Hello everyone and welcome back to Freedom from the Mundane!
I’ve been gone for over three weeks, quite a long time in the blogging world but then again, needs must. I’ve been away on holiday, recharging my batteries and living the good life, and with the book festival only 3 weeks away in the other direction, you can rest assured that my blogging activity is about to dramatically pick up the pace again.
Rhodos (a.k.a. Rhodes), is my favourite of all the Greek islands and was as wonderful as I’d hoped. We stayed in the beautiful surroundings of the Atlantica Aegean Blue hotel, a 5-Star resort in the small and scenic town of Kolymbia on the eastern edge of the island. The daily temperatures regularly peaked at 40 degrees, the sky was never anything other than a hypnotic blue, and the sea always clear and warm. It was heaven.
I made full use of the swimming pool and outdoor jacuzzi, and outside of our day trips, I spent most of my time relaxing, reading and writing.
Relaxing involved dozing by the pool, playing in the pool and reading my books. I bought a Kindle just before flying out and it was an investment I’m glad I made. I downloaded a whole bunch of books and worked my way through 7 novels in total, some of which were excellent and one (the one I expected to blow me away) was disappointing.
* WHISKEY SOUR by JA Konrath
* THE LIST by JA Konrath
* WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen
* KILLING MUM by Allan Guthrie
* BYE BYE BABY by Allan Guthrie
* SUNSET PARK by Paul Auster (the book that let me down)
I also bought the Kindle version of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT by Annabel Aidan, which was the first book I read while away and enjoyed it hugely. Annabel, if you’re reading, expect an email shortly.
Our day trips were varied and interesting. We only “bought” two actual trips, the first one a combined trip to Lindos and Tsambiki beach. We visited Lindos in the morning where I finally got to visit one of the most impressive acropolis’s in Greece, both in the history that remains in the ruins and in the views it afforded. I climbed the mountain on foot, which in the 40+ heat on the day wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Gail and Laura took the easy route by going up on Donkey back, something I wouldn’t do on moral grounds but also because I wasn’t allowed due to me being a bit of a tubby.
In the afternoon we whiled away a few hours on the gorgeous Tsambiki beach. Laura was shattered so slept in the shade while Gail and I spent a couple of romantic hours out at sea in each others arms. Over half a mile out and you could still stand upright with your shoulders above sea level.
Our other “purchased” day trip saw us make a journey to the portal/market town of Marmaris in Turkey. It was put on the agenda as the obligatory shopping day trip (never much fun for me) but also as a Turkish taster for Gail who has been toying with the idea of a full holiday in the country.
Laura came away with the most purchases. I’d given her some dosh to spend and she spent it wisely on designer “quality fakes”: handbag, purse, trainers, bracelets, etc. Gail was more reserved although I bought her a new ring, a tradition we have while away each year that I buy her some jewellery.
The only purchase I wanted to make came in the form of a Turkish kebab. It was the only thing I really wanted out of the day and it was delicious when it finally came. We ate in a harbour-side restaurant and a lamb shish kebab was the chosen option. Such beauty in something so edible.
The journey back from Turkey saw us make the same trip we had made to get there in reverse, but this time, it was much more dramatic. Step 1 was the short bus ride from the bazaar to the port where we then had to catch the scheduled hydrofoil back to Rhodes. From there we would have an hour on a bus back to the hotel.
It was on the hydrofoil that the action took place. A swell in the sea was causing the boat to hurl and sway to dangerous levels, which meant the captain reduced speed in order to avoid any on-board injuries. What it did result in was far more intense. The heat inside rose and stomachs lurched, and within half an hour people were openly vomiting where they sat. Seasickness was everywhere.
I contained myself for as long as I could, but a short while after Gail and Laura went up onto the deck for fresh air, I found myself stuck as I was looking after all the purchases. My temperature rose, my head turned dizzy, my stomach revolved, and way too much saliva was produced. Gail and Laura came back to the seat too late. I threw up several times and my vomiting resulted in Gail doing the same.
Picture the scene: people spewing all over the place in a ship more akin to an oven bouncing around on the sea, and the only one unaffected was my daughter, who bless her, made the trip back and forward to the bin to dispose of my shish kebab and pass me new sick bags and ice. By the time we pulled into Rhodes all my clothes were soaked through and I was paler than a bottle of milk.
Our other day trip was far more respectful. We decided to see the island but do it on our own terms, so we hired a car. Having already been to Rhodes Town on the northern tip, we headed west from Kolymbia and visited the butterfly valley, then drove down the west coastal road stopping at various points to visit some of the less well known and developed towns on the island.
At the very southern tip there is a small island called Prasonisi, separated only by a short strip of sea from Rhodes, which also acts as the meeting point of the Aegean and Mediterranean. The difference in colour, temperature and animation of these two seas at this point is remarkable, the Med being darker, rougher and warmer to its counterpart several feet to the left. The strip also provides some of the best and intense water sport activity I’ve seen.
We left Prasonisi and made our way up the more developed west coast of the island, a quicker journey due to the straighter and faster coastal roads through busier towns.
Here are some more pictures from the holiday.
One of the strangest things about being back in Rhodes is that it was the location of my recently completed crime story, GREENER IS THE GRASS. Although I was in a different part of the island, much of the scenery and environment is exactly the same and it was kind of eerie walking the streets again.
I never had any really exciting ideas for new stories, but one thing I have taken from this holiday is enough new poetry to be able to put together a new chapbook: POOLSIDE POETRY 2 will be out by the end of the year.
I never imagined I would ever find anything new to say, but while observing the guests, the locals and the different trips we took (especially the hired car around the island), I found the poems gushing out all the way through the holiday. Every night while waiting for the girls to get ready for dinner, I would sit with a beer and write in the shade of the poolside bar, poem after poem—some funny, some reflective—of a beautiful island and the hilarity I witnessed each day by the hotel pool.
While I was away the end of my gig review for the tabloids career ended in dramatic fashion when the News of the World closed under the pressure brought on by the News International phone hacking scandal. While it was of minor inconvenience to me to discover I won’t be published by the paper again, several of my friends at the paper found themselves without jobs overnight. My heart goes out to everyone at the News of the World, who weren’t even working there when the phone hackings were carried out, and who have no means of supporting their families thanks to the actions of a couple of individuals several years ago.
Back in Scotland, and I opened my email to a couple of short story rejections. I was gutted to discover that my application was turned down for the second year, for a reading slot at the book festival under the Edinburgh City of Literature Story Shop programme.
On a brighter note, there was one piece of news I mentioned before I went away that I had to have confirmed before I could announce it. And now I can. I’m delighted to say that I have been made a Patron of The Sky Project Charity.
The Sky Project offers youth work, life skills, and opportunity for personal growth to the significantly disadvantaged children and young people in the community of Shortlees in Kilmarnock, Scotland. It aims to combat the restrictions placed upon children by abject poverty and offers hope to young people where there is a sense of hopelessness and resignation to accept what is less than they are capable of achieving. You can read more about the project here: www.theskyproject.co.uk
Have a great day everyone!
Enter coupon code TIMEUK305 at checkout and receive 25% off your order of my poetry books: FRINGE FANTASTIC, POOLSIDE POETRY and SILLY POEMS FOR WEE PEOPLE VOL.2. Offer cannot be applied to previous orders and only applies to books or ebooks ordered through the Lulu option. Offer expires on July 29th, 2011 at 11:59 PM.