Thrilled to see this acknowledgement of Hania’s work in Screen Daily:
Vainglorious, I know, to put myself alongside such mega-names in science, but all of the major science tests and thinkers spotlighted last night on BBC2 in Andrew Marr’s programme Life and Death on the continuing influence of Charles Darwin have had a major influence on me and the way I think.
They included Rachel Carson, whose books Silent Spring and The Sea Around Us had a huge impact on me back in the 1960s, Charles Elton (who had a big impact on my long-time colleague and friend, Max Nicholson), James Lovelock (ditto, as the author of the Gaia Hypothesis/Theory) and Norman Myers (with whom I worked on the Gaia Atlas of Planet Management back in 1985-6).
A case, last night, of key parts of one’s life and learning flashing past before one’s eyes.
Last morning in Giardini Naxos, waiting for the trip out the airport. Walked to the town museum, which is a bit patchy, but was intrigued to learn of the slipways archaeologists have found that were used to repair triremes. Would love to have found out more.
The best book I have read on that era of shipbuilding and warfare is John R. Hale’s Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy.
After Etna, back to Taormina, for a visit to the Greek theatre and then on the verandah of the Hotel Villa Schuler – where we had a glorious farewell evening enjoying their Etna-grown house wine. Toasting Taormina and other wonders across this extraordinary island. Would love to come back here. Huge thanks to Rosaria.
Something I have wanted to do for a fair while, climb an active volcano. So here we are on the flanks of Mama Etna. The panoramas are out of this world. Didn’t go to the peak, knowing that the height would probably be a problem, given my low heart rate. Totally uplifting, even if the clinkerscape slightly shredded my old shoes.
Would have loved to have got up onto the mountain top behind Cefalù, to see the ruins, given that that was where the town was once located, but Elaine and I did have a wonderful lunch on a verandah overlooking the sea.
Then a stop, en route to Taormina, to view Calabria across the straits from Messina.
I saw the little white building from many miles away – amazing how news images can lodge in the brain. Hugely admire all those of who have fought the Mafia over the decades, including Judge Giovanni Falcone, whose assassination was triggered from that inconspicuous blob in the landscape. That same fated year of 1992 also saw the assassination of his colleague and friend Paolo Borsellino.
Palermo, where we stayed at the Hotel Excelsior, was incredibly noisy. But chapels, churches and cathedrals really were miraculous – particularly the Church of San Cataldo, with its three faded pink domes. Felt something particularly powerful there.
Seeing wings everywhere, on fallen angel statues, in museum, and even in fossilised shells. Loved the statue of fallen Icaro/Icarus. But also way too much plastic and other debris, particularly around the harbour near the Hotel Dioscuri, where we are staying.
A wonderful German guide took us around the ruins of Selinunte today, in a landscape once known for its wild celery. Playful and knowledgeable, she pointed out a mandrake plant, which has a singularly complex history – and wondered whether it might have had something to do with the tale of Sleeping Beauty? A glorious place, but with an easy-to-overlook and bitter history of war and destruction.
I began this blog with an entry reporting on a visit to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, on 30 September 2003. The blog element of the website has gone through several iterations since, with older material still available on this site.
Like so many things in my life, blog entries blur the boundaries between the personal and the professional. As explained on the Home Page, the website and the blog are part platform for ongoing projects, part autobiography, and part accountability mechanism.
In this new iteration of the site, the ‘Comments’ function has been reanimated. Please do make use of it.