Doughnuts, cats and babies

It was a lot warmer today. Still fresh, but very bright with a stunningly blue sky. And clear – often the brightest days round here are characterised by a haze that obscures the view, but today you could see right to the horizon. I took the opportunity to ride out over the spine of the island, through olive groves, raw-looking vineyards and tiny hamlets. Having skipped breakfast, a sweet aroma brought me to a halt outside a tiny taverna, hardly more than a private house with three tables and a huge chest fridge outside. At one table the family were lounging in the dubious comfort of a set of ill-assorted chairs, three of them arrayed round a rickety table, the other an old leatherette armchair.

When the woman in the armchair, who was dandling a baby on her lap, caught sight of me, she called out to me to join them. I wandered across and asked for coffee. A chair was vacated for me – the least contorted of the ones available. The delicious smell turned out to be freshly made doughnuts, prepared by an old lady with seemingly heatproof fingers, as she dropped the dough in the hot fat and extracted the cooked doughnuts with her bare hands.

They gave me a plateful of misshapen but delicious doughnuts with my coffee and were delighted at my expressions of appreciation. They were further delighted by my attempts at speaking Greek – a novelty for “tourists”.

All the while, the cats were becoming more and more familiar, getting between me and my doughnuts, and when I admired the baby I was given that too. Shortly thereafter, I felt a warm, damp sensation in the knees of my trousers. I took pains not to make my discomfort obvious. At the time, I thought it was the baby, but, judging from the smell, it may well have been one of the kittens. I left amid mutual expressions of regard, and I was not permitted to pay. Which is probably just as well, because the doughnuts gave me terrible indigestion and I may have to put the trousers in the garbage.

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