On life’s continually amazing journey, I find myself resting on my laurels in London for a few weeks before returning to The Rock. This is the first time I’ve stayed here for any length of time in about a decade. My has it changed; my decision to leave 11 years ago still holds good.
Despite, or maybe because of, a winter season in the French Alps, my desire to get back to Greece and Corfu is as strong as ever. It’s like a drug that gets under your skin and there’s no ignoring the craving. I’ve seen people fall under it’s influence in the space of a weeks holiday. They get a dreamy look in their eyes and start scheming to come back before they hit the departure lounge, and if Corfu airports departure lounge doesn’t put them off coming back nothing will.
I love living there for many reasons. I like living somewhere where random people say good morning to you and assume the right to question your family history and life story without shame. Admittedly those same people will tell all and sundry your story with gay abandon but hey, that’s community for you. I also like the fact that when summer arrives it arrives without doubt and I don’t have to spend August hoping for an Indian summer. I like eating outside, drinking frappe on the beach and best of all, being able to have a smoke with my beer if I so choose. There are, of course, many things that can frustrate, bank queues, hypochondria and power cuts to name but a few. But none of these things detract from the sense of freedom I get there, my entire life feels like a holiday, in defiance of the humdrum; school runs, supermarket shopping, work and bills.
What am I looking forward to most? Seeing my kids, that’s a given. Living in a house instead of a small room that looks like a sauna, of course. Reunions with that eclectic bunch that I call my friends, can’t wait. But the initial thing, the thing that makes me smile no matter how many times I do it, is landing at Corfu airport. For those who have never done it (why not?), the initial approach gives you splendid views of one of the most beautiful islands Greece possesses. Depending on your approach, you will pretty much see most of the island before circling widely then starting the descent into what some people find a pretty freaky landing. You either get to come in low, over a main road, the traffic on which has to be stopped a safe distance away and the breaks get slammed on hard as soon as they touch the runway to avoid plunging into the lake at the end.
Or you get to come in low the other way, which gives you the impression that your landing in the lake, and the breaks get slammed on hard as soon as you touch the runway to stop you plunging into the line of traffic impatiently waiting for the lights to change on the road at the other end.
Either way it’s a blast. The smiles you see on the faces coming through the arrivals lounge are 90% relief, or in my case, 100% joy.