April this year had the makings of a busy month for us. Orthodox Easter was late this year and Easter Sunday fell on May 1st. With Easter in the UK being earlier, the island can expect some visitors to arrive early.
I was due to make a trip to the UK which in itself turned into a bit of a disaster but more of that later!
We have also decided to have the house totally decorated outside. The amount of work necessary due to the large number of cracks in the plaster means that this will be a mammoth job. We have entrusted this work to our trusty friend and jobing builder, Yiorgos. We had our doubts whether he would complete the job before Easter and as it turned out, our doubts were justified. The weather played a part in this.
Friends, Shirley and Stuart visited the island in an attempt to speed up the renovation of their house in Peritheia. We managed to go for our first meal this year at Tavernaki in Kassiopi with them on Sunday, 3rd April. It was a good meal and we were pleased to see one of our local favourites open again.
As usual, we have included a few images of butterflies and other wildlife that we have seen this month. Don’t think that you were going to escape!
Before, I left for the UK, I had one chore to attend to. I had to strim all the paths on our land so that Tricia could walk the dogs with out fear of becoming lost! The grass was up to my thighs in places!
Now we come to my trip to the UK on 10th April which I have since dubbed, ‘The Journey from Hell’! I will explain.
As I have said, I was due to fly out on Sunday 10th April. The weather was dire and the cloud was very low. I watched the incoming plane on flightradar for hours as it circled before heading off to Athens. The crew were then out of hours and my flight was cancelled. We had modest free refreshments whilst waiting! Having cancelled the flight, we were told to leave the departure lounge and recover our luggage before making ourselves known to the EasyJet reps.
We were provided with a leaflet explaining what compensation could be claimed. EasyJet had arranged accommodation for us at the Arion Hotel in Garitsa as well as transport to and from there. The hotel is 3* but was clean and as good as many Travelodges that I have experienced. We were given €15 vouchers for dinner at a nearby taverna and €10 vouchers for those that wanted lunch. Despite being told that there was free soft drinks from the bar, all I can say is that Corfu Beer and Chivas Regal must be soft drinks! 🙂 Next morning, there was an excellent free buffet breakfast (cooked for those that wanted it).
A replacement flight was arranged for the 12th April and our existing travel documents were accepted. New boarding passes were provided at the airport.
I arrived at Gatwick exactly 24 hours late which was a pain as I missed two appointments but I cannot fault EasyJet for their handling of the situation. Nor, should I say, could I fault my fellow passengers which included many children who dealt with the situation admirably!
As we landed at Gatwick, the cabin crew announced that we would be arriving at Gatwick South terminal rather than the north terminal as scheduled. I cursed to myself as I had hired a car. Having collected my luggage, I raced for the shuttle train to take me to the north terminal, where I arrived and discovered that my hire company was based in the south terminal! I swore and made my way back to the south terminal! Thankfully, the car hire was dealt with quickly and I was on my way.
It had been my intention to stay at Louise and Steve’s in Hextable until such time as the traffic had died down. It slowly dawned on me that if I waited until then, I would probably fall asleep at the wheel. I continued my journey to Chatteris after a couple of hours rest. I arrived without further mishap …. well almost!
For those unfamiliar with my route, I had to cross the River Thames by way of the Dartford Crossing for which, one has to pay a toll. I had phoned from Louise’s and paid for two crossings by debit card or so I thought. It was only the next morning when I had occasion to check my bank account that I realised that I had only been charged for one crossing! There followed a hasty and somewhat terse phone call. The return crossing was eventually paid for!
My personal assistant, otherwise known as Corinna, managed to reschedule my appointments which almost worked! I had one appointment out of three that went pear-shaped. I guess that I shouldn’t complain.
On Tuesday, 12th April, Corinna and I went to see David, Shelley and grandson, Jacob in Lowestoft. We had a nice day there and of course Jacob was the centre of attention. Apart from occasion phone calls via Skype, I hadn’t seen Jacob since last October. I couldn’t believe how much he had grown. He is a very active little boy and was almost walking when I saw him.
My homeward journey wasn’t without drama! I had stayed overnight at Louise and Steves in Hextable. I left bright and early on the 16th April and made a leisuurely journey around the M25. I had seen notices announcing road closures the following week and breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t a week earlier. WRONG!
I reached the turning for the M23 and found it closed. I drove for miles without seeing any signs for a diversion. In desperation I came off the motorway and headed bac in the opposite direction. I eventually found a sign for a diversion. It was obvious that I wasn’t the only one who had been caught out. The divertion took me half way around much of the south of England! It must rate as the longest route I have ever been diverted on. I saw villages that I had never been to before and some, like Smallfield that I had. It was a seriously tense Bob that eventually abandoned the hire car. Fortunately, my passage through the check-in and security was flawless.
What else could go wrong? I’ll tell you what else could go wrong! The flight was announced and we were sent to the wrong departure gate! I am laughing as I am typing this. I wasn’t at the time though. Thankfully, my flight was on time and I returned home to Corfu to beautiful sunny weather in contrast to most of the weather I had experienced in the UK.
Whilst I had been away, Tricia had been left to supervise Yiorgos and his exploits whilst decorating the house. Not only that but I had arranged for another friend to strim our land properly in my absence. At least my absence hadn’t caused her any issues – well none that she is admitting to!
I arrived at lunchtime to find Yiorgos putting the finishing touches to the front of the house. I was very pleased with what he had done. I cannot emphasise just how much work was involved in him completing two sides of the house. He still had the other two sides and the apartment to complete but I should point out that he had also repaired the garaage walls and painted it as well. That in itself may not sound a lot, but I should remind anyone who doesn’t know it, that our garage has a larger footprint than our old house in the UK!
The following day, Tricia and I went for lunch at Gabriel’s Steps in Old Peritheia. Although we frequently saw Costas during the winter, this was the first time that we had visited for a while. We had a lovely meal and were treated like long lost frinds … which I guess we were. Well, not actually lost but I am sure that you get my meaning!
On Thursday 21st April, Tricia and I were having coffee on the veranda when I recognised a van that pulled up at our neighbour Yiannis’ house. It was the local undertaker. That night our fears were confirmed when notices announcing his death appeared around the village.
Yiannis’ funeral was held at our village church on Saturday 23rd August. As Tricia later remarked, all funerals are sad affairs but this was probably the saddest that we have attended. The burial in the village graveyard was equally sad. It is not uncommon for such events to be accompanied by lots of wailing but the cries of ‘Yianni mou’ from his widow were heart wrenching. This was a very sad day indeed.
On Wednesday, 27th April I took the opportunity to take some photos around Corfu Town whilst the car was being serviced. I started off in the market which is always a great place for colourful photographs. Whilst wandering down the Liston, I spotted a Greek man sitting drinking coffee with a friend. That in itself is far from unusual. However, the dog sitting on his lap was! I continued my wanderings until I decided that it was time for coffee before collecting the car. As I walked down the Liston, I saw that this same man was still sitting, reading a newspaper, with his dog on his lap.
Although I am not really into street photography per se, I plucked up courage and asked if I could take their photo. I explained that I have other similar photos which I produce whenever foreigners accuse Greeks of being cruel to their animals. The man thought this was amusing and agreed to let me take his photo. I have included one in this month’s album.
Feeling pleased with myself, I went for coffee at the Liston Cafe. Unusually, I decided upon Greek coffee. I felt like I needed a serious caffeine jolt. I was surprised when it was served in a ‘briki’. You will see what I mean if you check out the photo.
Thankfully, the car was ready when I returned for it and I made great time getting home. This was fortunate as Tricia and I had wanted to go for lunch at Taverna Nikolas in Agni Bay as it was their opening day. It was like we hadn’t been away! It was good to see Periklis, Voula and Niko again in their natural habitat!
Well that’s almost it for April!
For completeness, we have included a couple of photos of the house in various stages of redecoration. I hope that next month we can show you the finished article. However, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that this is Greece and who knows what will happen!
I will try and be a little more prompt with May’s offering but I must give fair warning that there is much going on that is likely to take a lot of our time. Not only that but we have more friends visiting the island!
You can check out the images that accompany this post here.
Bob & Tricia.
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