Sunday, September 8, 2013

A midnight raid under a gibbous moon

Sorry about the delay in updating but have been away for a week on a Greek island with the lady who sleeps on my left, three teenagers and two twenty year olds. The travel rod that had been secretly stowed away, in what I had thought was a secret corner of my suitcase was, at some point, removed during the mad dash for the airport......... no fishing for me then?

Under a gibbous moon, ours was to be a midnight raid on the island, but first we must all pass muster as a non threat to all on board plus the aeroplane, which, following an extensive bag search, I failed to do. The machine didn’t go bing and the dog was singularly uninterested in any of my unique scents but the lady with the rubber gloves spotted something spiky amongst the tangle of leads and lenses in my camera bag which was doubling as my hand luggage. The small metal knife with an inch long blade and corkscrew that was much travelled and had already visited Portugal, Spain, France and the low countries was now deemed to be an offensive weapon, I was obviously carrying the air of an international man of mystery and the lady with the Stasi accent and rubber gloves proceeded to give me a demonstration of how I could take out the crew and down the plane in a matter of minutes, an impressive feat for which she seemed to have received extensive training.
The upshot of my attempt to smuggle arms was either to relinquish my travel corkscrew or pay £80 to put my hand luggage in the hold. Frauline took ownership of my travel corkscrew, which I hope she enjoyed and had we exchanged phone numbers and kept in touch we would have laughed at how my plans to bore holes in the carcass of the aeroplane or drill into the crew’s skull one by one, would never have got off the ground with a tool that failed to deal with the least obdurate corks. She didn’t seem to mind the Leatherman that I am convinced, with the right training, could deliver a coup to most tin pot African states. I was dragged away by teenagers, as the Stasi lady had sensed my ire and begun to stretch her rubber gloves in a deeply threatening manner.
For the record it was a Christmas present from the lady who sleeps on my left and had been to ninety nine percent of the places I have visited with my camera bag.

North West Corfu was our destination, three apartments in a quiet strung out village with super snorkelling, and some spectacular scenery. The sea was incredibly clear and a boat was hired to carry us to some of the more inaccessible coves for a sub surface shufty, the most spectacular, some caves that you could bumble about in before exiting into forty feet of water with shafts of sunlight streaking to the seabed, I felt like I had fallen into an advert for something or other. There was a bit of a swell when we were out and some of the beaches that we hoped to visit proved inaccessible and some were briefly seasick,
but returning to coves closer to home and a rugged coastline we came across several areas where the water was cooler and the sea less salty as freshwater springs spewed out into the sea. We saw the obligatory bass, bream and mullet plenty of territorial wrasse that grumpily guard their stone or crevice of first choice, one trigger fish, one octopus, some sandy looking things on the bottom that looked like a form of goby and some spectacularly marked eels. We snorkelled every day and It was one of the best places I have ever donned goggles and peered into the water below.

As always food and drink featured highly throughout our stay. Following last year’s odyssey I questioned the mystery of mythos the premium hellenic beer that at the time was unavailable in the UK. For the last six months our local supermarket has stocked the stuff and on the odd occasion when it has been cold and miserable outside I have consumed a bottle in an attempt to take me back to a sunny beach or tatty taverna. I returned home with a bottle of the Greek stuff for comparison and after scientific tests under laboratory conditions I can report that the two don’t taste the same, which leads me to suggest that Heineken are possibly banging their subsidiary beer out in a unit in Amsterdam for consumption in northern Europe.

All of our party show a keen interest in food and drink, and while we ate together a few times most days started with echoes of the “Ronays at home” and a conversation over who had eaten what and where the previous night and good points and bad points. While all of our apartments were self catering the price difference between eating out and eating in was negligible, the small supermarket seemed to have adopted “tourist” prices with even the tomatoes and fruit more expensive than the supermarkets at home. On our second night the seven of us ate a fantastic meal with a few bits to start, nubs of bread, olives, tzatziki and stuff followed by a fantastic main meal, buckets of beer, plenty of wine, dancing waiters and the smashing of plates all for one hundred Euros, needless to say we returned on our final night for an equally satisfying dining experience. The lady who sleeps on the left (the right on this’s good to try new things when away) consulted Trip Advisor and were not disappointed with a gourmet meal on the beach, Greg and Rick would term it FINE DINING! in their shouty way, several courses, grown up wine, fancy nibbles and free liquor at the close, all for fifty zobs. There were failures, and for the first time our Trip Advisor method failed with a visit to the restaurant in Bronze medal position, which must be maintained by favourable reviews from family and friends. A bar two hundred yards from our abode has spectacular views across the bay and some stunning snorkelling at the bottom of a short flight of steps and for the price of a beer we whiled away an afternoon taking in the scenery while soaking up some rays, and were about to partake of some food when a sixty year old man with pony tail clad in nothing more than a string posing pouch with a zip at the front strutted into view, mdme’s order of spaghetti was immediately withdrawn and I eschewed the local sausage dish. A fantastic bar in desperate need of a dress code or at the very least a sign reading GRANDAD, PLEASE KEEP YOUR SHORTS ON.

The young found a suitable bar that emitted the requisite bleeps and twerts that passes as music for this generation, one that I confidently predict will be described in years to come as void of melody, or rationed at the very least. Mdme and myself attended the establishment one afternoon in the name of snorkelling from the rocks on which it stood, After half an hour spying fish I returned to Mdme who guarded camp and on my return was being questioned by the Slovenian DJ as to whether she would be interested in entering a Wet T Shirt competition, which if nothing else seemed a little “retro” so we exited stage left. Needless to say teenagers attended the establishment most afternoons to take in the tunes and dive from the precarious perches high up on the cliffs into forty feet of water. Brits abroad were few and far between, most of the young were Greek, Slovenian or Italian who still receive a bad reception for misdemeanours committed over the years, and the odd blinged up and seedy ageing Albanian.

A drive up into the mountains, revealed some stunning views. The Inuit people used to have a quaint custom of pushing their old folk out of the igloo onto the ice when they had passed their period of usefulness. In the hills of Corfu a similar custom exists whereby the old folk are directed to the side of the road, provided with a plastic chair and encouraged to wave dubious bottles of olive oil, homemade wine and honey at any passing vehicle. More marketing required I think, and let’s get these old folk in out of the midday sun, some of them were getting really grumpy.

A midnight flight brought us back in Blighty, where Mdme dashed straight off to work, Child A hung around for 24 hours before dashing off to a Canary Island for 10 days, Child B made 48 hours before departing for a cricket tour of Devon and then on to five days in Dublin, while I wandered up the river and wondered where all of the water had gone. Child A will arrive home for 24 hours before setting off for her final year at Portsmouth University, while Child B will begin his first year at Cardiff University, leaving the lady who sleeps on my left, myself and Otis at home alone. The cuts of meat will be considerably better and wine may be taken with each evening meal, our time will be spent in togas lazily reclining on plumped cushions occasionally popping grapes into each other’s mouths enjoying complete control of the television remote control.

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