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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Leaving the Highlands

For breakfast I fried two eggs from the new hens in butter and laid them on buttered granary toast, added a little pepper...
...Tuesday morning, after the swift farewell mum prefers and a hug and kisses for Liz, Sharon dropped me and Oscar at Inverness station. All reservations were booked into the first coach on the platform, my seat surrounded by large fellow passengers with large children and luggage. Three coaches closer to the front. We had a table to ourselves most of the way to Edinburgh. An hour and ten minutes out of Inverness I'm alerted, as ever, to the train speeding up, even though the small river that meanders beside the single line still flows north we're descending and then - I always miss it - another similar river, is winding south, the watershed at a T-junction from the stream out of long Loch Ericht...
Past the watershed, the river's flowing south
...past the slopes of Badenoch into softer country; the beginning of the Lowlands. At messy Waverley bustling with Festival crowds I found my way by lift to the banished southern platforms and caught a Virgin Train towards London, among the last. First Group takes over the West Coast Line in December - it's winning bid for the franchise described as highly risky. I read most of the way; Jan Morris' Venice; watched Helen Mirren and Anne Bancroft in The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, through Lancaster, Preston, Wigan North West, Warrington Bank Quay. By Crewe I'd returned to my book shrinking the journey with recognition and memory of places - not only that city but Padua, Ferrara and Bologna where I left the train to Rome, catching one south east along the coast, with time to buy a picnic, for my onward journey south through Rimini, Ancona, Pescara, to Bari for a ferry to Greece. Leaving Wolverhampton as we hurried beside familiar towpaths and canal bridges through green burgeoning dereliction I  phoned Lin who, thirteen miles later, collected us outside New Street station.
Waiting for Linda at New Street Station
Settling in at home, going through my post, an email from Sharon with a photo. She's managed, with help from Liz, to coax Mum out for a conversation with the hens.
***** *****
Wednesday: It's been pouring on and off; a sample from my in-tray - send energy meter readings and phone the energy company to ask for a refund of the credit they've collected from me, check a cheaper storage place on the Tyburn Road for my stepfather's archive - half the present price; work up Handsworth Helping Hand's (HHH) guidelines for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, circulate minutes and prepare an agenda for our meeting on Thursday night; meet up with Aftab Rahman at Soho House, moving on to Colin Simm's terraces on Hamstead Road then St Mary's Convent on Hunter's. He'd brought along a young film-maker, Amirul Hussain, and a photographer Johur Uddin, joined later by Jesse Gerald, to help assemble materials for our planned Lozells and East Handsworth Heritage Trail. We were joined by Rajinder Rattu and Cllr Waseem Zaffar. As we looked at Colin's gardens I asked Waseem what he knew about an inexpensive way to get HHH people Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checked, something we need to do to qualify for funding. Rajinder told me we must get these through a CRB registered agency, HHH being too small to be so accredited.
Colin and Simon
L-R: Colin Simms, Rajinder Rattu, Cllr Waseem Zaffar,  Amirul Hussain, Aftab Rahman and Johur Uddin
Liturgy for the Madonna in Ano Korakiana...On the Eve of Our Lady, one neighborhood is preparing to share celebrations with all the village; a procession beginning and ending at the small church above Mourgadas - της Μουργάδας - where the service will be.
Marietta’s conscientious attention has spread whitewash up Tsimpani hill, reflecting off edges and old ways. The afternoon starts with decorating the Epitaphio and Icon of Our Lady. Sophia Nikolouzos will offer ribbons woven by devout sisters (from old Korakiana families), while Alexandra Spingou-Trivizas will decorate the cross with Cloves and Basil. Commissioner George Kentarhos will as usual oversee the ceremonies. Following its recent refurbishment, pictures, like the image of the Virgin of the Life-Giving Spring - της Παναγίας Ζωοδόχου Πηγής, hang on the walls at the back of the little church. The clouds thickened but the threatened storm left the village alone....By evening amid candles and cherubs, young children have early positions guarantee - Michael, Constantine, Mary, Nectarina, Ellie, Vangelis and several others.

Some reckon the unusually high numbers a sign of the times...Wednesday morning, the day of the feast, and the scene’s repeated; lots of people gathered in the small courtyard, crowded inside the church, despite the heat and humidity....Το πολυπληθές ψαλτήρι σε σπάνια αρμονία και χωρίς φωνητικές εξάρσεις συμπληρώνει μια εικόνα αγαλλίασης, όπως θα πει λίγο αργότερα ο κορακιανίτης γαμπρός, γιατρός Γιάννης Βαρβαρίγος. Στα γύρω σοκάκια, τα παιδιά δεν κρατιούνται και ξεδίνουν στο παιγνίδι, όσο και αν ακόμη βαραίνουν τα αφτιά τους οι οδηγίες των γονέων. Το τελείωμα της Λειτουργίας θα ακολουθήσει το προσκύνημα της Εικόνας και οι ανταλλαγές ευχών. Η προσφορά άρτων από την Ενορία και σπερνών από την οικογένεια Αλέκου και Κατερίνας Ιωνά, συμπληρώνουν το καθιερωμένο κέρασμα, που προσφέρει η οικογένεια Κώστα και Ειρήνης Μπαλατσινού.

Wednesday evening, the curtain fell on the last night of our Band’s Cultural Programme for August, a performance by our musical association’s dance group. As usual, three ‘generations’ of dancers performed in a composition of traditional rhythms from different parts of our country, set against austere and beautiful scenery....

...With a boat named ‘Victory’ - designed by G. Metallinos, Katerina and Alekos Jonah - sailing through blue waters and Nike Kentarhos, their skilled captain, quietly directing the performance of the dance, with the help of Francisco Koveou on sound. Wonderfully encouraging was the Association’s children's ‘set’, getting the audience’s repeated applause.
“They will be here next year” promised Spyros Savvani, Philharmonic President, celebrating the annual contributions of long term supporters of the dance section since it was founded.  
Η αυλαία των Αυγουστιάτικών Πολιτιστικών Εκδηλώσεων της Φιλαρμονικής έπεσε χθες το βράδυ, με την παράσταση του Χορευτικού συγκροτήματος του Μουσικού μας Συλλόγου. Όπως πάντα, οι τρεις «γενιές» χορευτών και χορευτριών έδωσαν το παρόν με μία μουσικο-χορευτική σύνθεση παραδοσιακών ρυθμών από διάφορα μέρη του τόπου μας, με φόντο ένα λιτό και όμορφο σκηνικό. Με ένα καραβάκι ονόματι «Νίκη», που επιμελήθηκαν οι Γεράσιμος Μεταλληνός, Αλέκος και Κατερίνα Ιωνά, να αρμενίζει σε γαλάζια νερά και με τη Νίκη Κεντάρχου, επιδέξια καπετάνισσα, να διευθύνει αθόρυβα την παράσταση του χορευτικού, με τη βοήθεια του Φραγκίσκου Κωβαίου στα ηχητικά. Σίγουρα ενθαρρυντική ήταν η παρουσία του παιδικού «κύκλου» του τμήματος, που απέσπασε επανειλημμένα τις επιδοκιμασίες του κοινού. «Ραντεβού για του χρόνου στο ίδιο μέρος», υποσχέθηκε ο Πρόεδρος της Φιλαρμονικής Σπύρος Σαββανής, κάνοντας παράλληλα μια ενδεικτική αναφορά τιμής στα πρόσωπα που στήριξαν το χορευτικό τμήμα όλα τα χρόνια, από την ίδρυσή του έως σήμερα.
*** *** ***
With various other things out of the way Linda and Denise went down to do some work for Handsworth Helping Hands, weeding, digging and planting a neglected raised bed at the top of Putney Avenue, a car-filled cul de sac. They'd a Pelagonium left from previous plantings by us, four Dahlias from a resident, and from Jill, Lin's friend, Geraniums, Bergenia and Euphobia.
Lin and Denise doing voluntary work in Putney Avenue

I took a hand-fork and a rake from them and weeded the bed on one side of Church Vale - one we'd dug, weeded and planted three weeks ago, and picked up litter in and around the bed. Ten of our ninety Pelagonia gifted by Allen Broad at the Park have been taken; but Lin was told the miscreant, a rather rickety old man, had been caught by a neighbour who'd asked him why he was taking the flowers. He'd replied "Because they're nice" 

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Simon Baddeley