Wednesday 17th August

Yesterday I drove to Iraklion airport to pick up Samantha and Dean – my niece and her boyfriend – who are staying in our ‘ruin’ for two weeks. No real problems on the drive because if you remain aware that there are nutters on the road you can generally keep out of their way. The temperature hovered at about 30 and after the drive there and back I must have sweated about a gallon into my car seat, this was probably why, afterwards, two half litre glasses of ice-cold beer hardly touched my tonsils on the way down. It’s a struggle here.

Thursday 18th August
The chillies are coming thick and fast now and, having collected half a kilo of them it’s time to make sweet chilli sauce. I never actually wrote the recipe down for myself (unless it’s buried in this blog somewhere) but recollect it being half a kilo of chillies, one whole garlic bulb, salt, a cup of sugar and a cup of vinegar. However, I did write the recipe down for someone else and that says two cups of vinegar and sugar, and yet someone else told me I put corn flour in to thicken too. The only way to find out is to just do it…

And, retrospectively, here I am about essential authorial tasks, that is, preparing onions for pickling:

Well, the kids seem to be enjoying themselves. They took chairs up on our roof to soak up some rays in the morning whilst I wrote my 2,000 words, and then spent most of their time in the sea when we were all down in Makrigialos. As we were on the way back, intent on buying some bread rolls and not able to find enough, we decided to eat in the Gabbiano, whereupon plates were cleared, much laughter ensued and photos had to be taken of us being able to smoke in a restaurant. They retired to the ‘ruin’ at midnight and we hit the sack shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, to send in an email, I took a few up-to-date pictures at and from the house, which I thought I might put here:

Friday 19th August
I’m presently reading through The Hyperion Omnibus by Dan Simmons and both enjoying and remembering the book Hyperion, which I read many years ago. When I finish the omnibus I’ll maybe write a review of it, but meanwhile let me share a couple of things with you now.

As many of you will know, Hyperion is loosely based on The Canterbury Tales what with the travellers telling their various stories (in these cases usually involving some hideous encounter with the shrike) and from ‘the Poet’s Tale’:

On Heaven’s Gate, I discovered what a mental stimulant physical labour could be; not mere physical labour, I should add, but absolutely spine-bending, lung-racking, gut-ripping, ligament-tearing, and ball-breaking physical labour. But as long as the task is both onerous and repetitive, I discovered, the mind is not only free to wander to more imaginative climes, it actually flees to higher plains.

Much hollow laughter ensued from me after I read that. There speaks the effete writer whose closest encounter with a spade has probably been in a deck of cards and whose knowledge of physical labour has arisen from other effete writers, but whether that’s the poet in question, Martin Silenus, or Simmons himself I leave you to speculate. Hard physical labour numbs the mind, probably because all the blood flow is concentrated in the muscles, and the mind is focused on such mediocrities as not chopping off ones toes with the spade. In that situation the most it can manage is endless repetitions of ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’

The next bit to share is also from ‘The Poet’s Tale’:

Writers were among my acquaintances but, as in all times, we tended to mistrust and badmouth each other, secretly resenting the other’s successes and finding fault in their work. Each of us knew in his or her heart that he or she was the true artist of the word who merely happened to be commercial; the others were hacks.

And there speaks a writer with true and direct personal experience of other writers and the writing world!

Saturday 20th August
Bugger, the wind is back. After I polished off two and a half thousand words yesterday we went down to Makrigialos as usual. I managed my harbour swim, though coming back doing breast stroke I had to keep my head turned out to sea to manage to breathe. Thereafter, lying on the beach trying to read Hyperion became a bit wearing, because I didn’t want my entire body, including my eyeballs, exfoliating.

Whilst we were sitting inside Revans for a while Caroline checked out the books and discovered one that had been left there. I’m never sure whether to be glad to see books left like this or not:

Ah, here’s some of the local wildlife, the latter of which I’m saving to show our visitors:

Monday 22nd August
Well, it looks like Colonel Gadaffi is on the way out what with the rebels into Tripoli and his son being captured. Let’s just hope he’s not sitting in a bunker somewhere on a nuclear warhead with his finger on a button. Now, apparently, they are all free in Libya and will be able to say what they want. There’ll be no tribal conflict and everything from now on will be hunky dory what with peace and democracy settling over the country like a big comfy duvet. This is of course is about as naive as the thought that the rebellion would be over in just a few months. Look forward to the fanatics trying to push their case, various factions at each other’s throats and terrorist bombs going off in Tripoli over the next few years. Yeah, I know, I’m a cynic.

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