Is there any experience more pleasurable than a whole week by oneself in a sunny climate, the sea at one’s front door, books to read, videos to watch, simple fresh food and company when one wants?
My second trip to Kardimyli in late October was a near perfect holiday, just slightly marred by the presence of sunbathers from a country famed for rising at the crack of dawn to secure the most prime positions on the beach. (After spreading out their towels, sandals, sun-cream etc they would then disappear for the rest of the day. Alternatively they made their presence felt by loud conversation and throwing pebbles into the sea without pause; you can probably guess their country.)
But enough about my only quibble. To be answerable to no-one, to follow the dictates of one’s stomach, change plans at a second’s notice, chat to whomever one felt like, and walk away from anything verging on the uncomfortable , now that is selfishness on a grand scale.
It was my excuse to get in the last dose of Vitamin D and recuperate from a hectic two weeks.
I walked up to the custard cream church
and made for Kiki’s restaurant to meet my old friend Anthe, who works with her parents. Kiki, Anthe’s mother, fried me a mountain of fat whitebait and I dressed the tomato and cucumber salad with their green olive oil. The new olive harvest would begin a few days after I left.
Walking up to the tower I passed bowers of datura flowers nestling in brilliant bougainvillea and jasmine. The datura gives off the scent of paradise but every part of it as poisonous as a serpent’s venom.
The hills behind Kardymyli are dotted with ancient churches.On the main street Yohanna from Rumania keeps her bio-products shop sparsely but carefully stocked with herbs- white sage for burning against witches, mountain tea, thyme, basil- a few eggs, jars of fragrant honey that carry the soul of mountain flowers, slabs of wax and delicious black bread from a village baker. Yohanna is married to a silent farmer with a kindly face and her desk is surrounded with pictures of the Madonna.
Anthe and I had a breakfast of coffee and frozen yoghurt at the cafe opposite which is run by a sophisticated couple from Athens. The husband spoke wearily about the economic plight of the country.
Most of my meals were made by Fani, Stavros’s wife at the cafe by the beach where I stayed.
Moussaka, Greek salad, fava beans and delicious honey and walnut cake with fresh orange juice.
Stavros is the son of Lena, Patrick Leigh-Fermor’s first housekeeper. His little self-catering cottages are among the nicest bolt-holes in the Peleponnese.