Saturday, 24 July 2010

Home and away

Lately I've been craving a holiday. There's something about long summer days that has me dreaming of a beach and a book, of lying in the sun, feeling warmed to the bone, of floating on the softly lapping waves of a clear blue sea.
I've never been a great adventurer; not for me the back-packing, see-where-you-end-up approach. I like to know where I'm going and feel confident that I'll be happy when I get there. Holidays are too precious to waste on finding out whether you like a place or not.
So, the perfect answer is either Greece or a Greek island - there are so many places to choose from that I know I'll find something slightly different each time, and I'm confident I'll love it.
Philip doesn't quite get it. Just the thought of the fierce midsummer heat is enough to send him running to the freezer for ice cubes. But for me, it's not only the sunshine; it's not just being away from work and having the time to read, write and reflect. It's not even the mouth-watering lamb kelftiko; chicken souvlaki or deep-fried courgettes. If I try to describe what it is that brings it all together, I can only really explain it as the rhythm of the place. There's a different pace and a regular pattern to the days.
I have a different walk on holiday - as I stroll down to the harbour after a slow breakfast of yoghurt and honey, (preferably bolstered with a few Greek fritters from the Green Bakery in Parga) my hips swing and my shoulders relax.  As I climb into a water taxi to take me round to the beach, the sounds of cicadas in the olive trees and the regular flip flop of a hundred holiday makers' feet are replaced by the gentle chug of an ancient outboard motor. Each day drifts by, interrupted only by a leisurely lunch and the occasional swim to a point in the bay from where I can float idly, glorying in the sunshine, and look back at a beach full of people who are simply having a good time. I like people more on holiday.

There's been no holiday for us this year, and for one reason and another, there's not much likelihood of one soon. But Philip's always saying that living in Shoreham is just like being on holiday, so today I've been testing the theory.
This morning I flip-flopped to the village shop for croissants, orange juice and coffee. We breakfasted at the table by the window, with the sunshine pouring in, watching the swifts flying in and out of their nesting boxes across the street. This afternoon we went for a stroll around the village. We stopped to smell the roses in the field by the grape vines, then we dawdled along by the river looking for trout. Everywhere we went people stopped to say hello and have a bit of a chat. Henry was sat on the bench outside his house, reading stories to the lady friend who was tidying his front garden; Chris was busy clipping his box hedges but paused to pass the time of day; Dan and Kelly had just returned from a trip to Norfolk and were sitting outside the Kings Arms enjoying a beer. They all seemed relaxed and happy.
I have to admit that Philip has got a point - there is a particular rhythm about Shoreham as well - just like being on holiday.


Charlie said...

If I have any regrets about my life, it is the fact that we never travelled internationally on vacation. Ireland, England, and yes, the Greek Isles—all planned, never carried out or visited for one reason or another.

Home is a fine place—that's why we call it home—but we also need to visit the world around us, to experience those "different rhythms," like you said.

Philip said...

When I went to India it felt like I'd gone to another planet. I like that kind of travelling. Shoreham is still a holiday everyday for me. With the added bonus that people treat me like I live here. And it turns out I do. Weird. What are other people's opinions of flip flops? I think they are the work of the devil.

Pat said...

Greece always has a special place in my heart and I'm thankful to have had years of travelling now that we rarely visit the next county. Do travel folk whilst you can.

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Nice post, but it was ruined for me by the title, 'Home And Away' as the theme tune from the Australian TV show of the same name is now stuck in my head. Grr.