Categories
Moving

Back and Forth: Unsettled Then

…well, back at least. Recently, I returned from a trip to England which left me feeling deeply unsettled. Realizing that this is nothing new for me, I found the following entry in my diary for January 7-8 1994.

I wake up at 4 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep. What is bothering me? Why am I returning? Just to collect my belongings? By 6 a.m. I abandon the pretence of falling asleep and make myself a coffee (or three) while I watch the news. Take your (ice) pick – it’s frozen everywhere except where there’s flooding and except here in Wivenhoe, where it’s fine. The Man phones at 6.50, so it’s as well I’m up to take the call, we chat very briefly and, though I miss him dearly, I cannot muster any enthusiasm for returning. I draw a deep breath, shower and finish my packing. I despair at the 20kg my suitcase weighs. After a final visit to friends for (yet another) coffee, I can delay no longer and am back just in time to pick up my bags, bid a choked farewell to Grandad (who thrusts a bank note into my hand as I leave), and reach the station. On the train, I doze a little. Luckily, Liverpool Street Station has reopened Left Luggage – what a relief. Keen to pack the time with as many people as possible to avoid facing-letting-go, I head to meet SK in Gower Street. We talk and walk books. For hours we do this. She then comes with me to Liverpool Street and helps me take my baggage as far as Hammersmith, when we go our separate ways after hugging a great deal and a great deal longer than strictly necessary. As a result, I miss two trains. Eventually, make it to Richmond, where I and S collect me at 18.45 and take me back to theirs for a pot of tea plus trips down memory lane via the photo albums. They drive me to LHR Terminal 2, which is strangely quiet. OA 266 is the last flight out at 21.55, delayed by half an hour. They’re getting good at seeing me off, I and S, and I find it oddly reassuring that this is as close as I seem to get to tradition now. My Athens flight is only half-full; mercifully there’s room to stretch out. I hang onto England until OA 266 peels its wheels off the runway. Arriving in the UK, I’d cried over London, playing join-the-dots with the lamps, lights and headlights down below as we taxied in behind flights from Paris and Tashkent. I don’t look forward to Athens; so tedious, the airport no more than a holding-pen, but there’s only an hour and a half wait and my connecting flight is, once again, only half-full. So, the journey to Rhodes is quite smooth. I’m in time for the Nissos Kalymnos ferry to Symi and, when it docks in Gialos, I find a taxi to deliver my suitcase to the door. I am ‘home’ by 11 a.m. I’ve been on the road for 22 hours. The sun’s shining and it’s a beautiful, warm day. I’m flagging. I unpack, eat, shower, sleep, unpack, shower, eat – rinse and repeat. I feel distant, in fact, not here at all. When I was in England, the time passed so quickly but I did so little of what I’d set out to do. The whole experience was unsettling, unnerving and illuminating. I set out with questions left unanswered and returned with yet others. It takes me two days to return to ‘normal’ – wherever that is.

Categories
Learning

On the Third Day…

of December 1993. Taken from my diary when I was teaching English on the island of Symi, Greece.

Can’t write well, was up to 4 a.m. thanks to a party and am forgetting how a good night’s sleep feels. I’m stale and my throat is sore. The school owner is visiting from Rhodes, so I take myself to a quiet corner of the classroom and prep there. That done, I go out to buy bread, biscuits and veg. Take coffee with K at her very quiet cafe, after collecting D’s music centre. Bigger! Louder! Better! (Well it will be when this fug clears…). A walk around the harbour reveals the pack of male teachers at Elpida’s, talking in a hearty-blokey way. Not in the mood for that at all, I go to visit MA. She’s miles better company and we chat about constructive use of time – y’know, making it matter. I eat too many biscuits because they’re warm from the bakery opposite and she tells me I’m too small. I’m easily persuaded! The weather’s fine, the laundry’s done and I’m back on the bicycle enjoying the scenery. Return from my ride in time to take a ‘phone call from my sister – she’s just landed a new, permanent job at County Hall. So happy for her! That conversation had, (my former employer) Mr J rings to discuss getting me back to work in Rhodes. He’s lined-up a group of civil servants as students to start after Christmas and has found a teacher who’s willing to come over here to ‘replace’ me (who is this mad person, I ask myself?). Anyway, no time to ponder as DS (fresh from his male-bonding at Elpida’s) is outside, at the bottom of the steps, waiting to walk me up to a teachers’ party at Dolares. It’s a Salonikan celebration and we stay until 03.15, when we walk back down – smiling and laughing all the way. Bed by 4 a.m. Again.

of December 1994. Taken from my diary when I was teaching English on the island of Rhodes, Greece.

Wake early, plagued by thoughts of no pay (again). The temperature is colder than in London, there’s an icy wind. It’s overcast, so there’ll be no hot water – nothing like a cold shower to dowse self-pity. I have an odd rash on my body – standing in front of the mirror, it appears to be a fire starting from the big toe on my left foot and spreading upwards with its flames licking my thighs, abdomen and chest. I itch. A lot. Calls from S & H to meet by Agios Athanasios church at 8 p.m. for a night out. Next, I reserve a seat to Cairo for the new year with Ethiopian Airlines at the closest travel agent. Visit M to tell her the good news and she goes to check ferry times for the trip. Nervously excited! Especially as I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it. Meet D at Academia, where we wait for our students to emerge from their FCE papers. We’re definitely far more nervous than them. KL passes and invites me over to Koskinou for a ‘final’ dinner before he leaves for Australia on Tuesday. In the afternoon, I try to nap, but it’s too cold, the girl next door is shrieking again (having forgotten being ‘shot at’ by J as a warning the last time – where’s a firearm when you need one?) and the ‘phone keeps ringing. My private lesson is OK, though my concentration is poor. I pass my bill to the student, it is not paid (of course). In the evening, D comes round to take a call from her mother in the States, the rest of the gang come round, we go to meet S & H and all go to eat at ‘Vrachos’ in Ialyssos (lovely setting and place). Back to ‘ νυν και άει’ in the Old Town, with a great DJ, before going on to a very crowded ‘Melrose’ at 1 a.m. Well, dear reader, I danced, I drank, I smoked, I sang. All with no thought of tomorrow. That can wait.

Categories
Learning

21 October

1994. Rhodes, Greece.

Two days of thunderstorms. And the rain, the rain! The streets become rivers, the air so drenched it is hard to breathe. Nothing feels dry, indoors or out. Dreadful road accidents leave a trail of casualties – four British tourists drowned in Archangelos. Concerned colleagues make sure I have lifts to and from work, and students keep advising me to be careful (especially after the tourist accident – the British obviously can’t handle rainy weather). On a dash into town I manage to reach the bank and withdraw my rent money for the Cretan florist. By chance, I bump into a couple I know who are leaving Greece to go and live in Sweden. We make time for coffee in a café full of the sound of dripping. I wish them well, they are good people. By the time I hand the rent over, the brown paper envelope containing my hard-earned drachmas is, just like everything else, completely sodden. The landlord nods, smiles and spreads the notes out on the shop counter to dry. I leave. My Level 1 class is calling (not very loudly, mind you). My beginning students learn many weather-words as we watch the drama of the storm unfold outside, safe in our (almost-dry) room. There are unlimited ways to describe rain. I’d not realized this before. 50 minutes with Level 1 in a downpour will teach you this. In the break, splash across the road to the main building to receive phone calls, trying not to be jealous of those who have landlines at home. By the way, I fail miserably at the not-being-jealous thing. Once in the main building, I have to queue for the bathroom. After five minutes, I’m in and I try to dry off. Don’t know why, but I do try. Then, I hang around, feigning casual disinterest, in the office. I circle the phones, to no avail. One of the secretaries has a worried mother in Athens who needs to know her middle-aged daughter hasn’t drowned/ been swept out to sea/had lots of other bad stuff happen because of rain that only distant mothers can imagine. That’s that, then. Break over, I swim back to spend two fun hours teaching one-to-one (there are few times I am able to use that phrase; those words, in that order) with the student known to other staff only as ‘Jane’s Albanian’. My callers get through while I’m in class. The not-drowned secretary leaves me notes, all of which say the person will phone back. If they can, of course. My lift home from work on Friday night, sparing me from the rain, is on a scooter – seriously. Wetter than walking – how is that possible? Forget the wet for a while at a birthday party. One of my colleagues is celebrating her 22nd, and a large group of us squelch noisily into a nearby pizzeria where a good time and many beers are had by all. Diving back into the rain on the Vespa gone midnight, I reflect that tomorrow I will have a sore head and wonder if I will ever feel dry again.

(Taken from the diary I kept at the time)

Categories
Moving

Walk/ Don’t Walk

This is a pedestrian story. Long ago, but not so far away, I went to live on Rhodes. I am a walker; not a hiker, not a rambler – a walker. I like it. It serves me well. The locals viewed my love of walking with curiosity; it was not within the realm of anyone’s experience to choose to walk. My behavior was passed-off as English eccentricity, which was fine. However, despite this ‘acceptance’, attempts were still made to change my mind.

On one memorable, quite typical, occasion, I set out for the coast to see how far I could go before nightfall. It was an autumnal Sunday and the weather was perfect for a walk; warm sunshine, cool breeze and clear air. I had only been on the road for ten minutes when my landlord’s car pulled up alongside and I was offered a lift.
‘Where are you going?’
‘For a walk.’
‘No, where are you going?’
‘For a walk.’
Five minutes later, I was able to start moving again, but the car motored next to me for a further five ‘in case I changed my mind’.

Now, I walk here and others choose to do the same. There are sponsored walks and runs. On medical advice, people walk up and down the waterfront at the nearly-new marina development. Dog-walking brings yet others out. This has seen a growth in sales of specialist clothing; many feel unable to take to the roads of Rhodes without the full kit. At one charity fundraiser, many of the participants were in outfits so new, they still had the price tags attached. They want to look the part. They want to be seen to have ‘changed their mind’.

People forget how to walk. It’s true. They can do the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other thing, but put them out in public and there’s no pathway code. This much is clear in the summer, when thousands of visitors are disgorged from planes and ships onto the streets. Far from their cars, in the heat of the sun, they forget (if, indeed, they ever knew) that they are in a living, working town and they wander. They wander everywhere. They wander off. Stop/start/left/right/back/forth. Walking with purpose becomes a slalom course. As a resident, you’re often invisible. I am at once irritated, frustrated and exasperated. Yet, I smile.

Why? You may ask. Because this experience, wandering on Rhodes, just might ‘change their minds’ when they return home and help them see that ‘for a walk’ is both a purpose and a destination.

Categories
Moving

Spirit of Place

Alex Marshall is the Manager of Spirit of the Knights Boutique Hotel in Rhodes Old Town (more information about the hotel here: http://www.spiritoftheknights.com/). The accommodation remains open all year and is consistently awarded excellent ratings in travel guides and reviews, national and international. In 2013, I went to talk to Alex at the hotel about his relationship with Rhodes and the business itself. Alex first arrived in Rhodes, not unsurprisingly, as a tourist on holiday with a friend in 2001. Yet, for someone who later decided to live and work here, his first impressions weren’t positive. He only spent a short time on the island, mostly along the north-west coast where there were high-rise developments and strip malls. This left him with the feeling that, although this was a great holiday for many, it just wasn’t for him. However, something told him there had to be more to the island and, when he returned with his mother (Felicity) the following year, he discovered there was. The beauty, for Alex, on this second visit, was the quality of time that mother and son were able to enjoy together. Felicity was able to share her love of the place with Alex and he saw, through her eyes, a very different island from the one he’d visited a year earlier. He has not looked back, and since then has made Rhodes his home. By 2002, Felicity had already set in motion the project which was to become Spirit of the Knights. But the family was still a long way, and a great deal of hard work, from opening the business to guests. Alex believes that the lengthy process and great dedication which went into preparing the hotel strengthened his family. The Spirit of the Knights Boutique Hotel accepted its first guests in 2008. Alex certainly learned a great deal in the lead up to that date – about the business and the place itself – yet now, he is learning even more and at a greater rate. In himself, he has gained in confidence, self-awareness and self-respect since becoming so actively involved in this family enterprise. In addition, his respect for the island, and particularly its people and culture, has grown over time. He feels he now has a clearer view and sense of what is happening on the local and national scene, even if long hours of work mean he’s unable to participate as fully as he’d like in cultural events. Alex and his wife Lena (who works alongside him at the hotel) used to live in Koskinou. This is a village about 5 miles south-east of Rhodes town, famed for its distinctive traditional architecture. They spent four years there, before moving to live in Rhodes town, closer to the hotel. Initially wary of living somewhere which had seemed so quiet (he did, after all, grow up in London), they grew to appreciate the traditional community and sense of tranquility there. He and Lena were able to fully relax away from work once home. However, increasing demands from work (and dogs!) meant that a move to Rhodes town, walking distance from the business, made sense. I asked Alex if there was anything he felt he’d missed during the years away from the UK and, specifically, London. While he’s able to keep up with developments there by following social media and online news, and, of course, has friends regularly visiting him here – he does, just sometimes, long for the availability (‘anything at anytime’) and innovation (new, creative, ways of thinking) he feels is present in London. Those constructive, creative approaches he gleans from business and social networking (he has good working relationships with local business, too), he is keen to incorporate into best practice at the hotel – and it shows, but doesn’t intrude. He’s now more engaged than ever with the business and committed to this family affair. He feels more comfortable combining his knowledge, education and experience to enrich his results-oriented focus. The greatest challenge he sees for the business today is to maintain standards at the hotel during this worldwide, harsh economic period. It’s no mean feat to sustain such high status in clients’ personal estimations as well as professional league tables, but ‘Team Spirit’ do, and even make it appear effortless. This all helps to ensure that Alex’s job satisfaction is still there, growing alongside the brand identity of the business. He can always see ways (however small) to improve the stay experience for the guests. The Alex I spoke to is a man who enjoys engaging visitors and assisting them during their stay on the island. Despite being the hotel Manager, he’s most often met first by guests while helping them negotiate their way into the Old Town and down the narrow alleys leading to the hotel – as the ‘trolley boy’ (pushing improbably large suitcases on a luggage trolley and making it all look so easy). He enjoys the ‘cover’ of this role and, as with the rest of the team at the hotel, is not interested in uniforms or badges or status. Growing up in London, in his family, has helped him 100% in this work – it has equipped him to be as adaptable and flexible as he is today in providing the hotel guests with the best possible experience during their stay. A borderless family, a timeless place and an infinite capacity for service. The spirit of place is in this family affair.

(First published on axrhodes: 17/10/2013)

Categories
Learning

Say Do You Remember?

September 1993, that is… Back from visiting my parents in Rhodes over the weekend, I feel quite distant. Always takes me time to readjust to The Rock. Start the day by filling the well for an hour, delivering my laundry, going for a swim (really more of a ‘bob’ as there’s a swell), then to Elpida’s for coffee and OJ. Back in the classroom, am worn out by Junior A. They are distracted by a passing funeral procession; the route passes the classroom window, the kids always want to see the corpse and compete with the keening mourners. I manage to stay calm, while encouraging them down from the furniture they’ve climbed onto to get a better view, and debating bringing ear plugs to work. Expelled a student for the first time (hopefully last). This causes excitement across the harbor and, at least, gives people something ‘real’ to chat about. Competition hots up for the ‘vacant’ desk as mothers petition for their children to enrol. Indefinite wait, as none of us know when the owner will be visiting. The wind is still high, so the boat timetable is upended. There’s been no sign of the Rodos ferry, which eventually arrives 24 hours late. Two hydrofoils make it into and out of the harbor, though. Comfort comes in many forms. I picked up a BBC World Service signal again. Found five good reads in a local tourist book exchange, which I unashamedly swapped for some trashers. An invitation to birthday cake and drinks is followed by a surprise dinner at Tholos. Cycled to the restaurant, but the food was so good I ate too much. I had to walk back very slowly. Thankfully, at the school room in time to take my parents’ phone call – they’ve arrived safely in Athens. Upstairs to bed with the BBC. Much depressing talk of Russia but, more happily, Sydney’s won the bid for the 2000 Olympic Games. Taken from the diary I kept while teaching in Symi, Greece

Categories
Moving

Rock Fever: A Short Story ft. Symi

Once upon a time, there was a young English woman who went to live on the island of Symi for a year. She worked at a brand new English language school as the teacher and manager and lived ‘over the shop’ in the brand new apartment. She had lived there before, in the summer, and so had local friends and knew her way around.

The school opened at the beginning of September and all went well. Registrations were high, students were (by and large) happy and so was she. As the nights drew in, she met others who were on the island for the winter for the first time, too. Friendships grew and fun was had. The work was interesting, if not challenging (unlike some parents’ expectations and resulting behaviour, but that’s a PhD thesis right there) and every day life went on.

As it was long ago and far away, there was no Internet and there were no cell phones (imagine that, children!). Post arrived once a week by boat (unless the sea was up) and she took pleasure in having the letters reach her addressed simply to her first name, Symi, Greece. The phone lines were in short supply but she was lucky enough to have access to one in the school room.

But this young woman was born walking. She had a restless nature and these simple pleasures alone were not enough to contain it, nor were weekends on Rhodes (and the fun one in Athens). The walls began to close in, the animal(istic) noises at night and the burning stares around the harbour (from those who couldn’t read) became oppressive. What to do? The answer came in a phone call. Come to Paros!

She bought a one-way boat ticket and then thought ‘how will this work?’. A good friend (who’s even better now) took her to the doctor with strict instructions to look miserable and say nothing. The three outsiders (none was native to the island) sat in the consulting room and looked at each other, then the young woman cast her eyes down and her friend and the doctor talked over her. It was clear, said the doctor, that the patient was suffering from ‘Rock Fever’ and needed a pass. The usual prescription was for a few days on Rhodes. The patient shook her head miserably (as instructed). ‘Hmmm, this is the worst case I have seen in a while’, he said before signing off on a seven-day pass, sighing, and wishing the patient a safe journey.

Two other good friends (they are better now, too) were taken into confidence and the young woman set off on the high seas (and they were) to Paros. It was a long journey, but never dull, ending in the kind of docking that can only leave a lifelong admiration for the skills of Greek mariners. When told to jump, she jumped and landed safely on the harbour side. There then followed a week wrapped in quilts and tsipouro, with occasional dashes into the kitchen for her to cook nursery food or through the driving wind and rain to the food, company and real fire of a taverna.

As all good things must, this one came to an end. One of the good friends (now better), managed to contact her to say time and the game were up. Fond farewells were said and a dash was made for a light aircraft. The seven-day pass expired, the young woman felt weller and returned to work. Nothing was said, except by the children who said they’d missed her and her drawings (she used to illustrate their note books for them, you see). A rumour grew that she’d been to Paris, but it simply made her laugh and she fed it enough that it became a fact. The seven-day pass from the doctor had worked so well, there was not even a hint of ‘Rock Fever’ to follow and the young woman was able to serve out the rest of her contract calmly.

The End.

First published on axrhodes on 13/07/2013

Categories
Moving

Crete: First Impressions

I’ve visited Crete several times now, always in the winter. I was predisposed to like the place and its people: from listening to my father’s, rarely told but always heard, stories from World War II; from reading tales of ancient history; and simply from meeting Cretans themselves. Eventually, my first visit came in early January 1992 during my seasonal break from teaching in Rhodes. The text which follows comes from the journal I kept at the time.

I sailed into Heraklion, the ship gliding on a glassy sea. It was a crisp January morning, under a bright blue sky, and snow-covered mountains fringed the city. Those sugar mountains were my very first impression of the island as I came up on deck after the night crossing. I checked into a twilight hotel in this bustling city of faded, charming, careworn streets, then went out to meet up with my beaming, absorbed, Cretan friends. I’d never seen them on home ground before and they appeared transformed, larger than life, so happy to be ‘home’.

I was mesmerized by the street markets and traders – it was the season for bananas and they were everywhere at 400 drachma a kilo. They were just part of a wonderful selection of fresh fruit and vegetables – all brightly colored and even brighter tasting. There were cheese wheels, animal carcasses, loaves of bread, paximadia, and loukoumades. These last I had for breakfast – I’d never tried them before – a syrup-coated dough confection, deep-fried and covered with chopped nuts.

The next day, I headed out on the road to Rethymnon – passing ‘banana houses’, bee hives, new hotels, coves, mountains, olive groves, lemon and orange trees. Once past the, seasonally-deserted, tourist strip, Rethymnon was a pretty, quaint town with obvious seafaring links. Many of the houses were faded-painted, some had outside wood-paneling and carving. The sugar mountains loomed large in the distance as I went out to eat in the small, brown-wood-worked, sheltered fishing harbor.

From Rethymnon, I traveled south-east to Ierapetra. Europe’s most southerly town. Not for the first or last time, I was struck by how different local people appeared in each region of Crete – maybe reflecting the history of the island, certainly its geography. The town itself still showed its roots as a small market town quite clearly, despite being pervaded by tourism. Here, with very little choice out of season, I checked into a hotel which made me miserable. It was seedy and upsetting and felt grey, cold and almost sinister. I was the only woman ‘guest’ and this generated a great deal of unwanted attention. I was, at least, grateful for the good weather – meaning I could be out of doors for most of the time I was there – and for the view of the mountains from my room.

Hours there seemed like weeks as I waited to meet up with a group of local friends to celebrate Epiphany. Finally, my rescue party arrived. By this time – really not very long at all – my British irritation and inhibitions had set in. I took some time to ‘defrost’; they took me to VIP Bouzouki Club. I thawed out – as we drank, smiled, and danced all night surrounded by people so joyous and proud it could gladden the heart of any die-hard cynic (British or not). Even though I had to return to that hotel, I slept very soundly indeed, waking up just in time to check out.

I was glad to leave the next day; despite ‘normal’ life resuming after the holiday there was nothing to make me want to stay. The sudden return of the everyday meant that the whole town did take on a warmer, busier aspect and the shops looked enticing – but I still left while I could. I moved on to Sitia along a green and fertile coast, watered by full rivers pouring into the sea. High, terraced mountains marked a route used by farmers and shepherds to drive livestock to Ierapetra from outlying villages and sometimes back again. I was told that, for some, this market journey could take two days on foot.

Heading inland, so upwards, I passed windmills, windswept hills and olive groves. I stopped to visit an olive oil production unit at Nea Presos. This was then a small place working with Italian and Greek machinery to produce 8 tonnes of olive oil per day. Indoors, out of the piercingly bright January sunshine, I remember dark green smells, sludge and shed leaves, producing dark golden oil at the end as the small black rich olives were processed.

Arriving in Sitia, I was relieved – I felt better there than in Ierapetra. It was then a town not obviously dependent on tourism, even though in season it patently existed, and had the air of an old trading port. People from different places had settled there over time; some very classy flotsam and jetsam along with the usual quota of embittered expat types. I checked into a 26-room hotel to find I was one of two guests for my entire stay. This type of knowledge usually only encourages me to kick up my heels and behave skittishly – I did rein it in, though, as I was still ‘a stranger in town’.

Yes, despite the ‘people from different places’ thing, I was stared at constantly as an obvious outsider – I might have been the only person in town with blonde hair and blue eyes. Many men and women stared until I caught their eye and then hastily looked away and moved on. I was grateful that other outsiders were around to draw the fire of eyes once in a while – the gypsies had turned up at the same time as me. The man, women and children were in town to sell colorful rugs; happily and noisily living in the open, washing and cooking by the sea from the side of their open lorry.

As all good things must, this trip had to end – I was sad to leave Sitia, sadder to leave Crete, but anxious to go as the ship I’d been promised had decided not to sail (or at least not to call in at Sitia). What to do? A hasty visit with a friend to a local office of Olympic Airlines, where I was instructed to look way more distressed than I felt while they did the talking. OK, so I did have pangs of guilt as I was supposed to be back at work after the holiday and don’t like to let people down, but I had fallen in love with Crete and wasn’t too fussed about leaving. In any case, there were no seats available on the next flight out. I did being distraught and sobbed loudly (it pains me to write this, but I did). A phone call was made. A local woman decided she didn’t really need to travel that day. I had my ticket.

So, I had to travel under her name – Paraskevoula (surname withheld, just in casing). A taxi took me up to the tarmac strip with a small hut at the end of it, which served as an ‘airport’. I couldn’t believe this was really the place, and only let the taxi driver leave me when I caught sight of the windsock. Once in the hut, my passport was checked against my ticket and I was nodded through with a wink (after all, ‘Jane’ and ‘Paraskevoula’ are uncannily close). I waited with a coffee for the light aircraft which would take us to Karpathos, then Rhodes. It landed, we boarded – me, a youth football team, their coach, their manager and a priest.

The football coach and manager were already completely drunk (Dutch courage, perhaps?) and the priest was exceptionally fervent in his praying and need to bless the aircraft – especially once on board. To while away the time, the pilot chatted me up and told me how lucky I was that he was interested in me as he was otherwise faithful to his wife, but once in Rhodes he would be staying at the Grand Hotel and I should come up and see him sometime. Of course, it was entirely my choice (he said) but he’d never had any complaints (he said) though of course he was faithful to his wife (he said). He did provide a welcome diversion from the vomiting/ unconscious ‘responsible adults’ travelling with the football team and from the increasingly hysterical priest. I was quite impressed when we did a flypast of his auntie’s yard while she was hanging out the washing in Halki. To give her her due she waved and smiled at the aircraft.

Back in Rhodes, I left the airport at speed and avoided the Grand Hotel for a while. I made it back to work in (fairly-ish) good time and was soon into the swing of things again. It took some time for those rays of Cretan sunshine to leave me though but, well, in truth you know they never really have.

I first published this on axrhodes on 01/11/2013.