The Parthenon

I was astonished recently when watching a program on an American television channel about how well the Parthenon was constructed. They understood so many things to construct the perfect temple. What’s more is they did it without a plan and in 9 years. The current renovation which the program covers has taken at least 30 because they had to correct previous fixes which were done incorrectly. They also had to figure out how they built it in the first place because there is very little records bar other temples.

Each piece of the temple is unique so it’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each piece can only fit in one place. Slotting it all together is a big task for anyone to complete. The team decided to put the temple back into order as it stands without trying to restore it to a previous era as that would destroy its beauty and make it look unbalanced.

Do you have any wonders if the world near you?

Best wishes

Angela

The Greek Islands with Julia Bradbury

Since I like to keep up with all things Greek while I’m not there I decided to watch this show. This is a series created so that Julia, who is half Greek on her mothers side from the island of Chios can explore the bounty contained on many Greek islands like Crete, Spinalonga and Corfu ending up in Chios. If you have ever watched her on antiques and art show you would have never guessed this in a million years. I in fact did not know myself until I watched the first episode. It’s nice watching her progress with the Greek language but I wonder why she didn’t take advantage of it in early life.

It’s good to discover your heritage though whatever it is which is why in 2 months time I’m going to India which is where my mother is from. Being English and part of the army she didn’t learn any foreign languages but I think this has more to do with her dyslexia. My dad was also part of the army and learned German but not any other language despite his varied postings. This probably explains my love of travel and culture. Also the fact I don’t stay in one place very long so I never really put down roots or get settled. I was just starting to do that last year and then I had to leave. As usually happens with me.

Do you feel that your life is sometimes so stop/start you struggle to achieve what you think you need out of life?

Best wishes

Angela

There is a Berlin Wall inside my brain for words

This was installed when I had my accident at 17 and they are very militant in not allowing words from one part of my brain to the other. I learn all the words of a language and retain them but they are not allowed to cross the divide between the conscious and unconscious minds.

My husband just made a joke in Greek which was quite funny. He was saying a bunch of stuff then he says vemata (steps) instead of psmeta (lies) excuse my spelling. So I’m thinking there not the same word and that’s not the word he means or even what he usually says. Then I get what it is he just said so the words are there, there just not allowed out of the fortress often.

I have to find my Reagan so he can say “Tear down this wall Mr Gorbachev!”

Best wishes

Angela

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe by Madeline Miller
Circe by Madeline Miller

This is the Retelling of the story of Circe from her birth to her involvement in the Odyssey and beyond.

Circe here reminds me of myself as her company is unwanted by all who surround her as she is different from all the others. She is not interested in the great parties, the gossip or the other guests. Instead she is prone to wondering the great halls alone wanting her fathers attention while avoiding her mother.

This lack of attention causes great loneliness in herself as she has no purpose. She has great strength but doesn’t believe in herself because of the ridicule she has previously received from her loved ones. Her innocence and naïveté cause her to fall in love with the first man she sets eyes upon. This is unrequited love but she cannot see it until he falls in love with another. All she wanted was to help another because she cared for him but it wasn’t to be. She repeats the pattern as she cannot help the fact she has so much love to give it spills over. She needs an outlet but without children what is an Ancient Greek girl to do?

You can listen to a sample of this book if you are not too sure about buying it on Audible. It is alternative history as the female side of things tends not to survive. Hence we have history or his story.

Best wishes

Angela

Architecture

I recently went to Tenerife on holiday and while I was there I took numerous pictures of the different styles of buildings. I’m a very visual person so I like line, shape, form, colour and all those things which an architect might consider when designing a building. I had also been watching the Art of Design on Netflix along with the Art of Architecture on Sky Arts.

Amistrad Circus
Amistrad Circus

Whenever I go anywhere the buildings are what interest me as I like to see the craftsmanship that has gone into making them. You can tell just by looking whether it was put in a hurry or whether it was a labour of love over many years. This may seem an odd thing to contemplate while you are away but I’ve never been like anyone else. Also when everyone your surrounded by is in involved in building or property in some way it seems in if it didn’t already reside in you.

Since I like drawing, painting and photography it would seem natural for me to be drawn to art galleries and museums. While in Tenerife I went to pretty much everything available in Santa Cruz which is the capital. I gained an insight into their culture and the light which is available there.

College of Ildelfonso
College of Ildelfonso

When I was in Berlin I also went to many art galleries and museums but there is so much more to absorb here that you need to take a break. I got overwhelmed with the amount of information that I was taking in and physically couldn’t read anymore. The architecture here is more of the kind that while is impressive, it’s so dark that it’s not the kind of thing you want to be pictured by. The history associated with these buildings is immense and thought provoking. There certainly not the happy colours of Tenerife.

The Reichstag - German parliament
The Reichstag – German parliament

Bauhaus

This is a German style of art from the turn of the 20th century. It is a reaction against the horrors of the First World War. It was trying to create a new society as the old one had been so thoroughly destroyed. Old habits have a habit of creeping back in though so it wasn’t long before the attitudes of the older tutors started to corrupt the ideas of the younger generation.

The women who attended were soon segregated to the weaving department and this led to development of innovation in the world of thread. Annie Albers developed fabric that could be used for sound proofing that was much better than what was previously in use. This was mentioned in the covering program by the BBC as well as in her own program. Her work was recently exhibited at the Tate too.

After this input I had to visit the original Bauhaus exhibition when I went to Berlin. It was wonderful to learn all that I could about the preliminary exercises, the tutors and pupils, the locations and the effect that it has had on the world of design since. It has made me realise that as much as I think I’m innovative, everything truly has been done before. Therefore it’s freeing to know that I don’t need to try to reinvent the wheel in my art or photography.

I liked the idea they had of exploring colour, paper, light and shade like you had never used them before. It was the throwing out of everything you knew before to start afresh. I have been doing this over the course of the past year at least to explore where I need to go with my artistic projects. This is in conjunction with my therapy to understand myself and the world better.

Best wishes

Angela

How the letters of the alphabet got their names – The Economist explains

Why B became bee and U became yoo
— Read on www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2017/11/14/how-the-letters-of-the-alphabet-got-their-names

If your curious like I am this is a good article to read as it explains curiosities like the lack of j in Spanish and the h sound.

Linear B

This is a very early writing system that predates the Greek alphabet. There has been extensive studies to understand this pre alphabet in both Crete and Cyprus. Knossos is a very important historical site in Crete where these tablets have been discovered on archeological digs.

On Cyprus lectures are given about its importance about its role as a precursor to the Greek language. These lectures are given in Greek at the university of Nicosia in Cyprus but I was able to find out about it because the lecturer is in fact English. There was a magazine article I read about his work and how he came to learn the Greek language over a period of approximately 30 years. I found it fascinating that there is still much to learn about prehistoric times because the information was either recorded in a language that is now indecipherable to us; or was just passed down verbally as they had no means of remembering things in terms of texts.

Linear B is a written language that is in itself predated by Linear A which hasn’t been decoded yet. Linear B was uncovered by English architect Micheal Ventris. He was a Classist and self taught linguist. His specialty was the Mycenaean era of Greece. He sadly died in a car crash very early on in his life otherwise this new field could be much further forward than it is today.

Best wishes

Angela

The Mayan anthropology museum

This is a museum about the visual word. It demonstrates that the Mayan way of communication is completely different to anything else in the world. There are 31 different dialects and it shows in chart form how and where they evolved. It also demonstrates how the sound has changed over time.

The Mayan language started off being written in hieroglyphic form but with a completely different set of symbols to Egyptian. However when the Spanish invaded this was banned. So all Mayan practices had to conducted in secret or with the Latin language. As a result of this it meant that the ability to read and write was mostly lost until recently. The museum charts the work of anthropologists, enthographers and linguists from around the world but particularly Dresden, Madrid, and St Petersburg in there battle to understand this mysterious code. It was cracked but it took until the 1950s for this to happen. The Mayan language is now written universally in Latin and the hieroglyphs are left as part of there cultural heritage.

The reasoning for this is that the mayans used a vigesimal system which meant that they counted in 20s. This is quite a feat but remember there was no electricity in those days so no internet, television, radio, phones, computers to distract them.

For other number systems see here Alternative number systems.

The Mayan mathematical system was unique using dots and dashes to add all numbers together. They invented zero long before the Arabic zero. The Romans with their numerals never had the concept of zero. The Mayan knowledge of mathematics, physics and astronomy was comparable to the Ancient Greeks.

The Mayan calendar system was also unique in that it had 18 months of 20 days and 1 month of 5 days to create 365 days. The extra days were celebratory. They each had there own name and these were only repeated every 52 years. The date is written in 5 parts. The first 3 in numerals then you get words to represent where you are in that particular cycle.

The Mayan calendar system is similar to the Aztec calendar system so you can get easily confused as they are equally big numbers that seems rather abstract at once glance. You have to have a systematic and mathematical mind to grasp it. A bit like the old system of pounds, shillings and pence was once commonplace but now seems so awkward and obsolete.

There isn’t much in the museum itself anymore as it’s been open for 60 years now. It’s been moved to a new location further north but what is left is still intriguing. The artefacts themselves, the stories and the knowledge contained within. By the way this is in Spanish but you can get an English book if you left them hold your ID for the duration of your stay. It takes about a hour to look at it all.

Best wishes

Angela

This is Greece on PBS with Michael Scott

I have been to Northern and Central Greece on a road trip and I have seen some of the magnificent treasures that are contained within. It’s fabulous that we can still look at all of this architectural, natural and archaeological evidence starting from the influential reign of Philip II. It was one of many crucial milestones in the formation of Greece which will be covered in this series of 5 programs. It’s power still resonates for all to see and will continue to echo through the ages for all to witness for eons to come I hope.

He first of all mentions the tomb of Philip II of Macedon as it is certainly a sight to behold. The museum contains the results of the excavations done on the site and the artefacts are astonishing in their brilliance. It is not much to look at from the outside but it is certainly worth taking your time to visit.

During the course of the shows he is visiting the historic sites of Northern Greece starting with Thesonlaniki and its White Tower. While it may seem odd to start a program with reference to a Tomb that isn’t actually in the second city; it is the man himself and that of his son Alexander the Great that exerts such a great influence on the development of Greek history that they have to be addressed first.

I have wanted to visit the city for a while due to its historical and cultural pedigree but I haven’t quite been able to manage it yet. It’s a considerable distance from where I usually am in Greece so it’s still on the waiting list. When I will be able to cross it off is still up for debate.

Phillipi is his next stop on his grand tour. This is a place I don’t recall ever hearing about and it’s a set of ruins. It has a Roman amphitheater and many buildings congregated in the shape of a town. As you may have guessed by its name, it was founded by Philip II. It was on the great Roman Road, the Villa Egnatia. As the program explains it was the first Christian colony due to the time the apostle Paul spent incarcerated there. This was because he disagreed with aspects of the Roman way of life as detailed in the Bible in Philippians.

Kavala (Neopolis or new city as it was known) is the port of Philippi and where we must journey next in our odyssey. We are using the Villa Egnatia here as our guide and here you can walk upon it like many others have done before you. Sights to check out are the Acropolis, 10th century castle and 16th century Turkish aqueduct. This was built in the Roman style by Sulliman the Byzantine ruler of the time and was in operation until 1911. The rest of the old town is worth your attention too since there has been a settlement on this site since the 7th century. Sounds like I’m gaining a lot more places to visit in Greece.

He next has a whistle-stop tour of places that were staging posts on the the villa Egnatia that were also used by St Paul.

This being an American program means it has a religious slant to it in addition to the historical context. Another guy annotates all of the religious parts leaving Michael, (who I believe to be English), free to present the historical parts.

You can’t really study the history of Greece without becoming well versed in the religious significance as well. This means the history of the Byzantine empire and Istanbul/Constantinople as well as that of Rome. Hence this can be a tad distracting trying to focus on so many disparate yet connected ideas and areas.

I have stayed in Rome and visited the Vatican but Istanbul remains to be explored.

His path down the east coast of Greece now incorporates Mount Olympus home of the Greek gods and adds in a visit to Meteora. Meteroa (the middle of the sky) and origin of the science that is meteorology(weather); is another famous destination containing a well known Christian monastery. This should be on all travellers bucket lists but I haven’t got there yet. It is another place that may take quite some time before I finally get round to visiting. Too many places and not enough time 😉

Although I have been to his final destination Delphi. Delphi was the home of the world renown Oracle. I have visited the temple to learn more about the history of the place as it is not too far away from the tomb I mentioned at the beginning of this article. The Nekromantium is also in the vicinity of these attractions and should be checked out to complete any excursion to this area.

Best wishes

Angela

Reflection

I have recently been having a look at my old photographs as part of an exercise for photography club and I came across some which really sum me up as a person.

First of course is Greece. I love this view whether it’s in reality, a photograph or a painting I have done. I also love sunsets in case you hadn’t guessed by now. Sorry but I’m slightly addicted and obsessed with this time of day. Just so you know and we’re clear on this point 😉 I just like the simplicity of Greece and how natural and uncomplicated things are there. It is of course a mirage as I’m always on holiday there but we all need a little fantasy in our lives.

This is who runs the restaurant that we go to every week in Greece. You’ll notice that I’m dressed for dinner and for once I actually wearing a dress and jewellery. I look damn good and there is a sunset as well as there being the obligatory glass of alcohol. I’m not sure what we are celebrating but life is there to be enjoyed so why not have some champagne every now and again?

To continue on with the imaginative theme this is my husband on our wedding day. I am Cinderella who has finally been allowed to go to the ball and he is Robin Hood. He is my saviour and in the tradition started by Shrek everyone else who came to the wedding was dressed up in historical or fairytale attire. It was a wonderful day that hasn’t yet been bested in any of the subsequent weddings I have been to.

This is me relaxing outside in Greece at my in laws house. I like to read quite widely on a range of topics to kind my mind active. Also I do like to try new things “the curious kitty aspect as it’s been named” hence I’m reading a book about how to make cocktails because I’m partial to them.

This is also me having a drink surprise, surprise while watching the World Cup. I love watching football or soccer to Americans. I’m neither masculine or feminine really. A combination of both but some days I’m definitely more of one than the other like here I’m indulging my laddie side. This is is also in Greece but you can tell this is only a British thing on this occasion by the people in the background.

This is also me again quite laddie, interested in culture (Pirates week celebration in the Cayman Islands where I used to live), history as it’s a replica ship, being part of a hive of activity but also quite distant. I keep myself to myself while the world carries on with its business. It’s almost like I’m in a separate time zone as I’m able to observe the world around me but unable to fully interact or integrate into it. My husband who I met here helps me enormously with this. I think it’s also sunset here too.

This is my latest sunset picture which shows even in the UK we can have some pretty stunning scenery. It’s good to appreciate the places that you spend time in as that allows you to become settled. Sunsets allow you to notice that everything no matter how beautiful has its time but it can be reborn the next day into a new shape with new possibilities.

This image shows how much I like reflections, symmetry, rivers, parks, nature and while we all have flaws this doesn’t totally obscure who we are. It shows that we all were learners once with room for improvement. It’s up to us whether we actually continue to do that or not. It is also another place I have lived in for a short time. These are however not in chronological order. also my brain doesn’t like to always put everything into the correct order so this is a good representation of what happens in my mind on a regular basis.

This combines my love for travel, history, art and architecture. I like the clean lines that are present in Art Deco but also the idea of form and function as espoused by the Bauhaus movement in Germany of about the same time. There are also sculptures and nature present which is 2 more boxes ticked for me. Lastly this was taken when I went on my best friends hen do when we went to a gay bar as we like to do things slightly differently to usual. See below for more explanation.

This photo shows how absolutely bonkers I can be at times because this was my hen do. I went to the zoo wearing this, got my face painted to match and then came home to drinks while watching Eurovision. This was my maid of honour whose wedding I’m shortly going to and for which I am also maid of honour. I like the reciprocity here.

Sometimes pictures can explain much better than words ever can the things that mean the most to you in your life. Here I am with the people I spend the most time with on a trip to Northern Greece. We were on a wine tasting tour because we wanted to see more of the country to better appreciate the terroir as well as the history and culture. It’s useful for language purposes too. Finally I like to travel to see more of the world so that I can get an understanding of the way others live.

Finally these are people who I thought would be my forever friends as I spent a lot of time with them but due to circumstances in their own lives it wasn’t meant to be. This is good for me to remember that there are many paths in life that we can can take and while some seem very good initially, they don’t all turn out the way we expect them too. Change is an essential part of life and we need to accept the good while also making room for the removal of those things that were not so good in the end.

You might notice a distinct lack of people my own age but I’ve never been very good at socialising due to my Autism; plus when your self employed there is a lack of people to associate with in the first place. You need like minded people and there not generally found in pubs no matter how many you go to or how frequently you visit them. I’m in no way an alcoholic but alcohol allows you to release your inhibitions so it’s easier to try to connect.However, due to not being particularly social due to the anxiety and panic it can cause and not having the usual prerequisites like having a job to talk about; this makes things very difficult for me. There is only so many times you can talk about the weather, what was on TV recently and the drinks in your current establishment.

So the social isolation is quite crushing at times no matter where I am. This is why I’m trying to better myself with languages, art, photography, journaling, philosophy and learning about who I am as well as my place in the world. Neuroscience and psychology are helpful here as well as biochemistry.

I hope you like this insight into my life

Angela

Marcus Aurelius – Roman philosopher

He is very famous as he wrote a set of rules for living a more organised and therefore peaceful life. He also happened to be a Roman emperor so this was quite crucial for him to get everything done on time. He has much in common with Seneca and Stoicism in this respect. So the 2 are often read together to see how they compare and contrast.

A major point that Marcus mentions is to live your life as though you are going to die soon. While this may sound rather morbid and counterproductive; it is in fact sound advice. You are now motivated to do the most important things in life and that is to spend time with your family, friends and enjoying yourself by indulging in hobbies. You are no longer exclusively focused on hard work.

Marcus is part of the group of stoic philosophers that include Seneca the younger, Cato and Epictetus. There all from around the same time but with widely different viewpoints due to their unique lives. This helps enormously as you will always be able to find something useful since they will most likely have experienced it.

Best wishes

Angela

Stoicism

This is what the ancient world practised to ensure that they made the best use of their time. They didn’t have all of the electronic distractions that we do but they did have a lot more children so their issues were more immediate and pertinent. Such things as hunger, thirst and death from diseases which we have mainly stopped. So they had good reason to optimise the short lives that they had. It also means that if we follow their lead we will also benefit from there advice as it has passed the test of time.

Watch Seneca here for some golden rules to follow for better time management.

Seneca was a famous Roman philosopher who has been used through the ages by many people to gain an insight into how they can be the most productive version of themselves. Recently Americans interested in promoting alternative lifestyles that are now possible like the location independent or digital mimialistic ones use stoicism as there cornerstones. Look here at Cal Newport for more information on the subject. There are many others who talk about this like Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris and Scott H Young. I don’t get money from any of them.

Best wishes

Angela

Linguistic insights into the shared Greek and Russian cultures

Since I love both history and language I thought this video was both amazing in giving new insights and intriguing as it makes you want to learn more.

What a love for the Russian language can do for you.

Sky Arts programs

These are another fantastic resource to use to learn languages with. There are many European programs where the people being interviewed do not speak English but subtitles are provided for your benefit. This can range from a program about the influence font (sizing, spacing, arrangement, case, style and colour of letters) has on us. The show travels from France, Germany, Spain, Portugal to French Canada, the USA and finally the UK to give a wide variety of signs throughout history with a knowledgeable local in each location.

Another program I have watched was set in France and it demonstrated all of the sketches that the famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent did during his working career including his cartoon sketches that he did when he needed a break. They interviewed those closest to him and the majority of the program was in French with subtitles.

The most recent program I have been watching is Sky Arts Master of Photography. I believe this is set in Italy as that’s where the challenges take place. Some of the contestants are Italian so you get to hear them interacting with locals during the course of their day. It’s very European as you get contestants from Germany, UK, Switzerland etc. There are subtitles for the Italian but to stop any more linguistic confusion the main content is in English.

Is there any other bilingual programs that you like to watch and would recommend me to check out?

Best wishes

Angela

Netflix

This is a brilliant platform to watch foreign language films on subjects that you are interested in. I have already posted about watching The First Line which is English but with plenty of Greek to keep me happy. I have also been watching Cathedral of the Sea which is Spanish (English subtitled) history, The Medici which is Italian history, Bolivar which is Spanish (English subtitled) Latin American history and the Last Csars which is Russian history. That last one is part dramatisation, part historical program. For pure drama in Russian with English subtitles watch Trotsky. This is not for the faint hearted as it’s quite raunchy from the start.

If you need to practice your English I recommend watching Peaky Blinders. This is on BBC IPlayer as well as on Netflix. You have 4 seasons so far to sink your teeth into. This is set in Birmingham just after World War One and the language is quite raw but it’s highly enjoyable. Not one for children but then neither are any of the above programmes either.

Do you have programs to recommend that I should watch as you don’t tend to hear about any of the ones above when asking people for viewing suggestions?

Best wishes

Angela

The First Line

This is a movie on Netflix about the Parthenon marbles. They were taken by Lord Elgin in the 18th century for safe keeping in the British Museum. This is the attempt by some Greek lawyers to get them back. It has lots of Greek conversation on which to practice which is very useful for me. I hope you all enjoy the film as much as I did.

Best wishes

Angela

Patrick Leigh Fermor British author 1915-2011

A British author who went to school at the Kings School Canterbury, was a scholar, polyglot and a soldier. He traveled extensively in Greece and Europe becoming friends with Lawrence Durrell. He is referenced by Lawrence in Bitter Lemons which is Lawrence’s book on Cyprus.

He also had quite an effect on Ian Fleming and is extensively quoted in his book Live and Let Die due to his experience of the Caribbean and the fact he liked to live in monasteries.

He has quite the back catalogue of books to get through as he had the crazy idea to walk all the way from England to Greece. It’s serialised in his books since there is such a lot of material. I have one Roumeli- Travels in Northern Greece. Roumeli is an old name for northern Greece that is seldom used these days. He is perhaps the only man that I know of that has referred to the area by such a term.

I’m currently reading the above book and it’s a good read. It has lots of snippets of the Greek language and it shows Greece just as it was being discovered by the rest of Western Europe in the 1960’s. It was a time of great change and modernisation. It was also a time of revolution. He mentions the customs and traditions that may not be still present. I find it very informative and it’s a historical document. He does however reference his previous book Mani a lot which I haven’t got yet and you can tell he was a journalist as it’s written as a travelogue with pieces of real life interaction along with book recommendations and information about the people or history of a place.

On his gravestone is a quote from C F Cavafy and it says “In addition, he was the best of all things, Hellenic.”

Patrick Leigh Fermor

Part of foreigners with an interest in Greece series.

Series links

Best wishes

Angela