Kefalonia

A week on this aromatic island off the Ionian coast, where every morning we woke up to this view of Ithaka:

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View from the hills outside Evreti

“Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.”

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The recent theory is that our view did not take in Ithaka, Homer’s Ithaka, after all (it’s now supposed to have been the Paliki peninsula on the western side of Kefalonia itself). No worries; we were in no hurry to actually get to Ithaka. Not when there were limestone shingle beaches like this one to explore:

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Or tavernas like this one, in Agia Efimia:

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Grilled sardines, stewed octopus and rabbit for lunch

Or cave lakes like Melissani to circumnavigate: ‘Visitors can tour the lake on a boat and admire the wonderful colours in the water, which constantly change as the sunlight falls on it through the aperture in the roof above.’

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Roadside beach north of Sami

One thing a picture can’t convey is the island’s soundscape: a ceaseless rasp of cicadas in the noon heat, together with the tinkle of bells from goats grazing on the hillsides. No wonder some of us drowsed off while chilling on the veranda.

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From the town of Assos we climbed to the Venetian castle on the peninsula above (once used as a prison – but with views to die for).

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Kefalonia’s recent history is marked by two traumas: the massacre of 3,000 Italian soldiers of the Aqui Division by invading Germans in 1943 (inspiring a novel and the inevitable Hollywood treatment), and an earthquake a decade later, which leveled most of the island’s Venetian buildings. Today it builds its economy on the export of Med staples: olive oil, wine (Robola is the native grape) and tourism.

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Khoi pond in Fiskardo

The most intriguing historical angle on the island may be its hosting of an early Christian gnostic sect, the Carpocratians. Who they, you ask? Groupies of Carpocrates, who made Kefalonia his base in the 2nd century CE. Irenaeus wrote disapprovingly that Carpocratians claimed themselves to be above Mosaic law, believing differences of class and property ownership to be unnatural, and also that in order to leave the earthly realm behind one had license to do ‘all those things which we dare not either speak or hear of.’ Early Ionian hippie commies, in other words.

In the end, though, it’s the sea we’ll remember: turquoise and acquamarine, translucent to a depth of over twenty feet, saltier than the Atlantic and warm as bathwater.

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Beach looking north to Lefkada’s mountains

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Return of the blog

It’s been a while. Seeing as how we’re in the late stage of one of those rare, near-perfect summers in the middle of middle England, though, it’s time to re-boot and take stock. First a look back at the interim since September 2013, beginning with a sample from last year’s harvest:

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Boltardy, Crimson King, Golden

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Borlotti beans

An October chestnut gathering expedition to Crackley Wood, with transatlantic help:

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Putting the allotment to bed in November:

Putting allotment to bed

Seasonal cheer in the dark days:

Community hut Xmas tree

Inauguration of the new community hut, an idea of Volutina’s carried to completion with the help of many hands

N & K at Saxon Mill

Sláinte!

The ritual New Year’s hail to the light from a hilltop in Ilmington:

Ilmington shadows

Spring visitors:

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Late January, Aston Cantlow. Thanks for visiting, Aunt Gretchen!

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Glad too that Erika and John could visit. Herewith the album cover for our new band, Vichy Douche Slab (name inspired by object in the spa museum, Leamington). We will literally rock you.

The allotment in mid-April:

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New fruit trees, apple and pear

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A lichtsome Easter voyage up to Glasgow, the isle of Mull and Iona, to see our friends before the oil wars break out at Gretna Green after this September’s referendum:

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Bird? Plane? Independence?

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Sketching en plein air

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This may be the solution for our shed roof

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Hebrides or the Med?

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Front garden in Iona

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Fragment of the abbey on Iona

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Our column outside the Iona PO

An early May gathering at the new community hut:

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Constructing an insect house with Bonnie’s help

Later in the month we stayed in London courtesy of visiting grandparents, checking out this year’s borders at Kew Gardens:

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In June an al fresco supper of peas, beans and strawberries:

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And harvesting sweet peas in July.

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