The summer adventures of a solo female traveller aged 66
After almost a month in Crete, writer and journalist Elaine Kingett reports back on the latest phase of her summer adventure:
Did I discover a swarthy Cretan shepherd, complete with hairnet, Mitsubishi pick-up and gun to sweep me off my feet? Or an Albanian lothario-builder interested in showing me his tattoos, gold tooth and half built apartment in the ‘project’? Well, no and yes. I also discovered how much I liked being on holiday on my own, then spending a couple of days with an old friend and finally, sharing a room with my son, 31, and daughter, 27. All have their charms and it was the perfect way to organize an escape.
On my own, I relished the time I had to soak and boil chickpeas and make a variety of simple vegan dishes with the local, organic vegetables and thick, dark green olive oil. Every morning I danced naked in my rented room, joined by the smell of pine and wild herbs from archaeological site below my window and a view of the wide Aegean sea. Each night, I sat outside in the moonlight on my blue painted chair, plugged into the Archers on iPlayer and limiting myself to two small tumblers of good Cretan wine.
My friend Ally arrived, scooped me up in her hire car and took me off to another part of the island to discover Minoan pottery shards on deserted hill sides and windsurfing beaches full of fit, tanned guys with strong arms and easy smiles.
When my kids flew in, it was party time in Panormo. The days became longer and I’d shoot out early to breakfast in my favourite cafe, leaving the youngsters to sleep off the effects of the night before. After ordering a coffee, I hurriedly erased the photos I’d posted on Instagram, under the influence of retsina and raki and the over-excitement of being with my kids. Then, I tucked gleefully into the next book I’d borrowed from the hotel library. Not literary fiction or self-improving non-fiction, but romantic fiction by popular female authors such as Rosie Thomas. The sort of books I’d always sneered at because of their girly cover design, stereotypical titles or even (snob that I was) the obvious ‘femininity’ of the author’s name.
Perhaps I didn’t find romance in Greece but I did experience it on the well-written pages of Rosie Thomas’ evocative novels – and that was probably far safer!
Elaine is now in Spain running her Write It Down! creative writing course. And will be back in a bit.