Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Photos from the Ionian

A selection of photos from the latest part of our Ionian odyssey.

where the wind takes us

through olive groves
deserted beaches at sunset

shimmering turquoise coves in the morning

where fake Crocs are perfect

But crushed little fingers are not

For the homecoming, hop across to The world from my window and see you in September for the next instalment.

That's about it

Maddie x

Monday, 6 July 2009

Lowering the tone in Kensington-on-Sea

As our sailing holiday in the Ionian comes to an end, Mr Grigg says: 'Oh I wish we could stay here for a bit longer.'

Later, when we check our flight tickets, we see that we are. Another day. The old man got the date wrong.

So we head up to beautiful Kaloura on Corfu, where we are only one of two boats in the bay. We anchor and take a long line ashore. Unfortunately, two young men and women are paddling in the rocks a few yards away, drinking beer and smoking . They have gold chains around their necks and lots of tattoos. They have to be Brits. The phrase 'why aye man' confirms it.

So as I sit in the cockpit, looking at this sight, I say to myself: "Kensington-on-Sea just isn't what it used to be.'

At that point, a giant inflatable banana roars up through the North Corfu channel and the Geordies start singing 'Oops, upside your head'.

Suddenly, my disco diva 70s teenager side comes to the fore. My snobbery drops off like a pashmina around my shoulders. I tell Mr Grigg I have the track on my iPod.

'Well, put it on then', he says.

'Do you really think so? I wouldn't want to spoil the peace and quiet of this place. And besides, they might come aboard and thump us.'

'Just do it,' he says, 'but don't put it on too loud.'

So I attach my iPod to the stereo through the cigarette lighter and The Gap Band start their funky guitar and the Geordies can't believe their ears. They dance in the water, row backwards and forwards in the water, thumbs up and big smiles. And no thumps.

When YMCA comes on, an old boy towelling himself off on the beach gesticulates. Is he angry? No, he's joining in. After a few more tracks, it comes to going home time. The Geordies wave from their quad bikes and say: 'Top music, you made our day.'

With hooting of horns, they wind off up the hill and I put on something more appropriate, the instrumental La Femme d'Argent by Air, as we quietly watch the sun go down.

There is a time and a place for everything.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

The taxman cometh

In sleepy Lakka, on the northern tip of Paxos, where the bay is a turquoise blue and the cicadas incessant buzzing is deafening, a person in the house on the hill practises the tuba. The mournful high notes penetrate this peaceful place as we bob around at anchor watching others prepare themselves for a day's sailing.

Yesterday, we picked up a couple of hitchhikers after Mr Grigg, always the entertainer, had a Maddie moment and invited two complete strangers on the taverna table next to us at for a day out on the good ship Nestor.

We pootled up from Gaois, enjoying the company of our new-found friends, Pat and Ned, after almost a week of being in splendid isolation. We lunched on board on chef's salad, bread, wine and beer after swimming around the boat in the clear, warm waters.
But I am very nosy and the burning question I had was what did they do for a living. They hesitated before looking aghast at each other.

'We're having such a lovely time. We weren't going to tell you this,' they said in unison.

A coldness swept through our veins. The Serial Killers of the High Seas, British National Party canvassers or septic tank emptiers (the last two are interchangeable but at least the latter is honest and necessary). Or maybe, heaven forbid as far as Mr Grigg is concerned, divorce lawyers?

There was a deep intake of breath as they said: 'We worked for the Inland Revenue as tax inspectors.'

You could hear a pine needle drop, just above the sound of Mr Grigg's brain whirring as he thought back to the last hour's conversation. Had he said anything incriminating?

Pat said: 'But we've both taken early retirement and we don't care.'

'Well, it's a job and somebody's got to do it,' I said, breaking the ice that had suddely frozen over the Ionian. As a tax saint due for a rebate, it was the least I could do.

At the end of the afternoon, we took them by dinghy across to the Quayside for a goodbye beer.

'You've really made our day,' Pat said. 'It's been the highlight of our holiday, thank you so much. My son will be so jealous.'

That night, we enjoyed a meal at Nionios in Lakka square, finished off with the ubiquitous small glass of brown stuff 'on the house' that tasted distinctly like Obridges cough mixture.

It's a hard life. But somebody's got to do it.

That's about it

Love Maddie x