4th October, 2009
Incredibly hot today about 85F. I spent two hours watering the fruit trees giving them their last good water of the season. We prepared the car for leaving tomorrow oil, tyres, washer bottle, and full valet. We didnt go for a last swim because there were three football matches to watch. They didnt really live up to their billing even the Chelsea-Liverpool one. As we went out for dinner on our last evening on the island, it struck as fantastic that I was in a short sleeved T-shirt at 9.00 in the evening in the open air. In fact it was 73F as we drove home at 10.30 pm.
5th October, 2009
Pressures on this morning. We leave on Speed-Runner at 2.20 pm. We have to pack the car, cover all the furniture, vacuum pack the clothes we are leaving behind, put away all the garden furniture, close and lock all the shutters and then drive down to the harbour to park our car for the ferry. We will walk back to the cafe for a late breakfast and hope to pick up the Sunday papers because it is Monday. Newspapers for eleven weeks will have cost me about £300.00. As I write, it is the most wonderfully serene island day. The sky is pure blue and is reflected in the mirror-flat sea. There is not a breath of wind. There is a tinkle of goats bells on the mountainside and the air is heavy with crushed thyme. The Greeks always do this to us. On the day we leave they make us desperate to stay.However, the car is packed although not with much. It is gleaming clean and so is the house.
The Speed-Runner hydrofoil service is fast. We will only be on it for just over three hours. At 5.30 pm we will roll off into the screaming Piraeus/Athens traffic and drive for three hours out of Athens to Korinthos, over the Corinth Canal to Patras. We will stay at the wonderful Patras Palace Hotel for two nights before boarding Superfast Ferry for our twenty four hour trip up the Adriatic.
Today is Pauline’s 58th birthday and I remember to wish her ‘Happy Birthday’ before we close the shutters and lock them for the last time this year and, after turning off the electricity, driving down to the harbour. Parking by the jetty, we looked back across the bay we swam both ways across each day for 82 days to our house nestling in the foothills.
Everything went to plan and by 5.30 pm we were fighting our way through the Athens’ traffic over the Corinth Canal to Patras with its spectacular bridge.
We checked in to the Patras Palace Hotel and crashed out for the night – after dinner and a bottle of wine.
6th October, 2009
We managed to get the Sunday papers and relaxed with those and coffee most of the day. That is, after the gargantuan buffet breakfast taken on the roof terrace. These views of the harbour and the Superfast ferries are taken from the balcony of our room and up on the roof terrace.
7th October, 2009
Boarded Superfastat 12.30 pm and went to our cabin. Wonderfully warm and calm weather made for twenty four hours of effortless sailing. We spent our time in the internet cafe, eating in one of the restaurants, out on deck reading the papers and sleeping.
8th October, 2009
Arrived in Ancona at 10.30 am – right on time. By 12.00 pm we were in the local super marche buying dozens of bottles of vino rosso and great slabs of Parmigiano Reggiano
We drove through the rolling hills of Le Marche and up through Emilia Romagna past Bologna, Parma, Milano to the Lakes – Como, Maggiore, Lugano, Lucerne. All the way the weather was warm and sunny but as we descended the Alps to our first real stop – Gotthard Rattestatte – at about 6.00 pm, the rain drew in.
After a brief meal which is always terrible there we pressed on through Switzerland (They have the most expensive and the poorest maintained roads I have ever driven.) into France and, by 11.00 pm, we had reached Aire de Keskastel. This is ideal because it means we have done two thirds of the journey and leaves just about 300 miles to do the next day.
We are parked in the super efficient filling station grounds. After making a hot drink and then using the service station’s toilet and washing facilities, we put screens up round the car’s windows, recline the seats and snatch a good few hours sleep. It has been a long day.
9th October, 2009
Being creatures of habit, we like to stop in Thionville on the way back to buy wine and foodstuffs in Carrefore there. With the car stuffed to the gills with wine, olive oil, mustards, cheeses, vegetables, etc, we do the last four hours to Zeebrugge. We arrive for 2.30 pm – about an hour before check-in. The picture below shows Pauline on the dockside making sure no imigrants have sneaked in to our wine boxes.
10th October, 2009
At this time of year, nothing is busy. P&O arrive in Hull on time at 8.30 am and the short drive down the motorway means we are at home by 10.00 am. We have so much post, our neighbour and her husband had to do four trips carrying it to our house. It took us three hours to go through cursorily. Off to Sainsburys.