.

But with Jonathan as our guide and a clear, if uneven, path underfoot we had no problems finding our way.

As in life, it's alway good to stop and take stock,to look back from where you've been and then move onwards.

The fading leaves of the acers provide a bright spark of light to contrast with the dark green of the cypresses.

Whilst there was a path you needed to look down to make sure you didn't trip on the exposed root systems.  I rather wish I'd taken more photographs of tree roots.  Aren't they marvellous?

Are we there yet??

Yes we are, and here I am to prove it.

We're all smiling, which is just as it should be.

After a rather tasty picnic lunch Nikos drove us a little further along so Jonathan could introduce us to the Samaria Gorge.  Closed at this time of year, it is just stunning and quite takes your breathe away.  Perhaps that is another walk for another time?

In the evening dinner had been organised by Jonathan in a restaurant a short walk away.  Plate after plate of Greek meze and then we were served some of the very best fish and chips.  

And if you have never seen newly pressed olive oil then take a look at this, the most beautiful Chatrese green colour. Almost too good to eat.

So with the tins of honey and olives already packed it's time to head off home.  Walking the paths of Crete as part of Jonathan's Autumn walks has been a delight.  The beautifully sunny weather was a bonus,  each meal a taste bud explosion and many happy memories stored, to be taken out and remembered in the cold dark days of winter.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Knock, knock?

Today was a 'rest day', so we were free to amuse ourselves.  Our hotel

is right on the harbour front

so it is only a short hop and a skip to the waters edge.

Would I like a boat like this one or

this one?

I suspect neither, having never hankered after a life on the ocean waves.

So a gentle stroll along the harbour front, gazing at the schools ( or shoals? ) of tiny, tiny fish darting amongs the shadows is what I shall have.  Even at this early hour the sun feels warm and pleasant,

so today is all about finding my inner cat...reeeelaaaaaxiiing.

However I do need to pay a bit of attention if I am to avoid going headfirst into the harbour,

so I make a point of capturing the different iron rings.  And yes, the water was really that blue this morning!

Charnia is still a working harbour, with nets drying on the quay.

Although now summer is over it's time to pack away

the tables and

chairs for another year.

If you come in summer this area is a frantic, noisy jumble of people, tables and food.  But for now life is  passing at a slower pace, with time to amble and stop for a coffee and chat.

The shutters are going up

but at the other end of the harbour the busy little market is doing a roaring trade.

Piles of greens leaves,

reds peppers

and shiny black aubergines.

Most surprising of all were these few bunches of spring narcissi.

And as with every market, no matter where in the world, there was the usual tat - yapping dogs and a cycling Barbie were today's offering.

I'm sure the mandolin is a sweet instrument in the right hands...

but you need music and well as food for the soul.

It's getting too hot to wander in the open, look up at the blue sky, there's not a cloud in sight,

So it's time to plung into the back streets of the old town, tucked inside the ancient Venician wall.

Often too narrow and highly-piggly for vehicles there is time to wander and look.

Cretan blankets and kilims are tempting,

but I am on a you will see!

First up is this baseball hat wearing dragon wash tap.  

Tucked into a wall niche there is even a bar of soap.  You'll need to bring your own towel.

So grand, my one at home seems dull beyond belief.

But what captures my eye this sunny morning are the door knockers.

Large or small, whatever the shape, I snapped them all, take a look at what I found:

So you can imagine I felt a bit miffed when I rounded the corner

and saw this!  I was quite tempted to upgrade my own front door knocker...until I saw the price.  I'll make do with the one I've got.

Wandering can be hungry work, so on up some steps,

past a garlanded door before stopping here.

Tucked into a narrow alley way this once ancient bath house is now a delightful restaurant.

It looks just the right sort of place for A - first up on the menu are the puddings!

But meze is ordered, and very good it is too.  Can you ever eat too many olives??

Charnian buildings have had to adapt, first a bath house and pump room to the Venicians (note the square lintels) and then the Turks (the elegant arches) it now houses a restaurant.

Development in Venician Charnia is protected and regulated so it's surprising to see how much graffiti there is. 

 It's everywhere.

I just hope that none of the above is something rude in Greek?

Charming streets are defaced, but litter free.  Every cloud has a silver lining.

Knife crime can't be much of a problem either given the amount of knives on open display.

So the day draws to an end...

looks as though tomorrow is going to be another fine day