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Cephalopod Encounters

OctopusesDid you know that the plural of octopus is octopuses or octopodes? Me neither. According to the dictionary, octopi is definitely wrong.

I’ve recently come to learn that octopuses are AWESOME! During our holiday in Greece we bumped into an octopus on three separate occasions. The waters around Kefalonia are crystal clear and bursting with interesting marine life; perfect for snorkeling. So, on one bright, warm day we headed out on an excursion with Jamie, a marine biologist, whose main area of study was octopuses, hence my sudden interest in them.

Our transportation for the day was a traditional Greek working boat or Kaiki which sailed us around the coast, stopping along the way to drop anchor so we could learn about urchins, starfish, eels, sea cucumbers and octopuses. Jamie, kept us rapt with tales of Greek mythology, mafia and marine life in between our snorkeling adventures when were left to explore the bays and mingle with the fish.

Within moments of taking our first dip into the water I stumbled upon an octopus gliding across the seabed – what luck! I squealed with excitement through my snorkel and called for Jamie who swiftly caught it, but not before it squirted us with ink and wowed us with its ability to change a variety of colours in a matter of seconds.

Back on board the boat, we stood over the little guy who eyeballed intently before trying to climb out of the temporary aquarium using its suckers. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity, I couldn’t help touching it. It probably goes without saying that feeling an octopus’s tentacles wrap around your hand is weird and slightly alarming – for a moment I thought it might never let go. After a few interesting octopus anecdotes we put him back in the water and watched him swim away.

Here are some things I learnt:

  • An octopus can get through a hole the size of a ten pence piece (if you don’t believe me, I found a video on YouTube. Essentially, if its eyes can get through a hole, then so can the rest of it
  • Their tentacles will grow back should they accidentally lose one in a fight or to prey
  • They make little nests that look like miniature fortresses
  • They live about two years
  • They can survive out of the water for 3-5 minutes (possibly more?)
  • After mating, the male dies
  • Greek people love to eat them 😦

Below: A photo I took from the end of the pier near our apartment in Fiscardo – this chap was happily minding his own business.

Octopus

 

Below: our transportation for the day.

 

The boat

I’ve been away

A combination of lack of inspiration, a new job, holidays and general laziness have been conspiring against me over the past few months.  I’ve hardly put pen to paper except to doodle in the margins of my notepad during exceptionally boring meetings.

I envy those comic artists and illustrators who manage to pour their creativity onto paper  week in and week out; keeping the masses entertained with unwavering dedication.

I recently took time out to holiday in Greece. Kefalonia to be precise.  Despite my love of crisp autumnal mornings and streets scattered with crunchy brown and yellow leaves (if we’re lucky – usually it’s soggy, wet, mouldy leaf litter and unpredictable weather), I think a short stint in warmer climes is good for the soul.

Every day for a week, I tentatively opened the curtains (as I would do in the UK) wondering whether the skies would be dark and foreboding, and every day I was delighted by clear blue skies and golden sunrise.

During the first couple of days, two things stood out.  The first, which I’ve drawn in this post, was the extraordinary number of ferrel cats.  Unbeknownst to me, Kefalonia is often referred to as the Island of Cats.   They are everywhere, lurking in alleyways, behind walls, under cars, in supermarkets, beneath bushes and in restaurants.  Always watching.  If you feel something brush against your leg or catch some movement out of the corner of your eye, it’s likely to be a cat slinking past you.  Not one meal was consumed without a handful of cats watching us put every forkful of food to our mouths.  This was the first thing that made me put pen to paper in weeks.

Cats

A little excerpt from my sketch pad! catsMy second observation (amongst others) will be covered in my next post or posts (depending on my mood) so stay tuned!

Holiday Uk 6# – Planning a Walk

planning dewerstoneExcerpt from holiday diary 28th June:

We ummed and ahhed over which walk to do.  L flatly refused the 5 miler that was described in the book as ‘some of the most treacherous bog on Dartmoor in bad weather’. It wasn’t bad weather but having experienced more bog than we cared to endure in a lifetime, we opted for a more gentle walk along the river Plym through old clay quarries up to Dewerstone“.

Holiday UK #5 – National Marine Aquarium

NMA_plymouthHoliday diary excerpt 27th June:

“…We caught the Park and Ride from Coypool into Plymouth to explore the ‘Ocean City’.  First impressions: grimy, durgy, unattractive.  We walked to the Plymouth Hoe, down to the lido and past the crumbling features of what I think are the remains of concrete Victorian beach huts built into the cliff face (see picture below to illustrate…).

…We spent the remainder of the afternoon in the National Marine Aquarium gawping at moray eels, upside down and moon jellyfish, baby sharks wriggling in their egg cases and frog fish that look exactly like pieces of coral. I loved it”

summer hol_40

Holiday UK #3 – Pebble Beaches

Slapton Ley PebblesExcerpt from L’s diary entry 25th June:

“Bright blue skies! Off to the seaside at Beesands, a very quaint and quiet village with a huge pebble beach. We followed yet more of the SW coastal path over to Torcross where we lowered the average age of the tourists by about 40 years.  Torcross butts up to Slapton Ley, a freshwater lake separated from the sea by a pebble beach…”

Excerpt from my diary entry 25th June:

“Give me a pebble beach and like a child, I feel compelled to collect the most perfectly round pebbles I can find. I LOVE pebble beaches but by the end of our walk, my rucksack was laden and my shoulders groaned under the weight of my collection…”

Today I must mention that it’s my parents 40th Wedding Anniversary!  How fabulous is that?  Happy Anniversary Mum and Dad – in it for the long haul!!