Because of a booking hiccup, there are these three days in the middle of my stay when my apartment has been rented out to someone else. However, Tassos offered me the use of his summer retreat, some 10 kms up the coast. Apart from the hassle of having to empty the place, it seemed a good opportunity to get away from town for a long weekend. (Not that I had any choice.)
In many ways, I have fallen on my feet. The house is in Tassos’s own vineyard; just fifty yards away is his own private beach, on the shore of the Mediterranean. Though beach is overstating it. It’s a narrow strip of land covered in dried seaweed, but it does mean I can walk through the garden in my swimming trunks and go straight in to the water.
Which I did on my first morning, having arrived the evening before. Warm water, easy access… and very dull. Within ten minutes I was done. The narrow shore does also give access to the local resort and café-bar, however, and later I strolled along there for lunch. About a ten minute walk on the same springy seaweed, but with a distressing amount of plastic debris, a couple of dead seagulls, and a nasty rusting wire fence to negotiate right at the end.
The house is perfectly comfortable, but it is a throwback to another time. It is full of stuff: shells and plastic fruit and painted stones and old cassette players and little model houses and things made of pine cones and acorns and model cars made of wood and every sort of tourist knick-knack. There is a modern(ish) kitchen, and when we arrived Tassos had to unload masses of plates from the dishwasher, as he had hosted a dozen of his friends the day before. He tells me he comes here every day, and in the summer stays for weeks at a time, which must be a wrench for him when it is rented out. Like now.
There are wide terraces on all sides, each with its own comfortable seating area: cane furniture with big cushions, big tables for outdoor meals, perfect for sitting and eating and drinking and enjoying the company of your friends. For me, who is actually an indoors person, it is a little claustrophobic, and also a little lonely. I shall not be sorry to get back to Mytilini, get back to my cosy little apartment, get back to work.