Zakynthos. An island of history, culture and amazing scenery.

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Mountain house, west coat.
In recent weeks the UK press has written a number of stories about Zakynthos in Greece, that are full of negative overtones. It’s very frustrating to continually read news articles about the island where the UK press put a bad spin on the story, especially when they chose to lead with the same blanket statement.
“Zakynthos; a party island full of clubs, bars and drunken behaviour.”
Anyone who reads these stories automatically make the assumption that the whole of Zakynthos is like it, and is only a destination for one thing; partying. This assumption is completely wrong, and that’s the reason I write this post. I’m all for freedom of speech, and freedom of press. The press do highlight some important stories to the world, but news stories should never be written to the detriment of anyone, especially an island and her people, and that’s something I feel very strongly about.
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Zante Town from the harbour wall
I’ve a personal connection with Zakynthos, and have been there. Yes, there are bars, and clubs that people can drink and party in, that draws in the younger generations, but it’s only one resort. Laganas (the strip) is located at the south of the island. It’s a self contained party haven for those who want that sort of holiday. It’s confined to this one area and there’s no reason for anyone to go there if they don’t want to.
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Map of Zakynthos courtesy of Mappery.com
Zakynthos is so much more than Laganas.
It’s an interesting island with an amazing history that dates back centuries. An island that survived the horrors of the second world war, (it was the only place in the whole of Greece that actually saved it’s entire Jewish populous from being transported to internment camps by the Germans). An island that survived a massive earthquake in 1953, that razed almost everything (including Zante Town) to the ground. The town along with the rest of the island was rebuilt and is now thriving. It’s become a favourite holiday destination of thousands of tourists, who flock there every year.
The island is the birthplace of many poets including Dionysios Solomos, Gregorios Xenopoulos and Andreas Kalvos and Katerina Hariati-Sismani, the political exile and artist. It’s also an inspiration for authors such as Isabelle Broom, Dougie McHale, Ralph Lavelle and Netty Morgan, all of whom have chosen to set novels there. Every year Celebrities and Royalty flock to the island for their holiday’s, and this month Peter Andre was spotted on the Island with A Greek Odyssey making a documentary about the Greek Islands.
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Venetian watchtower, East coast
Zakynthos is home to endangered loggerhead turtles. There are old villages with ancient olive trees, and beautiful sweeping beaches that hug crystal turquoise seas. Caves and hidden inlets are dotted about the island just waiting to be explored. Full of culture, Zakynthos has lots of historical sites including an English and a Jewish cemetery, there are a multitude of monasteries and churches, one of which has pirate connections as well as Sarkina House in Mouzaki. The island also has seven museums as well as a Venetian Castle, Venetian watchtowers, an ancient aqueduct and an old bridge constructed in the 1800’s that’s now abandoned to the sea. There’s so much to do on Zakynthos, it’s a great place to explore, relax and socialise with family and friends and anyone who visits for the first time will find that they leave with a lifetime of happy memories.
So next time anyone negatively mentions Zakynthos to you, tell them it’s a wonderful island. A place where everyone is welcome, where tourists have a fantastic holiday and return year after year, to a place that some of them think of as their second home. Tell them that Zakynthos is a wonderful island rich with pleasant people, interesting history and culture that will leave them wanting for more. Tell them that the beaches and scenery is some of the best they will see in the world. Most importantly tell them the worst that will happen if they go to Zakynthos, is that she will creep into their hearts, never let them go making them fall in love with a place that will make them want to return again and again.
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View of the mountains form the east coast.

Summer Indie Book Awards

My book Among the Olive Groves has been nominated for best historical book in the Summer indie book awards 2016.

It’s reader voting and you can vote for me by clicking HERE.

I want to win this vote for my readers and for everyone on Zakynthos where the book is set. I know it would mean a lot to them, so please if you have two minutes can you vote for the book. Voting closes midnight Sunday 11 September.

Thank you.

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Beautiful Ancient Egypt

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I have always had a passion for ancient history, I love reading about the Greeks, Romans and Nabataeans but my heart lies with Egypt. I love history so much, and it’s something this been part of my life for a long time. History is important, it’s how our ancestors shaped the world we live in today, and it’s fascinating to look back at ancient life to see how people lived, worked and what they invented. We have a lot to thank the ancients for, and our lives would definitely be poorer without them.

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For me Egypt is a place that not only fascinates me, but it also inspires me. So much so, that I have chosen to set my next book Wind Across the Nile there. I have been lucky to visit the country on a number of occasions, and those trips are in my top five of favourite places to visit. Leaving Egypt has always been hard for me, there is something about the country that gets under my skin, stays with me and makes me leave a small piece of my heart behind.

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Many people ask me what my favourite thing about Egypt is, and it’s a tough choice, there are so many amazing things to see, be it the pyramids, one of the many temples or the fantastic museums. If I had to choose, it would probably be a trip along the Nile on a felucca. It is wonderful being out on the water watching the many sights of Egyptian life pass by, but for me sunset is the most magical time to be out on a felucca, as day turns to night and the colours of the day bleed across the sky giving way to inky skies filled with stars, you feel like you are the only person on earth.

Chrissie on a Felucca

 

I would definitely recommend visiting Egypt. Until you have stood on the Giza plateau awestruck at the sight of the pyramids, explored the Egyptian Museum learning more about the countries ancient rulers or walked through a temple complex marvelling at the incredible architecture, you can’t even begin to comprehend what Egypt is like. It is without doubt, the most historically amazing place on earth.

Wind Across the Nile by Chrissie Parker, coming Spring 2017.

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Tiverton Literary Festival

Last week I attended the Tiverton Literary Festival in Tiverton, Devon. The event was really interesting and some great authors, journalists and travel writers attended.

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On Saturday morning a fellow author Rebecca A Hall and I shared a stall alongside many other local authors, promoting our books set in Greece. It was a great morning and nice to meet readers and talk to people who are so interested in reading. I also had the opportunity to talk about my book, the festival and Greece with Tiverton Community Radio.

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Friday I went to a very interesting event; Historical Research/Modern Research hosted by writer and researcher Suzie Grogan. She talked about writing and researching using information found in family tree searches, something I found to be very useful, she also had some great ideas for researching online. Susie explained how she had used this method of research whilst writing her novel Shellshocked Britain.

Saturday afternoon I attended Rebecca A Hall’s talk; Rough Guide Travel to Novel talk. It was really interesting hearing her talk about her time living in Greece, working for Rough Guides as a travel writer, and finally her novel Girl Gone Greek. Rebecca is a very inspiring person and very engaging to listen to.

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It was a great week and I’m just sorry that I couldn’t attend more events. A big thank you goes out to everyone who made the Tiverton Literary Festival happen; I’m already looking forward to next year.

Swans and cygnets

13094391_704066686363517_2329403551945469383_nI’ve been annoying all my friends and family with tales of swan and cygnets over the last week, since we noticed that the swans living near us had hatched ten cygnets.

We’re very lucky to live a beautiful part of the country that’s surrounded by nature, and we’ve been hopefully anticipating the arrival of a few cygnets. Last year the pair of swans living near us hatched nine cygnets, this year they’ve had ten, which  is incredible. At the moment they’re a fluffy bundle of cuteness, watched over and protected by mum and dad. But they’re starting to gain their character. They’re becoming inquisitive, learning how to swim, eat and follow what their mum and dad do. There’s even one that keeps trying to go off and do their own thing, kept in check by dad, who quickly stops it, returning it to the group.

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I wish these beautiful birds a great summer and I look forward to seeing them grow up. They’re truly beautiful birds, and I feel privileged to be so near to them and be part of their life.

Beautiful places

One of the things I love the most about writing is working beautiful places into my books. In Among the Olive Groves I got to write about Greece, most notably the beautiful island of Zakynthos. It’s a magical place and just fires the imagination. It was the perfect setting and makes the book what it is. I don’t think the story would have worked as well set anywhere else.

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The book I’m releasing later this year called Wind Across the Nile, is set in Egypt, somewhere I find incredible inspirational. I have always loved ancient history, but Egypt is a favourite. Writing about the tombs, temples and museums takes me back to visiting Egypt and exploring the ancient highlights of the country.

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Whilst Wind Across the Nile is with my editor I’m working on another book called Under a Scorching Sun, a finished draft of an historical fiction, set in Petra in Jordan. I visited Petra in 2000 whilst on honeymoon with my husband, it’s a spectacular ancient site in Jordan, the was the ancient city home of the Nabataean people.  Petra has a special place in my heart, not only because I went there on my honeymoon, but because it completely fired my imagination and made me discover an ancient civilisation I knew little about; that has now become one of my favourites. I can’t wait to release the book so that my readers can discover it too.

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I’m also planning a some books set in other places such as Pompeii and Machu Picchu, as well as further stories set in Zakynthos and Egypt. I’m looking forward to writing them all and immersing myself into these fantastic places. The world really is an inspirational place!

 

History and Libraries

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Yesterday I visited Exeter. I had a fun few hours walking around the Museum and Art Gallery. They have a great collection of artefacts ranging from the ancient (including Greek, Egyptian and Roman), to local history, geology and natural history. The most exciting exhibit one of the old Roman walls (in the photo above), that hugs the museum boundary. You can climb up onto the top of it and get an idea of the size of the wall and what Roman Britain would like. The museum is a greta pace to visit and I shall definitely be going back again soon.

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After leaving the museum, I wandered around Rougemont Park enjoying the welcoming sunshine. There are still the remains of the old ditch, castle walls and gatehouse of Rougmeont castle. The castle dates from around 1068, it is built into the north corner of the city’s Roman walls, and was thought to have been constructed following the rebellion of William the Conqueror. It is also the place where the last witches in England were tried. The Devon witches, (four in total) Temperance Lloyd, Susannah Edwards and Mary Trembles (died 1682) and Alice Molland (died 1685), were all tried at Rougemont and executed by hanging at Heavitree. A commemoration plaque can be found on the castle wall.

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My final stop for the day was Exeter Library to attend the Libraries Unlimited event. The event was attended by Devon County Council, Devon Book Club as well as many readers, writers and authors. The wonderful Michael Morpurgo gave a great speech about the importance of literature and libraries, as well as reading us a short story.  The new Libraries Unlimited venture is fantastic, and I highly recommend visiting their website. Supporting local libraries is so important, they are a vital community hub/resource and if we don’t use them we will eventually lose them.