I had an hour to kill between lessons and for some reason I decided to see where the Fates would take me and I came across a huge warehouse complex that had been abandoned even before it had been finished. Trudging through the mud and dumped rubbish I took a lot of very boring pictures then noticing the time decided I had better make tracks if I wanted to be in school on time.
Just as was about to leave I saw this woman walking in my direction. I don't know why but something in me said that there was a good picture in this so I kept my camera turned on and went to my Vespa. Sure enough, she approached me and asked me to give her two Euros to buy heating oil.
A wave of 24 hour general strikes hit the country as many people decided that plans to change the present pension scheme were unacceptable. Amidst more scandals the Greek government tried desperately to persuade people that such an overhaul was necessary.
The strikes and protests continued into March and at the other end of the political spectrum there were ultra - nationalist gatherings that were attended by high ranking members of the church and politicians in search of an issue to get them back into the media spotlight. A frightening mix of V for Vendetta and Nuremburg rally.
The Olympic flame also came to town on its way to China, protected, it seemed by everyone with a badge and a club the local authorities could find. The month also saw me take up citizen journalism as I started to contribute to NowPublic.com, in doing so I was learning a whole new raft of skills concerning how to research and write news articles. Skills that would stand me in good stead later on in the year.
April meant Easter, holidays, lamb to excess and relaxation after a very long term lasting 17 weeks. In addition I had the chance to go to exhibitions such as the one by Duane Michals, the American photographer whose retrospective was on show in the museum of photography here in Thessaloniki.
More strikes, more scandals, the government fighting for its political life. May brought more of the same. I also wrote about and photographed members of G700 generation who would play such a decisive role in the protests in December.
This was taken during a demonstration by local ecological groups to raise awareness of the problems caused by excessive car use in the city. The original idea was for the participants to ride their bicycles naked through the centre. However, the local authorities nixed that idea and the police said that anyone not wearing clothes would be arrested for indecent exposure.
So as to comply with these demands the cyclist compromised and wore beachwear and body paint so that less flesh was on display than your average Saturday at the seaside. Despite this the police still insisted on confronting the 100 or so peaceful protesters with the kind of tactics and manpower usually associated with football riots. After clashes and arrests the people were allowed to continue.
Leaving one of the hottest summers on record I went to England to enjoy one of the wettest. It was a time to relax and see my family again. Lydia had a chance to see my side of the family and taste the delights of English cuisine!!!!
Instead of demos, marches and clashes, I photographed festivals, concerts and street life. In the beginning I was more apprehensive about doing this but I quickly overcame my inhibitions. Later on I also managed to see other sides to life in England which are not so obvious to the casual visitor. Poverty, drug use, violence and the like were also there, if you cared to look just a little deeper.
Back to the heat in every sense of the word. The temperatures remained high and s the annual trade fair approached the city became the centre of political and media attention.As a result there were marches, strikes and clashes with the police. I managed also to write about the Vatopedi graft scandal and get pictures of many of the major players in Greek political life as they pressed flesh and kissed babies.
October proved to be a busy month with lots to write about and photograph. Hundred of high schools under occupation, mass protests, conference on blogging and media, more - run ins with the cops over the right to take photographs meant I was rushed off my feet.
The city had its shot of glamour as the film festival opened and movie types from all over the world came to ply their wares. I managed to wangle my way into many of the gigs even though I couldn't get an official invite. Never mind its more fun that way.
December proved to be one of the most intense periods of my life on so many levels. The riots and protests that followed the death of 15 year old Alexis Grigoropoulos sparked off a maelstrom of anger that lasted for weeks. I tried to follow the events here in Thessaloniki in order to explain what was happening to the outside world. As a result I found myself being interviewed by CNN, BBC, Sky News and a host of other new outlets from all over the world.
Looking back now over the year it seems that the events of the last few weeks were not so unexpected after all. Although the intensity and duration of the protests took everyone by surprise the roots of the problem were obvious to anyone who was willing to look. Frustration with the hopeless job market, rising prices, disgust with corruption and incompetence in the political system, a sense of injustice generated by endless cases of police violence meant the causes of the revolts have been there in plain sight for a long time.
Unfortunately, none of those ills are about to change soon. Those with their hands on the leverages of political and economic power are not about to give up their privileges any time soon. Nor, given the growing economic crisis will they be in a position to buy off protest in the form of sham jobs in the civil service.