Nikos …

… tells me that quite a few deluded heathen tourists imagine it is Easter weekend. The Orthodox Easter isn’t until the beginning of May. He doesn’t object, however, to the increase in trade from the pale masses of (mostly) Brits, and even provides traditional hard-boiled eggs, delicately dyed in hues from saffron to maroon by wrapping them in onion skins held in place with rubber bands before boiling them.

This morning I was actually still at breakfast in my pyjamas when the cleaning team arrived. I have to confess it was nearly ten o’clock. One of the ramshackle Japanese pickups that do sterling service in the islands arrived, driven by a cheerful middle-aged man with terminal designer stubble. Eleni, carrying a vast bag, and her mother, clutching a baby, climbed out before the pickup rushed away honking without obvious reason. Eleni is a plump girl of around twenty with a sunny disposition and no English, dressed in floral frock with a heavy sweater. Her mother, encased in black, looks at least seventy, and smiles only reluctantly.

I retreated to my bedroom to dress in shorts and shirt, and emerged to discover Eleni unloading my clean clothes from her bag onto the table. Mother’s duties appeared to be foreman, child-minder and chaperone, as she occupied the bench seat by the window, issuing curt orders to Eleni, juggling the sweet-natured baby, and glancing suspiciously at me. I made my apologies, picked up my book (Kazantzakis’ Freedom and Death – one of the few readable offerings from the local “supermarket”) and rode down to Nikos’ to complete my breakfast with a cup of coffee (Greek, metrio) and a glass of water.

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