I almost contemplated writing nothing about our holiday to Rhodes. After all, I had been here before, several times and I thought there would be nothing to say about our visit to the little Greek island.
But a few days in and there are a few funny things that maybe I should mention, if not just to provide a reminder for Laura and I in years to come.
The last time I stayed at the Garden Hotel was 10 years ago. It was 2003 and I was a much slimmer 21 year old on holiday with some of my friends. Looking back we had an amazing time, even though it did end up with one of us (AMI) coming home with her arm in plaster after an unfortunate encounter with a moped and a woman crossing a road? Can’t remember the exact run of events but it was something like that. I am sure Ami Roberts herself would recall the tale with much more enthusiasm.
So I am back at the Garden Hotel in Pastida, Rhodes. The hotel is still small but very friendly. It is now managed by Jenny, the daughter of the owner, Babis or Babos as Sarah Boyle use to call him. The food has got bigger, you get about fifteen courses with each meal but the drinks are still relatively good value for money, especially as we are in Greece, where I expected everything to be expensive.
There are other similarities of course. Obviously I am here with Laura, who has never been to Rhodes before and this is a very different kind of experience from when I was here last but I have noticed a few things this holiday has in common with the last one.
Cats. Always on an excursion in the med, I never fail to come across some scrawny, meowing animal. Those who know me understand I am not a great lover of cats or any other animal for that matter.
Last time we came to Rhodes, we had an interesting experience with a cat. On one of the final nights of our holiday, Sarah, Ami and I were in bed. Mine and Ami’s bed were two singles that had been pushed together. It was the middle of the night and all of a sudden I was aware that Ami was awake saying, ‘it can’t be, it can’t be’. The next thing she was crawling across me before she switched the light on and declared ‘it is, it bloody is …. it’s a cat!’
To my (extreme) horror there had been one of the wild cats curled up neatly in between Ami and me. Literally in a little gap between our two beds. Just as I was starting to get ideas of cats being able to open doors and so on, we realised it had probably got in through the bathroom window. Neither myself or Ami were willing to pick up and get rid of the creature so we turned to Sarah for help. She rose from her bed as if this were a totally normal situation and picked it up, cuddled and caressed it before placing it on … the balcony. I soon pointed out to Boyle that as the balcony door was open, our cat friend was likely to come back in. She agreed and eventually put it out of the front door with me firmly closing the bathroom window behind her.
That was 2003. In 2013, I am sat dining alfresco, enjoying the warm evening heat, sipping a glass of locally produced wine and … fending off the felines with my feet and doing my mum’s tried and tested trick of stamping my foot on the floor or making a hissing noise. What is Laura doing? She’s feeding them! I was furious. She soon started to pick up the chips she’d been laying out for it, I can tell you!
‘I can recognise that accent anywhere’
The second similarity is perhaps a little less expected. I am not so sure I have ever stayed in a place where every other family appears to be from the same city as us. I can recognise, unfortunately, a Stoke accent anywhere and I first spotted it the day we arrived. Laura didn’t believe me at first but after a while she confirmed I was probably right.
After initial investigations, we discovered that not only were they from Stoke but they lived less than a mile away from where we do. Not only that, they were not the only family. There were two more, one of which lived in Blurton, which is about five minutes from us. That same night Laura and I were brave and decided to enter the quiz. The quizmaster turns up and he’s from … Yep, Stoke on Trent. Lived in Rhodes for the past 10 years or so. Such a small world.
We walked up to the village the other night. It’s about five minutes walk and there’s a few restaurants, bars and a supermarket. We sat next to a couple who again were from Stoke on Trent! I am beginning to think there’s no escaping them!
Last time I was here, we went out for the night in Rhodes Town. Walking down a street towards the end of the night, we bumped into these guys who were trying to get customers into their bar. At first we refused and there responses were ‘we can tell a Potteries accent anywhere!’ It turned out they were from Newcastle/Basford way and we spent the rest of the night playing drinking games that involved wearing a builders hat and being hit over the head with a mallet and ringing a bell which meant you bought everyone in the bar a drink. All in all, it was a good night.