A Time of Gifts, 1977
Hello dear readers. I hope that you and your families are well, but I am guessing that some may have been hit by this dreadful virus and I wish you a speedy recovery. I am hunkered down in Winchester with my youngest daughter and my five month old grandson. It is a rare opportunity to for a grandpa to spend so much quality time with a grandchild; there are some blessings in all of this.
For us in the UK, this is the end of the first week of our soft “lockdown”. Perhaps further measures may come depending on the figures. Some of you will have been in a harder lockdown for longer in places like Italy and Spain. These measures will continue for some time and we all have a lot more time on our hands, so how about listening to A Time of Gifts as an audiobook? It is available on Audible if you have an account, but also it is freely available on You Tube but who knows for how long? You get two free downloads using a product like Airy https://mac.eltima.com/youtube-downloader-mac.html .
I hope that you enjoy listening. If Solvitur Ambulando, the Latin phrase which means “it is solved by walking”, is true, then perhaps some virtual walking may help us all at this time.
Posting the Stanford awards notice the other day, made me think again about Benedict Allen’s profile of Paddy on the Travellers’ Century series which is available on You Tube.
Whilst relaxing with your loved ones over the festive period, or at any other time, why not take an hour out to watch this lovely little documentary? Perhaps it’s an opportunity to introduce the family to this mysterious Patrick Leigh Fermor. A good entry point for the uninitiated.
On the evening of 26th April 1944, SOE officers, Patrick Leigh Fermor, and William “Billy” Stanley Moss, supported by the small but determined gang of Cretan Andartes, kidnapped German commander in Crete,Heinrich Kreipe, in an action that was on the one hand heroic and dashing, and on the other controversial for its impact and consequences.
The kidnap gang pose before the action (Courtesy of Estate of William Stanley Moss)
Paddy Leigh Fermor and ‘Billy’ Moss (Courtesy of estate of William Stanley Moss)
As we remember this small event in that catastrophic global war, you may like to take the opportunity to watch the movie, 11th Day, which documents the key events in the struggle of the Cretan people and their allies against the German occupiers, from the invasion to the German retreat, including interviews with Paddy, and many of the characters made famous by the kidnap of General Kreipe.
Watch the full movie here before it is pulled from You Tube!
It’s Christmastime, and yesterday evening I was out at the lovely Tichborne Arms in the (in)famous village of Tichborne in Hampshire for a drink by the fire, when I bumped into old friend Charlie Ottley. Some of you may remember that Charlie is a filmmaker, and is the leading light behind the wonderful series of films supported by The European Nature Trust, called Wild Carpathia. Charlie is planning a further film about Romania called White Carpathia. He is trying to raise funds for the movie, and has produced a film called Flavours of Romania, to help raise funds, which is a travelogue across nine great regions of this wonderful country that Paddy loved so much.
It must have been the beer, but I was persuaded to buy a copy, and have spent some of this dreadfully wet and cold English day watching the film. It is a joy, full of beautiful images of a land that I adore. It features the wild Carpathian forests, the idyllic Danube Delta, bears and wolves, traditional dance and music, and some great food.
If you would like a stocking filler for Christmas, and wish to support Charlie in his fundraising for the final “Carpathia” film, you might like to purchase a copy.
You can watch the trailer here.
If you would like to make a purchase please send Charlie a message and he will make all arrangements – message on the Facebook page here.
There are more videos from the making of the film here.
To get a further insight into Charlie’s films, and watch the very first Wild Carpathia, click below!
An Easter treat for you. Siân Phillips reads from page 277 of A Time of Gifts (paperback) as Paddy arrives at the Danube, spots Esztergom, has his passport stamped by the Czechoslovakian border guards, and lingers ‘in the middle of the bridge, meditatively poised in no man’s air.’
‘The air was full of hints and signs. There was a flicker and a swishing along the river like the breezy snip-snap of barbers’ scissors before they swoop and slice. It was the skimming and twirling of newly arrived swifts. A curve in the stream was re-arranging the landscape as I advanced, revealing some of the roofs of Esztergom and turning the Basilica to a new angle as though it were on a pivot. The rolling wooded range of the Bakony Forest had advanced north from the heart of Transdanubia, and the corresponding promontory on the northern shore – the last low foothills of the Marra mountains, whose other extremity subsides in the north eastern tip of Hungary – jutted into the water under the little town of Parkan. Reaching for each other, the two headlands coerced the rambling flood yet once more into a narrower and swifter flow and then spanned the ruffie with an iron bridge. Spidery at first, the structure grew more solid as the distance dwindled. (Twenty miles east of this bridge, the Danube reaches a most important point in its career: wheeling round the ultimate headland of the Balcony Forest and heading due south for the first time on its journey, it strings itself through Budapest like a thread through a bead and drops across the map of Europe plumb for a hundred and eighty miles, cutting Hungary clean in half. Then, reinforced by the Drava, it turns east again, invades Yugoslavia, swallows up the Sava under the battlements of Belgrade, and sweeps on imperturbably to storm the Iron Gates.)
In an hour, I had climbed the cliff-path into the main street of Parkan. A little later my passport was stamped at the frontier post at the Czechoslovakian end of the bridge. The red, white and green barrier of the frontier post at the far end marked the beginning of Hungary. I lingered in the middle of the bridge, meditatively poised in no man’s air.’
(Extract from A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor, with thanks to John Murray Publishers.)
We here at the Paddy blog would like to wish you and your family a happy and peaceful Easter. This year I would like to share with you the beautiful voice of Nektaria Karantzi, a Greek singer of traditional Byzantine and Orthodox chant. Paddy was an admirer of Byzantium and I am sure also loved the music
Fine out more about Nektaria, her concerts and more video on her Facebook page.
Don’t forget to switch on the volume!
The Sabotage Diaries
from Katherine Barnes
I first wrote about this excellent book in March. Author Katherine Barnes has now produced a video which is worth a watch, even if only to view some of the extraordinary photographs showing SOE operations in mainland Greece.
The Sabotage Diaries is the thrilling story of Allied engineer Tom Barnes, who was parachuted behind enemy lines in Greece In 1942 with eleven others to sabotage the railway line taking supplies to Rommel in North Africa. The target chosen was the Gorgopotamos bridge. Tom led the demolition party to lay the explosives while fighting raged between the Italian garrison and a combined force of Greek resistance fighters and Tom’s fellow-soldiers. A great story of courage and endurance.
Buy The Sabotage Diaries