Arriving on Lefkada.
It has been nearly two months since we arrived on Lefkada.
We first rattled over the metal bridge back in early November. The crazy floating bridge onto this beautiful island that was to become our temporary home.
Things that challenge you at first often become commonplace.
We were scared by the gradients. By the crazy roads that rush towards the sky.
And we were scared by the narrow narrow passages through some of the more remote villages that brushed both sides of the van.
We were excited by the views, by the beaches, and by the swimming. We were excited by the goats, the sheep and the huge dogs that guard them.
But we were disappointed by how closed up most places seemed to be.
We got over that. We soon discovered that while the majority of places are closed, there are enough open here and there. Plus there were less opportunities to spend money.
The van travellers have spent a very happy couple of months with the conventional comforts of a roof, washing facilities, showers and a bed that doesn’t need constructing every night.
The house, Villa Noe, has been brilliant.
Yes it has leaked in the storms. Yes we have had power cuts. But why the hell? We’ve lived in a fabulous property in an idyllic location, for two months. We’ve paid rent and bills, but the rent was similar to what we saved by not driving anywhere near as far, and the bills weren’t too bad either.
Our families joined us for the Christmas week and the large property gave everyone the space they needed. My mum, Peggy Collins, my sister, Janice Collins, Min’s step dad, Rick Hunt, Allie Cat, Polly Dog, AC and me. And we didn’t even fall out!
We ate well.
Both at home and out.
Lunch at Margarita in Lefkas.
Christmas Dinner at Vliho Yacht Club (what a great team they have there).
Snacks and coffees in various favourite haunts.
And at home, the legs of lamb for Sunday lunch, that became the Wednesday Tagine, that became the Thursday Shepherd’s Pie.
Minty’s breakfasts of champions.
And a ragu that saw nothing left but a tomato smear on the plate.
We toured well.
Although we can’t claim to have driven every road with the folks we certainly covered many of the island’s sights.
Janice’s hire car, a Hyundai i30, delivered all that we needed and took us to beaches, towns and mountain tops in comfort and with relative ease.
We took it to the highest road point on the island, the listening post on top of Mnimati. There we marvelled at the crisp clean air, and the incredible views.
Having driven it for a while I now understand why most people drive so fast. Whereas my old favourites like 60s/70s/80s Mercedes and Morris 1000s need skill to drive fast, with a modern machine the skill is in maintaining a modest pace.
Rick left yesterday morning.
Peggy and Janice left this morning.
And then there were three. Again.
It has been a lovely experience hosting our families on Lefkada. We have seen the island first through our wide and excited eyes, and then again through those of our folks.
The things we have got used to were suddenly exciting again.
New angles were spotted. A different aesthetic enjoyed.
And the sun shone, and shone.
Bills paid. Ready to go.
Rosa and Simon, Villa Noe’s owners, have looked after us well, while leaving us to ourselves.
Rosa came to read the meter, to work out the cost of the oil, to take the money for Billie. Billie and the electric were fine. The oil, as she warned us, was a huge cost. £90 for week’s worth of heating – wow, that’s about £400 a month just for modest heating. We still lit the fire every night.
But with that that done we’re free to go when we please.
We’ll camp out tomorrow, we’ll come back on Sunday to clean the house and do any washing. Then on Monday we’ll set off for our next adventure, heading slowly south.
What a waste, what a shame.
The concept of insulation still seems alien here, none of the fabulous new villas we’ve seen in construction use anything but a token gesture. Solar PV is a rare sight in a country that could power itself from the sun (or certainly all its domestic needs). Water is wasted in alarming amounts.
Air conditioning runs all summer and heating all winter.
Electricity has had a lot of tax added recently and that will drive a change in behaviour, but it’ll take time.
Normal service resumes.
It has been a joy staying in one place for two months.
We have learned more, experienced more and we hope we’ll repeat the slow experience elsewhere. I even showed interest in a cat!
Hey, we might even be back.
I fancy buying a plot that’s destined for a huge villa, but then building a modest shack there instead.
But from early next week we’ll be homeless travellers again, searching with eager anticipation for our next stop. For the night. Or maybe for the week.
Thank you everyone for following us this far. I hope you’ll stay on board through the New Year, the new adventure.
I wish you all success, happiness, and most important, a spirit of joie de vivre for the year to come.
Best wishes. Kelvin. Amanda. And hop along Polly.