Final part of the Good/beautiful, the Bad and the Ugly about Corfu (September 2017) part 4

A good bit about Corfu was the friendliness of the people and their ability to make us welcome. Sometimes though their jet black hair, regal noses and thick beards with piercing dark eyes did send a slight shiver of fear down my back, and I was quite sure I wouldn’t want to meet one on my own on a dark night! 

I have to say though that the most beautiful part of Corfu for me was the sea! And I want to finish this Corfu blog describing the fun we had as a family in the warm sea! I think that was what was so amazing as in Britain the sea is never really warm and the only way to bear it a lot of the time is to wear a wetsuit- which to me has never been a relaxing process; starting from trying to pull up a rubbery, non slippery item with the only positive side being, that it immediately makes you want to lose weight! 

Even when in Italy, which is a country I adore the sea was rarely what I would call pleasurably warm! Whereas in Greece it was amazing! For the first couple of days we visited various beaches finding some sandy ones (1st choice) or pebbly ones! The sea seemed to be quite rough on any of these and it was quite difficult infact sometimes impossible to keep standing up. This was fun for quite a while but then  the novelty wore off And I began to think that I must be pretty odd to enjoy being battered by the incredibly rough waves, which actually left me feeling pretty exhausted. To be knocked off one’s feet over and over again does seem a particularly pointless achievement!  It certainly makes one realise how insignificant one is against  such power! 

Then things were resolved, and as is the case so often, the answer lay at our own front door so to speak! The hotel had pools but also its own beach! There the water was warm, calm and so salty it was almost impossible to sink! It was pure bliss and Amy and Ben bought lilos and Ben a snorkel set! We would walk down the steps on the jetty and be in a totally different world! Lying on the Lilo you could look through the clear plastic bubble on it into the sea, with the wonders of different fish and other creatures as well as different plants!  On a side note there is definitely a knack to getting on a lilo while swimming -one I’m sure I will never master. But being creative and standing on the steps placing ones legs either side while shuffling down the steps until the water provided lift off did seem a solution albeit not without risk! Indeed it did have another danger in that the lilo shuffler had to avoid being head banged by the handrails.

One day we went on Pedalos. Ben being Ben was able to dive off his very elegantly leaving Richard to do all the hard work while the biggest part of the adventure for Amy and myself was getting out at the end. This involved Amy getting stuck with one leg in and one out with the pedalo moving and then falling in to the water while the man made a feeble attempt at holding onto the pedalo for me to get out. Fortunately Amy had left her phone in the pedalo so no harm was done except for sore feet as the pedalos’ were moored on a particularly sharp pebbly bit!  Of course the men reversed theirs in and got out in a reasonably proficient way.


Yes it was a very unique and lovely holiday to in many ways a beautiful island with warm friendly people; yet an island that has suffered financial disaster and seems to be fighting to survive! A special place with special people on a special holiday!

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Corfu-part 3 September 2017.  The Good (sometimes beautiful),The Bad and The Ugly continued

I guess this next experience was beautiful yet definitely ugly!

We went to Old Corfu Town and found little bits of it quite interesting from a historical point of view. One place we looked for was the church of St Spiridon.  This is a very famous church and inside is the relic of Spiridon.  Apparently when he was dug up years after being buried he had not decomposed at all so he was made a saint and has been ‘preserved’ since! 

He lies in a posh coffin and the casket lid is opened on certain days and people queue to go past and kiss his face which is protected by glass and is mummified, and you can also kiss his feet which are encased in beautiful slippers and not protected by glass.

Well, the ugly was seeing this twisted figure in a casket (take note I did not kiss him), but the beautiful was the something very genuine about many of the people there who obviously believed this experience would improve their lives. On the other hand it was also sad that people could hold so much to this rather empty (in my humble opinion) experience! Apparently there are more men named after this man (in some form) than any other name in Greece, so he obviously has had a great impact on people’s lives or they don’t have many male names in their vocabulary!


The hotel was good, infact amazing-  friendly staff, lovely pools (albeit a little cool when you first got in) with dry towels waiting to be exchanged for your soggy wet ones as many times in the day as you could possibly want or need; and in the evening there was some good music and other entertainment provided! We tried a few cocktails and Ben who is not an alcohol lover even found one he liked! We met a waiter who was very like Mr Bean and kept us amused! Yes the good was definitely sheer luxury which was lovely for a week. We had half board which included a buffet breakfast and one other buffet meal.  The buffets were extensive and the quality on the whole was good! The bad was the eggs! They couldn’t fry eggs and left  both  white and yolk almost raw! Their egg mixture turned out scrambled minced egg which tasted like gruel! They did make great omelettes if you could make sure the chef was occupied until the omelette was cooked properly! The lovely was the crepes and also the tomatoes!

Tomatoes that tasted of … tomato, something in the UK  that is lacking as I have never tasted ones like it at home! Yes tomatoes are definitely in the good bracket.  Infact we went out to a Taverna with locals in it not just tourists and I asked for a tomato salad, fried aubergines and chips! Much to everyone’s amusement I was presented with a large salad bowl of delicious tomatoes with enough to share with everyone on our table (which I did) and the next table if I had felt so inclined, (which I didn’t)!


Another under the good bracket was a tour of an olive oil making factory with a museum in it showing the machines from early to present day! We were guided round by the owner and at the end we tasted their oils soaked by cubes of bread! Again their oils were nothing like we buy in the uk unless perhaps you buy from Harrods and so on. The owner and his assistant made it an enjoyable experience for all as we learnt about the processes used etc.  Needless to say we came away with some olive oil! 


Part 4 (the final part) will be mainly good!

A Week in Corfu- the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (part 2) September 2017

It has been our first package holiday I believe and yes we have made many family memories of this time together, and I guess that is all one can ask for.

Let’s start with “The Bad”.  Kavos fits that description with some rather questionable areas. I used the word debauchery at one point and it became one of our words of the week! We only drove through but it was full of tacky tourist shops with a few night clubs with inappropriate pictures (we were not convinced they were normal nightclubs) and some ladies of the night (the expression is there  because of who might read this) were also in a couple of places. This was by far the worst we saw though we didn’t go everywhere in Corfu.

Moving on quickly from the bad to the ugly and the good and even the beautiful!

The ugly- broken houses, deserted villages, closed shops with the buildings in ruins. Olive groves that had known better days, one suspects the country going bankrupt hasn’t helped! Yes it wasn’t quite the place I expected it to be and travelling into the countryside did not reveal the Durrell secrets I hoped would be there! 

Nevertheless even in the tiredness of this island little havens of old worldliness that was Greece rear their head and a Greece of times past still exists.  We found one such place on our last evening! Heading down a very long dusty bumpy track we eventually reached our venue for our evening meal! It was an environmentally friendly place but the place was somewhat scruffy though clean! On arrival we saw loads of pots, cats (including one with a limp) and at least two dogs (including one with a limp)! We parked and walked up a rough stone path to the verandah where we were greeted by “Would you like to go for a walk while the dinner is cooked?” I wasn’t sure our hostess  was the sort of person one could argue with, so we listened politely to a set of instructions we soon forgot or couldn’t fully understand and started on our circular walk which included olive groves, (beautifully kept), bee hives galore with an added touch of rough basic camping next to the bees  under the olive trees, and halfway we reached the lake with a boat.  It was all  very Durrell like and even Amy slowly warmed to the place after moaning that she had dressed up needlessly for our last night dinner!


Our return to the verandah was on the same route as we couldn’t remember the instructions but we did spot an area of solar panels.



On the verandah we sat and sat until we were asked to go and choose what we wanted. This was a very good part! On a large table were a variety of metal pans with lids and with a flourish all the lids were taken off and fish with their heads still on and eyes open was my first view! That did not appeal to my non meat eating tendencies but the aroma from the rest of the pans containing both meat and vegetarian options was delicious and after making our choices we sat down and enjoyed a home cooked meal (though perhaps chilli was a little too much in attendance for my rather sensitive tastes).
There was a bat flying round inside but the bad bit here were the hornets which we were told give a nasty sting and wasps  a smaller one.  Obviously being an environmentally friendly place these creatures would be able to survive and thrive!  We were also told with great pride that the daughter never washes her hair (I’m ok with that) and never uses deodorant (not so sure in a hot country) but anyway we didn’t get to meet her to find out if it would be an issue!

Something good infact something beautiful was at the end of the meal we were invited to look through the hosts telescope at the stars.  It was an amazing sight to see the heavens with the stars on such a clear night! Our host was able to explain so much in his limited English and was over the moon (not literally) when I showed him my night sky app. At this point we got even more details and when back on the verandah my app was introduced to our neighbours on the next table who we had already spoken to especially when one of the cats had preferred their table to the floor.

We left that unusual venue with our hearts warmed by the friendliness of our Greek hosts, and felt that we had enjoyed a small taste of the Durrell experience.

Part 3 will continue The Good, the Bad and The Ugly of Corfu as well as the beautiful. 

Corfu part 1 the Waiting and the Arrival

We left England from Heathrow Terminal 5 after having met briefly with my niece and soon to be nephew in law who were catching a plane themselves.

Heathrow was its usual noisy, busy, rushed place with children screeching and parents desperately trying to give the impression of being patient, while secretly wondering why they feel they should fly off to sunny climates every year because that is what is expected, when the children would be equally happy with a week in Bournemouth or some other seaside town! 
On the other hand there are those whose children are having a good day, the parents calm and collected play gentle games with them and everyone around them breathes a sigh of relief that they have this family near them! 


The only thing to mention about the flight was the wind was very strong so we went on a small detour and approached from a different direction.


Our first impression was of warmth both in heat and welcome; this was to the point where our luggage as we got out of the car at the Marbella Hotel was grabbed and taken speedily to the reception area! It was then split into 2 and delivered to the wrong rooms as the sleeping arrangements had been muddled up.  We had beautiful sea views and a fan soon topped up our inadequate air conditioning  (needless to say in their room the young adults had to higher the temperature it was so cold).


Would Corfu live up to our Gerald Durrel dreams of an idyllic haven or would it be totally different?  Read the 2nd part which summarises in a  hopefully humerous way the good the bad and the ugly about Corfu.

The Courgette Saga

Have you ever used online shopping for your groceries?  I’ve tried it in the past but when half the stuff is missing or they have substituted a veggie quiche for a meat one in a house where 2 of us are non meat eaters, it gets to be very trying! Not only that we had eggs that were broken and a bottle of wine that arrived smashed! I decided at that point it was better to go shopping myself and that at least if I broke a bottle of wine it would be my own fault.

Anyway times change and progress happens, so I decided to brave the service again. The app was very easy to follow and everything went smoothly. When the goods arrived they were just as ordered except I thought I had ordered 1 bunch of bananas 🍌 and was a a bit surprised there was literally one banana! A learning curve I thought and since then things have worked well until this week! 

Some ingredients are in weight and some are numbered per items i.e. 3 peppers or a bag of mixed peppers for instance! A funny thing happened last week because I ordered 4 baking potatoes 🥔 and couldn’t believe the massive sized potatoes 🥔 that arrived.  One potato 🥔 was big enough for a Jack and the Beanstalk Giant! We had to divide them into 2 and that was still plenty.

The saga this week involved ordering 4 individual courgettes as well as the usual groceries. This morning everything  arrived and we started to unpack pleased again with the quality and the fact everything we had ordered was there. But then…….. I looked and there was not one courgette, not two or even the four I ordered but instead I picked up 4 packs of 3 courgettes in each pack making a total of 12,   I’m not sure I will ever live it down and it will be remembered as the defining moment of my online food shopping experience as having a courgette moment! 

So I am now left with a need to deliver courgette based meals to my family – roasted, stringy, stewed, curried, baked- my daughter has already informed me that courgettes are not a favourite so the next week will be interesting and the tortoise Gwin will receive a courgette feast! 

Well I have learnt if you don’t want an overdose of any one item check whether it’s per bag or per item and don’t be like me and have a courgette moment! 

The Boots that got Stuck

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Amy went to Primark a few weeks ago which is always a dangerous move! If I go with her which I didn’t on that occasion I can at least keep the damage to a minimum.  Unfortunately Amy went into Primark while I was in another shop and by the time I saw her it was too late, the damage had been done.

Anyway Amy produced a pair of  brown boots with elastic bits at the top. My first comment apparently was  ” They’ll  tear in a few weeks!”  To be fair they looked quite nice and were very comfortable apparently (Amy’s thoughts); mine were less generous being more bothered about cost, quality and whether they are hard wearing; to be fair, looking nice is also important!

Anyway today we were in M&S where they had a sale on. Amy announced that her brown boots from Primark had broken. The elastic part had torn!  I believe I was very generous spirited and didn’t say “I told you so!” Then Amy found a pair she liked in M&S which were in the 50% off sale.  She produced them when I was at the food part of the shop checkout, and it was at this point I persuaded her to try them on before she handed over her hard earned money. Amy disappeared and I found her in the shoe section pulling rather tightly fitted boots onto her feet. Once on they did indeed look nice and were very comfortable,  and I suggested we went and paid for them.

Amy managed with a little struggle to get the right boot off, but then the problem started! The left boot was not amenable to leaving her foot. Due to her stroke Amy’s left side is less moveable and her foot was not being cooperative! Slowly Amy’s face went more and more red and I could see the panic appearing on her face. The struggle between Amy, her foot and the boot increased and it hit me as being funny that we might have to buy the boots because one couldn’t be removed and I started to laugh as I decided to help pull them off! After much effort they came off and I left Amy who was still saying that she liked them.  When I got to the door Amy caught up and I asked if she had got them?

The response was that the boot had made her panic and I hadn’t helped by laughing which meant she couldn’t take it off!!  So I hate to say it but Primark seems to have won the day as the boots from there have not made me laugh or Amy panic and can still just about be worn.  Better still we had a mum and daughter laugh about it all! One last thought  at least if Amy has a similar problem with a Primark boot there will be no panic as she can easily tear it off! 

The Robin

(I wrote this this after talking to a few bereaved clients, who found great comfort in seeing Robins and taking them as a sign that their loved ones had “sent” them.)

Little Robin brown and red

Looks at me as he tips his head,

If what people say is true

Perhaps he brings a message too.

 

Again he sits upon a hedge

Another time a window ledge,

Another time I hear him sing

Peace to my hurting heart he brings.

 

For people say he is a sign

Sent by my husband to say he’s fine,

But whether it’s true or an empty hope

His frequent appearances help me cope.

 

So little Robin brown and red

Come once more and tip your head,

You’ve helped me live now off you fly

It’s time for us to say goodbye.

 

My pain is less you’ve helped me see

Though griefs still there I’m breaking free,

The future beckons me to come

Thank you Robin your work is done.