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Wednesday, 3 February 2010


A morning of cloudless sky over a ruffled sea; snow on the peaks of Epirus and Albania. Our driftwood collection is uncovered, drying. The washing’s out. The neighbour’s washing is out. Everyone’s washing’s out; swaying to a gentle breeze - the remains of the chillier north wind that has rounded Pantokrator via the channel between us and the mainland. Were Corfu a beast of burden, Ano Korakiana would sit on the pommel of its saddle, its inhabitants able to gaze on a panorama that starts on the Albanian islet opposite Cape Stilit a few hundred metres north of the cosy Greek Ftelias Bay, visible around the mountain slope on which the village has stood for over a thousand years, from there they can follow, in clear air like today’s, the mountainous coast of Greece as far south as the blue-grey outline of Cape Trofali above Parga, ten miles south of Igoumenitsa, then half of Corfu island itself, with some in the village further east of us being able to see the famous signature of Kerkyra - the distant silhouette of the Old Fort beyond Vido island, poking out on Cape Sidhero above Garitsa Bay – on to the second Pantokrator six miles south of the city, towards invisible Lefkimmi near the foot of the island, round to the steep slopes above Trompetta towards Paleokastritsa to the west and back to the Three Crags behind the village over which the eagles appear now and then. It was this view from the balcony at 208 Democracy Street, that made us want, with no further consideration, to live here for a part of our lives. Beautiful surroundings for the value they add to a property, guarantee no increment to their inhabitant's moral character, and people can emanate grace from most unpromising landscapes. To be good we always have work to do - hanging out the washing, collecting and cutting wood, shopping for provisions, gardening, mending parts of the house inside and out especially an ill-bedded kitchen step that had crumbled with our passage, clearing collected soot from the stove flu, checking on the boat, painting the small bedroom, putting architrave around its door, filling and sanding, cooking, washing up, phoning and emailing home, trying to obey the new law about registering a Greek mobile number (Olga at COSMOTE by the new hospital: “I alone have 90,000 numbers to register here!”), communicating with the university and various councils in the UK about future work, and preparing lectures, including my talk about Lord High Commissioners at the Durrell School tonight.
At Simonetis' (Σιμωνέτης) Wood Yard, Corfu
We're planning to alternate the present downstairs dining room with the present downstairs bedroom, filling in the open stairs we’ve never liked and wall them off from the new bedroom, measuring and buying wood for the job and all the while a million million others are similarly engaged in the infinite and purposeful variety of getting through the days, beset by starvation, disease and war. Dave told us as we talked in CJs last Sunday afternoon that satellite imagery was now used by the EU agricultural accountants to count the number of sheep on which farmers were claiming subsidy, which has caused a lot of families to sit about the farmhouse kitchen cutting-out sheepshaped outlines in cardboard to ensure that submitted claims are accurate.
Linda keeps cleaning the chimney when I'm trying to read

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Simon Baddeley