There was a fire at Aghii Anargiri yesterday, the place in Spetses where my parents have their holiday home and where we just left last week.
To put the first picture into context, this is the view from the balcony. The House with the awning is the same house with the awning in the fire picture in the bottom left corner…the fire came down from the hills on the left. My mother was at the house – my father, sister, niece and three friends were all at another beach -Xylokeriza – they all made it to safety, though some with only the swimming costumes they were standing in.
There was a huge fire in 1990 that many of us remember with horror: Nothing can prepare you for the sound, noise, speed, smell. The difference with this fire was it started in the morning which gave the helicopters and water planes a chance. The downside was the high winds, ready to whip the flames back into action.
Today’s media update:
The wildfires on the Argosaronic island of Spetses and at Anavysos, east of Athens, were under control on Wednesday morning after a difficult night with strong winds that threatened to fan them further.
The forest fire on the southwest part of Spetses appeared to be contained by the dozens of firefighters on the island.
The fire broke out on Tuesday at noon at the forest near Aghii Anargyri, near the top of the island’s mountain, and headed west toward the beach before swinging south toward Xylokeriza. This is the same forest area that suffered from the 1990 wildfire. It has undergone extensive reforestation.
The few scattered holiday homes in that area were not damaged, thanks mainly to the rapid response of the local and regional fire service. Six helicopters and at least three airplanes contributed to the battle with the fire on the touristic island up to late in the evening on Tuesday. A helicopter and two aircraft resumed operations on Wednesday morning along with 70 men on the ground plus many volunteers.
The island’s mayor Panayiotis Lyrakis spoke of a possible arson, on which his deputy, Paraskevi Stofyla expressed her certainty.
Swimmers at the popular beach of Aghii Anargyri were evacuated with sea taxis as the flames appeared particularly threatening.
“The blaze passed passed by 10-11 holiday houses but fortunately there was no damage caused,” stated Lyrakis.
My family are now making their heartbroken way back to their house. This was the stunning bay of Xylokeriza, where most of our group were swimming that fateful day.
This is it now.
Whilst grateful that lives are safe, all who know this place as a heavenly paradise will appreciate the sense of grief and bleakness to see it so ravaged and hurt. We await to see the pictures of our beautiful bay.
Laters, Kate x
It was pure fluke we arranged a holiday in Hastings at the exact time of their 1066 celebrations to mark 950 years since the famous battle which changed English history.
The enactment put on by English Heritage was epic, both in terms of scale and quality: The sheer attention to detail was a joy to behold with every costume cared for down to the last buttonhole.
Running up to the battlefield was a row of shops to supply us and any soldiers with their daily needs: boar hides, leather satchels, knives, jewellery, bone needles, hand loomed blankets, buckles and beer all hewn and authentically made so that seeing enactors interacting genuinely felt like a step back in time.
On either side of the battlefield were the camps of the Normans and Saxons, true living and breathing hives of activity.
From cooking food and tending livestock to weaving and making music.
The day was packed with individual events, including a falconry show. This is the closest I’ve ever got to a real golden eagle.
And so the battle began..
(The irony of the jester watching on..)
It was fabulous!
Laters, Kate x
My parent’s house sits on a hill on the right hand curve of a bay that acts as a natural amphitheatre with an unnerving ability to amplify recognisable conversations all the way from the beach. A fact we used to appreciate in the old days when the only telephone belonged to the taverna down below, over the quiet hum of cicada’s we’d hear a frantic ‘Mackenzie!, Mac-ken-zie!’ – and we knew we had 10 minutes to drop whatever we were doing and run down as quickly as possible to be there for when the caller was told to call again.
It’s that knowledge of history and familiarity that adds to the magic of the place..the fact that really, very little has changed..there’s still the scent of pines, the noise of crickets, the enveloping heat, all heavily layering the air, gently luring you in to eternal enchantment.
Some of the older characters of my youth have moved or passed on now – I remember Christo Louris, locally known as the ‘ex-millionaire’ who’d allegedly been taken to the cleaners by his wife..who then spent the rest of his ‘fortune’ trying to keep his demanding mistress happy in an exclusive flat in Piraeus. He’d sit at the taverna and nurse a beer all day long…and leap on any leftover plates of food, claiming them as his own.
Another great favourite was Captain Alecko – a man almost as round as he was tall. He would happily tell us long, involved stories about his life at sea that generally ended in some disaster or other. I know my cousins were staying in the house by themselves one summer and, in the seclusion and shade of the verandah, they discussed which side they thought Captain Alecko batted for (he always had a rather young, attractive, male ‘helper’ with him) when over the wind came the sing-song words ‘Captain Alecko…he has very big ears!..” They ran inside and didn’t come out for two days. The natural amphitheatre has a lot to answer for..Captain Alecko’s two great concerns were that the authorities would discover he had Laskarina Bouboulina’s telescope, that had come into his possession via some dubious route, which never happened..and that his mother would die whilst he was on holiday, and no-one would tell him – which did!
Drawing everything together is the taverna on the beach which represents both the social centre and a touch of mafia.
At one point there were two tavernas..Thanasi was the first and main one, owning a lot of the land around, but he gave his friend Tasos the baker, a plot of land behind his taverna as a present to build a retirement villa on. Tasos promptly built his own taverna that proved to be a roaring success – all his food was slow-cooked with local herbs in a bakers oven…and the two never spoke again..instead, whenever the wind was blowing in the right direction Thanasi would throw out his fish guts in the style of a proper greek feud. Tasos taverna ran for many, many years before age did finally catch up with the wily old fox..it is still missed today.
Not that the feuds have stopped. The bus driver and the taverna had a falling out, so now every day, three times a day, the bus reverses all the way down the road to avoid turning in front of the taverna. I had to video it..only in Greece..a bus travelling backwards..
(My father introducing his Grandson to the delights of cipero at sunset..we now know where Charlie gets his sartorial gene from..)
And slowly the time came when we would leave the island and head to the next part of the holiday – for years we’d looked from the bay to these mountains on the Peloponnese and wondered what was there..and now we were going to find out. A mere 18 miles across the sea..a lot more by car, it was going to be an adventure…
But although it was good bye to Spetses…
It wasn’t to my parents – we were taking them with us!
Laters, Kate x