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Showing posts from September, 2006

Next Stage

We picked our grapes yesterday and managed to fill this barrel. The expert opinion is that the grapes are of mixed quality - some good and sweet, some a little lacking. However, we are not going to let that get in the way of production. The grapes will sit in the barrel for the next few weeks and will then be ready for distilling.

Near the Knuckle

Some weeks ago my knuckle had an involuntary and unpleasant encounter with the edge of a table. Swollen to twice its normal size and still painful I set off for the Glob clinic yesterday to have some X-rays carried out. Like most poor countries, Albania struggles to provide an effective health service for its people. The Glob is one of a number of private clinics that have been established in Tirana to meet the growing demand for better medical care. While treatment at the Glob is, by Western standards, very cheap it is still a lot more than most ordinary Albanians could afford. As it turned out no bones were broken and I now have three fine pictures of the inside of my hand. Apart from the excellent care and good facilities, one of the main reasons for using the Glob is that a number of the doctors who run the clinc are friends. So, after the formalities of the treatment were completed, they took me out for dinner. We ended up at a rather nondescript but extremely good restaurant some

Lethal Intent

The dominance of English means that almost every major city has either an English language bookstore or a major bookstore with a substantial English language section. During a recent trip to Germany I visited bookstores in Munich and Essen and was able to stock up on crime stories. One of these was a recent novel by Quintin Jardine, Lethal Intent . Jardine has written a series of novels based in Edinburgh and featuring Deputy Chief Constable Bob Skinner. Despite this being the fifteenth in the series I had not read any of Jardine's work previously. This was partly because I have read the books of Ian Rankin, also set in Edinburgh and featuring Inspector John Rebus. Edinburgh is too small a city to have two fictional detectives, especially when one is a DCC. It is also partly because reviews of Jardine's work were less than enthusiastic. However, reading the blurb on the back of this latest contribution to the series, I came upon this sentence: Ruthless Albanian gangsters have i

A Country I Deeply Admire

Abu Bakker Qassim, one of the group of five Uighurs released from Guantanamo Bay and granted asylum in Albania, discusses the proposed changes to the legal rights of detainees in Guantanano Bay in an article published by the New York Times .

Suffled How it Gush

A little while ago I was sitting in a cafe and I started reading the label on the bottle of water I was drinking - it had been a slow day. The water comes from Tepelene, a town on the way to Gjirokaster where you can stop by the side of the road and refill your bottles from the springs flowing out of the mountain. The label was in English and Albanian. Tepelene, it claimed was The Water of the Albanian National Football Team . But it was the was the next line that really caught my eye: Suffled how it gush from the source of the woods of Tepelena . We had a discussion as to what we thought this meant. We decided the meaning was Bottled as it gushes ... The Albanian equivalent reads: I mbushur sic del nga burimi i pullit te Tepelenes . But it was too easy to look it up in a dictionary. Besides, Suffled how it gush has a nice ring to it. This is a fine example of a common phenomenon. The global dominance of English means that the language appears everywhere. Native English speakers like

A Ridge Between America and Albania

Good to know that there is life after government. Tom Ridge, America's former Homeland Security Secretary, has a new job . Albania's prime minister, Sali Berisha, has hired him as an advisor to government. Mr Ridge will do most of his work from Washington, where he will undoubtedly be a very powerful adovcate for the country, but will also be meeting regularly with the Albanian government in Tirana. The official announcement can be found at the website of the Council of Ministers .


UNICEF and the Terre des Hommes Foundation published a report this week on child trafficking. The report, Action to Prevent Child Trafficking in South Eastern Europe: A Preliminary Assessment , covers Albania, Kosovo, Moldova and Romania. The full text is available on the TdH website.