Special Spetses x

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My connection to the island of Spetses goes back two generations when my grandparents were first offered land there to build a holiday home away from the pollution of Athens.  They’d travelled to Greece from the highlands of Scotland following the depression – the story goes that my Grandfather, Robert Mackenzie, a Classics Scholar, was offered a job sweeping the floor of the EMI factory.  Something went wrong with one of the machines and he fixed it..and then rose quickly through the ranks to become managing Director of EMI in Greece at a very special time: it was the cheapest place in Europe to record and make records and consequently drew talent talent from across the board from the Beatles to Maria Callas.  My father was born there, although he was sent back to boarding school in the Lake District at aged five..it used to take him two days of travel by plane with a pit stop in Rome to get home, all in a converted Lancaster Bomber.

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In my grandparents time, this house was the inspiration for John Fowles’s book, The Magus – he taught English at the once famous school (now a conference centre) on the island, said to be the Greek equivalent of Eton, he would walk all over the island in the quiet of the winter months in search of solitude and ideas.  The house was owned by an eccentric millionaire and was then (before the great fire: another story) hidden from view by layers of huge pine trees.  As a child, I went there for tea with my Grandmother to be shown faberge eggs and ancient seals.  I don’t remember it, but I do remember the millionaire ended up in jail for forging an ancient land deed..with a biro.

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Just down the valley  is the bay where my parent’s house is…virtually unchanged. This picture is taken from the balcony of my sister’s parents-in-law’s house….Greece lies deep within the family blood and it’s special to have a proper Greek family that has linked the time and generations together.

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My sister’s In-law’s house is next door to Madame Pourri’s on the hill – she’ll be ninety this year and is still going strong with a swim every day…….she was evacuated on the same boat with my grandmother and my father as a small child when the Germans invaded in the Second World War…first to Egypt, then eventually to South Africa.

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They spoilt us with a treat normally reserved for Easter…roast lamb..my absolute favourite!

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Bella and Charlie are now the third generation to enjoy this special place and it’s unique atmosphere, where even walking on water is possible…

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Spetses is famous for it’s pine tress, crystal clear waters and the coloured stones on the beaches: yellow, green, pink..each one a gem.

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It’s very much an Athenian resort island with a siren call to all the big yachts of the Mediterranean and a play ground for the super rich….but always over seen by Laskarina Bouboulina…an incredible lady with seven children from Spetses who became an General of the Greek fleet and an Admiral of Russia and led the Greek navy in the battle of independence against the Turks….Greece will always be a land of beauty, mystery and contradictions where anything..absolutely anything is possible…

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Leaving, as we arrived on a speed boat – we were all sad to go, but we had another adventure ahead of us..to the island of Lefkada…and we’ll be back….it’s only au revoir..

 

Laters, Kate x

36 comments

  1. dievca

    What a fabulous family history and connection to a very beautiful piece of the World. I know that Lia will be thrilled with reading this post. Thank you for sharing. XO

    • Maison Bentley Style

      There are..my Grandfather came from a tiny croft in the Highlands and used to walk bare foot to school..and yet he achieved so much. His brother was also brilliant – came top of the Civil Service exams in the country..but was killed in the First World War at Paschendale..I always wondered where it came from – but apparently their father was called ‘The Brain’ ! xxx

  2. Alison Pentland

    My sister married a tall, lean Greek man with an easy smile and that’s the closest I’ve been to Greece. Your photographs come alive with the story. I could feel the blinding contrast of white and blue. My hubby and I have aspirations to sail the Aegean Sea ourselves visiting both Greece and Turkey, but it’ll have to wait until we finish our arts and crafts home, Black Oaks. So nice to see Bella’s a ginger, we are so rare these days.

    • Maison Bentley Style

      Apparently you need both sides to carry the gene to have a red-head..we knew we both had it (she was called Isabella after her great-grandmother who was a red head and there’s red on the the husbands side) but when the midwife said she was red – it was a shock! Sailing is the way to see Greece..good luck with house! xxx

  3. geetikawalia

    This is such a beautiful place!! Lovely snaps… I am planning a honeymoon to Greece. Can you tell me if honeymoon in Greece would be a good option or not?
    x

  4. jackiemallon

    Love the back story, love how the languorous pace and vibrant color of Greece comes through in your pictures…and love how Bella can walk on water! XO

  5. Lia in Brussels

    Oh! this is GLORIOUS Kate, you lucky girl! I can smell the lamb, feel the sand, hear the cicadas, taste the salt in the air, feel the cool evening breeze! I’m dreaming! xxx

  6. thelinencat & rockcottageyear

    I loved this post, it must be wonderful to be able to go visit somewhere with such a linked history to your past and especially to share it all with your children. The boys on one side of my family all went to boarding school in Cumbria (Sedbergh) but I don’t think their journey was such an event! I hope you’re enjoying the rest of your holidays, we’re off to Yorkshire tomorrow, just as the weather has turned thus re-enforcing the idea that it aways rains in Yorkshire ;) Bethx

    • Maison Bentley Style

      !! I know his boarding school was on Lake Windermere..they had the choice of a cold shower every morning..or a dip in the lake..they kept swimming in the lake till they had to break the ice to swim!! – the advantage is he never, ever feels the cold!! xxx

  7. theblackberryboys

    Wow than Spetses is really special for you and your family :) Love the story. And the pictures want to make me go back for another visit, but no summer school, just relaxing this time :)

  8. Bogi

    Hi! Thank you for visiting my blog!
    Your pictures are wonderful, you are lucky to be in such a nice place! Have a good time there!

  9. Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist

    If I told my son about boarding school at five *and then added the thing about two days of air travel through Rome by converted bomber* he’d have to spend the rest of the day weighing that one up, for sure. (Give him a few more years and I’m sure I’d get the flick in about three seconds.)