Monday, July 23

Thursday, July 19

Book: A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin Click for more info

More disconnected and "bridging" than A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings may have been better for that as it served to open up more of the world the saga is set in. The number of protagonists, locations and arcs have all increased, setting up an even larger story than the detail alone would have indicated. The characters managed to gain even more depth as they flip between being good and bad, and it's hard to remain neutral as the reader is forced to take sides in the story.

All that, and it's not even a chore to read. Great stuff.

Monday, July 16

Film: The Amazing Spider-Man Click for more info

You know you're old when you go to the cinema to watch a reboot of a reboot.

But it goes without saying that The Amazing Spider-Man looked good. There was swooshing and swinging and great action and fight scenes. I'd say that there wasn't quite enough of these things, although the film did follow a brisk pace so I guess there wasn't much room for any more without it becoming a little over saturated.

Overall though, there was something a little... two bit about this incarnation of Spiderman. It was almost Dawson's Creekish in fact, with the focus being on "the journey" and personal relationships rather than comic book shallowness and action. This change of direction laboured the film I thought and so made it a bit less enjoyable than the Toby McGuire version we loved from a decade ago (a decade ago!).

But it was enjoyable all the same so it gets a mild recommendation from me.

Saturday, July 14

Santorini, Day Seven: Kissing Fish

Our last day was pretty much as all the others, however in the morning we did decide to visit the local fish therapy spa. For those of you who haven't tried, this is a weird set up where you sit with your feet in a tank of fish which nibble/suck at your feet. After the initial ick factor, for me it felt like sitting in a pool of bubbles and it was actually quite relaxing and maybe even cleansing.

Lunch was in Amoudi Bay, which I decided to walk to instead of taking a taxi. We got to pick the fresh fish we eventually ate, and after a hearty meal I took some time to explore the bay proper. I found a little alcove where people were enjoying the water, complete with some classic 25 feet high jumping into water action - if it wasn't our last day I would have loved to have come back with my trunks.

The afternoon was spent chilling by the pool - poignant seeing as it was to be our last time doing so. Dinner was had indoors, after which we rounded off the day and holiday as a whole with a friendly game of Scrabble.

Good times.

Friday, July 13

Santorini, Day Six: Jummah

Today was all about Jummah. As with most holiday of this type, my biggest concern was always how to offer Jummah (and I've written elsewhere why this would be so important to me) on an island with no mosques. Internet research came up with nothing, and our host at the villa equally dismissed the idea of any organised congregation on Santorini. Our only hope was to see if we could tap into a hidden local Muslim community and to either join their congregation or make our own.

Our Afghani friend turned out to be a useful and enthusiastic contact to have on the island. As I wrote before he confirmed that although there were Muslims on the island they weren't organised to establish a regular Jummah, but he said he would try to get as many people to join our initiative as he could.

Unfortunately despite his best efforts our small adhoc Jummah turned out to consist of only him, a Muslim friend who was staying at the villa and myself. Nevertheless it was a decent Jummah and well worth doing.

After prayers our friend cooked us the best lunch I had in Santorini yet; fried masala beans with crusty bread. Honestly it was pretty amazing and my mouth waters just thinking about it now. Oh and as aside amazingly enough the local supermarket sells halal chicken. Yes, I was shocked too.

After saying our goodbyes I then headed home for... that's right, some more chilling by the pool. After only six days I have to admit that I was starting to feel a little homesick; a feeling compounded by the realisation that Santorini may have been a little wasted on a single guy like myself.

Thursday, July 12

Santorini, Day Five: Diving

The second item on my sparse agenda for this trip was to get a few dives in. I had no idea if Santorini had any decent diving sites, but since I got my licence last year I've made it a point to dive when I can. Which hasn't been since last year.

The two dives I did this morning were very similar - not much life but lots of interesting rock (and I don't mean that as sarcastically as it sounds). I even managed to swim through a cave which was fun. Apparently there are two shipwrecks on the island, but we weren't due to visit them today. Bummer. On the plus side I did borrow a friend's underwater camera so have some pretty decent video of the two dives.

On the bus back to Oia I made friends with a random person, which whom I also had lunch. Once again, it seems Santorini is more about people and relationships than the island itself, but it's all good; I'm sure we'll remain committed Facebook friends for years to come (and I don't mean that as sarcastically as it sounds).

And of course the rest of the day... we just chilled by the pool.

Wednesday, July 11

Santorini, Day Four: We Are Sailing

We met more Muslims on our morning walk today. Again they were hawking stuff on the street, but they were friendly and open to conversation which was nice. It seems that Greek Austerity is hitting everyone in the region.

Today we actually had something to do as we booked a private boat to take us around the island. That said it was pretty uneventful (with the captain making a spectacular effort in telling us how there isn't much to do with a boat in Santorini) and there weren't many sights to see - even the snorkelling was pretty quiet, and once more I realised that Santorini was more about doing nothing than something.

And that was the point - a great bunch of friends on their own boat having a laugh and diving into the (kind of) open sea. Lunch was awesome too, as was my second viewing of Santorini's sunset.

Tuesday, July 10

Santorini, Day Three: Have I Mentioned The Pool Yet?

The trouble with a place like Santorini is that there really isn't much to write about. My notes are particularly sparse about today and pretty much consist of the following:

Pool, lunch, chill, snooze, dinner, pool, chill.

Apologies for the lack of creativity.

Monday, July 9

Santorini, Day Two: Grilled Squid

Since there's quite a few of us friends in the villa things like being served a shared breakfast are scheduled, and since most of the friends have kids this means early starts. This is a good thing; it gets way too hot mid day so at least there'll be a chance to get stuff done in the mornings while it's still cool.

After lunch a few of us went to the main village of Fira. Compared to Oia where we are staying, Fira was much more commercial and rushed... yet not really compared to most other places.

It was in Fira that we met a Afghan Muslim guy. He told us about Islam on the island (there isn't much), but we left him with a loose plan to offer Jummah on Friday together.

After returning to the villa, we hit the pool. It seems that the pool will feature a lot on this trip. Dinner was had on a high roof terrace overlooking sunset - apparently one of the most famous in the world (although I didn't see the fuss myself).

Sunday, July 8

Santorini, Day One: OMG the Pool

Some holidays are just built to be dossy from day one, but you wouldn't have thought it about this one - an insanely early flight and budget-airline-hand-lugguge-only made getting here much harder than it should have been. I've not done the budget airline thing for a while now; it was the type of thing to remind you exactly how young you're not any more.

But the underwhelming start was soon forgotten once we checked into our pretty gorgeous villa and after we grabbed a late lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the pool.

Yep, this is so gonna be a dossy holiday.