An aching loss

An aching loss

The occasional ache of something long lost – Leigh Fermor’s likening it to an old wound; more less healed, but can still give you gip on a bad day. ‘The loss of the journal still aches now and then like an old wound in bad weather.’ For a...
A prodigality of marvels

A prodigality of marvels

A perfect collective noun for a mass of marvels.  There are good reasons the first of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s duo of travel books is entitled A Time of Gifts.One of the most beautifully wrought recollections of a youthful stride across Europe, also capturing...
Like sticks of barley sugar

Like sticks of barley sugar

It’s years since I saw a stick of barley sugar, and this perhaps dates Donald Hall’s otherwise quite timeless writing. But I like the resemblance of a tower to a fat, straight confection.This is from a lovely book – Hall lived in Romania in the early...
Bullocks under the bonnet

Bullocks under the bonnet

Imagine the car bucking and lurching over pot holes and road bumps, creating the random jolts and yanks of a rodeo ride.This is from a lovely book – Hall lived and travelled in Romania in the early part of the 20th century, and wrote this affectionate,...
Portable, durable bread

Portable, durable bread

This twice-baked Greek bread is known for its durability, keeping for months.  The trick seems to be to know how much to soften it with water when you want to use it. Here is one recipe, and there are others of a sweet version, many of which have a strong resemblance...
Blackavized Maniots

Blackavized Maniots

Patrick Leigh Fermor’s beautifully wrought account of his travels in Mani in Greece provides a vivid portrayal of the Maniots, including the rare and almost Shakespearean word, ‘blackavized’.  That echo of a ‘visor’ conveys something of a...
Can’t bear the noise

Can’t bear the noise

I don’t blame them either. A delightful recollection of a sensible ursine response to the outrage of war in their habitat. See another lovely account from the same book, of monster lobsters.”Last year, when the hard fighting was going on up there” he...
The lobsters of Skopelos

The lobsters of Skopelos

Hyperbole, nothing like it when suitably blatant, creative and outrageous. You couldn’t possibly eat one of these, only engage them in a civilized conversation about world affairs, or in a game of chess.See, from the same book, a similarly improbable yet...
How clever can you get?

How clever can you get?

I liked these piled up and shamelessly outrageous examples of cleverness, although of their various skills, the first is the most impressive, suggesting an astonishing level of practical competence and dexterity. It deserves to enter the language as standard:...
Bread and coins

Bread and coins

This intriguing picnic caught my eye, in particular the honey-water soaked barley bread. “… straight to Pluto’s palace. But don’t forget to take with you two pieces of barley bread soaked in honey water, one in each hand, and two coins in your...
Onion-outlined turnmoil

Onion-outlined turnmoil

Such a detailed description of a passing light effect created by a boat moving through night waters. Particularly original is that ‘onion-outlined’ churn. ‘A boat, its dark shape looking faintly ominous, sculled towards the island and broke the...
Helot-haunted lowlands

Helot-haunted lowlands

Helots were the serfs of ancient Sparta, from the town of Laconia and only a notch above slaves. They were sometimes induced to appear drunkenly before the youths of Sparta in order to put these respectable kids off getting trashed.  An interesting approach, wonder if...
Cormorant-haunted castle

Cormorant-haunted castle

An abandoned fortress, occupied only by cormorants.  No wonder, the human inhabitants probably fled an atmosphere described as the ‘architecture of hatred’. ‘The great storm beaten and cormorant-haunted castle at Coroni as “the architecture of...
Pard-like stubble

Pard-like stubble

I can only imagine this refers to a patchy or spotted colour combination, as ‘pard’ means leopard or panther, or another animal resembling either. ‘Perhaps this permanent pard-like stubble …’ Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani: Travels in...

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