Lost in Translation…

Hello Everyone!

It’s hard to believe (and I’ve only just realised) that last week, my blog turned three. Happy Birthday Blog!

Gosh, imagine! Three whole years of me rambling on….about this tiny island! Who’d have thought, at the outset, that I’d ever find enough to write about, to be able to sustain it for three whole years…..or that it would still be even remotely interesting, after all this time?  Yet judging by my readership (and quite bewilderingly to me) it appears that it is! Some of you have been with me from the start, and so it’s to you now that I raise a glass and send a huge ‘Thank you!’. Your kind words and constant support have always spurred me on through the times when I questioned the value in what I was doing; times when I felt there was no one out there and I was talking to myself; times when I came so close to calling it a day (and even did – for a while until  you – and you know who you are –  managed to convince me it was worth carrying on) so I did…. and, yes,  it was! So ‘Cheers’ to you and Thankyou!

Actually this week was one of ‘those times’ too……but rather than dwell on it, I took myself off to the studio to paint and this was the result:

‘Mesostrato’ © Yvonne Ayoub 2011 All rights reserved

A watercolour & ink painting, it’s a thank you gift for the lovely Tzoumas Family, the owners of this charming restaurant in Aghia Pareskevi (my favourite place for lunch which deservedly won ‘The Best Restaurant/Grill in Greece Award 2010“) who have shown me (and my father for many years before me) nothing but kindness, warmth and endless generosity.

By the time it was finished, I’d pulled myself together and decided, instead of ‘shutting’ down, I would just sit down and write about the current ‘bee in my bonnet’ instead: ‘Copyright.‘ But this a tricky, emotive subject and knowing it would require a clear head, I took the dogs (I’m looking after my neighbour’s too) for a long walk around the Kalamaki peninsula first:

Besides, since my last post the weather has changed for the better and we ‘ve been having some gloriously sunny days lately. So, knowing that right up until the end of March there’s always the possibility we could still have snow, I wanted to take full advantage while the sun was shining. So we all set off, down the deserted main road (bliss!) for ten minutes or so till we reached the turn off to Kanapitsa Beach:

Once there, I stopped to rest while the dogs made the most of having it completely to themselves:

and I began to think about what was troubling me, ‘copyright’:

You may have noticed the symbol © next to my name under the first image. It’s universally recognised and it’s there to show that the painting and all rights to it, belong to me. In other words no-one can use, copy, download or reproduce it in any form without asking for my permission to do so.  Straightforward enough, you might think. Not so. Copyright issues are the bane of an artist’s life once they’ve uploaded their work into cyberspace, no matter how vigilantly they think they’ve protected it (by adding watermarks, uploading only low resolution images etc). I’ve got a very effective tracking system in place and more often than not I catch the people who seem to think it’s perfectly OK to use another’s work without bothering to seek permission. When I’m alerted that my work is showing up on sites that have nothing to do with me,  like a dog on a scent trail, I always hunt them down!

We left the beach behind and continued on our way. Starting the climb uphill, we began passing some of the most established villas on the island.

Kalamaki was the first area to be developed, back in the late 50’s early 60’s, when South African, Dennis Henshaw began advertising land plots for sale and together with local builder, Mr Andritsopoulis,  the first ex pat villas began to appear –  not a simple task in those days! With no roads for access, building materials arrived by caique and were carried to the sites on the backs of mules. Back then the island itself was barely accessible. it involved a lengthy land crossing (from Athens) and another by sea.  There were no regular bus or ferry services then, as there are today and certainly no charter flights (they didn’t start till the mid-seventies) or any flights at all in fact. Skiathos airport didn’t exist! It must have been quite an adventure! Today, with gardens so well-established that their houses are mostly hidden from view, intriguing gates are the only insight to the properties quietly nestling behind them:

Like those first tenacious ex pats who resolutely believed in ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ (going back to my thoughts) I too will keep going till I find who’s using my work unauthorised.  In most cases I find it’s been done in all innocence so, as long as they agree to give me due credit and add links back to where the image is for sale, I’m generally happy to leave it at that (that said, many artists employ zero tolerance and go after the perpetrators with an army of lawyers and all guns blazing from the outset!). But when I find blatant plagiarism, people claiming my work as their own or, worst of all, openly selling and profiting from it as such, well, I’m afraid that’s just plain theft and I see red! That’s when I’m forced to become a bit more heavy-handed myself – especially if, when approaching them,  my initial politeness is met with off-hand or downright rudeness!

No such unpleasantness from Kalamaki’s first residents. These were a gracious people, well-heeled professionals mostly, from an all but forgotten age of civility with nothing less than the most impeccable manners. During the months they spent on the island each year, they lived among (but at a discreet distance from ) fellow pioneers, who after lazy days pottering in their gardens or bathing in the crystal clear waters that surrounded them, were content to sit on their stone terraces, admiring the sunsets and drinking in the glorious unspoilt views (along with copious amounts of gin and tonic!). A gentle age for a gentle people and this is is reflected in the names they chose for their idyllic island hideaways. Most of the houses have been resold or passed down to the next generations but many of the house signs exist today:

Just like their signs, no two villas were alike. No-one would have dreamt of copying or stealing anyone elses ideas back then. Respect for one’s contemporaries was paramount.Today, however, copyright theft is a serious crime and, world over, the Law is very clear (and strictly upheld and enforced) protecting not only art of course but books, film, photographs, intellectual property and music too (the court cases involving piracy are well covered by the media). What is less well-known perhaps, is that it covers the written word online too –  so fellow bloggers beware! Only this week Google announced it would begin a mass culling; instantly closing-down sites containing more than 50%  ‘lifted’ material. Now, many of us writing online are guilty of using some content from other sites from time to time (myself included) and while the Law demands that permission be sought first, simple etiquette sometimes suffices (if one is prepared to take the risk!) so long as rightful credit is given and the appropriate links leading back to the original source, as a point of reference, are inserted. This week alone, I found four instances where my paintings have been used without my consent and I’ve become obsessed with tightening up privacy settings on sites such as Facebook (which we all should do BTW!) which is why I came so close packing it all in together!

Well, not ‘altogether’ exactly. Who in their right mind would give up a life surrounded such fabulous views unless they absolutely had to?

After an hour of walking mostly uphill I was ready for another rest. I’d already passed the bench erected in memory of one such expat couple: Marion and Charles Piggott (although typical of their unassuming nature, there’s nothing on it to inform the weary traveller that they hoped would enjoy it, of that fact)

So I walked on till, thankfully, the one dedicated to Helen Buchanan Dunlop (or Kyria Eleni as she was known) came into view. As I sat down, I was sadly aware that her brass plaque has now been joined by another; that of her husband, my dear friend, Richard who passed away last year. It was a poignant moment.

Staring out towards Evia across a perfectly calm blue sea, I very much felt their presence and could almost hear Richard asking (in is forthright ‘no-nonsense’ manner) ‘Well, if you’re so worried about theft, why upload your work at all?’.  It would have been too difficult to explain this new technological world we live in although, being an ‘old boy’ himself, he would have been perfectly familiar with the concept of ‘networking’; that making new links and connections is what it’s all about  (not that he ever felt the need as far as his paintings were concerned – quite the opposite in fact; in his humility he never referred to himself as an artist – although he most certainly was!). So, to answer his question: wanting to get one’s work ‘out there’ is ‘why’, it’s the whole point!  How else could anyone possibly have their work seen by so many people, in so many places, at one time?  Living on a tiny island as I do, my art would be seen by no more than a handful of potential buyers at best, so imagine the thrill I get out of receiving an enquiry about a newly uploaded painting, from someone in a place I’ve never even heard of (let alone know how pronounce) as far removed (from me anyway!) as  Papua New Guinea! So, yes, there is a risk, always,  but it’s generally balanced by the advantage.

As it happens, there’s not only one either (now this would certainly have amused Richard!) I, like many a writer, hope to develop an original style; a unique way with words and use of language that will captivate readers. Well, we need look no further than Google Translate! When scouring the internet, I often come across content taken directly from my blog, reappearing in other forms. Often it’s been translated, not only into a different language but a different alphabet too (which I can rarely read of course). But lately I’ve noticed another trend; those same blogs are now being ‘translated’ back into English but so obviously ‘word for word’ that the results are sometimes pretty hilarious:

‘Deep friendships have been forged and I pinch myself every day……’ has morphed into:

‘Womb-to-womb relationships have been hammered and I nip in day to day’ (er….excuse me?)

“Students of Irish artist Mary Dillons’s watercolour masterclass” into:

“Educatees of Irish artist Mary Dillons H2O colour maestro family” (just wait till I tell her!)

“The constant stream of holiday makers” into:

“The changeless watercourse of vacation shapers” (a rose by any other name….?)

“Blessed with a constant stream of wonderful guests; artists, friends, visitors from all over the world who, without exception, shared their  passions…” into:

“Blessed with a changeless watercourse of marvelous invitees; artists, partisan and visitants from all corners of the macrocosm, who, without elision, hold so generally their passionatenesses” (try saying that after a few glasses!)

‘To thank my husband and children…… for allowing me the freedom and space to follow and realise my dreams” into:

‘To thank my hubby and nestlings……. for letting me the clip and infinite to follow and clear my dreaming’ (hubby? nestlings? Pu-leeease!)

“Like a department store, Skiathos is closing its doors” into

“Goodly like a Brobdingnagian emporium, Skiathos overly is shutting” (now, why didn’t I think of that?)

“Beach umbrellas are rolled up and packed away” into:

“Sun shades are rolled in and demolished” (if only!)

“Shutters will be rolled down and secured and padlocked for the last time” into:

Shutters will be avalanched and procured for the last clip” (??…mm, ok…..I think)

and last but by no means least:

” I eventually got to meet my dear friend and fellow-artist, Chrissy Marie” into:

” I eventually got to meet my beloved friend and cuss-artist, Chrissy Marie” (hmm, Chrissy thinks this one is probably spot on!)

Funny these examples may be but, believe me, they’re not always so amusing and as someone who’s a bit of a stickler when it comes to english grammar, on such occasions I don’t appreciate (and certainly wouldn’t insist on) being given any credit for them!

Ah well, it all comes with the territory, I suppose……

Eventually,  I continued on my way, dogs in tow, and began the final descent on the last leg around Kalamaki:

heading for home to light the fire. secure the shutters and settle in for the night.

Now that my rant’s over and my mood’s lightened up, I’ll leave you with the age-old ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ riddle because I know the answer!

It’s ‘chickens!’ – and they don’t come from eggs at all, they just grow on trees!

Here’s the proof:

I took this yesterday, on a walk up the lane behind me at Kolios. One of them looks suspiciously like Kallisto (did I mention that I found our friendly rooster had disappeared when I’d returned from London?). I can’t say I blame him – the company of a dopey dog and neurotic kitten hardly compares with having a whole harem of hens to oneself now, does it? Can’t say I was that sad to find him gone either, if I’m honest. I mean if someone could have invented a rooster nappy things would have been altogether different….but up to 35 times a day?!! – and ANYwhere!!? No, the novelty, like the bristles of my scrubbing-brush,  had definitely started to wear off, I’m afraid…..and, besides,  I’m sure he’s much happier now that he’s reached such elevated heights in the pecking order.  He has well and truly feathered his nest and is no doubt ‘cock-a doodling’ away to his heart’s content (as the fully fledged, top of the range, no, ‘tree – range’ rooster, that he is) as we speak!

20 thoughts on “Lost in Translation…

  1. “Cuss artist Chrissy Marie”? I’m afraid that’s nearer to the triuth than you realise!…..
    But if Chrissy want’s a wood shed, I reckon she’ll have one!…..:)

    Good post again Yvonne, thanks for reminding us why we feel the need to return year after year!…:)




  2. A good read, nice to hear from you again. Meltemi & The Memsahib [the wife and I] are Skopelos bound in the early season 2011… Say hello to K? the painter of doors…


    • Hi Phil, Thanks for stopping by. Safe journey to Skopelos, to meet your muse, and I hope she smiles well on you, again this year. (Perhaps a sip of Tsiporou all together on the old port, as you pass through?) Keep Well, Yvonne xx


  3. Hi Yvonne,
    Another fascinating blog!! Thanks for keeping all of us Skiathos fans updated. Sorry to hear of your art pirates, but I have to agree with Chrissy that they obviously love your work to go to the trouble of ‘borrowing’ it. By the way thanks for the info last year on how to purchase Infinity Blue, mission accomplished, very pleased.
    Love the photos on this blog. We always stayed at Plaza, so have walked the Kalamaki soooooo many times!!! I even recognise all the signs. Memories were brought to mind again and I cannot wait to get back to the best island in the world later this year.
    Keep up the good work, and take care.


    • Hi Rhonda!
      How nice to hear from you again. Thanks for all your kind words and I’m glad the ‘Infinity Blue’ worked out ok. I didn’t realise you were such a frequent visitor – next time you must drop in, it would be lovely to meet you! Roll on summer! Much love for now, Yvonne x


  4. Hi Yvone from a sweltering Umhlanga in South Africa!
    I have been following you for quite a while after ‘finding’ you on FB and really love your writings and also your art!
    Love your latest article as my husband runs the Kalamaki every morning while we are on the island during the summer month – we have a little villa at Sklithri – and knew Richard very well (even calling him ‘Sir Richard’)
    We would love to meet with you this year sometime during our time there
    Warm regards


    • Hi Janelle!
      SO glad you decided to say hello! Yes, I’d love to meet up when you’re next here and I’d love to learn more about South Africa too. My daughter recently returned from her honeymoon there and absolutely fell in love with it. (now, no more talk of ‘sweltering heat’, please, it’s more than she, in a still minus 22 snowy Moscow, and my poor readers in the north of Scotland and across the US, can bear!) LOL. I look forward to it, Janelle, stay cool! Yvonne x


      • Hi again Yvonne
        Thanks for your prompt response!
        We would love you to visit us in SA as we own a 4 star B&B here and have accommodation available for you! We will also gladly work out a nice itinerary for you to enable you to see what must be seen in our beautiful country, ocean (indian and atlantic) mountains, animals and all the different cultures living here
        Our website here http://www.villacalla.co.za – take a little look


  5. Dear Yvonne……….well I have no idea who encouraged you to keep blogging but, I am so glad so happy blogoversary 🙂 You will know by now that I love your posts, updates and informative pictures of Skiathos as well as catching up with a friend 😉
    I am sad that people feel the need to copy and reproduce without permission but in a way, it is a backhanded compliment…it may not feel like it but, you know no-one ever bothers to copy unless they really rate the content……..so I hope you sort it but, I am not altogether surprised.
    I love the Kalamaki images and descriptions…if I ever win the lottery, I would love a Villa on there although just lately I would settle for a kalivi somewhere about Kekria 😀
    I did find the translations so funny, in a moment of lucidity recently my mum tells me I am swearing too much, LOL. But, the others are priceless too.
    I also meant to say how much I enjoyed the last post, so much history there and very fascinating. I didn’t know that many people of Skiathos were descendants of Turkey and what a talk that must have been. I like it more when history is brought alive ….
    Anyway…enough!! I shall shut up for now….lots of love~ChrissyX


    • Aw, Thank you, Chrissy! You know , I think the nicest thing about blogging is all the friends one makes (and if we’re really lucky, get to meet too!) Like minded souls who can somehow read between the lines and understand what is really meant behind the words….. are a gift that most people today don’t make enough time for….Yes, you’re absolutely right, I should be flattered that people even think my work worth ‘borrowing’ – I hadn’t even considered that and it goes along way to making me feel better about the whole subject – Thank you! Hope you didn’t mind my putting that last bit in – I just thought it was SO funny, especially as I don’t think (contrary to what you say) that I’ve ever heard you swear!
      Now, about that kalivi in Kechria…itn’t it strange? that was always a dream of mine! (AND I know just the place…but I’m certainly not telling now…..!)Much love xx


  6. Thanks for this Yvonne – never let it go! Your light is brilliant. As much as the net can be as incredible a curse as it is a gift and I am dreadfully sorry that you’re having to deal with these issues, you are a one in a million that no one could truly reproduce. Thanks for the gift. I hope to have the opportunity to pick your lovely brain about these copyright issues in May. xxx Elle
    …had to try Google translate on this… 🙂
    Thanks to Yvonne for this – never let it go! Shining your light. Just as clean can be so incredible that curse is a gift and I’m terribly sorry to have to deal with these issues, you’re one in a million, which nobody can really play. Thanks for the gift. Hope you can select a beautiful mind on these intellectual property issues in May. xxx


    • LOL Eleanore!! I think I may have started something….That was hilarious, Thank you! And thank you too for your lovely comment – you’re another lady with a wonderful way with words and the amazing added talent of being able to express them through your music; I so enjoyed your latest album! Isn’t it fabulous just how much infinite inspiration Skiathos provides for us all! As you say, we are all truly blessed……Looking forward to seeing you soon, Much love to you and Paul xx


  7. Yvonne: This entry was my own to what would otherwise have been a dark and dreary February morning here in Washington, D.C. before heading off to teach. The emotions your insights evoked in me ranged from envy, to admiration, to empathy, to indignation, and finally, to hilarity! Your prose brings to mind author Adam Gopnik (“Paris to the Moon”), though I connect more with your muse, Skiathos.

    I’ll definitely need another post to get me through March!


    • Then I will do my best to oblige!
      Hi Lauren! Thank you for your lovely comment – you do have such a lovely way with words! I’m not familiar with Mr Gopnik but I’m sensing you may have just paid me a compliment that I probably don’t entirely deserve – so I’ll check him out right away! Meanwhile, don’t be too despondant about your mid winter gloom. Come the soaring temperatures of June/July here, (hard to imagine right now I know) you may well be longing for them! I’m really looking forward to your visit this year!. Keep warm! Much love and Thanks again. Yvonne x


  8. Oh Yvonne you are so fortunate to be missing Dreary old Edinburgh, with wind and rain and flu and night shift. Sounds like you’ve found your Utopia, Yes I have flu! Yes I am off in a few hours for night shift, with all my aches and pains but, for a few moments at least, i remembered how lovely Skiathos and Greece on the whole are. So thanks for cheering me up and making me envious at the same time.


    • Hello Gisella – lovely to hear from you! I’m so sorry though…at the thought of you having to face going out at all, let alone having to face a whole night shift, feeling as you do. Well whenever you fancy a good dose of Skiathos sunshine, just let me know. You’re always welcome to come and stay you know. I’m serious, I’d love your company! Meanwhile, take good care of yourself. Big hug, Yvonne xxx


  9. As usual, another wonderful blog. This time I enjoyed it even more because
    of your walk around Kalamaki, and to see a picture of my villa name..Tamarisk which was was brought to us from Mexico by guests.
    We are off to Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, next week to stay with friends..
    you would love it there Yvonne, it is a Colonial town high in the mountains
    which is the home of the Instituto which encourages artists, in fact it is a town
    of artists with many galleries…have a look on Google.
    Sorry about your copyright issues and I do not understand why anyone would translate your blog into googlygook…
    I think you are marvellously brave to stay alone in Skiathos in these
    winter months, although you have your painting and many interests
    to keep you busy. At least you are not buried in the white stuff like we


    • Thank you, Sandra!
      I thought seeing your sign might cheer you up! It is a particularly beautiful one – I love the colours! I do hope we can meet up this year, having both travelled so extensively, I’m sure we’d have so much to talk about and I’m looking forward to reading all about San Miguel Allende too- it sounds fascinating. Have a lovely trip and enjoy the warmer temperatures. Until then, wrap up well and keep warm! Much love, Yvonne x


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