Last day – Friday 25th May 2012


The bay last night was incredibly quiet. Even when two tiny fishing boats pottered round us, we could hardly hear their engines. Breakfast was beautiful. Tinkling spoons in mugs of steaming coffee, contented murmurs from the crew, were the only sounds above the harmonious bells from a row of sheep as they walked up a distant hill.

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It was only ten miles to Lemnos capital, Myrina. One of the least tourist capitals- low key with a mild military presence, a wide variety of shops and lots and lots of roadworks.
We ate lunch just off the harbour in a small taverna, then walked round. It was quite a surprise to find 6 supermarkets and 4 bread shops. I mean big supermarkets with more than four isles!
We bought our water in a delightful shop. Quite large, rather dark, sells everything from broom handles to seeds with the odd tin thrown in. There was no one to serve us, despite our coughing and calling. Eventually, a young boy about 7 crept out of a store room and looked at us. I began my six phrases of Greek. “kalamera, endaxsi, yassas, ephraisto, parakalo.”. Mostly meaning hello, pease thank you. Whilst I amused the boy with this, I pointed with animation at the water bottles, the till, some coins we had in our hand. Nothing! So I tried again. Pointing to tills, money, pen and paper to request the price of the water. Nothing!!
The boy seemed overwhelmed by our presence and simply looked at us. He did not smile or show any sign of understanding at all. Eventually John counted out, what felt a suitable, average price for water and offered this to him. He took the handful of coins and notes and nodded.
Back on board, we cleaned the yacht, scrubbing and polishing with a will. The next crew turn up tomorrow mid day on the same plane that we will need to fly out. I know one of the couples and Louise knows the other, so we want them to feel comfortable.

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We have time to walk around the town at leisure and find an Internet cafe. Whilst on our travels, we come across the road works. Many roads are closed for this but pedestrians can walk by. Down a hole I spot two umbrellas sheltering the workmen from the sun. What a contrast to yesterday!
Our last meal is lovely. We have enjoyed each others company. We eagerly discuss the memories of the sailing and the many villages we have seen.
Tomorrow we need to leave by 10.30.
It’s a strange thing that I have been retired now for 10 months. Six and a half of these we have been traveling! I can honestly say that I have not been bored for one moment. Retirement seems to have given me a new lease of life. I feel much more centred, comfortable about me. I thought I would miss being a head teacher so much, but no. Sometimes, I think about the hundreds of children I taught or cared for. They made my life fulfilled and occupied my thoughts almost exclusively. I am happy for the involvement I had with each and everyone of them. But I cannot say I miss them. I am happy for them. They move on from class to class, from school to school. I move on to other things.
So
Moving house next!

Greek life in Plomari – Monday 21st May 2012


I am fascinated by Plomari. It is one of the largest towns we have visited, clearly aware of how to cater for tourists, but also full of character. The town square is still dominated by men this morning but now the shops are open, there is a bustle from women, pressing the fruit, discussing their lives, considering their next purchase. This town has a wonderful bakery, several mini-markets, a pharmacy and the smallest cheese shop I have ever seen.
The people are very friendly, happy to greet the new season’s tourists. Whilst we sit on deck in the harbour, several old gentlemen come to share their history with us. One comes from Hackney; he was a fireman but has more here to support his daughter who married a Greek. Sadly the husband died a few years ago and he now enjoys life on the island. Another man is Greek and spent his youth building railways in Sydney, Australia. He is thrilled to practice his English with us. Somehow they seem old as the hills.
I walk through the town, practising shooting photos from the hip. It seems a good way to capture life without being rude, and without interrupting its flow.

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The sea is so calm we are forced to motor again. This time we head for one of the two large inland waterways, Kolpos Yeras. Here we lunch in a totally silent bay. On shore we see a few sheep and chickens and a couple of hundred olive trees. Seriously silent!

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It is a simple pleasure to eat on board in silence. Nothing to see, nothing to do, and yet there is so much to admire!
We choose to anchor in a bay, slightly further inland where Captain’s pilot book tells us there will be two tavernas. One of these is closed until the end of the month, the other is a bar. John and I are assigned to row ashore in the dingy and check out the options. Apart from these two, we discover a yacht club some 20 minutes walk away, who will offer us burgers. We decide to eat on board again, and love the sunset.

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Our only disaster is that it is my turn to cook and I manage to open, and use, a tin of tomato purée instead of tinned tomatoes! The result is not good, I have to tell you. But the liberal use of cheese and wine almost made up for it!

Birthday Invitation – Saturday 19th May 2012


The weather forecast had proved wrong again. There was no further rain and we set sail from Ionousses in sunny clear warmth. The waters were very calm and the lack of wind meant that we had to motor.
Today is Louise’s birthday. I can think of no better place, and no better way to celebrate than sailing around Greek islands. Today we make it to Chios. Most Greek islands have several ways to spell them using the English alphabet. I have never been to any of the islands we visit on this trip and each one is different and interesting.
Within two hours we arrived at Marmaro on Chios. The harbour is tiny with no other yachts or motor boats, only small fishing boats.

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There are a string of six tavernas and bars along the quayside and a tiny town square with a few further cafes and shops, most of which are closed for the afternoon. A complete windmill stands at the Northern corner by the sea and another, sail-less wreck lies further in the inlet.

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John and I go to explore the town and find a further restaurant deep within the village. Tis has a swimming pool and is set amid allotment gardens. We walk up to the church and admire views.
Meanwhile, Louise and her husband go on their own and admire a lady’s garden. Before they know it they are invited in for oranges and drinks, and shown collections of model boats. What a wonderful way to spend a birthday. This family went out of their way to welcome Louise, advising her on other parts of the island to visit and chatting with her for nearly an hour.

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We wanted to find somewhere a little special for Louise’s birthday meal. This can be quite hard in remote and less frequented spots. We walked to various restaurants only to find limited menus or that they were not serving food at all. In the end we went back to the middle of the village and re-found our swimming pool restaurant: To Aypskinma. We were the only patrons, but what a feast we enjoyed! Our hostess grew much of her own food, served with great pride and cooked well. It was a brilliant evening. Tiny spinach balls, cheese pies, stuffed courgette flowers, Imam aubergine, veal and chicken, followed by home made cherry conserve and yogurt.

A night in a bay – Wednesday 16th May 2012


It’s a lovely town, Pythagorio. Clearly used to tourists, but, as it is early in the season, there are many glimpses of everyday life.

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Captain has a few arrangements to complete, including buying a suitable SIM for Internet and phone now he is in Greece. We all take a taxi to the capital of the island, buy a few more fresh ingredients to boost our culinary endeavour, prior to sailing off again for a night in a remote bay.
It’s good sailing weather. The wind takes us to the Northern shore. We eat lunch as we sail.
We anchor in a pretty bay. Our friends volunteer to lead the cooking.
It’s a beautiful evening, clear stars, good food, wine and great conversation.

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Cast off – Tuesday 15th May 2012


Last night the engineer was still at work on board until 11.30 at night. Seats had been dismantled, lockers emptied, carpets lifted and the stairs between decks had been removed for access to the engine room. (Actually it is a simple thing to put the stairs back in place!)
This morning, our task is to it everything back in place. We wake at 7.30 to arrange passport control, and get the ship in ship shape condition for sailing. There are plenty of small tasks, removing a stain from the cushion, scrubbing the deck where some chemical had been spilled – and breakfast, of course.
By 11.30 Captain says we are ready to cast off. We leave Turkey today and sail to Greece. Goodbye to the lovely warm showers at the marina and the posh restaurant. Whilst the marina sea is flat and calm, as soon as we reach the open sea, we find out that the gentle breeze is, in fact, quite strong. This is good for sailing, but creates a ‘lumpy’ sea. Short bursts of high and low rock or toss, depending on your constitution. It is always a shock at first until your body gets into the swing- pun intended!
We hoist our sails and set off. Both John and his friend instantly parry with each other to be at helm. Our friend is 70 this year, but you would think they were both 7!
After 4 hours, with wind of around 20 knots and a speed of 8 knots we land at Pythagorio. This is the island of Samnos, on which Pythagorus lived, becoming the famous mathematician and triangle buster!
It’s a tiny harbour near an airport. There are a few other yachts. There are several good restaurants to choose from and we eat in a garden, covered by vines.

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Traveling Again


Despite the fun I am having with my grandson, despite the reunion with lots of friends, John and I are off again; this time only for a fortnight.  A friend of a friend owns a yacht, and he needs crew.  So we fly to Turkey on Saturday.  Hopefully the boat will already be in the water, for it has been in dry dock for the winter season.  Our plan is to sail from Turkey to Greece, where another crew takes over.

We’ve sailed like this before and I am very excited!

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We will travel out with friends who introduced us to the owner several years ago.  So there will be five of us on board altogether.  I’ll take photos and update you when I can.

Yippee!  A retiree’s life is never dull.