Category: Travel


Going To Glasgow

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On the 5th November 2013 I left London on my journey north to find the Findhorn Community in Morayshire. My first stop Glasgow, to visit my goddaughter Hana, on her overseas from New Zealand. Hana warned me of her student abode. To my delight I discover that student digs arent what they use to be in my day.  Far superior indeed, lots of space, a guest room with a double bed and art work on the walls! I was less delighted to discover than in November Glasgow is ‘two pairs of tights and three sweater’ country.  It was 11 degrees C leaving London, four hours later a frosty -1 degrees C.  I was grateful for my hat with earflaps and two pairs of gloves to brave the chill of wildly punchy firework display from the slopes of the West Brewery on Glasgow Green with Hana, Krishna from Trivandrum & Alison from Minnesota.

Despite my struggle with the cold, damp and darkness I had a heart warming visit; haggis & chips at Old Saltys on Argyll Street, at the Kelvingrove an unexpected organ recital, a taste of the Glasgow boys, the famous stuffed Mr Jones (with eyelashes, leg and ear hair intact), memories of great coffee at Kember & Jones on Byres Rd, infusions of student life and ginger & lavender tea at Tchai Ovna http://tchaiovna.com/ where we are served a twist of Mongolian caravan, a large spoonful of centuries of student life and a dash of conversation all stirred with dreams.  A night of Black Russians at the Lebowski and the acoustic tones of balladeers and rough edged voices of new youth at the No 78 Open Mike night. A second day of chocolate at No 1 The Chocolate Factory, Sauchiehall street and some Mackintosh indulgence rounded off with cinema and wine at The Grosvenor where Alan Partridge gave Judi Dench a run for her money in carefully crafted Philomena.

A flying visit that took me over the threshold of Scotland, rekindling the magic of Picts and Celts. Next stop Inverness!

Leavings

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The soft silence of night’s starry blanket falls gently on the verdant slopes of Mount Pelion. There is the subtle coolness of Autumn’s breathe to usher us inside to laugh and joke and Facebook joust.   A raucous noise of separate voices.  Then out of nowhere harmony emerges and angelic tones emerge to soothe us and guide us to our beds.  I have been living in community at Kalikalos in the village of Kissos on the Pelion Peninsula in Greece since the 15 August, almost a month.  There is so much to write about living in community but that is a post for another day.  Right now I am in the poignancy of leaving.  This is a transient holiday community.  From the 1 September there is a gentle falling away of Summer’s sunny cloak and Autumn’s chilly finger prises it’s way into our consciousness.  The weather changes heralds the time to mothball this place for another year.

Online satellite tells there is a weather system moving in, the sky outside is gloomy and lethargic, sluggish and impotent. There is a rush to take down the tents and the yurts as boisterous brother Autumn pitter patters raindrops into town.  September the 15th is my last full day.  A time for contemplation, reflection and gratitude.  A time to savour another superb lunch creation shared with twelve fellow hearts.  The regular beach run is a non starter today but in a blanketed alcove there will be an afternoon of The Transformation Game and in the evening between that and dinner I am faciliatating a completion session using imagination to reveal learning and transformation and to till the sub conscious soil for future creations.  It is a process I use to integrate and leverage from my experiences and being in this community I have an opportunity to share what works for me with others who curiously live and learn together.  It is an occasion to honour the dying embers of this year’s Summer camp.

On the road again – and the decadence of sticky buns for breakfast. My digestive system doesn’t know what hit it after a month of Greek yoghurt, wild foraged fruit, freshly picked salad and healthy vegetarian fare.  The good news is that the policemen in Volos, my first stop to civilisation, are cute.  Very cute.

The itinerary for the journey back to the London is bus from Kissos to Volos on to Larissa where I catch the train to Thessaloniki to connect with a coach to Skopje in Macedonia where I intend to WizzAir it back to London Luton.   The weakest link in this trip is the shuttle connection to Alexander The Great International airport 21km out of town.  I do at least know that it starts at the Hotel Aleksander Palace.

I enjoy the warmth of technology in Greece; every bus and train station it seems offers free wifi – no complicated sign up procedures either, logon and password details have been the same at each of my stops.  I am out of community now, unbounded by the structure of our regular days.  I can hoon around online checking out my stops along the way, staying connected and not feeling so alone.  I forego lunch at Goodys Burger Bar, Thessaloniki Station for the more authentic experience of chicken and potatoes with Greek salad at a grubby sidewalk cafe suffuse with the dusty air of roadworks.  When I am on the move I sleep, like a baby I am soothed into somnolence by the rhythm of wheels on the move and our transition over the border into Macedonia is but a gentle disruption as the curtain of evening drops.

It is raining in Skopje but not wet, that just adds to my disorientation. Not knowing that there is an hours time difference with Greece I am not prepared for the trip to terminate an hour earlier than expected.  I assume that I must be in the wrong place. It scares me shitless to be disorientated; strange language, money, alphabet and the darkness in the glistening of this strange dry rain. My default reaction is to go on the defensive; great attention is paid to looking assertive, self sufficient and knowing. I swing my back pack on feigning effortless ease and certainty.  It is a good job I know that my perception of the world is not real. I catch myself just in time to receive guidance from my bus driver and his English speaking colleague.  Then in spite of my beating heart I head off into the unknown looking for a metered taxi and the Hotel Aleksander Palace.  My panic rises again committing to get into a car in this unfamilar city with a strange man.  I search to find a thread of familarity and it is there in the straining tones of country music on Fortuna FM, I catch sight of the hominess of Gywneth Paltrow beaming down at me from the advertising hoardings and my driver proudly attempts to point out all the ‘good’ sights of Skopje from the garish Parliament buildings  to the Sports Stadium to the Botantical Gardens and the Zoo.  I take in the incongruity of the red double decker buses and the city’s passion for statues and bright lights.  The taxi meter ticks away dinari and I remember this is a just a normal taxi ride in a new city.