Saturday, 27 September 2014

It's been a quiet week

It hardly seems possible that it's only a week since I had to take the heartbreaking decision to let the vet end my dog's suffering. That's why it's been a quiet week - and obviously a sad week, too.

When I describe Bonnie as "my dog", it's not entirely accurate. She was very much a family dog and would be friendly with anyone who would offer her a kind word, a stroke of her lovely soft ears or, even better, slip her an illicit morsel of food.

Bonnie was a black Labrador and like pretty well all of her kind always seemed to have food at the forefront of her mind. It was this which first led me to realise something was wrong with her when she began to refuse meals.

Anyway, I don't want to dwell on the last days of a much loved pet other than to say that things were made easier by the presence of one of my daughters who had come to Skopelos for a short holiday. Having the first day of your holiday taken up by the death of a pet is not a good start to any break, but I was glad I had a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on.

So now Bonnie is at rest in the olive grove. My landlord, who was very fond of Bonnie, helped me dig a grave and we buried her with one of her favourite toys, a rather grubby Father Christmas doll, which she would often present to visitors to the house. In a few weeks I will buy a fruit tree which we will plant over her. It seems fitting that a dog with such wide and varied tastes in food should have a fruit tree nearby.

I am trying desperately hard not to be sentimental in this post, but it's difficult. I miss her enthusiastic greeting every time I returned home, I miss the way she would place her head on my knee and give me a soulful stare (yes, I know it usually meant she wanted food) and above all I just miss her presence. But life goes on and I am grateful for the time we had with Bonnie, a good and faithful friend.

Just at the moment I can't lay my hands on a picture of Bonnie. I'll try to find one soon. In the meantime, here's Led Zeppelin singing a song which while not about a black Labrador apparently was named after one. I have to admit that whenever I played Led Zep Bonnie seemed to wander off, I don't think she was a fan. Even so, this is dedicated to her.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The seven ages of holidaymakers

WE are getting near the end of the holiday season here on Skopelos. The last charter flights to the nearest airport on our neighbouring rock of Skiathos will be, I think, some time early in October.

As the season progresses so the nature of the holidaymakers who come to Skopelos changes. Assuming the season starts in May the progression of holidaymakers goes something like this: mature couples, outdoor types, families with pre-school age children, families with school age children, Greeks, young couples and single-sex groups of young adults, older people.

That's sort of seven groups if not ages. By my reckoning we are in the last stages, so there are quite a few older folk around. I think they like it because it's quieter, not so hot and probably there are a few bargains to be had for getting here. They are quite easy to spot as a lot of them appear to like walking - I have no criticism of that - and you can see them wandering around clutching maps.

In terms of numbers it's very much a Bell curve with the peak being late July/August, which is the favoured time for Greeks to go on holiday. It's easy to spot some, but only some, Greek holidaymakers because they go jogging. I kid you not. Not all Greek tourists are joggers and not all joggers on Skopelos are on holiday, but I see very few joggers here the rest of the year.

This summer, my dog, Bonnie, and I encountered a Greek couple jogging in the woods near Amarantos (Αμάραντος). They were going in the same direction as us and soon left us behind and so we were slightly surprised when we found the same couple doing yoga on mats next to their car which was parked in the woods. I was more than a little distracted by the woman, a slender, Lycra-clad vision of flexibility, and much less distracted by her rather portly male companion. Anyway, it takes all sorts and maybe I should take a leaf from their book. Just my little joke, I will NEVER go jogging and yoga's a no-no, too.

It might have been stretching things to suggest that there are seven different categories of visitors, but I'm always ready for any chance to acknowledge Shakespeare. So thank you WS for Jaques' monologue from Act II Scene VII of As You Like It. If you'd like a quick look at the monologue then click here.

Now a brief apology. I've been a bad blogger, a very bad blogger, in that I haven't written anything for ages. It's not been an easy year for me or my family, but even so I have sat around at various times this summer thinking "I've got to write something" and then I've just carried on lounging around feeling a bit bored. For such poor service I apologise and to make up for it I offer you this wonderful song by Sam Cooke. By the way this does not mean I want to marry you and take you home, it's just a nice song. OK? The video is a bit ropy, but the shots of the audience make it all worthwhile. Different times indeed.

And finally, a question: Have you ever seen a smiling jogger? No, me neither. That's got to mean something.