dawned – our last in the US. Having experienced Yosemite the day before
we did not want to shop for gifts for home on our last day but we had to.
The lady at reception told us that Sonora was worth seeing and so Tom, JJ
and I drove in leaving Neil to sleep and do crosswords and sudoku over a
few beers. In fact Sonora was fabulous. The sort of place we would all be
happy to live – a couple of hours from San Francisco and a couple
more from LA and with Yosemite and all that landscape close by. The town
has a victorian feel about it and grew up in the 18th century gold rush.
There are even underground passages to the bank so lucky miners did not
have to take their gold on the streets which were pretty tough and lawless
then – almost as bad as they are now. There are pretty balconied buildings
with interesting shops at the first of which we found everything we didn’t
know we were looking for. Came back later with Neil for a Mexican supper
which was delicious but which kept me up half the night-it was the beans-we
all suffered in varying degrees.
Had forgotten how beautiful Bath is – if you are coming to England,
go to Bath – it has just about everything including, at this particular
time a Spiegeltent, at which Neil and Tom were to perform.
are fabulous spaces loved by audiences as much as performers and they
seem to attract a huge variety of eccentric and flamboyant acts. Neil
has usually performed in The Famous Speigeltent in Edinburgh which, I
believe, is the original. This was The Orange Speigeltent – just
as ornate and pretty as the original. The place was packed and the audience
were with Neil from the beginning. Tom had to work really hard as the
rhythm section but it was a brilliant show. The organisers also put us
up at a funky hotel which we would never have found ourselves but which
we will definitely go back to if we come to Bath again.
Neil with Chris Daniels (discussing Neil’s possible appearance in
The Slapstick Silent Movie Festival in Jan 2007) in the hotel’s
- began with a walk along the river to a café for breakfast, during
which I saw a tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifer) in flower – the
first I have ever seen.
No this isn’t
the tree, this is Neil and Tom being coy about being photographed. Actually
it was the river I was shooting – they just got in the way
a breakfast meeting’ with Tom-nowhere to hide this time
a little better by the time we got home and improved hugely during the
next few days with a couple more trips to the GP, so that by Friday we
felt we could safely leave him with some of his friends to help him get
used to his new house and to being single again. We had booked a holiday
in Greece and by the time we went JJ had recovered enough to drive himself
Another long journey. Stayed over the night before in an airport hotel
as we were due to fly at 7am. Flight fine although coming into land on
a small island definitely takes your breath away. Pilots seem to hover
as if looking for a safe place to land and then go for it., leaving stomachs,
gorges, and everything else up in the air for a few seconds after you
land. Engines screaming in reverse thrust, you rapidly approach the end
of the runway with the sea beyond…..and suddenly stop. We were then
herded into a coach which took us to a ferry to our island Alannisos which
is to the east of mainland Greece. Suddenly I felt almost joy - a warm
sun, tavernas, turquoise sea. We had a lunch of Greek salad – tomatoes,
onions and feta cheese- then Neil had lamb kebabs plus a bottle of local
white wine – not retsina yet. Takes a while to get used to the resinous
taste. Apparently they used to use resin to seal the wine casks –
hence the taste. Climbed aboard the catarmarin in good spirits. Soon dashed
when we got to open sea. There had been a storm the night before so the
sea was rough, on top of which we were not allowed outside in the air.
How I kept the lunch down I’ll never know. While I was engaged in
some refocusing of thought and stomach fluids, Neil struck up a conversation
with a Greek doctor. Apparently at the height of the summer there are
10,000 people on the islands and only 6 doctors. Moral is don’t
get ill!!!! Me, I washed up at the tiny port – Patitiri –
feeling like lying down and keening right there on the quay. Instead a
nice young lady showed us to our pillar-box red hired car and we twisted
and turned up and down hills and valleys dotted with olive trees and umbrella
pines. Even in my delicate state I could see it was going to be beautiful.
Final descent down an unmade road to a bay with two tavernas and two cottages.
Being frugal and Norwegian and fond of the ocean, I had booked the one
without the pool – really tiny with a huge shady olive tree in the
garden and a patio with a view of the sea. The photo in the brochure somehow
suggested it would be right on the sea so Neil was a little upset. After
a couple of glasses of rose at a taverna however he started to see the
point of the whole thing. The cottage is fitted with everything you need,
the sea is warm and tomorrow the boat, we also hired, will be delivered.
For now I need to rest and recover completely from the US tour, from the
emotional distress of JJ and from the sea trip.
Wake to the monotonous singing of the cicadas – one of my favourite
sounds because it tells me I am not in the UK. Took car into the nearest
town for cheese, wine water etc and returned to meet the boatkeeper. He
took us through the mooring proceedures and then we wandered back for
breakfast of bread, cheese, yoghurt, coffee, fruit and salami –
well, we need building up after the trials and tribulations of the last
month. Decided to hop in the boat for a short trip and did the classic
Monsieur Hulot for anyone watching. First Neil got in the boat and released
it from the anchor. Then I was supposed to leap six feet over craggy rocks
to release it from one of the rocks to which it was tied. Was not about
to do that, so Neil got out again and realised it had to be released from
the boat – not from land. After a lot of pushing the boat away from
the rocks while trying to release it from same, we finally started the
engine and pulled out into the bay whereupon the sky clouded over and
it began to rain. Was beginning to think lovingly about the UK when the
sun came out – a lot hotter than home so motored on till we saw
a small bay with tavernas on the quay. Great, I thought, time for a drink
but Neil was gazing skyward at a huge dark cloud. ‘Think we should
get back’, he muttered – never liking to be the one turning
away from a glass of dry white, but back we went and it rained again –
harder this time and the gentle waves, with us on the way out, were definitely
against us going back so we got soaked both ways.
Was enjoying it though – seemed a lot easier to
deal with than recent events – anything would be. Finally we pulled
into the home stretch and tried to tie the boat on the rock again having
first tied it to the anchor. Did’nt work so we untied the anchor
and tried to lassoo the rock while keeping it away from same. Whole process
backwards but no-one to watch so we took our time and hopefully if the
sun comes out tomorrow will jump into the boat and set off as though we
did it every day of our lives. For the rest of the day there were showers
and sun, so finally we took the little red car to Patitiri to look for
sensible rock jumping shoes. By now it was getting towards 5pm so time
for a snack. Taramasalata, feta salad, sardines and a bottle of cold Rose.
Heard cheers coming from a bar along the street – realised it was
England v. Paraguay – the first leg of the World Cup and we had
scored a goal- I say we, but we actually had little to do with it. Funny
how the world bonds together with sport even though it is competitive.
Competing becomes fun. Losing is not important because many of us have
to do that when we play games. Losing graciously is almost as important
as winning. Off the field, pitch or court things change. It is no longer
good to lose. Competition is serious and you win by any means you can.
However as I’m writing this I think of the drugs some athletes have
taken to give them an unfair advantage and realise that maybe competition
is serious in sport and it isn’t good to lose – even graciously-think
I might have to go and lie down – obviously talking a load of old
SEE GREECE !!!!
Woke to a grey sky followed quickly by rain-something we are used to.
Had breakfast undaunted while watching the branches of the old olive tree
twist even more against the wind. A sudden burst of sun found us spreadeagled
on the shingle and swimming in the crystal clear water. Will never understand
how the Mediterranean is so clear. When you think of all the countries
this inland sea borders, many of which are not averse to slinging everything
but the kitchen sink into it. And still you can see down as far as you
ocean floor – snorkling is amazing but as usual, Neil forgot to
bring the snorkels so will have to get some more to add to our dizzying
collection of snorkels from 16 different countries, just inside the front
door at home. Anyway after about half an hour in the sun, I realised that
it was making me feel giddy, so thought it best to have a drink under
a sunshade in the taverna. As we did, a couple of tour boats arrived at
the tiny jetty and it was again like a scene from Mr Hulot’s holiday.
People climbed off the boat carrying beach mats, footballs, rubber rings,
big floppy hats and had just about sorted themselves out and dipped their
toes into the sea when the boat’s hooter told them time was up.
So all the stuff was packed up again and the same little line of people,
who an hour ago got off the boat, now walked in a crocodile all the way
back. Some had tried to grab lunch and were literally half way through
it – no doggie bags here.
Neil and I spent the rest of the day doing crosswords until around 7pm
– I felt ready to explore. So we drove to the ‘Sunset café’
on top of one of the highest hills and watched the sun go down over olive
groves and umbrella pines and a few cedars dotted about. It was so beautiful.
We are hoping to wake up to a clear blue sky and a flat sea so we can
practise mooring tomorrow and maybe take the boat to Patitiri.
11th to 22nd – just holiday things – more of the same. Motoring
out to the middle of the bay to swim off the boat, then realising it was
impossible to get back into the boat from the water. Pulling into those
little unexplored places to be attacked by horseflies as big as hornets
with spiny sea urchins smothering the rocks. Jelly fish, sea eels and
all kinds of dangerous stuff but beautiful people, fantastic weather and
the gradual realisation that it was OK to do nothing at all for two weeks.