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Well – yes – the silence was due to my having been away on the Island of Kerkyra (I think it was the Italians who called it Corfu) and not a Durrell in sight, alas – nor a nymph being chased by Poseidon (nor yours truly being chased by Poseidon) for this is the island on which that naughty old sea-god imprisoned his unwilling nymph of the same name. Oh those gods. Really! But such was my delight that I – after going to the Greek islands for my week’s R&R every year for the last dozen years – have been taught a lesson: the less you pay the more you get.

This time, the purse being what it was, I settled for a 2* hotel, right on the beach at Dassia and called, prosaically the Dassia Beach Hotel (look it up) – it had no fancy spa or fancy bars or fancy evenings of mind bashing ‘entertainment’ (you know those – when a troupe of tired looking individuals turns up in ‘Greek’ dress and performs unspeakable things to music for hours on end) but it had balconies that looked out straight on to the glorious Ionian Sea and the gentle mountains beyond – chairs and tables from which to let the view do its work – the friendliest management and staff – a bar with a restaurant terrace directly overlooking the beach – tavernas and shops within a few minutes walk – and – yes – it had a ‘fridge in the room. What was missing? No pool. Is all. In that tranquil sea, with a bathing platform stretched out if you wanted it, or a little shingle beach if not – and free sun loungers (admittedly one or two a bit rickety but most held up well) – who needed a pool?

Yes – the rooms were basic – the plumbing a little old and the shower functional – but it all worked. And the rooms were cleaned every day. You really could not ask for more. I got on so well with the woman who cleaned every day that when I left to come home – she kissed me on both cheeks and told me to come again (I think this proves, friends, that I am a clean and neat user of hotel rooms) – and the owner – a fine and fair looking woman who ran the place with absolute efficiency – actually told me that I should have asked to keep my room for the three hours betwixt vacating it at the usual hour (noon) and when my taxi arrived. I’ve only ever, in posh hotels, either been refused to continue use, or asked to pay a fortune for the privilege. I never thought to ask. This was not throughput – this was Service.

While sunbathing I read three books – the wonderful Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Heart Goes Last’ – funny and frightening; ‘Barchester Towers’ – the second in the Trollope series (read by Timothy West deliciously well) his satire still works sharp as ever; And – even more wonderful than these – Elizabeth Strout’s ‘My Name Is Lucy Barton’ which rocked my soul with its understanding of how it is when you do well in life but carry the shadow of coming from poverty (poverty of love as well as poverty of the parental purse) – it made me smile, it made me cry, and it made me want to write to her and tell her that she is AMAZING. I also finished off ‘The Wonder’ by Emma Donoghue which was nicely placed in 19C Ireland – and ended up happily. Good.

Can I just add, though I know this post is long, that the sea bass I had one evening at at taverna called, imaginatively, ‘The Greek Restaurant’ on the main drag, was the best I have ever had – anywhere. Now happy to be home, much restored.


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