Hiraeth

I’m in Greece, on Skiathos Island in a small village. An absolute beaut of a place, the weather is even warmer than back home but we don’t have to do much while we are here bar sip a Gin Fizz cocktail, swim in the empty pool, decide which lounger we’re going to reside on for that day and apply a good measure of sun cream.

When we are working, we dream of this. We dream of doing nothing, we dream of relaxing of not having to get up, of getting away from the chores and the stress of daily life. We can’t wait to get away from the 9 – 5 drill, hang up the iron, no more emptying the dishwasher or doing the weekly shop.

Skiathos is absolutely stunning, I will definitely return to the village just outside that thankfully feels very Greek. The villas where we have been luckily enough to find ourselves have no more than nine or so apartments, vines of grapes hang from the roof of the foyer and colourful plants surround the pool. The locals are very friendly. On more than one occasion I tried to pay for something (the magnet that I clumsily dropped on the floor and broke), the use of a toilet in a cafe that I hadn’t bought a drink from only to be firmly told NO but that I could use the facilities anyway. If I went to the local supermarket the cashier rounded it down. A woman served us and dropped a cocktail all over poor S, quickly putting another together she refused to take payment at the end. It just seems so very very friendly and it didn’t feel like it was because we were tourists on holiday and therefore had some money to spend, it seemed for no gain other than being friendly, being nice, it felt like it’s an attribute deep within their culture.

The sea water was just cool enough and it was so clear you could see the grains at the bottom where your feet melted into the sand. Tiny fish swam by. Yachts adorned the turquoise water and speed boats gathered waves as they moved away from the Island. We found a cove between rocks with nobody on it, a few metres wide with two worn sun loungers where we took our shoes off and paddled with the sunshine pouring on to our pale skin.

We treated ourselves one night visiting the restaurant that had been recommended on our way here by the guide on our bus, it’s hard to describe the place as anything less than a piece of paradise. The sky blue decor of wooden tables perched on a brow overlooking the still sea, boats rested in the distance, almost nothing moved as we ate our delicious food and drank some fabulous wine. The waiters were attentive but not overly, the bill arrived in a tiny treasure chest and we were provided with a chocolate ice cream dessert to share, just because.

I managed to sneak a bit of left over chicken (not mine!) as after a few cocktails the night before I had promised one of the dogs that frequented our path home that I would indeed bring him some chicken the next evening. As a vegetarian I wasn’t entirely sure how this was going to happen but luckily one person at our table couldn’t quite finish their dish. The dog in question duly was waiting, his scrunched up face clearly was used to this routine as was the three cats that appeared and the rather nervous smaller tan dog. Tan dog was frightened of the cats, the cats were quite happily pawing at my hands to get to the chicken, scrunched up dog was happy to take what was given but tan dog kept running away so we had to coax the others so we could get within a few feet of him and then throw him some food which he gladly accepted. None of the animals looked in bad health, I think they had simply become accustomed to being fed by strangers.

In the evenings we found a bar, we played cards, we played songs, we chatted, we laughed, we debated, we talked, we chose new cocktails and we met new people. We got to bed late and we got up late, we ate breakfast on the veranda, the sea was in the distance, the chickens clucked, the cockerel crowed on occasion, there was a slight breeze as we ate watermelon and bread and cheese.

So. In all this glory how did this happen? By day five it first hits me. I have a spot of Hiraeth. Hiraeth – there is no equivalent to the word in English but it basically is the Welsh word meaning – a longing for home. I missed my son, now too grown up to want to come abroad with his mum. I missed my dogs that were being pampered and loved by a friend who seems to have understood them like I do so I knew they were looked after but I MISSED them so much! I missed my home! Oddly when I’m away from home my hiraeth for Tes also grows, it’s something about being away from where I feel she is I guess. But I miss her being here too, I imagine her at the pool as a 20 year old, I imagine her drinking cocktails with me and it makes me feel so bloody very sad that she isn’t. I miss home. My brain has finally relaxed for the first time in months. I miss what’s missing. I end up texting my brother worrying that there is something wrong with me!! Five days away and I miss home!! I’ve been away for 12 months as a youngster travelling, what’s wrong with me? He assures me that this is perfectly normal and that he ‘always misses Wales’ when he’s away.

Of course.

I am again then just so proud of my Welsh heritage, of my home. There’s nothing like it. Of course I’m going to miss it!!

It is something to be so grateful for. Coming away to a beautiful exotic Island of colour, friendliness, calm and beauty yet still missing my home, my tiny part of Wales. In many ways, how lucky am I!

Hope you are enjoying your Sunday wherever you are today XX

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