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Roof landings

Newsletter: July 2016

Dear Web friends

Summer greetings… though British readers may wish to argue.

But since my last letter, I’ve been fortunate enough to find ten days of sunshine on the Greek island of Rhodes, which had a sophisticated civilisation while we were still in caves.

We stay in a seaside village called Pefkos, three miles from the famously beautiful town of Lindos, with its very own Acropolis. Pefkos does have a life of its own, just; but it’s a village that undergoes significant transformation for six months of the year, from May to October, when the tourists come.

And it’s a different work pattern for the locals. They work every day for six months; seven days a week for six months of the year… and then they stop. Nothing. Come the end of October, everything closes down (there may be rain in January – oooh!). There’s little work to be had in the winter months, apart from re-decorating the hotels, painting the town white and cleaning out the restaurant ovens.

Pefkos does boast one or two famous householders, past and present. Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd had a house there. He’s sold it now but it’s still called ‘The Pink Floyd House’... we’ve made the pilgrimage there a few times. Ironically, it does now need another brick in the wall… well, several actually.

But a shiny new celebrity has recently arrived; more shiny even than Dave perhaps. They’ve bought a marvellous new house on the cliffs, with a view to die for across the Mediterranean blue. The figure in question is Christiano Ronaldo, though he has only visited his property once, apparently – by helicopter, landing on the roof.

He needs to be careful, though; there are a lot of properties with no roofs nearby. It’s a feature of the island, skeleton homes, with no roofs, walls or floors… just a frame. And they sit there for years. This is because Greek banks don’t give mortgages. So people buy the plot, pay for planning permission, put up a concrete frame… and then have to save to complete the project.

There are many homes quite as skeletal as they were eight years ago when we first went there. Still saving…

In Pefkos, there are all the shops, bars and restaurants you’d expect – plus a popular Chinese restaurant and one of those ‘fish nibbling your feet’ places, which I first came across in Notting Hill. I didn’t go this time; I’m not sure what exactly they nibbled last time. I think you may just be sticking your feet in a bowl of small goldfish…

But the genius of Pefkos for me is its setting between the mountains and the sea. There are some beautiful bays of, yes, turquoise water, including St Paul’s Bay where St Paul’s ship once rested on one of his journeys. Close to where his boat must have sat, there’s now a little white chapel, which is very popular for British weddings. Pretty wonderful setting… and you’d all just have to have a swim after the service.

And then there are the Marmara mountains; Marmara means ‘marble’. Our favourite restauranteur, Nikos, who used to run a restaurant in Covent Garden, tells us the mountain absorbs heat in the morning and gives it out in the afternoon as the sun drops in the sky. The heat remains intense until around 7.00pm.

It’s a deep joy for me to run up in the mountains with the goats and the snakes. There are some long upward climbs, but for a reason I don’t understand, I run significantly faster out there than I do at home. It may simply be that if I’m not back by 9.00am, I’ll die of heat exhaustion or dehydration.

But back on this green and grassy isle – Rhodes really can’t do grass – I have two retreats to host this summer. If you wish to look at my retreats over the next twelve months, they’re here…

There are still places on The Beautiful Life retreat at the end of October, 2016.

And our favourite restauranteur Nikos is presently reading A (Very) Public School Murder because, well, it was his birthday, and he insisted I send him a copy. It’s had some lovely reviews – the ones I’ve seen, anyway! – so thank you for all your support. Any helpful shove you can give it is much appreciated.

And finally, on the sales front, have you considered taking my Mindful Lifebelts app with you somewhere nice this summer… or somewhere difficult? Simple mindful meditations, which can either be read or listened to. ‘Oh, I think I’d prefer to listen to you as I walk,’ said a nurse to me yesterday. ‘I like your voice.’

No accounting for taste. But if you want to consider it…

For now, though, I’ll bring this over-long travelogue to a close, and wish you rest and refreshment this summer, however you find it.

With very best wishes

Simon X

P.S. Have I really got through this letter without once mentioning politics? You may, of course, be relieved…

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