Promoting Smut? On my doorstep?!

We got a leaflet through the door this morning.


Yep, the heathens in our area want to open a sex shop, on St Albans road. How could they even dare to think of it? Luckily the locals are rallying round with a vigorous leaflet campaign. I’m sure they’ll follow it up with a violent sit in down the local council offices.

Thank god.

Of course, if you can’t think of any reasons to lend your support and write a letter, there’s a helpful list on the back.

  1. “unsuitable for a family area”
  2. “proposed trading hours” (!?)
  3. “parking and loading problems” (“customers packing in 50,000 dvds”, says male ali)
  4. “not in keeping with existing shops and outlets”

The last one is a very good point. Wouldn’t want to take away business from Anne Summers in the Harlequin. Or the sex shop next to the wedding store on the high street. Two’s company, three’s a crowd and all that.

C’mon people, grow up!

Blogging on Location

From the first explorers, to ships and aircraft crossing continents, the telephone, and the all-encompassing network of the Internet. All have contributed to decreasing the size of our planet. As far as I know, we’re not talking directly here, but rather our perception of the “small world” that we live in today.

People increasingly talk about location as though it’s not important. From the business community, we can get all the work done we need, wherever the skills are available, and it’s most economic to do so. Knowledge can be shared between communities no matter how remote, or central. Families can stay in touch, and new friends can be made whether you’re meeting for drinks in a bar, or sitting on your new wireless network connection halfway up a mountain.

And maybe they’re right, maybe location isn’t important. On the other hand, where you might be at any one point in time could be extremely important. Blogging often relies on location. The most popular writing on this blog so far, is the entries I made while “not here”. The news reports that highlight what an exciting area blogging can be all talk about people writing news from within disaster areas. I can talk about tornado in North America quite comfortably from my living room here in England. But nobody really sits up and takes any notice until I’m actually in the eye of the storm. So location can be important. It gives a unique context to a story that can’t be given in any other way.

And that’s why I’ve just installed the Geo plugin for this particular blog. Fuelled by the success of my travel map for my photos, I don’t see why I shouldn’t give location to my blog entries as well. Especially as a large part of them will be made up with travelling.

So imagine; a map of photos and blog entries. Being able to search for all entries that are 20, 50, 100 miles away from the current entry. Find all the photos that were taken nearby. Find other blogs or pictures from same area, by any number of photographers or bloggers.

There are cameras on the market that have built in GPS, so longitude and latitude can be stored alongside the photos. Hopefully this will become more of the norm in later cameras, and I can get one 🙂

Okay, so I’m not introducing anything new here. And similar functionality to that I’ve described is already available. There is a blogging community with plentiful location support, and it’s searchable by location. Highly useful for holiday ideas. But I forget the name of it now 🙂

But it’s my plan for this particular blog, and gives me something to do / write. Whether or not I will, being a professional procrastinator – that’s a different matter and one to leave to the future to decide 🙂

Good night, all!

Trick or Treat, or …

I like Halloween. It’s not a love of Halloween that people across the ocean in America have. But maybe the influences of living there for a year have rubbed off on me a little here. Or maybe it’s the same old feelings for Halloween I had all along, since we’re not exactly immune to it in the UK either.

The best thing about Halloween for me, is the pumpkin carving. I love it, I wish supermarkets filled their storefronts with pumpkins all year round. Next year I plan on buying the battery operated pumpkin carving kit, to make things a bit easier. But for now, I’ve settled for the slightly cheaper standard walmart carving kit with mini knives (thanks trippy!).

Some people have called this years pumpkin a bit sick. But I think it’s really cool, and has turned out pretty well 🙂


Pumpkins are indigenous to the western hemisphere, and weren’t even known in Europe until after Columbus. Originally the Celts, witches, and other nature based religions used to celebrate Halloween as the ancient Celtic holiday Samhain (meaning Summers End). Traditionally, the lanterns were made out of gourds, turnips, or presumeably whatever else was at hand. Hot coal was added inside, to give the glow – and these lanterns were placed on the doorstep to welcome spirits of deceased loved ones, as well as to ward off evil spirits.

Since then, we’ve long forgotten the original holiday, and adopted the pumpkin as our lantern of choice, also placing candles inside instead of hot coal. Except for the fact we haven’t forgotten. Since I just told you. Aren’t these history lessons great?

So anyway, finishing up – Halloween is also a time for dressing up. The kids can go trick or treating, and fill huge buckets full of sweets. Though my journey home this evening leads me to suspect it’s getting abit too violent nowadays.

“Trick or treat or die” , screamed the army of children to the couple standing in the doorway.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but “or die” was never the end of the chant when I was growing up. And I think that’s a bit of a huge leap from the previous options.

“No thank you, I wouldn’t want to be tricked.”
“Oh I’m so sorry, I’m all out of treats. Great costumes though.”
“Then you must die.”
“What were the first two again?”

First person to post comments about Eddie’s cake or death sketch wins a Lion bar. Ali, I’m looking at you here.

So with that, a Happy Halloween to you all! I hope you all have, or had a safe and enjoyable evening … Preferably without the kind of Trick or Treaters from Watford, that take things a little too seriously! 🙂

The Birth of Aphrodite – Revisited

This blog is a series of snapshots, taken at any one point in time. Like a photograph, it freezes thoughts, memories, and a huge amount of randomness onto this page. For example, this entry, will contain nothing that I forgot yesterday, nor does it have any room for what I’ll learn tomorrow.

What I am trying to say is, sometimes, just sometimes, what I’ve written is not only “insane” as my thoughtful brother described it, but also complete and total rubbish. So, sometimes the facts are a little skewed.

I think the best example of this so far, is the legend of Aphrodite. But let’s face it, I knew it at the time too, right? 🙂 So, long overdue, are the corrections. With a little more recent research 🙂

So there’s the daddy god of all god’s. I don’t think that’s Zeus, he’s just the leader, head of the superhero’s. And there’s the mummy god. She’s pretty important too.

There are actually two different versions of the story of Aphrodite’s birth. One of them by Homer (Iliad, Book V, 370), she’s the daughter of Zeus and Dione (Dione is just the name that is merely the feminine form of Zeus in Greek). That one’s not very interesting though, and doesn’t involve the rocks in Cyprus at all, so we’re going to go with the other one for now.

That’s the one by Hesiod (Theogony, 188-198) and resembles my vague recollection. So the father was Ouranos (Uranus). He’s still the father of the Gods.

They have loads of baby gods, and the youngest of them (he’s one of the evil ones in the Age of Mythology, Hades, or one of them), walks in on mummy and daddy god having sex. He’s a bit annoyed, so takes the harsh action of cutting off his dads testicles, and throwing them down to earth.

The youngest of the gods, is the Titan Kronos. I sort of remembered that, when we were driving back from Nicosia, and the tour guide pointed out a mountain that was named after him. I was right though, Kronos is an evil god in Age of Mythology. Thank you Microsoft.

Couldn’t find any reference to him walking in on his mum and dad, but he obviously didn’t like his dad very much either way – as he did cut off his genitals, and cast them into the sea.

Well, they land on earth, but daddy god’s a bit fertile, and impregnates Mother Earth, or nature. And then, presumably 9 months go by, and voilà (our tour guide said voilà a LOT), Aphrodite emerges from this rock on the Cyprus coastline.

There wasn’t exactly your standard 9 months involved in this birth. From the foam that gathered around Oranous’ genitals, Aphrodite emerged fully formed. In some ways, the story is a lot more analogous to one of those sponges you can get; you throw it in water, and you get a bigger sponge, or a flannel.

Personally I much prefer Hesiod’s, and I’m not alone. It supports the Aphrodite, Goddess of fertility idea. She has also been depicted by a number of artists as Anadyomene (meaning “She who emerges”).

Now that that’s cleared up – I’ll tell you the even more exciting news, that the HR department managed to come up with 5 days more holiday for me to use before the end of the year! so now I have a grand total of three weeks off in December, or something stupid like that. Two at the start, and one at the end after Christmas. So I have the travel itch again. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do with those two weeks yet, but I welcome any ideas you want to offer in the comments. Mimi from work has already suggested sorting the books in her basement and painting some rooms in her house. So you don’t have to go very far to top it 🙂

I’m hoping for something more along the lines of “Oh look, you can spend 10 days in Peru for only 100 pounds around that time of year”. But I don’t think I’m that lucky 🙂

Google Maps Gallery Integration

I was very impressed when I saw the fantastic Google Maps integration for Gallery 2.

But, not being satisfied with Gallery v2, I still have version 1 installed for Blakepics – so the module can’t be installed 🙁 So, I decided to write my own:

You can either link to specific countries I’ve visited, by linking like this:

I’ve been meaning to try out the Google API for ages now, but never really had anything I wanted to implement that hadn’t been done already. So, admittedly this has been done already too – but not in a way I could use. So I’m very pleased with the results 🙂

You can find the link to the map on Blakepics, and on the right hand panel of the blog homepage.

About those Ostrich Eggs

I’m back in England. Safe and sound. I arrived back at my flat around 1pm today, quite a few hours after i should have. Since my last entry, I managed to bore myself stupid at Larnaca airport Luckily, I was among good company. The small toddler who was stealing things from duty free (just sweets, not cigarettes or anything – small time stuff) was cute to start with, but as the minutes ticked by like hours, and as he got more restless, so did I. Imagine my joy at finding him just a few seats away on the plane. With the crying and the screaming.

So, a flight delayed for three and a half hours with no explanation; an aborted boarding at the gate (due to technical difficulties); the plane unable to taxi to the runway, because of a broken luggage lift attached to the plane; a rather rough flight and landing; and having only slept about 2 hours in the last 40. I don’t feel my best 🙂

But, I am proud that I managed to stay awake all day long (take that, jetlag). I’m also pleased at having bought another two bottles of Bailey’s, at the request of Nick – bringing the grand total to four, at least until I give some away. And I’ve put a ton of pictures online at

If you don’t feel like clicking through all of them and I don’t blame you. Then the Cyprus Video Story is probably more for you. Because that has most of the best pictures in it anyway. The music, is Howie Day – Collide, which is also the tune that the name of this blog comes from. Which is kinda appropriate, since this holiday has kind of launched my blog 🙂

I’ll finish up tonight, as I’m sure I’ll be continuing to do for quite a while yet, with correcting the outrageous lies I wrote while on holiday – pieced together from scraps of memory from very informative tour guides, but sadly mashed together by my brain. Ostrich eggs, in the Cyprus Orthodox Churches. Well, after a quick google search, I found a load of very unhelpful answers and pages, this very same blog being one of them. So I feel a certain responsibility to make sure the question is of the eggs is answered properly. I’m sure you’re all dying to know anyway 🙂

Well eventually, I found this:

* It is hanged before the iconostasis.
* It reminds us of the resurrection where small ostrich break out of the egg. Besides the point that the ostrich eyes are always fixed on its eggs during the incubation period.


Ignoring the poor use of “hanged”, this is exactly what I’m after. The iconostasis, is what all of the icons are displayed upon. It’s the same screen that seperates the alter from the main chapel. So, the use of the ostrich egg, is identifiable with the use of the egg at Easter time, resurrection, rebirth and all of that stuff. It also symbolises the soul. The worshippers are the watchful ostriches, watching over their souls on display at the front of the church, and keeping in mind the importance of the gift of life that God has bestowed.

If you google it yourself, you’ll find tons of references to ostrich eggs throughout religion, and various different ceremonies. But I don’t care about them – for me the question of the ostrich eggs is now answered, and I for one, can sleep easier …

Personally I think it was more likely that a young monk, just out of monk training, was tasked with decorating a remote church somewhere. The archbishop would have walked through to bless all of the work he’d done. “I like what you’ve done with the fingerpaints, Timothy. What’s the deal with the eggs?”. “Well, your excellency, I found some eggs out the back, and I thought….you know what would look cool?”.

At this point, the young monk’s mentor would jump in and seize an opportunity for an appraisal by the archbishop. “What Timothy is trying to say is, the eggs are our very souls, our essence. If we do no remind followers of the faith about what God has provided for us, then we are nothing”. And he’d get the gold star from the archbishop. While Timothy would have to go and wash his hands.

Something like that, anyway.

The Welshman’s Curse

So, I arrive at Larnaka airport, 2.30 – right on time. Feeling rather sleepy, and ready to get on the plane … And as I’m staring up at the board, I can’t see my flight anywhere.

I pull my ticket out of my bag, and double check the flight number. I look back at the screen – oh there it is, under “new time”. Oh yes, my flight has been delayed by 3 hours for some unknown reason, and will now be leaving at 7.45, instead of 4.30. I wish I was in bed 🙂

Now, about 5 hours ago, I was sitting down to dinner with a very nice Welsh man, in the restaurant downstairs at the hotel. “You have to get here at 7, you see”, he says in a very thick welsh accent, “that’s when they open the restaurant, and it gets rather busy after that”. We get onto the subject of flights, and finally I find someone who’s leaving (though not today) at stupid o’clock in the morning. “I was speaking to a couple the other day in the bar here. They were telling me that their flight was delayed by 3 hours” he said, “I’ve been coming here for 10 years now, I’ve never had a delay yet”. “Don’t say that” I replied, “you’re really just digging the knife in an twisting it round, aren’t you?”. He laughed. I swear he jinxed my flight.

Well now I know, Mr Welsh Man. You come back to the Ari Nosa, or whatever that hotel just next door is called. And you do it every May, and every October. So you better watch out in May. Because I’m going to be the one standing at the end of the runway, running towards the plane, screaming “you can’t leave yet!!”

Yes, my flight is delayed. And anyone wondering if I’m back yet who hasn’t checked the flight timetables. I’ll be back around 10.30. Ho hum. Just 5 more hours to kill in Larnaca airport 🙂 Mind you, the GPRS wasn’t playing nicely earlier, so posting a warning here probably won’t be very useful if I can’t post it until I get back 🙂

At least they were kind enough to provide me with one of those free sandwich and “refreshments” vouchers. Bastards.

The Kingdom of Amathus

Time for one last entry before the big off. I can almost hear the sighs of relief from here 🙂 My taxi is booked to leave here at 1.30am. “Can you put in a wake-up call for around then as well, please? Just in case.” I asked the receptionist. “Certainly” she replied, “is 1.15am okay?”.

“Okay” is most certainly not a word I’d associate with that time of the morning, but it will have to do. Stupid Cyprus Airways and their early morning flights. “Do you have to leave at stupid o’clock in the morning?” I’ve asked everyone I’ve met from England. “Oh no, my flight’s at 8pm”, and other such sensible times. Just me then. I swear, if I’m the only one on the plane, except for some hyena stewardesses and the pilot – I’m not going to be pleased.

Back to the point, quite unsurprisingly, I didn’t wake up this morning in time for the coach to leave for Nicosia. But that’s fine, it was a free tour, since I’d booked with them anyway, and I think I’ve seen most of what I want to see with Nicosia. The lie-in will do me much better, when it comes to catching my flight and waking up ever again.

So instead, I decided I would go and see the Amathus ruins. After all, it’s why this tourist area is called what it is, so it should be worth a look. “Little remains of Amathus”, says the guide book. And not much else, so I had little idea what it was all about, but having seen some ruins on the way back from Nicosia, I decided to head in that general direction. Thirty minutes walk from my hotel, I looked up and saw what looked like remains of a wall, on top of the highest hill in the area. “Shit”, I thought to myself, and started to climb. On my way up, I kept hearing leaves, or something in the path in front of me. Quite sure the worst it could be was a poisonous snake out to kill me, I kept going up the deserted road leading to the deserted old stones.

When I reached the top, I had some fantastic views of the Limassol bay, and there were indeed a number of ruins, in various states of excavation. Apparantly excavation only begun in 1980, although a large number of the tombs had already been looted in the 19th century, and shockingly loads of the stones have been used in the construction of the Suez Canal. “Where are you going with those stones, Steve?”. “Oh they weren’t being used, they were just in a big temple shape up on top of that hill.” “Great, I’ll go fetch the donkey’s”. Little did I know it, but so far I’d only found the Acropolis, from the 11th century B.C. Pretty old then. There was a huge pot type thing just to the side, which I did learn what it was, and have since forgotten. Something to do with cleansing the sacrifices maybe.

Peering over the edge of a sheer drop, I noticed a lot more ruins down the other side of the hill. And they looked far more interesting, with pillars rising into the sky, and other people wandering around them. “Shit”, I thought to myself again, and started to walk back down the way I came.

On the way back down, I saw two big old lizards sunning themselves in the middle of the path. THAT’s what was making those russling noises! They were kinda cute in a don’t-come-near-me-and-we’re-fine way. I took a photo of one, but they scurried off when I got too close.

At the bottom of the hill, I decided that this new set of ruins must be much more exciting, because it had an entrance fee. 75 cents. I noted that the zoo made an extra 5 cents because of the Mouflon. And paid the man.

My 75 cents must have gone towards the big colourful boards that told me what everything was. There I learnt that the bit I’d already seen was Acropolis of ancient Amathous. The sanctuary of Aphrodite. I also learnt the big thing I was heading towards was the Agora of ancient Amathous (4th century B.C.) containing the rather impressive remains of temple of Aphorodite.

Aphrodite, remember, was the goddess born from the foam of the sea. And she’s something of an important figure around these parts. Rumour has it, that she originated from an earlier fertility goddess. Though in the myths of Aphrodite, she is much much more than that, and has been referred to by a number of names. One of which, “Pandemos – the goddess of all”. That’s rather a lot to live up to. War-like, “Egcheios, the goddess with the spear”, *male* “Aphroditos”, protects sailors (since she was born from the sea), and an image of beauty and magnifience. Like I said, a goddess with character, and should appeal to all. She was first mentioned in 8 B.C., by Homer (not Simpson), who referred to her as Aphrodite, or Kypris, and by Hesiod who called her “Kyprogena”, the Cyprus-born. It was much much later though, before the people of Cyprus referred to her as Aphrodite. I guess because she already had so many other names already.

There’s a nice map at the temple, showing all the other places of Aphrodite you can go do. It’s all part of the “Cyprus Strategic Plan for Tourism to the year 2010”. I don’t really understand what strategic methodologies they’ve implemented for this – but I assume it goes along the lines of “more tourists = more money = good. We should get more tourists”. And this route they’ve created is probably an effort to do so. Presumeably by 2010, the Cypriots will have come up with a clever new plan, whereby they don’t have to keep dealing with tourists. And something else will take over. Or maybe nobody has thought about it yet.

So anyway, I look forward to seeing and/or speaking to you all when I get back 🙂

Sea Sponge!

Well, it’s a short one today, since I’ve already been writing postcards and spent most of the day shopping. Yes, postcards. They are currently speeding towards England faster than you can say “have you been away somewhere? You look slightly less white”. Actually, probably not – since in the race to beat them back to England, I will probably arrive first. Oh well 🙂

But yes, I do even look a little off-white – if not “tanned”. For the mostpart, I’ve even been good, and used vast quantities of sun tan lotion (buy 1 get 1 free at boots!). Not totally though, my legs got a bit burned during the first day of rain. Bah.

So my travels into Limassol, mostly to find presents, were of mild success. I won’t write about them yet, because otherwise it will ruin the surprise. But I will say this; Ali, my trip to the underwater museum, where they had a *special* natural sea sponge exhibition was extremely valuable. Providing your present makes it back in one piece. It’s truly special. Better than a naked clay totem woman, even. I realise I’ve built this up now – but to put it bluntly, you’re not going to be dissapointed. And once you have “it”, I’ll make sure to put up some photos here – so everyone can see what I mean.

A lot of the shops I visited around Limassol are clearly geared for the tourist trade. I know this, because a lot of them have signs out fron saying “GIFTS!” or “EURO SHOP”, or “TOURIST SHOP”. It gives it away slightly… So as a result, I saw a large amount of total junk. Not just lace, but there are plenty of miniature donkey models. You know the sort, it looks like real donkey hair. Like the clver shopkeeper has not only stuffed a donkey for you to take home, but also shrunken it in the magic donkey shrinking machine, for your convenience. The Mouflon in similar style was tempting … but not at 15 pounds. I don’t care if it was real and miniaturised.

I’ve also seen a large number of Llama rugs, too. Which is odd, because I haven’t seen any mention of Llama’s here, or anywhere nearby – so I’m not sure where they’re coming from. But, they’re no cheaper than available from the Ashdown Forest Llama Park.

So, for those of you reading this, not “fortunate” enough to receive a gift from Cyprus. I think you’ll agree, it doesn’t really matter 🙂

Tomorrow will be my last full day in Cyprus, so this may be my last entry from this fantastic island (at least until next time). My flight leaves at 4.30am Friday morning, and I have yet to nail down a way of getting to Larnaca airport at that crazy time of the day – but I’m sure that hotel reception will point me in the right direction when I go down foraging for food in just a few minutes.

Tomorrow, I’ll either spend the day in Nicosia, or here in Limassol – depending on how much I feel like waking up in the morning 🙂

Bye for now 🙂