Sunday, 17 July 2016

Let’s all go to Zante!

It seems like a lifetime ago, but in fact it’s barely a month since Mr V and I flew off for our summer holiday.  It was just the two of us.  No children.  Or, to be succinct, no adult children.  The kids were left to look after both the house and each other.  The thought of them being alone together for a fortnight caused a frisson of anxiety. They either get on like a house on fire or World War Three breaks out.
          ‘Don’t forget to lock up.’
          ‘Yes, Mum.’
          ‘Don’t forget to turn off the hob and the oven.’
          ‘Yes, Mum.’
          ‘Don’t leave the fridge door open.’
          ‘Okay, Mum.’
          ‘Don’t lock yourselves out.’
          ‘No, Mum.’
          ‘Don’t argue.’
said don’t argue.’
          ‘If there are any arguments it will be your daughter who starts them,’ said Rob.  Note the “your daughter” and not “my sister”.
          ‘That’s not fair,’ Eleanor huffed, arms folding across her chest.
          ‘It’s always you who starts a row,’ said Rob.
          ‘I do not!’
          ‘Yes, you do.’
dare you say that! You’re the one that starts everything.’
          ‘ENOUGH!’ I roared.  Dear Lord.  We hadn’t even left the place and they were starting.  I then gave my neighbour a spare key to the house (I didn’t quite trust the kids not to get locked out) and warned that if the house appeared to be imploding it was due to a hormonal teenager and…well…a hormonal twenty-three year old.  Do children ever stop being hormonal?  Maybe when they reach fifty-something.  And then they are simply too knackered to be hormonal.  Like their parents.
          ‘Be good,’ I warned.  Otherwise there will be no Duty Free.’
          Ah yes, in the old days it was the threat of no sweets.  These days the bribes are far bigger carrots.  Usually carats in my daughter’s case.
          At half past four – in the morning – a mild looking sixty-something picked us up in his taxi, grey hair neatly cut and combed.  Leaning back against the seat, I sighed happily.  A nice relaxing drive to the airport, a spot of brekky, a linger in Duty Free, onto the plane and….whooooooosh!  The journey to Gatwick Airport is forty minutes.  The taxi driver started up his innocuous looking taxi, rammed the gear into first and took off like the proverbial bat out of hell.  It took a good ten seconds for my tonsils to catch up with the rest of me as we hurtled down winding country lanes to the motorway.  Despite the taxi driver being a newish pensioner, he was clearly hell-bent on reliving his boy racer days before he reached his next big birthday.  Or the rest of us for that matter.  Would I live to see fifty-five?
          ‘Going anywhere nice?’ asked the driver.
          ‘Yes,’ I yelped.
          ‘Where’s that then?’
          ‘Zante,’ my husband squeaked.  Either he was also petrified or else the seat belt was too tight.
          When my daughter had learnt Zante was our holiday destination she’d convulsed with laughter.  ‘Bah ha ha ha ha!  I don’t believe it.  Did you not know it’s a seriously hot party place?’
          ‘Of course I knew!’ I’d lied, privately thanking both God in heaven and my lucky stars Mr V hadn’t been around to hear the conversation.  ‘However, if it could be our little secret I’d be much obliged.’
          The truth was, I’d simply typed into Google
best beaches in Europe and narrowed it down from there.  As someone who loves to walk, a long golden beach with soft sand is key.  So when I spotted Kalamaki, a scenic three kilometer stretch with protected nesting areas for turtles, I wasn’t too interested in much else.  As it happened, our hotel was fine.  It was well away from the party bit.  We walked the beach from one end to the other every single day.  The party area was crammed with sun loungers and parasols all occupied by young men and women, all giving each other the eye.  The girls showed off taut tummies as the boys smoothed sun cream over well-defined abs.  Mr V always changed his posture on this stretch.  Suddenly he’d appear two inches taller as he straightened up, adopting a ‘Superman’ pose.  Shoulders back.  Head up.  Soft tummy pulled in tight as he held his breath for the next two hundred yards.  You could almost see his blue cape flapping in the warm breeze. His lips were certainly blue by the time we’d skirted the dewy youth section.  I’d hear him rapidly exhaling then gulping in lungfuls of sea air.  The other end of the beach couldn’t have been more different.  Sun loungers petered out to nothing and, for a bit, there was just a lonely meandering shoreline of lapping water and scrub vegetation.
           One day we decided to edge past the far end of Kalamaki beach, circumnavigate a huge area of rocks, and pick up the next beach.  Paddling out into shallow waters, we waded for a few minutes until we were back on sand.  Here it was also remote.  Far ahead a few much older people were making the most of the total quiet.  As we gradually approached, my husband hesitated.
          ‘Um, Debbie–’
          ‘Stop dawdling, and keep up!’ I called over my shoulder.  I was well in my stride again, elbows in, arms moving in time to legs as I powered towards the handful of people who’d turned as one to stare at us.
          ‘Ah, Debbie, I think–’
          ‘What’s wrong with everybody?’ I muttered.  ‘Why are they looking at us like we have two heads?’
          A lady regarded me coolly.  I nodded and smiled at her.  She didn’t smile back.  She was sitting on a pink towel, her equally pink legs tucked up, arms looped over her knees.  Nothing seemed untoward, even though her legs were slightly parted and…I blinked…no…surely the sun was getting to me.  At that moment a grey-haired man stood up and gave us a full frontal.  My eyes flicked from the lady’s parted legs to the top of the man’s legs, as everybody else in my peripheral vision came into focus.  My mouth formed a perfect O.  I was wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat and bikini.  Never in my life have I felt so overdressed.
          So Mr V and I instantly pretended we’d lost our bearings.  We stood there, hands on hips, noisily declaring how we’d managed to wander off track, me blowing my cheeks out and my husband scratching his head as we loudly pondered which direction might lead back to our hotel.  In hindsight, this charade was a bit daft.  We had two options: retrace our steps or head out to sea. And then we fled.  Which reminds me.
          A pensioner checked into a hotel, four floors high.  After unpacking, she tottered up to the roof terrace and settled down to some peaceful sunbathing.  After a couple of days, as nobody else seemed to be using the roof area, she decided to completely strip off and sunbathe nude.  She’d barely (excuse the pun) settled down when the sound of urgent footsteps could be heard coming up the steps to the roof.  Quickly, she grabbed her towel and put it around her.  A uniformed member of staff appeared.  He was very flustered.
          ‘Madam, I’m very sorry but you cannot sunbathe in the nude up here.’
          ‘Why ever not?’ the little old lady asked.  ‘No one can see.’
          ‘Madam,’ he said again, ‘you happen to be lying on the skylight of the dining room…’