Tag Archives: Aegean Designs

tales of summer….. part I

It’s been a long hot summer… and it’s been quite some time since I wrote in the pages of this here notebook. But as the verse says… everyone does need a little time away.

It was always going to be an interesting summer, with all that’s happening around the world… and especially Greece. Most people here were pessimistic at the start of the season and a lot of tourists were no doubt anxious with all that was happening in Egypt and elsewhere. Alas…Santorini is not Greece and despite all that was going on hundreds of thousands of visitors came to the island and had a wonderful time.

As you know I like to take the odd photograph or three… but this summer I probably took more than normal, partly because there was a lot going on, but also because I started to really enjoy my photography once again…. after a short period of almost no photographs at all.

As I started to prepare for this return post I found myself looking through the photo archive and realised it has been a wonderful summer…. with lots of visitors and guests, family and friends. It’s been a long summer, a hot summer… but a summer full of new experiences, chance meetings, happy reunions and the start of many new friendships with people from all over the world. That’s the beauty of living on an island that is visited by people the world over…

But enough of my drivel, let’s look at some photographs and let them speak for themselves….

as always there were sunsets… lots of sublime sunsets, which were made
even more enjoyable because of the people we watched them with…

there have been many nights when the sun was really showing off…
luckily I was there to shoot it!

having a glass of wine in the evening with this happening in front of you…
will always be a humbling experience

on a nightly basis the island puts it’s magic spell on visitors… many
of whom will never forget the sunset they saw in Oia

it would have to be one of the most fantastic shows on earth…
and it’s different every night

there are sunsets all over the world of course…
but Oia has party tricks that no other place can match…

in fact… even for a person that lives here it often feels too surreal for words

and sometimes…. well, sometimes the show continues well into the night
because soon after sunset we have a full moon and very special things
happen in Oia on the night of a full moon…

the caldera puts on her fancy frock… and the beauty is blinding

it was on such a night that we had a great function for our visiting friends
from Subaru Australia…. held at the sublime terrace of the Red Bicycle
in Oia. Following a fantastic dinner we had an auction for one
of Allison’s hand painted table cloths from Aegean Designs…
all proceeds went towards the care of Oia’s stray animals.
The winning bid… 2,300 euro
Huge thanks to all those present on the night!

of course… those in the know are very aware that the best show is often
NOT at sunset… but at sunrise. The only problem is that most
visitors sleep through them and are oblivious of the majesty they
miss out on…

that’s not to say that during the day the view is shabby…
we don’t do “shabby” in Oia…

because… as you know by now, Oia is Oia…
the most picturesque village in the world  ; )

* * * * * * *

parts II  & III later this week…
pointers will be posted here and Facebook!


as I type this on the Mac,
I feel compelled  to express my deep sorrow…

“we are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then is habit…”

Thank you Mr Jobs !


there is a poet in all of us…

Santorini Haiku poetic challenge

In keeping with Haiku tradition… I think the less said the better. All we need is an image and the winning poem. Take a moment to enjoy & let your minds fly !



I think the true beauty of all poetry…but especially Haiku, lies in the power of the verse to act as a launching pad for one’s imagination. The real pleasure begins where the words end… and your mind starts to paint images inside your head.

It is very hard to experience the “power of less” in a more evocative way than a Haiku verse. Three lines can set your mind off to a wondrous adventure… if only you will let it. It’s not what the poem says so much… it’s what it makes you imagine. That’s where the power is.

I think this poem by Lenita Kannis (Sydney) does that…it fuels the spirit and propels your mind to imagine & explore. The “mood” of the image above I think compliments the beautiful verse nicely….thank you Lenita !

Thank you to all of you for sending the many poems that you did. I hope you had as much pleasure writing them as I had reading them. I really hope that this has made all of you realise that there is a poet inside all of us. I also hope that the elegant art form of Haiku teaches us all that less IS more… that a few beautiful words are more than enough to express even the most complex of feelings & thoughts. I hope you enjoyed  ; )

Congratulations Lenita…. an exquisite hand painted Christmas apron from Aegean Designs is headed your way !

PS: it was brought to my attention today that there have been Google ads appearing at the end of posts in this blog (they do not appear on my end – only on the reader side) . These were not placed there by myself and it turns out it was done by WordPress  without notification to the blog owners… something I find totally unacceptable and really quite pathetic. I will be “working” with them to remove them asap…but in the meantime please ignore the rubbish that appears at the end of each post.

poetic challenge…

There were elections held on the island…

the people have voted…

their choices noted…

it’s the dawn of a new era !

Thankfully the “right” choices were made… and we will be working hard to make positive changes on this magical island. We will be looking for improvements internally… but also ways to promote to the world. The Haiku poetry you were asked to write may just inspire a great message to be sent out to the world.

Please share your poetic talents and your self-expression on what you believe is the magical essence of Santorini…in a Haiku poem ( a three line poem made up of a fixed number of words  per line… 5-7-5 respectively). We hope that your inspired words will be used to inspire millions of people around the world to visit and experience this unique island.

We will extend the deadline to Wednesday 24th  as per the request of a number of people…it seems writing three “inspired” lines takes some serious thinking ; )

The winning entry will receive a very special hand-painted Christmas apron from
Aegean Designs.

Please forward your entry to aegeandesigns [at] ymail dot com

More blog-goodness tomorrow night ; )  ~~~~

An elegant life…

“I saw the angel in the marble
and carved…until
I set him free”

this is the exquisitely elegant way in which Michelangelo described the unbelievably complex way in which he created his masterpiece sculptures. You could surely write 600 pages on the topic… but you could never explain it better than that.

The sheer beauty in his words stems from the simple structure of the message. There is no need to say more… he intuitively knows that where his words stop… human imagination begins. Our minds interpret his statement and create the visual imagery that is required to fully comprehend his meaning. His words allow our brains to do what they uniquely do… to “imagine” and “find” meaning.

I thought about this quote from the genius artist today while explaining my very favorite form of poetry….. the incredibly elegant Japanese art of Haiku. It is based on the most simple of concepts… that of using a limited number of phrases & syllables, to convey a poetic message. The result is a micro-poem which, whilst short on words, is ultra rich in meaning. Now there… is a concept we can all learn from. Using only a tiny handful of carefully selected words, to convey a message that you could write pages about. It is the ultimate art of refined expression… of poetic minimalism… the elimination of the unnecessary… the carving of the marble to “let the angel free” !

Seen superficially Haiku it is a “quick” form of writing poetry… but of course nothing could be further from the truth. It is infinitely harder to say something meaningfully in just three lines…than it is to write three pages. Every word has to be chosen very carefully and placed in the right order for maximum meaning and context. It is the reduction of many words…down to those core words that express the very essence of the poetic message.  It is  p u r i t y of expression.

But for me… the true value of Haiku lies beyond the poetry. It is in the metaphor that I see hidden within it. Haiku the concept… when applied to life… is the search for life’s essential elements. The pure core of your life’s meaning. Those handful of things that are really all you need to exist in a meaningful and satisfying way. It is the doing away of all the clutter, meaningless possessions, redundant rituals and mind-numbing information that we accumulate in our lives. It is also about the frivolous ways we waste our time/days/years. If the number of words allowed in Haiku represented the number of years we had on this earth I suspect we would look at life a lot differently. If the number of lines allowed in Haiku (three) represented the number of people we were allowed to be friends with during our lives… we would certainly chose a lot more carefully than we do now. If the number of  syllables allowed in Haiku represented the number of choices we were allowed to make in our lives… we would “certainly” make wiser choices, with a lot more thought going into each and every one of them.

But the one idea that I love the most is this… what if, instead of being allowed 200 pages to write your life story… you were only allowed three lines. What words would you use… and how would you condense everything to 17 or so syllables? Would it not make you seriously think about your life, what’s important to you and the words you would use to describe your very essence of being? And would it not be a fantastic thing to teach children to do while they are still at school? Pass to them the discipline of refining their future existence to its core values. To seek to understand  and learn to beautifully & succinctly express their purety of purpose.

I think that leading a meaningful life “is” about making great choices. Its about thinking and understanding, refining and finding your pure essence. It is about writing your own carefully crafted formula… the all encompassing equation that will lead you to a satisfying, simplified, purposeful and “complete” life. A life without meaningless clutter and unnecessary baggage. An elegant life. Not saying that mine is… but I will keep trying…

The Haiku concept also applies to our environment… our own ecosystems that we all occupy around the world. What if the same principles applied there? If the same care was taken to make our choices and to select what is the most appropriate ways to represent the interests… the very essence of our environments? How would our choices be different?

This church is perched on one of the most spectacular parts of Oia. It has been there for centuries and rebuild several times following earthquakes. If this was a “typical” resort area… a typical developer such as WEDONTGIVEAFLYINGF@&#ABOUTYOURPRETTYVILLAGE Co would come along and get permission to build a 5star hotel on that very spot. But how would Oia look as a result of such a decision? What would happen to the essence of Oia if an elaborate hotel was to replace this simple but meaningful landmark? What would happen to the unrivaled elegance and authenticity of Oia? Needless to say it would be shattered…

So as you can see… something as seemingly simple as writing short poems, can hold many lessons for all of us. If you take the time to read into Haiku you will understand the understated elegance of this form of poetry. You will learn to appreciate how important choices are… and the beautiful results that can be produced when we apply simple principles of discipline to our expression. Like Bonsai… Haiku has many lessons when we apply it as a life metaphor. It is a wonderful art form and one which you can practice anywhere…at any time. All you need to do is apply your imagination in a disciplined way.

It may change your life ; )
– read more below…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To help you experience the pleasures of Haiku we will be running a competition over the next seven days. To enter… all you have to do is write a Haiku poem on what you believe to be the “essence” or “spirit” of Santorini. Even if you have never been here… you can write a poem based on what Santorini means to you and/or how it is represented in your imagination. It is about writing three lines that express the very essence of the island.

The poems should be in the traditional Haiku format. For more information on that you can start by reading here:   “The best Haiku ever”

You can also google “haiku” and read more about the art form as well as find many examples of poems. But please try to be as original and creative as you can.

It’s really very very simple… and apart from the fun you will have writing it…
the prize is worth the effort

The winner will be announced on Monday 22 November and will win one of Allison’s special Christmas handpainted aprons from Aegean Designs:

These are professional quality- full length cotton aprons made in Greece and are all hand painted by Allison and valued at 65euro each. This is one of two designs that are released every Xmas in very limited numbers (20 only – half of which have already been pre-ordered … more details on the Aegean Designs online catalogue to be posted on Tuesday).

All entries are to be emailed to:
aegeandesigns [at] ymail [dot] com

and addressed  ” Santorini Haiku”

Looking forward to reading your wonderful words  ; ))

Oia – most beautiful village in the world


There are countless villages on this wonderful planet of ours… many of them are special… many are beautiful and some are stunning. But there is only one Oia !

I have been known to say to people “if you find a more beautiful place anywhere in the world…please call me and let me know”. People have been known to reply “that’s one phone call you’re never going to get”.


You see… it’s not just the village itself… it’s what’s below it.

and the things that go on daily in the caldera below it……

and the effects of light…season…weather and the time of day

it’s the way this village has been built and the way it’s charm has been retained over the many centuries…

it’s the unique ambience and timeless beauty…

and arguably the most visually sublime outlook that any village in the world has been blessed with !

I am clearly biased…but every time I get a chance to walk around my little village it never fails to amaze me with its simple… yet dazzling beauty. These images offer but a tiny glimpse of the village.. but it’s enough to make anyone wish that some day…some how… they will walk these paths and climb these steps… watch a sunset and soak in the majesty that is Oia Santorini.

* * * * * * *

Now that the season has all but ended we will start to focus on bringing you more Aegean Designs images and enable you to browse and shop online. To the dozens of people that visited the studio and have since emailed seeking to buy on line… we hear you and we will try to have as many designs as possible on line for you to choose from. The initial catalogue will only be visible on Facebook so it would help if you have an account on there.

Please drop by this blog on Monday for details…

ps: back blogging in full flight again… promise ; ))

Dream restored… as it should be !

It’s later than 10pm… the car is cruising along the narrow cliff-top road to Oia, while every muscle seems to be screaming with pain…. or maybe it’s extreme soreness. After a loooong hard day I’m looking forward to a hot shower and a long sleep. The high-beam is washing across the cliff face as I drive along the familiar road to the little village I call home. It’s a winding road which during the day  is as spectacular as any on this planet… if not more so. But darkness is a great equaliser… all you can see is what your headlights light up and the Santorini rock formations at night can make you feel like you are on another planet.

Suddenly there is a silhouette… a young Japanese guy walking along the side of the road… hood over his head and a look of frightened despair on his face. Every local knows what this image means… this is a tourist who has either run out of petrol or his hire car has broken down. The brain takes a second or two to process the image when a couple of hundred metres further along another… even more disturbing image appears. A young Japanese girl standing in front of a small car… arms folded and looking very distressed. The car was in front of the “wall of love” – the wall of black volcanic pumice on which young lovers stop and write their names with white pebbles. The look on her face said it all… she was scared and concerned about her companion. As my car took the wide corner in front of her she literally looked  like a rabbit caught in the head lights.

I stopped the car and started to reverse… keeping an eye in front of me as I was now on the wrong side of the road. When I was finally in front of her I asked if she was ok… and if the guy I saw on the road was with her? She nodded nervously and  in very poor English said that the car was “stuck”. Without really thinking I suggested that she come in the car so we can go and get her companion… immediately realising how ridiculous that must have sounded to her. Its pitch dark… some guy pulls up and asks you into his car… absurd.

I suggested that she wait in her car while I go back and pick up her companion. Her eyes wide open… she nodded as I took off to find the hooded young samurai. I didn’t have to look for long as instinct or the realisation that he was a very long way from help had made him turn back towards his car and his girlfriend/new wife. I picked him up and we were soon discussing how their car happened to be stuck in very soft pumice stone. Putting my headlights on their car we realised just how hopelessly stuck they were.

An interesting discussion followed… how we can best dislodge this car from the black pumice that had claimed the front right wheel. Soon we were both under the car trying to remove as much pumice from either side of the wheel… following which I suggested we tie a rope to their car and mine…as I tried to reverse them out of the hole. The young samurai was quickly under both cars tying the rope and giving me hand signals that everything was ready. He got in his car as I started to rev up mine and slowly trying to reverse. My head lights happened to catch the profile of the Japanese girl… hands together in Buddhist prayer… finger tips under her chin. The wheels spun as the rope stretched… the young girls eyes wide open as she watched their car starting to move. After what seemed like an eternity… through a cloud of dust, their car moved back and out of the foot-deep hole it had dug itself into.

Japanese girl claps… jumps up and down and says something to the young samurai, who gets out of the car, signals two thumbs up and proceeds to untie the rope at both ends. He hands me the rope through the window and I proceed to move my car out of the way. I got out and looked at the hole their tyre was in… realising these young people would’ve spend the night here if they hadn’t got help. I got back in my car and turned around… my headlights catching the young couple looking a little confused that their helper was seemingly running away. I leaned out of my window and wished them a “safe” holiday as I drove off… the last image my head lights caught was a beautiful pair of young Japanese people bowing in unison as I drove off. The trip to Santorini was probably a life-long dream for one or both of them… yet an innocent stop at the wall of love had probably created a scary couple of hours for them. Now they were on their way back to their hotel…their holiday/honeymoon dream restored. As it should be !

PS: I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything for a while… the new Aegean Designs shop has been keeping me very busy for the past three weeks. It’s small but very cute… and I’ve had a fantastic time creating all the hand-made fittings in it. More soon ;-)


Aegean Designs & lifestyle choices

This gallery contains 3 photos.

I’ve said before that a few words… carefully chosen words, can have an effect on how people perceive things. So it was with Allison’s studio at Firostefani, here in Santorini. Most of the early summer I watched a lot people … Continue reading