Friday, July 25, 2008

Poem by Zarine at Creative Writing Group


Universe’s spirit directs some
to this farflung corner,
spits others out here:

young and full of hope, or
filled with pain and seeking shelter
... shaping, transforming

travellers of life,
explorers of Gaia’s secrets,
seekers of meaning
... in limbo, passing through.

Kalikalos –
metaphor of this broken world:
place of waiting, place of strength
safe haven and spiritual sanctuary.

Here we wrestle with the themes of life
we, the unforgiven and the unforgiving.

Here we find solace in kinship,
rekindle our joy.

Here I shelter behind my mother tongue
and transform my pain on paper.

Zarine Roodt
16 July 2008, South Africa


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

By land and sea to Kalikalos and back

Coming from an eco-community in West Wales, I wanted to travel to Greece for my writing course making the least environmental impact as possible. In these mad times, flying is usually cheaper than any other way of travelling but I was determined to stick to my guns and keep to low level travel. My first stop was to check out for information on trains. To my surprise, I found that an Inter Rail ticket is now available for the over 26s, and as I was intending to vist friends on the way to Greece over a couple of weeks, I thought this would be the least stressful option.

The Global Pass[£288] I chose enabled me to travel on ten days out of twenty-two, although there are other options. Having travelled to London by coach to stay with my brother and his family for the time it took to make my travel arrangements I set off on the 05.25 Eurostar to Paris. Armed with my ticket and my Thomas Cook International Timetable [£13.50] I attempted to plan a trip to Dijon. It seemed I had wasted my money on the timetable, as none of the trains on the station destination boards matched what was in the book. It became apparent that this was due to a strike. This,however was the only time the good book let me down resulting in a slow, piecemeal journey to my destination.

I had a few days to unwind before a relatively short hop to Airolo in Switzerland where I helped my farmer friend make his hay. Heading after, to Czech Republic, I got caught up in the European football chaos which meant I couldn't get my planned overnight train to Budapest. The timetable helped again enabling me to plot an alternative escape route via Munich. The next stop, Budapest, was to stay with relatives of my landlord for a few days of hardcore tourism, before booking my sleeper train to Thessonaliki. This twenty-six hour marathon could have been a nightmare spent in a small compartment with unsympathetic people but I was sharing with a Swedish Greek family going home for the summer holidays to stay with their mother. We had such a laugh, I was almost sorry to get off the train. So, two shorter train trips and a bus took me to Kissos and Kalikalos. Luckily I felt instantly at home there and my journey was worth the effort even more so after the brilliant therapeutic writing course I took.

My return journey was abit more urgent and full-on. I shared a taxi to Volos then took buses across stunning moutain scenery to Igoumenitsa, from where I caught the 24 hour ferry to Venice. I don't know if it happens every time but there was a deck party going on that night and with the full moon I had to join in and dance. Got a few 'whos-this-old-bloke' looks from da yoot but I threw a few respectable shapes. Venice was packed even on a Sunday morning, when I eventually got there after an unexpected hike out of the port,with no directions. There were no overnight spaces on the Paris train but I escaped to Milan and managed to book on the train from there. A cock-up ensured a surprise for the four Italian women who had settled down for the night in their compartment, only to be invaded by a Romanian guy and me just before midnight. I had to beg 15 cents off the Romanian in order to pay for my Metro ticket and just about made the 10.13 Eurostar to London, though I was shocked to find that the single fare this way is more than three times the price coming from and buying in London.

British trains are too expensive so I took a coach to Swansea, bumped into a mate and stayed with him the night, making it four-and-a-half days to get home. But what an end to my adventure.

Pual French, Newport, Pembrokeshire.

HEALING WORDS and me (Don Hills)

Friday, July 11th, 2008. 'Healing Words' tutored by Victoria Field. (NB. What follows is in no way a resume of Vicky's course, but simply an expression of some of my feelings, during a week of profound personal experiences).

I arrive at Volos Bus Station feeling hot, sweaty and tired from a couple of hectic days in Athens - but exhilarated by a chat with Vangelis, a young man from Volos who is going home from his university studies in the capital. I take a photo of him with his friend, who is waiting to meet him. Then, as I sit waiting for the local bus to Kissos, I idly pen the following:

'Chatter, noise of the idling buses,
Grunts from the crane helping to build
What looks like a car park.
People from the bus disappearing into cars.
A little sparrow hopping his way around the tables.
The fat boy collecting the buts
Being smiled at by a beautiful woman in a pretty top...
All this and the Pelion to come!'


After a good sleep in C5, I meet my Workshop comrades - a motley-looking crew of writers, would-be writers, and 'I'm only Here for the Beer'/ the 'Ouso is Easy' brigade. Our leader Vicky is, of course, perfect, and she soon sets us off with a 'being here' exercise. Instinctively, I am drawn to a freshly painted Kalikalos board, standing upside down and do my first writing piece, giving the board a voice and viewpoint. Actually, I'm feeling a little 'upside down' myself, what with all the travel and the first stirrings of our course work.


Beginning to feel more relaxed and 'together'. My thoughts are being less constrained by the 'everyday life' I have left behind for a week. But home is still there in the background for me. In the exercise 'if I were water' I 'transmute' to the N. Devon coast and feel myself as the tide coming in, creating rock pools and bringing the rich variety of marine life into Combe Martin Bay, where I live. I am also the tide going out, retreating into the ocean depths, and bcoming One with the Source. But....when it comes to swimming, Combe Martin cannot compete with the beautiful warm Aegean. I luxuriate in the surf, and then chill out on a sunbed under one of those nifty little canopies. Bliss!!!


Ye gods! One of my fellow writers has me down as Zeus, but I much prefer to be Apollo, god of light, music and prophecy. In this fantasy, I bring light into a darkened world - the light of understanding for the intellect, and music for the soul. As for prophecy, I sing worlds into being, and just now I am very busy at Kalikalos!


"How would I like to feel at the end of the week?", we ask ourselves. One of the lines from a poem by Edith Sodergran (given to us by Vicky) says it all for me: 'Before I die, I shall bake a cathedral' - this, in spite of the fact that previously she has said that she can't find 'that sublimity of style' in her writing that she's 'always yearned for'. As for me, I want to bake the best 'cake' I can this week - and if my 'cathedral' turns out to be a modest little 'chapel', so be it!

I have a strange experience this afternoon. Whilst the others go to the beach, I have a siesta in my room. When I awake I feel completely disoriented. Where am I? What am I doing here? I wander around, still in a daze, until I hear the sounds of my companions arriving back fron the beach. Blessed relief! I celebrate with a cup of tea.


It's Mark's Magical Mystery Tour in his 'peoples car', to the strains of heavenly baroque music. At our first stop in Zagora, I pause by an old, decrepit building and ask, 'what can you teach me?' The answers come quickly - to let crumble what wants to fall lie content in the bosom of let the wind pass softly through my bare die with dignity and repose.

We then continue on to Pouri, the last village of East Pelion. The village square is built on three levels. At the highest one, I pause by the War Memorial, becoming strongly aware of the personal tragedies its simple structure embraces. The contrast between my feelings by the old building in Zagora, and now here in Pouri, are overwhelming. I write:
I want to die with dignity,
And yet you did not...
Cut down by bullets -
International and Internicine.
The chicadas chirrup to your memory.
They sing of your boyhoods and youth,
When you were beautiful under the sun.
Your souls linger here; and I with them.

Further down the hill, Gary and Gemma are fashioning their metalwork, jewellery and ceramics. The metalwork is made 'with fantasy and humour' - a combination of fire and beating. The pottery is thrown on a 'momentum wheel' - red earthenware clay used and fired on a gas kiln. I leave the 2 G's with a lovely metal insect, who's going to join my 'Mr. Rightway' at home.

And so it is that the souls of the fallen comrades, and the spirits of these living craftworkers, meet here in the glory that is Pouri.

In the evening, we have our Cabaret on the steps and terrace at Kalikalos, ably compared by Sue. First up is Vicky with her cheeky 'Greek Salad' poem, contrasting Mediterranean sensuality with the 'ration of passion' endured in Northern latitudes. Then comes Mark with his musical and literary evocation of the Pelion Peninsular - seemingly a continuation of the day's Magical Mystery Tour. I follow on with a rousing version of my 'Simple Life', complete with a 'doing the Lambeth Walk' take-off in the last line of the chorus.
We are then privileged to have the appearance of that distinguished Professor of Archeology, Paul French. Dressed in a cool white linen suit, he shows great versatility in switching from lecturing to singing, following the non-appearance of Mr Jock Millenson, Chief Wrangler at Kalikalos. Paul's repertoire is impressive - 'The Blind Harper', 'No One's Slave And No One's Master', and 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life'. Even more impressive is his progressive stripping from song to song ie. finishing with Brian on the Cross wearing only a loin cloth. Corrr!!!
Zarine and Howard bring a more serious dimension to proceedings with a poetic reading and a prophetic pronouncement - only to be abruptly ended by Howard's declaration... Failed again!"
The evening actually ends with a song by Edvard Munch, sung with quiet passion and beauty by Teerol, a Beetles repise by Mark (Sergeant Pepper and All You Need Is Love) and the lullaby 'Angel Wings' by myself. (Sorry if I've forgotten anybody).

Quite a day!


Our last full day together. Vicky has a package of surprises for us with musings on the concept of 'Blue' and a challenge to identify the 'three strange angels' in D H Lawrence's poem 'Song of a Man Who Has Come Through'. Without revealing my own take on this, I can say that the powerful symbolism evoked for me by this exercise will stay as a continuing inspiration for my future writing.

Thursday evening is a time of sharing our impressions of the week around the camp fire, and it is here that staff and course participants join to thank each other for the mutual love and caring, so evident during the week. And, as 'cement' for this sharing, the whole of Kissos village and environs, it seems, turns out to celebrate a Greek Orthodox festival. The Greek music and dancing that goes on all night is really something - I had to get down there to feel part of it all. I'm absolutely knackered by Friday morning, but hey, am I bovvered?

-----Don Hills, Devon, England-----

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Day at the Beach

17 July MIDSUMMER BLOG Here I am sitting in the little cafe you see, 50 m from one of the typical E. Pelion sandy coves, Lambinou beach, making notes for the construction of the group room planned for 2009 (assuming we return to Xenonas Martiou) and brainstorming unusual workshops for next year. Given the unusual number of cancellations we have this year of some workshops that looked absolutely brilliant on paper, I'm thinking that people are tired of the old fare and want something unusual.

Bridgeaholics week! A week of duplicate bridge and a bit of instruction, along with the beach and Greek vegetrian cusine. Would that fly? What about Trading for a Living? Thaat's my personal craze at the moment having been fully seduced by Dr. Alexander Elder, the Russian born psychiatrist who shows me that above all trading is a branch of crowd psychology.

I thought that the social psychology of building authentic community was my last stop on the psychology train. Maybe not. Could we get Dr. Elder to come to Greece to lead a technical analysis seminar? Won't hurt to ask him. He can but say no. I have been wanting for years to bring Fay Welcon to lead a week on creative writing but she tells me she doesn't like teaching and from her suite at the Dorchester hotel in London refers me to a poet colleague. ----Jock Millenson----

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mulberry Picking

Kalikalos Blog

Mulberry Picking

I tasted my first fresh mulberry on the second day of my 3 weeks here in Kalikalos. They are delicious. Sweet and juicy. The only problem is that they have been falling onto the yurt, leaving a beautiful (but un-removable!) splash of red, blue and purple patterns. This was brought to my attention at the morning circle meeting, so I decided to pick as many as were ripe and make some mulberry jam for all to enjoy.

Climbing the wobbly ladder and reaching for these little bundles red juice, I managed to permanently stain my clothes and had what looked like blood pouring down my arms. The occasional loose berry landing on my head and bees and insects were buzzing all around me. I enjoyed it thoroughly. That is what this place is about – getting in touch with our surroundings and learning harmonize with nature.

Three big bowls full of Mulberries I collected. Into the pot. A little bit of sugar. Boiled for half an hour. Delicious fresh jam for the community to share that lunchtime.

Not a berry wasted. The yurt saved from stain for at least a day or two. (I secretly really like the natural artwork of the stains. No artist could recreate the natural process of berries becoming ripe and dropping off a tree onto a yurt!!)

Elizabeth Davison, age 21, Edinburgh, Scotland.