Friday, August 31, 2012

Sam in the Signalman

Working well on the New Idea. Really happy with how this is progressing, and since I have returned from holiday, the strength of the idea is increasingly apparent. Off to the gym at lunchtime, but I felt a bit weird, hot and tired, so I stopped after half an hour. Home and a relaxed afternoon. Lorraine working from home too, which was nice.

In the evening Sam came around again, and Lorraine, Sam, Beth, Laura and I went to the Signalman, where I had a really enjoyable chat with Sam, talking about philosophy and he recommending a couple of singers to me too. Sam most interested in logic, which I found very challenging when I studied the subject. From there the five of us drifted down to the Shahi for a nice curry. When all the young 'uns melted away and Lorraine and I simply repaired home to the sofa in a companionable way. Despite feeling a tad shattered, it was an excellent end to the week.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kenny Coffers

Cheered today by the folks in North Acton who called to ask me to return for six days starting next Monday, another big Yay! of relief from the dusty Kenny Coffers. Otherwise spent much of the day bent over The New Idea and making some speedy progress on it.

Lunchtime noodles chatting to Betty and Laura who had just returned after a lengthy night out with Laura's cousins from Dublin. Laura, who makes me laugh and somehow reminds me of my old pal Carl, vigorously celebrating her last day at her job, and talking in an immaculate Dublin accent and insisting she was going to fly to Dublin this afternoon, an idea which, like her Irish accent, Betty said wore off after a pizza and a bit of a snooze.

I went for a walk in the park, which is now busily being got ready for Pride this weekend, where it will be the scene of a good deal of cavorting. Absently mooched into the walled garden, where hidden in one corner where about a dozen  teenage girls who looked at me stonily as I walked past, and in another corner two mothers with their toddlers who eyed me suspiciously. Felt vaguely in the wrong for simply wanting to take a stroll in a public garden and happening to be a man.

Listening to The Count of Monte Cristo again. Now approaching the last laps and loving the lengthy dénouement where he reveals his true identity in his moments of revenge.

Another blameless evening. Lorraine out birthday shopping with Sam, and I cooked a rather smart chickpea curry which we shared on her return.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chugging and choking and baking

Working on the New Idea again first thing this morning, then up off peak to London, Walking up from Embankment station, I found Villiers Street choked with chuggers collecting for Cancer Research UK. After being approached for the third time I said, probably in an tetchy way, 'I don't do chuggers, love' to which the angry response was 'I'm not a chugger, I am a charity fundraiser'. The people doing it are just doing their jobs, and are happy to have them, but I detest being guilt tripped in the street by complete strangers.

On a happier note, I had a cheeky beer and a catch up with Keith in the Salisbury, who has now moved on from Tavistock Square. I often get pains in the back of my head when I am with Keith because I am grinning so much.

I then hoofed in the rain to Victoria where I caught up with Paul in the station Weatherspoons, and travelled with him on the train as far as Croydon. Reprehensibly we sipped from a mid-afternoon can of beer on the train. Paul is doing work with The Big Issue, and he told me about going out on the street and unsuccessfully trying to sell the magazine for a couple of hours near Victoria. Paul is always fully committed to whatever he works on, and is now thinking about how the covers can be changed to make them easier to sell.

Back to Brighton and I simply fell asleep on the sofa, not long after almost choking to death on a piece of Ryvita smeared with dry organic peanut butter. Had a blameless evening in with my Lorraine. To bed early, where we watched a curiously comforting programme called The Great British Bake Off in her iPad. The worst thing that can happen in this world is that a tart has a soggy bottom, or that pastry has been over handled. Sheer escapism. Trouble is that it makes you want to eat pies.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Enter Sam, con brio

Much of the day spent getting my business ducks in a row and then, after sliding off to the gym worked on The New Idea in the afternoon. Also spoke to Jane who was struggling with technology. I had a brief struggle with it too, but to no avail. Sometimes IT takes agin you, and there is little to be done other than swear a lot.

Sam arrived in the evening in great cheer after reacquainting himself with The Basketmakers, lifting Lorraine off the ground and giving me a beardy kiss. Lorraine had cooked a nice green chicken curry, and a profiterole pyramid (Sam's favourite) with a candle in it as it is his birthday tomorrow. She also gave him the Pythagoras pottery cup we'd found in Samos, which employs a siphon to empty itself when overful. We heard a little about his new girlfriend Jade, also a philosopher, and his philosophy course and so on.  Later Beth arrived back from Devon where she'd been on holiday with her dad, and Sam and Beth went back out to the pub with him. Lorraine happy. And then to bed, after watching a bit of a documentary about Mars.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rye smiles

A ticket to Rye this morning, where Lorraine and I were to meet Maureen and Pat to celebrate Pat's 79th birthday. They had also been married 55 years later this week too.

I'd not been to Rye before, one of the two 'antient towns' along with Winchelsea whose councils traditionally maintained defence contingents for the realm of England, supporting the Cinque Ports, and steeped in history. Once it had been surrounded by sea, as a fortified hilltop town. Now the views are of green stretching to the sea.

Spent a happy few hours wandering about this lovely little town. A really good photographer David Purdie had a little gallery there, which I enjoyed immensely. Lunched in the Mermaid Tavern, which had been sung about by many, including Keats with a poem that starts 'Souls of Poets dead and gone,/What Elysium have ye known,/Happy field or mossy cavern,/Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?' Now the Mermaid Inn, we had a pleasant enough meal in there and a pint of Harveys Best Bitter in the bar room at the back, hung with dried hops and with pikestaffs on the wall.

Later after more mooching about, enjoying a pots of tea in a cafe before saying goodbye at the station and leaving on trains that departed in opposite directions simultaneously.

Below Maureen and Pat outside the Mermaid Inn; Lorraine inside the Mermaid; low tide at Strand Quay; rooftops; another view of the Mermaid Inn 're-built in 1420' after some unspeakable French business; a weathered old wall, and Mermaid Street rising in its cobbles, one of several houses with funny names 'the house with two front doors' there was one opposite the Mermaid Tavern too, called 'the house opposite'.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Small things

Off to the gym on Saturday morning, Lorraine coming too and swimming her personal best in the pool, stopping by the Chinese shop on the way home to buy things like tamarind paste, and my personal favourite 'dried fungus'. In other important news, realised that the area of concern, thinning the hair on my head allows my head to sweat more freely. A good workout though, and I am beginning to feel leaner, helped by L and my resolve to eat less bread.

L and I laboriously fixed the dodgy toilet cistern downstairs, and she started the hideous task of filling in a new Headship application. I attempted to pick up the threads of my writing, but was instantly thwarted by a computer problem, which took hours to resolve. The wasting of precious time.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lucky sexy winner

The luxury of being in bed till 8:30. Revelling in a quiet day where all travel was on foot. Some billing and admin before a sweaty workout in the gym. Home and a relaxed afternoon, where I caught up with the new Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer show, Vic & Bob's Lucky Sexy Winners, which in its unrestrained silliness, made me laugh out loud several times.

Off at four in the afternoon to meet Anton in Tin Drum, and discuss The Count of Monte Cristo at some length before Anton had to return home to cook for the bairns. Luckily Lorraine joined me instead, before we went for a traditional friendly Friday night curry at the Shahi. Felt like a lucky sexy winner myself, after such a nice day.

Fell asleep very early on the gold sofa.

Below Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves being silly.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Night radio

Woke up at 3 o'clock with blasted radio adverts on my mind. Had to go downstairs, sip chamomile tea, and write it all down for an hour. Beth, and her pals Milly and Ainsley stole in quiet as cat burglars and spoke in hushed ways with their mobiles bleeping with post club messages while I worked. To bed, and nightly noises of catfights, Calliope scratching on the laundry basket and stealing Lorraine's water, next door's children crying and so on meant that I barely slept till it was 6:25am and time to drag my sorry self from bed.

A smooth journey to work, and miraculously after two cups of coffee, with the middle of the night work, I was able to fulfil their insane request and swiftly wrote four good quality radio scripts in an hour. More importantly, I used The New Idea thinking to good effect. After this, and a short but frenzied burst of work in the afternoon, I was released back into the wild, my stint over. It had been very challenging, but some of the people there were nice. As I wandered dazedly from the building, however, a palpable evaporation of tension.

Off to The Salisbury in the West End to meet Mike Court, (aka much earlier in this blog when I was neurotically concealing people's names, as The Gnome) my former art director. Cheery to talk with him, about freelancing and of life in general. He is a very decent man.

Snoozing on the train home from London, and wandering rather disgracefully into Ace pizza as I'd not eaten. Home and Lorraine still up and Beth and Laura upstairs. So good to be home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gremlins and Hittites

Woke up in Chiswick, and soon found myself downstairs where Matty had kindly made me a cup of tea and some toast. More than arrested by the sight of Gremlin, Matt's bizare long haired cat, which has been shorn with long hair remaining on its head, legs and tail. Also chatted briefly to Isy who is off to the doctor to for hearing tests after a bug has affected her hearing and balance. Surprisingly 50 minutes long journey from Chiswick to North Acton.

At work, Mark, a cheerful and funny Mac designer I have been sitting next to, and I adopting crazed smiles for the day. Mark eventually assembling a collage of mad smiling from others in the agency. Melting away at lunchtime to pick up some Thai grub from Kitty's. All well until bizarrely briefed at 6pm for several radio ads to be ready first thing tomorrow morning, to which my response was somewhat dusty.

Gratefully home listening to the endless The Count of Monte Cristo. As Lorraine was out, and Betty getting ready for a big night out with her pals, I found myself absorbed by an interesting BBC documentary about the warlike Hittite civilisation, about which, until this moment I had known next to nothing. It seems all to have ended badly in civil war, after their pioneering of chariots with centrally mounted axles had help them to kick the antique butts of Egyptians and everyone else who had the misfortune to stand in their way.

Below Gremlin, in all her clipped glory, and Mark in crazily cheerful mode.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Chiswick Interlude

Up with the sparrows again and off to North Acton. Work better, though still workin' my nerve. Lovely people though. Worked through lunch, mumbling on a Tesco value sandwich, and had to stay a bit later to write headlines. Reminding me of my old Dell account days, and of Nev my old art director drawing pictures of jerking knees in a complex reference to the client and how they were being managed.

Off in the evening to The Bull's Head on Strand on the Green, which is always excellent as it was for many years my local pub. Here I met First Matie, who was looking fit and cheery, Matty boy and Isy, who is off work as a balance and hearing problem caused by an ear infection means she can't ride horses (she works in a highly rated stables)  and Craig who had recently moved house and had spent the week building IKEA  furniture. Highly enjoyed being among these friends again. Matt, Isy, Kate and I went for a Thai meal in what was a greasy spoon cafe by day. (Funny how many Thai restaurants successfully seed themselves in unlikely places). Matty carefully selecting wines to bring in beforehand. Realised for the 100th time how fond I am of First Matie and Matty and it was great to see them, and get to know the splendid Isy better.

Matt had kindly offered me a place to stay, and we sat in his back garden enjoying a gin and tonic and shooting the breeze before bed.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Headless chickens

Back up to North Acton. Foggy morning and dreaming on the train about English Idylls, and having a room to write in that overlooked the misty spire I glimpsed.

Work a vile headless chicken environment, full of panic and stress. Kept myself level headed until just before I left. Disappointing myself.

Journey home all the never ending Monte Cristo audiobook. Lorraine had worked at home today, and gone for a cycle ride with Rosie in the evening, who had just returned from a Greek holiday. Had a cheery candle-lit supper with them and Beth and soon felt human again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

An English Idyll

To Sheffield Park today with Lorraine. A beautiful country house gardens, full of ponds and lakes, which provide gorgeous reflections. Today was supposed to be the hottest of the year, but it was rather cloudy until mid afternoon. Lorraine and I spent several hours mooching about looking at plants, and damselflies and hawkers over the water-lilies.

Following a path we heard the unmistakable snick of leather on willow wood. There was a cricket pitch on the edge of the grounds, which in the late 19th Century had seen some big games, against international opposition, and there was a photograph of W.G. Grace, the most legendary of all cricketers, who had played there.

We found a wooden bench and passed an hour watching a game between Armadillo Cricket Club and its opposition. A beautiful scene, with the pitch surrounded by trees. Couldn't help thinking of the contrast between Sheffield Park and North Acton.

Home and had supper with Betty and Laura, dining healthily on squid and thin turkey steaks and a million kinds of salad. Lorraine very sad because she has to start work again tomorrow.

Below Sheffield Park all about reflections. A batsman emerging from the pavilion (he was out first ball) and one faring a bit better.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Samba and squid cleaning

A hot and lovely day. Up early, and Lorraine and I went off to the gym, where Lorraine swam and I had a properly sweaty workout. Then to a little market where we brought some vegetables and two squids from a man selling locally caught fish. I asked him to clean it for us. After he'd chopped its tentacles off, and pulled the body and a clear plastic like length of cartilage, from the hood (checking inside, he told us, for any other bits such as half digested sprats), he removed the skin in seconds by rubbing it with a plastic scouring pad, saying that he'd seen a man do it that way in Hong Kong and it had saved him hours ever since. We went home with a bag of tentacled goodness.

Not a day for lurking indoors, so Lorraine Beth and I caught a bus to Brunswick Square in Hove, where there was a festival with music, and various tents and stalls. Lurked about here for a while, having a drink in the sun, and listening to samba and folk music, and Beth being grossed out by a man's feet who was lounging next to us on the crowded lawn. Then after an hour or so of milling about, off to a pub to recover. Beth then collected by Laura in her eyelashed car, and Lorraine and I sauntered homewards pausing at the Shakespeare's Head as Lorraine had a craving for sausages and mash.

Home in time for football back on TV, and I watched this drinking perhaps a little more ouzo and cloudy lemonade than was strictly necessary before bedtime.

Below the scene in Brunswick Square.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A very welcome Friday

Friday! Yippee! Getting up at seven seemed like a lie in this morning. Toast and coffee with Mum and Mas, then Mas kindly drove me off to Stanmore station. Made it to work early on the bus from Willesden Green.

Work a tad tiresome. I was given conflicting priorities, misbriefed on something I spent hours on, and given unclear deadlines. Still happy to be there, and I have been asked to return for the first three days of next week, which is great news. My pals in Tavistock Square have also been in touch, and I may be up there later next week too.

Six o'clock and free at last. Swift and easy journey back to Brighton, listening to The Count of Monte Cristo. Good to be home after what had seemed like a long week. After a shower Lorraine Beth and I sloped off to the Shahi where we had a nice evening, hearing about Lorraine and Beth's cheery trip to Ongar in Essex where they used to live, and saw old neighbours and friends.

Below a digger in the air. The agency subject to WW1 style shudders, from major building work nearby.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Memory lane

Up to Acton again. Tried a different route and was slightly late. No matter, as there was little work for the first hour or so. Climbing the stairs, and seeing young guys of South Asian origin walking reluctantly to work ahead of me, gave me a flashback to being at school in Wembley. For a moment I felt exactly as if I were sloping off to my old school, or maybe one of my earliest temporary jobs.

A fairly straightforward day, enlivened by a trip to Kitty's Cafe at lunchtime. Walked deep into local industrial estate land, bland and tatty warehouses and empty units, one of which had been converted into Kitty's Cafe. A tiny restaurant with a shabby entrance, but full of people. Took away a Pad Thai, and it was good. Walked there with two guys from the agency. One of them, Lee, is a specialist in Martial Arts, and does Shaolin Kung Fu among other things. He and his friend were deeply into training, and spurned bread and other bad things, and treating their bodies like temples. Lee is very poised and friendly, and he cheerfully told me that last night in training had been learning how to break people's legs with one move.

Off to Mum and Mason this evening. Caught a bus from North Acton which took me through Harlesden to Willesden Green station. Fascinating bus trip through a part of London that I once knew quite well, but hadn't been to for about twenty years. Past Harlesden Jubilee Clock, onto lots of Jamaican cafes, tiny Irish pubs, and Halal groceries, very characterful and not quite as shabby as I remembered it. Two older Jamaican men talking in strong accents and laughing uproariously on the bus, also took me back to my younger days in London.

Really nice evening with Mum and Mas. Mason has noticeably lost weight, and he showed me his belt, in which he has had to make a new hole, having lost a couple of inches at least from his middle. They played me some music of Angelic Voices, a group of four singers they'd encountered in a church, somewhere in the Balkans. Rawly recorded, but quite beautiful. Enjoyable night having a bit of wine and some Mexican grub and a laugh. Early to bed.

Below Kitty's Cafe entrance, and interior.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Basil goes to Kent

Up to North Acton again. Despite a hideously early start, quite enjoying the bustle through London and meeting some new, likeable, people.  The work reactive, but the people compensate. Listening to The Count of Monte Cristo constantly on my journeys. It goes on forever.

Have stupidly lost my keys, and as  Lorraine went to Kent to visit her parents, her brother and nephew when I arrived home in Brighton I had to amuse myself for an hour or so, having a single pint and, disgracefully, some Kentucky Fried Rats before she returned. Haven't sat in a KFC for about 15 years. Interesting clientele on London Road. And not in a good way.

Lorraine had taken Basil with her. Basil is the lovable fat cat who refuses to squeeze through the catflap, necessitating cat trays indoors, which the other two cats then use. Cleaning them is like getting thigh deep in the Augean Stables, which I will certainly not miss. However I will miss Basil, for she sat on me a lot, and had a lovely if vacant face. But she is going to be pampered and loved by Maureen and Pat.

Home and, after a reprise of futile key searching and trying to compress a day's chat with Lorraine into half an hour, another early night. After spending two weeks with Lorraine night and day, a bit weird now to just see her for an hour or so at night, and then sleep.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Memento Mori

The 6:51 train from Brighton this morning, and a journey to the cultural wilderness of North Acton. Managed to find my way to the wrong place, who signed me in to their reception. After phone calls, I legged around the corner to somewhere with an almost identical address. Small friendly-enough office, and work that I was pleased to have.  

At lunch, having bought a species of low-calorie sandwich, I stole away to the nearby Acton Cemetery, and spent a happy half an hour wandering between the tipping gravestones. I enjoy imagining the lives they represent, hinted at from ages and dates of death, and fragments of information, such as one dying in a plane at an early airshow,  or those who died during the world wars. Some in unusual languages too. Reflected how nothing other than this random hackwork would have made me travel to visit the haven of Acton Cemetery among the industrial estates.

Left work at a reasonable time, although the tube was blocked and claustrophobic, so I chose a longer but airier route home via Ealing. Listening to The Count of Monte Cristo audiobook. Back in Brighton 8:45 pm and a brief relax on the gold sofa with my Lorraine who is still on holiday, before bed.
Below a couple of snaps from Acton Cemetery from my iPhone. Every stone in the place was leaning at some angle. In this shot they all seemed to be leaning backwards. In the bottom shot these must be the memorials of people cremated as they were small and in ranks.


Monday, August 13, 2012

A cool banana

Insomniac night, and at my desk early this morning, deciding that everything I did would be focused on making money. Hardly had I sent this intention into the cosmos, and I was called to start a job tomorrow in London with a brand new client, a fact which strongly resembles a cool banana as the Kenny coffers are full of tumbleweed and lonely crows at present.

This welcome news changed the complexion of the day, and meant that I went to the gym in the afternoon, with Lorraine who achieved a personal best in the amount of lengths she swam today. The gym thronging for a Monday afternoon, I suspect inspired by the Olympics.

Read the text of Richard's new collection, now at the printers. Sad and lovely work.

Healthy day, eating salads and chicken soup, and shunning boozes of all kinds. Early to bed too, as I will have to be up with the sparrows tomorrow.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


To Woods Mill this afternoon with a picnic. I loved drifting about in the peaceful green of this tiny nature reserve with Beth and Lorraine. Particularly enjoyed looking into a little stream, its surface busy with whirligig beetles, and small fish, probably sticklebacks, in the water. After browsing among the plants, we ate a healthy rice salad on a picnic table, and drank sparkling water.

Things grew livelier in the evening, when it was decided to have a BBQ in the tiny back garden, inviting Matt and Wayne, and Beth's nice pal Laura. Matt preparing to go on a long walk through Yorkshire by way of a holiday. We all ate and drank and chatted while watching the Olympics closing ceremony, an enjoyable, if somewhat unfocused spectacle. I also attended to a quantity of ouzo to acknowledge the birthplace of the Olympics. Late to bed.

Below bee and thistle, part of Woods Mill, two of the stream, the bottom one showing whirligig beetles.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Adapting slowly to reality. Cloudless sky in Brighton. Up early to sit before my computer and felt a knot of tension in my stomach.  However I decided it was Friday, after a holiday and was allowed to do little. Instead, Lorraine and I went off to the gym, Lorraine continuing the daily swims we had been enjoying, and I went for a general workout. My legs were weaker than normal because my exercise was mostly of the floating variety. Have put on weight during the holiday, despite continual swimming.

Off to have the obligatory white line above my tanned features revealed by the barber. Exhausted by all this, Lorraine and I paused for a glass of beer at The Basketmakers before heading home. Cheery chat with mum, and Lorraine and I went with Beth to the Shahi for a cheeky curry, before the belt-tightening is resumed. Great to have spicy food again, and we three had a happy evening. Watching a bit of the Olympic malarkey, which seems to have gone off very well and been a credit to everyone.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Back to Blighty

Last day in Kokkari, out early and for a long slow Greek breakfast. Then back to the rooms to pick up our cases and chat with the owner and her husband, and another couple we got chatting to.

Long journey home, the plane from 'Lonely Planet' airlines actually a second hand Aurelia Boeing from Lithuania, staffed by rather curt young men. Feeling a bit twitchy about flying. Take off from Samos airport fairly horrid, as we sped down the short runway, made it over the sea, within seconds the plane hit a very low air pocket and sank and lurched starboard before recovering. Then to Lemnos, where we all had to disembark as the plane was refuelled, and one of our fellow travellers locked himself in the toilet cubicle.  Up again into high cloud. A curt 'turbulence, please do up your seat belts' as we started bucking and plunging. I was exceedingly twitchy, a state improved by in and tonic. The second part of the flight fine, but it was good to be home, despite the fact that there were no stairs to allow us to disembark at Gatwick for 25 minutes.

Good to be home. Blighty a green and pleasant land. Cats and fish all happy, and Beth had survived house and cat sitting admirably, but was very pleased to see us.

Below a moth (I think) the size of a baby mouse I snapped in the morning, and the cicada I'd snapped a few days before. The cicada very hard to spot despite its ear-piercing sound. Slightly out of focus.

Samos by evening

Below, Kokkari harbour wall at dusk, the beach in late afternoon, the corner between beach and harbour where we stayed, our apartment in the building on the left top floor, a perfectly placed bench, a narrow backstreet, moonrise, and some of the tavernas on the water.

Samos by day

Below a shot taken from our balcony of the sun diamonding the sea; the view from the sun bed; goat shelter; graffiti in Samos Town, the square in Kokkari, a Kokkari street, Lorraine in Kokkari.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


I barely wrote while I was in Samos, other than a few scribbles in my notebook. Lorraine and I had the first complete break together for a couple of years, and the little tiny town of Kokkari, west of Samos Town formerly known as Vassey, had us relaxed in hours. Our apartment overlooked a little harbour, with one white arm shielding a dozen and half little boats. Beyond this was a rocky shore, then a mountainous ridge from where the sun and moon rose. In the mornings, we set up a yellow parasol and ate breakfast, usually yoghurt, peaches, figs and nectarines, plus local kind of biscotti that was a delicious hybrid of a rock cake and a fruit scone. In the morning, the low sun made the sea sparkle.

Twenty yards round the corner was a long stony, quickly-shelving beach with intensely turquoise and azure water. The sea here was usually choppy with white horses and a strong and welcome breeze. Lorraine and I spent many days under beach parasols, reading, listening to music, and in Lorraine's case also sewing and doing sudoku. We also had about three swims a day. I read The Spire, by William Golding, Catseye by Margaret Atwood, Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock (which was hilarious) and a good portion of The Count of Monte Christo, which is a right page turner. On my recommendation Lorraine read A Prayer for Owen Meany, and Why be happy when you can be normal, and loved them.

We often snorkelled in the harbour, which was like floating in a vast aquarium. We saw an octopus, moving stealthily, probing between the rocks and continually keeping its eye on us. In repose its tentacles were tidied into spirals. There were all kinds of small fish, familiar to me from previous visits to Greece: ornate wrasse, blennies, damselfish, golden grey mullet and many more. There were hundred strong shoals of two inch fish, silvery with bronze neon lateral bands. When you floated among these as the sun, focused by the wavelets, strobed over them it really was breathtakingly beautiful. The harbour wall was made of big square blocks with large gaps, in which sea urchins wedged themselves like dark stars, and the occasional shrimp lurked.

The harbour floor fascinated too. Goat faced fish with long barbels, nosing along, worms like bright extra-large ragworms, areas of sea grass, and anchors, some discarded, and chains, and ropes rising up to the buoys on the surface. I even saw a lost trident, and found a brand new half litre beer glass. I emerged with it from the depths before two young Greek women on the shore like a tubby Poseidon, my glass brimming with seawater, saying Yammas! which means our health! They looked away.

Most evenings off to various harbour tavernas, with skinny cats busy with begging and cat politics. The food nice enough, although not spectacular. But great to eat Greek salads, the herby, tomatoey butter bean dish gigantes plaki, or simple spanakopita, pies made in spirals filled with spinach and feta cheese. Lorraine enjoyed lamb kleftiko the moussaka was good too. I ate pizza too, by way of variety. We drank ouzo with lemon fanta, good retsina, the local Samos wine, which is excellent and plenty of beer, particularly the Greek Mythos.

Just to have time to do nothing much was fantastic. We found ourselves spending an hour or so looking at pebbles, some of them quartz-like, which when you held them to the sun allowed light to pour through. And we watched the progress of the moon, to full and then waning. It rose over the mountains growing increasingly dusky and peach coloured, until it was near red emerging above Turkey, not far away across the water.

The locals perfectly amiable, and although some of them like our warm and friendly hostess, Despina, was clearly worried about the future for Greece, and her children, and she said her husband's who had retired, had his pension cut by two thirds, life carried on. In a curious way we felt we were supporting Greece by being there.

We had one boat trip leaving from Pythagorean, named after the Pythagoras who was born there, and we set off to a small island just off the coast, for swims. Greeted there by a pair of small bleating goats with pale barred eyes, who leapt from the rocks onto a second boat and accompanied us to another beach for a large barbecue outside, tasty barbecued mackerel and a good deal of food. On the way home, we stopped at one point at a deep water bay, where 12-year olds started jumping from the top of the double-decker boat into the water. I elbowed them aside and had a couple of leaps too. I seemed to go down a long way.

Lorraine and I also ventured into the Archaeological museum in Samos Town, I enjoyed, particularly the collection of fierce griffin heads, after we had ice cold freddoccinos after wandering about in the backstreets. A taxi home, and a cooling snorkel afterwards.

One morning I could not sleep, so leaving Lorraine snoozing, took a walk up into the hills for a couple of hours, but had my way blocked (in a tribute to Anton moment) by a formidable, and probably rabid, baying hound. Managed to photograph a cicada too, before buying more delicious biscotti and returning home for breakfast on the balcony.

Lorraine and I had time for each other too. I loved spending time with her, and we came back feeling happy with each other, and sad to be leaving. I felt I had gained perspective on my life in general, and with a keenness to get on with things on my return. Simply a great holiday.