The House of Leda

Beyond the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, just outside the small village of Kouklia in Cyprus, a trail meanders along the hillside. To the left lie scorched fields of yellow grass, broken by the dual carriageway that joins Paphos to Lemesos, before sweeping towards the endless blue expanse of the Mediterranean.

Sanctuary of Aphrodite, Paphos, Cyprus.

The trail is stony and littered with white pebbles. Occasionally, if you are lucky, an orange-tailed lizard scurries across the path.

After a short stretch the winding trail ends at the House of Leda. Very little remains of the house itself, apart from a copy of a mosaic of Leda and the swan. A silver plaque reads (in both Greek and English): Copy of a mosaic representing Leda and the swan. The original is exhibited in the Cyprus museum. The mosaic with the geometric decoration is the original one. 2nd-3rd century AD.

The mosaic is incomplete. Many of the little stones that make up the picture are missing, making the onlooker use their imagination to recreate the whole. Perhaps this imperfection is all part of its beauty. 

Leda and the swan mosaic. Kouklia museum, Cyprus.

The geometric border of the mosaic gives the impression of a crashing surf on the shore. This could be a subtle reference to the birth of Aphrodite herself (according to Hesiod in The Theogony, Aphrodite was born from the sea foam crashing on to the island of Cyprus. The Greek word aprhos means “foam”).  The square central section depicts Leda preparing to disrobe, attended by a swan (Zeus in disguise) attempting to pinch at her dress. Shades of pink, white and brown capture the illusion of light. Although Leda has her back to the onlooker, she casts a backwards glance over her shoulder, as if she knows you are watching her bathe. 

You are a voyeur.

Her shawl drapes over her left arm, dropping loosely in folds beneath her exposed bottom, before it’s clasped again in her right hand. What looks like a font frames her left side and a tree her right.

According to one version of the myth, Leda was bathing in a pool by moonlight when Zeus, the king of the gods, saw her and fell in love with her beauty. Fell “in lust” is probably more accurate, as the gods in Greek myth, especially Zeus, often take advantage of helpless damsels. Zeus transformed himself into a swan in order to get close to her and then ravaged her. Afterwards, so the story goes, Leda gave birth to an egg which hatched into a beautiful baby girl. The girl grew up to become none other than Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships, the most beautiful woman in all of Greece. 

Helen is often reputed to be one of the causes for the Trojan war.

It’s an interesting myth. Like many myths, you can draw a number of lessons from it, depending on your interpretation. Is it a moral about beauty being the cause of conflict? Or perhaps the lesson is not to go out alone when randy Greek gods are on the prowl!

I’m not sure. I wonder if the original artist ever envisaged people still pondering over the mosaic centuries later? For me the mosaic represents how time has the capacity to change all things, sometimes even beyond their original meaning.

What happens when you deactivate your social media?

We’ve all either done it or considered doing it at some point.

Like real life relationships, our relationship with social media changes over time. People in our networks come and go; the platforms themselves evolve, along with our reasons for engaging with them.

But what happens when you deactivate your social media?

clumber copy

Exploring the inner rings of a tree, during a walk round Clumber Park.

Living under lockdown

The term ‘unprecedented times’ has become more than a little hackneyed recently. The Covid-19 pandemic has taken away many of the freedoms we take for granted.

Lockdown has tested the mental resilience of us all. On the one hand, social media has helped us to keep in touch with each other and combat isolation. Yet, on the other, the way our social media channels serve to amplify much of the existing hysteria can also have a damaging and unhelpful impact.

Dealing with Trolls – anonymous or otherwise

I stumbled on an old article Dealing with Trolls in The Guardian whilst browsing my Twitter feed recently. It’s a good read and provides sound advice on dealing with internet Trolls, but that’s not why it sparked my interest.

The article dates back to 2012.

Yes – 2012, and is still no less relevant in 2020. Continue reading

Week Ten: Time to Taper

This is part of a series of posts reflecting on my experiences in the run up to the Yorkshire Marathon in October. I’m currently on week ten of a twelve week training programme. The idea is to write a post every week charting my progress and reflecting on my training.


Without putting too fine a point on it this has been a c**p week for running.

At the beginning of the week I felt run-down (literally) and the long run in the rain last Sunday clearly took its toll. This is exactly what I was afraid of – falling ill just before the race with little time to recover. Continue reading

Week Nine: Lovely weather for ducks!

This is part of a series of posts reflecting on my experiences in the run up to the Yorkshire Marathon in October. I’m currently on week nine of a twelve week training programme. The idea is to write a post every week charting my progress and reflecting on my training.


I don’t think it’s possible to consistently train for twelve weeks without hitting a couple of snags along the way. Continue reading

Week Eight: One month countdown!

This is part of a series of posts reflecting on my experiences in the run up to the Yorkshire Marathon in October. I’m currently on week eight of a twelve week training programme. The idea is to write a post every week charting my progress and reflecting on my training.


I had a bit of a panic this week.

Whilst aimlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed (as you do) I stumbled on this post under the #YorkshireMarathon hashtag: Continue reading

Week Seven: Back on Track

This is part of a series of posts reflecting on my experiences in the run up to the Yorkshire Marathon in October. I’m currently on week seven of a twelve week training programme. The idea is to write a post every week charting my progress and reflecting on my training.


After last week’s adventures over the pond this week saw a return to normality and the programme.

It’s still been a challenging week as I spent the first couple of days in LA, before returning to the UK on Wednesday. Continue reading

Week Six: Holiday Disruption!

This is part of a series of posts reflecting on my experiences in the run up to the Yorkshire Marathon in October. I’m currently on week six of a twelve week training programme. The idea is to write a post every week charting my progress and reflecting on my training.


This has been a challenging week!

As I’ve been on vacation all week there have been plenty of distractions. Having said that though, I’ve run more miles this week than any other week in my training so far. Not to mention walking – I’ve clocked up some serious miles (about 30,000 steps a day). Continue reading

Week Five: Hike to Hollywood

This is part of a series of posts reflecting on my experiences in the run up to the Yorkshire Marathon in October. I’m currently on week five of a twelve week training programme. The idea is to write a post every week charting my progress and reflecting on my training.


This was always going to be a week of disruption for various reasons.

It’s also the first week where I’ve not stuck to my training programme, but for good reasons. Continue reading