Molyvos Life

Molivos Events

Rambo Update

First of all I would like to thank the many people who showed interest in Rambo’s story, I feel I must give this update to prove that in spite of what the  situation it’s never too late to try to save an animal. I have asked my husband and son every single day since I last saw Rambo what his progress was and it was always positive but I didn’t want to write anything until I had seen him with my own eyes. Due to the fact that I am not mobile plus the start of a new working season I was beginning to fret that maybe I wouldn’t see him for months but 2 days ago plans slotted into place and I got the chance to meet up again with our “old man”. I got off my son’s bike quicker than I had ever thought possible and charged off into the field of waist high grass and there he was, quite a way off with 2 of our other horses. We shouted his name and he began to approach us and my son said “shake the bag and see what happens”(we were armed with carrots and apples) I could not believe my eyes!He broke into a lopsided trot and as he got nearer I could see the transformation,not only could he move better but he positively shone in the sunlight.Gone was the dull and lifeless winter coat and in it’s place was the black sleek summer coat that gleamed with health,once again I cried of course but they were tears of joy and disbelief this time. We fed him and almost had to wrestle his head out of the bag at times and this was when I really noticed his eyes. They were alive and full of life,shining and full of mischief, Rambo was well and truly on his way to recovery,he still has a problem with his legs but he can definitely get himself where he wants to be, he still needs to pad out a little more but that will come in time but all in all his progress has been far better than I could ever have wished for.  After a while, when he had had his fill and had paid his respects to us he sauntered off to join the horses again, my heart was at peace and my mind at rest. This day we had 2 young girls with us, Justine and Claudelle, my son had met them quite by chance at the restaurant he works at and funnily enough they had read my first story about Rambo. They are here on a photography course from Canada and from what I have been told they have taken numerous shots of him already and soon their work will be shown in a local exhibition, I cannot wait to see the fruits of their work! Our “gentle old man’ will get his five minutes of well earned fame and I will be one of the proudest people present.                                                                                                       

Before I end this update, Susan, I have to tell you that yes, the 50 euros were taken but we paid willingly and I should also explain that Rambo had been loose on those hills for about 2 years so our hopes of ever seeing him again were dwindling daily.God bless the man who bothered to recapture him and God bless Rambo for accepting us again so willingly.     

Alaine

A Greek Jewel

There is an American film made in 1954 that sometimes reminds me of Molyvos. It is called ‘Brigadoon’ directed by Vincente Minnelli and it tells the story of a magical Scottish village of that name that rises out of the mists once in one hundred years so that the inhabitant may enjoy one day of their lives before it sinks back into timelessness for another one hundred years. Two American trout fishermen wander into the village and find that they never want to return to the so-called real world. When they finally do so they are affected by an excruciating nostalgia for the place they have lost.

The similarities with Molyvos are startling and not a little disturbing. I have been coming to Molyvos for over forty years now with my partner Julie Copeland and I have known visitors who have strayed into the village (your uncle and aunt were two such people, Melinda) who came for a few weeks and never left. You can sometimes see these time lord castaways wandering along its beaches and sheltered coves behaving like bird watchers but in fact looking, in a somewhat bemused way, for a key out of the place.

Molyvos spins a special kind of enchantment. It is geographically an island attached to an island. It sits on its peninsula like a jewel brought up out of the depths by a skin diver with a pastoral mixture of farmland, habitat and seascapes on three sides. Wherever you look Nature is there. The mother island, Lesbos is always somewhere else, on the horizon, or looking over our shoulders. This location recreates a special ambience, a perfect balance between nature and culture.

I come here each year to write. There must be some kind of creative pact between me and the village that I don’t remember signing, some kind of erotic electricity because the feeling when I return is not just that this is in many ways my second home (although that is a fantasy – I know like the two American fishermen in Scotland somewhere in the back of my head that it isn’t and that I will have to leave – but that I am being plugged into a mysterious kind of cosmic force. The creative juices loosen up after the tough round of teaching at a film school, freelancing as a critic and broadcaster and generally trying to make trouble for whichever government is in power in Australia. And I begin to write as though I had never left my desk here. I don’t keep count of the number of poems I have composed in Molyvos but I do know that I have written over fifty short stories and five novels while being comfortably ensconced in one of the most beautiful landscapes that I have ever seen. Best of all the village is still somewhat difficult to get to, especially from the Antipodes. The relative, the tax collector, the student asking for immediate attention can’t find you here.

This other neutral space, keeping the rest of the world at arm’s length, also applies to the village’s inhabitants. One day I am going to sit down and write a soap opera (day time television and Ophrah will love it). We can go away and come back the following year and there is always an electrifying family drama taking place or continuing the next exciting episode somewhere: the last mayor has run off with the village post mistress; the proprietor of a local pensione has been transformed into a Greek version of Faulty Towers and thrown out all his clients from England because he doesn’t like the sound of the language; a mad animal loving Swedish couple has tried to take a dozen cats- tom, feline and ten kittens – back to Stockholm in a basket disguised as a container for fetta cheese. I must say that your own family too is pretty good on the domestic drama chapters. At this level Molyvos reminds me of one of those big shell-like Greek theatres with the principals groaning and tearing out their hair while a line up of townspeople playing the chorus mutter into their coffees and ouzos that nothing good can come of such public carry-ons.

It is true that time brings change. We have lived together through the dark years of the military dictatorship, the hardships and sometimes poverty of a village in those days of the sixties and seventies depending on its fishermen and farmers for sustenance and the first years after the collapse of the junta when the tourist buses and package tours began to pour into the place bringing great changes, not always tactful, no, let’s face it downright ugly, to its valley and foreshore. But somehow behind the commercial crassness that did bring jobs and financial relief to many the real village, the timeless village still sits there in the labyrinthine allies and winding stone staircases so that I can say hello to Therapiotis stitching his nets on the doorstep of his house or your stepfather, the ‘captain’ of the Captain’s Table whom I have known since he was about eighteen, a boy going to do military service and now a great sea captain sitting in his retirement having a parea with his mates outside one of the cafenios. Or the women who screech the gossip across the rooftops: ‘Akous’ Kale!!’ The many microcosmic kindnesses from such people that make this not just a holiday place but a living, breathing organism. In that sense its sense of a community, of a humanism that still values the individual and gives us, its guests a space to be individuals, is timeless.

There are tough times descending on Greece. The money men will pack their carpet bags and do a runner. The international tour operators will move on to Syria, Morocco or Madagascar. Perhaps the village will have to rethink its way of life as indeed the rest of Greece will. But this quality that I am trying (and failing) to pin down, this marvellous beauty invested by light, calm and sensuality as the poet Verlaine dreamed of, inhabited by decent, hard working and parea loving individualists, will survive and thrive. It is like the myth of the lost island of Atlantis that rose out of the water and sat above a jewel faceted sea and became a touchstone for the classical world of a perfectly balanced civilization, the Golden Mean which the actual classical world hardly ever achieved in spite of its rhetoric and its searching. We are the lucky ones who accidentally stumbled upon Atlantis.

(C) Dr. John Slavin

Kalo Taxithi Tony Barrell

‘Kalo Taxithi’  is a common Greek term used to wish a special person a good journey into their spiritual after life.

A great friend of Molyvos who will be much missed – Tony Barrell  7 May 1940 – 31 March 2011

Traveller, journalist and writer, Tony Barrell made his first visit to Molyvos in 1970 and quickly became part of the village – his second home.Tony Molyvos 1970s

We are all saddened by the news of his death from a heart attack on March 31st 2011. He died in his sleep after a wonderful evening of laughter and reminiscence with friends including my mother, Jennifer.

Last summer, Tony and his wife Jane had a great gathering here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their first visit. He always enjoyed staying here and hated leaving. At the time of his death he was still in the process of writing a book with Jane “Your island, My island”.

A very giving person, he was always so willing to help me with projects which needed writing or photographing. It has taken me a long time to write this tribute. A good friend, he will never now be able to keep his promise to come and stay in beautiful Mystegna in the Kyparissis Beach Houses on the east coast of the island.

During one of his many visits, he met a Dutch woman, Julie, who writes a blog about Lesvos and he helped to correct her English translations. She edited her writing into a book which has just been published. She had been so looking forward to reading his final review of it.

As touched as all of us, she has written the following tribute:

A farewell to Tony

Now that I finally changed as well in also
Now that you teached me fishes are fish
And after so many other English corrections
You left us.

After you did this huge job
In correcting and commenting on my columns
And finally the book
You left us

Without me having a chance to pay you back
In dinners and fish
Without me reading
The Final Review

Reading about you
You were more than great in Australia
Writing about so many topics
And finally again about Japan

Here on the other end of the world
Where the news of a shark kept papers alive
You left your traces in friendships
And dinners and party’s

I have been lucky
That one day you and Jane walked into my house
And so we met
And so we worked

Here in the country
Where old history
Of brave wars and great philosophers
Seem to live so close with modern live

You found an island of peace
Sunken into the blue Mediterranean
Where Greeks and foreigners
Mingled into a life of happiness

Here in the little town of Molyvos
For decennia you came back again and again
And now Molyvos lost another
Of its big writers.

Tony, thank you for everything!

Julie Smit

Tony Barrell (7 mei 1940 – 31 maart 2011)

http://smitaki.blogspot.com/

Addio TONY by Julie Copeland.

Our friendship with Tony Barrell & Jane Norris goes back a long way: Jane and I go back 50 years (!)  when we first worked together in a Melbourne theatre troupe, and later, living in London, where she met Tony.

In 1969, when John Slavin and I were first living in Molyvos, I sent Jane a postcard saying something like: `we’ve found the place we’ve been looking for – do come and see!’

And so they did, arriving from London in the village Spring of 1970 – and the rest is history.

Naturally Greece was then a very different place; Molivos was much poorer, much smaller –  but they `got it’, proving over the years to be more adventurous explorers than us, hiking around the coast (before there was a road) to Skala Skamia, while later Tony and his old friend, the English writer Roger Deakin looked like swashbuckling pirates, as they strode through the island in search of ancient trees, on many excursions accompanied by Heinz Horn, who still knows the island terrain better than anyone.

We shared  houses, good and bad times, often dramatic times; ferocious winter winds when I recall us all crawling  behind the parapet on our hands and knees into the agora, unable to stand, as the gale hurled roof tiles like missiles around us; we lived through the years of the military dictatorship; good friends have died and are buried there.

One was our very special friend, Nassos Theofilou, author of several untranslatable books, librettos, lyrics, etc.

Tony made a radio feature based on one of Nassos’ stories about his grandmother, complete with the sounds of Molyvos which  Tony continued to record over the years – many, many audio hours of sheep bells, doves, fishing boats – everything!

Tony was drawn to Nassos’ sense of the bizarre, his crazy humour, as despite language differences, they punned and joked together.. they were in many ways soul mates – but like Tony, a few years ago Nassos died suddenly of a heart attack, far too young.

However, one of our (several!) important summer rituals continued to be sharing his widow Lydia’s large, delicious dinners – and lots of ouzo! – under the stars and olive trees out at the Theofilou farm, accompanied by the owls and the cats.

Last summer, with our Molyvos friends, including Lydia, we shared another significant ritual, when Jane rounded us up to celebrate her and Tony”s 40th anniversary year in the village.  There we all were, people from many places, on the terrace of the old house they rented – a miracle of connections.

Tony really loved the island, where he became a different person.  (Their daughter Klio shares her name with the village up the coast! )   Jane maintained the best tonic for his health problems was his return visits to Molyvos

Most of all he loved the people, their company and their stories – the crazier the better!.  He loved swimming in the cold, clear sea, excursions exploring the island, he loved the landscape.

Some time back Jane got serious about making a film tracing the extraordinary pull that Molyvos has had, and continues to have, on people who visit, stay or live there.

Our Molyvos friends have been shocked at the news of Tony’s death; Lesbos summers will never be the same, and we shall surely miss him.

for tributes, listings and audio of Tony’s work, you can go to the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) site: abc.net.au/rn

& type in search `tony barrell’

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/360/features/tonybarrell/


A True, Love Story

Nineteen years ago my husband Andonis bought a magnificent horse,he was strong beyond belief,had a great character and was promptly named by myself, Rambo.We needed him to pull the carriage we then had and he did this tirelessly and gave us all he had to give,in return he was very well looked after loved by everyone who had the luck to meet him.

He made yearly appearances in the local festivals and I can still vividly remember young children following the horse procession and asking of each other “which one is Rambo?”Few people could ride him with ease  because of his strength and I have known experienced riders return to the farm with blistered and bruised hands,a result of having to hold the reins tight enough to check his pace.

In 1997 he miraculously survived our farm fire,thankfully he had had the strength to break free but not before he suffered severe face burns.My husband spent weeks taking care of the many goats that had suffered and of course our beloved Rambo.He did recover thankfully with little evidence left of what he had endured and over the following years he led a carriage free good life.Our gentle giant was in semi retirement and leading the good life.

In 2006 my husband was approached by a carriage owner in Mitilene who literally pleaded to buy Rambo,because of the horses capabilities and good name and the deal was done.The understanding was that whenever the new owner decided to sell,Rambo would return to our farm.

I now jump to October 2010,my son Theo had served his army time and had decided to fulfill his wish of finding Rambo and making sure that he was being cared for,he found out that Rambo had been sold to someone in Plomari and Theo then made yet another long trip to check up on him.My son returned heart broken,the new owner had decided Rambo was of no use anymore and had just set him loose in the hills ,an old man discarded and left to fend for himself,we were disgusted but determined to right the wrong that had been done!!!!!

A while later Theo returned to Plomari with a friend to try to find  Rambo and with the help of locals they searched all day in the hills but they had no luck and returned dejected and angry.Theo had let everyone know that we wanted him back and that should he be spotted he should be caught and we would collect him.By this time winter had set in and our minds were running riot with the cruel life Rambo would be enduring,we could not get him out of our minds and we could not settle.

After Xmas my son and husband decided to try again,they made the same long journey and once again enrolled the help of the locals to comb the hills of Plomari all to no avail.He was nowhere to be seen and yet people insisted Rambo had been spotted and was indeed alive.This time when Theo and his dad left Plomari they told everyone that 50euros would be paid to the person that found him,not a kings ransom I know but we could not afford more.

A date that will go down in the history of my family,27th March 2011,Theo received THE telephone message saying that Rambo had been caught and was awaiting collection.WE WERE ECSTATIC!!!!!!!!

Theo arranged for his friend who owned a truck to pick Rambo up and bring him home the next day,he was coming home at last to be where he belonged.

He arrived on the 28th March and I was kind of prepared by Theo of what I would see.Nothing in this world could have prepared me for what I saw!

The day after, I arrived at the farm full of hope,excitement and longing,what I met was devastating and heart rending,here were the standing remains of some animal that I was supposed to believe was Rambo .On the ride up to the farm I had clutched my son and admitted that I didn’t think I was ready to face up to what I would see but was told to be brave,another friend had advised that I expect the worst and anything else I would cope with.These were total understatements,I got off my son’s bike and collapsed onto a nearby gate,I am not afraid to admit that I shed tears of guilt,shame ,anger and utter disbelief,who in this world could do this to an animal that had deserved so much more??????

Rambo has twisted front legs,his bones are ready to burst through his skin in places,his fur is dull and lifeless but worst of all his eyes have no life,those eyes tell a story that he can never tell.But the spirit has not deserted him,he remembers our farm and he gladly led himself into his old stall and is acting as if he never left.Words fail me at this point because he should hate us for letting him go,letting him endure so much in his old age but all he is showing us is love.When I plucked up courage to get close to him that first day his head was held so low but when I whispered his name he gently rubbed his head against my chest and my son said”he certainley remembers you Mum”.My heart almost exploded at that moment,this gentle old man was showing some kind of forgiveness that a human could never show,he was just glad to be home and I have no way of knowing if he understands that this is where he will live out his days.

One week later I plucked up the courage to revisit,I had carrots in hand and I wondered if the same love would be there,I need not have worried,I called his name and he staggered over to the fence to greet me.His head was held a little higher and joy of joys,I saw his eyes and they were alive,there was a glimmer of that spark that used to be .He and I stood there for almost an hour,he nuzzled me from time to time and I whispered promises that I dearly wish he understood because they came from my heart.This old man is almost 40 years old,we know that his days are numbered,but at least he is among people who really love him and hopefully he will live out his days with dignity,peace and love.

Before I finish This Love Story,I must add that on the day that I revisited we collected a yearling from Mitilene harbour,a gift from Theo’s uncle and an absolutely beautiful young thing.She has never been tied in her life and is obviously timid of her new surroundings but guess who she has bonded with from the first moment ,yes,Rambo.Apparently she never leaves his side and I find this wonderful,she could never have a better guide and mentor and I hope they both gain something from their relationship.

I am realistic about Rambo,he is in a bad state and I do know that he is in pain and I do admit to myself that the day may come when we have to make the decision to end it all but I find comfort in the fact that he is finally amongst those that love him and he will not end his days in those lonely hills

Rambo,our gentle old man,welcome home!

Alaine

GOODBYE TO THE MYTH OF MITHIMNA

THERE’S a myth among British birdwatchers that the ONLY place worth staying on Lesvos is Skala Kalloni.

It’s a misconception probably shared by birders from other European countries who flock to the island for each spring and autumn migration.

Only those in the know seem to choose  Molivos –  or Mithimna to give it its historic name – as their base.

Well, in my humble opinion as an avid birdwatcher, it’s about time someone banished this myth about Mithimna.

When it comes to finding a perfect place to combine birdwatching with walking in spectacular, hilly scenery, having a massive choice of eating places and history around every corner, then Molivos is the place to be

Is there any nicer place in the whole world to round off a day’s birding than with a meal on Molivos harbour side, watchingdolphins and diving terns in the fading light?

Skala Kalloni with its salt pans is only a 40 minutes drive away.

All around Molivos are superb places to seek out the birds – some of them rather rare – from dense olive groves to the magnificent coastal strip between Eftalou and Skala Sikamnia. 

Even among the narrow streets and alleyways of the old town, there are birds to be seen and heard. You just have to look and listen.

Swallows nest under almost every  canopy and overhang of buildings.  Most years, for instance, they successfully rear young on top of an ornamental coach lantern under the canopy of  The Captain’s Table restaurant on the harbour.

As darkness falls, the monotonous  call of the Scops owl can be heard around the town squares and among the eucalyptus trees alongside the school.

The sound is reminiscent of the slow “peeps” of the Greenwich time signal.

Molivos is a place where it is usual to spot the unusual.


Floodlights which illuminate the castle are a magnet to moths and other flying insects. So birds such as nightjars and little owls are quick to take advantage of the ready meals.

Last year, barn owls, little owls and kestrels all nested within a few yards of each other in stone crevices  near the castle’s main entrance.

Keep an eye on the sea, too. Some years, thousands of

Mediterranean shearwaters can be seen in the huge bay between the harbour and the Kavaki headland. At times there are so many it looks like a giant oil slick.

The headland itself, near the “disco on stilts”, is known as one of the best places in Europe to see the very rare Ruppell’s Warbler.

Inland, the reservoir off the Vafios road is a good place to see Eleanora’s falcons hunting for dragon flies. Many other birds can also be “ticked” here.

In our 16 years of holidays in Molivos – sometimes twice a year – my wife Sheila and I always  see at least 120 species.

Really keen birdwatchers can expect many more than that.

FRANK WOOD, press officer for the Bolton area of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in North West England.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 10 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 16 posts. There were 3 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 328kb.

The busiest day of the year was April 20th with 50 views. The most popular post that day was The party .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were lesvosaccommodation.com, en.wordpress.com, mail.live.com, twitter.com, and mail.yahoo.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for molyvos, molly’s bar molyvos, molyvos blog, molyvos life, and bazaar molyvos.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

The party March 2010
1 comment

2

Melinda October 2009

3

Karen November 2009

4

Liz December 2009

5

A Seasonal Job or A Year-Round Job? November 2009
4 comments

The world’s best yoga spots

25 January 2011 | By Abigail Hole, Lonely Planet

Most peaceful

Angela Farmer and Victor van Kooten’s yoga hall (www.angela-victor.com) is situated deep in the Greek countryside, in a quiet olive grove in the Eftalou Valley, only five minutes from the beach. The only sound you will hear is the distant jingling of sheep bells. There are three hours of asana each morning and evening meditation and pranayama on the upstairs terrace.

Lesvos, You Beautiful

Poem by Sappho translated by Molly Drake and Sabina Glas

 

Born out of fire,

mingled by waves your waters caress me,

your rocks support me

Your winds carry the old with them

Your sun warms my heart Old Dragon Woman, you,

who are resting there

Calling me into your dreams

Whispering silently your messages into my ears

Your snake children wandering through me

And your stony body mixes with my bones.

This loosens my soul and dreamt of brother ego

That sent this distant message to me,

Strong bones, strong heart, strong minds

My songs and dances call

The shining companions out of the sea I could catch a glimpse of their play

In my heart I melted with them and followed them

In Dreams I danced and sang with earthy playmates

Praising your beauty and breathing in the hot water the Strength of Mother Earth

Molyvos Friends

I was born in England and have been married to John ( whom I met at the tender age of eleven!) for the past 40 years. We have two sons aged 35 and 30. Over the years, we visited a number of the Greek Islands but took a break from our normal routine to holiday in Sri Lanka when we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. The following year, we were faced with a dilemma – Sri Lanka was just so wonderful, how could we follow that??? I came up with the idea of Lesvos … it seemed unspoiled by tourism and no-one I spoke to had heard of it. So we booked a holiday and the rest is history. We fell in love with the island and, ten years on, Lesvos (and especially Molyvos) is still my favourite place in the world. We introduced my sister and brother-in-law to the island on our second visit and now the four of us live for our visits to Lesvos. While John retired 12 months ago, I continue to work for an English professional football club (no wonder I need to de-stress!!) but next summer I plan to join him in retirement and together we’re dreaming of spending more of our time in our beloved Molyvos.

Rosie

The end of the season.

This is a difficult period of time for most of us. The end of the summer season means a totally different way of life here. Now we have time to focus on our own domestic lives again with family and friends. From working all hours we are now suddenly free and don’t seem to know what to do with our time. There are autumn jobs to do but nothing is urgent – so I usually end up doing nothing. All summer, life has been ruled by the opening hours of the restaurant and now we need a lot of self discipline to plan our days.

I still wake up in the morning with that feeling of dread – 10 hours non-stop in the restaurant – and then suddenly realise that I can actually go back to sleep if I want to. No restaurant for another 5 months!

In one way, it’s as if a weight has lifted from my shoulders –  but another in now placed there. All the things that we promised to do during winter are now waiting for us to start, cleaning  the house, exercise classes, helping out in the village community, etc.

It usually takes about a month before I can comfortably adjust to this new pace of life.

Then Christmas is upon us and we have to start organising the festivities – open-air fetes, carol-singing, lighting the village christmas tree, etc. I like taking part in village life. I don’t feel comfortable being a full time mother or even a full time wife at first. I miss meeting all the people we get to know in the summer and enjoying the out-of-doors lifestyle during the season. Yet, when the time comes when I have to give it all up again at the beginning of the new season, it is equally as difficult.

Melinda

http://www.lesvosaccommodation.com