Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Hotel Sunflower

I glimpse it - this old hotel - as we hurry by on the dual carriageway into town. Yesterday on my bicycle I had time to stop and wander around the outside of Hotel Sunflower in Gouvia. Decaying. Ivy growing up its terraces, I thought I saw a face at one of the upstairs windows. A traveller in another time?

There must be a sad story behind this.
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Simon Baddeley Once upon a time at the Hotel Sunflower near the sea in Corfu...I met someone...I was in Room 2, she - I'm still not sure. We were sat near one another on the beach...strolling back to our hotels I realised we seemed to be going in the same direction.
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Zena Phillips It's a start. Romance, mystery, who dun it, sci fi ? Who knows. I favour mystery.
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Simon Baddeley I was thinking more poignant, but certainly romance...' Life and Thought have gone away Side by side, Leaving door and windows wide. Careless tenants they!' Last year I went back to Greece, to Corfu... and wandered into things had changed...yet even so...I stumbled, almost by mistake towards a busy main road and there it stood, Hotel Sunflower. Someone tapped my elbow. I turned, startled ..."Are you OK? Can I help?"
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Zena Phillips O please continue.
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Jane Cochrane She was beautiful but sad .... she was returning for the first time to the place where she had met her handsome young husband who had sadly died a year ago. Her melancholia seemed to affect the whole location ... the beach longed to hear her melodic laugh, the beating sun cooled just a little as she strolled across the quay and the hotel stilled and quietened as she entered.
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Simon Baddeley ...sounds of traffic abruptly muffled; the dust she'd stirred seemed to stand in the air - nothing moved, time stopped...
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'This summer in Corfu'
Zena Phillips The suspense, the suspense...
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Simon Baddeley Your turn
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Jane Cochrane She entered the hotel seemingly in a trance, her beautiful auburn hair reflecting on the hard white marble floor and walls. She walked across the foyer oblivious the eyes that watched her until sudden an elderly gentleman gasped and dropped his cane. The retort of cane on marble rang out like a shot and her composure were instantly dispelled as she heard again the pistol that had killed her husband and baby son in one instant tragic second exactly a year ago 
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Zena Phillips I've fallen in love with a sad tune on a tiny violin. Forget the rest of the story. That's pathos enough.
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Sunday, 11 September 2016


The sting made Lin cry out as she was tending the garden. We thought a wasp had stung her foot, but could see no sign of it between her right big toe and the next. Just a small inflammation. Next morning she told me she’d hardly slept. The sting still hurt; not usual with wasp stings. Through the day the pain persisted, and by evening the area was swollen, inflamed. There were small water blisters. Anti-histamine and sting relief gave no respite. This morning the pain was as bad, the swelling, blisters and redness worse. 

“I ddidn’t sleep. I wonder if I was bitten by a spider” 
“You need to see a doctor” I said. 
On the web we tried to find a hire car for two or three days, but the only one we could contact – by phone or web – had none free. After an hour I went round to our neighbours – Lefteris and Vasiliki - and knocked on their door. I was immediately sat down and offered sweetmeats, a diplo skirto and glass of water. Natasha joined us to translate. I explained about Lin’s foot.
“Is the clinic at Pyrgi open on Sunday?” I asked, seeking local knowledge, planning, if it was, to book Yani’s taxi – a few houses down.
“Of course. 24 hours” I was relieved.
But of course I was not to be allowed this choice.
“Foti will take you”
“No, no no. It’s not a problem. We will go ourselves”
“Foti!” He too joined us. There was a swift exchange in Greek.
“I am taking her to the clinic” I held out my arms in gratitude and apology
“No no no. Tipota!”
”I will fetch Linda” I said.
In minutes we were on our way from the village on the road through olive groves towards the sea, through Ayou Markou. Down the hill, then at the butchers shop, sharp right for a kilometre, past the school. Will it really be open on Sunday afternoon? I thought. Once arrived, seeing the glass doors open, I said ‘Thanks so so much Foti. We’ll take a taxi home”
He ignored me. “Foti, please”
“Simon. I wait"
Into the clinic went Foti and Lin, she limping a little without one sandal, her foot too swollen to wear it. In the empty foyer a doctor waited in a white coat. In seconds Lin was sat down in his work room. He took a look, asked a few questions, and made out a prescription – anti-biotic Augmenton, cortison Medrol – and gently shooed us of to find a pharmacy, refusing even the usual small payment we make for such visits. We were in and out in less than five minutes.
“Take us home now, we’ll find a chemist tomorrow. They’ll all be closed today” said Lin. “No no no. We will find one”
“No no Foti” tried Lin. 
Her pleas were futile. We drove past three closed pharmacies, their green crosses unlit. On one Foti read a notice.
“I know where to go. Solari by the Catholic School”
“No no no no” tries Lin again. She detests burdening anyone. We were being driven all the way to town.
“Yes yes yes yes” said Foti “We are one”.
My heart was full. We drove fast into town, until on the road towards the airport I saw the welcome lit green cross. 

Prescription complete, just €15, and we were heading home. 
“Foti” I said “Stop at Emeral and have some coffee and ice cream. Please my friend.”
He just smiled and kept driving. In twenty minutes we were dropped at the steps above the house on Democracy Street.
“It’s feeling a little better” said Lin

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