Echo Weblog

a blog about my daily life, passions and happenings

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My 50th Birthday!

Happy Birthday to me! Now I am old and wise!  I have reached my half century! Couldn’t keep it a secret.

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Personally I’d rather disappear on holiday for a week and pretend it never happened!

As I couldn’t escape I decided to do something special for my 50th birthday! A weekend trip to Worcester, a great birthday Italian meal  at Zizzy’s  shared with family (of course miss my family and friends from Greece)  lots of birthday wishes and lots of presents! Felt spoiled rotten!

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My birthday cake was amazing! A lady (and friend) named Hayley she did my special birthday cake. I’ve seriously never tasted a cake so delicious and she is really creative and talented! Everyone loved it!

I hope the next 50 years to pass more smoothly than the first.

I will always fondly remember. Here is to the next 50 years!

Eastnor Castle and Ledbury

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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One of the texts says

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

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

Willow crafts for Christmas!!

SAM_0810If you are interested in learning how to weave willow or make beautiful Christmas decorations for your home  you can join some of the workshops which Brewery Arts  run from time to time and offering basic techniques in creating willow decorations for your garden or home.

Recently, Norah Kennedy led a Festive Willow evening class at Brewery Arts, Cirencester on 9/12/13 which I attended.

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She has demonstrated how to make circular wreaths and also how to make simple stars, angels  and wands.  I am a great admirer of willow in all its many varieties and forms and I really enjoy shaping the willow and getting the feel of it as I created all these  wonderful Christmas decorative items.

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So I was able to take them home and adorn them with Christmas lights, holly or other festive decorations.

http://www.newbreweryarts.org.uk/making-time/Workshops/Craft/Christmas-Craft-Festive-Willow-Evening

Please have a look at my festive and gorgeous items!

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Happy Christmas everyone!

Light Spicy Meatballs (Πικαντικα Κεφτεδακια)!!

Here is a recipe for those who like spicy food or a bit spicy!

500g lean minced lamb

4 galric gloves crushed

100g fresh breadcrumbs

4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

40g grated parmesan

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (use only if you like chillies)

1/2 teaspoon paprika

salt and pepper

1 egg

2 x 720 ml passata

10 basil leaves

3 tablespoon olive oil

served with rice (brown or plain) or pasta

I can guarantee success!

Μηλοπιτα (Apple Pie)

Mηλοπιτα (Apple pie)

The apple pie is one of my favourite desserts and accompany me from my childhood… I make it quite often in the winter!

Ingredients

½ butter melted
walnuts
1 cup of sugar
5 peeled and sliced apples
1tbsp cinnamon

For the Cake mixture

5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1cup self-raising flour

Melt the butter and add it in the cake tin. Mix cinnamon and sugar together and spread then add the sliced apples on top and walnuts in the holes. In a bowl, beat well with mixer the eggs with sugar. Then gradually add the flour until it becomes a smooth batter. Pour the mixture on the cake and bake in preheated oven for 30 min at 180 degrees. Remove from the oven and let it cool a bit. Take a large plate or platter the size of the pan, and invert the apple pie.

Heracles to Alexander the Great!

As a Greek who was born in Northern Greece , I was pleased to see the exhibition of “Heracles to Alexander the Great: Treasures from the Royal Capital of Macedon at Oxford University, Ashmolean Museum ( which run from April 7th until August 29th, 2011). It is good to be reminded that we must keep the past alive…..especially at present times!!! This magnificent archaeological exhibition features over five hundred treasures made of gold, silver and bronze, gold wreaths and jewellery which they have been found in the royal burial tombs and the palace of Aegae, the ancient capital of Macedon.

The royal city of Aegae, in modern–day named Vergina in northern Greece, was the first capital of Macedon, the seat of the Temenid kings who claimed descent from Heracles. They ruled from the mid–7th to the 4th century BC, and gave to Greece two of its most renowned heroes – King Philip II (382–336 BC) and his son, Alexander the Great (356–323 BC). Until 30 years ago, when excavations uncovered the untouched tombs of Philip II and his grandson Alexander IV, Aegae remained relatively unknown. Recent discoveries brought to life a wealth of objects and treasures– from beautifully gold jewellery, silverware and pottery, sculpture, mosaic floors and architectural remains.

The exhibition took us through the world of Macedonian men Temenides dynasty, hunting and war; Princesses, Queens and High Priestesses, the role of women – in fashion and rituals, the Symposium, a central event in the life of Macedonians; Aegae, the building plan of Philip II and the Palace – with fragments of its architecture and objects of the banquet. According to archaeologist Angeliki Kotaridis who worked on the digs at the palace in Aegaei, it contains a: “series of finds which prove that Alexander the Great did not just spring out of nowhere to take over the whole world. He was a scion of the Temenides dynasty that ruled the Macedonian kingdom for three and half centuries and who were ‘descendants’ of Hercules and Zeus.” ‘Heracles to Alexander’ was a thrilling tour and gave us sense of the time and the wealth of a very important civilisation around the royal capital of the kingdom of Macedon, in the period which gave birth to some of the ancient world’s most famous names.

Alexander, my son has enjoyed the trail and was very proud to relate himself with the great hero’s roots but also to get his certificate too!

The Beauty of Books!

Recently I have watched BBC4’s documentary series ‘The Beauty of Books’. An excellent programme where is revealed the “beauty” of books not only as physical objects (cover design, illustrations, illuminations, binding) but also explores the enduring love of books and the way they influence the course of history.

Episode 1



The British Library in London is home to 14 million books, on shelves that stretch over 600km. Extraordinary vessels of ideas and knowledge, they testify to the love affair we have with books. This series explores the enduring appeal and importance of books from a 4th century bible to present day paperbacks.
The Ancient Bibles looked at the 4th-century the Codex Sinaiticus, written in Greek in about 350AD the oldest surviving complete New Testament. There are 23.000 corrections is this marvellous manuscript possibly for theological reasons; and the Winchester Bible from the late 12C is full of beautiful illuminations in gold and lapis lazulli recalls a time when bibles were at the centre of the Church’s struggle with the State for ultimate authority.
Both of these bibles are works of art and remarkable achievements in book technology. They are also annotations on the political era in which they were created, providing fascinating commentary on the life of Jesus and the murder of Thomas Becket.

Episode 2
The medieval era was the heyday of illuminated manuscripts. In the 14th and 15th centuries, there was a flowering of religious texts set into beautifully-decorated pages. Among these devotional books were psalters, or books of psalms. Hundreds of these were produced, but the Luttrell Psalter is remarkable for its whimsical, humorous and vivid pictures of rural life and a demonic world that is terrifying and grotesque.
This period also saw the development of literature in English. The great Geoffrey Chaucer, often called the Father of English Literature, took the bold decision to reject literary convention and write in English. His brilliant, bawdy satire, the Canterbury Tales, became a medieval bestseller and, as a result, when William Caxton set up his first printing press in London, he chose Chaucer’s tales as his first major English publication.
These wonderful books contain clever, often mysterious references for their readers and are crucial milestones in the story of the book, charting the last phase of the manuscript and the arrival of the printed book.

Episode 3
The Victorians were masters of illustrated books, especially for children. Thanks to an emerging middle class readership, new printing technology and a sentimentalised regard for childhood, fairy tales and fantasy fiction containing words and pictures grew into an established genre.
First published in 1865, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was one of the most remarkable books of the period, a combination of the genius of Carroll’s nonsense verse and prose and the meticulously detailed illustrations of John Tenniel. Creating a handshake on the page, they formed an inseparable bond that has since become a cultural phenomenon. But beyond Tenniel, Carroll’s masterpiece has been illustrated hundreds of times by artists like Salvador Dali, Ralph Steadman and Mervyn Peake, all creating their own distinctive Wonderlands. Peake was also a talented writer, and his Gormenghast trilogy of 1946 is an illustrated series of fantasy novels that re-interpreted the genre in the 20th century.
Today, illustrated or ‘picture’ books are still thriving for the youngest readership. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler reveals how the genius of the writer and illustrator partnership continues to enthral and enrich the story of the book.

It was very interesting episode with empasis more in the relationship between writer and illustrator.

Episode 4
The paperback book democratized reading in the 20th century, and printing directly onto the covers became a way of selling a book in the mass market.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell was a book written in and for this era, emerging as a paperback in 1954. Its changing cover design reflects each decades approach to selling the book to new readers: from its classic 50s Penguin cover to the latest design from Jon Gray, they are signs of our times.
As an example of how cover design has become art, the iconic ‘cog eye’ design by David Pelham of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange has permeated society since the first paperback of 1972.


Bringing the story of the book up to the 21st century, the arrival of electronic readers has sent traditional publishing into a tailspin. The paperback and its cover design has been replaced by the concept of mass storage and electronic pages. As this new technology gains new fans the paper book comes under renewed scrutiny. Whether society accommodates both ways of disseminating knowledge in the future depends on our continued devotion to good writing, editing and design.

By wathcing all the episodes I found myself having known a little about British Library’s treasures very well imformed and made me even more curious to explore further interesting books.
From Librarian’s point of view I know I will always appreciate a beatifully bound book, a book with a nice cover design, a book with stunning illustrations and I am always will be captured by its look and special meaning.

Personally I am not sure if I ever buy a Kindle or use any e-reader or may be I do but I know I will never let down a book! But the question is would the ‘REAL’ books dissaper? Would the new gadgets will concquer the world of books…It is really interesting times…..who is going to be the winner! both forms or one? In the end it doesn’t really matter as long as we still enjoy reading!

Pavlidi’s Chocolate Museum!!

I am writing this post because of a recent event which took place in Athens and attracted lots of visitors.
I am not a chocoholic but I worship chocolate like all of us! I only eat ION–almond chocolate because of  its unique taste and smell (forgive me Pavlidis)!
I do miss my Greek chocolate here in England but I make sure wherever visit home to bring with me some or buy it via the internet.

The older and favourite Greek chocolate brand Pavlidis (with blue packaging and if you Greek you know it!) celebrated the 150 years anniversary and opened the doors to its Chocolate Museum! (I wish I was there too). In the Museum, visitors had the opportunity to learn more about the history of the most famous Chocolate since 1861 obtain an insight on how chocolate is made and saw the exhibits and paintings created by students of College Vakalo Art & Design inspired by chocolate.
Moreover, children had the opportunity to play and be occupied creatively in activities specifically drawn from the Greek Children’s Museum and had a chance to enjoy chocolate fountains and delicacies!

I hope I will not miss the opportunity to visit the Pavlidis Chocolate Museum for a delicious, nostalgic ‘sweet’ experience!

Libraries everywhere facing closures…

Yesterday 5 February was a National Library Action Day in Britain – Britons protested against 450 planned library closures due to budget cuts. Many children’s libraries threatened with closures in Greece too! I can see similar imminent closure happening there but how much people fight to keep libraries at the heart of their communities or have we seen such protest in Greece? How many Greek people know that does exist library in their city/municipality/village? How many they visited it? The reality is that Greek people they don’t have the culture of library/reading as the Britons. This is a conclusion I came up with by living in both countries. Who is to blaim for but this is the situation of libraries in my beloved Country.
I would like to see Ministry of Education in Greece or any other governmental body and across the globe to take it seriously and commit a percentage from their budget for the growth of children’s libraries and continuation, and focusing more on sustaining because they seem to forget that not everyone has a computers, books etc to read from and that libraries do not only mean books but also mean life for learning…So it is better to leave the one free and good thing alone for all of citizens and future generations.
I believe strongly that libraries is where anyone can go and find a piece of peace for themselves on a quiet moment. The library is a place where we parents take our children and get books and be with our children, sharing a moment which is important to both of them, when they begin to learn how to read and share with each other. It is a place where a child can proceed with it’s growing up in an independent manner by researching any topic for personal interest or school project…..

And so please save our libraries!

Happy Easter/Kalo Pasxa!

My beloved friends Χριστός Ανέστη, Χρόνια Πολλά και Καλά σε όλους!

I admit that Easter in England is not the same as in Greece is completely different experience …. It is absent to me the religious sentiment that I felt each year making Easter in the church of my village. There on Good Friday strike the bells mourningfully and watched the all operations with genuine katanyxi and sadness and more deep feeling . 

My memories are full from sweet recollections and most of the people that are still more astonishing than the country itself. Hospitable, [peripoiitikoi], smiley, [anoichtokardoi] and generous, they opened their house and their hearts and they conquered you! One day I want to take Alex and show him what is the Greek Easter what is the special meaning for the Greek people  and how they  feel it. 

But I still believe that the most beautiful Easter is the one you have with the people you love.

 Το πιο όμορφο Πάσχα είναι αυτό που περνάς με ανθρώπους που αγαπάς!

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