Sunday, 1 March 2009

an island getaway

Sometimes luxury can merely be the time we have free to enjoy simple things. Simple things like Mediterranean sunshine, the blossoms and fruits of autumn, the halcyon days in winter, the clarity and abundance of spring and the warm summer seas. The house lies on the residential side of Eretria harbour, and with its own garden and waterfront, it combines privacy outdoors with easy access to the sea. The shops are a short stroll away, and tavernas, cafes and bars line the other side of our small harbour. There are sandy public beaches both to the west and to the east.

The old-fashioned living room has a fireplace and a long balcony looking south over the waters of the Gulf and the Attic mainland in the distance. It is a lovely spot for an aperitif at sunset and moonrise, and quietly magical if one is up to welcome the dawn.

Both of the double bedrooms have sea views. There are modern conveniences in addition to the traditional sunshine and sea breezes.

Access is from the street through a shady garden with a variety of flowering vines and fruit trees. The kitchen is fully equipped with microwave and dishwasher, and there is a laundry nook for the washing machine and iron.

Eretria lies on the coast between the fertile vineyards, orchards and gardens of the Lelantine and Amarynthian plains on Euboea (Evia) Island. Artefacts and monuments from Antiquity and the Middle Ages abound on the roadsides, in the waters of the harbour... and in the archaeological museum. Horseback riding, watersports and tennis are all locally available. Last, but not least, it is about 90 minutes from Athens and Athens airport via either the Oropos ferryboat or the bridge at Chalkis, making it easy to visit the city or have friends come and visit.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

mount kemble memoir

The atmosphere folded itself against your face, came in between your fingers: Michael’s mountain was baking in the August sun. We were in the kitchen -- an enormous room, with a huge iron Ashley stove, a sofa, armchairs, statues. The cutting board shared counter space with an old RCA television and Michael’s “Wooden Nickel Odeon” which would rasp and buzz if handled with the proper care. Dust lay everywhere except for the piano, the table and the counter-top. The dust completed the room -- a fine room in winter, but now the heat carried the dust along with it and covered our arms, foreheads, our palms and fingers were sticky.

The morning sun got higher and Michael and Mark came in,

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Thursday, 16 October 2008

the fast boats

Besides the bridge at Chalkis, Evia is linked to the Attic mainland by five ferryboat lines. From as far back as I can remember, the Eretria-Oropos ferries took half-an-hour to cross and they left every thirty minutes; less, if it was rush hour on a Friday or Sunday. Like the rest of us, the boats got older, and louder, and slower. The crossing began to take over forty minutes, the boats vibrated and the engines knocked and rumbled and more than one engine sounded like it had no muffler.

One day a new brand-new ferryboat arrived.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Thursday, 30 August 2007


Saturday, 28 January 2006

castles in the sky

She had written that the weather had been unusually warm for Christmas. I smiled at the picture. It was hers, this positioning of the arms - an expression of containment that was both wary and protective. Her strength, her vulnerability, her withdrawal spoke in the rigidity of the muscles. Her eyes look out at the sea, steadily; the head is turned slightly away from the camera - a pose she learned from the studio portraits so necessary for her career. The never-ending cigarette, the sunglasses worn or pushed up on her hair, are also remnants from a world of practice, clubs, night New York glitter. Two worlds, merged -- there on the mountain with her dogs, her unfinished house and struggling garden.

The land is harsh, her living hard. She carried buckets of water to her makeshift kitchen, and then dishwater was used for the garden. The earth, dry and old, often refused the water - it evaporated in the sun. Contrasts in Greece are vivid: rock, sun, sea. The winds are changeable and strong: the desert dust carried up from the south and the smell of forests down from the north. And the east and west winds play with the waves, carrying hope with the briny smell of salt.

Friday, 27 January 2006

the manhattan gypsy

In the late 1940's to the early 1950's, there was a Russian nightclub on 244 East 14th Street in New York City called The Two Guitars. The performers were of Russian origin. It was while performing here that my mother met my father. After some roaming, she became his wife and eventually they settled in his corner of the Old World.