Your Paddy Thoughts This page is open to all to post your thoughts and views about Paddy, his life, his work, in fact anything to celebrate the life of a great man, and one the like of whom we shall not see again. Advertisement Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailPrintMoreRedditLinkedInLike this:Like Loading...
I’m just re-reading A Time of Gifts, or, I should say, re-re-reading, as it repays close attention with every reading. Like others who have commented, from time to time I’ve looked up/googled various people and places that Paddy Leigh Fermor talks about. It occurs to me to ask, though: has anyone systematically followed through the book and tried to identify the people he met and compiled a sort of biographical list? Some would probably be impossible: the boat crew on the Rhein; but others, like Lise and Annie or Hans Ziegler, might well be identifiable.
Some years ago, inspired by “Time of Gifts” we went to Heidelberg where PLF spent some days. We were for dinner in the unique restaurant “Roter Ochsen” still managed by the Spengel family.
It is now a spot of the international tourism full of old pictures of students, but still a nice place. Seemingly nothing had changed till PLF days.
I asked the waitress whether there are pictures or other memoribila of PLF, she said there are non, but she mentioned a guest some years ago who was form Netherland and asked the same question. It is fine that there are kindred spirits. Please see: https://roterochsen.de/erwaehnungen/
I’ll take a moment from my current reading of The Broken Road, to lift a glass along with all attending the evening’s events at Aphrodite Tavern. I wish I was at table with you all to celebrate this extraordinary gentleman.
Hello. At present I am reading ‘Between The Woods and Water,’ and have got to the part where PLF is staying with Count Jeno (p121 onwards).
Whatever book I read I like to try to track down any background information. Doing a search on the net, I came across this blog. which contains photographas of some places he stated in Romania. And there are photos too of both Jeno and his wife Countess Catherine (Tinka).
Please excuse me if you already have this information.
A tangential Paddy link turned up surprisingly in my recent reading. I’ve been reading the Annotated Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, edited and annotated by Elizabeth Samet; for those not familiar with US history, Grant was the victorious Union general during our Civil War (1861-65), and later US president. The memoirs are unique for a historical figure from that era as Grant’s writing is clear and direct, devoid of sentimentality or romance. Indeed Grant seems to relish puncturing myths that grew up about incidents during the war, even those that favored himself. In a closing chapter, about Confederate general Lee’s surrender, Grant is at pains to remove some of the legends that had grown up about the surrender, including that Lee had ‘nobly’ offered his sword to Grant, who refused it. Editor Samet inserts here a footnote referring to the Kreipe kidnapping and Paddy’s famous sharing of the ode from Horace with Kreipe, as a counter-example. Grant was civil and proper with Lee, who he had known and served with years before, but he was clear-eyed about Lee’s service for ‘the worst cause that any man ever fought for,’ while (as Samet sees it) Paddy emphasized his bonding with Kreipe over long-ago reading, with scant mention of the cause that Kreipe served. It’s perhaps not the best contrast to draw and I suspect that Samet had run across the Kreipe anecdote and wanted to find a use for it. In fact I got the feeling that Samet was not that familiar with Paddy’s writing, as she refers to ‘Words of Mercury’ and this clear-eyed article about Paddy, and Greek tourism, by historian Mary Beard: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v27/n16/mary-beard/don-t-forget-your-pith-helmet I hadn’t seen the latter article and enjoyed it.
Oops: should have checked the quote I used: Grant said that Lee had fought for slavery, ‘one of the worst causes for which a people ever fought, and one with the least excuse.’ Also I used the term ‘clear-eyed’ twice, which I would have caught if I was more clear-eyed myself.
Hello, to PLF readers. To gain an insight into the nights in the Psiloriti mountains that PLF partook, he was inspired by its people. The Cretan musicians here play, “Do not do battle with Greeks,” played in the mountains among its people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUWRUvR187Y
Hello all. I have a copy of ‘Vasili: The Lion of Crete,’ the story of Dudley Perkins, a legendary New Zealand SOE agent who fought and died in Crete during WW2. This is a very uncommon book in the US, and if anyone else in the US is interested in reading it, they are likely to be a reader of this blog! If you are that person, you can easily locate me through my eponymous website.
Dear fellow aficionados,
I am writing to ask for some help in locating the source for the following quote from Patrick Leigh Fermor about the global wave of rooster crowing that includes the phrase: “swelling now, sweeping south across the pampas, the Gran Chaco, the Rio Grande…to the maelstroms and the tempests, the hail and the darkness and the battering waves of Cape Horn”. I know I have read this–and I woke to the global sweep of crowing last year on the coast of Peru–but I can’t locate the passage. I would appreciate your help.
Jerry D. Moore, Ph.D.
Professor of Anthropology
California State University Dominguez Hills
hello Jerry, The source you are looking for in the book “Mani”, at the end of chapter nine, called: “Change and Decay. The Cocks of Matapan.” In my pocket edition it is on page 126.
Thanks so much!!
Thanks so much!!
Thanks so much!!
If anyone is interested I’ve started work on what I am calling “Shank’s Europe: A Companion to Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Hook of Holland to Constantinople trilogy”. My plan is to work my way from the introduction of a Time of Gifts through to the end of the Broken Road and write brief articles expanding on any of the people, places, and ideas mentioned that I have found it interesting to do a little additional research about.
At present this project is only in its nascent stages, but over the next months and years I hope that it might develop into something interesting.
Any comments and criticism, and indeed lavish praise, would be welcome along the way.
Sounds interesting Kristopher. Where do you plan to publish your articles?
Thank you @proverbs6to10 ! – this can be found at https://www.shankseurope.com/articles/
I hope the link works this time!
Hi, I was brought up with stories of Paddy Leigh Fermor. My father Tony Hall was a good friend of his before WW2. I think that he+a few other people had lunch with him and saw him off on one of his adventures. I found a mention of this in Artemis Cooper’s book, “An Adventure”. Like many young men at that time he was also part of SOE but was unfortunately involved in a disastrous Small Scale Raiding Force operation which went terribly wrong causing the death of most of the people involved and his imprisonment and paralysis. He rarely talked about his wartime experiences but when pushed he somehow managed to make them into a story of dark humour, romantic memories and great characters – including of course Patrick Leigh Fermor!
A lovely story Barnaby. Thank you.
It’s nice to find this site again, and to have been immersed in ‘Paddy’s world’ recently as I read ‘Dashing for the Post.’
I see traffic on this site has slowed recently, perhaps inevitably as his life recedes from us, but the books certainly live on, and I may have made another convert. At a party this past weekend a friend asked me what I’d read lately and I began to tell her about ‘Dashing…’ meaning that of course I first had to describe Paddy as succinctly as possible. Of course this is no easy task but at the words ‘travel writer’ she immediately said how much she enjoyed Colin Thurbron’s work. So she was very receptive to hearing more, and wrote me today to say that she has a copy of ‘A Time of Gifts’ coming.
I am not quite the erotic buccaneer that Paddy was, so I will regard this as a conquest of sorts.
As for ‘Dashing…’ I read it with mixed, but mostly warm feelings. I’ll save any further comments for another post.
Thanks again to Tom for keeping this site going!
Thanks Alan. Yes, timings have slowed somewhat, but interesting things still turn up, and as I often say, there is quit a lot of material, much of it new, waiting in my drafts folder. We also have to keep an eye on the progress of the house as well as waiting for Simon’s book about Joan which promises to be controversial and revelatory. It’s probably worth saying that during the course of this year we will exceed over 1.5 million views of the site, which is quite a lot!
I was interested to hear of the book about Joan. Do you have any more details of when it is due to be published? I’m particularly keen to read an assessment of her as a photographer.
In the next 12-18 months Brian? I think that is what Simon is hoping for. I believe he is almost finished.
Many thanks, I shall await with growing anticipation.
By chance just looking at Patrick’s books available in German for a friend I saw that the biography of Joan is to be published on 5 October 2017. No doubt you are all aware! Looking forward to it. Been a lover of Greece for over 40 years and a fan of Patrick’s for almost as long!
Just in time for those longer autumn evenings.
It is , perhaps, time to gather what remain of stories by the living who still remember what happened on Crete. In 1989 I went to work and live n the village of Vizari in the Amari Valley, the place where the “radio shack” was located. Just before I left to work with a Greek-American friend on his”olive ranch”, I exchanged letters with Paddy, who suggested that this was indeed the place to go…and gave me a list of families to which I should take his greetings. When I reached the village, I passed on his greetings…. and, of course, everyone had strong and fond memories of “Mihali” and his comrades. The post mistress, Dora, told me how she would pick the discharged radio batteries from the hiding place, conceal them under a basket of bread, then took them to the local mill to be re-charged – then return them to the Brits, totally without any notice by German soldiers.
Before returning to Seattle that yer, Paddy sent a letter inviting me to Karymili…and I was unable to go due to work at home.
I returned each winter for 4 years to do the harvest. Then in 1999 I took my new wife to Vizari for our honeymoon. Within the year we bought and began to repair a 500-year old stone house there.
Each year I found less and less people who had known and collaborated with Paddy. Being a video documentarian for most of my life, I kept scheming how to make a piece about these remarkable years during the War, with the younger Vizariotes playing the roles of their parents.
But after the EU membership and the Euro jacked up the price of almost everything on Crete, my wife and I ended up selling the house to a neighbor and returning home, where I began writing a Durrel-like “portrait of place” about Crete, with my photography of both the land and the
people. However, I’ve never completely dropped from my mind the idea of a “docu-drama” about
Crete and the whole kidnapping caper. Perhaps, it should be a story about a movie company that is making such a documentary about the incident, with young people playing their parents or grandparents, allowing for many ways of presenting the story.
There is a strength in the people of Crete that is unique and timeless. The story of the Kreipe abduction is one that would have been at home in the hands of Homer or Aeschylus.
forgive my very late response to your fascinating post.
I am a historian specialising in SOE in Crete. I have a blog: http://www.abductingageneral.info.
You will find this posting interesting perhaps…https://www.abductingageneral.info/single-post/2016/06/11/The-Eagles-Nest
Do you know the location of the radio shack in Vizari? and would you be able to show me the location via google maps or similar perhaps?
I was reading my recently acquired copy of ‘In Tearing Haste’ the other day when I reached the August 2005 letter from Paddy to Debo regarding the Viking name for Constantinople. As I recall this was on pp 359 of my edition. ‘Did you know’, she asks ‘That the Vikings called Constantinople Micklegarth? Well, they did. Much love, Debo.’ To which he replies: ‘I did know, and have written fruity paragraphs about it in that book called Mani.’ I had read ‘Mani’, but did not recall this passage, so I pulled my copy off the shelf and tried to find it – in vain. I then pulled down my copy of ‘Roumeli’ thinking Paddy may have meant that book, since it deals with Byzantium fairly extensively – but again in vain. I wonder if anyone knows the correct citation for this passage?
Thanks very much,
Check Mani, chapter 11, page 143, for reference to ‘ Mickelgard’. Hope this helps.
For those of us who have read everything of PLF’s, anything new that might be brought to our attention would be a great gift. PLF translated George Psychoundakis’ CRETAN RUNNER: His Story of the German Occupation [of Crete] (Penguin, 1998; George Murrary, 1955). Psychcoundakis was a Cretan peasant with Homeric poetry miraculously planted in his soul. PLF translated one of Psychoudakis’ Homeric odes, attempting to capture not only the sense of the poem, but the meter in which it was recited. It will be found on pp.297-301 of the Penguin edition. It is a work of genius from both Psychoundakis and PLF. I do not think any writer other than PLF could have rendered Psychoundakis’s ode so movingly. It is PLF and it is magic.
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hi. i am currently re reading Between the woods and the water. there are a couple of references to Hungarian/Balkan folk songs about harvesting, one paddy knew well “erik a, erika a,buza kalasz. then later in the banat mountains he writes of another harvesting/reaping song. I would really like to find these songs. Can anyone here help. Thank you very much . Michael the baker
This appeared on Facebook and felt I should share.
Thank you Dimitrios. I was aware that something was being arranged, but very disappointed about the chosen name.
I was fortunate to visit the house and garden with The Mediterranean Gardening Society whilst visiting my mother in Greece. We had a talk from the Deputy Director of the Benaki Museum regarding the restoration they intend to carry out. Hopefully this will happen before long as the house and gardens are in need of a lot of tlc. They have already removed more valuable books and art for restoration at the Benaki. Apparently they are about to fumigate the property and she talked of rewiring and plumbing etc once funds have been sorted…
Fingers crossed this happens soon, it is the loveliest place I think I have ever visited.
I am so happy to find this blog! It’s still active?
Since 1970 I have been in love with Greece, and of course Paddy too, having read all of his books many times over. He started me on my semi-nomadic lifestyle, still on going, but always being drawn back to Greece.
My parents retired there, and when too old to travel independently I would drive them around their beloved Greece. Many a time we stayed at the Belle Helene near Mycaeni , only to be told by the grandson Agamemnon, that Paddy had just left…..but you can stay in the room he loved!
We never did meet him……if ever that game of ‘Who would you choose to have dinner with, anyone from history or present? ‘, without doubt it’s always PLF!
Hi Mark. I have now checked my file which is a list of S.O.E. personnel in Crete as was drawn up by Tom Dunbabin in his final report on Crete. Your man is not on the list. I have seen a few references to him (and an earlier posting about them seems to have not got through here) and can confirm he is known as being a 2nd Lt in the Intelligence Corps, that a couple of very similar web entries show him as being SOE on Crete (though I cannot vouch for their provenance) . He was though in S.O.E. somewhere as he has a personal file listed. I know someone who may have a copy and I have dropped him a line.
My guess is that he may have come to Crete fairly late on when the Germans were retreating to Chania, quite a few new faces did then.
More when I get it.
Mark, I am told, by a contact whom I regard as probably one of the best-informed people on SOE members, that Harry was an Intelligence Officer who served as an instructor at one of the SOE schools. No known Crete connection. Please email me if you have any lines I might check further.
Casualty List No.546 (Officers and Nurses) (This list contains all casualties reported to the War Office Casualty Section for the 48 hours ended 9a.m. 23rd June, 1941)
1. Expeditionary Force -Middle East. Date of Casualty
Burr, T/Capt. H.R.F. 171995. 2.6.41
I don’t know why but this name reminds me of something to do with the Sacred Squadron.
I am almost certainly wrong though!
Good luck with the search
Hi, I have emailed Mr Burr’s son for more info. What is the SacredSquadron please?
Greek special forces unit formed in 1942 in the Middle East, composed entirely of Greek officers and officer cadets under the command of Col. Christodoulos Tsigantes. It fought alongside the SAS in the Libyan desert and the Aegean, as well as with General Leclerc’s Free French Forces in Tunisia. It was disbanded in August 1945 but is the precursor of the modern Greek Special Forces.
Colonel Tsigantes is still held in the highest regard in Greece.
There is a fine memorial on Syros to the Squadron.
As I say, I may well be wrong about any connections.
Good luck; travel in joy
My Goodness! I haven’t thought about anything to do with Greece since I was at WHS from 66 to 71. Do you remember then?
I need to check some refs but if memory serves it was a group that operated in smaller boats in the Aegean, and North Africa SBS/ SAS /Special Forces style . Known as the Greek Sacred Squadrom, Greek Officers.
Hello Mr Hughes
I am Harry Burr’s granddaughter and wondered if my father had got back to you so you could update your files? In the spring of 2014, after much research, I made work (I am an artist) in response to my grandfathers time in the SOE. I would like to take this opportunity to confirm he was SOE on Crete before being injured, captured, imprisoned and much more. He eventually was repatriated and at that point became an instructor amongst other things.
Hello, I have sent an email to your father. Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss. I am an artist too. thanks, Mark
Hello, looking for info on Harry Rudolph Fox Burr-SOE Crete. Can anyone help please?
I have a what is supposed to be a definitive list of SOE personnel on Crete, but the name doesn’t ring a bell just at the moment. I will dig it out and check though.
Any idea in what capacity or when he was thought to have been involved Mark?
Alberto, You might like to see what Nick Hunt found when he followed the route. See Walking the Woods and the Water: In Patrick Leigh Fermor’s footsteps from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn
I ordered it yesterday. Thanks for your advice! 😉
Well, I finished the third book last week. The adventure is over, but I have learned so much! PLF has even changed some of my attitudes for my life. These months have been tough for me (because of other issues) and it has been comforting.
His trip would be impossible today: people and countries have changed too much; I cannot imagine feeling alone miles away from home with nobody knowing where I am. How free!
Maybe, I’ll buy the books in English, in order to read HIM.
Thanks for reading and/or commenting
Go on the Camino to Santiago. There you can still be alone on a long journey even with all the other peregrinos around.
I’m with you, Alberto!
I’m Alberto, from Spain (so, sorry for my English if I make mistakes). I have discovered Paddy this summer. I have read the first two books and I am in the middle of the third. I have searched everything about him these days.
Indeed, I do not want to end it, haha. I am so astonished… I know I will be very sad when “we” arrived at Mount Athos.
I have sincere envy, because I have always thought that I have not made all I could. I have been like a coward.
Patrick Leigh Fermor’s books are so good that I cannot express as good as I wish. They have marked me for the rest of my life. This adventure is too big. I’m digressing, sorry…
I won’t forget this experience.
And this words have been a therapy for me.
Thanks for reading (and for commenting, if you want).
Lovely to hear your story Alberto. There are many Spanish readers on here and some articles on here in Spanish.
If you use the search facility on the site you may find the contact address of Dolores Payas who was Paddy’s Spanish translator and you can chat to her in Spanish about him!
Thank you very much. I knew Dolores is Paddy’s translator. In fact, I am going to buy “Drink Time!”, her book about her interview with him. I’ll search her address.
Well, thank you again and congratulations for your blog. 😉
If you are refering to the first video on this site then one of the songs, the one at the end, is definitely Philidem. I have it on a Greek album ΚΡΗΤΩΝ ΕΠΟΖ track 14 ΦΙΛΕΝΤΕΜ. I bought my CD in Crete. If you use Spotify you can find it as Filidem by Nikox Xylouris in the album ‘Cretan Music Unraveling Ariadne’. If you use iTunes you can find it under ‘Cretan Songs by Nikos Xylouris’ (as Filentem) and in many other Cretan CDs.
If you are referring to the much fuller video towards the end of the page here on videos, that the interviewer, Nico Mastorakis, put together, and which include the studio ‘This is Your Life’ section, then the additional end music played by the players in the field, I have yet to identify it I’m afraid.
Hello Sarah, and welcome to the site.
I will check the video against the Cretan music that I have. Chances are that the song Philidem appears somewhere, it was his favourite and his frequent singing of it earned him the nickname Philidem. Its translation, I understand, is the ambiguous ‘I love a married woman’!
Fantastic! I would love to hear the music, if you can find it.
(The love of a married woman, eh? I would like to research the next Paddy book: “Patrick Leigh Fermor: Lover” and find out just how apropos that song title is!).
I am already enjoying exploring the many nooks and crannies of this website. I expect to find many compatible souls here.
Kalimera to all of you.
Greetings to all who love travel, good language, Greece, and Paddy,
What a joy to discover this fine website–in the middle of reading “In Tearing Haste”, I wanted to look up some photos and found the site.
I have been a Mitford/Paddy fan since my earliest years and didn’t know until recently of the connection between the two entities. It makes sense.
In 1987 I traveled across Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia with a friend, a erudite young doctor who was fresh out of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a budding psychiatrist. (He spoke German, I French, so we had a great linguistic time). After our journey had ended, he sent me the two Paddy books-“Woods and Water” and “Time of GIfts” as a sort of souvenir of our journey across much of the same region. I have loved Paddy ever since-even before I found out how incredibly handsome he is! . (And I am now godmother to the psychiatrist’s son).
I am looking forward to exploring all of this website and perhaps hearing from fellow
Paddy-ites. (Or even Mitford-ites).
Can someone answer a question for me: I LOVED the Greek video of Paddy, his Greek comrades, and the German general. Does anyone know about the music played on the video? Either/or the music played as the guests entered or the wonderful song by Greek folk musicians at the end. I would play this music for many hours if I could get a recording!
Thank you in every language to the author of the website and to my future correspondents.
Part of the enduring legacy of Paddy’s life is his house at Kalamitsi, just south of Kardamili, widely considered to be one of the great writers’ houses. It awaits an assured future in the stewardship of the Benaki Museum, but in the meantime is now literally on the tourist map in the form of the ‘Explore Kardamili Map’ published by the Anniska & Liakoto Hotels. (This is produced by proprietors Ilia and Geraldine Paliatseas: note that Paddy identifies ‘eas’ as a typical, possibly unique in Greece, Maniot name ending, (Mani, Penguin 1987, p.25), so there is a nice sense of completing a circle here.) In mid-May I followed the route shown to the house.
A rough, narrow road wound down from the main regional road to an overgrown area that serves as an occasional car park. Two broken pillars marked a track to the right, leading up past a low stone building and curling steeply along a shaded path round the perimeter wall, above which an upper storey with broken shutters appeared. ‘190’ was painted on the stone jamb of a peeling blue-grey door. An iron grill gave a glimpse through a porch into the garden of olive trees, mellow walls, weathered shutters and pebble paths laid in intricate fan shaped patterns.
Following the wall round to the right there were glimpses into what lay beyond. Further on a scramble across a ditch and through a hedge led to the garden. There was no sign of life; some shutters were open and one was broken; only occasional birdsong punctuated the quietness of abandonment. A low growth of weeds had taken over parts of the garden; and the water in the fountains was green and stagnant. Happily the pebble mosaics on the terraces were still strikingly legible and had not yet succumbed to moss, lichen and weeds. The seats with their views across to Meropi Island awaited only a broom, a tray of glasses and people. I strained in the silence to hear the echoes of Paddy, Joan, Bruce Chatwin, Xan Fielding, David Mason and so many others, a silence that called for the animation of new voices.
That evening I dined at Lela’s where the eponymous founder still watched over proceedings from a chair in the corner. The live link called up a sense of optimism for the future of the house. And both made me reflect on Paddy’s prediction that Kardamili ‘…is too inaccessible and there is too little to do there, fortunately, for it ever to be seriously endangered by tourism’ (Mani, Penguin 1987, p.30). Ironically, a form of benevolent tourism is likely to be the salvation for Paddy’s house.
We had the good fortune to be at the hotel at Kalamitsi last spring and walk through the olive grove to peep at his house. What a magnificent spot – we felt in his presence somehow. Just finished Artiemis Cooper’s biography of Paddy and realized several days ago that it was nearly his centenary. We saluted him at dinner tonight.
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Well, today, Saturday 26th April 2014, is the 70th anniversary of the abduction of General Kreipe by Paddy, Billy and their Cretan colleagues.
To mark the occasion may I draw attention to my relaunched website and in particular to a transcription of Paddy’s own short report on the abduction. It is the first of a number of his reports that will be appearing on the illmetbymoonlight.info website now that I am free of another commitment that had taken up a lot of time.This report, one of nine by Paddy, is at http://www.illmetbymoonlight.info/page-01.html
Interest in his Cretan adventures remains as great as ever and I have just heard back from one party who did the full route in the last few weeks, from Dermati to Rodakino in a remarkable 7 days and three hours – and pushed himself to the point of exhaustion in the process. Aspiring route followers should not, under any circumstances, consider this a realistic target though as the parties concerned were not your average walkers by a long way. The report came back accompanied by a warning about map accuracy, not the first, and the recommendation is always to seek local guidance for the more remote locations and not to rely on GPS coordinates.
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Very happy with that – much appreciated.
One of the most significant of the characters that inhabit Paddy’s pre-war world is Baron Philipps (Pips) von Schey. Paddy’s stay with Pips at the Schey country house at Kovecses enlivens the later pages of A Time of Gifts. This episode gets an unexpected reference in Edmund de Waal’s sparkling biography The Hare with Amber Eyes (p. 177 of the illustrated edition, Chatto & Windus, 2010) due to an important family connection.
In 1899 Baroness Emmy Schey von Koromla married de Waal’s great grandfather, banker Viktor von Ephrussi. Pips was her younger brother and Kovecses becomes a recurring presence in the lives of the Ephrussi family.
In The Hare Kovecses is described as ‘a very large and very plain eighteenth century house (“a large square box such as children draw”…) set in a flat landscape of fields with belts of willows, birch forests and streams. A great river, the Vah, swept past, forming one of the boundaries of the estate…There was a swimming lake with fretted Moorish changing huts, lots of stables and lots of dogs.’ Trains stopped ‘at the tiny halt on the estate.’ The Hare includes several pictures of Kovecses.
Pips is pictured in a pen-and-ink drawing playing Wagner at the piano. He had been educated by tutors and had ‘a wide circle of friends in the arts and the theatre, is a man around town in several capitals and is impeccably dressed…’. A further sign of his high profile: ‘Pips appears as the protagonist of a highly successful novel of the time by the German Jewish novelist Jakob Wassermann…Our aesthetic hero is a pal of archdukes…He is erudite about incunabula and Renaissance art…’. Kovecses became a retreat for the Ephrussi family, a refuge from the banking hothouse of Vienna for games, music and plays, for swimming, walking riding and shooting in the years before 1914.
With the advent of war, ‘Uncle Pips is called up, handsome in his uniform with its astrakhan collar, to fight against his French and English cousins’. In 1915 he ‘is serving as an imperial liaison officer with the German high command in Berlin, where he is instrumental in helping Rilke get a desk job away from the Front.’ Wartime shortages beset the Ephrussies in Vienna and in 1916 they go to ‘…Kovecses for the whole long holiday. This means that at least they can eat properly. There is roast hare, game pies and plum dumplings…’. By August 1918, ‘There are only two old man to tend the gardens and the roses on the long veranda are unkempt’ at Kovecse.
After the war Pips maintains his friendship with Rilke and gives his niece, Elizabeth, de Waal’s grandmother, an introduction to the poet. She sends him her poems and they correspond, though they never meet.
By the early 1930s and with the ascendancy of fascism and anti Semitism life became increasing difficult for the Ephrussies. In 1934 (the year of Paddy’s visit) ‘Viktor and Emmy holiday together at Kovecses, but since the death of her parents it is a strangely diminished place, with only a couple of horses in the stables and fewer gamekeepers and no great weekend shoots any more…The swimming lake has been let go. Its edges are susurrating reeds.’ Following the Anschluss in 1938 Viktor and Emmy flee Vienna for the relative safety of Kovecses. ‘In the summer of 1938 Kovecses looks much the same as it has done, a jumble of grand and informal…[but] The roses are more unkempt…The house is much emptier.’ The safety is only relative: ‘The borders are under review and Czechoslovakia is fissile. And Kovecses is just too close to danger.’ Germany occupied the Sudetenland; Emmy died at Kovecses on 12th October 1938 and was buried in the churchyard of the nearby hamlet. In early March Viktor got permission to leave for Britain, where he died in 1945.
The war and its aftermath wreaked their havoc on Kovecses and the Schey family, though happily Pips survived and Paddy records that he died in Normandy in 1957.
Brian – this is so good I would like to place it as a featured article – may get lost down here in the comments to the Paddy page. I hope that is OK?
The samme passage in “The Hare with Amber Eyes” also struck me. Having read Leigh-Fermor`s books many times over the part with Pips Schey was an unexpected bonus. The upheaval of WW2 was not known in detail to Patrick Leigh-Fermor when he started to write down his adventures on his walk towards Constantinopel. His description of his hosts is happily not colored by foreboding. The author started to track down his hosts and what has happened to them, but in many cases he did not know the details before the first books had been published. Some of the meetings with his former hosts many years later is described in “Words of Mercury”. “Between the woods and the water” led to more reading about the Central European history, a part of European history that had been practically unknown to me. For some Leigh-Fermor`s books have inspired similar long walks. For my part, it stimulated more armchair discoveries!
Are there plans afoot for a Transylvanian trip that Paddy admirers could join this summer or in September? Or on Crete?
I’d be very interested in joining, if so.
Is anyone planning to follow Paddy’s trek on Crete this summer?
First I heard of the book “Between the woods and the water” when someone told me about a book of Transylvania written by an English man and my father was mentioned in that book.
I also loved the book because so many familiar names and place were mentioned there. Also noticed Hunadeoara County was the main focus of Paddy Transylvanian journey.
After the Romanian restitution law here in Hunedoara in the village of Mintia I have managed to get back our old family chateau with 5 ha park (that is survived from the original 21 ha).
Currently still do some restoration work need to be completed on the building, but when ready I thought we would be able to offer tours visiting Paddy’s path in this part of Transylvania if there is enough interest for such trips.
Peter – I am sure there will be interest, but as I have discovered it is not that great. As part of some general tourism to the area it would be a good idea. I am sure that tourism to Romania will grow in coming years. It already is but the numbers remain small.
In the mean time two similar estate already operating very successfully and worth to visit very successfully.
The Kalnoky’s Eastate (where even the The Prince of Wales used to visit regularly).
The second is the Zabola Estate http://www.zabola.com/home/
Some revives http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Hotel_Review-g317135-d636587-Reviews-The_Machine_House_on_the_Estate_of_the_Count_Mikes_Family-Transylvania.html
There are future plans to connect these and similar estates in a common Transylvanian trip.
As the hotel New York ( Continental) is closed in Cluj, i propose that poeple who travel on the path of Paddy meet in the bar Insomnia not far ( first floor of the building).
An excellent choice. It is my personal favourite! Just along the road.
I don’t see the photos! It’s tantalizing!
On this webpage you can see some other picture a well.
Peter – many thanks for putting those photos out – they do help a lot enabling us to visualise some of the wonderful people Paddy met on his travels, and also the various kastelys where he stayed – perhaps someone will do an illustrated version of his first two books?
Good luck with your restoration and possible tourist business.
I have some supporting photographs for the book “Between the woods and the water” (from my father who was also mentioned in the book). These photographs were made the same summer (1934) Paddy was actually there, and includes the house of “Istvan” in Guraszada close to Zam who’s real name is Elemer Klobusitzky. Also the car of L Lazar from Lăpușnic
If you wish Peter, mail them to me tsawford[@]btinternet.com
Thank you. Busy at the moment, but will do something with them as soon as I can.
Like so many on this site, I admire his writing, wit, intelligence and flamboyance. I’m American, living in Marseille, France, for a year (a lifelong dream of mine) and would so like to attend the Transylvanian literary festival if it’s scheduled again for September. Can anyone fill me in on dates please? Many thanks, dear fans of Paddy’s.
I know there is a wonderfull film festival in Cluj Napoca TIFF. Transylvania international film festival , from May 30 to june 8.
Juliet – there will not be a book Festival in 2014, but a possibility of one in 2015. You will hear here first!
In a privately circulated edition of his celebrated “Christmas Crackers,” John Julius Norwich gifts us with the following archival remnant from PLF. I have it through the courtesy of my English friend and former Macmillan publishing executive JFK Ashby.
“When my daughter Artemis was researching her dazzling biography of Paddy Leigh Fermor in his house at Kardamyli she went through his files and came across the following:
Not very Important Oddments
Own Unsorted Oddments
Unsorted but Interesting
Badly Needs Sorting
Vol III: Odds and Ends
Crete: Mixed Bag
On 21 July 1988 Sotheby’s held a sale of English Literature and History. Let 171 was described as follows:
Fermor (Patrick Leigh) THE AUTOGRAPH
MANUSCRIPT OF “A TIME OF GIFTS”
c. 450 pages, the majority written on rectos only, some on both
sides, the first chapter on lined foolscap sheets, some cartridge
paper, others line, heavily revised and corrected, revised pages
frequently written on separate sheets and pasted or clipped over
the original, corrections or elucidations often in red ink, foreign
or difficult words printed in the margin, many sheets with
encouraging notes to the typist, often stapled of stitched with
coloured thread into gatherings, generally of ten pages, no date
The estimate was L800-1000. It actually sold for L1,375.
I spend a lot of time in Clu-Napoca… The old hotel New York is closed. The big rooms are empty. No more demon barman anymore,.. But the Spirit of Patrick Leigh Fermor is still here. I tried to find a new barman skillfull as the old one. May be i found him …
Pingback: “Paddy be quiet and sober up!” | Patrick Leigh Fermor
Now that the last of PLF’s memoir of the grand trek is published and we can expect no more, I am left with abiding feelings and wonderments. First, if I had been his friend or if indeed I had loved him, after a while, I would have wanted him to be quiet. Also, I would have wanted him to be sober. I would have wanted these things, because without them I would believe that we could not be intimate and touch souls. I am left, also, speculating on what it is that drove PLF to monastaries and their isolation and enforced abstemiousness. Was it that he, too, was looking for silence and sobriety in which intimacy with a lover would be possible? And, deep down, because he never found this, is not this the tragedy which drives his achievement? He could conquer, but he could not surrender.
Some very profound questions. A good debate to start. Personally I agree with the sentiment here.
Has anyone remarked on the similarities between the Great Trudge and Hannay’s journey across Europe in John Buchan’s ‘Greenmantle’?
For those of you who like me,have read all of what PLF wrote under his own name, and who yearn for more but despair of finding it, may i recommend that you read the English translation that PLF made of C.P Rodo Canachi’s, picaresque Greek novel FOREVER ULYSSES? The novel is wonderful,classic— a satiric epic about eternal Greek avariciousness and indomitability in the face of life’s occasional triumphs and inevitable defeat.
Thanks for this tip. If my brain can retain it long enough, I shall surely try to follow it up.
About half way through Artemis Cooper’s biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor I decided it was satisfactory but not magnificent. Arriving at the antepenultimate page of the book, however, I had to alter that assessment radically because it really is quite splendid. A first rate piece of work.
It also occurred to me that in this section of this wonderful blog no one that I know of has written anything about PLF’s writings … by way of literary criticism, and since in my wilder moments of imaginative thinking I fancy myself a critic, I want to make a contribution in this area. Be patient. Be indulgent. While I have not deciphered what his aesthetic objective may be in using them or the degree to which he succeeds in fulfilling that objective, I have noticed the many delightful excursuses sprinkled throughout his books. Usually brief movements away from the main thread of the narrative or argument, these digressions are always stupendously informative or delightfully entertaining or up close and (intellectually) personal. Some examples are in order.
In ATOG the youngish monk who is explaining the beauties of the abbey church at Melk is suddenly transformed into a raffish eighteenth-century bon vivant with a pony tail and red shoes who also does a fine job of guiding the narrator’s attention to all the important features of the church and especially the paintings on the ceiling. The voice is the monk’s; the image is other. We know the excursus is finished when the traveler refers to his black habited mentor as ‘safely back in his native century.’
Earlier in the same volume there is an excursus dealing with some of the poetry the narrator has already memorized in the few (19) years he has been on this earth. He introduces it this way: ‘On straight stretches of road where the scenery changed slowly, singing often came to the rescue; and when songs ran short, poetry.’
The reader learns of his mother’s talent at declaiming, his own experience of memorizing verse at school, and his own ‘private anthology’ of poetry committed to memory. He assumes everybody has such a private collection. This digression then takes on the form of an extended list of poems and poets with which most of us are at least somewhat familiar and it includes a good amount of French poetry while, on the English side, explicitly excluding Pound and Eliot. Among French poets, Villon is a favorite. Since I lost my chance to learn Latin by never picking up a book in high school, I envy him his knowledge of Virgil and Horace. It is here, in fact, that PLF first describes in writing his (by now very well known) Horace exchange with the German general a few days after kidnapping him on Crete. In an interesting note that made me think of Harold Bloom, who assures us that Shakespeare created the universe, the young traveler says, ‘…Shakespeare, both in quantity and addiction, overshadowed all the rest of this rolling-stock.’ The excursus terminates (p.75) with the words, ‘Back to the Swabian highroad.’
There is a third delightful excursus in MANI when the Turks, out of the goodness of their hearts, decide to give the city of Constantinople and environs back to the Greeks: ‘For the sheer luxury of credulity I lulled all the skepticism to sleep … and a kind of fairy-take began assembling in my mind.’
A poor local fisherman whose surname, Mourtzinos, the narrator has associated perhaps too closely with that of the last Byzantine royal family is restored to the throne amid all manner of splendor and opulence and rousing choruses and anthems. This excursus lasts for several pages and is more complex than the others. Each step along the way is accompanied by elaborate ceremony. Greeks flow into the city, so an emperor is needed … pretenders are examined and rejected … an old trunk full of documents appears … these show definitively that the successful candidate lives in the Peloponnese and his surname is Mourtzinos. There are more elaborate ceremonies with silks and brocades and choruses and stirring anthems. Throughout all these imaginings, the fisherman keeps talking about a recent mishap he experienced in his work and all his talk gets incorporated (beautifully) into the narrator’s reflections.
And finally, if you look at p. 31 of MANI you can read the delightful and well-known excursus about dinner at the waterfront of Kalamata, when the party betook itself, to avoid the heat and table and all, a few yards out into the water, where the waiter was pleased to serve them and where other diners sent them carafe after carafe of retsina.
I wonder if any other followers of this blog might want to dialogue about this or other aspects of PLF’s writings. (Terribly sorry, but out of respect and veneration I simply cannot call this great writer “Paddy.” That is all right for his friends and close associates, but I an admirer who has derived untold hours of satisfaction and contentment from his work.)
By the way, my real name is Blake More, but for some reason WordPress has decided I am Ximeronei. This must be owing to an old account I have with them.
I, like you and so many other PLF aficinados, have come across scholarly references and historical interpretations, which astound and delight us. My particular favorite is in Gift of the River, when PLF browsing through the library of a noble home in which he is a guest, explains the Albigensian heresy deriving from the Arian interpretation of the Trinity, which killed millions and separated the Orthodox and Roman Churches. However, and for me, this is a BIG “however,” many of these insights were inserted into the original manuscript by the much older PLF and were not known to the 19-year old wanderer. I am glad that I can treasure still the wonderment I felt at PLF’s precocity; but, much of that wonder has been tamped down, by learning that it just didn’t happen the way PLF first wrote about it.
Yes. The same for me with the “Romanian Ring” as I call it. His journey in the car with Angela. In a way it would have been better had the biography never been written, but I guess it was necessary, especially for the publishers and the author!
who was the lady leigh fermor spoke with who was musing on
“rogering” i think she said she was “dreaming and thinking about rogering” and what was her name.?.. leigh fermor was mightily amused… and this occurs in the “letters to debo, duchess of devonshire ” book….
I just read that book and will have to look for who said it. I think it was actually from an elderly friend or relation of Debo; when Debo asked what she did of an evening she said it was ‘The three R’s.’
‘Reading, Writing, and…?’
‘No, Reading and Remembering Rogering.’
Of course I have no direct experience of elderly upper-class English ladies, so can only imagine this being said by Maggie Smith in the character of the Dowager Countess from ‘Downton Abbey,’ that pretentious soap opera for middle-brow viewers.
but who was she, thanks w
I looked it up! ITH, p 312. It’s actually from a 1997 PLF letter, but he’s quoting a story Joan told him, which she had from Daphne Fielding’s son Christopher, who’d had an ‘extraordinary conversation’ with his mother, then over 90:
“…He said he’d gone to see Daph a few days earlier, and asked her what she did in the evenings, and D. said ‘Oh, the three R’s, you know.’ ‘What, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic?’ and she said ‘*No*, darling. Reading and R-r-remembering rogering!’ Rather fast.
I really must come to the defense of The Dowager Duchess of Grantham, whose breeding would absolutely prevent her from giving expression to sex outside of matrimony, and certainly not a reference couched in the vernacular; although, it is not impossible that she might think it—but even then, not in the vernacular.
In the first printing of Artemis Coopers PLF biography there is a terribly moving passage in which PLF in a letter to Lyndall Hopkinson expresses his grief at her having given up on him. PLF’s self-castigation about his unintentionally cruel self-absorption based on a deeply buried feeling that he is unlovable, is an invaluable glimpse into our hero’s soul. When I wanted to refer to this passage, I searched the index of the Artemis Cooper biography and found that there is no entry whatsover for Lyndall Hopkinson. This omission is so serious, as it provides rich hints as to why PLF’s gigantic energies were expressed outward where his talents conquered all. It is when Paddy was forced to look inside, as he was forced in the wake of his breakup with Lyndall, that his shortcomings led him to painful and unwanted introspection.
This is a fascinating comment and it deserves a lot of careful thought and examination. Like another famous traveler in Greece, St. Paul, PLF probably had a very dark shadow side. We all do. Even if one concludes, however, that our hero was extremely flawed, this would not in my view suggest that he was an inferior or less successful human being. I for one shall continue to regard him (or his memory) as an international treasure of our human patrimony.
Thank you for your interest in my remarks. That PLF had a dark side or that his grandiose extroversion might have compensated for his dissatisfaction about certain aspects of himself does not make his less of a human; it just makes him human. What makes him great is his enormous talent for writing, scholarship, war, friendship, and courage. Is it not amazing that we flawed human beings can achieve so much?
I have belatedly found this site and have spent a good bit of the weekend reading it and the various links, also some of the many obituaries I missed in 2011.
I could go on quite a bit about the very concrete effects PLF’s writing had on me as a young man, and will just briefly summarize here. I found his books in the mid 80s, after a backpacking trip had taken me to rural Greece and Crete, and left me wanted to learn much, much more about what I’d seen. His books (and many others I found: Fielding, Durrell, Dilys Powell, Kevin Andrews, etc) inspired me to learn some Greek, then return for a longer visit in 1987, walking a lot in Crete, the Peloponessos, and Epirus, even meeting some of his wartime friends, including Kostas Paterakis and George Psychoundakis.
My new wife, who had joined me in this madness, and I left PLF a probably embarrassing fan letter at the Kardamyli post office. To our surprise, when we returned to our room after hiking up the hills that day, there was a lovely note from him apologizing for not being able to invite us for a visit, but inviting us to call ‘next time’ with his phone number. As you can imagine our stock with the innkeeper lady went up considerably! ‘Y gynaika tou einai arrosti,’ she explained, as to why PLF was not up to entertaining at that point.
But our busy American lives, work, and children, have not let us take a three-month vacation since, and we’ve not returned to Greece. We are still in touch with Athenian friends we made then, though. And I return to the PLF books every so often, as well as welcoming newer ones. We look forward to the ‘third volume’ very much, as well as the American release of the Cooper biography. Also the reprint of the Xan Fielding books, though I have an original of one of them.
I have shared PLF with a few friends and family, though he is very much an acquired taste. My father, a Quaker, was much moved by ‘A Time to Keep Silence.’ And my daughters, twenty-ish, have, I think, dipped a bit into his writing. Though to be fair I was well into my own twenties before I could have grasped it, at all.
Now as a middle aged man, I have a different perspective on PLF, a hero but certainly a flawed one. I have noticed several times in the books a passage that hints at the sensitivity and even wounds of this complicated man. That takes nothing away from his achievement, of course, if anything it makes him more human.
I am grateful to have encountered PLF’s books, in a way I feel they awakened a part of me that might have stayed asleep otherwise.
I do wish I’d been able to meet him. But I feel as though I had, just through the books.
Thank you for creating and maintaining this splendid site.
Thanks muchly for this response. I must hie me to the bookshelves and to ATOG. All quite fascinating.
Instead of a comment this is more like an appeal for some help. I just finished reading ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT and was disappointed not to find a detailed description of the exchange between PLF and the captured general of a few lines from an ode by the Latin poet Horace. It seemed to me that if it was to be described or even mentioned anywhere this would be the place. But no. Nothing. Aha, did I not read carefully enought? Did I miss something? Whatever the case I hope someone will set me straight, at least by letting me know where the incident (or event) is first documented. And while I am here let me point out that I enjoy this blog thoroughly, perhaps more than anything else I am reading these days, and especially the comments from various persons who also admire PLF and from whom I have learned so much.
Thank you Blake for your continued support 🙂 The Horace exchange was between Paddy and the General. Billy may not have been aware of it at the time. Paddy often referred to it in the following years, even in TV interviews. He finally committed it to paper in ATOG.
I want to look up and see the Golden eagle spread it’s wings.
I long to see the light play on the swirls and eddies of the river.
I would to love to meet two country girls in a field
I long to look up and see the storks flying a new spring back to the roofs of Europe
Nothing ever really ends and as soon as I say goodbye somewhere else it begins^^
I couldn’t give a stuff about Valentine’s Day, but more importantly its the 11th February – Happy Birthday Paddy! Thank goodness his father wasn’t present on the day he was born in 1915 as we may never had known a Jasper or Garnet Leigh Fermor.
You have a great blog site and its a coincidence that just today I completed reading Artemis Coopers excellent biography on Paddy. He has been a great inspiration in my life and as a natural born traveller I wish I had the knack for writing as he did. Nonetheless I feel privileged to have corresponded with him and in October 2004 had that once in a life time chance of actually meeting up with him, in his home studio at Kardamyli and over a coffee to discuss travel and adventure. For a man of 89 years at the time he was fully of energy – I found him witty, sharp and genuinely interested in my own travels and aspirations. He told me interesting little details of his life’s adventure, it seemed as though we were old friends in a fluid conversation and equally comfortable with one another – perhaps in a previous life we had drunk at the same fountain!
I look forward to reading further and of course we all await the “so of third volume” later this year.
What a wonderful site you have created.
Having read the Cretan Runner I particularly enjoyed your film clip from Greek TV showing the reunion of General Kreipe and PLF.
My father was of the same generation (b 1916) and also served in the SOE in Turkey and Greece. They were from a different world and were a different breed of men.
I recommend Sidney Nowill’s book ’75 Years in istanbul’ which captures the spirit of that generation living on the frontiers of Empire.
Not a Cooper, a Mitford, Lady Diana Mosley. I must say, the Duchess of Devonshire is growing on me – nice puckish sense of humour, not stuffy at all. Some of PLF’s letters are minor masterpieces. I thought I’d hate the book, but I don’t.
For a Greek perspective, then G. Psychondakis “the Cretan Runner” takes a lot of beating.
A real hero with no Classical education. Other than being , – Greek.
Halfway through “In Tearing Haste”. Did he ever visit people who didn’t have titles?
good question… i sense there was just a bit of paddy that might be termed…. snobbish. but then hes the product of a class system, born with it in his bones… we don’t escape what we come from, and he was no exception,. and one of the coopers was interned during the war, as the wife of a fascist englishman.
Reading Artemis Cooper’s book – slowly, to savour it – it has struck me, as someone who loves the ancient world, how many classicists were involved in irregular operations around Crete.
N.G.L. Hammond, author of the first textbook of ancient history that many of us used at school. John Pendlebury. T.J. Dunbabin (an Australian, I now realise, alumnus of the University of Sydney). There is a good book to be written about classicists in the defence of freedom… has anyone written it?
Disappointed to read today that the Benaki Foundation seems to be allowing the house to decay?
Hi Ray, Can you tell me where you read this? Be terribly sad if this is the case.
Daily Telegraph today – page 7.
Does anyone know what has happened to Joan Leigh Fermor’s beloved cats at Kardamyli? Are they still there, being taken care of? Thanks for any information.
I have just returned from a visit to the Mani and a pilgrimage to PLF’s home in Kardymili. I walked around the property and had a glimpse over the wall imagining him strolling around under the Olive trees or the wonderful parties that must have graced the terrace. I held the door handle as he must have done so many times and swam off the little beach behind the house with the steps leading down to it. Other pilgrims had left small cairns and driftwood sculptures on the beach and rocks. A special day.
Pingback: A Poetic Tribute to Paddy by John Pinschmidt at the Whitehouse Bar, O’Connell Street, Limerick « Patrick Leigh Fermor
I only just discovered this wonderful website. Below is my poem tribute which was published in Limerick’s Revival Literary Journal #20 on 9 August, 2011. Long may his memory live.
A HIMBEERGEIST TOAST TO PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR
who died 10 June, 2011
“Live, don’t know how long,/And die, don’t know when;
Must go, don’t know where;/I am astonished I am so cheerful”.
—A Time of Gifts, 1977
Oh, to read your restless spirit had set off on its last journey,
Age 96, sent me into the parlour for A Time of Gifts
And back to 1933, your age-18 trek across Europe
As clouds gathered above a soon-to-be lost world,
Which changed your life as much as my age-21 Europe
Hitchhiking Summer of 1968, my time of gifts too.
Oh, to see again your rich cascades of words,
Riffs on decaying schlosses, Passion artworks,
Architecture as music, the drunken Breugel-like chaos of
Munchen’s Hofbrauhaus—where I had gone in ’68—the debauched
Bavarian Brownshirts portending days far darker than that night.
And later, in bitter weather near Linz, you had your first Himbeergeist.
Oh, that riff sent me searching the yew cupboard for an old bottle
From Deutschland, and I froze it and a Waterford glass,
And late that night, by fire and candlelight, drank too much of your
Clear spirit, reading your words out loud to you and all,
Young or old, who set out on life-changing journeys:
“Oh for a thimble full of the cold north! Fiery-frosty potions,
Sequin flashers, rife with spangles to spark fires in the bloodstream,
Revive fainting limbs, and send travellers rocketing on through
Snow and ice. White fire, red cheek, heat me and speed me”.
Prost, Siar go Deo, Paddy!
John – how coincidental. As you posted this comment I was back to visit my family in Kilrush for the first time in 40 years! I was just a few miles away.
It is wonderful stuff. You may know that there is a video on You Tube of you reading this. I am sorry, but I will have to bring this to the attention of a wider audience!
Maybe one day we can meet in the Whitehouse Bar one day.
Tom, thanks so much for your comment above, and indeed letting me know the poem is on You Tube, too. Yes, I’m sure we can meet some day at the Whitehouse. Let me know when you’re back on the Auld Sod. Signed, another auld sod, John
John – your embarassment is now complete 🙂 https://patrickleighfermor.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/a-poetic-tribute-to-paddy-by-john-pinschmidt-at-the-whitehouse-bar-oconnell-street-limerick/
I remember reading a National Geographic article a few years ago. I was appalled by the writers style and wrote a letter to the organization protesting the infamy of the material. I suggested that the writer read some of Paddy’s books to find out a real writer goes about their trade. To my surprise I relieved a reply. I hope the writer took my advice….
I was captivated by both “A Time of Gifts” and “Between the Woods and the Water” when I first read them years ago – and even now I have them by me and dip into their wonderful prose to be reminded of a certain humanity, nobility of character and a glimpse into a wider, nobler world.
Having travelled widely in central and eastern europe, most recently to Romainia and Moldova, and being personally acquainted with so many of Paddy´s places of travel deepens my resect and gratitude for his genius.
Last year, on June 11th 2011 I was at a meeting chatting with a couple of acquantences oer dinner when conversation turned to Paddy and his books – all three of us had read and were captivated by his works, and we talked of his noble influence and of the lost world he brought so vividly to life.
Next day I happened to read in the paper that Paddy had died at about the time of our conversation the day before – a piece of news I immediately shared with my colleagues.
The passing of great souls surely has an influence on those he influenced!
Does anyone know the fate of the earthly paradise he created at Kardamyli? I see Christies have auctioned his UK possessions, but it seems to me that Kardamyli should be preserved intact as a permanent memorial to this great man and his love for Greece.
It has been donated to the Greek museum and foundation The Benaki. We are as yet unclear what they will do with it, but in the future it may be possible to visit the house. https://patrickleighfermor.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/british-philhellene-author-patrick-leigh-fermor-donates-kardamyli-home-to-benaki/
I think the house was given to the Benaki Museum (in the will).
Looking at old Lilliput magazines (my son has an assignment on the short story), I was delighted to find that the October 1947 issue featured a story by Xan Fielding. The “Our Contributors” section reads, simply:
“Xan Fielding has spent most of his 28 years in Mediterranean countries and during the war was engaged on clandestine activity in enemy-occupied territories: the Balkans, France and the Far East.”
The story, set in Cairo, is called “Fellow Feeling”, and it is about a sense of hatred felt for a total stranger. It is a perfect example of a very short story.
So Fielding, and probably PLF, read the wonderful Lilliput magazine in the 1940s! I wrote about Lilliput magazine in The New Criterion some years ago, and this is another reason to read it.
ΚΑΛΟ ΤΑΞΙΔΙ ΦΙΛΕ ΠΑΤΡΙΚ. Η ΑΘΑΝΑΣΙΑ ΣΟΥ ΑΝΗΚΕΙ!
I am finally taking time to read A Time of Gifts. What a joyful way to spend my evenings lately.
There are better ways, but very few :-)) I think the addition of a smooth red wine helps. If you are reading it now you are in Paddy’s winter timeline. Maybe you are also following Nick Hunt and his walk in Paddy’s footsteps? He is now somewhere beyond Munich. http://afterthewoodsandthewater.wordpress.com/
Thanks to Tom for giving us this opportunity to post our memories of Paddy. In 2005, and after a bad mountaineering accident, some friends suggested that we should walk in mountains less prone to avalanche. We thought it would be fun to walk across Crete following the footsteps of Paddy and Billy when they kidnapped General Kreipe in 1944. We had read “Ill met by moonlight” as schoolboys, and I set out to ask Paddy for help with the detailed route that they had taken. There was a thread that linked us in that I had attended the King’s School Canterbury, and then went on to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as Paddy had done. But it was proving hard to contact him in Greece – until his publisher John Murray kindly put me in touch with Artemis Cooper who helpfully gave me his phone number and she suggested I call him that evening – “he will be having a glass of ouzo!”. He answered at once and after a brief explanation by me he said “would you like my maps of the route”. Just days later the maps arrived with a dotted line showing the route – a small parachute drawn to show where he had arrived, and a little boat marking the spot where Jellicoe had taken them off the island and back to Egypt. So we set off in May 2005 and walked the route from the abduction point to the south coast. There were many exciting moments during the walk, not least when in Anoyia we called Paddy (in Greece) on a mobile and he spoke to the village Mayor. On our return Paddy invited our small party to his home in Worcestershire, he met us on arrival – standing tall in the doorway with a bottle of champagne in hand with the words “come on in boys – lets have a drink”. After a delightful lunch cooked by his housekeeper, we sat in the summer sunshine as he kindly signed our various books, also drawing in them in his inimitable style. It was an afternoon to cherish and a day to remember.
Alun – an excellent contribution and clearly a wonderful memory.
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I came across the gentleman late in life, wish i had read him early on. Hes of the group that includes Chatwin, and Chatwin’s hero- Robert Byron, but Paddy seems a one off in a way the others were not. His Time of Gifts documents the old Europe that is about to disappear, and the people who made it up- like the unforgettable Pips, an aristocrat with an erudition, like Paddy’s, that is no longer possible. His was a generation that read books, learned languages, disdained the wireless, and its commercial culture, and importantly Paddy had exquisite taste in women. He seems to have been an English gentleman before the breed was extinguished through a combination of forces that included TV and reactionary politic. There is a bit of T.E. Lawrence about him, and the house seems to be his and his beautiful wife’s final monument. These people are all gone now, and the world they inhabited disappeared with them. It was brief and beautiful, but underneath was a universe of horror as we saw with the Second War.
I would loved to have met just an inspiring figure. Read all his books years ago but keep coming back to them, He was a truly modern renaissance man – inspiring all with his polished prose. I am a regular visitor to Lismore castle and often wondered what his company would have been like – no doubt many enjoyed it across Europe and beyond. One day I will visit Mani and see the landscape and people that gave him such joy. We should all be grateful for the man and his writing.
Jim Mennis KT2
Dear Poverbs I am having problems hearing memorial service link. May not be available.
Happy Yuletide .
Alison – we are invetsigating some potential copyright issues. So it is temporarily unavailable.
Does anyone know of the war experience of Tony Andrewes, who liberated Patras in 1944. He was Wykeham Professor of Ancient History at Oxford and a friend of many of PLF’s friends (Bowra, Sparrow, etc.), and I can only help thinking they shared a glass of ouzo or two.
I first felt I got to know Patrick through his wonderful books . On Crete some years ago I met a lovely lady who, as a child, had been befriended by him when her family were part of the Resistance. She told me many stories about him. Through her I corresponded with him and then visited Kardamyli so I could see where his house was. For many years I have revisited the area and have always loved to look down on his beautiful house. A big thank you to Miles for putting the photos of the house on the site, it was a joy to look at them. Does anyone know what will happen to his lovely Greeks home? He was an amazing person, a wonderful writer and an inspiration for living life to the full.
Ruth – the house has been handed over to the Benaki Museum and will be used as a place to stay for writers, and possibly for rental. More information on this coming soon.
Thank you Tom. I hope it may be possible to stay there. What a special experience. do let me know if it becomes possible. Ruth
Readers may like to know that there is an excellent article by David Mason about PLF in The New Criterion, September 2011. Unfortunately the online version is for subscribers only or by purchase.
Mason, as a young man, and his then wife visited PLF and Joan at Kardamyli. He tried to impress with quoting Waugh and Anthony Powell, only to find that PLF and Xan Fielding actually knew these people…A funny and poignant memorial, one of the better PLF tributes going around.
a very insignificant story about Paddy: he was an old friend of my mother, Penelope Tremayne, and as children my brother & I went to stay with him in the Mani (we lived near Athens at the time). This would be in the late ’60s, when I was about 8 & my bro was about 7. I mention this because it has been noted that he & Joan had no children. Well, by the time we finished the then day-long drive to their house nr Kardamyli, my bro had a fever & I had a filthy cold. I remember Joan tucking us up in layer upon layer of blanket, then Paddy coming & sitting with us bearing a pile of Tintin books – very surprising to us in this house of adults – and acting out various frames from “Tintin in Tibet” until we fell asleep. We had never met such kind adults outside the family. Obviously, I have never forgotten that evening.
antonia, Cornwall, UK
It is a lovely story Antonia. Tintin in Tibet cannot be beaten, even by Mani!
Tonight I met Elias Pilios, who was born in Epiros and now manages a restaurant in Manhattan. Because I mentioned Paddy, Elias Pilios said, “I have a picture of him with my father and Napoleon Zervas.” Elias showed me the picture of four men, Paddy, Zervas, Pilios the elder, and a man not yet identified. Pilios was a resistance fighter who like Paddy (and at some times evidently, with Paddy) fought the Nazis and the Communists.He also fought in Korea and in Albania, where he was killed in action in 1962. The grandson, Nikos, is a soldier too, who fought in Iraq, and this September 11 was injured outside the base in the same action where 87 soldiers were casualties. Nikos is not being sent into action at this time but remains in Afghanistan and is to complete his duty and come back to New York in December. This is the third time since Paddy’s passing that a “what-are-the-odds” incident has occurred related to Paddy Fermor has happened since his passing.
Jude – that is fascinating. You can’t get a scan of the photo by any chance? 🙂
Sorry should be ‘Chapter 33 ‘
In his book ‘The Traveller’s Tree ‘ PLF describes the cannibal taste preferences with regard to europeans. The lines have been quoted sufficiently frequently for me to omit repeating them. Do we delight in ghoulish comments?
I recently finished the last book that Michael Crichton wrote, called ‘Pirate Latitudes ‘. I quote from para 2 chapter 35.
” It is said ‘, Lazue said, chuckling in the darkness, “that the Caribee do not eat Spaniards either. They are too tough. The Dutch are plump but tasteless, the English indifferent, but the French delectable”.
PLF has a very thin following in USA, Crichton clearly was very well read; and this book was published posthumously, being found as a complete MS in his files after his death in 2008.
Personally I preferred PLF’s commentary on the preparations of the main course, where the soon to be victim taunts his captors with his own very thorough appreciation of his captor’s flesh, such that his new captor’s would be eating their own. This quite took away their eager anticipation of the coming feast. But Crichton could hardly work that in could he?
On the death of PLF, a number of commentators – following Christopher Hitchens, I think – referred to a quote from the novel by Saki (H.H. Munro), _The Unbearable Bassington_ (1912).
I think PLF refers to this quote in _Between the Woods and the Water_, but I can’t check at present because I’ve lent my copy. But here is the full quote from Saki, which applies so beautifully to PLF himself:
“Making Vienna his headquarters, almost his home, [the character Tom Keriway] had rambled where he listed through the lands of the Near and Middle East as leisurely and thoroughly as tamer souls might explore Paris. He had wandered through Hungarian horse-fairs, hunted shy crafty beasts on lonely Balkan hillsides, dropped himself pebble-wise into the stagnant human pool of some Bulgarian monastery, threaded his way through the strange racial mosaic of Salonika, listened with amused politeness to the shallow ultra-modern opinions of a voluble editor or lawyer in some wayside Russian town, or learned wisdom from a chance tavern companion, one of the atoms of the busy ant-stream of men and merchandise that moves untiringly round the shores of the Black Sea. And far and wide as he might roam, he always managed to turn up at frequent intervals, at balls and supper and theatre, in the gay Haupstadt of the Habsburgs, haunting his favourite cafes and wine-vaults, skimming through his favourite news-sheets, greeting old acquaintances and friends, from ambassadors down to cobblers in the social scale. He seldom talked of his travels, but it might be said that his travels talked of him; there was an air about him that a German diplomat summed up in a phrase: ‘a man that wolves have sniffed at.’”
It would be entirely typical of PLF that he liked Saki’s funny and tragic works, which – among other things – celebrated the countries of Eastern Europe. It is so nice when one writer that one likes – PLF – turns out to have liked another writer that one likes!
I’ve just re-read the novel by Saki (H.N. Munro), _The Unbearable Bassington_ (1912), to which (I’ve realised), PLF refers, in _Between the Woods and the Water_. The quote is so perfectly reminiscent of PLF himself:
“[The character Tom Keriway] had wandered through Hungarian horse-fairs, hunted shy crafty beasts on lonely Balkan hillsides, dropped himself pebble-wise into the stagnant human pool of some Bulgarian monastery, threaded his way through the strange racial mosaic of Salonika, listened with amused politeness to the shallow ultra-modern opinions of a voluble editor or lawyer in some wayside Russian town, or learned wisdom from a chance tavern companion, one of the atoms of the busy ant-stream of men and merchandise that moves untiringly round the shores of the Black Sea. And far and wide as he might roam, he always managed to turn up at frequent intervals, at ball and supper and theatre, in the gay Haupstadt of the Habsburgs [Vienna], haunting his favourite cafes and wine-vaults, skimming through his favourite news-sheets, greeting old aquaintances and friends, from ambassadors down to cobblers in the social scale. He seldom talked of his travels, but it might be said that his travels talked of him; there was an air about him that a German diplomat once summed up in a phrase: ‘a man that wolves have sniffed at.'”
Saki was a brilliant writer: funny and tragic. It is such a pleasure to realise that one writer one likes – PLF – liked another writer one likes!
AΙΩΝΙΑ Η ΜΝΗΜΗ (Eternal the memory).
I was so sad when i read about his death.
T’ ανδρειωμένου ο θάνατος, θάνατος δε λογιέται. (the death of the brave, doesn’t count as death).
Farewell “Filedem” Patrick.
Can anyone help me. I am producing a book of photographs of Greece, the book will be dedicated to Sir Patrick. The images were taken with his books on the Mani and Roumeli as my guide. I wish to include a poem by a Greek poet or a quote by Sir Patrick does anybody have any suggestions? Thankyou. Alison
There is a paragraph on PLF in this month’s Lonely Planet Magazine, taken from the piece linked to below, posted on the LP website. I am, while being a long-time reader of Paddy’s work, indebted to this site for links and inspiration and wanted to record my thanks here.
Patrick’s Leigh Fermor’s journeys alone are inspiration enough – when combined with his skill as a writer and weight of knowledge the result is a truly outstanding legacy to the world.
Tom – thank you for the kind words and the mention in the article!
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I wonder if there is any connection between PLF’s WW2 deeds and the fictional work “Guns of Navarone”, Alistair MacLean’s 1957 novel and the 1961 film starring Gregory Peck as Capt. Keith Mallory leading a team to destroy German guns on “Navarone”-said to be the real island of Leros. In the movie Mallory is described as the “world’s greatest mountain climber” and “speaks Greek like a Greek and German like a German”-but was chosen mainly because he has survived for a year and a half as a guerrilla with the Cretan resistance. The parallels with Paddy’s exploits seem obvious. Of course “Ill Met by Moonlight” was published in 1950 and the film version in 1957-accounts of the actual Gen. Kreipe abduction. Would be interested in hearing others thoughts about this.
I am not sure if others posted a link to it, but there is a segment on the Lawrence Durrell blog concerning PLF, 28 June 2011. Apologies of it was noted earlier.
I can’t believe that as a life long reader I had not even heard of PLF until his obit appeared in the New York Times. I sent away to Amazon for A Time of Gifts and read it. I just received Between the Woods and the Water today. I wish that I had known him but certainly through his books I’ll at least get a flavor of his personality. A man of action and a man of intellect, not a combination found often in nature.
You are never too late to start Louis. At least you found him 🙂
Visit the Between the Woods and the Water category to find a whole host of stuff that relates to that particular book.
I discovered Greece,the land and the people before I had read any of his wonderfull books,as a musician it was like loving jazz,and then discovering Miles Davis,s Kind of Blue
Paddy,s work will live on and on,
Andrew Scott Pendlebury,July2011
Wundervolle Antwort, Herr Bruns 🙂 Thank you
After writing the above comment, I suddenly worried: where IS the letter he sent me! Ooff, just found it, must put it somewhere in a good place. The last sentence says a lot, I think… eLet me give you his view about it, i quote his words:
” I think that perhaps Greece and the Greeks have lost some of their charm, though I find less change and deterioration in the S. Peloponnese than else-where. But when I do find it, I console myself that I have probably deteriorated too, and (lost? – word unreadable) some of the charm I might have possessed a few decades ago. On the whole, things have lasted pretty well. I hope things turn out better!”
Dear Erik, thankyou ever so much. I have just spent 20mins replying to you and realised that you may not receive it, that it may have to go via this site. I will wait to see if it does eventually reach you, then if not will rewrite. Great contribution Erik!
Dear Alison, Marina and Daphne, sorry about not replying to you earlier, i had not read your comments, a friend told me about them. Well, his answer to my question was that he indeed thought that Greece had changed and lost ‘some’ of its charm as he put it diplomatically. He added that also he himself was not the same person anymore, and deterioration had also struck him, declining health and so on. He also said that at least the southern Pelopponnese had not changed so dramatically as elsewhere and was thankful for that. His final comment was that it all (himself, Greece as he had known it) lasted pretty much longer than he had ever expected. So he remains quite diplomatic and philosophical about it, no doubt resulting from the stage in life he was then (2005). His answer was not as clear as i had hoped for and it puzzled me a bit, trying to read between the lines, searching for his real opinion because i thought it was hard to understand how he could have such an almost detached view. But this was maybe typical of him, after all he chose Mani as a retreat, so he wanted to be able to detach himself from these things. I discussed Paddy’s reply last week with a friend of his, who knew him well and who said that living there in Kardamili somehow ‘saved’ him and helped keeping intact his idea of how Greece once was. And it also helped us keep our ideas about him and ‘his’ Greece intact. Indeed changes are much less there, and less radical. Personally i believe that both Paddy and Joan were saddened by ‘progress’, but too polite to express that all too publically. In Roumeli though, he does give his opinion about the possible future, and that leaves no question as to how he really felt. And i often wonder, why do ‘we’ consider him an author about Greece, still? After all, his last book (ouf of two) about Greece was published in 1966, forty-five years ago. After that, nothing. He had written what he wanted to say about it, and that was it. After, he enjoyed the climate, the sea, the landscape, and tried not to see the many developments around him. I think he was good at that, closing his eyes for things he didnt like, focusing only on good things. But this is, of course, just my interpretation.
Belated – R.I.P. PLF! I lost my peace on earth since I started reading his masterpieces.
And I am the 4th nicely asking Mr. Erik Bruns to tell us what Paddy answered to his letter.
I first bought his book “A Time of Gifts” around 1987. I was going on a flight from Oslo, Norway to Helsinki, Finland in autumn 1988 and brought the book to re-read. The intention was to have something to calm my nerves, as I was not fond of flying. In fact, it was my first flight in 13 years. The trick worked, I became absorbed in the book, and forgot my anxiety. It was a blow to discover that I forgot the book on the flight back. I bought another one as quickly as possible, and over the years it has been read over and over again.
Inside the dust jacket of “Words of Mercury”, the collection of his writings edited by Artemis Cooper, there is a citation by a friend of Fermor. “ A friend of Patrick Leigh Fermor once wished that he could be made available in pill form – “ so you can take one whenever you feel low””.
For me his books have been such pills. Time and again I have re-read the books, and they never fail in putting me in a better mood. It is sad that the author has passed away, but his books live on.
Can anyone direct me to a map of the route of Paddy’s trip reported in A TIME FOR GIFTS?
Richard – there is a map in the book of course. In terms of detail there is little more. You coudl contact Nick Hunt who is planning to walk the route later this year. This is his website http://afterthewoodsandthewater.wordpress.com/the-route/
I can still remember reading ‘Mani’ and ‘Roumeli’ in university. There was no one else like him, who appreciated the Modern Greeks for their virtues and didn’t judge them for their vices. A Philhellene in the truest sense, may he rest in peace. I traveled through Mani and Lakonia on my vacation this summer, having not seen the country for 6 years. I hoped to somehow meet Paddy, but upon arriving, I stopped at a book kiosk in Pireaus where I spotted the words “MANI” and glimpsed a huge selection of books in Greek. I asked if they had anything on Paddy, where I heard the news for the first time. I was shocked, as I keep up on the news quite regularly. But as of recent, I had let work get in the way, as we all do. All I can say is that someone like Fermor makes you appreciate life, even in his death. Life is beautiful.
I was 17 when I first read A Time of Gifts. It was 1977. So I feel that I have grown up with this long walk of his and that it has inspired my own love of history, landscape and travel. Through this website it has been amazing to discover how many others have also been moved by the man, his words and his deeds. I longed to meet Paddy, and I am grateful to those who did and have shared their tales.
Jane Little of BBC’s “Last Word” speaks about Patrick Leigh Fermor and includes a clip of Paddy speaking. Wonderful.
He was my Uncle.
I stayed with him in Kardamyli in 2009 for a quiet relaxing week, just talking and getting to know one another again after many years as I was living in Western Canada. .
I shall always treasure that memory.
I went to his funeral – I live near by – and posted a brief report here
Paul Rahe writes movingly of his friendship with PLF here
A guitarist has pickled put a fine song about Paddy here at youtube – well worth a listen – grab a hankie before you play it
A partial makeup by the BBC: Colin Thubron talks about Leigh Fermor’s writings on Night Waves, approx. 39:13 in:
A wonderful obit by David Mason who knew Paddy and his wife Joan:
I posted an earlier tribute along with the NYT obit but I believe they got lost in transmission. In a nutshell,
Patrick Leigh Fermor spanned centuries. He was a true Renaissance man, articulate, courageous, a humble icon. On a short list of people I’d like to have dinner and conversation with, Patrick Leigh Fermor would be at the top. An amazing man. R.I.P.
Alison and Marina, I am also very interested in joining you to find out more of what PLF thought of the so many changes Greece went through in the past 30 years. With my thanks and appreciation for this blog.
I wonder if Eric Bruns has seen our plea to hear about PLF’s reply. Anyway there are now three of us asking! By the way one of the latest postings has some relevant information provided by his housekeeper’s son.
Someone, I forget who, described him (in French, but with good humor) as “the snail of the Carpathians,” because he was taking so long to cross those mountains to get to Istanbul/Constantinople/Byzantium… at least in writing the third volume of his telling, decades later, of his youthful walk across Europe. A draft of that seems to be in the works for post. publication, which I’m eager to read. With his passing, though, the value of the snail’s way seems even more remote. The slow, contemplative, experiential way, I mean; the way not so frenzied, hysterical, and virtual. The way of digging deeply into language(s) and culture(s), instead of just scanning through them, on screens littered with advertisements that belittle us, and urge us to try and escape from age, death ~ from, finally, life. PLF remains an example of a grand way of living a life, a way our masters sorely dread.
Sad to hear the news, but he must have lived a long and wonderful life.
These kind of men are not made anymore…
Best regards from Sweden
пием, пеем, пушим, дамаджани сушим !
да живеят тарикатите !
Nous buvons, chantons, fumons, et les dames-jeannes vidons
Que vivent longtemps les mauvais garçons !
Sir Patrick aimait cette chanson apprise dans les Balkans il y a plus de 70 ans.
L`esprit de ces paroles va perdurer dans ses ouvrages – qui sont une invitation à dévorer les meilleurs fruits de la vie – mais il est triste de penser qu`il ne les chantera plus avec son sourire espiègle.
We drink, sing, smoke and empty demijohns !
Long live the smartheads !
Very sad news. He seemed somehow immortal. A free spirit, a real adventurer, and one of the great inspirational characters of our times. Would have loved to meet him but he will stay very present and alive through his wonderful writing.
Many thanks for this fantastic blog!
Very sad news. He seemed somehow immortal. A free spirit, a real adventurer, and one of the great inspirational characters of our times. Would have loved to meet him but he will stay very present and alive through his wonderful writing.
So sad to hear the news of Paddy’s death, a great man and a truly inspirational writer. His books have been part of my life for many years and are always close to hand.
Its Bloomsday in Ireland, celebrating Joyce, Ulysees and a sad but hopefully a celebratory day for the family and friends of Sir Patrick .
A way to remember two great writers who loved Greece and magical language , 16th of June.
I raise a glass… To Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor and James Joyce
Avremmo voluto visitarlo nel marzo scorso ma non è stato possibile.
Montresta …..the small village from Itilo Mani Greece
i’ve been selling his books first from the penguin travel series for what seems years, and now from the new york review of books imprint, but only started reading them myself two years ago, on a trip to Prague to visit another war hero Jan Wiener, who died last year at 91.
his writing so soars above everyone else’s it leaves me speechless when someone to whom i’ve recommended it chooses something else instead. your loss, i smile inwardly, while swiping their credit card for some other title that may indeed bring joy, but never the satisfaction of knowing they were on the same planet at the same time with someone who knew, who just knew. . .
a glass of ouzo, olive paste and some grilled eggplant for supper tonight, my simple homage to you
mr leigh fermor.
So sorry to hear of his death. His exploits with Xan Fielding in Crete remain with me whenever I think of ‘good men’ and the concepts of manifest destiny and life-loving. He made me smile all through his writings and I can’t wait to re-read them now…
Today I will start re-reading my 1958 “Mani” and 1966 “Roumeli” books and going over my memories of PLF even though, sadly, I never met him. I have enjoyed and been moved by his life and his books from afar. As Anthony Lane wrote at the end of his article, the word “leventiά” (described in “Roumeli”) is one of the attributes PLF himself had in abundance throughout his life.
“All this is a far cry from Daphnis and Chloe, a long way from Theocritus and Moschis and Bion.The shepherds of Virgil are farther away still, early milestones on a flowery path that meanders through the scenery of Herrick and Windsor Forest and Fragonard and Watteau to the Petit Trianon and Sevres.”
I was privileged to read A Time of Gifts in the late seventies when it was first published, and living in London as a angry Asian, it became a touchstone for me: I saw the light that shone through Paddy’s writing, and the manner he opened up myriad, stellar paths to other worlds, which lay beyond the normal span of the written word. I devoured it for years, and when the sequel , Beyond Woods and Water came out, devoured that as well, and then Roumeli and Mani. Long years before, when I was a child in Sri Lanka, I had read about Paddy’s exploits in Crete and the taking of General Kriepe in a WWII compendium. So when I first read him, I had some sense of history.
Paddy’s greatness to me, is that he transcended boundaries, whether geographical, ethnic or otherwise.He saw beyond the mundane, and he had that vibrant curiousity which inhabits the truly great among us. It was his in his genes to absorb all the influences he read, tasted and saw, and to climb the heights to wherever they led.
Sadly, I never met him, but one didnt have to meet him to savour the rare vintage he was: the books gave all that and more, they give a vivid insight in to times now gone forever, and of the people of those times:moving through it all is Paddy the genus loci who guides us through his worlds.
Paddy was much much more than a “Travel writer”: to label him thus is akin to calling Rushdie an Indian author or Faulkner American. He tapped into something universal, and opened our eyes to the worlds around us, He belongs in the pantheons of great writers, and exceptional human beings.
“The Hellespont is the whips of Xerxes, the wavs closing over the head of Leander”Lemnos, a carousing of Argonauts:Tenedos, a tall story on the way home from Troy”.
Paddy, I salute you; go on to new worlds,Astravoli.
Truly a life well lived. Paddy has been (and will continue to be) an inspiration to me – being drawn into his world, his experiences, his power of observation and the energy of his writing as I plunged headlong into Time of Gifts for the first time a few years ago – that will stay with me always.
Paddy’s is a life to celebrate – I use the present tense because that inspiration and motivation of all who read him will stay alive. It’s trite, I know, but they really don’t make them like him anymore…
Perhaps we should all celebrate his centenary in 2015 with a walk along some of the Rotterdam-Constantinople trail?
It was and is wonderful to know something of you, Paddy; rest well and long and thank you for all you gave us.
David – with regard to walks I think something like that may happen. Keep your eyes peeled!
Sign me up!
A light has gone out from the world. We should celebrate his life – one the best lives ever lived. One of the best of men to have lived. How very lucky we are that he was a writer – so that he could share some small part of his experiences, interests and way of looking at the world with us.
Maybe he was the last living gentleman, the quintessential gentleman old-school in whom everything which is good about European civilisation came together. Like General Kreipe said: Ritterlich! PLF’s life could be read as a modern version of Castiglione’s book of the courtier, a handbook for chivalrous conduct, a gentleman in the original sense. In comparing him with my own generation, we look bleak. But of course, we don’t drink anymore from those fountains that he mentions he and the General both drank from.
A time of gifts and Between the woods and the water, but also Mani and Roumeli are so highly appreciated – among other reasons – because they give us an insight in lost worlds. Now i realize that as long as PLF was alive, those worlds were not really lost, he was the living link with them.
Paddy infiltrated those worlds in our hearts. As long as they are deep inside they are not lost.
It was very sad to hear of Paddy’s death. His great friend, Deborah Devonshire, must be devastated.
Letter to ‘Darling Debo’ (2002):
“It was windy, rainy and wild at first, but all of a sudden, today, not a cloud in the sky and masses of blackbirds as if someone had rashly opened a pie.”
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Read the books some years ago but thought little more about the man until a few years ago when my friend Billy Rae had a house built at Agios Nicolas a bit down the coast from Kardymili. Many times we passed the road down to his lovely house but we never plucked up the courage to arrive at his door with a bottle of Tanqueray. How foolish we were, as man like PLF would certainly at least have been courteous & might even joined us in a dram,what a thrill that would have been! I will raise my glass to him every night this week. Farewell to Paddy. A toff for sure but certainly not of the Establishment. A man for all peoples!
Read the books some years ago but thought little more about the man until a few years ago when my friend Billy Rae had a house built at Georges Nicholas a bit down the coast from Kardymili. Many times we passed the road down to his lovely house but we never plucked up the courage to arrive at his door with a bottle of Tanqueray. How foolish we were, as man like PLF would certainly at least have been courteous & might even joined us in a dram,what a thrill that would have been! I will raise my glass to him every night this week. Farewell to Paddy. A toff for sure but certainly not of the Establishment. A man for all peoples!
Dear Mr Jellicoe,
Yesterday I happened to talk with Greek friends about the Dodecanese campaign, a subject that came up discussing the death of PLF. Contrary to the war in Crete, the history of Dodecanese during the wartime is much less known in Greece. My friends from Rhodes had for instance never heard of your father’s parachute adventure and daring mission in Rhodes, a story that I think is extremely interesting, not only for me as a historian, but for the general public as well and deserves to be better known, especially here in Rhodes where I live and where I co-founded the Rhodes International Culture & Heritage Society. Maybe we can do something with the subject, like an exhibition for instance. But I would like to know more about the subject first. I hope you can help me with that; what book do you think does best describe your father’s mission to Rhodes? I would be very thankful if you could give me advise.
Be happy to. Just give me an e mail and I will be in touch later.
What a shock to hear today about Paddy’s passing. I saw him from a distance in Kardamyli about 5 or 6 years ago and that memory just as much as the books made me think of him as larger than life.
I came to Paddy’s writing late in the day, funnily enough through a mention Ian Fleming gave of his book ” The Traveller’s Tree” in one of his novels. I then read “A Time of Gifts, Between the Woods and the Water, and In Tearing Haste”. What a wonderful writer he was. I hope he was able to finish writing the third part of his journey from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul, it would be a fitting tribute to him if it were to be published. These books are such an evocative account of a time before the Second World War and the Nazi excesses swept everything away. He will be sadly missed.
Paddy spoke at my father’s memorial in Athens. He had a fleeting encounter with George – one that also happened to be by moonlight – when he was landing on the island of Crete for the Heraklion raid. Paddy was taking the same sub off the island and they hailed each other across the black waters.
That sad but inevitable moment has now come to speak of Paddy.
As a family, we spent so many lovely summers at Kardamyli while Paddy and Joan would sometime take our house in Wiltshire so I don’t so much remember him there. More I remember him in Athens where, for example, one evening after having met us for lunch in the street of the Tripods and where he had lived for a while (I think I have the name correctly spelt), he talked about his walk across Europe and how he would recite poetry to keep his mind occupied. It didn’t need much prompting as the wine had been flowing now for hours and he was off, working through verse after verse of Macaulay’s Horatius. Without stopping… It was astonishing to see Paddy, then already at the ripe old age of 92, not miss a single line. Rather it was as though he was in his element. Early the next morning Paddy touchingly signed a copy of “Roumeli” that my wife, Patricia, was reading. He beautifully embellished his signature with birds, “swallows returning” he wrote. I’m sitting looking at it now and a I feel his loss terribly.
Downstairs on the staircase, a photo of two old friends stand by side, both proudly wearing their medals and ties, that of the SAS for George, that of the Special Forces for Paddy. Both lean on their sticks but both are still so full of life. Both look ahead with strength and bearing, Indeed, with Paddy gone it IS the passing of a generation.
What an extraordinary man. Handsome, engaging, charming, erudite. Full of life.
Elisabeth Whittaker writes:
‘Sir’ Patrick Leigh Fermor has been my renaissance hero for many many years and his adventurous life, lived always to the full, has been a constant inspriation. I have friends in Greece, where he has attainted quasi sainthood, were due to have taken me to see him in the Mani but now I am too late. However, his writing, culture, history and incessant joie de vivre will remain with me always. I mourn his passing but the essence of an exceptional human being of the very highest intellectual calibre will never fade. Thank you, Paddy.
It is difficult to come to terms with the idea that Paddy, well known as Mihalis or Philedem, who once walked the length of Europe and fought in Crete and mainland Greece (WWII), has left for the eternal walk. He is to be remembered by his friends and companions in Crete for his unique service in the Battle of Crete and the lengthy resistance efforts during occupation.
I met him through reading my grandfather’s memoirs of the events that took place in WWII, particularly in Crete. As the histories and characters unfolded throughout the pages of this unpublished work I realised this was a Man of tremendous proportions.
My father contacted him and we had the privilege of meeting Mihalis and his wife at their beautiful home in western Mani (Kardamyli) in 1991. I was a young boy, nonetheless, I remember that discussion and most of all his clarity, his sentimentality and sincere nostalgia of those difficult though unique times.
The memoirs of my grandfather received publication after a long effort in research and verification and Mihalis had also helped in his own recount. The book starts with a phrase before the preface that I must convey:
‘Οι ιδέες αλλάζουν και οι άνθρωποι πεθαίνουν και με τον καιρό πέφτουν και τα μνημεία. Ωστόσο κάτι που δεν καταστρέφεται, ίσως θα επιζήσει. Είναι το πνεύμα που οδηγούσε τους κατοίκους αυτού του νησιού, κάτι που εμπεριέχει όλες τις αρετές, κάτι που εμπνέει και εμπνέεται και είναι τόσο λαμπρό, όπως είναι ο αέρας και το φώς που λάμπει πάνω από τα βουνά σας.’ (Πάτρικ Λη Φέρμορ, 27.05.1981)
“Ideas change and people die and with time monuments fall. Nonetheless, something that cannot be destroyed may live on. It is the spirit that guided the people of this island, that contains all the virtues, that inspires and becomes inspired and is so shiny, as is the air and the light that sheds above your mountains” (Patrick Leigh Fermor, 27.05.1981)
A great loss – at 58 years old , I feel a boy next to this man.
My own modest tribute here: http://mellorview.wordpress.com/
He directly influenced my life,i walked one tenth of what he did,at 56 i walkled from towson md. to princeton nj,a distance about 120 miles,it took me about 15 days,camped along the way,a wonderful experience,without “a time of gifts”,i would not have thought of it…
Late to the party, as always! I first discovered his writing through the fanship of my English next-door neighbor, when I lived in Athens for a time, as a military broadcaster in the early 1980s. She loaned me her copies of Mani and Roumeli – which I used as a guidebook for my own travels in Greece, and then A Time of Gifts. I loved his writing, and his gift of observation so much that I bought Between the Woods and Water as soon as it came out. I so much wanted to read the rest of that journey – and this was ages before I began writing professionally myself.
Vaya con Dios, Paddy…
He has been an inspiration to me since I first read him more than twenty years ago, and I have tried in my inadequate way to emulate him as a writer. There is a short tribute to him up on my blog here, and I will attempt a longer essay soon.
Whenever I hear of a centenarian attributing their long life to clean living – non-drinking, non-smoking, non-loving, non-living I wonder what it is that theyve done with their existance.
Paddy lived a life. He lived every breath. We are poorer for his passing but fortunate that through an extraordinary gift that he had for narrative we can see through a glass darkly his experiences.
Αιώνια η μνήμη. May the earth lie lightly, Paddy, as you trod upon it.
Giandomenico Marrara writes:
I’m sad for the lost of this great man, who entered in our houses with the words of his books, particularly Mani, and the narration of his great military actions.
As a lover of Greece, literature and freedom, goodbye our friend Paddy.
Living in and loving Greece for over 25 years, “Roumeli” and “Mani” have been compulsory and wonderful reading. Then, on my own “wanderings”, a two year contract in post-89 Central Europe had me reading “A Time of Gifts” and “Between the Woods and the Water” and fascinatedly following in his footsteps yet again. After reading all the comments above, I just wish I’d had the courage – many years ago now – to knock on the gate in Kardamyli instead of hanging around outside in some awe….
Nikos Psychoundakis writes:
RIP dear Paddy
Kalo Taksidi Paddy
Tha se Thimomaste panta me agapi, antropoi san kai esena einai dyskolo na efanistoyn ksana.
Kalo sou taksidi megale file tis Ellados.
A toast to you, sir, at every gathering of lettered friends, for all time.
I’ve peeked at your blog over the last few years, and just wanted to thank you for keeping this tribute to PLF. I had always hoped he would “forget to die,” or that he would somehow be granted an exemption from mortality for living his life so fully.
A good life.
Only yesterday I spoke of him at work, Indigo Books Calgary, and now to read he’s gone. I came back to his work because of Susan Hill’s book Howards End is on the Landing. A delightful read and her words about Patrick are lovely. Just finished his novel and I am reading about his first journey to Europe and hope to find the one about the monastery also. I am quite taken back by his death
Your blog is wonderful and I’m glad to have found it.
June 11. 2011
I have never met Paddy but have loved his writing.
Last year and this year I walked the route of the abduction of General Kreipe – in one village we had an electrifying moment when we met an old man – in his 90’s – who had been a runner for Paddy during the war. We showed him photos from Ill Met…- when he saw the photo of Paddy and Billy dressed as German Soldiers he became very animated and pointed at Paddy – saying “Paddy! Paddy!’ and then put the the first fingers of his hands together and rubbed them – “We were brothers.”
Alison O’Brien writes:
2 years ago I left Sir Patrick a bottle of Brandy and a photograph I had taken as a result of reading his book on The Mani. I quietly left them at the entrance to his home, happy to have made a gesture of gratitude. Like many unfortunate to have never met him but fortunate enough to read his words I feel immensely sad.
Kind wishes to his family and friends who must feel the loss of him so keenly.
Above my desk is a framed photograph of Paddy’s beautiful arcaded terrace and a gracious note of thanks for sending him an antiquarian book about Athens which had once belonged to another famed British walker, the arctic explorer Sir John Franklin. His writing was a constant scource of pleasure and admiration for me and can only wish him a good journey-kalo taxidi. Phanes
Brendan Lynch writes:
Patrick’s death, sad news.
A rare and original man, a beautiful writer, a courageous patriot..
Locked up in my youth for banning bombs, I would like to think that Patrick might forgive my regard for fellow-Englishman, Bertrand Russell.
But possibly not!
Whether or not, his lifestyle and inspiration enlarged my life and imagination. And, vanity being what it is, I am happy to know that he read one of my books
I shall drink to his health tonight in Dublin. And reflect on his last great journey home to lie forever with his beloved Joan.
I must confess to having lurked on this site on and off for 6 months or so now, prompted by my finally getting round to reading ‘A Time Of Gifts’ and ‘Between The Woods and the Water’. How I wish I had read them sooner! Mani and Roumeli and the rest all lie ahead of me.
I can therefore only claim to have dipped my toes into Paddy’s world but, like many, I felt I knew something of him through the books I’ve read and I am very moved at his passing. A great man and one of the last of his kind. My deepest sympathies to his family and all who knew him.
Paul Mott writes:
Paddy’s writing has brought me much enjoyment and inspired me. His passing is a great loss to the world, His legacy is his work and the great character he was .
ΓΑΙΑΝ ΕΧΟΙΣ ΕΛΑΦΡΑΝ
From Louise Jack: Paddy was my great uncle, and, even as a child, I’d sit there in awe of him. To me he was beautiful and I’ve always held this opinjion, whatever his age, his charm and wit shone through.
I was lucky enough to have lunch with him at the Mill, Dumbleton in February. Although rather hard of hearing, he was 100% Paddy.
RIP A beautiful man.
I sent him a letter a couple of years ago, asking him how he dealt with all the changes that Greece has gone through since he first visited the country, even since he built his house relatively recently. A Greece that is so different in all aspects from the Greece that I experience here on a daily basis. I got a very friendly handwritten letter back with his thoughts on the matter. He was blessed in many ways, be able to live a life like that, so long and so free of worries and ilnesses, with enough money to create his own world. In many ways it was Joan who provided the necessary conditions under which he could thrive. How would his life have been, had be been forced to work in a ‘normal’ company or office?
A very interesting comment. Would you be willing to tell me what Sir Patricks thoughts were on contemporary Greece? I have often wondered given his concerns as expressed in his books.
All the best, Alison
Eric, I hope it is not too much to ask, but I like Alison would be fascinated to hear what Sir Patrick replied. I have wondered what he would make of the change time and time again. And thanks for the link to what my husband, who makes documentaries, called ‘a sensational piece of television’. Marina
Marina, I am interested in that you are also interested in how Sir Patrick viewed the changes .Given his sense of the force of change mid century and his rich knowledge of past and the then present Greece now, what would he say? can send you my e-mail if you wish. I have spent a small time each year on a personal project (photos), inspired by
his route. Sir Patricks books always with me.
I was looking at one his books in my local bookshop yesterday, came home and heard on the radio of his death. A truly great writer. Patrick Mitchell
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Vides ut alta stet niue candidum
Soracte, nec iam sustineant onus
siluae laborantes, geluque
flumina constiterint acuto….
…Dissolue frigus ligna super foco
large reponens atque benignius
deprome quadrimum Sabina,
o Thaliarche, merum diota.
Permitte diuis cetera, qui simul
strauere uentos aequore feruido
deproeliantis, nec cupressi
nec ueteres agitantur orni.
Quid sit futurum cras fuge quaerere et
quem Fors dierum cumque dabit lucro
appone, nec dulcis amores
sperne puer neque tu choreas,
donec uirenti canities abest
morosa. Nunc et Campus et areae
lenesque sub noctem susurri
composita repetantur hora,
nunc et latentis proditor intimo
gratus puellae risus ab angulo
pignusque dereptum lacertis
aut digito male pertinaci.
From Maggie Rainey-Smith : I had the great good fortune to meet Sir Patrick (call me Paddy) Leigh Fermor in Kardamyli on his Name Day in November 2007, courtesy of the generous local people who included me in the invitation that he made each year to locals to join him at his home. My Dad was on Crete with the NZ 22nd Battalion and it was a great honour for me to meet Paddy and his book on the Mani is indeed the finest piece of travel writing I have ever read.
Her article is here ; https://patrickleighfermor.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/meeting-patrick-leigh-fermor-in-the-mani/
The best writer I have ever read. Also introduced me to Miklos Banffy. Will be hugely missed.
Alas! What a loss!
Even living in and being from India,a completely different part of the world~I could enjoy his writings and everything about him.I would always look forward to the newsletter in my inbox.
Curiously,on the same day as Sir Patrick (In India ,we could never call someone of such a distinguished age and calibre ,as simple ‘Paddy’!)- a very beloved renowned but controversial artist of India (Maqbool Fida Hussain)passed away too,in London.He was 96yrs old,as well.
One of our superstars(Bollywood Films)said a very interesting thing,which perhaps was as applicable to Sir Patrick~”That we all felt that he had passed the age of passing and forgot to imagine that it would one day come to this…;”
Regards and empathy, to all his other fans(like me),
” Forgot to imagine that it would one day come to this ”
Beautiful, and sadly true.
Alas! What a loss!
Even living in and being from India,a completely different part of the word~I could enjoy his writings and everything about him.I would always look forward to the newsletter in my inbox.
Curiously,on the same day as Sir Patrick (In India ,we could never call someone of such a distinguished age and calibre ,as simple ‘Paddy’!)- a very beloved reowned but controversial artist of India (Maqbool Fida Hussain)passed away too,in London.He was 96yrs old,as well.
One of our superstars(Bollywood Films)said a very interesting thing,which perhaps was as applicable to Sir Patrick~”That we all felt that he had passed the age of passing and forgot to imagine that it would one day come to this…;”
Regards and empathy, to all his other fans(like me),
For Paddy, the big journey. What a wonderful man!
The last of a generation of true English gents has passed, brave and bold and relentless, RIP. Your exploits will not be forgotten by the people of Crete and the British Isles.
I never met him. Visiting Crete, I found the book “The Cretan Runner”. PLF helped his Cretan friend, George Psychoundakis, to realise this important inside story of the war on Crete. After that I have bought every book written of him or about him. Every year since, I bring a book or two of his when staying in Chania for vacation.
Love, light and peace, Paddy!
The life of George Psychoundakis is a real inspiration, Isn’t it a lovely thing how Greece, the Greeks, and those of us that come to Greece through either visiting, reading, studying or perhaps somehow coming upon it by accident, find a treasure trove of people and writing from all around the world.
And Chania is very fine place to be reading!!
Salutations and good fortune to you
I always like the story about how after Fermor and his accomplices had kidnapped Gen. Kreipe, and they were still on Crete awaiting their escape, the general woke up and started reciting aloud a few lines of one of Horace’s Odes, in Latin naturally. Without hesitation Fermor pronounced the next few lines of the ode.
“The General’s blue eyes swivelled away from the mountain-top to mine – and when I had finished, after a long silence, he said ‘Ach so, Herr Major!’ It was very strange… We had both drunk at the same fountains long before; and things were different between us for the rest of our time together.”
Patrick Leigh Fermor was my great uncle and one of the remaining links to his neice; my mother who sadly passed 8 years ago. I only met him a handful of times, but always remember him as being charming, sounding almost exactly like the Duke of Edinburgh with his cut glass English accent, impossibly handsome (even in later life) and full of fascinating stories. My mother and uncle always spoke in almost reverential terms of his expolits and his writings, and about how unhappy he was that Dirk Bogarde played him in “Ill met by moonlight”!
After a truly astonishing life, he fully deserves to rest finally with his wife whom he so adored, and have the opportunity to once again chat with my mum.
In ‘Roumeli’ I think, he describes smoking a delicious Papastratos cigarette. Almost makes me want to take up the habit again.
Paddy has been an inspiration to me through his wonderful writing, his love of Greece and the extraordinary exuberance of his life and sense of humour which comes through in his letters to Debo, “In tearing haste”. I am very sad to read that he has died, and I hope that the third part of his trilogy will be published in whatever form he left it.
I feel very silly to say I have only started to read a single one of Paddy’s books, the reflection on monastic life. But now I will dig in, and probably regret I won’t be able to say I read his greatest work while he was alive.
RIP to the greatest of Englishmen. Sadly one of the last of a great generation.
From George Giannopoulos: RIP Paddy. May your writings continue to give pleasure to new readers and ‘us’ old readers. Time of Gifts opened my imagination further than any book I’ve read to date. You will be missed.
From Ian Stone at Stillwater Books :This man was quite simply a writer who changed my life. There are discoveries that are milestones in our lives; for me girls, beer, Beethoven and Bach, but PLF ten years ago was possibly my last. Having scored an innings just short of a century, leavened with masterful strokes, it would be futile to only grieve. A standing ovation as he raises his bat to the pavilion. May you find peace again with Joan, Paddy.
I’ll never forget Paddy Leigh Fermor coming into our offices to dictate the foreword to They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy (written in longhand at Chatsworth). A brilliant piece of writing, as you’d expect, full of enthusiasm for Banffy’s masterpiece about the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian empire. What a lovely guy.
I don’t really know what a blog is… But I will be interested to see if you receive this message and if you can reply.. I met PLF at his home in Greece a couple of times … Dav
A blog is a web log and I did receive and have replied! WordPress is a great free blogging tool and easy to use if you fancy starting your own.
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I dreamt about Paddy last night!! When I woke up I tried to remember exactly what had been happening, but (as so often happens with dreams) I can barely remember anything now, only that he was erudite and handsome… Very frustrating.
The trigger? My (Romanian) husband is due to travel to Transylvania tomorrow, and every time we visit his parents’ region I try to match up the villages etc with what PLF describes in Between the Woods and the Water. So much has changed, but here and there one catches a glimpse of what he saw (the castle looming over Deva railway station, the wonderful wooded hills and flocks of sheep being guarded by shepherds with their huge dogs).
PS Thank you for the blog.
hallo, i’m new here. I had no idea of this wonderful site – or of all the people who love and admire him! I seem to have had a ‘paddy’ connection since 6os No idea why, but i just felt instant love for him, when i first saw him on television.. I reply to this because I have a small, but important, project to set up on crete, and paddy, i realise, has been very strongly connecting, one way or another, since december. From despair, i now have help coming, and the right people. Just wanted to acknowledge him here – a site i found by pure ‘chance’ just now while doing something else. And to thank, for this lovely blog.