Tag Archives: Gerald Durell

The Durrells of Corfu

002 (3)

In my opening Corfu post I mentioned that I had prepared for the visit by reading Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’ which forms a sort of Corfiot trilogy alongside brother Laurence’s ‘Prospero’s Cell’ and Henry Miller’s ‘The Colossus of Marousi’  all written about many of the same places, and often the same people, but from very different perspectives.

Read the full story here…

The Durrells in Corfu

Corfu Post Card 1984 Old Town

“If I could give a child a gift, I’d give him my childhood.” – Gerald Durrell

Every now and again, and I am not sure why, the story of the Durrell family living in 1930s Corfu gets remade into a television series.  There is a new one right now on the BBC in the UK.

I had visited Corfu almost thirty-five years ago but although on that occasion I toured the island from north to south and from east to west I came as a holidaymaker rather than a traveller and I saw everything but didn’t see anything.

Corfu Tonn Greece

This third visit to Kalami continued to nudge my memory and from what I can remember it hasn’t really changed a great deal at all – the Venetian elegance of Corfu town, the lush green vegetation of the interior, the twisting roads, the soaring mountains, the views that so enchanted Edward Lear and Henry Miller, the limestone ribbed bays where we spent our lazy days were all very much as I remembered them now and suddenly it didn’t really matter that I hadn’t paid attention to these details all those years ago because now my head and my camera were full to overflowing with all these unchanged images.

In my opening Corfu post I mentioned that I had prepared for the visit by reading Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’ which forms a sort of Corfiot trilogy alongside brother Laurence’s ‘Prospero’s Cell’ and Henry Miller’s ‘The Colossus of Marousi’  all written about many of the same places, and often the same people, but from quite different perspectives.

Gerald Durell Corfu Greece  Lawrence Durrell Corfu Greece

Previously I had stayed south of Corfu town in the resort of Perama where it turns out that Gerald Durrell lived with most of his family (his mother, brother and sister).  I say most of his family because although his book, ‘My Family and Other Animals’ (and the TV series) would have the reader believe that he lived there with all his family it turns out that he didn’t live with older brother Lawrence at all.

Lawrence and his wife Nancy lived some distance away in Kalami in the White House and curiously Gerald doesn’t even mention her once in any of his Corfu books possibly because they were written twenty years after the event and Lawrence and Nancy were long since separated and divorced.

Nancy Durrell

The White House claims an association with younger brother Gerald but it seems he never lived there at all.  In fact it is entirely possible that he never even visited the place because Perama is over forty kilometres away and eighty years ago there were no asphalt roads or cars or even public transport that would have made an afternoon visit comfortably possible.

White House Kalami

Gerald it seems was prone to extreme exaggeration and although his books are entertaining they miss the truth by a mile.  Actually I tired of them.  I enjoyed the first but the second was written when Gerald was in his fifties and had clearly lost touch with his childhood and with reality and I gave it up half way through.  He said himself that he didn’t enjoy writing them and only did so to make money to finance his naturalist expeditions and this I am afraid is blindingly obvious.

Gerald never mentions either that is mother Louisa was hopelessly addicted to the gin bottle.

I much preferred the work of Lawrence with his sublime descriptions of life in Corfu (and equally curiously he doesn’t ever mention the other members of his family who lived here at the same time), a diary of vivid memories that for me at least bring the place to life.  How wonderful it must have been to live in this place all that time ago and experience a life of bohemian indulgence.

Sadly the truth turns out to be that Lawrence was a misogynist, a bully and an abuser and the idyllic life he describes may only have been spasmodic or one sided.  Henry Miller refers at one point to ‘black eyes for breakfast’.  I find it a shame that a man who could write such elegant prose should also have such a darker, unpleasant side.

As for Henry Miller – I found the ‘Colossus of Maroussi’ rather self-indulgent and heavy going but whilst I have abandoned Gerald Durrell I will return to Miller.

Kalami Bay Corfu White House

I have one last comparison to make.  For ten years I have been in the habit of visiting the Cyclades Islands, specks of volcanic rock in the space between mainland Greece and Turkey and have gleefully declared them my favourites but now that I have been reunited with the Ionian Islands I have to reassess this opinion.  In ‘Prospero’s Cell’ Lawrence Durrell describes the sighting of a Cretan boat in the bay of Kalami and this seems to me to sum up perfectly the difference:

The whole Aegean was written in her lines…. She had strayed out of the world of dazzling white windmills and grey, uncultured rock; out of the bareness and dazzle of the Aegean into our seventeenth-century Venetian richness. She had strayed from the world of Platonic forms into the world of decoration.”

No words of mine could improve on that wonderful comparison of the harsh, barren Cyclades and the soft, abundant Ionian.   So which do I prefer – impossible now to say, perhaps it may even be neither but the Dodecanese instead which is where I am bound for next.

Island Hopping, Back Packing, Greek Islands, Paros

Postcards from Corfu

Greek StampsCorfu Postcard 1984

Corfu Postcard Map

Corfu Achillion

Corfu Town

Perama Mouse Island

Corfu, My Family and Other Disasters – Assessment

Corfu Post Card 1984 Old Town

I had visited Corfu almost thirty years ago but although on that occasion I toured the island from north to south and from east to west I came as a holidaymaker rather than a traveller and I saw everything but didn’t see anything.

This second visit to Kalami in as many years continued to nudge my memory and from what I can remember it hasn’t really changed a great deal at all – the Venetian elegance of Corfu town, the lush green vegetation of the interior, the twisting roads, the soaring mountains, the views that so enchanted Edward Lear and Henry Miller, The limestone ribbed bays where we spent our lazy days were all very much as I remembered them now and suddenly it didn’t really matter that I hadn’t paid attention to these details all those years ago because now my head and my camera were full to overflowing with all these unchanged images.

In my opening Corfu post I mentioned that I had prepared for the visit by reading Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’ which forms a sort of Corfiot trilogy alongside brother Laurence’s ‘Prospero’s Cell’ and Henry Miller’s ‘The Colossus of Marousi’  all written about many of the same places, and often the same people, but from very different perspectives.

Gerald Durell Corfu Greece  Lawrence Durrell Corfu Greece

Previously I had stayed south of Corfu town in the resort of Perama where it turns out that Gerald Durrell lived with most of his family (his mother, brother and sister).  I say most of his family because although his book, ‘My Family and Other Animals’ would have the reader believe that he lived there with all his family it turns out that he didn’t live with older brother Lawrence at all.

Lawrence and his wife Nancy lived some distance away in Kalami in the White House and curiously Gerald doesn’t even mention her once in any of his Corfu books possibly because they were written twenty years after the event and Lawrence and Nancy were long since separated and divorced.

The White House claims an association with younger brother Gerald but it seems he never lived here at all.  In fact it is entirely possible that he never even visited the place because Perama is over forty kilometres away and eighty years ago there were no asphalt roads or cars or even public transport that would have made an afternoon visit comfortably possible.

White House Kalami

Gerald it seems was prone to extreme exaggeration and although his books are entertaining they miss the truth by a mile.  Actually I tired of them.  I enjoyed the first but the second was written when Gerald was in his fifties and had clearly lost touch with his childhood and with reality and I gave it up half way through.  He said himself that he didn’t enjoy writing them and only did so to make money to finance his naturalist expeditions and this I am afraid is blindingly obvious.

I much preferred the work of Lawrence with his sublime descriptions of life in Corfu (and equally curiously he doesn’t ever mention the other members of his family who lived here at the same time), a diary of vivid memories that for me at least bring the place to life.  How wonderful it must have been to live in this place all that time ago and experience a life of bohemian indulgence.

Sadly the truth turns out to be that Lawrence was a misogynist, a bully and an abuser and the idyllic life he describes may only have been spasmodic or one sided.  Henry Miller refers at one point to ‘black eyes for breakfast’.  I find it a shame that a man who could write such elegant prose should also have such a darker, unpleasant side.

As for Henry Miller – I found the ‘Colossus of Maroussi’ rather self-indulgent and heavy going but whilst I have abandoned Gerald Durrell I will return to Miller.

I have one last comparison to make.  For ten years I have been in the habit of visiting the Cyclades Islands, specks of volcanic rock in the space between mainland Greece and Turkey and have gleefully declared them my favourites but now that I have been reunited with the Ionian Islands I have to reassess this opinion.  In ‘Prospero’s Cell’ Lawrence Durrell describes the sighting of a Cretan boat in the bay of Kalami and this seems to me to sum up perfectly the difference:

The whole Aegean was written in her lines…. She had strayed out of the world of dazzling white windmills and grey, uncultured rock; out of the bareness and dazzle of the Aegean into our seventeenth-century Venetian richness. She had strayed from the world of Platonic forms into the world of decoration.”

No words of mine could improve on that wonderful comparison of the harsh, barren Cyclades and the soft, abundant Ionian.   So which do I prefer – impossible now to say, perhaps it may even be neither but the Dodecanese instead which is where I am bound for next.

Island Hopping, Back Packing, Greek Islands, Paros

Read here about all my Greek Island visits…

Click on an image below to scroll through the gallery…

 

It’s Nice To Feel Useful (4)

  

It’s nice to feel useful (4) …

Every now and again I start to look back over my posts to review what has been going on.  One of the things that I like to do is to take a look at the search questions that seem to bring web-surfers by the site and take a look at some of the more bizarre and unusual.

P&O Pride of Rotterdam

All of my reports  in this post  are about travel related questions. Firstly this one – Ferry Crossing Hull to Amsterdam Horror Stories”.  I am not sure what the enquirer had in mind here, perhaps it was the story of the woman who threw herself overboard or perhaps the suicide statistics on the nearby Humber Bridge, maybe it was the on board catering arrangements which, actually, I have to say were excellent!  Either way here is the post that I wrote about the otherwise brilliant ferry crossing – Hull to Rotterdam.

Spain Postcard Map

Second in this category is is there mountain driving throughout Spain?” What a dumb question – with an average altitude of six hundred and fifty metres it is second highest country in Europe after Switzerland so of course there is mountain driving and to be honest most people could work this out by consulting a geographical atlas.

To be honest however I have to admit to having been caught out by this myself and on a recent visit to Catalonia I was forced to abandon a drive to Andorra because the mountain drive was just too difficult – An aborted drive to Andorra.

Ryanair Cabin

Next in this section – How long is Ryanair airplane seat belts?” and quite frankly how the heck should I know and do I really care. I first wrote on the subject of Ryanair in 2009 and it immediately started getting hundreds of hits and then in 2011 it just stopped completely.  I reviewed and reposted it and changed the title from the specific ‘Travel Tips when Flying Ryanair’ to the more general title that it has now and hey presto the hits started coming again. – Travel Tips when Flying Budget Airlines.

Gerald Durell Corfu Greece  Lawrence Durrell Corfu Greece

Next, I like this one – Lawrence and Gerald Durrell – how tall were they?, honestly, what sort of question is that and unless you were their tailor or their undertaker why would you want to know.  I did write a post about the Durrells when I visited Corfu where they both lived so perhaps this is where the enquirer ended up – “Corfu, In the Footsteps of Lawrence and Gerald Durrell” and I will be returning later this year so hopefully I can provide more missing detail!

Sagrada Familia Cathedral Barcelona

How about this one – How long would it take me from Sagrada Familia from England?  Without further information that is a tough one because unless you have discovered time travel which is very unlikely then the options seem to me to be restricted to road, train or airline.  The motorway option will take a couple of days if you test the motorway speed limits to the maximum and the train option is probably more or less the same but a flight from London Stansted will see you in Barcelona, or nearby Girona (Ryanair) in under two hours.

I flew to Girona recently and this is my post about Gaudi’s unfinished Cathedral – The Sagrada Familia.

Finally in this section I have found a question about Morocco – Buying a rain jacket in Fes” which just makes the mind boggle.  You can pretty much anything in Fes but it doesn’t generally rain a lot in Morocco, except when we went to the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech so when I was there rain wear was not very prominent and we had to make do with a travel umbrella – The Souks of Fes.

edam

Moving on from travel I have found a couple of health related queries.  I am not a doctor or a dietician but I think I know the answer to the first one – is edam good for your liver?” and my response, unless there is medical research to the contrary, is probably not.  I did write a post about a visit to a Dutch cheese factory so perhaps this is where the enquirer was directed – Heritage visits and Museums.

And then this one – “Banana Death”  

I confess that I have never been a great fan of bananas but except for the time when my dad and I fell out one tea time because I refused to eat one in a sandwich I have never really considered them to be especially dangerous. 

My dad loved bananas and it is an interesting fact that they are now the most popular fruit in the UK with Britons eating an average of between 25 and 30lbs of fruit each year; more than double the amount consumed 15 years ago. Annual UK sales are at a record £750m, representing more than a quarter of all fruit sales.  I wrote about bananas once here – Banana Sandwiches or Chip Butties?

Tourists The Grand Tour of Europe

Finally to sex because it is estimated that well over half of all web searches are about this subject.

Firstly “Places to get laid in Europe” and believe me if I had the answer to that one then I would keep it to myself.  Perhaps the enquirer was thinking about the red light district in Amsterdam or perhaps they found their way to my post on the Grand Tour of Europe?

But I have saved my absolute favourite for this collection util the very last and this is it:

Did Vikings have large penises?”

Vikings

Well, I am not an archaeologist or an anthropologist but what  sort of odd question is that to put into a web search engine?

I find myself being completely unable to help with this subject but on a recent visit to Iceland I did get to visit the rather odd Penis Museum but I don’t think that will have the answer to that one either.

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Corfu, In the Footsteps of Lawrence and Gerald Durrell

Kalami Corfu Lawrence Durrell White House

Corfu: ”this brilliant little speck of an island in the Ionian” – Lawrence Durrell – ‘Prospero’s Cell’

It had been almost thirty years since my first visit to Corfu so I convinced myself that a return was long overdue.  This time I chose to stay at the village of Kalami, north of Corfu Town and where the English author Lawrence Durrell once lived so I thought it appropriate preparation for the holiday to read some of his work and also that of his brother Gerald ( ‘My Family and Other Animals’) and also Henry Miller who wrote about his stay on the island in 1939 in ‘The Colossus of Maroussi’.

Read the full story…