Lockdown Diaries: Day 65 (The Cíes Islands)

Locked Down in London, Day 65:

I just remembered: yesterday, if it wasn’t for the coronavirus, we’d have flown out to Galicia.

This would have been the holiday that would have replaced the one that was cancelled in April. Is this depressing or what? At least now we finally grasped that there was no point in rescheduling; instead we’ve joined the ranks of those hopefuls who are expecting their money back from the airline…

Virtual Escape: The Cíes Islands

If we did fly yesterday, we’d be in the Cíes Islands today.

Further Reading:Cíes Islands: The Hidden Gem of the Spanish Atlantic OceanSpain's Cíes Islands: The Best Beach in the World?Islas Cíes, Galicia: Spain's Treasured Islands
Keep safe, keep sane – learn a bit of Spanish! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 64 (Day Off)

Virtual Escape: Day Off

It’s Saturday night. My boss wanted me to work in the weekend – again! Why? Because she’s got neither a cat, nor a dog and is bored out of her mind in lockdown.

You know what? I’m taking the day off.

I hope you have something ever so much nicer to do than reading my blog for a virtual escape but if your need is desperate, there are 63 days worth of virtual escapes in my

⇒ Lockdown Diaries

P.S. If you just want a chat about books or Herodotus, I’m up for that. 🙂 Leave a comment below.

Keep safe, keep sane – see you tomorrow! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 63 (Sunset Sailing)

Virtual Escape: Sunset Sailing

A few years ago we holidayed in Malta – I wish we could go there right now! – and one we went on an organised trip with a small sailing ship to the Blue Lagoon and the island of Gozo where we had the good fortune to see the Azure Window – which collapsed in a storm the year after. While we were on the way back to Valetta, the sun set on us…

Unfortunately, my photos do not do justice to reality – especially as I only had my phone to take pictures with – but they sure bring back very pleasant memories… And what more you can ask for on a Friday night in coronavirus lockdown?

Links:The Great Siege: Malta 1565Malta in Black & WhiteThe Hagar Qim Megalithic Temples on Malta
Keep safe, keep sane – go sailing (you can’t catch coronavirus out at sea)! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 62 (LOTR New Zealand)

Virtual Escape: LOTR New Zealand

We’ll keep it simple today. Have you read The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien?

In case you haven’t, have you seen the films? Right.

(If you’ve done neither, get the book, now!)

So –

  1. (Re-)Read the book 🙂
  2. The films were shot in New Zealand – they make you want to go there (click the gallery to enlarge the pictures):
Locations Key:

Mt Ngauruhoe = Mount Doom
Kawarau Gorge = River Anduin
Mount Sunday = Edoras
Kaitoke National Park = Rivendell

Links:The ultimate Lord of the Rings Location Map for New Zealand23 Lord of the Rings Locations You Can't Miss in New ZealandThis Dreamy Destination Continues to Inspire Fantasy Writers5 Middle Earth Locations You Can Visit in Real Life
Keep safe, keep sane – keep dreaming big! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 61 (Give Me My Aegean)

Locked Down in London: Open Letter to Boris

Dear Boris,

Today I had a long, hard day at work in an overheated office (our patio) and in my well considered opinion this lockdown sucks, sucks and sucks some more.

I know you’re very busy so I’ll be brief: I want water. Not from the tap! I want to go to the beach; if not that, then to the river; if not that, to the lido; if not that, at least to the pool where I’m a member.

Virtual Escape: Give Me My Aegean

While we’re waiting for Boris to reply…


The hour when the little boat enters the sea cave, and after dazzling light you suddenly find yourself closed inside a freezing blue-green mint.

A little terrace. Among the flower pots of Geraniums, a rose-coloured dome, white arches, masts weaving the sky, Delos.

Sailing along the island at high noon. Your naked arms burn on the gunwhale. And continually, the little scallop-coves unfold one after the other until finally the big cove with the white crown at its heads spreads out before you.

Light-hued the tremulous waves and dark, heavy, opposite the conical boulder. A motor-caïque’s putt-putt is heard as unseen it passes by.

(Excerpts from What One Loves (Snapshots) by Odysseas Elytis)

Recommended Book:The Collected Poems of Odysseas Elytis
Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 60 (Running Away to Sea)

Virtual Escape: Running Away to Sea

It’s such a beautiful day today where I am – blue skies, glorious sunshine… we’re only missing the sea, the sand and the palm trees to make everything perfect.

So I thought today we’re escaping to the sea with a few books…  The first of which absolutely has to be:

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I freely admit: this one is not for everyone. Sophisticated Young Lady for example found it unutterably boring. This book is either

  • a really boring story of an old man who went fishing , or
  • a wonderful story about the invincibility of the human spirit.

If you have never read it, you should give it a go. The worst that can happen is that you don’t like it.

The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin

Well, this one hardly needs introduction. The man who came up with the theory of evolution writes about the voyage that gave him his ideas… Like it or not but as a historical document, it’s as good as you’ll get.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

It’s been a long time ago I read this one and to be honest, I’m not that fond of it. It’s quite a compelling read all the same – once you start, you’ll find it hard to put it down. In case you never heard of it: it’s the somewhat chilling tale of the captain of a whaling ship who fanatically pursues a whale which had bitten his leg off. Some think it’s the greatest novel ever written about the sea.

Diving for Sunken Treasure by Jacques-Yves Cousteau

I freely admit that I haven’t read this one yet. It’s on my wish list. But Jacques-Yves Cousteau – you know, the man who invented SCUBA diving – featured largely in my landlocked childhood via television. He made a number of films about the sea, most of which are available as DVDs nowaydays. And Cousteau was the man who excavated the Grand Conglué shipwreck – a Roman galley full of amphoras, sank off Marseille in 2nd century BC.

I hope the story is in the book! 🙂

Further Reading:
⇒ Grand Congloué (MIT Museum)Wrecks and Shipfinds of the Mediterranean
Keep safe, keep sane – share the love of reading! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 59 (Riding with Indians)

Virtual Escape: Riding with Indians

That would be Indians as in ‘relating to the indigenous people of America’, as my dictionary puts it, and to be more specific – North American Native Americans.

US readers will probably find this hard to believe, but the Apaches, Navajos, Dakotas, Cherokees and the rest have a great cult following where I come from – and I don’t just mean Hungary, but Central Europe in general. As children we played at ‘Pale-faces and Indians’, and the Indians were the good guys. Nobody wanted to be a pale-face. We stuck feathers into our hair and slithered on our bellies in the long grass spying out the pale-faces’ camp and we rode pretend horses across the pretend prairie hunting pretend buffalo.

I’m not sure what might have started the Indian mania in Central Europe but I do know who spread it: the 19th century German writer Karl May. He was a prolific writer who wrote children’s adventure stories which were set in the Wild West; he tended to take the side of the noble savage. His most famous character is the Apache chieftain, Winnetou – when I first came to England I couldn’t believe nobody ever heard of him here.

Karl May is not the only well known ‘Indian story’ writer in Central Europe of course. Many others followed in his wake; unfortunately most of them have never been translated into English. But English readers needn’t despair: there are of course English and American authors too, like James Fenimore Cooper or Thomas Mayne Reid.

If you have (grand)children between 8-14 years old, I recommend the following books to escape the tedium of lockdown (I still sometimes take them out!):

Recommended Books:
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
♥ Winnetou by Karl May
♥ The White Chief by Thomas Mayne Reid
♥ The Adventures of Sajo and Her Beaver People by Grey Owl

By the way: Some of Karl May’s stories about Winnetou have been filmed more than once – if your kids are really bored and you can’t convince them to read, get them to watch a retro Central European ‘Indian’ movie first. Maybe it’ll do the trick. 🙂

Keep safe, keep sane – share the love of reading! 🙂


Quote of the Week

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755)

…when I see men that creep about over an atom, the earth, which is simply a dot in the universe, propose themselves as models of Providence, I do not know how to reconcile such extravagance with such insignificance.

(Montesquieu: Persian Letters)

Lockdown Diaries: Day 58 (The Decameron)

Today, we’re not escaping anywhere. We’re staying locked down, in an Italian villa, back in the 14th century…

Locked Down in Literature: The Decameron

Medici villa (1470), Italy [Photo by Giuliano da Sangallo via Wikipedia CC-BY 2.5]
In 1348 the black plague struck Northern Italy, and ten young people, seven women and three men, escaped the city of Florence to shelter from the plague in a countryside villa. In other words, the ten young people went into lockdown… 🙂

To entertain themselves in their great isolation, they started to tell each other stories. Each of them told a story each night, for ten nights in a row; a hundred short stories in all.

This is the plot of The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, a 14th century book of short stories.

So imagine you’re Italian, imagine it’s the 14th century, and imagine that instead of the relatively harmless coronavirus it’s the plague raging outside the walls. Light the candles, and listen:

Melchizedek, the Jew, with a story of three rings, escapeth a parlous snare set for him by Saladin

…Saladin,—whose valour was such that not only from a man of little account it made him Soldan of Babylon, but gained him many victories over kings Saracen and Christian,—having in divers wars and in the exercise of his extraordinary munificences expended his whole treasure and having an urgent occasion for a good sum of money nor seeing whence he might avail to have it as promptly as it behoved him, called to mind a rich Jew, by name Melchizedek, who lent at usance in Alexandria, and bethought himself that this latter had the wherewithal to oblige him, and he would; but he was so miserly that he would never have done it of his freewill and Saladin was loath to use force with him; wherefore, need constraining him, he set his every with awork to find a mean show the Jew might be brought to serve him in this and presently concluded to do him a violence coloured by some show of reason.

Accordingly he sent for Melchizedek and receiving him familiarly, seated him by himself, then said to him,

‘Honest man, I have understood from divers persons that thou art a very learned man and deeply versed in matters of divinity; wherefore I would fain know of thee whether of the three Laws thou reputest the true, the Jewish, the Saracen or the Christian.’

The Jew, who was in truth a man of learning and understanding, perceived but too well that Saladin looked to entrap him in words, so he might fasten a quarrel on him, and bethought himself that he could not praise any of the three more than the others without giving him the occasion he sought. Accordingly, sharpening his wits, as became one who felt himself in need of an answer by which he might not be taken at a vantage, there speedily occurred to him that which it behoved him reply and he said,

‘My lord, the question that you propound to me is a nice one and to acquaint you with that which I think of the matter, it behoveth me tell you a little story, which you shall hear.

An I mistake not, I mind me to have many a time heard tell that there was once a great man and a rich, who among other very precious jewels in his treasury, had a very goodly and costly ring, whereunto being minded, for its worth and beauty, to do honour and wishing to leave it in perpetuity to his descendants, he declared that whichsoever of his sons should, at his death, be found in possession thereof, by his bequest unto him, should be recognized as his heir and be held of all the others in honour and reverence as chief and head. He to whom the ring was left by him held a like course with his own descendants and did even as his father had done.

In brief the ring passed from hand to hand, through many generations, and came at last into the possession of a man who had three goodly and virtuous sons, all very obedient to their father wherefore he loved them all three alike. The young men, knowing the usance of the ring, each for himself, desiring to be the most honoured among his folk, as best he might, besought his father, who was now an old man, to leave him the ring, whenas he came to die. The worthy man, who loved them all alike and knew not himself how to choose to which he had liefer leave the ring, bethought himself, having promised it to each, to seek to satisfy all three and privily let make by a good craftsman other two rings, which were so like unto the first that he himself scarce knew which was the true.

When he came to die, he secretly gave each one of his sons his ring, wherefore each of them, seeking after their father’s death, to occupy the inheritance and the honour and denying it to the others, produced his ring, in witness of his right, and the three rings being found so like unto one another that the true might not be known, the question which was the father’s very heir abode pending and yet pendeth.

And so say I to you, my lord, of the three Laws to the three peoples given of God the Father, whereof you question me; each people deemeth itself to have his inheritance, His true Law and His commandments; but of whcih in very deed hath them, even as of the rings, the question yet pendeth.’

Saladin perceived that the Jew had excellently well contrived to escape the snare which he had spread before his feet; wherefore he concluded to discover to him his need and see if he were willing to serve him; and so accordingly he did, confessing to him that which he had it in mind to do, had he not answered him on such discreet wise. The Jew freely furnished him with all that he required, and the Soldan after satisfied him in full; moreover, he gave him very great gifts and still had him to friend and maintained him about his own person in high and honourable estate.

(The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio)

Recommended Book:The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
Keep safe, keep sane – tell each other some stories! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 57 (My Trusty Old Herodotus)

Locked Down in Budapest:

Although I’m one of those few privileged 🙂 who can actually enter Hungary at the moment because I do hold a Hungarian passport, I did not exchange the London lockdown to that of Budapest. (More’s the pity.) The video however is from Budapest, courtesy of my sister. Unfortunately, on trying to upload it, I found that unless I upgrade my free plan, I can’t – this not being the right financial moment to invest in my blogging hobby, I uploaded it instead to the blog’s FB page:



Virtual Escape: My Trusty Old Herodotus

I know I said that the virtual escape will be photo posts. But I realised that at this rate I will end up becoming just another travel blogger – and not a very good one, doing nothing but sharing other people’s travel photos! So we’re taking a break from that…

Tonight I’m going to curl up on the sofa with a bottle of red wine and my trusty old Herodotus.

An evening with Herodotus

If you don’t want to join me, you can always watch the Eurovision Song Contest. 🙂

Recommended Book:The Histories by Herodotus
Keep safe, keep sane – start reading Herodotus! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 56 (Angkor Wat)

Another of those places which I probably won’t ever have the chance to actually visit; I hope it inspires some of you to put it on your bucket list!

Virtual Escape to – Angkor Wat

Dedicated to the Cambodians in my life

For some six centuries (9th to 15th century A.D.) Angkor was the capital of the powerful Khmer Kingdom which ruled much of  South East Asia – today’s Cambodia where the Khmers still live, as well as parts of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The temple complex of Angkor Wat was built as the kingdom was reaching the height of its power in the first half of the 12th century, by King Suryavarman II. The site was further extended later in the same century by King Jayavarman VII, who added Angkor Thom and Bayon. The whole archeological site, a UNESCO World Heritage, now covers some 400 square kilometers. With the decline of the Khmer empire, the ancient capital disappeared in the jungle to be forgotten; it was rediscovered by the French colonists in the 19th century. (Click on the gallery to enlarge the pictures.)


Sadly, Cambodia nowadays is not known for its glorious past but for its extremely tragic recent history: the genocide of the Pol Pot regime (1975-79). If you haven’t seen the film Killing Fields, I recommend it, although my Khmer friends, who survived Pol Pot, always insisted that it doesn’t half depict the horrors – I think for most of us it depicts quite enough.

Recommended Books: First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung (the heart-wrenching story of a small girl from Phnom Penh who survived Pol Pot's genocide)
♥ Survival in the Killing Fields by Haing Ngor (another survivor's tale: a Cambodian doctor who won the Oscar for his role in the film Killing Fields)
♥ Swimming to Cambodia by Spalding Gray (an American actor about Cambodia and the shooting of Killing Fields)
Links:Angkor: UNESCO World HeritageA Long Break at Angkor Wat and Siem ReapYour Ultimate Guide to the Angkor Wat Temples of CambodiaExploring Angkor WatA Little Exploring: The History and Fun of Visiting Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 55 (In the Company of Elephants)

Virtual Escape: In the Company of Elephants

Today we escape to spend some time with elephants…

Why elephants?

Because they are intelligent, loving animals who live in families just like us… because they like to play football just like we do… and because they’re super cute when they hug each others with their trunks!

Elephants hugging Whipsnade Zoo P1140249
Elephants like to play ball and they super cute when they hug…

Elephants grow on you. In our family it was Young Friend of the Elephants who started the mania but by now every single family member is infected.

Now you can be in the company of elephants in lots of places although most of us only ever saw them in the zoo. But this being a virtual escape, we can image seeing them in their natural habitat. Fancy a safari in Kenya? A safari park in South Africa? The choice is yours. Personally, I’d really like to visit the South African safari park which is the location of the first book recommended below… (I’m not going to name it – you’ll just have to read the book!) 🙂

Click on the gallery to enlarge the pictures.

Recommended Books: The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony (a South African safari park owner saves a troubled herd of elephants from being killed)
♥ Elephant Bill by J. H. Williams (how to look after elephants in health and sickness and save them from the invading Japanese army in WWII)
Links:10 Amazing Facts About Elephants That Will Make You Love ThemAll About Elephants (WWF)What's the Difference Between Asian and African Elephants (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 54 (Machu Picchu)

Locked Down in London, Day 54:

Today was the first day that the population – in England at any rate – was allowed out for more than a single essential trip (for food, medication/doctor or local exercise) per day: you can now actually drive somewhere and go walking in the countryside as long as you don’t hobnob with strangers. It being a working day, probably nobody could take advantage of this easing of the restriction – expect the country to go mental in the coming weekend!

Virtual Escape: Machu Picchu

One of those places which I probably won’t ever have the chance to actually visit, so it seems an excellent candidate for a virtual escape!

Built in the 15th century for the then ruling Inca, Pachacuti, Machu Picchu is nearly 2500 m above sea level, and the best (only?) way to get there is hiking. If only I was thirty years younger (and had enough money to go that far…)

green and brown mountain under white clouds
Photo by Sparks Darby on Pexels.com
Recommended Books: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (more about why you should read it here)
♥ Lituma in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa (an excellent crime story by a Nobel-prize winning author!)
♥ Across the Pacific by Raft by Thor Heyerdahl (a post WWII adventure attempting to prove that the South Sea Islands were populated from Peru)
Links:Hiking the Inca TrailMachu Picchu Travel Advice26 Pictures That Will Make You Want to Visit Machu Picchu
Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 53 (Dubrovnik)

Locked Down in London, Day 53: The New Normal

When I started the Lockdown Diaries, I thought I was looking at no more than 3 or 4 weeks of daily blogging. I thought it might be of interest to others what’s it like in London and I was in as much need of a virtual escape as anybody. But that was now more than 7 weeks ago; and the exit strategy outlined by the PM in a 50-page document yesterday afternoon made it clear that we’re not going back to normal life any time soon. Instead, we’re going to have a ‘new normal’ – just like cancer patients.

Well, since this is now evidently for the long term, it’s time that I reclaim my blog from the Lockdown Diaries – recently I began to resent that what with work, homeschooling and writing daily diaries I no longer have time to actually write about books. But I dislike the idea of abandoning the Diaries altogether because we’re all still limited to virtual travel only and because I already decided what the last lockdown post would be! 🙂

So a change of format.

From now on, Locked Down in London will only be included if there’s anything to report, while Virtual Escape changes to a photo post of travel destinations. You know: all those places where we could have gone on holiday this year. If I can, I’ll include book recommendations and poetry related to the place, as well as links to help you to continue exploring online.

Today I start with a town I would have long liked to visit; but I’d love it if you suggested destinations too!

Virtual Escape: Dubrovnik

Historically known as Ragusa, this Dalmatian town on the lower Adriatic was very high on my list to visit for a city break this year…

Medieval Ragusa was a mercantile maritime republic like Venice, from which it became independent in the 1300s. To protect itself from Venetian power, it almost immediately placed itself under the sovereignty of Hungary, later under the Ottoman Empire (at some point it paid taxes to both), neither of which really interfered with Ragusan affairs. The end of the republic came with the Napoleonic wars; it is now called Dubrovnik and is part of Croatia (although it’s a pretty isolated corner).

Books about Dubrovnik's history:
Dalmatia and Montenegro by John Gardner Wilkinson - Wilkinson who was an Egyptologist, travelled through Dalmatia in 1844
Dubrovnik: A History by Robin Harris

Unfortunately I haven’t read either of the books, so can’t comment how good they are. If any of you know some good books about medieval Ragusa – be it a novel set there or a first-hand account from a medieval traveller – I’m interested. 🙂

Links:Republic of RagusaWandering the city walls in DubrovnikBest things to do in Dubrovnik: Ultimate local's travel guideDubrovnik Survival Guide
Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 52 (Francis Drake Captures the Cacafuego)

Locked Down in London, Day 52: We’ve Got an Exit Strategy!

Well… sort of.

We’re going to live the rest of our lives like this:


Virtual Escape: Francis Drake Captures the Cacafuego

As told in his own words – excuse him his 16th century spelling! 🙂

…and the first of March wee fell with the cape Francisco, where, about mid-day, we descried a sayle a head of vs, with whom after we had spoken with her, we lay still in the same place about sixe days to recouer our breath againe, which we had almost spent with hasty following, and to recall to mind what aduentures had passed vs since our late comming from Lima; but especially to do Iohn de Anton a kindnesse, in freeing him of the care of those things with which his ship was loaden.

This ship we found to bee the same of which we had heard, not onely in the Calao of Lima, but also by diuers occasions afterward, which now we are at leasure to relate, viz., by a ship which we tooke betweene Lima and Paita: by another, which we took loaden with wine in the port of Paita: by a third, loaden with tackling and implements for ships (besides eightie pound waight in gold) from Guiaquill. And lastly by Gabriel Aluarez, with whom we talked somewhat neerer the line).

We found her to be indeed the Cacafuego, though before we left her, she were new named by a boy of her owne the Cacaplata¹. We found in her some fruite, conserues, sugars, meale, and other victuals, and (that which was the especiallest cause of her heauy and slow sayling) a certaine quantitie of iewels and precious stones, 13 chests of ryals of plate, 80 pound waight in gold, 26 tunne of uncoyned siluer, two very faire gilt siluer drinking boules, and the like trifles, valued in all at about 360,000 pezoes. We gaue the master a little linnen and the like for these commodities, and at the end of sixe dayes we bad farewell and parted. Hee hastening somewhat lighter then before to Panama, we plying off to sea, that we might with more leasure consider what course henceforward were fittest to be taken.

The Voyage About the World by Sir Francis Drake)

¹ Cacafuego means 'fire-shitter'; Cacaplata means 'silver-shitter'. The real name of the ship was actually Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, that is, Our Lady of the Conception; Cacafuego was a nickname.

Link:Sir Francis Drake engaging the Cacafuego, a rich Spanish Ship (National Maritime Museum)
Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

The Partiality of the Eye-Witness (La parcialidad del testigo)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana

Today’s quote is a piece of advice from George Orwell regarding reading about the Spanish civil war. But the advice applies to reading all historical sources and eye-witness accounts – history students take note. 🙂

La cita de hoy es un consejo de George Orwell para quienes leen sobre la guerra civil española. Pero es un consejo que tenemos que seguir siempre cuando leemos obras históricas y informes de testigos – estudiantes de historia, toma nota. 🙂

George Orwell (1903-1950)

And I hope that the account I have given is not too misleading. I believe that on such an issue as this no one is or can be completely truthful. It is difficult to be certain about anything except what you have seen with your own eyes, and consciously or unconsciously everyone writes as a partisan.

In case I have not said this somewhere earlier in the book I will say it now: beware of my partisanship, my mistakes of fact and the distortion inevitably caused by my having seen only one corner of events. And beware of exactly the same things when you read any other book on this period of the Spanish civil war.

(George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia)

Y espero que mi relato no haya sido demasiado confuso. Creo que, con respecto a un acontecimiento como éste, nadie es o puede ser completamente veraz. Sólo se puede estar seguro de lo que se ha visto con los propios ojos y, consciente o inconscientemente, todos escribimos con parcialidad.

Si no lo he dicho en alguna otra parte de este libro, lo diré ahora: cuidado con mi parcialidad, mis errores factuales y la deformación que inevitablemente produce el que yo sólo haya podido ver una parte de los hechos. Pero cuidado también con lo mismo al leer cualquier otro libro acerca de este período de la guerra española.

(George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia / Homenaje a Cataluña)


Lockdown Diaries: Day 51 (The Romans in Mérida)

Locked Down in London, Day 51:

A day as grey as a prison.

Virtual Escape: The Romans in Mérida

Time to escape to a quiet corner of sunny Spain… and wander among spectacular Roman ruins! Mérida – in Roman times known as Emerita Augusta – in the Extremadura.


Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 50 (On the Beach)

Locked Down in London, Day 50: War Rhetoric

It was VE Day yesterday and on this occasion, the blog of Collins Dictionaries (to be honest I was not aware that they had a blog and even less that I had subscribed to it, but… 🤷‍♀️ ) published an article, commenting on the war like rhetoric being used with Covid-19:

Some of the political rhetoric deployed in the … fight against Covid-19 employs the vocabulary of battle: war cabinet, an army of volunteers, the frontline NHS staff, an exit strategy. The Prime Minister has even spoken of “a fight … in which every one of us is enlisted”.

(Jeremy Butterfield: It’s VE Day. We’ll metaphor again…)

Jeremy Butterfield certainly has a point. I don’t know about you but I haven’t seen the enemy yet. So let’s leave war rhetoric where it belongs: the war. You don’t fight a disease; you survive it (if you’re lucky). Otherwise how do you describe those who were killed by it – losers?

Virtual Escape: On the Beach

It’s a lovely sunny day today; and I’m escaping to the beach:

Photo by Fabian Wiktor on Pexels.com
Keep safe, keep sane – have an apple and mint lemonade! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 49 (Lisbon Views)

Locked Down in London, Day 49:

Another Friday evening … in lockdown.

Programme choices:


Virtual Escape: Lisbon Views

I really do hope that you’ve got something better to do this Friday night than reading this blog (and listening to the your neighbours’ whining kids). But in case you don’t, come for a virtual walk around Lisbon 🙂 :


Keep safe, keep sane – put your feet up! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 48 (Serenity)

Locked Down in London, Day 48: Overworked

So I worked 3 hours extra today, and then despite of the fact that tomorrow is a bank holiday, I had to agree to work tomorrow as well, to meet all those people’s deadlines who have forgotten that tomorrow, actually, is a day off in the whole country. What makes it even more annoying is that of course I won’t even get paid for it or get time off in lieu…!

So what I need right now is, first of all, a large gin & tonic… and then a book of haikus. To regain my serenity.

Virtual Escape: Serenity

Okay, so I’ve got the gin & tonic, and the book of haikus open. Let’s also add some pebbles on top of each other and a torii gate (totally different religion from the pebbles, but that’s fine by me, I’m not fussy)…

Seven Fragments in Serenity

As on the plum comes
blossom after blossom, so
comes the warmth of spring


the sea darkens –
the voices of the wild ducks
are faintly white


How cool the breeze –
the empty sky is filled with
the sound of the pines.


In calligraphic line
wild geese descend; at the foothills
the moon is the seal.


grasshopper –
do not trample to pieces
the pearls of bright dew


No sky and no ground –
only the snowflakes that
fall without ceasing.


the little fish
carried backwards
in the clear water


Keep safe, keep sane – keep serene! 🙂