Thursday, 19 August 2010

Under surveillance

You must all be familiar with facebook. I don’t believe that someone who knows what a blog is (reading or writing one) has never heard of facebook. I know some people that refuse to create a profile (good for them), but at least they know what it is.

Anyway, I’m not a great user of facebook. I don’t have a farm, I don’t play games, and I don’t have a collection of fanpages or applications. I use it mostly to upload pictures so that my friends in Greece can see them, to keep in touch with people around the world and to be reminded of their birthdays. The only application I do use is the virtual bookself where I write some book reviews and read what other people have to say on books I’d like to buy. Of course, occasionally I do spend time on it, checking other people’s profiles, pictures and comments. I will no deny that.

However, I try to be discreet at the information I put online. I have never mentioned about my personal life, relationship status etc. I believe that unless you are married or something, it’s not very wise to do so. Also (unfortunately) some relatives and simple acquaintances of mine are now my friends in facebook which really spoils the fun of it. There are things I don’t want them to know. Of course I have them in a ‘limited profile’ category, but still…

The last ‘blow’ came two days ago when my mother send me an invitation on ‘facebook’! Yes, my mother!!!! When I first saw it, I couldn’t believe it! OK, my parents are quite technologically literate and I always feared that this day would come. However, I was always trying to keep them in check. We’re not using msn or skype to chat. I know if I told them more about them, they would constantly try to get me online. Now, I know that msn would have been much safer than facebook! What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t simply not accept the invitation! I think she would notice that one of her children isn’t one of her friends!

So, what happens now? I have to be careful not to put ‘bad’ words on my statuses! Try not to upload pictures that might upset her? Never mention again that I go out partying and drinking until early in the morning? (I don’t do drugs anyway). I already know that she found out about my scuba diving from the photos I’ve uploaded. I ‘forgot’ to mention it to her, since I know she’s terrified of scuba diving because members of her family suffered from the diver’s syndrome (thirty years ago). It’s not like she’ll forbid me of doing something, but sometimes I can’t stand her whining / worrying / complaints on the phone.

My only chance is for the whole thing to just blow away. That at some point, she might get bored of it and not spy on me and my brother on the internet (yeah, right)! What are the chances of that happening?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


I came upon the following image while browsing between some blogs that made me chuckle. I can’t remember where exactly I saw, so I cannot caption it properly. Sorry

On a different matter I have to admit that I’ve been hooked on a web page called It’s all about comic books, graphic novels, sci-fi movies and everything related. They have an amazingly vast database of characters, teams, publications, creators and movies. They also cover the most important comic conventions and they provide news like no other. I have to thank Gecko Echo for this, since he was the one that introduced the site to me when he mentioned the creation of a new series called ‘Uncanny X-force’ some months ago. What’s quite fun is the fact that when you register, you create a profile whose level of experience increases by completing certain online quests. For nerds and geeks (like me) it can be fun…

Speaking of which (from

Yes, if you haven’t noticed today’s post does not make much sense. I can’t focus on anything. I can only think about packing tonight and flying on Friday after work. (I can’t pack tomorrow since I have a session with my personal trainer)

Monday, 16 August 2010

Things of the recent past…

I had quite an interesting weekend. Lot’s of things happened and to be honest I don’t know where to begin.

I signed up for a ‘Java’ course. I want to acquire the “Sun Certified Java Programmer” certification (become a geek with another degree). That was my goal for this year. I started studying on my own with a couple of self taught books some months ago but that hasn’t been going very well. My progress is quite slow. So, I’ve decided to do a proper, adult only, Saturday course. I found a college somewhere in central London and I’ll start my course right after I get back from Greece. The courses run for 6 subsequent Saturdays. After those weeks, I hope to be able to get the certificate without a problem.

Apart from the visit to the College on Saturday morning (to inspect before signing up), I managed to finish the things I wanted to get for the people I’ll meet in Greece. My brother ordered me some clothes and sailing stuff he can't find in Greece and some other friends wanted me to bring them clothes or books. The preparations of the journey, the cost of the Java course and all the shopping put a real strain on my credit card and savings. I’ll probably try to keep a low profile after I come back and until the holiday season (don't bet on it though).

On Saturday night though, I went with ‘JJ’ to Soho Theatre. There was an artist (which I didn’t know existed) called ‘Our Lady J’. I really didn’t know what to expect since the tagline of her concert is called: “Gospel of the Godless”! The stage had a piano where a variety of different lit candles, a synthesiser and a macbook were standing. The rest of the stage was empty were I was told that a choir would be performing. At some point the lights of the theatre went dim and the artist arrived on stage. She started playing a romantic melody for a few seconds until she turned on her macbook. Then, a variety of electronic sounds were heard from the synthesiser and she kept on singing with her voice electronically altered! My mind went directly to ‘Ross’ from ‘Friends’ performing for the rest of the group in one of the episodes. I realised that ‘JJ’ was laughing next to me, thinking the exact same thing as he later told me.

Our lady J

However, the choir appeared giving the songs a different touch. Also, the next songs were quite different and both me and JJ quite quickly stopped giggling but enjoyed the show. Apparently, ‘lady J’ is quite an entertainer. Most of her songs have a spicy, naughty touch while being uplifting, humorous and ‘theatrical’. The choir accompanying her was also very good, consisting of young boys and girls with nice voices. After the second song I was really glad I went to see her. What I really liked was the fact that between each song, the lady was telling us about her story. She grew up in a very conventional environment where she learnt to appreciate and love gospel and Church music. She also told us about her journey to become a woman and how she managed to get the money to do her boob job with objects donated to her by different artists like ‘Dolly Parton’ and arranging a couple of concerts called 'Boob Aid' with breasts as a general theme!

The show lasted for an hour and to be honest, I wouldn’t mind it lasting more. ‘Our lady J’ is quite a character that we had the chance to briefly talk to after the show. I got her latest CD signed and dedicated to me. She was quite friendly, chatty and smiling.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Preparations and worries!

I am simply counting the hours until I leave this country for my summer holidays. I know it’s probably a little bit late to go away now, when most of the people are already gone and back. However, I love going away when tourist destinations are less crowded. I’m flying next week, on Friday, after work. I’ll be away for a little bit more than two weeks out of which 10 days I’m spending with JJ.

The plan is to go for 5 days to my parents’ place in Northern Greece. I really love it there during summer. We have a nice house very close to the sea. I will be pampered by my mother who as always will think that I am too thin and try to stuff me with food. I’ll also see some of my old friends and spend time on the beach, getting some much needed tan. Living in London for more than three years made me look so pale, it’s not funny! My natural colour is so much darker than the one I have now.

10 minutes drive from my parents' place

After that, I’m flying to Rhodes. I’ll be welcomed by my friend JS there where we’ll be staying for some days. I’m meeting JJ of course there as well. For the time being we’ve booked a hotel in Marmaris, Turkey, for two nights and a hotel in South Rhodes, considered to be one of the best hotels in the world by ‘great hotels of the world’ website. I now have to book my ferry tickets from Rhodes to Marmaris and my scuba dive.

we'll have our own private swimming pool overlooking the sea in Rhodes...

However, hand in hand with exciting preparations, I can’t but feel stressed over my journey. Yesterday BAA (British Airports Authority) announced that they will go on strike in the following weeks which means that the Heathrow airport will not be functional. After BA (British Airways) strikes earlier this year and the volcanic ash cloud, even more travellers will be affected and tormented. I only hope that the strike will begin after I’ve left for Greece. I really don’t mind being stranded for some extra days in Rhodes. ‘JS’ will be the one probably swearing since he will have to take care of us.

The fear of running into a strike lies on the other side of journey, in Greece. There hasn’t been a month in 2010 when something is not working properly in Greece. Recently there was the strike of the people distributing petrol to the gas stations causing chaos to transportations. It’s been announced today that the Economy has shrunk even more which will probably bring new tougher announcements by the government that will make people go on strike again.

However, what I worry most is ‘JJ’. It’s the first time we’re going away together for so long! I fear that so many things can go wrong. I worry that he might not like it. He’s so overly excited about our trip that he might find Greece disappointing. Rhodes is nothing similar to ‘Shirley Valentine’ or ‘Summer Lovers’. I also fear that we might have a stupid fight over something that will ruin our vacations. I worry that ‘JS’ might not like him (it’s the first time he’s meeting him).

What I worry most is myself and the way I will be behaving. ‘JJ’ doesn’t mind attracting attention to him. Not in a bad way, but he just doesn’t really care about what other people will say. In London, most of the times, I don’t really care either. People here do not pay attention. You can go in the street extravagantly dressed and most people will not even care. I can be however self-conscious when lot’s of attention is drawn to me. In Greece, things are different. People do stare a lot and they are very judgemental. You walk into a bar and almost everybody will turn around to see who walked in. It can get even worse with gay people. That is what I fear, that my self-awareness might make me very uptight (a jerk in other words).

I admit that I shouldn’t worry that much. Everything will be perfect. We’ll probably have the time of our lives. It’s probably just the fact that I want to go there SO much and I want us to have a nice time (hopefully)!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

I should know better

As I mentioned in my previous post, each day after the dives, on Saturday and Sunday, we went to the pub. Especially on Sunday we stayed longer since it was our last day there and we didn’t have to worry about feeling hangover the next morning. Having a hangover and diving is very bad. Because of the high pressure underwater you feel ten times worse.

Anyway, everybody was trying to present themselves in a way, talking about their personal lives, their origin and work. I noticed that I was probably the only gay of the group of around 12 to 15 people. Almost everybody mentioned a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a husband or a wife and how they will probably go diving together or how their other half influenced them to start the hobby. While this conversation was taking place, I remained silent, not mentioning anything about my personal life (strike one), although, I don’t think anyone noticed.

At some point while we were at the pub on Sunday and I was sitting next to my (female) housemate. We were both taking part in the table’s conversation but as we normally do, we were finishing each other’s sentences and using our own form of communication if you know what I mean. Then, one of the instructors asked me if I am in a relationship with her. We laughed about it saying that probably we now know each other that well and that we are housemates instead of a couple. I then thought about mentioning that I am gay but I didn’t (Strike two).

As the conversation was advancing and more pints were being drunk, we talked about our future plans, in diving of course. I then mentioned that I will go to Rhodes and that I will probably dive there one of the days of my holiday. Another instructor asked me if I considered doing the advance course there, since the environment in the Mediterranean will be much nicer than a lake somewhere in the UK. I automatically thought of ‘JJ’ and how he will be patiently waiting for me to finish my dives since he is not a great fan of deep waters and would never come with me. I wouldn’t like to leave him alone or force ‘JS’ to keep him company while I’m gone. That is why I decided to go diving only one day. Instead of saying that, I replied to the instructor that my company will not be diving with me, so it’s not polite to leave them waiting (Strike Three).

Why did I just do that? What was I so afraid of so I didn’t mention that I am gay in a relationship with a bloke? Was I afraid that they wouldn’t like me? Was I afraid that they will start looking at me differently and will not allow me in or take me to the diving trips they organise? Should I really care? I just met these people and most of them I will not probably see again.

The only thing that I am slightly happy about is that I understand that what I did was wrong and that I will try to change it. I shouldn’t be feeling ashamed (and I don’t) about my choices. I’ll try to be a better person.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Open Water Diver

I am a certified PADI Open Water Diver (POWD) from the London School of Diving (LSD)! Yes, I’m a POWD from LSD! It sounds bad, doesn’t it? I loved it so much though…

We went to the headquarters of LSD (me, my housemate and her sister) on Saturday early in the morning. People were already gathering from different ages, sex and background! You could see that some of the students were slightly stressed. Having to face the same difficulties made us all connected in a way and laughter and discussions were easily shared after a while. I have to say that I met some really nice and interesting people during this weekend.

Our first task was to find suitable gear. We needed a fitting wetsuit, BCD, mask with snorkel, fins, weights and hood (I had my own boots). Trying on things like the wetsuit can really be a struggle. You have no idea how tough it is to put it on. It’s so tight! I must have lost a couple of inches around my body wearing that wetsuit for two days.

An hour later, after we’ve been all sorted, more than 5 cars started their way to a diving centre in the south west of London. I didn’t know these kind of centres existed. I don’t know how the other ones are but ours was a small hut by a not very big lake. In the hut you could get your air tanks refilled, eat lunch or have a cup of tea in a very reasonable price and buy equipment. There were many cars with families, groups or individuals wanting to dive as well. The centre provides some underwater platforms in 5 meters deep for training purposes and some interesting things underwater for recreational diving like a taxi, a car, a ship etc. We managed to see the taxi twice, it was very cool!

When we arrived there, we were allocated instructors and groups. Fortunately, the three Greeks (us), we were one group with a very good instructor and a safety diver that we met on our previous trial dive. We managed to stay slightly separated from the rest of the group by our instructor’s choice. We weren’t taking part in the large group discussions. In the beginning I didn’t really like that but after a while I saw that we were quicker in doing the debriefings, the dives and sorting out our gear. We were the first in the lake and the first to come out. The time to finish the training took less time for us as well. So, I didn’t have any reason to complain.

So, each day we did two dives. I really didn’t like much the very first one though. I wasn’t familiar with the water’s temperature and “visibility”. You could only see two meters around you which was our visibility for all of our dives! The rest was just a colour of green / brown! Also, because I was wearing an extra wetsuit jacket that was really tight on my chest I couldn’t breathe easily. That made me feel very uncomfortable going down to the platform for the first time. I felt claustrophobic and panicky. I had to resurface to catch my breath and relax. With my instructor’s help, I unzipped the second wetsuit and I was able to join my team on the platform in 5 meters.

The rest of the dives went much smoother than the first. When I was diving, I knew what I had to face so I was relaxed and ready. So nothing else dramatic happened during our dives. Me and the rest of my group, we finished all our challenges fairly quickly and easily. All of the stuff we did underwater was stuff we’ve already done in the swimming pool for our ‘Open Water Referral’, although the lake was giving it a different level of difficulty. We had to so stuff like having our air supply cut in order to get our dive buddy’s second regulator, we had to remove and put back on our mask or maintain for a certain amount of time neutral buoyancy etc.

One girl of the group didn’t finish the course because she couldn’t handle not having her mask off. She felt that water was going through her nose without the mask, so she panicked (worse thing you can do) and tried to dash for the surface. What she did was extremely dangerous for her lungs and blood pressure. Fortunately, nothing bad happened to her. Her (poor) instructor must have gotten a real fright going after her, reaching her on the surface, checking that she’s alright and trying to make her calm down. After a few hours she did try going into the water again but wasn’t able to continue her training. She then made her boyfriend (also in the group) to abandon his training. They mentioned going to Maldives for holidays, so they’ll try to do it there.

At the end of day two, we had successfully completed all the tasks needed by PADI, so we were granted our certifications of ‘Open Water Divers’. We celebrated (of course) by going to the near pub to drink with our instructors talking about our future as qualified divers!!! There are many more courses I can take and many options of where to go and dive. However, what I will do next is go and dive in Rhodes. I want to experience diving in the sea, in warm waters, where visibility is good and fish swim around! I hope that the experience will be much more gratifying!

Here are some pictures of the weekend: You can see me in one of them:

It looks so peaceful like that

Getting into the lake (I'm on the far right already in the water)

I'm in the centre (visibility was not as bad as it looks)

A person from the group (but yes, visibility was not great either)

People getting out of the lake!

Friday, 6 August 2010

1 year anniversary!

A year ago from tomorrow, I created my first blog and posted for the first time some of my thoughts! A long has changed since then. I managed to create around 183 (this is my 184th) posts of various things. In that year, I came out to my parents, started some relationships, ended most of them (apart from the last one), had some disastrous dates, had some nice nights out, went on vacation, finished my first half-marathon and many more. It was this time of the year, last summer when I first came across some blogs that I enjoyed so much reading that gave me the idea of starting something of my own.

Of course I don’t consider myself to be an experience blogger, or writer. I still have so much more to experience and check. Unfortunately, most likely tomorrow I will not be able to post anything since I will be underwater in a lake somewhere, trying to be able to see what’s in 2 meters in front of me while struggling to stay warm. I know, it sounds like so much fun!

Anyhow, I’d really like to thank anyone that visited, read or commented on my blog very much. I'm sorry if I failed to reply to some of your comments, I try to reply to each and every one of them to show at least my appreciation that you went into the trouble of writing them. It’s been a wonderful year in the blogosphere. It’s so nice having some new e-friends.

Thank you so much – Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ.


Ugliest Tattoos

What really made me laugh yesterday was a website of ugly tattoos that Erik posted! It’s a website of such ugly tattoos, you’ll be amazed. I really can’t see what people were thinking when doing them. Most of them are amazingly big and last forever.

It made me remember two people that I saw on the street with tattoos that where never meant to be made. The first one was a huge tattoo of Johnny Depp dressed like ‘Mad Hatter’ from ‘Alice in Wonderland’. That guy had Johnny’s face tattoo to cover his whole arm. It was very big and very ugly. Unfortunately, this particular tattoo is popular since I saw it in the ugly tattoos website as well!

The second one was from a guy I saw in the tube. He had a Greek word made on his leg. Unfortunately he misspelled it! He wanted to write the word ‘love’ in Greek but instead of writing it as ‘αγάπη’ he had it done as ‘άγαπη’. It might not seem such a big difference but that word does not mean anything and is read quite differently. The thing is that it’s a tattoo. You have to double check that you’ve spelled it right before doing it. It will be there for a long time. From his accent I thought he sounded American. I was thinking of going there and speaking to him but I decided not to. Most likely he already knows. If not, it’s better never to learn…

I leave you for now with some nice pictures of hideous tattoos:

Wolverine on 'My little Pony'! I have no words...

On your face...

The big crack

No words...

Oh, why?

music taste...

Speechless yet again

I think the unicorn is high....

Last but not least... Simple Class

Thursday, 5 August 2010


OK, it’s not news to me that relationships sometimes need hard work. That it is not all the time journeys, celebrations and parties. Sometimes you need to make compromises; you need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see the problem from every possible angle. Sometimes however that can be very hard and exhausting…

As you can see from the beginning of my post, I’m going to complain a bit today. I have some stuff to take out of my chest. The problem with ‘JJ’ is not something major and it has almost been sorted, but for the time being I still have a slight bitter taste in my mouth…

It all started two days ago. I had a friend visiting and we suggested going to the theatre to see the ‘Habit of Art’ in the National Theatre. I asked ‘JJ’ if he wanted to join us. He mentioned that he is a bit tired and that the play which starts at 19:30 in the evening lasts for 2.5 hours when he has to get very early the next to go to work. Of course I didn’t insist about it and wished him a nice quiet night, to get some rest.

However, the plans changed and my guest suggested meeting in a very nice wine bar by the ‘Embankment’ station. We would be joined by another South African friend of my guest. I mentioned that we might not go to the theatre to ‘JJ’ but I didn’t talk about it much, since he had mentioned that he was tired. We did indeed stay in the wine bar for the evening enjoying some bottles of wine and nice food.

The following morning ‘JJ’ texted me asking me how the play was. I told him that we didn’t go but had some nice wine next door. I didn’t think more of it and let the subject drop. However, when I talked to ‘JJ’ some hours later, he told me that he was feeling depressed, had a very bad day at work and he was outside of his work smoking! He used to smoke some years ago but I thought that he can’t stand the smell anymore, so I figured that the situation is bad.

I forced him to talk about what happened and also made him meet me. He said that the main reason he was feeling so bad was the fact that he thought that I didn’t want him to come with us the day before! He wasn’t having the best day at work and he started thinking over and over in his head what happened, making this small issue (which wasn’t supposed to be an issue) huge!

I tried to calm his insecurities, although I did find them unfounded. There was a major issue created from nothing. I spent some part of the evening trying to reassure him that it a simple misunderstanding and nothing more to worry about. Of course I wanted him with us that evening. I believe that the issue became worse because JJ has been working non stop for the last days and he really needs some rest to think clear.

After a while, he understood that he was overreacting which brought a second wave of apologies from his part about creating this issue. He apologised about his working long hours, feeling tired most of the time, being grumpy because of that and all this kind of nonsense which I don’t believe. It’s so normal to have some bad days. My motto is ‘Go to bed early, to make them these days fly away. After a good night sleep most things look so much nicer.’ However, he refused to go to bed early, like a five year old, telling me that he’s a bad boyfriend for falling asleep early when we spend the night together!


I forced him to go to bed and made sure he stayed there. Fortunately, he was asleep in seconds. I think that he’s better today. We managed to laugh about it a bit… However, that display of insecurity made me uncomfortable. I feel I have a responsibility about our relationship now. I fear that if something does really go wrong in the future how he will react! That thought alone puts a pressure on me…

Yesterday really left me psychologically drained and exhausted… I really do need a break…

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Diving referrals.

I spent the better part of my weekend being under water, completing my 4 confined water dives that are needed to take the exams for my diving certificate. I have to admit that it was a long weekend. It included watching some sections of the PADI DVD (5 for each chapter of the knowledge book), taking 4 small exams for each one of them and also taking a final exam based on everything, apart from completing the dives. It was a bit challenging since it was a bit tiring, but a really nice experience altogether.

I don’t think I’m explaining the procedure well since it encloses during the first day some theory (a section of the DVD), a test, jumping in the pool completing some challenges (for more than a couple of hours), then some more theory (out of the water), a test and finishing early in the evening. The second day we had to first jump in the water to do some slightly more difficult challenges and finishing the day with some theory, a test and the final exam!

The challenges included some easy tasks like being able to assemble and disassemble the gear, being able to swim for 200m, staying on the surface for 10 minutes, being able to check the equipment of your diving buddy (you always need one) or being able to empty your mask of water while being underwater and stuff like that. The more complicated challenges (always underwater) include things like swimming for a few meters after you’ve taken off your mask and then putting it back on, having your air supply cut (by your instructor turning the valve off) and having to breath by your buddy’s extra regulator before ascending to the surface or staying neutrally buoyant and controlling your position with just the air in your lungs for a minute. The key to completing all these challenges is by staying calm. Panicking underwater, trying to reach the surface quickly or holding your breath is what you should NEVER do.

Fortunately, we had a very nice instructor that made the whole experience less boring (the theoretical part), was willing to share her experiences (even the embarrassing ones) and tried to explain the challenges efficiently. The rest of the group was quite nice as well. We were 7 altogether, 3 guys and 4 girls. We didn’t have any trouble makers or people that couldn’t understand what we were doing and why. That made the whole course run smoothly and I believe that we were finishing each day, earlier than expected! I have to admit though and I felt knackered at the end of each day. I had a slight headache and I had to have a nap to feel functional again.

All of us did pass the final exam. YAY! That means that with 4 more dives, now in open water, I will be qualified as an open water diver by PADI. I will be able to dive down to 16 meters of depth until I gain some more experience! These 4 dives, we will do them next weekend. They will take us somewhere outside London to a lake, they will throw us in and we will have to do some of the same challenges again accompanied by an instructor. I will let you know how that will go next week!

I’ve already checked and I found a 5 PADI centre in Rhodes. They provide a variety of diving sites according to the experience level of the diver. They even have a shipwreck that you can visit, but it is deeper than I can go. The next best thing is diving in 12m visiting an area of abundant Mediterranean Sea life. It’s in near a place called ‘Pefkos’ and you can do two dives (same day) with rented equipment (I don’t have my own gear yet) for about €72 which I find quite reasonable. I will talk with JJ about it, since I have to check if it is OK for him to be left somewhere on his own until I finish the dives. I will also check with JS, my best friend from university who is a permanent resident of the island and might know more for the centre or the area.

I really can’t wait…