Echo Weblog

a blog about my daily life, passions and happenings

Archive for the category “News”

My journey to British citizenship


Here I am! So what I have been doing all this time…… As a European National I never had the natural desire or intention to obtain British citizenship. But in the light of Brexit referendum in 2016 I became more inclined to acquire British nationality and decided to take the plunge. Greek by birth I moved in UK in 1999, who had lived and worked here for at least 19 years as the spouse of a British, I was eligible to apply for citizenship. What’s more, England’s green and pleasant land has been my country too and I loved it for its beautiful landscape, culture, history and language. 

Since 2017  I  have gone through hell first filling forms for permanent residency (PR)  just so that I can keep living and working in this country…. if I didn’t get PR card I will never have citizenship. I wanted to ensure that I have safeguarded my residence in the UK in the best possible way. I wanted a guarantee that I will be able to stay in the place I have made my home.

Over all these months, I studied for the citizenship test ‘Life in the UK: the journey to citizenship’, did some on-line practice tests and took the test at a testing centre in Oxford.  Once I passed, I had to fill out all the necessary paperwork and send it (along with the required payment of over £1200) to the Home Office.  So, I jumped through hoops I have to prove my existence here, they have recorded my voice, taken the biometrics of my facial features and my fingerprints. They have checked my coming and goings from this country, checked for criminal records.

I received the letter of approval In May and then waited to be invited to a citizenship ceremony. 

In the process of becoming a British citizen I felt sadness to the core because of Brexit, fear with the thought of being deported and leaving my family behind humiliated having to prove myself over and over again with masses of paperwork and evidence and have taken £2000 approximately in the process (citizenship fee + travel expenses, biometric fee, postage expenses etc. I will never forget the anxiety, the stress and uncertainty I lived with.


On 18th of July attended a group ceremony and took the “Oath of Allegiance’ stand up for the national anthem and welcomed as a new British citizen. Now I have two nationalities, not just one (officially became “Greco-British”). Two allegiances and two chances to vote. Two delightful locations to share with my family, and two places to come home to.

None the less I felt proud, full of joy and great relief when I finally become British citizen and stop worrying about potential changes in immigration rule, meet requirements etc. And of course, I am able now to vote and take an active role as a British citizen!

On a personal note, Naturalising as a British citizen won’t change who I am.  It might make my life easier and I will get to vote. And if I find I don’t like it I can always renounce it.

Greek by birth, British out of necessity and European by my identity of choice.

Good luck to everyone!







Queen’s Garden Party

On 10th of May 2016 attended the Queen’s Garden Party. My husband and I were given the opportunity to attend the Royal Garden Party, especially so in this year of the Queen’s 90th birthday. My little boy said we were very lucky! We arrived at Buckingham Palace before 3pm the queue wasn’t long walked through the Grand Hall of the Palace, out onto the terrace, and enjoyed looking around the gardens for an hour.


Nearly 8,000 guests gathered on the lawns of Buckingham Palace as the Queen arrived to the National Anthem.   Despite the rain the Queen and Prince Philip chatted to a number of guests before taking tea in the Royal Tent.  Other members of the royal family who attended included The Duke of York, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra.


The very British weather did not dampen guests’ spirits, and people from all walks of life mingled in very good humour, many taking the opportunity to explore the 40-acre Palace gardens that normally remain hidden to members of the public, whilst others enjoyed their royal afternoon tea accompanied by an eclectic variety of music played by two military bands.


As you might imagine, everything was expertly managed by Palace staff, not least the 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cake that are served by around 400 staff!”


Garden parties go a long way did exist in Queen Victoria’s time, but, despite being held in the afternoon, were called ‘Breakfasts’ and only the nobility and officials were invited. When the present Queen came to the throne in 1952, eligible young ladies were presented at Court, as they had been for years. In 1958, these presentations were abolished.


No doubt a very special event for us both to remember!


Longleat Safari Park

Early September we visited Longleat and I must say it was a lovely day out. The weather was perfect too. The historic house is magnificnet and the park looks impressive but we were unable to join the tour this time.


We had a lovely cream team at the café however this was interrupted by the wasps! The boat trip was a cool experience saw the seals, hippos, and the gorilla chilling out in his personal island!


We loved our safari adventure we drove through the animal enclosures seeing lions, cheeky monkeys (watch out for the wipers and aerial), zebras, tigers, deer, camels, wolves and many more animals.

12037991_10153636029591617_1462856618240272810_n It was an amazing experience to see so many beautiful animals and every animal seem happy.


Another highlight of our trip were the maze, the meerkats, parrots, lemurs, penguins.


My son really enjoyed the deadly 60 attraction based on the BBC television show. Steve Backshall sends us on a mission to find deadly animals in the fully themed outdoor challenge arena, The animals aren’t real; we swiped a barcode at kiosks scattered around the challenge area.The game was played under a time limit and we had to complete 10 challenges. When we finished went back to Mission control and collect our own personal score certificate. We were  was pleased with our score.  The game experience has kept us fit too!


On the whole we had a lovely family day out. Longleat is a wonderful place and we promised we go again even though it is an expensive attraction but it is great for children and parents alike!

Matara Gardens of Wellbeing


Summer is the perfect time to discover one of the most amazing gardens near Tetbury, Gloucestershire. The Matara Gardens at Kingcote location is a spiritual unique place with beautiful grounds, gardens and buildings.


There is a Chinese-inspired cloistered garden with its pagoda, pond and waterfall, as well as many woodland and walled gardens, herb gardens and meditation spirals and trails.


We had fun exploring this magical place and every detail was precious.

Wander through woods and wildflower meadow where was awash with a variety of colourful wild flowers such as buttercups, red clover, poppies, as well as many grass varieties.

The bees and other insects were busy frantically gathered pollen and nectar from the flowers.


Then we walked further and find the wish tree, maze, ponds, sculptures and the walled garden. It’s all very picturesque and tranquil. Stepping into this beautiful garden you feel immediately a sense of calm.  It has a lovely relaxed, natural feel.

Yes it is that simple!  This garden inspired me and let my imagination and energy roam free.


It was great to explore somewhere new!

When in Rome …” Exhibition at Corinium Museum, Cirencester

Calligraphy is a kind of music not for the ears, but for the eyes. (V. Lazursky)


The Corinium  museum open its doors to the Gloucestershire Lettering Arts (GLA) exhibition “When in Rome..” from 14 Feb 15 to 15 Mar 15). The main goal of the GLA Society is  to raise the level of awareness of calligraphy, lettering and the book arts. The exhibition ‘When in Rome’  presents a variety of calligraphy and lettering arts.


The word Calligraphy (comes from the Greek καλλιγραφία — “beautiful handwriting”) — is the art of beautiful and clear writing.

I took a calligraphy class years 14 years ago to learn how to do this. I started with foundational hand which is the key to other forms of lettering learned about the history of the development of calligraphy about materials and methods of use, writing patterns, decorations. It was a magical experience and I found the course fascinating.  You can see an example of my lettering work here:



Calligraphy is a magical skill that demands time and focus allow us to express ourselves creatively, teach us determination and patience, and elevates the soul.

Seeing the most recent exhibition at the Corinium museum I have re-discover my love for calligraphy.


Visiting the exhibition you can see on display the four volumes of contemporary work done in response to the Lindisfarne Gospels in 2013 by just over 200 contributors from around the UK, including 6 from GLA, and some from Japan and Portugal.


The calligraphers were asked by the International Research Centre for Calligraphy at the University of Sunderland to contribute original work in a fusion of styles to bring together old and new, with a balance of planned direction and freedom to use their own skills and enjoy making the book together. And this was achieved in a remarkably short period.


The finished pages were displayed in the Cathedral during the Writing 2013 Calligraphy Symposium at Durham while the original Lindisfarne Gospels were exhibited there. These pages were later bound in 4 volumes, called “Letters after Lindisfarne”, and presented to Durham Cathedral Library to be used as a lasting educational resource alongside their medieval manuscripts.


People should go along to see the exhibition what the modern calligraphers have achieved, taking the medieval manuscripts of the Lindisfarne Gospels as their inspiration for the books and the Roman theme for the exhibition.


Calligraphy is a unique art is a skill worth preserving for the future generations!

A glimpse of beautiful Dumfries and Galloway!

This Summer we explored the Dumfries and Galloway in South West of Scotland.

Threave castle

Threave castle

Scotland and its borders is a lovely region known for its gentle hills, beautiful river valleys, stunning landscape and has a natural beauty. My husband has lived and worked there as a teacher for 10 years and he wanted to return after 20years and to share with us his past memories from this area!

Garwald rivers and waterfalls

Garwald rivers and waterfalls

The South-West is home to Dumfries and Galloway, has an incredibly rich history all of its own, and areas of outstanding natural beauty, from sandy beaches and rolling hills to craggy mountains and vast forests, are home to a plethora of amazing wildlife. Our summer adventure started with our first stop at Lancaster and the visit to the Williamson Park and the Ashton Memorial, and next stop was at Carlisle castle and the museum.

St. Mary's Loch

St. Mary’s Loch

We have explored old buildings, ruins and museums, but Dumfries and Galloway also has much to offer in the great outdoors! The Grey Mare’s Tail National Nature Reserve it was an excellent day out and we enjoyed the steep climb, the walk and the picnic by the lake and we were very so happy to experience the peace and tranquility of this special place.

Grey's Mare Tail

Grey’s Mare Tail

Eskdale prehistoric trail it is an interesting historic place in the Eskdalemuir valley with many prehistoric remains. Some of the sites we visited with prehistoric significance were: Bessie’s Hill Fort, Castle O’er a spectacular fort with a great view up and down the valley, the Lupin and Girdle Stanes by the river Esk very impressive too. It is still a mystery what these stones, forts and enclosures meant to our ancestors?

Kagyu Saye-ling is a large Tibetan Buddhist monastery. The gardens and the temple is really beautiful. There is a shop and a café where we spent lots of time and met some of my husband’s friends. We also enjoyed our walk to Garwald and saw impressive waterfalls.

Kagyu Samye Ling, Eskdalemuir

Kagyu Samye Ling, Eskdalemuir

Other places which caught our attention were: Traquair House one of the Scot’s favourite haunts, St Mary’s Loch, Threave castle, MacLellan’s Castle in the town of Kirkcudbright, Heritage castle.We also have explored the spectacular landscape and discover the history of Langholm and Newcastleton Hills.

Traquair House

Traquair House

And to finally wrap up, we explored Abbotsford the historic home of Sir Walter Scott in the Socttish borders. He was the most famous poet, novelist and man of letters in Scottish literature and a keen antiquarian. His library and the collection of books about magic was really fascinating.

Abbotsford - Sir Walter's Scott house

Abbotsford – Sir Walter’s Scott house

I am glad I visited this part of bonnie land Scotland, a hidden gem of tranquil countryside and left a bit of my soul and heart there. Would go back again in a minute. Wonderful!

Heritage House

Heritage House

I hope this overview of what we have seen and experienced in Dumfries and Galloway has been a true inspiration for you and you will be able to pay a visit one day.

To say the least – It was a wonderful experience !!

Bradford on Avon!

I’ve been very quiet for a while and didn’t post anything…..but recently, we paid a visit to historic wool town Bradford on Avon. Bradford-on-Avon is lovely – been there a few times. It’s such a charming town!

SAM_2277 Read more…

Eastnor Castle and Ledbury

I am fortunate enough to have seen few fascinating castles until I started living in UK.


Eastnor castle in Herefordshire is another one which we have explored and I have to put it on my “done” list. It is a mock castle, built between 1812-24 and remains the home of the Hervey-Bathurst family. The interior of the stately home has magnificent collections of armour, Italian furniture, Flemish tapestries, paintings, lots of old books, antiques and a chapel.


The setting of the castle is amazing surrounded by a lush arboretum, beautiful grounds and lake.


Eastnor castle organizes often exciting events and activities for all ages. So if you want to take a peek here is

My son had fun in the adventure playground , and all we loved the lakeside and woodland walk and our picnic.


On the way back we stopped in Ledbury, an attractive market town with narrow cobbled streets and lots of timber-framed buildings, quaint-looking little shops and pubs. We wandered around a bit and we went to see the amazing 16th century painted room in the Registry office. Remarkable fresco paintings were found under layers of plaster in 1989, which show Tudor knot gardens and fruit full of vibrant colours and contain also biblical texts and proverbs.



One of the texts says

“That in his heart regardeth not, malicious, wicked men: but those that love and fear the Lord”


I do love castles they look so mysterious and impressive….still to see more and enjoy.

An amazing trip to Lille (Rijsel) in France!

Every Easter we travell somewhere. This time we decided to visit Lille in north of France where my husband’s brother live. We reached Lille in just one hour from London on the Eurostar (my son and us were really excited), so it is really accessible for another getaway trip perhaps.


Lille (or Rijsel in Dutch) is a beautiful European city with a rich history. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France’s border with Belgium. It looks picturesque and the architecture is stunning. I know very little about France and I’m glad I came to visit Lille and learn a bit more about. My wish is to visit many more European cities like Copenhagen, Budapest, Brussels, Croatia and many others.


We visited also one of the best places in Lille the Citadel.


The Citadel is a huge park built in the shape of a pentagon and it’s surrounded by a moat. The weather was lovely we had a very relaxing spring walk and we absolutely loved the area around the Citadelle.

We took a stroll through the old town and we saw that it has many charming narrow 17th century cobble streets filled with antiques and elegant shops , trendy cafes, patisseries and restaurants .


Wazzemes market is one one of the best known and most popular markets in Lille. We went to the market and bought fresh fish, olives and vegetables . Being Greek myself I appreciate and enjoy a taste of a good and authentic of food but this time I did experience it in French style.


Lille offers an alternative experience and is the perfect place to travel.

A brief note about the Digital Marketing Toolkit event presented by Ned Potter

UKeIG workshops are a great way to meet new people from different libraries and sectors, and they offer opportunities for networking and for sharing thoughts and ideas.


In my library we are concerned that we are not sufficiently maximising the potential of emerging technologies. The main drive for attending the course was to find out what new technologies we could use to inspire, engage, inform and educate our users.

So on 26 March 2014 I attended a workshop presented by Ned Potter, a librarian at the University of York and author of the Library Marketing Toolkit (which I have read and have found it to be helpful and full of useful tips!) . In the Prezzi presentation that he gave Ned identified those emerging technologies that can be useful for marketing the library, gave advice on how to use them effectively, together with tips, tricks and general best-practice for marketing online.

I have learned about some of the most interesting emerging technologies and now look forward to exploring the possibilities of a variety of free tools to engage our students.

Some key points from the presentation:

· Issuu versus pdf: Consider turning all library guides and documents into embedded online documents – they are more visually attractive

· Social media: use as a marketing tool – use the same message in multiple ways like “whispering” in people’s ears – use each platform for a reason, and systematically deliver a simple message on different platforms

· Create a video: it’s no longer expensive or technically complicated to create a video. Use 1 to 5 minute videos as a marketing tool

· QR codes: Put them at the bottom of all posters – link to details about opening times, user surveys, instructions for some of our less user-friendly subscription databases etc. etc.

· New things on the horizon

o mobile apps – library needs to go mobile!

o beacons (proximity based marketing tool which libraries could use to enrich a self-guided tour, or a special collection etc)

o aurasma “augmented reality” app

All in all, the day was very informative and allowed me to reflect on what I found enjoyable in being involved with the marketing aspects of my own work, and really got me thinking about how to revamp and revitalize our future marketing efforts. Now if only there were an app that could give me a few more hours each day to get to grips with this emerging technology!

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