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In a landscape where serried ranks of vines line the hillsides it doesn't take much to move off the beaten track and just along the unfenced yards to a point where the hedges laden with fruit drop away on the southern slope. And here is a special place to be found. But all the more joyous when the chatter of  manual harvesters are not replaced by machinery. For we are on a private estate in Italy where care is paramount. And on they go and all is quiet again. And this reminds me of a similar exercise, now an annual event, ...

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A paint with friends in the Tuscan Hills on one of those bright very warming autumn days brings an interesting dimension to the same view. Sitting in a vineyard in the shade of the olive trees along the drive to the ancient building in which we were all holed up for a few days, we concentrated on tone and shapes and  nine of us produced some marvelously different results but all saying the same thing. With discipline of just three colours per painter, quiet distant chatter from the grape-pickers, and an errant puppy bouncing its uncontrollable paws into pallets and spilling the water pots, ...

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An olive tree is a fine thing especially when you realise it may be many hundred years old and it survives on scant ground with extremes of weather on steep slopes of an island to which they were introduced and established against these considerable odds.  For us sweltering on a fine summers day on Paxos the mere 40 degrees and high humidity meant all we could do was to rush for the shade and hope for a breeze. The olive tree nearly always our sanctuary. And as we meandered the inland parts those lovely ranks of dark twisting trunks with a ...

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Only an artist impression can begin to portray the horror of a crazy tourist entering a hitherto unexplored cave on the west cost of Paxos earlier this month. Expectations by a vulnerable group of seeing ‘marvellous rock formations and unseen animals of the deep ocean’ were soon dashed as a female voice was heard yelping “I am leaving. .. I have to get off….” . But of course there was no-where to go and undeterred the captain pressed on and the expedition continued in somewhat silence: with the party disappearing through a narrow creek into the vast cliff of limestone.  At breakfast that ...

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It was wet but none the less for it - perhaps deterring some but not those hardened with the knowledge that the running order is plentiful, high quality and often unexpected.  [caption id="attachment_1795" align="alignnone" width="434"] Tents and campers set in a bowl of English countryside[/caption] we could not have had a better present from our children to camp alongside the expensive wigwams and the ordinary nylon for  weekend in Devon with music, food, literature and wellbeing all on the agenda  the best location is often the church where new and up and coming mainly accoustic sounds rebound the stone and panelling to produce remarkable sounds  and ...

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   My father as a WWII soldier always used the expression "remember belgium!" not by way of direct reference to the 1915 campaign to recruit into the allied forces - see poster - which in itself was a reference to the tremendous atrocities in that country  in 1914: but to emphasise that when lobbing artillery fire towards a german force from allied lines in the spring of 1945 might go a little too far and so to speak over their heads and of course land in Belgium.... and in so doing, bring back those endurances the dear folk suffered in WWI. And of course they ...

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For we have been here a thousand years and we see the change about us as a passing moment in our lives. We sense the draft as you, little yellow caterpillar, bruise the soils and murder our weaker jungle friends in the name of your game to inhabit our realm. Our god gives us sun and rain and wind to prune our souls, and against which we preen our bodies, branch out and strengthen ready for another eon. And we survive. You, little yellow machine, will wear yourself out and be gone to rust and disintegrate back to the particles from which ...

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On close inspection my knees were unusually nut coloured for the time of year. Far from the minus-white mottled palour with those odd purple oblations ascending those knobbliest of joints in winter - just a bonnie brown.  And why was not difficult to work out, as Africa carries a blissful climate in which we were immersed for a few days. And strangely ones knees being situated between the bluff of the shorts and the top of the socked leg swishing through the grasses bears most exposure to the elements. More than the hatted head which in turn shades the beak ...

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Waiting to alight any aircraft is a boring rigmarole of the utmost process, checking and rechecking in a random way that gives little confidence - though of course, we do feel reassured momentarily: and so we obey righteously to escape embarrassment as we shuffle past the x rays and we avert the eyes from the suited officials so as to avoid any question of being pulled aside.  Most recently at Nairobi one has to virtually undress but there was no worry to have to place the unfinished toothpaste or my yellow ochre tube oozing in see-through bags and not a thought about my stout shoes. ...

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  A few days in France cannot escape the traditional lunch stop - and away from the main roads and city centres the plat du jour being second of four or even five courses with white paper tablecloths and a pichet of wine is still very common. The locations are not always salubrious or pretty and non less than coming across a high French purpose built ski resort in the rain. In October void of summer bloom and well before the snows les acrs 1600 looks more like the film set for a post nuclear sci-fi: but as we pressed down the steel ...

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