I visited the Holy Mountain first in 1980.
Ouranopolis – 1980 : Although I didn’t realize at that moment, his wife Joyce was still living in the old tower of Ouranopolis. She died only a couple of years later, in 1982
At that time I did not have a lot of information about mount Athos, I had to satisfy myself with minimal information in tourist guides and books with old information, found in bookstores. It was told that one the most important books about a visit to the Hoy Mountain should be the book written by the man who lived in tower of Ouranopolis, Sydney Loch (Athos, The Holy Mountain). From that time on I have been looking for a copy of this book, but I did not find one.
Finally in 2007 I got a copy of the book published in 1957, when I celebrated my 50th birthday. Sydney Loch died in the winter of 1955 and his wife used his manuscripts the finish the book. He wrote the first 6 chapters himself on this typewriter:
The typewriter, glasses and manuscript of Sydney Loch in the Tower of Ouranopolis (now a Museum) – may 2007
I just finished reading the book this week and, although most things get better if you have to wait a long time, the book disappointed me a little bit. First of all the English language was difficult to read: I had trouble understanding the old fashioned (?) style of writing and I had to re-read sentences often. Is this because I am Dutch and not used to this kind of English, or do Englishman have the same problem reading his writing ?
Secondly I was not really impressed by the conversations he chose to write about. He had a lot encounters with ‘normal’ visitors and laborers, but the talks he had with these guys were not really interesting to read. On the other hand, he gives a lot of background information about the history and the stories about legends and holy events.
map of Athos from the Sydney Loch book
Ouranopolis – 1986Ouranopoli beach and tower – may 2007
Interiour of Sydney Loch’s home – may 2007
Sydney Loch’s bookshelf – may 2007
The Tower and museum – 2007
Door inside the Tower – 2007
The double headed eagle: detail inside the Tower – 2007
I spent every summer from 1958 with my parents at the Tower as guests of Mrs. Loch. and her companion Martha. Unfortunately Sydney had died by then so I didn’t meet him. Magical place.
Cathy Freeman nee Jones
I am actually in the middle of reading his book. I got myself a 1957 copy as well. Interesting book, but It is indeed a difficult read. I need to take a break every 5 pages or so. Both Curzon and Riley were much better writers and a lot easier to read. Robert Byron ‘s book also had a quite difficult to follow syntax.