|Man with a bow tie.|
Saturday, 30 July 2016
Thursday, 28 July 2016
|The Taygetus range in spring rising like a wall above Sparta.|
|My first full view of Viros Gorge from the village of Tseria near Kardamyli whetted|
my appetite for the traverse a year later. Profitis Ilias is in the distance at the
upper left of the photograph.
That fascination led to a desire - and it was a desire, something like a lust and a need - to traverse the Taygetus range from east to west, from Sparta down into Outer Mani.
|My copy of Mani.|
|Patrick Leigh Fermor's house outside Kardamyli.|
Recently at the Durrell conference at Rethymnon I met Chris White who is an expert in Leigh Fermor's exploits in Crete and has tracked down his routes and hideouts from the time when he and the resistance kidnapped the German commandant General Kreipe. I asked Chris about Paddy's traverse of the Taygetus and he agreed that his description is vague, most probably because he never did it, instead that he made several shorter explorations and then linked them up in his book to look like a traverse.
Which confirms what I began to suspect at the time. After poring over maps looking for Paddy's possible route I eventually gave up and decided that the only thing to do was to keep it simple and direct. I would climb Profitis Ilias from the Sparta side and then come down into Outer Mani along the Viros Gorge which spills into Kardamyli and the Messenian Gulf.
|Wending my way up Profitis Ilias.|
Having shown Neville the eastern approach and the western flank of Taygetus and had a good look at the peak of Profitis Ilias and the Viros Gorge, he announced himself game and we set off, friends driving us back to the Sparta side. If they did not see us again soon, they were to do something, though none of us knew what.
|Michael atop Profitis Ilias.|
|Neville looking for a way down. There is no way down except the gorge.|
We soon received a warning of what could happen if things went wrong. We began by walking south along a ridge but it came to a sudden end with no way down. Here we found a piece of paper held down by four stones, saying Nikophoros K------ (I forget the last name) eton 38, also two cardboard boxes held in place by stones inside, a scarlet robe also held down by stones, and a reed cross lying among the stones. Neville immediately went looking for the grave itself and found it beneath a rocky ledge, a body-length pile of stones.
We retreated back along the ridge and found a more promising line of descent. But the scree, being loose underfoot, made it difficult to descend without slipping, which I did, destroying my water bottle at the same time. Even a bottle each was too little, it soon became apparent. This was early September and there was no water anywhere. And we now had one bottle of water between us for a descent that I hoped could be accomplished in a day but maybe not.
|Neville at the grave of Nikophoros.|
|In the gorge, climbing over boulders.|
|The long dry descent.|
|We finally reach the tree line but still no water.|
|Two days after our traverse of Taygetus, myself and Neville at Old Kardamyli at the mouth of the Viros Gorge, somehow alive and well.|
Thursday, 21 July 2016
Q: What surprised you most along the way of researching Mary Magdalene and writing this book?
A: I suppose what surprised me most was how important the story has been in the course of 2,000 years, its inventions and reinventions, and how much it still matters to us today. That suggests to me Mary Magdalene has a significance, a power, greater than the Gospels tell, greater than the Church. It is the old story of death and love and rebirth. Take that carnally, take it spiritually, take them together as one, but it is the oldest story around.
|The oldest story.|
Saturday, 9 July 2016
|Aphrodite by Clea Badaro.|
|A 2007 photograph of the wrecked studio behind the Villa Ambron where Clea Badaro painted.|
But this new exhibition changes that. The Gulf News writes:
The visual narrative continues with a selection of portraits and landscapes from different decades and different parts of the Arab world that indicate how quickly the artists moved to a more accurate depiction of their own culture and surroundings. The eclectic collection includes works that are significant in the personal journeys of the artists or in the art history of this region, such as an early portrait by Syrian artist Marwan Kassab Bachi, painted soon after he moved to Germany, and depictions of the changing urban and rural landscapes by masters such as George Sabbagh, Saliba Douaihy, Yousef Kamel and European Egyptian artist Clea Badaro.
|Clea Badaro, centre, with other Alexandrian artists.|
Wednesday, 6 July 2016
|The Venetian Harbour at Rethymnon.|
|A street through the old town.|
|The interior courtyard of a Veneitan house.|
|In the heat of the day.|
|A Ventian fountain abutted by an Ottoman vault.|
Among the people I met up with again at Rethymnon was Ian MacNiven, who edited The Durrell-Miller Letters which I co-published with Faber and Faber in 1988.
|Ian MacNiven with his wife Peggy Fox of New Directions, New York. The speaker is Linda Rashidi, professor of linguistics at Mansfield University, the outgoing president of the International Lawrence Durrell Society.|
|My hardback copy of The Durrell-Miller Letters. I found the cover photograph in a shoebox at Durrell's house in Sommieres.|
|Eve Durrell thought she ought to add herself to the correspondence with this inscription in my paperback copy.|
|A night street in the old Venetian quarter of Rethymnon.|
|Booking now for a world cruise.|
A thoughtful friend has drawn my attention to the Second Coming of Noah's Ark. Possibly the last chance to get on board.
The Ark is a faithful reconstruction of Noah's original as detailed in the Bible, Genesis 6-9.
Unlike the Ark of Genesis which came aground on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey - slap in the middle of all that Middle Eastern danger and turmoil so distressing to tourists and the faithful - this Ark is conveniently located in Kentucky. And to save yourself from the wrath of God all you need is $40. Pets are welcome.
|Prepare to believe.|
For more information about the End of the World and how to avoid going under, click here.
|The Creation Museum is not far from the Ark. Save and be saved with a combined ticket.|