Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Bookcase of Memories

Words and pictures by the Blogger

A daughter is one of the most beautiful gifts this world has to give
Laurel Atherton

Two decades + 1 year - from  an exuberantly wild, long-limbed topless tomboy to a mature, confident and driven young professional woman. Where did the in-between years go?

Fathers and their daughters, even more so when they are the first born, are ‘coalesced and conglomerated’ into an almost indescribable and inseparable bond. At the tender age of twenty one (21), a milestone tinged with poignancy and parental reflection, there are just as many unanswered questions, unfounded fears and absurd anxieties as there were a new life and time ago! 

 An extract from a previous blog post entitled: More M&Ms - Mutterings and Musings – August / September 2010  With my new eyes, acutely attuned ears, my sensory overhaul, I feel the way that a condemned man might feel on receiving a last minute stay of execution.  It’s no wonder that I’ve experienced some intensely emotional moments recently, on my leave particularly in relation to my own immediate family and friends. I’ve witnessed Frances blossom into a versatile, more confident and very capable adolescent reveling in sociable, team-based activities. Giving her all, whether as part of her school flute ensemble or club netball team. Stunned at how with nonchalant ease, steely composure and pin point shooting accuracy she could singularly, almost, dismantle her opposition in their Grand Netball final after the scores were deadlocked with precious minutes remaining. With no experience to draw on … where did this ability come from?? Perhaps the exuberance of youth, African resilience (vasbyt) or Aussie bravado / fighting spirit or perhaps it has a closer genetic home? I seem to be a stranger to this person, mind and personality that has been developing at the centre of our family life.

Shelved memories on display ..... lest those in the inner recesses of our mind and heart begin fade......

At this significant rite of passage, bookended by two decades and continents – with formative years in native South Africa and adolescence/adulthood in adopted Australia, there is a measure of satisfaction that as parents we’ve been able to provide a balanced upbringing and education representing, arguably, the best of both disparate worlds. Whereas the physical remoteness, oceans apart, remains a constant the socio-cultural gulf, worlds apart, is ever increasing. Yesteryear’s hope and promise all but snuffed out but fortuitously replaced by a bright and viable alternative - the Australian dream.

Cherished times never taken for granted

Experienced it! Pokemons, Sims, UniGames .... 

One of many life-altering memories ‘gifted’ by a progressive and functional Australian society, that prides itself for its hard yakka – work (and play) ethic, is legalized/protected employment for youth in their early teens. Juggling extra mural sport/art with approximately 40 paid employment hours per month in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector is a tall order but a fascinating and necessary ‘rite of passage’ for countless young Aussies – it’s simply the done thing! Commencing at the confused and clumsy ‘twilight-age’ of 14, most are thrust into the fore-front of customer service/retail trade serving at fast-food outlets, restaurants, supermarkets, fruit and vegetable outlets, butcheries and delicatessens.

Working and playing hard - putting everything into life

Many teens are exposed to an array of store front, customer service, and back office tasks – roles and responsibilities including cleaning chores and financial transactions - dealing with cash and credit. The nett result, invariably, is a confident and switched-on Aussie adolescent consumer group with marketplace/consumer SMARTS including a well-defined and personalized work ethic; what it is to provide as well as receive ‘acceptable – world class levels’ of customer service in an increasingly service-oriented milieu; the value of money – earning and spending it; and time/priority management.

Adorable idiosyncrasies given wings........... 

The flip-side of all of this is that Australian society/consumers are covertly seduced and or blatantly king-hit by highly sophisticated and ruthless multi-media machinery intent upon extracting every possible dollar, present or forthcoming, from less vigilant or discerning shoppers. With immense societal/ peer pressure and a pre-occupation for immediate gratification fueled by beautiful people, bodies, places and cuisine – let the good times roll! Health, fitness and well-being, once peeled back and exposed, competes constantly with an insidious ‘cringe- binge society’ predominated by fast food, fast alcohol, fast sugar and other fast vices.

Confronted by this bookcase and its countless vignettes, short stories, chapters, books – fables, non-fiction or otherwise – even if incomplete – this represents a personal, living library in its own right. First faltering footsteps; ‘raptured’ randomness, of thought, personality, and aptitude, emerging and evolving; uncanny fingered and spatial dexterity – boxed origami menagerie with all manner of walking and flying creatures – precise, practiced, perfect – origins unknown ……. early glimmers of self-discipline and determination; fastidious fascination with mythical and ethereal creatures – dragons and Dragonology, fairies, dinosaurs etc……

Dragonology and drawing really cool stuff....

A bookmark – WRENCHED away to new and different world ….. finding a meaningful place in it. Pedagogical and personality transformation centered upon an open, energetic, inquisitive, adventurous, no bars hold mindset. Unrecognizable quirk-arty twist.  Opportunity given and taken – a life embraced and lived to the fullest. Streakish independence verging on selfishness – perhaps the difference between mediocrity, being just another Sheila blogs ssp. Australiensis, or someone of substance – perhaps excellence given the fiercely competitive nature of the Australian way of life.

Womanly paraphernalia......... 

From an exuberantly wild, long-limbed, topless tomboy to a mature, confident and driven young professional woman but still, a yet incomplete metamorphosis.

Celebrating Aussie Awesomeness! A work in progress.

Friday, May 13, 2016

When I was Once King.....

Text by Barry Greville-Eyres

Once upon a time whilst muddling and muttering through this life I received an arrow shot and very timely reminder of what I once was. This struck rawly at time-numbed and travel-wearied nerve endings but has been an enduring epiphany ever since. 

I also recall that in a port city, in the very small Kingdom of Our South Africa, there are priceless treasures hoarded away in the smallest of boxes within many other, bigger boxes. One wonders whether they have survived the passage of time and pilferage. These treasures are odes to those at the very centre of this kingdom and for the very fear that they will never be told or retold enough, as they richly and deservedly should; there is no better time than now to share these stories and expressions of love and gratitude towards my family – both to my partner and wife for the better part of my life and our children.

Throughout this and rough and tumble rule, countless gifts were bestowed upon this undeserving King. Most were at the hand of his gracious Queen..... some were immediate whereas others were time-lapsed and often not fully realized or appreciated. They included unwavering support; rude career and directional nudges; incredible patience; much self-sacrifice and a priceless family.   

The heirs rode handsomely on his knees, back and shoulders; waltzed cocooned in his arms; juggled and caught countless balls with relentless monotony and blazed, with same intensity, many walking trails throughout his and other kingdoms in faraway lands.

Once, as a husband, parent, confidant and imperfect ruler he was at the centre of their universe. He was touched and re-touched by their love, energy and adoration but now, alone, exiled to troubled lands and with wonky knees, wizened features he desperately longs for that ‘touch’ again and harbors secret and irrational fears that he has already had, that last touch!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tickling and Trampling Around The Toe of Italy - Province of Reggio Calabria

Pictorial by Barry Greville-Eyres 

Mandorla - Calabria's Tree of Life! Historically this tree grew in profusion in the surrounding mountainous areas naturally or as a cultivated tree crop along with olive and citrus groves. Some literature refers to oak trees with acorns which were milled and used as a wheat flour replacement in the making of bread.  Its possible that this is a reference to almond flour. From a theological perspective a mandorla is a vesica piscis shaped aureola (protective shell-nut and kernel configuration) which surrounds the figures of Christ and the Virgin Mary in traditional Christian art. It is especially used to frame the figure of Christ in Majesty in early medieval and Romanesque art, as well as Byzantine art of the same periods. The term refers to the almond like shape: "mandorla" means almond nut in Italian. In icons of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the mandorla is used to depict sacred moments which transcend time and space, such as the ResurrectionTransfiguration, and the Dormition of the Theotokos.  


The lower reaches of the Amendolea River with its broad floodplain on its relentless march to the coast. Dry for most of the year, it is quickly transformed into a raging torrent and one of the fast flowing rivers in the region with the onset of the rainy season. 

The destructive forces of nature in this harsh and dynamic bio-physical environment including episodic earthquakes (1783, 1908) and floods (1973) with associated landslides are on display and litter the watercourse of the Amendolea River. 

Views of the Amendolea hinterland mostly made up of clay-rich hills with low-rising and uneven vegetation, furrowed by winter-time torrents that deposit debris ripped from the mountainsides downstream. In spite of this, traditionally the river courses were the only ready access routes and lines of communication between the mountainous Aspromonte region and the seaside for long periods of time. In the past the Amendolea River irrigated fields of cereal crops and cultivated trees including citrus and olives also providing water-powered energy to turn the wheels of various mills.   

Agro-tourism and farm-stays have become a thriving cultural and socio-economic concern in Amendolea and the region generally, exploiting its true uniqueness. This includes bergamot orange (depicted in the image above) which is an iconic, citrus fruit  only grown in Reggio Calabria where more than 80% is produced. The tree may well be native to the region as there is evidence as early as the 14th century of a citrus tree known as Limon pusillus calaber.    

At the centerpiece and on the banks of the Amendolea River is the Il Bergamotto Farm-stay with mixed, cultivated tree crops - bergamot citrus (center with dark green foliage) and flanked by olive trees (grey-green foliage). The citrus thrives in the area due to its favorable micro-climate. The prominent rock outcrop at the center of the picture is the silhouette of Il Lupo or The Wolf.  

The bergamot orange harvest begins in early November and sometimes lasts until February. The  peels are hung out to dry, after which they are brought into workshops for processing. Essential oils are extracted from the ripe peels and its fabled that one hundred fruit yield about three ounces (85 g) of oil. The extract appears as an extremely fragrant fluid with a yellowish or green tint, depending on the peel ripeness. Whereas the fruit itself is inedible, the essence is used in perfumery for its ability to combine with an array of scents to form a bouquet of aromas which complement each other. About one-third of all men's and about half of women’s perfumes contain bergamot essential oil. The juice of the fruit has been used in Calabrian indigenous medicine to treat malaria 

Calabrian fruity, sweet delights consisting of dried figs with almonds inserted and configured in the shaped a cross - a legacy of Byzantine cultural heritage. Lightweight, all natural, wholesome and packed with calorific energy shepherds and now, more recent hikers have drawn great sustenance and pleasure from these trusty and tasty snacks. 


Guides, travel companions and aficionados from the Gruppo Archeologico Valle Dell Amendolea.

Timeless tones and textures - deserted farm homestead adjacent to the Amendolea River.

Local livestock foraging alongside the Amendolea River 

Restoration of iconic Calabrian national monuments.

Overlooking the Amendolea River are remnants of the Castello Ruffo di Amendolea directly adjacent to the namesake medieval village - both of which are an enduring legacy of Greci di Calabria. Definitively abandoned only after the 1908 earthquake, historic Amendolea was rebuilt as a small, agro-pastoral borough at the foot of a huge rock atop of which it is still possible to visit the ruins of the great Ruffo castle. The strategic importance of the site and the castle are immediately self-evident to visitors.     

Arches commanding  panoramic views of mountain, dale and sea.

Conceivably an underground water cistern, within the confines of the Castello Ruffo di Amendolea, used for decades to store this precious commodity.

Birds-eye view of the Amendolea River from the Castella controlling access to the coast and hinterland. 

Withstanding the ravages of time and an abrasive environment.

The ancient steeple of chiesa di S. Nicola or Church of St. Nicola occupying the adjacent ridge line from the Castello Ruffo di Amendolea.

The altar area of the almost medieval chiesa di S. Nicola over-looking the Amendolea River. 

The Grecanici, or rather the Greek towns of Calabria, are located upon the Ionian slopes of the Aspromonte massif, in the Amendolea river valley. Most scholars now believe that the local dialect originated with Byzantine civilization and was brought to Calabria in the 7th century by Basilian monks, excluding the possibility that it might date back to the Magna Graecia period, as was previously believed. At the beginning of the 20th century, the grecanica dialect was still widely spoken in the towns throughout the region, even just outside Reggio Calabria itself. Much has changed, however, and over the span of a century this dialect is now spoken almost exclusively among the older generations. The dialect is in dire danger of dying out. Today, various cultural associations in Bova and the surrounding area are dedicated to recovering this ancient culture and language as much as possible. 

Bova is regarded as the capital of the Calabrian Greek and is well-known for its interesting local crafts and products. These include beautiful blankets and other products woven by hand, featuring characteristic floral and geometric patterns. The town is also home to a number of local woodcarvers, who produce a wide range of traditional yet charming objects. Bova Marina is located at the mouth of the Sideroni tributary having divorced itself from inland Bova several decades ago. In the upper part of Bova town, visitors can admire the ruins of a medieval castle with its two cylindrical towers, which dates back to at least the 11th century. 

From the summit of Bova town visitors can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the hinterland and coastline extending all the way to the eastern coast of Sicily. 

An absent room with an enduring view

A tourism-oriented mosaic mural on the outskirts of Bova depicting the unique characteristics and attributes of the area.

Loggerhead turtle conservation on the beaches at Condofuri Marina. The turtle is known as a flagship species because of their enormous strategic role within the ambit of conservation, all the more so because their ecological characteristics also play a key role in ecosystems: their conservation automatically involves the safeguard of numerous other species, directly or indirectly associated with them, thanks to the protection of extensive habitats and natural territories. 

Condofuri Marina coastline at dawn prior to the invasion of local sun-worshipers

The Calabrian towns traditional known for their Greek origins include: Bova, Condofuri, Galliciano, Roccaforte del Greco, Amendolea, Roghudi and Ghorio di Roghudi. 

Charm, self-determination and resilience personified - Galliciano nestled in its mountain refuge. From the 1950's on, a series of landslides and floods affecting many inland communities materially displaced and dispersed them together with their unique language. The small towns inhabited by shepherds and peasants were rebuilt as anonymous coastal dormitory towns, retaining the original town identity but tacking on the word Marina. The new towns were located several kilometers from their original mountain sites and the populations forcibly transferred there en masse.   

Mass trans-locations were the fates of Africo in 1951 and Roghudi in 1972. Around the same time Galliciano and, later Bova, following landslides (1972/73) and an earthquake (1978), did not escape attempts to transfer the inhabitants on the grounds of natural disaster or political interference. The resistance of the people of a number of inland Greek-speaking villages who have managed to survive, is considered miraculous given the difficult logistic and economic living conditions of the inhabitants. In fact, Galliciano was provided with a completely bitumen-ed road only recently while Bova, the moral capital of the area, is still reached by an rainproof yet winding road built at the beginning of the 20th century.  

The medieval parish church in Galliciano features a magnificent facade and bell tower. 

The church also boasts a splendid 16th century marble statue of Saint John the Baptist and an ornate baptismal font, which is likely the 16th century work of Rinaldo Bonanno.  

The Calabrian towns traditional known for their Greek origins include: Bova, Condofuri, Galliciano, Roccaforte del Greco, Amendolea, Roghudi and Ghorio di Roghudi. Its little wonder that the Greek flag is openly displayed in the Galliciano piazza. 

Galliciano, the only entirely Greek-speaking village still in existence today, deserves special mention. The village is renowned in the entire area for its high degree of preservation of the Graecanic traditions, not only the language, but all socio-cultural dimensions including the music, food and rituals. Regrettably, the language is not used as widely as in the past but is primarily spoken within the family context. 

The blogger with Galliciano village folk visiting their unique Graecanic museum which pays homage to their extraordinary cultural heritage   

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Malindi - Kenyan Coastline

Pictorial and words by Barry Greville-Eyres

New Partner Partnership for Africa's Development, the African renaissance (courtesy of Thabo Mbeki 1997/8) ..... little or no arguing with this! Just love this classic Kenyan response which is SO cool!

Authentic Italian cuisine - smoked sailfish carpaccio served at Simba House - Malindi under the new management of Martina and Jacopo at E-mail:; Skype: jajosimba and Tel .: +254728293784 +254728293784  

Freshly prepared potato gnocchi served at Simba House - wholesome, healthy and delicious! 
The Winning Simba House Team preparing grilled red snapper - Mediterranean style with green olives and tomatoes. Chef Elias, Jacopo and Martina (L-R) with much to smile about!  

Bon Appetit!


Strawberry Crostata - a wonderfully light shortbread cake served up for breakfast by Simba House's Masterchef Elias

Spoonbills are waders that frequent Mida Creek

Eco-tourism and conservation - community projects of the Giriama people at Mida Creek with mangrove seedlings ready for planting out

The Giriama people wholly dependent upon and sustained by Mida Creek

A rickety boardwalk, suspended over the ebbing and flowing waters of Mida Creek, snaking through the mature mangroves is set to test the nerve, patience, and fancy footwork of landlubbers 
Guided canoe trips on Mida Creek undertaken by members of the Giriama Tribe is an interesting and fun eco-tourism activity on offer

Youngers do the heavy-lifting to get this traditional, dugout canoe to the waters edge

A key landmark on the Malindi waterfront - is the Museum or House of Columns. The structure itself is an excellent example of traditional Swahili architecture and contains many fascinating exhibits of archaeological finds dug up around the coast.

Another significant Malindi landmark is the Vasco da Gama Pillar - arguably representing the genesis of the Age of Exploration. The edifice was erected in 1498 by da Gama as a navigational aid and the coral outcrop or column is topped by a cross made of Lisbon stone.

Further examples of Swahili architecture in the form of holiday resort infrastructure  along the Malindi waterfront.

Near-side Malindi Beach on the low tide.

Far-side Malindi Beach still on the low tide.

What and Wi the Fi? This idea or need does certainly does not sit well with Mi.

Malindi town profile taken from the main beach

Earthy terra firma!

# 1 Aspect & Perspective - of Malindi Beach

# 2 Aspect & Perspective - of Malindi Beach

Bella spiaggia - Italian for beautiful beach and this is certainly an understatement!

Chillaxing at the Simba House with the wonderful, Swahili open plan design

Recline, fully, on one of the comfortable Simba House sofas .... tilt head ever so slightly backwards and cast your eyes sky and ceiling-wards ..... imbibe the rustic and earthy materials and design patterns ..... close your eyes and feel yourself drift away........... 


One invigorating way to start a Malindi Day at Simba House!