Monday, 7 March 2016

New Website

My website has recently been updated and can be found at:

Robert Jaggs-Fowler

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Craven Arms, Giggleswick, North Yorkshire

This is meant as a blatant advert and, as such, I must declare an interest...

The Craven Arms in Giggleswick is close to my home in North Yorkshire; I have dined there and I really do want to see it survive and be a success. The new owners have created a wonderfully stylish gastro-pub with just the right mix of old-meets-new.

The website provides a great introduction to the ambience, the food and the hotel rooms, so I will leave you to explore it yourself. All I would say is 'go there and try it'; you will not regret the experience.

http://www.craven-arms-goggleswick.co.uk

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Reflections of a Tourident

The following article was first published in Pissouri Contact 46, 10 October 2009 (on-line: http://www.about-pissouri.com)

It is possible (albeit unlikely) that the Oxford English Dictionary will one day include the following entry:

tourident

noun. 1 a person who is new to, and still learning about, a community, but who owns and occasionally resides in a property within that community. 2 a cross between a tourist and a resident.

My wife (Linda) and I are touridents in respect to Pissouri, having taken possession of our new apartment in the village in the spring of this year, and only managing three short visits thus far. However, there are advantages in being in such a position.

One benefit is that Pissouri is still an open book to us. We know what the picture on the cover looks like, and have read the blurb on the fly-leaf. However, we have thus far only progressed through the first few chapters of the contents, and most of the story is yet to reveal itself to us. Some characters appear on a regular basis, there are constant introductions to new ones, and many more exist, of whom we have only heard snippets and have yet to physically meet. Meanwhile, we are gradually treated to two unravelling storylines, where the historical meets the contemporary; tradition meets modernity; Cypriot meets newcomer; different cultures interact. The result is a plot worthy of that classic English novelist, Thomas Hardy, and just as enjoyable.

One aspect which is very evident to us is that Pissouri is a community. It is not just a collection of disparate individuals, who happen to live near to each other (as is often found in cities). Furthermore, Pissouri is a friendly community, consisting of individuals who know each other, who live and work together, who share interests and visions, who depend upon each other, and who strive to achieve collective goals for the better of the society in which they reside. That is the outward face of Pissouri. For the new-comer, whether it is the casual day-tripper, or the tourident, Pissouri has the appearance of a congenial family.

However, like all extended families, there are naturally disagreements, arguments, irritations, clashes of personalities and, inevitably, a few 'black sheep' whose actions are unpleasant and disturbing. Linda and I have now 'read sufficient pages' of the narrative, to understand some of these issues. However, far from spoiling the 'picture postcard' image of Pissouri, these issues make Pissouri even more genuine; even more of a community; even more of a family. Perhaps surprisingly to some, therein lies the village's strength. Families must learn to live with each other and make allowances for the likes and dislikes of individual members. Where there are differing points of view, compromises have to be reached and harmony restored. That is the richness of family life. Without such interaction, relationships are bland and nothing is achieved. Diversity of thought should bring people closer together in order to find and develop the common ground. That is, I believe, what is happening in Pissouri, and has probably been happening for many years past. The rich tapestry which is the modern Pissouri is the summation of all that has gone before. The beauty is that every now and again, someone will twist the kaleidoscope and the picture will shift slightly again, bringing new dimensions to what is already priceless.

My thoughts will probably say nothing new to those members of the collective community of Pissouri who were either born in the village, or who have been resident for many years. However, as a tourident, we are looking at the community with a fresh set of eyes, and what we see is, overall, a power for the good. Linda and I feel that we have recently married into a new extended family. We are slowly getting to know how the family 'ticks', but what we have learned thus far is that Pissouri is a friendly and welcoming community, and one to be valued. It is a community we are glad to have joined.

And remember, when the word 'tourident' does enter the Oxford English Dictionary, it was here that you first read it!


 


 


 


 


 


 

    

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus

Moments ago, I placed aside a book which, I feel sure, has left a lasting impression on my mind. I speak of Lawrence Durrell's book, Bitter Lemons of Cyprus.

Written in 1957, the book relates Durrell's experience in Cyprus during the years 1953-56; a transition period between a soft, relatively untroubled Cyprus (if that is not a misnomer) and an island of great political upheaval and social unrest. Durrell captures the flavour of living in Cyprus with the detailed eye of a poet and artist. His story is bitter-sweet; revealing the hidden delights of Cyprus and its charming people, whilst also unpeeling the deep-seated angst of a trouble nation. It is a story that not only draws you in, it engulfs you until you share in the emotional turmoil. As a result, the final chapter will cause pain for the sensitive reader; and so it should. There are lessons for us all to learn from this chapter of history, and from the depth of human relations it portrays.

For me, the book also induced the need for a personal pilgrimage. As I write, the island is still divided between a Greek southern Cyprus and a Turkish-controlled northern area, with a United Nations buffer zone in between. It is possible to visit both sides, albeit with various passport formalities. However, it would be difficult to reproduce Durrell's enigmatic car journey from his village of Bellapaix, near Kyrenia, to Paphos, along the coastal road via Pano Pyrgos and Polis. From my home village of Pissouri, it is, however, possible to undertake a significant portion of the journey in reverse; a journey I undertook yesterday, driving to Paphos and onward to Polis, with a detour to see Aphrodite's Bath, before continuing on along the north coast road to the border village of Pano Pyrgos.

The route is a beautiful one, taking in breath-taking views of coastal panoramas, set against the steep wooded rocks of the Troodos Mountains. That said, it is not for the faint-hearted, as most of the villages at this time of year (March) are devoid of activity, with nowhere for refreshment or refuelling. On top of which, there is the constant reminder of being close to a troubled border, with guard posts, small army camps, and abandoned damaged buildings scattered around the hills and valleys. Neither is there a quick way down. Having commenced the journey, one is left with a choice of driving back the same tortuous route, or traversing an even more tortuous route across the Troodos.

For all that, the long and arduous journey was worth every mile of effort. Unfortunately, time does not permit me to tackle the last portion of the journey to Bellapaix on this occasion. However, it will be a priority for my return in May, when I will no doubt take delight in exploring the much-exulted ruins of Bellapaix Abbey, as well as paying a visit to the house where Lawrence Durrell lived during the aforementioned years. Although some will consider my pilgrimage a foolish one. I would refute such accusations with the defence that, like reading Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, experiencing some of the scenes at first hand assists one with understanding and reflection.

Nonetheless, whether you undertake the actual journey, or simply have an interest in Cyprus and its history, I wholeheartedly recommend Durrell's book to you. I defy you not to take something personal from it.

Cerebral Tai Chi.

'Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.'

So wrote Lawrence Durrell in his 1957 book, Bitter Lemons of Cyprus. He later described the necessary travelling companions in order to achieve this utopia; namely, loneliness and time, declaring them as 'those two companions without whom no journey can yield us anything'.

He was, of course, writing about his time in that wonderfully complex, Mediterranean retreat otherwise known as the Birth Place of Aphrodite. Indeed, it is where I am now writing, accompanied by a welcoming, though yet still cool, morning sun; its rays reflected by the expanse of yellow wild flowers and intensely luxuriant grasslands which rise behind my home here. The only sound is that of sparrows in a nearby carob tree, interspersed by the distant call of a wood-pigeon, and the soft mewing of a ginger cat, which has seated itself expectantly on the terrace outside my kitchen door, and which now stares back at me in the hope that I have something more exciting on offer than the occasional man-made 'meow' I return to it in the spirit of trans-cultural friendship.

Durrell is a writer I immediately warmed to. His work speaks of a man who understands the enormity of the mundane, the intrinsic value of indolence, the desirability of solitude, and the wealth of material residing just out of reach within the grey cells of one's mind, just waiting to be freed by the onset of some melancholically-induced cerebral exercise.

Cyprus is an island which allows for all of that. It is impossible to ignore the whispers from centuries past that filter through the rocks, like vapours through the pores of a living, yet antiquated, historical tome. 'Listen to me,' the land murmurs; 'listen and feel; listen and learn; listen and understand.'

So I listen, alone and unrushed. I allow the sounds of nature to filter through the labyrinth of neurones which somehow act as the repository of my thoughts; I let the rocky terraces speak to me of the island's origins and the tales of centuries past, laid down within it like seams of history, layer upon eventful layer, and I feel my mind tuning in to that same wavelength which endeared itself to Durrell, as it has to so many writers over the centuries. Yet, as I do so, my thoughts stretch, not just back down the monumental ages belonging to this island, but laterally across to the other side of the world, to the Caribbean Sea, where I sailed less than two months ago, and where, alone and with all the time in the world to muse, I cerebrally travelled back not just centuries, but through millennia, to the time of the world's earliest existence. It was a cathartic moment, and one which I tried to capture in a haiku:

Wave laps against wave:

wind's primeval voice echoes

from the start of time.

That, I believe is precisely what Durrell understood could be achieved from travelling introspectively, with time and solitude as one's companions. It is achieved through bouts of unmoving contemplation; that splendid quality the Moslems know as kayf. It requires no more than the gentle stretching of the grey cells. However, the reward is immeasurable.




Saturday, 13 February 2010

A Trio of Travel Quotes

Whilst aboard the Artemis, I was treated to a new quotation every night - each one on a little card placed on my pillow along with a square of chocolate by my cabin steward.

My astute wife quickly realised she could trade her evening's quotation for my square of chocolate; something I was more than happy to acquiesce to, as I delight in quotations, and many of these travel ones were new to me. So, whilst Mrs T nibbled the calories, I amassed a pocketful of erudition.

The following three quotations are some of my favourites from this particular harvest:

"Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind."
Seneca (4BC - 65AD)

"Don't tell me how educated you are; tell me how much you travelled."
Muhammed

"The world is but a canvas to the imagination."
Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), Author.

One aspect that fascinates me is that they span some two thousand years, and yet the sentiment remains identifiable and understandable, even within the modern world.

Cruising

"Never a ship sails out of bay but carries my heart as a stowaway."

Roselle Mercier Montgomery
(1874 - 1933), Poet.


I have just had the great pleasure of spending two weeks cruising around the Caribbean, aboard P&O's Artemis, in celebration of reaching my half-century.

For me, cruising is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

For readers who know me, the above statement will be thought of as a strange thing for me to say, as I am not renowned for my ability to idle away time. Beach holidays, for example, certainly do not do it for me. However, I find that cruising is one of the quickest ways to relax. I can spend entire days sitting on my cabin's balcony, happily reading or simply watching the water as I mentally compose a stanza or two for another poem.

The reason is quite simple; whilst cruising, one is in the process of going somewhere. It is not a stagnant process (like sitting on a beach). Psychologically, I am contented by the thought of being in the process of travelling to a new destination, and the fact that I am not having to make any effort in bringing the process about is additionally satisfying - and relaxing. It doesn't even matter what the destination is, as long as one is moving.

This thought is very much in tune with Robert Louis Stevenson, who said:

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is the move."

I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Epicurea - Our Holiday Apartment in Cyprus

Newly furnished, our apartment in Cyprus is now available for short vacations or for that longer period to escape the English winter!

Idyllically situated in the traditional village of Pissouri, Epicurea is only five minutes drive from Pissouri Bay, and fifteen minutes from two first class golf courses (Aphrodite Hills and The Secret Valley). Photographs of Epicurea and Pissouri can be found at:

www.holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/pissouri/100324

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Postcard from Peru


Postcard from Peru

High above the Colca Mountain ranges,
beneath the cloudless, blue, Andean skies,
in a land little transformed by changes,
the sacred condor flies.

Beneath the snow-capped mountains hid by haze,
observed by villagers in clothes quite gay,
llamas, vicunas and alpacas graze
and haunting pan-pipes play.

O’er the waters of Lake Titicaca,
on floating islands of totora reed,
the Uros people chew leaves of coca
and fish to herons feed.

Braving earth tremors in Arequipa,
well-sustained by Pisco Sours,
English tourists haggle to buy cheaper:
the dollar here empowers.

Via the catacombs of San Francisco,
a shaman of the Island of the Sun,
through cactus-strewn plains of the Altiplano,
travellers’ days are done.

Behold the Ice Maiden, Juanita;
the Garden of Lovers in Lima Bay;
the Orient Express is a feature:
rolling on – no delay.

The towering walls of Machu Picchu
Instil with awe, inspire, expand the mind.
Support the local trade, we beseech you:
‘Just one sol – that’s most kind!’

From the ancient tombs of Sillustani,
Down the pre-Inca terraced, rocky slopes,
To borders protected by the army,
Peru portrays its hopes.

© Copyright 2006 Robert M Jaggs-Fowler



Notes:

Postcard from Peru is taken from A Journey with Time; a collection of poems written by Robert Jaggs-Fowler. A Journey with Time is available from internet booksellers, and also direct from the author at a discounted price. E-mail me for further details: drtusitala@theretreat-barton.com

James Tusitala is Robert's alter ego.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Googling Earth

What, you may well ask, have I been doing all this time if yesterday was the first time I have ventured onto Google Earth?

Well, it is true...but what a fascinating site!

Having discovered my home in North Lincolnshire in England (and time warped my garden studio away, replacing it with a rather rickety old shed), I whizzed across to North Yorkshire, and found that I wasn't present on the day my cottage was photographed in 2007. The time warp thingy didn't work quite so well there. I had been hoping to see the old animal market on which site the cottage is built, but it wasn't to be. Apparently Google Earth only found that part of the world in recent years.

The situation was not much different down in Kent, where I was able to unearth my (very humble) roots. The old school looks different though, with a few extra rooms to the Science Block, and several more tennis courts.

It was over in Cyprus, however, where I really saw some changes. I have an apartment in the mountain village of Pissouri. Having first got myself thoroughly confused as to my whereabouts (the street names are not highlighted as well as in England), I finally descended into the environs of the apartment and then, feeling as though I had stepped straight into H G Well's Time Machine, I flicked back and forth in time, watching the apartment and its local area turn back into scrub and rock. I could have played all evening, but air traffic control (aka my wife) insisted that I land back in the present and at this location, in order to partake in a Good Friday supper.

If you haven't tried it yet, get aquainted with Google Earth and Google Street Scene; I am sure you will enjoy the journey.

Happy Easter to you all.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Welcome, Worldly Wanderers

A very warm welcome to James's new travel site.

Having spent an enjoyable year writing for www.beabritdifferent.com, an American travel site on behalf of Visit Britain (where 'real Brits' were able to offer a personalised insight to their world in England), I have decided to continue such whimsical perambulations and expose them here for your delectation.

Over the forthcoming days, weeks, months, years....(sorry, wandering off again)....I will share with you the parts of my own territory in Lincolnshire, the North Yorkshire Dales, London and Cyprus, which particularly give me pleasure, or that I feel are of interest for some general, historical, curious, or simply pleasurable reason. Occasionally, I will flit to some other part of the globe; not necessarily in a temporaneous manner, so come prepared for a spot of time-travel thrown in as an optional tour.

The remit is vast so also be ready for many detours along the route.

Oh, and before I forget, please do introduce yourselves as we go along. It is always good to know who one's travelling companions are. The odd comment or two for discussion helps while away the time between destinations.

So, with the greetings over, strap on those walking boots, shoulder the rucksack, and with passport in hand, let us begin the journey...