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Wednesday, 5 December 2007


If I said I love this weather you'd think I was being eccentric, but I do. It's perfect outside if you're well covered and have dogs for company and great to come indoors from and sit by a log fire and have tea and crumpets or a malt whisky. What's the Corfiot word for 'dreich'. There must be one, given the comforting similarity of such weather. See photo below.
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Dear Becky. How are you? I've attached a short piece from Liana's Kerkyra which contains a page she's translated from the Ano Korakiana website which, if you've seen it, is fascinating but all in Greek, so I can only get an impression from the great pictures and the general format. It is interesting to see the names of the old AK families - Metallinos among them, whose name attaches to the sculpture museum and to the local PASOK candidate in the September election this year. By the way if you want to go the website any time go to my blog and go to 'Korakiana website in Greek'. Have fun with the church interiors which are magnificently photographed by vista technology (sorry if you've already been there, done that!) I've also attached a section from a Corfu History website which is helping me make more sense of the history of the island and 'our' village's role in it. Mr Leftheris, our neighbour, had shown me two bricks on which the builder had inscribed dates - one from the 16th and one from the 18th century. Leftheris had found them in his house. He said with a gesture as we chatted about this (with our small shared vocabulary and lots of non-verbals) 'grandfather, grandfather, grandfather, grandfather, grandfather, grandfather...' and so on pointing into the distant past. What I try to understand is why the village has such a grand style of architecture in it. It does not look anything like the impoverished mountain village that has perhaps benefited by one or two grand public buildings from the benefice of rich diaspora Greeks. There seem to be so many finely wrought buildings with lovingly crafted additions in lintels and doorways and arches and other decorative features that suggest prosperous continuity. I have mentioned the thought on the web (Nov 2009 note: Ano Korakiana website has now gone replaced by a blog) about: 'Today, the decrease in the village population is evident, despite the settlement, either temporary or permanent, of foreign families.' Many years ago in my childhood my parents bought and converted an old house in the village of Bagnor near Newbury in Berkshire - being in the van of city people (my parents worked in journalism in London) going for a retreat in the country. When we went there in 1949 we were the first, among about 20 clustered village houses, to have direct water plumbed in. Others went to the clear chalk stream - the Winterbourne - that ran near the village street and got water in buckets. When we left there in 1962 much had changed. The villagers had mostly moved to council housing on the edge of Newbury, and more urban professionals had moved into the area. Of course we are now well aware of this phenomenon. It's happening in villages all over Europe - and no doubt further afield. I remember my father mentioning that much as we all loved where we'd come to live a lot of the year we were also part of what some considered the blighting of the rural economy. In the 1990s I revisited Bagnor. It was just recognisable. I was there to protest with 1000s of others against the motorway that was to be driven through my childhood water meadows. My father (actually my stepfather) wrote in his old age that the incursion against which I was so vigorously (but peacefully) protesting was part of a change that both affected all of us and for which we were in part responsible. Now I write in my blog about 'yearning, burning and earning' to try and get a handle on the consequences of this transcontinental desire for land in dear Greece. Do you think any of us place what might be called the integrity of Ano Korakiana at risk? Are any of us (I'm trying to avoid saying 'we' because you and I and our relatives are unique and I don't want to clump us all together as 'foreigners') to be reproached for our choices in life. I would not like AK to become like the non-communities of Barbati, with their completed new houses and wonderful views over the sea inhabited exclusively by time share visitors. I hope young Greeks born in Ano Korakiana will be able to stay, or if they leave, come back to contribute to the life of the village. There are villages in England which though being transformed have arrived at a new kind of stability with lots of local involvement driven by relative newcomers who've made their peace with the remaining older residents and pressed for the building of 'affordable' housing so younger people can stay in the village. Just some thoughts. You with your work on mosaics are bringing your skills to the island and making something new - drawing on Greek tradition based on your interest in Byzantine churches and doing it in an English way. I am sort of hoping my blog drawn from my love and respect for Greece and for this particular place is making a small contribution. I am pleased it is being linked to Liana's blog and is mentioned on the AK website. Best wishes (from the dreich Highlands - wow! What's that bright round thing in the sky? Och aye we call it the sun! Oh right I thought I'd seen it somewhere before). S
Corfiot wet last week. Above Ano Korakiana
Hi Simon. Thanks for the translations, I'd been getting a 'bastardised' version by putting the Korakiana pages through Babelfish. You get the jist but not the detail! I had had a look a the various photos and 360 degree views of the village, and wonderful they are too, I hope that I get more time to visit all 28 of them in the future - that is if I manage to locate them all. I can only think of half a dozen or so off the top of my head. (Note on Nov 2009. I do hope these photos will return, now the Ano Korakiana website is no more) The histories of the village that suggest that it was a relatively poor mountain settlement have always puzzled me too. in comparison with many other Corfiot settlements, Korakiana does seem to have more than its fair share of grand buildings, and not just houses and churches. It'd be nice to be able to get to the bottom of the village's history, but my Greek is going to have to improve 1000% to get anywhere near it. I have no real concerns about buying a property in the village, as we see it as saving an old property from almost certain collapse, and bringing much-needed 'new blood' to the settlement. I do not believe that AK will fall victim to much more development, it is just that bit too far inland for the hordes (not that Corfu is getting hordes these days!) Again, it seems to me that the indigenous population prefers (and why shouldn't they?) to live in newer houses if they have that choice, so if we can help in any way to extend the villages existence than it can only be a good thing. Rather you than me in the dreich north, but here in the Fens, it has been raining like Corfiot rain this morning, but the sun is shining now as I type this. Regards, Becky

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Simon Baddeley