Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Walk to Handras

Here are some pictures along the way of the first walk I took.

The route leads from behind my house and up into the mountains.

The local Greeks don’t have much respect for signs – even on the main routes up here they have holes blown through them.


Up the top here I come to the wind turbines. I was told they had been turned off because those maintaining them hadn’t been paid for three months. However I have seen them running since. On the way up I had to stop to rest three times as the track is getting on for as steep as a staircase.

Over the other side of the mountain and down (Handras off in the distance to the left) I was floating and high on endorphins. Damn but I felt really good and knew then that I’d done the right thing in coming here and tramping about.

One of the numerous churches to be found around here.

This is the buzzing centre of Handras and it was certainly buzzing a few years back. Over to the left is a kafenion/taverna where Caroline and I were having some wine with some friends. While we were there an earthquake struck. The lamp post you see, along with others, was whipping back and forth like a sapling. I kept to my seat, since we were outside, others leapt up, while a Greek woman all in black rushed out of her house babbling to god and crossing herself.

The road out of Handras and one of the views along the way.

This is Etia – a Venetian village plus villa. Nice taverna here I’ll visit when it’s open.

And here’s a nice flowering tree in Etia.

I could of course fill this blog with hundreds of pictures. Generally up here you just have to point and click and you have a postcard. I have plenty of time to add pictures that might be of interest. I’ve since done this walk many times, with variations, and each time the distance has ranged from 6 to 7 miles.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Gardening on Crete

Here are some obligatory shots of the garden here. The weeds were at shoulder height and after 3 days I pulled them all and dug over the soil. This shot is of the front garden restored to order and salad seeds planted:

Here’s a garden that runs up beside the path to the ruin behind my house. At this point I was halfway along it. The Ruin, incidentally, is a name that has stuck from the days when that was precisely what it was. It even has a sign saying so on the wall despite it now being a self-contained apartment.

And here’s a shot from the front of the house showing one of the 3 piles of weeds I pulled out. It’s been very therapeutic exercise, as are the walks I’ve been going on, which I will get to anon.  

Oh, and I only came close to putting my hand on a scorpion twice.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Sullivanized House

I’m out in Crete now having spent the first three days here weeding and digging over the garden, cleaning the house and sorting out and passing on, either to neighbours or an animal charity, Caroline’s remaining belongings here. It has been hard, again, but I expected that. On day four I took my first walk – a six mile circuit up into the mountains behind my house then back by road. Today’s walk was a mere five miles, but if you consider about one mile of that was roughly on the level while the rest was two miles down a staircase then two miles back up it...

But more on that later. I’m going to catch up here with some pictures from my house in England and how I’ve Sullivanized it. First off here are the ‘frames’, though no actual frame is involved with these Perspex thingies.

Here are the pictures unpacked from their tube and laid out on the bed to flatten out.


Here they all are now in their frames.


And here they are up. These ones are in my living room.


While these ones are in my bedroom.


The picture of the Skinner is directly opposite my bed. As I mentioned elsewhere I prefer my monsters to the real kind. Will it give me nightmares? Well, at the moment I find that my main nightmare exists when I wake up and remember that everything that happened from June last year really did happen. Frankly I would prefer the running away from the Skinner variety.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bit of a Stroll

Since Caroline’s death I’ve stopped drinking alcohol because my head just hasn’t been in the right place for that, stopped smoking after a brief venture back into it while she was dying, and I started walking. The reason for this last is twofold. In the past I have been prone to depression and know that exercise is the best cure and, if ever there was a time for depression to get hold of me, it’s now. Also, for many years I’ve wanted to lose some weight, so I’m walking and dieting. I guess the psychology of it is that I’m controlling something I can control and fighting a battle I can win. I’ll now intersperse this with some pictures from one of the last walks I took. 

Head out from Latchingdon ...

past what used to be the Wagon and Horses pub. 
A common sight in Essex is the house that 'used to be a pub'.

As far as the dieting is concerned I’ve cut out potatoes, bread, pasta, rice … basically high or complex carbs. In fact, since I’m now living alone, I got all that stuff out of the house so I have little choice in the matter. I’m now eating one meal a day of veg like cabbage, courgettes or peas along with some meat or fish. Sometimes I’ll eat some more in the evening: fruit, canned fish or nuts.

Turn right down the permanently dank Rectory Lane ...

to the end where someone is converting a water tower into a house, 
and seems to have got no further than this over 2 years. Turn left...

I started off with a walk Caroline and I did together, though in reverse and with some variation to the route. This was basically a circuit in Maldon that included the side of the river and the promenade. I then bought a pedometer or, rather, I bought some cheap pedometers off ebay then discovering how crap they were gave them to a charity shop and got something better: an Omron GoSmart pedometer. I also learned that 10,000 paces a day is what I should be aiming for, and began extending that walk. I’m now somewhere in the region of 15,000 paces.

along Lower Burnham Road overlooking the Crouch until reaching ...

the war memorial. Turn right.

I went from a 2 mile walk a day to 4 miles, then 5 and finally to where I am now at 7+ miles a day. I extended the walk around Maldon to take me round the ring road to the other side, then back, and then along the river and the prom again. However, one thing has perpetually annoyed me about walking around Maldon: I have to drive to get there.

Tramp down to Althorne Station. Manage to get across the level crossing without being squashed because, y'know, trains don't tend to swerve in unexpected directions.  

Finally reach the River Crouch and turn left at the marina. 

Take in the briny air and observe the mud.

I next used Google Earth to plot some circuits from my house in Latchingdon and these came in at 5, 6 and 7+ miles. The problem with this part of Essex is that pavement runs out once you get beyond the bounds of a village. I could have tried some of the local footpaths but, as you know, it has been very wet and I would probably have come back with a few pounds of Essex clay on each shoe. As for walking beside the roads … well you can usually find a verge to walk on or beside and, if you listen and keep your eyes open, it’s easy enough to step out of the way.

Tramp uphill from the sea wall back to 

the boring roads.

I’ve done a number of circuits now (it’s working out at about 50 miles a week) but have now settled on one that takes me down to the river Crouch, along that for a little way, then back up and home by road. It’s about 7.5 miles and the pictures of that walk are what you are seeing here. Maybe these aren’t for British people but, the internet is worldwide so others might be interested… 

Go past what used to be the Black Lion where Caroline worked behind the bar in the days when I first met her - another 'used to be a pub' house - then back by...

dodgy roads where white van man tries to clip you with his wing mirror.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Skyhorse Covers

Here are the full covers of the US versions of Polity Agent and Jupiter War that Skyhorse should have sent to the printer by now:


Monday, March 17, 2014

Jupiter War - Publishers Weekly Review

This just in from Skyhorse Publishing. I haven't seen the full review but there's an excerpt below.

This dizzying and unusually thoughtful space opera, which concludes the trilogy begun in The Departure and Zero Point, shows the tyrannical forces of Earth trying to stop a lone genius from fleeing the solar system. Serene Galahad, Earth’s psychotic dictator, is willing to kill most of the “human scum” and genetically alter the rest in order to mend the damage of overpopulation. Alan Saul has been mechanically augmented until he is much more than human, and he now questions whether preserving the humans aboard his stolen space station is worth the bother. These two very clever opponents, armed with mind-stretching super technology, feint and parry as they struggle for supremacy. Mordant commentary interspersed throughout the action reminds readers to observe how the different definitions of “humanity” influence the conflict and the question of who—if anyone—is in the right. The result is a challenging, extremely satisfying read.(May)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Jupiter War Paperback

Bella Pagan at Macmillan informs me that Jupiter War is out in paperback on the 10th of April. Copies have arrived there even now and very pretty they look too.

Happy reading!