Alphabetic chain … my letter “D”… yours…”E” (The Chain Game-Alphabet Soup)

I find myself caught in an alphabetical chain game started  appropriately by Adi, who is new to me. I am not a great fan of chains but I do like alphabet games…being a lifelong Scrabble player. I was nominated for the challenge by KG who had the letter “C” posting some photos of coffee, a camera, clouds and cassettes (check it out).

Just seen I have to post all the previous letters so here is B is for benefaction

The rules copied and pasted from Adi’s post are:

Objective: The goal is to complete the alphabet using a word starting with each letter. The game goes in order, post by post, starting with A as the first post and ending with Z as the last post. Once you find the word for your post, you must write a little something related to your word. You have complete freedom in how you want to creatively approach this: short story, personal relation to that word, poetry, etc. You can write whatever you want regarding your word. Finish the post by tagging 3 people for the next letter.

You do not need to know the word in advance. I looked on scrabble word finder for words starting with X  and I found xerosis, which I discovered to be a condition causing extremely dry skin. The idea I had was to tell the tale of a man suffering from xerosis who was placed in a leper colony due to his abnormal appearance. He then transforms into the leper messiah – one who preaches to the lepers. So you can be as creative as you want to be in writing about your word. Or you can strictly stick to talking about the meaning of the word ; the choice is yours.


1. First poster in the chain always starts with A (anyone can start a chain). Otherwise pick up at the next letter in the alphabet.

2. Write something in relation to your word. The word can be a focal point or merely a thematic element; creative writing pieces are welcome. Personal experiences, thoughts on the meaning of the word, and why you like a certain word are also welcome. This part is intentionally left open to the writer; do as you wish.

3. Leave links to the previous alphabet posts in alphabetical order.

4.  Tag 3 fellow bloggers for the next letter.

So I have the letter “D”, not my favourite letter because it is my brother Danny’s initial (sibling rivalry and all that jazz).

What does begin with D? Denmark, dandelions, daffodils, Dickens, Dodge, draft, ducks, dragons, doves, Dar es Salaam, dirty, diecasts, December, De Lillo, da Vinci, De Tomaso, DeAgostini, Drybridge Market, doubles, Dinky Toys, drugs, drawing, dreams…

D is for Dove

My only tattoo is of a dove, a symbol of peace…

my dove tattoo, when it was freshly inked

If my letter were “P” I might explore “peace” more…I am not especially interested in doves as birds but more their symbolism. I got the tattoo on my fortieth birthday, my gesture to “mid life crisis”, it seemed more appropriate for me than going out with a woman half my age or getting a Harley Davidson Motorbike. That was 10 years ago, when I was saddened by all the wars…ten years on living in the Middle East, there are wars all around in the North there is the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, in the south there is IS taking vast swathes of land and misery in Iraq and Syria and recently conflict in Yemen has erupted. Here in Georgia, there are two frozen conflicts with Russia concerning the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia 😦

D is for Diecast

My hobby as many of my followers will be aware is collecting diecast cars, indeed I have a separate blog to cover this interest. Die casting involves injecting a metal alloy (usually Mazak or Zamak)  into an extremely accurate mould cavity, the casting equipment and the metal dies represent large capital costs and this tends to limit the process to high volume production. In England the major diecast car manufacturers were Matchbox, Dinky and Corgi.  On my first birthday cake I had a Matchbox car and on my third birthday cake I had three… My earliest memory is being on a train with a Matchbox Car Transporter, so this hobby connects the 50 year old me with the child I was.  For thirty years from 14 to 44, I didn’t have a great passion for collecting model cars, I had other hobbies and interests (travelling, following bands, studying …),  coming to Georgia I started collecting small cars again. I get as excited now, at 50, finding a model I’m looking for as I did back when I was 9 years old. I have over 500 model cars in varying scales and brands but my favourites have always been the 3 inch sized Matchbox cars. Matchbox are still found today, but they are no longer made by Lesney in England, they are made in Thailand by Mattel (who incidentally also produce Hot Wheels, Matchbox erstwhile  rivals). D is for Dinky, I know lots of collectors love Dinky but I only have one in my collection, I always preferred Corgi (the ones with the windows) to Dinky.

Some old Corgi cars in my collection

Some old Corgi cars in my collection made in the sixties. Renault 16TS, Ghia L6.4 and Jaguar E Type

D is for Dodge

Dodge is one of the brands of the Chrysler group. Dodge made many American Muscle Cars including the ’69 “General Lee” Dodge Charger in the “Dukes of Hazzard“. My Dodges are a mix of Matchbox and Hot Wheels, no General Lee yet.


Dodge Diecasts

Now I should nominate three fellow bloggers for the next letter “E” or “e” not the easiest of letters for beginning words in English:

  1. Jane because I saw you just blogged about Earth Day and because I love your posts.
  2. Joel because you are a fellow diecast collector and one of my first followers
  3. Uncle Spike because you are in neighbouring Turkey and I love your take on life

Good luck!

Feel free to start your own chain or pick up with E from my post even if I didn’t tag you. And if I tagged you please don’t feel you have to continue the chain…I don’t believe in any superstitious nonsense about bad luck if you break the chain.

A review of my 2014

2014 is only the second year of my life, when I didn’t spend any time in England (the first was 1998, the worst year of my life, which I spent entirely in Wales).

We only left Georgia once in 2014, way back in January, to visit Ephesus. If you like ruined cities, Ephesus is a must. We spent a week in the area.

Ephesus 093In 2014, I finished teaching at the French School and started working at Opiza school, time will tell if this was a wise decision. I also teach private individuals.

This is me teaching.

This is me teaching.

2014 wasn’t a particularly exceptional year. I turned 50 (as I grow older the years seem to pass more quickly). In the late Summer we visited Qobuleti on the Black Sea coast, for a beach holiday…if it rains in Qobuleti there isn’t much to do (luckily it only rained on one day of our stay).

When it rains in Kobuleti options are severly limited.

When it rains in Kobuleti options are severly limited.

We have a new grandchild, Lazare, born on 1st August. Our oldest grandchild, Ana, started school in September, she still likes it (wonder how long that will last).

Ana ready for school

Ana ready for school

As the time I spent on the metro increased, so did my reading. 29 books read in 2013 and 47 books read in 2014. Highlights included “Cathedral of the Sea” by Ildefonso FalconesIstanbul by Orhan Pamuk and “Dumb Witness” by Agatha Christie.

I took thousands of photos, sharing some on this blog and many more on Facebook.

I added around 240 model cars to my diecast collection and wrote about this in my diecast blog.

Three Corgi Cars from my collection.

Three Corgi Cars from my collection.

My Georgian Language skills made some slow progress, but I really need to resolve once again to learn Georgian seriously and consistently.

I posted 266 posts to this blog in 2014, regularly rising to the Weekly Photo Challenge, reviewing the books I have read, sharing my thoughts on the life of a foreigner in Tbilisi and generally writing about what interested me and I hope may have interested you, too.

I wish you all a Happy New year 2015.

Santas cycling.

Santas cycling.

One Year of Blogging

I have been blogging for one year !

7 November 2013 I posted my first blog post.

Lamborghini Gallardo

Then a lengthier post about Blogging

starting a blog

From those early beginnings I have made a further 268 posts on  this primary blog and 168 posts on a second blog. The second blog is focused on my hobby of collecting diecast model cars (Matchbox, Hot Wheels etc)  diecast blog

The viewing stats make for compulsive viewing, for the primary blog they peaked in March and then dropped to August and have since made a small revival.

monthly views (primary blog)

monthly views (primary blog)

The diecast blog stats are different they keep going up and up.

diecast blog viewing stats

diecast blog viewing stats

The two blogs are quite different the diecast blog has had 7721 views (6 Nov 2014) but it only has 27 followers. The primary blog has had far fewer views (3796) but has far more followers (134).

The diecast blog being more specialised gets a lot of hits from search engines, if someone were to type “Deagostini Supercars”  or “Eaglemoss Ferrari” into Google my blog would be high up in the findings.

This primary blog has a wide range of topics. From the beginning it was intended as a showcase for my photos and I have been regularly posting images here. I also follow the “Weekly Photo Challenge” which appears each Friday with a new topic to depict. the most recent being “Descent”

metro escalator


I also use the blog to interpret my life in Tbilisi (Georgia) as a foreigner and particularly my struggles with the Georgian Language. I love reading and each book I read is reviewed as are the much rarer films I see at the cinema (the last  film I saw was Guardians of the Galaxy ).

I find blogging quite compulsive, sharing my thoughts and images with the cyberworld, I’m not sure if blogging has changed me as a person, I hope it has made me a better writer and photographer, but it may be to early to judge.

I tend to use Twitter, Pinterest, Stumble Upon and Google+ merely for posing links to my blog posts. I spend a lot more time (probably too much) on Facebook. The first two windows I open on my computer when I turn it on are Facebook and WordPress.

I have learnt a lot reading other blogging posts, I will tend to follow those who follow me and also other WordPress sites I find on various Google searches I make. I first blogged a photo of a Matchbox Lamborghini Gallardo, now I have a second one.


Matchbox Lamborghini Gallardo Police

Matchbox Lamborghini Gallardo Police


Blogging Statistics

I am quite an avid follower of my blogging statistics. I have two blogs, this one and a specialist  diecast blog. Both began around the same time in November 2013.

This one is about many things but mainly for sharing my photos (especially responding to the “Weekly Photo Challenge”), reviewing books I’ve read and trying to make sense of living in a foreign land (Georgia…the language and customs etc…). This is the 207th post, the blog has 126 followers (hi y’all!). Views peaked in March and have gone down slowly since.

Blog views by month.

Blog views by month.

The diecast blog statistics are quite different. There I have made 147 posts, I have just 23 followers but the views are going up month after month.

diecast blog monthly view graph

diecast blog monthly view graph

The geographical distribution for the two blogs differs, too.

For the main blog:

  1. USA                 777 views
  2. Georgia           545
  3. UK                     502
  4. Germany             90
  5. Canada                75
  6. Philippines           65
  7. Czech Rep           65
  8. Russian Fed       53
  9. Australia             47
  10. Turkey               42
  11. Spain                 35
  12. Azerbaijan          33

A large gap between the top three and the rest.

With my diecast blog USA is still number one:

  1. USA                    780 views
  2. UK                       558
  3. Philippines           516
  4. Romania              293
  5. Australia              261
  6. Brazil                   227
  7. Georgia              185
  8. India                    160
  9. France                102
  10. Singapore             96
  11. Indonesia              95
  12. Germany               76

No surprise seeing USA and UK, first and second, but Philippines in third is interesting, I know a few Filipinos through Facebook who are very keen collectors of Hot Wheels cars. In my adopted country Georgia, there isn’t a big diecast scene.

Thanks to all my viewers and followers any comments appreciated.




Walking to loosen the creative flow

I get many blogging ideas when I’m walking. Every day I try to walk for an hour at least in total. If you’re sitting at a blank screen, wondering what to write, I recommend you go for a walk. A study at Stanford University found a person walking indoors – on a treadmill in a room facing a blank wall – or walking outdoors in the fresh air produced twice as many creative responses compared to a person sitting down. 

Wordsworth was a walker. Charles Dickens was a walker, he would walk at night because he had a problem sleeping. Virginia Woolf walked for inspiration.

From where I live on the ninth floor of a Soviet block in Varketili to the metro station is a 15 minute walk. I can take a bus, but rarely do as I prefer to walk.

I could take a bus but rarely do, they are very crowded.

I could take a bus but rarely do, they are very crowded.

The route isn’t the most exciting, but that can be good for thinking creatively. I always carry my camera in a pouch on my belt in case I see anything interesting. The route is the same but there are different cars, people, animals and skies.

Sunlight is good for us, sunlight stimulates hormones (cortisol and melatonin, for example) in ways that promote activity and rest.

Sat at a computer we can be overstimulated checking our Facebook, Twitter, Inbox etc…the brain needs some downtime. Ideas need time to incubate: after you encounter a problem, some part of your brain will work on it while you’re working on other things.

The start of my daily walk to the metro.

The start of my daily walk to the metro.

A wet day an urban landscape, not the most inspiring day, but once walking I start thinking. Ideas flow.  I thought about writing this post.

Walking is also good exercise and helps me sleep.


100th Post

I feel I should make a special post to mark my 100th post on this blog, but I’m not feeling especially inspired. I could reflect back on the previous 99 blog posts. Maybe, I’ll just post an eclectic mix of photos I took, yesterday around Tbilisi.

P1090344Many trees in the city have an unusual shape being regularly cut back.


The flag of the Orthodox Church displayed on a balcony, typical of Tbilisi, where balconies and symbols of the Orthodox Church abound.

P1090350A GAZ Volga 24, still many of these around, although now outnumbered by BMWs and Mercedes.

P1090351A back street in the prestigious suburb of Vake.

P1090353Construction happening around the city is encouraging, demonstrating hope for the future. The lack of safety equipment used by construction workers is worrying. It is a dangerous job.

001Tbilisi at night: Nariqala Fortress and Metekhi Church

Thank you all who follow this blog (50 of you so far) and all my readers. I’m still not sure where this blog is going but the journey is interesting. Your likes and comments are always welcome.


31 December 2013, a time to look back on the old year and reflect.

Travelling: Compared to other years we did very little travelling in 2013. In Georgia we just went out of Tbilisi to nearby Sighnaghi, Pasanauri, Lomisa and Rustavi.

We made the annual trip to England, where in 3 weeks, we visited London, Cambridge, Cornwall, Cheltenham, the Cotswolds, York, Bewdley and Worcester.

We also moved from Saburtalo in the centre of Tbilisi to Varketili on the outskirts.

Photography: I bought a new camera in England a Panasonic Lumix TZ40…every day I take many photos, most of which are posted on Facebook and some of which find there way onto my blog.


Here’s a photo of my lovely wife, Khato in London. The London Eye giving her a halo.

Work: I continue to work as an English teacher but less in school and more privately than at the start of the year.

Blogging: this blog began in November and has quite a geographical spread of readers. USA, Georgia and UK being the source of most readers.


Greetings to you dear reader wherever you may be.

I have a second blog about my hobby of collecting diecast cars.

I added 175 diecast models to my collection in 2013 at a cost of 988 lari and 72 tetri (almost £350).


Some of my Porsche models.

Reading: 29 books read (24 in English, 5 in French, still half way through my first book in Georgian). The reviews of the most recently read have been put on this blog. (2012: 24 books, 2011, 48 books).Highlights included “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood, “Blood, Sweat and Tea” by Tom Reynolds and “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut. My reading has increased since moving to Varketili, because I have longer metro journeys. I have also joined a group “Tbilisi English Book Swap”, which meets once a month in a cafe in Tbilisi to swap books in English. A list of all the books I have read can be found here

Family is important to me but I don’t feel like sharing my thoughts about my family publicly on this blog.

I wish you all a Happy New year 2014.


I started blogging one month ago. It seems quite addictive. I have created 24 posts here and a further 12 posts on a second blog devoted to my  diecast collecting hobby:

173 views on the main blog, 56 views on the diecast blog.

I wonder whether I should “go premium” at a cost of $99/year.

The main blog has been viewed in 8 countries:

  1. USA                   62
  2. Georgia            47
  3. UK                      36
  4. Phillippines  12
  5. New Zealand 6
  6. Guam                  4
  7. Czech Rep        4
  8. Germany            1

The diecast blog has been viewed in ten countries:

  1. USA                     25
  2. Philippines      14
  3. Guam                     3
  4. UK                          2
  5. Georgia                2
  6. New Zealand    1
  7. France                  1
  8. Saudi Arabia     1
  9. India                      1
  10. Colombia            1

Quite a diverse geographical range, no viewers from Canada or Australia yet.

To all my viewers I would like to say “hello, bonjour, გარმაჯობა, hola, namaste, salaam, ahoj…etc…” Please feel free to comment, I’m still new to this blogging milieu.


The view from the window this morning, sunrise over Varketili (Tbilisi, Georgia).





Blog to beat procrastination?

I have a lot of unstructured time. My job as a private English teacher means I’m mostly teaching in the evenings and on Saturday. Today (Monday), for example, I don’t start teaching until 4pm. So I have a lot of time between getting up (8.30am) and starting work. I find Facebook sucks a lot of that time up: commenting, catching up with friends and playing Scrabble (and occasionally Song Pop).I have 652 Facebook friends and I’m in numerous groups, so there is always something to look at on my Newsfeed and before you know it hours have passed and nothing of consequence has been produced. One of the incentives for starting this blog was a need to structure my time more productively and also develop my writing skills and share some of the many photos I take. I have always had a tendency to procrastinate…and not make best use of my time…a trait exacerbated by Facebook and the Internet.

Some things I want to do:


1. Georgian: I have been in Georgia for 4 years and I can barely make a few sentences. I understand only the most basic instructions. I made a New Year’s Resolution at the beginning of 2013, that by the end of 2013 I would be able to toast in Georgian. I don’t think this will now be possible. I have learnt some words but the amount of time devoted to learning Georgian has been minimal.

2. Plank: I saw this on Facebook. An exercise called planking that develops the core. The idea is to build up from 20 seconds on the first day to 5 minutes or more on the 30th day.

I can’t do more than one minute. I do get some exercise walking to and from the metro station (15 minutes). I also swim once a week.

3. Drawing and Painting: I want to improve my drawing. In 2001, I would draw a picture or two each day, the discipline was good and my drawing improved. But I have let it slide. I would also like to try painting with acrylics. At weekends, I often play around with water colours with my grand daughter, which is great fun an activity I’d highly recommend for both adult and child.

4. Prepare Lessons: Doing this the day before would be great so I’m not rushing around at the last minute.

5. Blog. This blog, as I noted above, one of the reasons for starting this blog was to motivate myself to mke better use of my time. Also I hope blogging will improve my writing skills.


  1. Swim. We have started swimming at the Olympic Pool on a Wednesday Morning. Last year when I was teaching in the French school, they have their own pool and I was able to profit from this facility every Friday afternoon. I enjoy swimming and it is good whole body exercise.
  2. Phone Mum. Mum is living on her own in York since Dad died in 2011. I should phone her once a week. I will need to top up my phone. Our family is all geographically spread out, my brother is in Newquay and my sisters are in Slough and India, so I  it is difficult for us to see Mum…I go to England just once a year.
  3. Read a book. Before I joined Facebook I was reading six books a month on average, this has dropped to just two. I’m currently reading “The Idiot” by Dostoevsky, a rare foray into classic literature, usually I read crime or thrillers.
  4. Scan Computer. I should integrate this as part of my routine.

Well that is a start. Let’s see how well  keep it up. My life is full of this slightly American desire for self-improvement.

Another post about procrastination, seems I have competition 😉


The instant gratification monkey is apt to take over whenever I try to get down to doing stuff…

Starting a blog.

Reading  “Blood, Sweat and tea” is what inspired me to start a blog. Not quite sure the theme, I guess it depends if anyone follows or if I get suitably inspired.
“Blood, Sweat and Tea” is the blog of a London Ambulance Driver turned into a book. This blog is not likely to have as much by way of bodily fluids….


Maybe I should introduce myself. My name is Jim Holroyd (real name…should I blog anonymously?)

I’m an Englishman living in Tbilisi, capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

I have been here 4 years, I only came originally as a tourist for three days, but I was invited to a wedding, where I met my future wife.

I visited Georgia because at the time I had an idea I wanted to visit all the countries of Europe by the time I’m 50. Next year, I hit fifty and my goal won’t have been achieved, I ve visted over half the countries of Europe but since moving to Georgia, I’ve only added one new country to that list: Azerbaijan…I haven’t even ventured as far as neighbouring Armenia.

In the Summer I hope to make the pilgrimage to Santiago del Compostela, the Hindus have the idea that when you reach fifty, you should have your material life sorted and should focus on the spiritual by making a pilgrimage. I visited Santiago del Compostela by train in 1990 with Chrissie.

I plan to start the trek from Porto in Portugal, a less used route than the classic one from the Pyrenees. Not sure if I’ll be up to walking for two weeks…I regularly walk an hour a day in the city but walking 20 to 30km a day will be challenging:

1 Porto – Vilarinho (or Vila do Conde) 27 kms
2 Vilarinho – Barcelos 27 kms
3 Barcelos – Ponte de Lima 33.5 kms
4 Ponte de Lima – Rubiães 20.5 kms
5 Rubiães – Valença or Tui 20 kms
6 Valença or Tui – Redondela 30 kms
7 Redondela – Pontevedra 20.5 kms
8 Pontevedra – Caldas de Reis 21.1 kms
9 Caldas de Reis – Padrón 17 kms
10 Padrón – Santiago 23.9 kms

Any comments about the blog will be appreciated.