Tag Archives: inspiration

Lifestyle Seachange… do you have what it takes?

It’s that time of year again… people have either booked their holiday or are planning it for next year. The approaching summer seems to be the trigger in people’s minds. They start thinking about what it would be like to be on holidays somewhere, what it would be like to live somewhere else…what it would be like to change their lifestyle completely. The seachange has been in their mind for a while, quietly brewing away… and now suddenly it surfaces. Sometimes it can go on simmering for years, other times it happens very quickly (depending on personality and circumstances). Suddenly people want to know things – how much does it cost to buy a house in Oia, how easy/hard is it, how does one go about it, where does one start?

There could be any number of things that trigger an epiphany. From something as basic as a “birthday”, to a separation, a divorce, a story you read about, a movie you see, a death of someone you know or a dinner you have with a friend who is about to do something considered “radical”. All of the sudden you find yourself in bed wide awake… your mind racing, wondering, roleplaying. Can I, what if, I should’ve, I could’ve… the little voices in your head start to whisper to you… torturing you. The dreamer in you starts to wonder… while the always restrictive, logical “coach” tries to talk some sense into you. Wouldn’t be just wonderful… says the dreamer voice – yeah… but don’t even think about, too many things to take care of here first… says the coach.

Welcome to the mental state I call “threshold”. Although the word is used in many different ways… my definition is derived from aviation. A Qantas pilot once explained to me the more technical details of what “threshold” means during take off and landing…. but the thing that I remember and kept is that “crossing threshold means COMMITMENT”.  Once you have gone over that line, invisible or otherwise, you are “committed”.

So people find themselves awake in bed… lengthy dialogues between the dreamer and the coach taking place, arguments back and forth, considering options, debating, more dreaming, visualizing, wishing and/or planning. Threshold is either crossed or it becomes like a solid granite wall 20 metres thick. My guess is that 1% cross over and “commit”… the rest run head-first into the granite and then either drop dead or walk around in a daze for weeks/months or even years. Crossing threshold… or even approaching at the required speed is not for the faint hearted. As I said to someone who asked me to define threshold… “it is the ultimate bullshit filter”. It’s put up or shut up territory… go big or go home.

So now we’re back to the enquiries…. how much is a house in Oia, can I find a 2/3/4 bedroom on the cliff (for under 300k…. because Greece is in a crisis isn’t it? )….. etc etc etc etc etc etc ad infinatum….

My answer is simple… if you want it, come and get it. The how, where and how much you will find out when you’re here. The only question in your mind should be… is the place worth the effort? and if you don’t know the answer to that by now then get ready to experience what crannium hitting granite feels like !

* * * * * *

Haven’t posted any pictures for a while so here are some of my favorites from the past couple of months… enjoy ; )

below is the view of the old fort from a special place…
the “Summer Lovers” villa

a floating resort leaving at night….

Oia at night…. at least my neighborhood..

dinner at Ammoudi… never fails to impress

and one of my favorite shots of all time in Oia… sail boats just after sunrise
magical sight….

Have a great summer everyone….

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Santorini dreaming & inspirational living !


I think “they” are wrong (“they” being the sad cynics of this world). I think there is a romantic lurking inside most people… some just need something to “nudge’ it out of them and it seems the images of the Volcano View villa I posted earlier this week did just that.

An imagination that has been stimulated is a wonderful thing and “possibility thinking” is a wondrous thing. Suddenly people can imagine themselves “being here” and by writing a short essay there is a “real possibility” that they can be. 

Suddenly there are emails from people that have been “following” the blog for a while but are now deciding to “out” themselves… to declare their secret desire to visit this island, or write about their dream to escape with their loved one to a “fantasy” destination, to spend a few romantic days and nights in a world that normally occupies their dreams. Suddenly there is a reason to think romantically… suddenly there is intent !

There are many stories about people who had been doing the same thing for years on end… then, one day, they changed their perspective and their whole life changed. There is the story of the father who was taken by his son for a mountain climbing weekend at the age of 60. He had stopped work and his health had seen better days. But something happened that weekend… he got out of his routine, got out of his TV-chair, he got fresh air, spent time with his son and he experienced the beauty of a mountain-top (albeit a small one). He came back a new man… a man with a dream, a man with a mission in life – to climb mountains of similar height in every continent on earth.

Suddenly his life had a purpose. Same person, different mind-set…. new perspective…new lease on life.

Then there are stories of a spouse who suddenly decides to do something special. A dinner by candlelight, a special weekend away, a picnic under the stars, a dinner & show. Something out of the ordinary, breaking the routine, thinking creatively and actually thinking of what would please the other person in one’s life. All of the sudden there is imaginative thinking going on… there is planning, there is anticipation and then there is pleasure and reward. It’s an addictive state of being… and it surely beats existing in a state of  “comfortably numb” !

I said on Monday that Volcano View villas were the first part of the dream holiday… the second half being planned in my village, the village of Oia. Now…I know you thought that the first villa looks special and it is. But  your hotel in Oia is also special my friends… very VERY special.
The “Andronis Luxury Suites” hotel was built only about a year ago by a friend who has impeccable taste… as you will see. You’ve already glanced at the cliff-top peninsula dining area… something completely unique on Santorini. Now let me take you by the hand for a brief tour of the rest of this fantastic place. If this doesn’t make you dream at night……..

andr6you saw it from above… but this is what it will look like during dinner ;-)


andr5Now…I know you have you’re fave restaurant back home, but this is a bit different.
This is the stuff that dreams are made of… 

andr2just imagine your elbows on that infinity edge…

andr1you could get very used to this… right?

andr7 I think this is enough to inspire anyone…


I do believe that many of you… if not all of you out there in blogland, should use this opportunity to do a number of things. Use it as inspiration to not only be creative for this particular “dream” essay submission… but also as inspiration of the sort of thing you should dare to dream about. Use these images as inspiration for a new perspective on life… for a new way of thinking, a new intent. It’s all possible… if you want it to be !


As previously mentioned all you have to do is tell us in 1000 words or less what is your dream romantic holiday on this magical island, what it would mean to you and what you would do here if you won.

The final details on dates and other surprises will be in tomorrow night’s post. Submissions can be made as of Friday 9th October 2009 and will close on Monday 9th November 2009. 

The list of surprises for the winners keeps growing, but I can assure that the two hotels alone are more than worth any effort you go into for your submission. So set your mind free, become inspired, dare to think about things you normally wouldn’t and allow your creativity to take over.

To be perfectly honest with you…whether you win or not should be neither here nor there. Use this to change your perspective on life. If you can be creative, innovative and imaginative for this… there is nothing to stop you from living that way all the time. Write to your heart’s content… you may just be creating the new YOU !

Till tomorrow…. enjoy dreaming ;-)


PS: I know this is a day late…. and I know it’s the second time this has happened, but life has a way of getting in the way my friends. Allison has a pinched nerve on her shoulder (far too much painting over the past few months) and my friend in Athens (owner of hotel above) is a very busy man. So in between chasing him, physio visits, running the studio, three children on the island and wondering why the fourth hasn’t written from London in two weeks… well, time just runs away from you. Apologies…but hope the images above make up for it.

Be inspired and live with passion !




Santorini dreaming… romantic essays

Imagine you’re a kid at school. A special guest is introduced by your teacher… someone who is here to tell you about making your dreams come true. He stands out the front and smiles at everyone. He then reaches in his pocket and pulls out a 10 dollar note and holds it up… saying “who wants this?” 

What would you do?

There are several possibilities. You will sit still and watch, or you will put your hand up like a good student, you may even yell out “I want it”. But the man still holds the note in his hand…still smiling silently. You look around you and everyone seems to suffer from the same hesitation… not sure what to do, not sure what is expected, not wanting to be un-cool, not wanting to seem desperate, not wanting to seem “wanting”. You feel frozen, the pressure of the situation has you confused….”what will others think if I went out there?”  Then suddenly there is noise to your left…

A girl walks to the front of the class… reaches up and takes the 10 dollar note from the man’s hand. He looks at her with a big smile… asks what her name is, “Ann” she replies… holding the money in her hand.

“Can you make me a promise Ann?” he says looking in her eyes….”can you promise to come and see me the day you finish university?
You are exactly the kind of person I want working with me ! ”

This of course has happened many times in many schools… I have done it myself with my kids. Most kids just look… frozen, self-conscious, shy, hesitant. But there is Ann. She dares… and she wins.

As adults… how many chances have we let slip through our fingertips by being hesitant, shy, coy, or simply afraid to try?  

I don’t have a $10 note to hold up… but I have this to show you and it’s worth a whole lot more:



and this…




and finally this…



this is the villa where the winner will spend the first two days of his/her dream holiday. It has it’s very own
private pool and a view that will make you think you are living in another world… living in a dream ;-)


But that’s the paradise you will inhabit in the first two days. After that you will move to my village. The village of Oia… and you will stay
at another hotel which will also make you pinch yourself to believe you are really there. There will be photos of that hotel on Wednesday, but let me just show something very special from it. Take your time looking at this… because this my friends, is where you will have your romantic dinner on your first night there. Have you ever…ever, seen anything like this in your life?


Seated by candle light 300m above sea level… overlooking the blue caldera and the cliffs of Oia.
If there is a better spot to have a romantic dinner… please tell me ;-)


All you have to do is tell us your Santorini dream in a 1000 words or less. It may be about a night or nights you have spent here already, or night/s you have always dreamed about spending here. Tell us what it means to you and tell us what you see in your mind’s eye.
Tell us your dream !


Submissions can be sent starting this Friday via email to::  oiadweller at yahoo dot com

So…. have you been thinking?

Will you keep on thinking or do something about it? 



Oia Santorini – being here !

Waking up at 6am…. some weights, a walk or a swim, quick juice and then off on the Vespa. Running around all day, dropping in and out of the studio, meeting with people, checking out properties, seeing people at the winery, a coffee or three, back to the studio… then a ride home in the evening.

Living in paradise doesn’t always mean you have the time to enjoy it. In fact…. if you’re not careful, the same thing that happens in any big city can just as easily happen in Oia and/or Santorini.

If you let it that is…. and I have been letting it lately. A lot !

But then something happens. Something that reminds you that you live in a very, very special place. Something that makes you realise the need to keep in mind why you are here in the first place.

Let me show you.

On the way into Oia village you can’t see the view on the volcano side… only the north side, which is spectacular in itself. But the “real view”, the one that makes your jaw drop to your knees, stays teasingly hidden until you are almost in the village proper. Then, in a fleeting moment…. it opens up. It’s the spot I call the “Oia Pass”. Suddenly the caldera view opens up for you on the left as you drive in… and your eyes can hardly believe what they are seeing. It’s a narrow pass and you can’t really stop there unless you are waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. But the most gorgeous village on earth gives you a teasing little glimpse. It’s like the most beautiful caldera in the world smiling and saying to you  “Pssssssssst….welcome to your dream ” as you’re driving through.

You turn… and your eyes see this:

4 On the left you look towards Imerovigli and the main port….



below is the magnificent cliff side with the beautifully carved out hotels…deep blue caldera opening up below them…


5 the volcano and Therassia island ahead…


3and a large cruise ship gliding majestically passed.


The photo that will do this scene justice hasn’t been taken yet… the photographer that can capture it hasn’t been born yet and the camera that can take in what your eyes can see hasn’t been made yet. But you will have to take my word for it dear friends… there is nothing like it anywhere on this planet.

So, in the mad rush to stay on top of things… to run around and do what needs to be done, I occasionally have to stop here and remind myself where I am, what it’s taken to be here and why I must never, ever take it (or my time here) for granted !



Living with Intent…

It has been said that what separates us the most from our close primate relatives is what is known as “intentionality”. Without getting too much into the use of the term “intentionality” in a number of fields, let’s just say that intentionality is our ability to apply thoughtfulness in action or decision. Our “being” as a result of “intent”.

Keep these words in mind…. “being” as a result of “intent” !

Let us now very briefly examine a famous experiment conducted by John Searle (b. 1932, Denver, CO; Ph.D. philosophy, Oxford; currently Professor of Philosophy, UC Berkeley). The experiment – known as “Chinese Room” – was conducted in 1980 and in very simple terms it goes something like this: there is a man sitting in a room which is empty other than a set of rules which are set out in the classic  “if >> then” fashion. The room has two windows through which messages by another two people are passed through the man in the room. Where it gets interesting is that the two people outside the room are passing messages to each other in Chinese. The man in the room does NOT speak or understand Chinese…he simply follows his “rule book” which tells him when he sees character “X’ he places character “Y” on a piece of paper and so on and so on….. and then passes it through the other window.

Simple… right?

If only. This experiment my dear friends has created such debate in the fields of philosophy, psychology and AI, that we will not even go near it in this little blog at this time. However…. let us simply accept the words of Mr Searle that the man in the Chinese Room lacked “intentionality”. In other words, although he answered messages in Chinese from one person to the other, he himself had no idea what they were saying or what the messages were about. He was simply following his “rule book” and the classic “if >> then” scenario.

Now…. forgive me for oversimplifying what is a truly profound experiment…. but like my interpretation of the lyrics of “Comfortably Numb”, this experiment has always left a very clear impression in my mind in terms of what it really represents. Let’s forget the questions of consciousness and deep AI for now. Let’s focus on the man in the Chinese Room and his “if >> then” rule book. He does things simply because the rules tell him so…. he has no real idea what’s going on around him…. he serves a purpose without questioning….

Does he remind you of anyone?

For years I have asked this question of managers, of staff in large corporations and just people in general. Who does the man in the Chinese room remind you of ?

At times the answer was immediate, other times it wasn’t so obvious to the audience.

Personally I think we have all been the man in the Chinese room. We have all worked to a rule book…. the most common “if >> then” rule being: “If I turn up every day… and I do exactly as I am told… then I get paid on Thursdays”. You can substitute “Thursdays” with any frequency you like…. but the concept stays the same. You turn up, you follow the rules to the letter….then you get paid and you get to play the game again next week. It’s what makes the world go around…. and around.

Only one thing wrong with that picture. What a pathetically sad world this would be if we all did that. If we all just worked like mindless robots…. without any real understanding, or motivation, or creativity, or intentionality. What would this world look like if we all followed that “if >> then” formula?

Sadly my friends I believe an awful lot of people get caught in this trap. They turn up, they have no desire, no motivation, no real understanding, no purpose….no intent. They simply live to get paid… or to just exist. A life without purpose… a life without clear intent.

The good news of course is that it can all be changed in an instant. All it takes is a dream, an idea, a notion, an epiphany and your life has changed. You just need to allow yourself the pleasure of running with the thought in your mind. Trusting your instinct that what you think is right… really is, that it can change your life…. that it can change the lives of many. 

It is amazing how you feel when your life is full of purpose. Full of INTENT. One of the main reasons I wanted to follow the theme of “finding your passion” is exactly that. Finding your passion is finding intent. Finding your passion is “living with intent” !

Another enormous benefit of “living with intent” is that you tend to substitute “impossibility” with “possibility” thinking. The negativity of thinking that everything (or at least most things) are impossible, suddenly is replaced with positive “possibility” thinking. Everything is possible when you have clear intent. Your dream is suddenly a blueprint for your life and your new sense of purpose fills you with energy and excitement. All of the sudden everything feels new, fresh, exciting and yes…. possible, doable, achievable.  It’s like being very much in love… which not surprisingly is exactly what the lovely  Carla Coulson told us she felt when she discovered her passion for photography.

It’s also amazing how infectious your intent can be. People are attracted to people who have clear goals, living with passion and clear intent. You suddenly find all kinds of similarly minded people gravitating towards you, adding to your momentum, just as you are adding to theirs. It becomes a positive forward motion that carries you to places you never thought were possible to reach.

The funniest thing of all? Intent is not conditional, it’s not based on race or ethinicity, it’s not based on education or cultural background, there is no age limit attached and there is no minimum income requirements. It’s simply a matter of choice. Our OWN choice. We can either choose to live with a purpose or we can choose to live like the man in the Chinese Room.


Find your passion…

Don’t just live…. “BE” with full intent !

Let’s make this a great week for all of us ;-)




Just wanted to wish a speedy recovery to the lovely Lala at My Castle in Spain… get well soon gorgeous girl ;-)


Also wanted to thank the lovely Kirsten at Write on Thyme for her mention of this little blog while she’s enjoying San Francisco (one of my fave US cities). Thank you Kirsten…hope you enjoy your visit ;-)

Isle of Saint Nicholas – Ammoudi… Oia, Santorini

It’s been a busy summer and I haven’t been able to spend anywhere near enough time with Alessi as I wanted to or should have. But this morning we decided to go to Ammoudi for a swim together, at our usual spot away from the tourists that flood the tiny rock beach.

 It’s a good thing that most tourists don’t stay long enough to learn all the secret spots on this island. Ammoudi… the little port below Oia becomes very busy in August, all the small tavernas working hard to make the most of the busiest month. The small beach opposite
St. Nicholas island is also a very popular spot and for good reason. The water is absolutely crystal clear and very deep… making it cool and refreshing in the middle of summer.

I took up my usual spot on the rocks….


It doesn’t look like much… but the flat rock that’s constantly washed by the sea and a wet, folded sarong for a head rest, feet hanging in the water… pure bliss for several hours. You just have to take a step and you’re in the azure water…

Alessi has his own favourite spot… sitting on top of a buoy the fishermen use in winter. He loves sitting on top of it and look at the fish below the water, as well as watch the big cruise ships sail by Oia.



We sat there for a couple of hours, enjoying the sun and the beautiful clear water. Our little island is a favourite in summer as well as winter…when there is nobody else here. That’s certainly not the case in August though… it’s a fight for space for most tourists, unless they are willing to venture out into the lava rock formations. The small island is a magnet for people throughout summer and it’s not surprising…




It’s only a 20m swim across from the main island and the water is just too perfect for words. What a lot of people don’t realise is that around the small island there is 2-3 meters of rock… followed by a sheer vertical drop of more than 1,000m depth. Imagine what it would look like without the water…. would make Grand Canyon look like a creek.

Here is a view from the top of the cliff in Oia… looking down at the small island in late winter:


To the right of the small island you can see a lagoon forming, around 20-30m deep… you can drop a coin and watch it all the way down on a calm day. To the left of the small island…lololol, you can drop whatever you like there folks, you are NEVER going to see it again.
It’s a loooooooooong way down. A scary thought as to what this scene would look like if the sea water wasn’t there.

Just another day at our local beach and small island…. another little adventure in this mystical island called Santorini !

Have a great weekend and I hope you get to spend some time with your kids too ;-)




Santorini Wine – a special grapevine… on a special island !

If “necessity” is the mother of invention then “practicality” must surely be its father.  Out of necessity comes the need, out of practicality comes the solution. Add to this the genius of Albert who taught us that “things should be made as simple as possible…but no simpler” and voila. We have all the ingredients required for one of the most ingenious inventions in the history of viticulture.

What you are about to see may not be new to some of you, but will be new to a lot of you. In my mind it is the very essence of what being a farmer is about and it is the absolute epitome of what being a farmer/grower on an arid, windblown island is all about. Necessity, invention, minimalism… practicality. Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate, nothing wasteful. Sheer, practical, evolutionary design at work on the land.

Ladies and Gentlemen…. meet the humble Santorini Vine !

santo vine


It doesn’t look like much… does it? Come to think of it neither does the soil. It simply looks like a desert, or some kind of arid  mountain side plant. When you think about it… that’s exactly what it is. But this simple image hides so much, as is often the case with so many wonderful creations.  

As you can see, the soil this vine is growing on is not what you expect to see in a vineyard. Its a mixture of lava pebbles (you can clearly see them), volcanic ash, pumice and other materials that combine to make for an un-inspiring soil mix. But the vines love this soft, porous soil as it retains the morning mist – the vines only source of moisture and it allows it to develop a deep root system.

To all of you wine growers out there, or to those who – like me – take great pleasure in walking through or near vineyards just to enjoy the gorgeous views they offer, the Santorini vineyard is a completely different experience.




The terrain is not always flat or gently slopping, as in the picturesque French & Italian vineyards. The islanders will build terraces to take advantage of every available piece of land they own. 




That’s not to say however that there aren’t vineyard views to enjoy on Santorini…far from it. The vineyards here seem almost “free”. They are far less formal, far less mechanised, far less “interfered with” than their landscaped cousins around the world. There are no poles or wires holding them up, there are no nets over them, there are not even fences around them. Necessity and practicality rule.


This by any standards is a small ditch…but the growers felt they could fit 10 or so vines in there, so they did and they thrived.



This is a long strip of roadside land… probably 7-8m deep. Useless anywhere else in the world. Here it’s perfect for a couple of hundred vines…no poles, no wires, no irrigation necessary. Its magic.

agrotis 3

In August…during harvest, the whole family comes out. Everything… and I mean “everything” is done by hand. There is no machine harvesting here… everything is still done the way it has for thousands of years. Same land, same vines… same methods. Just add the love of the growers for what they do… and you have a product that’s unique.

The vines of course are not grown in your typical (vertical way). In the photos above you see them at harvest time, which hides the ingenious work that’s taken to get them to this stage. Let’s take a look at a growing method that is unique in this world we live in.



This is earlier in the year and it allows us to see the “kouloura” (bird’s nest) that the growers have shaped the vine into. This means that the plants profile is low and the winter winds will hardly touch it. All the fruit will grow inside the “kouloura” which protects it from sand storms, birds and all else that can harm it. Then as summer approaches the full foliage of the vine will also protect the fruit from the harsh summer sun. All along however, this ingenious bird’s nest helps trap the morning mist as it goes through the vineyard. The moisture captured is kept under the foliage and transferred to the deep root system through the porous soil. It is the “only” form of irrigation these vines ever receive.

To get the vine to grow in this form is an art, a skill developed over thousands of years and passed on with every generation. It’s simple, highly effective and absolutely ideal for the island conditions. All kinds of technology could have been introduced…. but it hasn’t been. Necessity and practicality, as well as a love for tradition and history, has meant that we are all lucky enough to this day to be able to marvel at this ancient growing method, still working and still producing sublime fruit recognised the world over. 

There are a lot of lessons here for all of us dear friends. The yield of these vineyards is low, the temptation from other sectors is very high. The growing method is very difficult and it makes harvest by hand the only option. Yet… I look at the faces on the growers that bring their harvest to the Co-op daily and they are beaming. They simply love what they do, they love what they produce and to them mass production and commoditisation of their beloved grapes is unthinkable. They do this for the love of it.

Maybe that’s why (in my opinion) drinking VinSanto, the world famous naturally sweet dessert wine produced on Santorini…
is as close as you can get to kissing an angel !