Letter to America on persisting with regime change in foreign countries

What about those pushing for regime change in yet another sorry middle eastern country actually having the foggiest idea what you are doing? What about taking stock of the fact that this has never worked until now and has only succeeded in reducing the Middle East from a cradle of civilization to a barren wasteland in a matter of decades?

What about taking time to educate yourselves and develop some kind of inkling about the cultural, historical, ethnic and geographical nuances of the countries you are meddling with like someone going at some poor sod’s brain with a blunt screwdriver, telling him you are performing vital brain surgery?

What about considering that trying to sprinkle democracy over ancient feudal/tribal systems like parmesan over pasta does not actually work; it simply creates a vacuum which vicious new players with very undemocratic agendas (who you in your bumbling stupidity never even knew existed) can occupy, unleashing fearful new forces on the population just as we have witnessed in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. How many times does this have to happen before you get it??

What about taking a good, hard look at the levels of education/ literacy/ cultural preparedness of said country to be able to effectively understand/ assimilate and take to heart the very foreign concept of western-style democracy in a way that does not provide yet another dictator (either local or foreign) with a long-awaited platform to impose fresh, unthought-of tyranny?

What about ceasing to cry crocodile tears for the poor downtrodden masses in the countries you are ‘targeting’ because you have aligned yourself with the sleaziest dictators on the planet when it has suited your purpose, piggybacking shamelessly on popular suffering to further your own selfish ends at their expense? What about your heart bleeding a bit for the Palestinians who you have helped Israel bully for over half a century?

What about stepping back and allowing nations to develop their own solutions to their own problems in their own way and in their own time rather than trying to ‘liberate’ them into some new nightmare which, thanks largely to you, has become the tragic case throughout the Middle East.

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Things to do in Seychelles – written for British Airways


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Seychelles gourmet experience


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Poetry: Partners of the soul

Relieved we didn’t complicate it in that way

And kept a golden friendship anyway

Free from the mundanities that fuel our strife

And, all too often, become our Life


Whoever said “there are those we marry… and those we love”

Said it all in simple verse

So, I’m happy to find you in this irony

Free of expectation, promises and fated anomaly


Yet, in another world, we would be such keepers of our word

Such partners of the soul, such breakers of the mould

That it takes courage not to succumb

To what, (in this life), we must not become!







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Seychelles amazing boutique aquarium

Seychelles’ amazing, boutique aquarium


By Glynn Burridge

There are many kinds of aquarium dotted across the planet in which to enjoy different experiences of the underwater world. Some of these host impressive displays and spectacular species which are indeed fascinating to behold, while others adopt a more subtle approach and one that can lead to the learning experience of a lifetime.
The newly opened Eden Aquarium on Mahé Island’s Eden Island is one of the latter and although only relatively small in size in comparison to, for example, the giant aquarium you find in Dubai, has been cunningly and lovingly conceived to provide a display of Seychelles’ marine creatures in which quality, not quantity or size, is king.
The brain behind this aquarium is Mr. Charles Savy, a Seychellois who has been diving the islands’ waters since 1977
Charles, who also runs a successful, live aboard dive charter operation for discerning divers, is nothing less than a human library when it comes to his favourite subject, and his expertise concerning Seychelles’ underwater world is instantly apparent. But it is clearly his passion and philosophy that is behind the drive to understand, appreciate and share
“After so many years of observation I just started to put some small pieces of this gigantic puzzle together and at the same time discover that each piece of the puzzle is a puzzle within itself. It’s all about habitat. When we know the conditions that a particular animal requires for it to feed and reproduce, unless it has already been fished out, there is a good chance the animal will be there!”
“Understanding life on our planet is vital to understanding and sustaining our own. We are all from the same source.”
It is this rich vein of knowledge that Charles has invested in his aquarium, a task that took him and his two assistants some three years to complete. On most days during that time Charles could be found busy undertaking a diverse number of tasks from the simplest and most mundane to the highly specialised. As a small aquarium, there was no massive budget to bring designers, engineers, and aquarium specialists from every corner of the globe as is the case with many big aquarium projects. So Charles and his small team tackled everything including design and layout, construction and decoration using the widest selection of materials.
“Much of what we did we had to learn and getting the materials we needed was one of the biggest challenges” Charles says, “as just one example, the search for a suitable background for the mangrove tank went on for a very long time without success. I was trying to find a 6m length of 2mm thick turquoise coloured ABS (the same plastic that phones, kitchen utensils and aircraft interiors as well as many other things are made off) from California to Taiwan and it seemed the only way was to order a minimum of five hundred kg when we only needed ten. Eventually, we decided to paint it, but I had to create the colour myself in a solvent-less food grade epoxy, mixing colorants usually used for colouring paints for floors of food factories.”
He continues, “amongst other tasks, learning to bond acrylic by polymerisation was a necessary and challenging task, while the devotion necessary to polish the bonds to create the final product required the patience of a saint.”
Much more than meets the eye has gone into the building of this home from home for some truly amazing species of marine life.
“My close involvement with every stage of the construction of the aquarium has provided me with an intimate connection to it and to its various life forms, most of which I have personally brought in from different parts of the archipelago,” explains Charles, “and this is a huge advantage when it comes to the maintenance and expansion of the project because I am not only familiar with every nut, bolt and process of the installation, but also with the peculiarities of every single one of its residents’’.
This process has resulted in a hand-picked selection of marine life such as would be difficult to achieve in a larger, less personal enterprise and this is the very theme which runs through the displays at Eden Aquarium to a point where, listening to Charles describing them, they might very well be inter-connected as the separate components of one giant, single organism.
“But we did not choose all of the displays – some chose us,” Charles adds. “Take for example the Saragassum Frogfish, a fish that neither I nor anyone else I know has ever seen in the water locally. It fell on the boat like mana from heaven. Just as we were bringing fish from the depths, this one fell on the deck, from a piece of seaweed that had caught on one of the buckets.”
The special knowledge of the origin and habitat of each and every animal in the aquarium makes for the unique level of detail that is the hallmark of the Eden Aquarium and for the rich learning experience it provides to its visitors looking to be wowed by something more than just size and volume.
In the same way that investigating beneath a simple rock in a tide pool can reveal a world every bit as intricate, detailed and fascinating as the more obvious one that lies alongside a forest path, the Eden Aquarium holds many surprises in store for the marine investigator who wants to dig that little bit deeper and have an opportunity to join the dots between the miracle of life in the deep.
For the person who knows nothing about the sea, Eden Aquarium is simply a delightful discovery of more than just fish. It is an interwoven tapestry of art, science and nature cared for with dedication, passion and flair.


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Tehran’s ancient Armenian church: Resting place of Sir Walter Scott’s youngest son, Charles

Tehran’s Armenian Church of Saints Teddy and Bartholomew

Finding Charles Scott (Sir Walter Scott’s son’s) obscure grave in Tehran, Iran, where he died of a fever in 1841.

I grew up in Iran where I arrived in 1960 from the UK at age 5 and where my parents were attached to the British Embassy.
While In my teens, the then British Ambassador, Sir Denis Wright, took me under his wing and to many amazing places in Iran, kindling my love of Iran, Farsi and all things Iranian. He was old school- from a time when diplomats actually had to speak the language of the country to which they were posted and know something of it. Sir Denis knew Iran backwards and I was privileged to learn from him.
I think it may have been he who first spoke of a tiny church in the bazaar that contained the remains of some important British nationals but I cannot recall with whom I first went there, which would have been sometime in the late 60s.
Bordering the grand bazaar, whose sprawl covered 10sq km, on the east side was a street called Cyrus Street and in that street was a grand teahouse in the old Persian style and it may well have been a bazaar merchant who I worked for as a translator who took me from there to the church.
I cannot begin to tell you how off the beaten track that place was! The bazaar was an impossible labyrinth of dim, winding passages in which a small army might lose itself with no problem. I recall only a mud wall amongst a million others and a tall wooden door which gave way to a courtyard and, from there, into a tiny church, one room of which contained the headstones. The chances of stumbling across it are absolutely zero, and of finding it again after the initial visit, almost zero. I found and re-lost it so many times that I lost count!
The church was Armenian and the oldest church in Tehran, dating back to somewhere between 1793 and the turn of the century and it was totally logical that, in the absence of other churches, deceased British nationals should be buried there, one mile south of the Embassy. This is where Charles lies, in a dimly lit room off of the Church of Thaddeus and Bartholomew.
Back in the day, I am not aware of anyone else who knew of that church and, being bilingual in Farsi, I began taking interested parties there..when I could find it! Once I came across someone in the church who might loosely be described as a ‘janitor’ and I asked him if he saw anyone. He replied, “you, mainly!” That told me that the church had fallen well and truly off the map and that with the absence of Iranian scholars in the Embassy, so it would remain.
I visited many, many times, haunted by the gravestones and the personalities who lay beneath them. Charles is buried alongside Mr Alison, a very eccentric former British ambassador with a colourful lifestyle and a British parson who translated the Bible into Persian. Charles died 175 years ago the day after tomorrow!
My visits were interrupted by the Islamic Revolution and I never returned, although I have in mind to do so.
The all-pervasive internet changes everything, however, and shines light into the darkest of inner sanctums. Imagine my surprise when someone recently sent me the link above which shows that someone has taken interest in the old church and its inhabitants. Judging by his name, he is an Armenian and I am still trying to locate him. Meanwhile, enjoy the link and the pictures.
I remain on hand to explain further, should you so wish. BTW, I certainly did not ‘discover’ this grave but am among the very few to have seen it…until now, I hope!

Glynn Burridge

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Hafez poetry



مزرع سبز فلک دیدم و داس ماه نو

 I spied the spangled field of stars

And the sickle of the moon


فکر از کشث خیش امد و هنگام درو

 Thoughts turned to the harvest of my life

And to its reaping, all to soon.

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Branding a tourism destination

Branding a tourism destination
Glynn Burridge

We increasingly live in a world cluttered with brands of cars, clothes, food, accessories and, in fact, just about anything you care to care to name. Very little escapes the pressing need to be branded with a specific personality which, hopefully, differentiates branded items from their competition.
In our busy modern world, it is not at all surprising that branding is big business with major companies specialised in the art of spinning fresh, new corporate personalities seated atop a pyramid of artistic directors, creatives, graphics designers and copywriters, all helping to stir the magic brew.
At the outset of the international tourism industry at the end of the last world war, relatively few destinations were consciously and actively engaged in tourism but today that situation is standing on its head whereby just about every nation on the planet is in the marketplace.
Seychelles got on the bandwagon relatively soon after the birth of its tourism industry which happened at the official opening of its international airport in 1972. Its first tourism brand was ‘unique by a thousand miles’ and even today you are hard pushed to find anyone who does not admire that strapline for the way it perfectly captures the spirit of Seychelles as a remote oasis far from the madding crowd and very different from everywhere else.
The catchy Seychelles slogan proved to be enduring and lasted pretty much until the famous black and white campaign of the early millennium which positioned Seychelles as ‘as pure as it gets’. This campaign was controversial in so far as it chose not to represent Seychelles in colour but rather in classic black and white images to emphasise its high-end appeal. The campaign rolled out with the help of a major international advertising agency was, generally speaking, a hit and its blend of ingenuity, and the stunning, carefully-crafted visuals that fuelled dynamic international marketing campaigns, turned heads.
As pure as it gets continued to do its job until a change at the Tourism Board in 2006 occasioned a fresh look at the brand, identifying a need to align it once again with colour. With the help of the Union, a prominent Edinburgh advertising house with Seychelles connections, extensive work was undertaken in consultation with Seychelles tourism stakeholders to identify the future direction of the new, national tourism brand.
What emerged was ‘The Seychelles Islands…another world,’ a proud return to colour imagery and slick strap lines which placed emphasis on the Seychelles islands as a multi-faceted, diverse destination very much akin to a lost Jurassic world: secluded, pristine and brimming with life above and beneath the waves.
It worked beautifully and the slogan, accompanied by breath- taking colour visuals and a suite of much admired collateral materials, has helped position Seychelles as a popular destination for the discerning traveller. It has also broadened its appeal to target a new demographic of traveller who is looking for an affordable vacation, thus breaking the perception that Seychelles is only for the rich and famous.
Each of its brands has played an important role in the growing population of Seychelles as a sought after holiday destination and one can only wonder what direction will be taken when rebranding time comes around once again?

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Poem: Return of the Native – Egbert Ollmann

Return of the native

Egbert Ollmann

Salt of the Earth Traveller

So very far from home

African adventures in a battered car

Exploring a world gentler than ours

Winds of destiny brought you, tumbling, to these shores

On a boat that breathed its last

On Praslin’s golden sands

From there, she called you

And for forty years, made you her own

The love affair of an island

And her man

Now, my friend, she summons you one final time,

Her old flame

To return your proud ashes to her sweet soil

For ever

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The boy at the window



What seems like a very distant 50 years ago, a young boy stood for the very first time at the south-facing bedroom window of the Priston Mill farmhouse, gazing in wonder at the bucolic scene spread before him like a banquet, drinking in the sights and sounds of what was a busy farm way back then. He was there as a guest of Peter Hopwood, a school chum from Taunton School where they were both boarding, and invited for the short Easter hols as his own parents lived on the other side of the world, in Iran.

Today, that same boy, now an ageing man, stands again at that very same window, looking out over fields of harvested gold as if Priston were a time-machine – a Tardis capable of compressing half a century into two delicious moments.

The surrounding fields appear to be quite the same in this charming, rustic corner of Somerset, little-changed down the centuries and so very far from the hustle and bustle of the neighbouring towns which lie at the distant end of a meandering maze of country lanes and bye-roads dotted with sleepy hamlets, church spires and patchwork fields.

Bath and Bristol are both nearby but might easily lie hundreds of miles away from this enchanted countryside cocoon. And yet, on closer inspection, much has changed because, today, Priston is now one of the most sought-after wedding venues in the area offering both civil ceremonies and wedding receptions.

The herds of dairy cattle and arable pursuits of yesteryear have long given way to a highly efficient infrastructure for hosting weddings in what has remained one of the most beautiful settings imaginable – the very same one that stole the heart of that young boy all those years ago.

The historic water mill has been refurbished, its olde worlde charm now the backdrop for stylish weddings where guests can enjoy a full range of modern amenities and of course the mill’s manicured gardens, recreation area for children, pergola & pagoda – all fringed by a gurgling stream and framed by the timeless beauty of the countryside. On the other side of the gardens, the old Tythe Barn has magically risen like a new Phoenix, casting a spell that marries the rustic charm and beauty of a bygone era with the ability to cater for around 160 guests in a refined, elegant ambiance.

As I turn away from my time-warp window, I can’t help reflecting on all the magic that has been woven here since I was that young lad still in school and on the way that Priston Mill has embraced a wonderful new future while at the same time remaining faithful to its past.

I am convinced this is the secret of its success and I have a sneaky suspicion that the young boy standing beside me at the window, on the far side of time, might agree.

Glynn Burridge Author, Freelance, Copywriter, Seychelles Tourism Board Consultant

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