A Short History of Sicily

I know we’ve already been to Sicily recently (the lockdown has a lot to answer for)…

…but that was with a 19th century female traveller, Frances Elliot, whose romantic flights of fancy are quite different from what I’m proposing today. 🙂

I don’t remember when exactly I got John Julius Norwich’s book, Sicily: A Short History from the Ancient Greeks to the Cosa Nostra, but I had it on the mantelpiece (where I keep the books I haven’t got round to reading yet) for at least a couple of years. All this extra time in lockdown finally gave me the chance to read it…

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 67 (Anywhere But Lancashire)

Locked Down in Lancashire, Day 67:

Up on the motorway to Lancashire – instead of having fun in Spain as once planned – to attend to some family affairs while we’re still on holiday. At least we’re now also allowed non-essential travel, so we hope to fit in some hiking too!

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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…

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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…

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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!

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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!

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 47 (Cape Sounion)

Locked Down in London, Day 47:

Every exit strategy that is discussed by governments, scientists, etc. have a common feature – that we’ll have no fun this year. Foreign or possibly even domestic holidays will not be worth taking; restaurants, museums, pools, places of fun will be the last things to reopen.

It sucks. But for most of us, there’s always next year.

Most of us; not all. Spare a thought for those who are terminally ill and this is their last spring/summer when they could have been doing something they wanted to do before their death.

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 46 (Hiking in the Picos de Europa)

Locked Down in London, Day 46: Beer Delivery Dogs

According to yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, somewhere in America a couple of handsome golden retrievers were enrolled by a brewery to deliver beer to their customers…

I quite fancy the sight of a couple of handsome golden retrievers delivering my shopping too.

Except… I guess I would only get the vegetables!

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 44 (An Idle Woman in Sicily)

Locked Down in London, Day 44: The Rubbish Dump

Having found that people now dump rubbish everywhere, the council had a change of heart and reopened the local rubbish dump (or as they fancily call it, the reuse and recycling centre).

We can’t go to the pub, a restaurant, the theatre, a museum or a concert – but we can visit the rubbish dump! Whoppee!

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 36 (Hiking the Kii Peninsula with a Book of Haikus)

Locked Down in London, Day 36: J-Pop

I’m becoming an expert in designing walking routes through the neighbouring streets. I now know on which street are the trees in bloom; which front gardens have the nicest tulips (on the way out now), lilacs or artistically arranged evergreens. I connect the streets with patches of woodlands, parks and playing fields in an effort to device myself that I’m walking in the country.

How many days in a row have I walked these exact streets without seeing anything else? Listening to the same music? I had to have some variety so now I’m cycling through world pop, a different country each day. I’m learning new phrases to search Spotify: Latin pop, Euro-pop, J-pop.

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 32 (Climbing Kanchenjunga)

Locked Down in London, Day 32: Where Is My Money?

Today we got a refund for one of the many things that was cancelled on us due to everything closing. Yippee! I celebrate the fact that we did get one refund and in fact in a couple of cases our direct debit for services that we subscribe to but can’t use at the moment was frozen – but what about the rest? There are at least half a dozen companies, museums, a school, etc. that owe us money and not a peep out of most of them…

What about you people?

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 30 (Hiking Vulcano)

Locked Down in London, Day 30: Our New Pet, Ede

About three weeks ago we acquired a family pet, whose name is Ede (that’s Eh-deh, not Eed). We feed it every day and it’s now feeding us in turn, and in fact we’re giving away one of its children today… no, it’s not a hen, much less a cow, although if this goes on much longer maybe we’ll be forced to start a farm!

Ede is a sourdough starter and took five days to grow; much to our surprise it then survived six days without food or water while we were locked down in Lancashire. We feed it regularly with flour and mineral water and then use portions of it to make bread without yeast. The bread is so tasty that half of of the first loaf went within five minutes of coming out of the oven, as we all “tasted” it.

As my contribution to the worldwide fight against coronavirus, I translated the recipe and passed it on to family via e-mail; and a local friend of ours is coming to collect one of Ede’s children later today (she’s collecting it from the doorstep because we’re good and law-abiding citizens)!

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 21 (Hiking La Palma II)

Locked Down in Lancashire, Day 21: The Palm Trees of Lancashire

Went out on another local hike and noticed that every second garden boasts a palm tree! I mean this is Lancashire in the Northwest of England – wet, cloudy and miserable. Supposedly…

In point of fact, it’s 22 degrees and sunny today! 🙂

On our local hike, I paddled in a freezing cold local stream and pretended that I was paddling in the stream of the Barranco de las Angustias on our hike in La Palma…

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 19 (Hiking La Palma)

Locked Down in Lancashire, Day 19:

Glorious weather today in Lancashire (I got sunburnt).

Being in lockdown is definitely more bearable when

a) the weather is sunny

b) you’re somewhere where you can make use of it!

My late father-in-law lived in an old farm house. The farmland that went with the house was sold ages ago, but there is a lovely large garden around the house – with the occasional strutting pheasant, rabbits gambolling on the lawn and some stunning views.

So we went for a 10 km local hike and then sat in the garden, drinking wine…

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 16 (Santa Cruz de la Palma)

Locked Down in London, Day 16: The Sun Is Out

And the communal football fields behind our house look like Hyde Park as a consequence. Where do all these people come from? There’s normally nobody out there, apart from a couple of dog walkers!

Since the sun is out and I’m pretending to be on holiday in the Canary Islands, Mr Anglo-Saxonist made us a jug of sangria, while I put my swimsuit on and posed for ‘holiday’ photo for my family back in Hungary…

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