Several years ago I was handed a novel. I was off on a jolly to our usual Cornish retreat, Crantock. With 2 children and a bonkers spaniel I gave little hope of having any free time to read, but it came with glowing personal recommendations from my mum and sister, so took just incase.
It was mid April and we’d bagged a bargain caravan break in the school holidays. Nothing glam, but it gave us the chance to break away from the norm and spend time as a family, the boys loved our mini getaways more than anything. I worked on a term time contract and the crippling school fees meant anything other than staycations in the UK was financially out of reach.
So off we set, laden with everything but the kitchen sink, as you do when holidaying in your own country. And it wasn’t too long before I could take the opportunity of 10 minutes peace to read a few pages as the boys fired up their Nintendo DS.
The rest is history.
As we hurtled down the A38, I was already dreaming of blue sunny skies and a warm breezes, drinking Ouzo and snacking on olives in a Greek taverna as the words from Victoria Hislop’s novel, The Island, transported me so beautifully to the village of Plaka in Crete.
The historic novel, with a sad and moving story about the leper colony on the island of Spinalonga, created pictures in my mind which the unusual hot April sun helped cement. I was there, standing on the pebble shore, the sun on face, warm sea at my toes, watching the row boat make the short journey from Plaka to Spinalonga with passengers who would never return.
I can’t really tell you much more about our week away as I took every spare moment to bury my head in the book.
And ever since I’ve yearned to see the island, to find out if the pictures I have in my head bare any resemblance to the places described. I would visit the small hamlet of Plaka, take the boat trip to Spinalonga and experience the laid back Cretan days.Staying in nearby Elounda, a small fishing town on the northern coast of Crete, my family and I could spend long, lazy days on the sandy beaches or exploring the harbour. Our holidays are about doing our own thing, in our own time and not getting drawn in to overly tourist or commercial attractions. Elounda seems to offer just want we crave. With historic sights to see such as the huge abandoned windmills on the Spinalonga peninsula to the submerged ancient city of Olous and the ruins of the Minoan Palace of Malia. The lively bars and tavernas should keep my eldest teenager happy, a gentle and less intimidating introduction to holidays night life. While my 2 younger boys could make the most of having mum and dad relaxed, stress free and all of us creating memories we’ll all hold dear for many years to come.
And me? Aside from the historic places I’ll tick off on my must do’s, what else would I like to do on my perfect break to Elounda?
Why I’ll probably just read a book.