Thursday, 27 June 2013

Back from Syros

What a trip? I’m not even sure where to begin. It was simply wonderful…

The view from my wonderful hotel room

As I mentioned in the past, my brother’s wedding took place last weekend in the Greek island called Syros. Guests, including us, started to arrive a couple of days earlier. I think there were around 120 to 150 of them in total. We didn't know all of them, but it was really nice walking around the main town of the island and running into familiar faces here and there. My brother organised gatherings the nights before the wedding, where alcohol was running freely and guests got to know one another.

walking around Ermoupoli's center 

A restaurant by the 'Kini' beach 

 During the day, I stayed mostly with my parents and the closest relatives. I didn't have any guests to call my own, but I knew my brother’s friends quite well. JJ was invited to the wedding as I mentioned earlier, but we decided it would be better if he didn't turn up. It would create quite a stir and we didn't want to steal my brother’s thunder. However, I talked, mostly, to my mother about him and the plans we have for the near future.  She seems fine listening to my stories.

a common site in Ermoupoli, lot's of stairs everywhere

a local shop

So, in general, I spent my days with my parents. We would explore the island, go to the sea, have lunch next to the waves and just relax. During the evenings, I would join my brother and wife-to-be in a local bar. The discussion there was mostly about the wedding preparations. Choosing the island for their wedding was a wonderful idea. Making the preparations however, proved a little bit challenging. As in every event of that scale, making sure that everything is ready is not easy and especially in an unfamiliar small island. For example, the best man was supposed to sail to the island. However, the strong winds delayed him considerably. He almost didn't make it. There were relatives with problems in their hotel bookings and the groom was rushing the night before the wedding to sort them out. This list of issues, some trivial and some more serious, is almost endless.

Everything turned up exactly as planned though. The wedding was in a small picturesque church on a hill, overlooking the town and the bay of the island. The bride was so beautiful in her wedding dress.  The ceremony was planned for 12:30pm. Everybody was informed however, that afterwards, the reception would take place in a restaurant and a bar by the sea. So the guests changed to their bathing suits and met in the designated taverna. After a lovely lunch, we moved to the beach bar for the party.

the lovely couple exciting the church

the wedding beach bar

Alcohol was running freely and people were really enjoying themselves. They were going in and out of the sea, enjoying their drinks and dancing till late. I was of course thrown into the sea a couple of times and enjoyed lots of tequila shots with the groom, the bride and the best man. Apparently, the coldness of the sea helps you stay sober. I managed to maintain my decency and have a great time. Even my parents were dancing to the latest r&b and mainstream sounds.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Mark from behrblather asked me, not so long ago, where do I find the motivation and go and do my runs. Although I mentioned something on my reply then, I’d like to elaborate a bit more.

Recently, I’ve been having a newfound interest in getting fitter and doing beneficial physical things, for me. It hasn’t always been easy and I definitely have a long way to go still. However, I believe that I’m in a good place at the moment with a good momentum, which I hope to keep for some time yet. I try to get motivation on things I read and check online. I managed to find some inspirational videos and blogs online close to the period of time I retrieved my running shoes and I haven’t looked back since.

Finding very good looking and fit people, who might or might not be celebrities, does nothing to me. It’s not inspiring. Jason Stratham for example shows off his 6pack on the cover of ‘Men’s Health’. That photo to me might be really nice but it remains so alien. It will not make me do more core exercises to look similar. I know it can never happen. He lives a very different life to mine and gets paid just to look like he does. I can’t compare myself to him. So, reading about his exercise regime and diet is really and utterly irrelevant.

On the other hand, there are lots of people online who share their stories which I can relate to. They are people with everyday jobs, social life, ups and downs, like every other normal human being. These (mostly) success stories are truly inspirational and help me get through tough periods.

The first one I’ll mention is BendoesLife. Ben has been writing a blog for some years now. He started off as an obese youngster, depressed and miserable. At the beginning he couldn’t run almost at all, but through the years he managed to complete marathons, a triathlon and an Ironman. Recently he got married and looks so happy. Going through his blog, you can see the before and after pictures, respect his honesty, enjoy his humour and even see some of the mistakes he made and his lows. I accept the fact that he’s trying to commercialise his blog success with ‘doeslife’ merchandise and book, but I still like what he stands for. There is optimism in what he says. I think there's also a youtube video with his story.

Through the people commenting on his blog, I read some more success stories of everyday people who managed to turn their lives around for the better. If you really look for them in tumlr, wordpress or blogger, you will be able to find them, in lots of places like here or here or here.

Looking for better ways to jog and to find local running events, I joined One of the threads published there is titled: ‘Before and after weightloss pics’. That thread contains so many inspirational stories from people of various background, sex or age. Take a look at a random example:

 andydw before

In the same forum, there are lots of beginners. It’s not that hard to start and there is lots of advice on offer. You can simply start by doing brisk walks and then advance to short runs and see how it goes. Lots of people also used apps like C25k, or even the new ones where zombies try to catch you.

I went for a run yesterday evening. I’ve been listening to Stephen King’s ‘The shinning’. That was one of his books I hadn’t read, but always liked to. It’s been an interesting read while running.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

End of an era... an act against democreacy and freedom of speech?

On Tuesday, Greek government decided to shut down the national Greek radio and television broadcasting. So, at around 11pm on Tuesday night, 3 state television channels (ERT, Ελληνική Ραδιοφωνία Τηλεόραση, “Greek Radio-Television”) stopped working.

According to the news, the decision was taken extremely quickly. The PM met with his ministers who signed the document and in 3 hours the act was done. The other two parties of the coalition strongly object to this. The opposition is furious, since there was no law approved by the Parliament and they talk about the PM being a dictator. According to the decision, more than 2600 employees are immediately laid off and all state broadcasting ceased.

At the moment, there is uprising in the streets of the Greek capital. There are lots of former ERT employees still in the company’s buildings, occupying them, refusing to leave and still trying to broadcast. Lots of people have also gathered outside the main ERT building showing their support. The government is using riot police to take down state antennas to stop the transmissions and make people evacuate the areas. The journalist association has declared a running 48 hours strike to protest against the closure.

People outside ERT

ERT began radio transmitting in 1938. Television channels followed from 1966. Compared to the private TV channels it always tried to maintain a level of quality. There were very interesting documentaries, older movies and state programmes. Showing things like theatrical ancient tragedies and the philharmonic orchestra didn’t make ERT the most popular channel to the masses. That meant that the TV and radio channels weren’t profitable. The government had to subsidize it, apart from a little bit of money every household had to pay to ERT as part of their electric bill. In addition, ERT was used by previous politicians as a mean to get more voters. Lots of people were hired in ERT in the 80s and 90s for no apparent reason or qualifications.

The last news read from ERT

So, I agree that there should have been some kind of purification of the organisation. They could reorganise its structure, do some pay cuts or some layoffs. That would require a level of unwanted organisation and probably a little bit of money that the government didn’t want to spend. So, they instead decided on pulling the plug completely. TROIKA (European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF inspectors) are visiting Greece and the moment and had demanded fewer public sector employees, so the government made that stupid decision to please them…

ERT is part of the county’s history. And I can’t stress enough how important ERT’s archives are. The country’s modern history is recorded by them. Even during the military coup d’état in 1967, ERT wasn’t silenced. Think about the government shutting down BBC from one day to the next! And all these people made redundant…

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Chelsea vs Syros

It’s not really a competition; these places are as different as places can be. However, they've been in our minds a lot lately and we've been having conversations regarding them.

Chelsea, SW3 in London, is the area in my head between Sloane Square and Brompton Cemetery which will be the object of an art project taken by ‘JJ’. He needs to find and work on an architectural feature of the area. He can pick something from the whole borough. However, we decided to concentrate only on Chelsea. So, last Sunday, JJ took his camera, I took a big cup of coffee and our housemate and we headed to explore. We got off the tube in West Brompton and started zigzagging the streets.

 Really nice mews in the area

JJ took lots of photos of things that caught his attention. I managed to capture a few photos too with my phone that you can see here. The area is generally very nice with some hidden gems here and there. For example there’s the ‘World’s End’. That’s a big grey building with a massive clock on it, going backwards. I've tried to find out its story or reason of existence, but no luck.

Clock going backwards

The troubadour's door

Generally Chelsea is an area where wealthy people live. I think that ‘Cheyne Walk’ is one of the most expensive streets in the capital. And in some areas this wealth can be seen, or even advertised. Having watched an episode of the TV series ‘Made in Chelsea’, I lost a little bit of respect I had left for the people living there though. In any case, our walk was really nice, even if the weather wasn't the best. I was so excited at the end of our day to find an amazingly cute little olive tree plant at the Chelsea Gardener. I was looking for one for some time now and I finally got one!!

Goat in boots pub

Chelsea bridge

Syros on the other hand, is the place where my brother’s wedding will take place. I don’t have my own photos to show you from there yet. I visited the island when I was still studying, back in the very early 00’s for some days. It must have changed since then, I assume. Ermoupoli, its capital, is a very beautiful town built by the sea and between two big hills. It’s very picturesque with an Orthodox church on the top of one hill and a Catholic church on the other. Most of its old mansions and neo-classical buildings should still (hopefully) be there.

Syros main town, Ermoupoli

The discussions regarding the island are mainly about who’s going to be staying where and the logistics of the wedding. Apparently, it’s not that easy to organise all the relatives, especially the elders, and find means of transportation and accommodation. I thought that since they’re pensioners, they would be flexible on dates and accommodation as long as someone would drive them to places and back! Apparently, I am wrong. My parents will be driving 3 more people there and my brother has to figure out how to carry wedding dresses, traditional treats, decorations etc. I believe that he chose the island, so that he could simply sail there! That is not the case!

To be honest, I’m so happy that I can skip all that trouble. Leaving abroad, I will just fly and meet them there and most details will be taken care of!!!!

Friday, 7 June 2013

I love spring...

I have to admit that technically it’s not spring anymore, we’re in June. That month is generally associated with summer and if you were living in Greece, you would already have visited a nearby beach and started your plunges in the warm salty sea.

But this is not Greece. Winter was cold and very long. Temperatures were close to 0 for a long time. Recently, that has changed and a visit to our back garden can confirm that. Some of the roses have blossomed and there are more to come. I’m starting to see the carrots I planted earlier this year grow and the irises are so heavy with flowers they’re touching the ground. It’s not big but our back garden at the moment is my private paradise…

I’m not a great flower person. I can’t remember their names, place of origin or anything like that. But just like a very beautiful woman, when I see one, I can appreciate its beauty.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Back to the pit

Yesterday, on Sunday, it was the day of my 10 kilometers run in Regent's Park. It was a very nice, warm and sunny day. The park itself is so beautiful and its so nice to run in it.

My happy sleepy helpers

We had a really early start of the day. JJ and my housemate decided to come with me to the park, so I woke them up at 6 in the morning! Not the nicest thing to do on a Sunday, but at least the day went very well. I had to register for the race at 8:30 am, on almost the other side of the city, so we had an early start. 
The 'Before' picture 

Apparently that's my 'running' face

It was so nice having them cheer up from me. They yelled and they made waves for me. It was so funny and encouraging. While they were waiting at the finish line for me, they told the guy with the megaphone to call my name and tell me to sprint! The funnier thing is I did! I sprinted the last 300 meters. I didn't know I had it in me! I even managed to beat my PB at the end!!!!

Right before the Start line

Running at the park was so nice

The 'After' picture

The mandatory stretching 

Apart from stretching, an English breakfastwas also mandatory