Adaptation To Life In Aegina
Here is an extract of the first Christmas letter sent to friends
around the world documenting our adaptation to life in Angina.
We have been on Aegina Island for almost 3 months although it
seems much longer.
So far, the children have adapted beautifully to their new
environment and appear to cope well with Greek education.
Sometimes they complain about the volume of work which currently
has to travel through three linguistic processes.
Learning French in Greek is extremely challenging as is Ancient
Greek when one has no knowledge of Modern Greek.
Meanwhile, I am slowly metamorphosing into what I hope is the
epitome of a Greek mother.
I ponder the midday meal whilst ferrying the children. I ensure
their rooms are clean and tidy in preparation for the vital
arrival of the swarm of tutors who help them to tackle and
assimilate the relentless wave of new information and at 5.30 pm,
I dutifully take coffee and home-baked cake placed on an antique
plate edged with rose-buds plus napkin and cake fork and the
ubiquitous glass of cold water, all of which are positioned on a
highly polished tea-tray and I gratefully deliver this to each
of the esteemed tutors.
If I am ironing, I frequently lose myself by wistfully imagining
life without Billy, a mongrel dog whom I accepted into the
family during a moment of weakness.
He is quite cute in his own way. Both of his ears have that
floppy spaniel quality, one brown, the other white and I’m
fascinated by his eyelashes which are white on the white side of
his face and brown on the eye over which there is a brown patch.
He looks s little like a canine marble cake.
However, despite his cuteness, he is occasionally disgusting and
I’ll swear he possesses demonic genes.
O n my birthday, we decided to have a romantic family picnic on
the beach preceded by a swim in the sea…or so I hoped but as
soon as my shoulders experienced the soothing chill of the sea,
I felt Billy’s claws in my side and then his hot breath in my
face which wasn’t at all pleasant.
Back on the beach, he decided to shake himself dry over a group
of sophisticated, skilophobic Athenians and having no empathy
for the visually impaired, he proceeded to trip up George as he
struggled to pick his way over the shards of shingle.
George dislikes Billy and Billy knows it...
There’s more to come….. We spread out the navy blue picnic
blanket and artistically arranged the feast: French bread,
salami, cheeses, cherry tomatoes, green salad dressed up in dill,
warm pizza and sparkling water which glistened in the sunlight;
an ideal scenario for a still-life painter but alas, Billy is a
real-life tainter and on this occasion he excelled himself by
noisily vomiting at the edge of the blanket, a steaming pile of
salami pink vomit that resembled a grotesque haemorrhoid,
quivering on a bed of deep brown glossy seaweed.
Feeling suddenly anorexic, my main concern was that the bikini-clad,
chat- into- the mobile- phone whilst chain-smoking beach babes
shouldn’t get vomit stuck under their finely manicured toenails,
or worse…slip in it!!!.
(I secretly hoped they would but Greek mothers would never think
such a thing and since I am trying to emulate one, I should
behave accordingly) So I instructed the children to cover the
vomit with seaweed and then place very large pebbles over it;
this at least might conceal it until natural biological
processes of decomposition took over to eradicate it.
Billy was immediately dispatched to solitary confinement in the
car where he incessantly barked for 45 minutes. Conversation was
impossible and our fellow beach babes kept shooting us
Feeling stressed out and definitely not in a happy birthday mood,
we trudged silently back to the car, unified as a family in our
collective decision to allow Billy to lead the life of a stray,
at least for the rest of the day until we returned him to his
previous owner. It was then that we learned he could run in
excess of 50 kilometres per hour.
We decanted him from the car and sped off optimistically but as
we approached our gate, we found him waiting for us!
Yesterday I dropped the children at school, late as usual.
Morning prayers were over and the children were filing into
their classrooms. (I used to take Billy on this morning ritual
but eventually gave up because I couldn’t cope with the
cacophony of barking dogs that thronged my car, the ensuing
shame of interrupting the Lord’s Prayer yet again.)
Today, the children are at home all day instead of being at
school because it is Saint Dionysus’s day, a day of great
celebration. The weather is particularly dramatic, freezing
gales and furious waves. This morning we were particularly
British and rushed to the beach where we thoroughly enjoyed
nature in her true glory, indeed we sat in a cave and chatted
for a while. Our neighbours think we are completely eccentric
and are waiting for us to be struck with flu but it won’t happen.
We have just returned home to a roaring log fire which makes an
icy excursion seem so worthwhile and if we look out of our widow,
we can see the snowy mountain tops of Megara.
With this view in mind, we wish you all a happy winter!!