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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Sofronis Mitsialis, Paxos Town Hall, Gaios

A very helpful man!

Within ten minutes, he was able to help with some genealogical research of long-standing interest.

I was looking for some dates of birth: the main subject of my research -

Demetrios (Mimis) Zerbas. Paxos Beach Hotel; A Founding Father of Paxiot Quality Tourism

You wouldn't believe that Mimis Zerbas (in times gone by the name was spelt Zervas) is 84 years old. He began his successful hotel back in 1964, and the twenty stremmata area is admired for its good taste, environmental and artistic sensitivity. His parents were both artistic, painters of portraits, and Mimis developed símilar qualities which must have informed his vision and creation.

The hotel developed gradually, without reliance on bank loans, from the time when Paxos had no water and no electricity supply, and unreliable sea connections with Corfu (remember the Kamelia?) The Italians and French started coming first, then the British.

Many Paxiots came over from Epirus, originally. Mimis' ancestors were Souliots. His family tree can be traced back to the mid seventeenth century.

Maybe that's where the love of dry-stone walling comes from? Paxos has plenty of stone with which to build. The hotel was built by hand, stone-by-stone.  You can't fail to admire the beautiful and extensive terracing, the substantial stone walls, the discreet and unpretentious Mediterranean landscaping, the trees and shrubs, the placement of large clay pots and natural stones; the whole is like a sculptural installation.

The trees and shrubs hide the small stone bungalows and feel absolutely right in the environment: olive, lemon, bay, cypress, pine, myrtle, angelica, oleander, hibiscus, bougainvillia and more.

Kalo gousto! Bravo! Mimis Zerbas can be credited as the creator of twentieth century tourism on Paxos. It's high time he wrote his autobiography, or an account of the history of his hotel and of life on Paxos.

See the hotel website

I first visited it in 1967, but I was camping in a small tent on a nearby olive tree terrace above the sea.

UK: The worst political interview ever?

"Boris Johnson in 'worst interview by a politician ever' following Queen's Speech" - The Independent

I could scarcely believe my ears.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Thalassa: some sea pictures, Paxos

A change from the mountains.
I'm here on business, but it's hard to avoid the sea -
 "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"!

Mongonisi Rocks, Paxos; Antipaxos

Not the best place to make landfall in a storm, sailing from Antipaxos!

"A great cry of lamentation"

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Paxos: Old Gaios and Beyond; Παξοί

Fifty years since my first visit to Paxos.

A few things haven't changed.

"Liga psaria!", Captain 'Gogos' with his small fishing- kaiki/caique ("Evangelistria", 60 years old)

A larger kaiki, "O Stamatis"

Paxiot Fisherman

Where's he gone,
The man who ate lemons,
Stood on his head, when not fishing?

Paxos Haiku

With sixty-four churches to choose from
There's no no need
To feel all is lost

In Memoriam Popi Bogdanou-Strani (tou 'Barboula')
born 1905.

Venetian House, Vassilatika

Now that no-one rides mules,
There's nothing to tether
To the tethering rings

From a Changing Paxos

The derelict engine
Imported from England,
Made by Petters of Yeovil,
Once powered the village olive press,
Faithfully turned
The grinding stone
Up in Manessatika.
Stamatis wants to sell it now,
His precious but rusting antique,
"From the time of Capodistrias!"

Saint Haralambos

Bell-towers, cisterns.
Saint Haralambos
Saved them all.
He repelled the plague,
He relieved the siege.
He couldn't stop
The desecration.

The short poems are all from my book, "Corfu Blues" (Ars Interpres, 2006).

Still waiting for the fish?