Friday, 12 July 2013

Summertime, and the living is...well, hectic as ever, really

Just over a month ago we went on a proper family holiday: two weeks at "The House". And it was fab, and just like holidays were when I was little (except rather shorter, since we don't get anything like as much leave as my parents - a teacher and an academic - did. And mercifully with less cement-making). And I went so far as to make notes, so as to be able to blog about it later. And then we came home, and there was a 4th birthday party to organise and dinosaur cakes to construct, and then it was back to work, and decorating, and potty training, and fixing the garage, and...well, you get the picture.

And then I spoke to someone who asked me about the holiday and reminded me that I was going to blog about it. So here - somewhat retrospectively - goes:

Day 1: Up at 4.30 to drive to Gatwick in plenty of time for the plane, having, on a previous occasion had to run the length of the airport and do without breakfast when the bus was late and we nearly missed our flight. The buggy has apparently been warned in advance of what awaits it on the rocky hillsides of Zakynthos, because it has sheered a bolt in the back of the car with the result that as soon as R sits in it it folds up on him and can only be steered by tipping it up so that the front wheels come off the floor. Arrive in plenty of time, but after nearly 2 hours of queueing, we miss breakfast and run the length of the airport again (this time with R sitting in a half-collapsed buggy doing a permanent wheelie) to make it to the gate just in time.

Within an hour of arriving at "The House" both boys have fallen down most of the stairs, identified how to get up onto the roof, and R has spotted where Papou stores all his tools, including the "Train-sword" [chainsaw]. Very glad my parents are here too and there are four pairs of eyes to spot what they're getting up to!

Day 2: Everyone covered from head to foot in grazes, mosquito-bites, and Merenda chocolate-spread. Just how holidays used to be, though not quite as hot as it's May not August. There are wildflowers, butterflies, and swallows everywhere and the lake is full of terrapins humping, and frogs exclaiming "Brekekekèx-koàx-koáx". Lovely.

R is very taken with "The House" but mystified by the fact that there is no washing-machine or oven, and that while there are lots of steps outside there are hardly any inside, which as he says, is the opposite of our house at home.

Day 3: Sitting in our favourite taverna watching my own son putting tomato-ketchup on souvlakia. The shame! It's a bit cool for swimming, so we paddle instead and build a sandcastle, starting a trend for the rest of the holiday.

Day 4: Pleasant though it is sitting in the sun watching the world go by, there are signs that times are hard for people here at the moment. Dad tells us he's been talking to an old friend - a taxi driver on the island. He was employed by the local government to take children to and from school, but has never been paid for his work. Having been fobbed off with governmental IOUs up to the value of 15000 Euro, he's now been informed, actually they won't ever be able to pay him more than 1000. His family have gone back to growing potatoes in the garden - just in case they need them this winter. 

Day 5: Up at 5.30 for the traditional bus trip into town and bougatsa custard-pastries for breakfast. First stop, find a hardwear shop and buy a bolt to fix the buggy. After four days of being expected to walk everywhere, R leaps back into his chariot with a cry of delight the minute it is mended and hardly moves from it all morning.

Mum and I dismiss the men to take the kids to the park and go on a fruit and vegetable-fondling expedition, coming back with oranges, strawberries, and cherries, as well as all sorts of green vegetables you don't get in the heat of the summer when we are usually here.

Having earlier in the morning walked past a shop I have stumbled across once or twice before, which sells beautiful jewel-coloured crochet thread, but which never seems to be where I remember it, we attempt to take this opportunity to return. But sadly when we go back, it has once again shuffled into its wormhole and vanished.

How many can I fit in my mouth at once?

Day 6: Rain. Since it's cooler we embark on the statutory five-mile hike in search of a pile of stones of potential archaeological significance. As with so many of these sites in the past, it appears to have changed location since my dad last saw it. We spend a happy couple of hours stumbling about in an olive grove, falling down terraces, but don't find the "wall". We do, however, encounter a bright green, metre-long grass snake engaged in eating a goldfinch.

Day 7: Wash day, this being the sort of holiday where you do all the same chores as usual, but by hand, and with only lukewarm water.

To the beach in the afternoon and bored with bog-standard sandcastles, decide to make a sand-ogre instead.

Day 8: Strangely cool and windy: no swimming today. P and Papou make toy boats and sail them in the pond (including one P names the "Zebra Moon"), and construct a sign giving directions to Didcot, the airport, and Australia.

Day 9: P's birthday. Still cool with strange pink skies and "Sirocco" wind covering everything in a fine layer of sand from the Libyan desert. Perfect weather for constructing and flying a leftover wrapping-paper kite.

P grudgingly agrees to make do with a massive ice-cream cake with sparklers for his birthday, instead of the crappy mass-produced Sainsbury's Spiderman one that he had his heart set on.

Day 10: Yiayia and Papou off to Athens to attend a christening. The rest of us take the huge inflatable crocodile they brought back from Australia down to the beach for the first time and have a great time squirting one another with the attached water-pistol.

Walking back P remarks "It's not a bit like Didcot, is it". He's not wrong.

Day 11: Spend morning with the boys painting pebbles with Yiayia's acrylic paints to embellish our daily sandcastle, and the afternoon on the beach constructing a sand-croc.

Yiayia and Papou back at 11pm with lots of presents from the rellies and someone else's suitcase containing someone else's car keys!

Day 12: Back to town with Papou to return the case to the poor man who had been left stranded at the bus station last night. He is very nice about it and insists on giving us a lift back into town afterwards.

Rest of day spent on the beach making a "troll hole".

Day 13: Return to the beach to find someone has taken the troll's eyes. R. very concerned by this.

Build a large fish instead, which takes most of the day.

Day 14: Boat trip out to the island in the bay and the caves round the headland. C and I enjoy swimming in turquoise water off the back of the boat, only slightly marred by the fact that the owner forgets to point out that he has recently repainted the ladder, so we all end up with sticky blue feet and spend the rest of the trip dabbing at ourselves with industrial grade nail-varnish remover. The boys are more impressed by the fact that the island is served, not by an ice-cream van, but an ice-cream boat.

1 comment:

Clare said...

Looks amazing - not like Didcot at all. I need dinosaur cake advice- and pictures!