#7 Ydra news bulletin

February 17, 2018

 

I adore this place! It's been such a glorious day - at one stage I wasn't wearing a jumper! Isn't the water beautiful? I've spent most of today writing, with the exception of a couple of outings...

 

I came to Ydra not only to find out more about the characters in my book, but to understand the place I'll be writing about. The day to day life, the people, the streets, the sea, the country. You can read about it in a book, as I have been for the past six months, but nothing can replace living, breathing in, absorbing. From that perspective, this trip was always going to be satisfyingly successful.

 

While I may not discover more about the real characters or their motives while I'm on Ydra, I'll definitely find out much more about them when I visit Malta and England later this year. That information might allow me to trace my characters backwards to here. 

 

In the end though, what I can't find out, I'll have to guess. That's the wonderful thing about historical novels!

 

 

The morning light streams into the apartment as you can see - I'm so lucky I chose this side of the harbour, or it chose me. The sun doesn't reach the other side until the afternoon. Even on this side, the sun doesn't peep over the hills until 8am. 

 

 

When a girl has to wait so long for sunrise, she needs a little sustenance...

 

 

A little foray to the grocer - wine and pepper at Pete's but then I forsook him and visited a different one - so tomorrow I'll be able to have parsley with my bacon and eggs.....

 

 

Summer sunsets from the high western rampart, looking across at the mainland, must be wonderful. There's even a restaurant (yes, closed for the season) called Sunset.  

 

I can't count the number of cannon mounted around the entrance to the harbour - there must be hundreds. Such a graphic reminder of how these Hydriots defended themselves and their fleet. And the precariousness of their safety.

 

Did I tell you that at the height of its power, Ydra was the pre-eminent naval force in the whole Mediterranean? Shipbuilders? Merchant traders? Quite the David to the Ottoman Turks' Goliath. Or that the Ottoman Turks always conscripted a Hydriot to lead their navy? That they ran the British  blockade of the continent during the Napoleonic wars, and Russia gave them licence to trade from the Black Sea to Italy? This made Ydra very rich. Their moment of glory.

 

 

Looking out of my window this morning, it was hard to imagine that there were once 150 warships in the harbour armed with 2,500 canon, and 20,000 battle-hardened sailors living here. Where on earth did they all fit????

 

 

 

There was excitement after breakfast. Mine that is! But a couple of old men (about my age! eeeek!) did come to sit beneath my window to watch the docking. A luxury yacht - Glaros from Piraeus. You can see how big it is by the size of Sea Bird to the right of it. It's backing in to the ocean side of the rock groyne. If you have a mind to, and enough depth in your pocket, you can charter it for €85,000 for a week.

 

 

I think this is my favourite boat in the harbour. I love all the activity on the boats - men cleaning decks, wives and girlfriends sorting fishing nets, stuff being carried to and fro. 

 

 

Sea Bird is very very cute. I think it must be a sea taxi because it beetles about all the time, in and out of the harbour. Since there are no vehicles on the island, it's easier to take a sea taxi from one spot on the coast to another, than to walk.

 

 

I saw these houses on the way to the hardware store. My front door faces the sea breezes - that's probably affected the lock. I was terrified of being locked out so I bought a small tin of graphite spray. Problem solved!

 

 

 

The architecture on Ydra is regulated so that it remains in the same spartan style as it has been through centuries. It's severe, without ostentation. Interestingly, one of the public buildings funded by a benefactor early in the 20th century was pulled down as being too ostentatious.

 

 

 

Since there are no cream buns on Ydra, I had to make do with a waffle at the ice-cream shop on the corner. Hot waffle, cold icecream = bliss. 

 

 

The alstromeria in the living room are prettier by the day. 

 

 

This afternoon I walked around to the little township of Kamini, only a kilometre along the coastline.

 

 

It's a lovely walk along a stone paved corso with a steep drop to the water below. 

 

 

Lime green euphorbias are in flower, even a couple of red poppies. That's Sea Bird by the way, going back to Ydra.

 

 

I cannot think of the name of this lily.... Can you?

 

 

I had a little wander in Kamini itself. I didn't find the road to the little harbour. But every turn invited exploration.

 

 

Isn't this an unusual door knocker? It's a little like the US Presidential emblem, but not quite. 

 

 

 

More Ydra doors just begging to be photographed!

 

There's a festival on tomorrow afternoon, so that will be fun! I may be home later than normal, so there's a possibility I may not do a post tomorrow. If I don't, I'll send you an email to say so. 

 

I've kept the most exciting news of all until last. I've spoken to Maria, the historian, on the phone. She emailed later to say she is able to take me on a tour of Ydra on Wednesday. I'm hoping we can at least meet each other tomorrow. Wait for it. She's related to the hero of the book.

 

The funny part is that she said in her email that she can't wait to hear all about him from me.

 

Fact is so often stranger than fiction isn't it? Until tomorrow,

 

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