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Saturday, 19 July 2008

Up Mount Pantokrator

Last Tuesday, travelling pillion on his scooter, I went with Richard to the church on the summit of Mount Pantokrator. Ascending via dozens of hairpin bends to Spartillas, we rode on to Strinilas, after which the road, via sinous curves led to the rock that makes up the summit. On the final gradient our motor faltered. With Richard watching me carefully I walked the half-mile to the top. Far below blue acres of white caps and the wind humming through the clustered aerials around us. Through an archway into the grounds of the monastery we came to a church. A gale huffed and whistled through its eaves, yet candle flames burned steady inside the dim, scented, generously decorated interior. I lit one. Pantokrator gazed protectively from the curved ceiling. A tall priest peered through the door and went out again. The two wells outside, even in mid-Summer, over 900 metres high, had clear water in them. The man in the shop, which I might have guessed from his hale complexion, was a mariner. Seeing my Breton cap he asked if I was. I said "Only yachts". We compared judgements about the strength of the wind. I said high-6. He thought low-8. He explained that he had taken to working up here to give up smoking. Heading down my cap was blown off by a stronger gust. Richard spied it in the brush and climbed off the road to retrieve it. Further down we stopped to inspect a couple of large webs supporting plump spiders. It was exhilarating going up and down the highest mountain on Corfu on the back of Richard's scooter. He drove it confidently and sensibly and I enjoyed his solicitousness towards his father. * * * On Wednesday, with the wind reduced enough to remove the foresail, I tidied up 'Summer Song', and replaced her tattered Greek courtesy flag. We picnicked on a beach at Agni and later went riding at Sally's stables. On the way home Lin and Amy explored a pile of flytipped trash on a dirt track in the woods, recovering a chair, two Greek encyclopedias and an embroidered picture. Back at 208 we tidied and packed ready for flying to England.

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