We arrived back from the beautiful Greek island of Rhodes in the early hours of Sunday morning, after a wonderfully relaxing (lazy) and productive holiday. It’s the first two-week vacation we’ve had since we visited Sri Lanka in 2015, and with all the recent change and upheaval that 2017 has seen — new jobs and a new home — it was a most welcome time away for me and my wife on the largest of the Dodecanese Islands.
The plan for the holiday was simple: chill out and get some serious sun and relaxation. This was achieved to a great level of success as we enjoyed an average daily temperature of 29 C (84 F) along with unbroken blue skies, a high sun, and an ever higher moon. The full moon on the 5th turned out to be a Harvest Moon, and the sight of it hanging large and golden above the bay outside our balcony was a true sight to behold.
We hired a car and toured the island in depth, covering all corners of the island from medieval Rhodes Town to the windy west coast where I revisited the sight of my first ‘lads holiday’ back in 1992, the easy-going east coast with its luscious beaches and fishing coastline, and the beach at Prasonisi where the two seas (Aegean and Mediterranean) meet for some serious surfing.
To cover the inaccessible areas inland, we took a safari trip through the hills and valleys, followed dried out river beds and experienced all kinds of honey delights, strawberry liqueur, and firewater. We experienced the hard-worn areas of the island; Greece at its rawest under the blazing sun.
The food was amazing. The hotel we’d booked threw up some great stuff including fruits of all kind, fresh fish including sea bass, Greek salads, tzatziki, souvlaki, moussaka, the smoothest feta, and the freshest olives grown on the grounds of the hotel itself.
The food in the small cafes and restaurants that we stopped on our travels topped the lot though. I had the most amazing grilled octopus in a food hut on Prasonisi beach. It was also my birthday while we were away, and to celebrate it, my wife had booked a meal for us in one of the top restaurants on the island: Melenos. The food combined with the views across Lindos bay made it an amazing experience — the grilled Sea Bream providing the exquisite taste to go with the memory. This restaurant was so good in fact, we returned on the final night of the holiday to have another go at the menu, and noted just how good it was when noted Rick Stein and his wife walked in to dine at the next table — kudos enough for me!
But it was on the creative writing front that Rhodes yet again proved to be as unexpected as it always has been inspirational. In the past, it has provided the inspiration for some of the poems in Poolside Poetry 2, and of course, Greener is the Grass was written as a direct result of experiences I had when I last visited in 2011.
My plan had been to put the planning of my next novel to one side and pick it up again during the two of weeks prior to NaNoWriMo in November. I would then use the two weeks on holiday to write a new chapbook on Rhodes going back over my visits there spanning the last 25 years. This was largely accomplished, and I returned home with a notebook of new poems and ideas for work a new chapbook, Rhodes: Then and Now to be published under my poetry pseudonym, Chas Stramash.
However, on the 1st day of October, the very day after my birthday, while sleeping off a hangover on the beach, an idea — or rather a character and an idea — popped into my head and would not clear out to give me peace. The idea was too strong, the visualizations too clear, and the desire to write it down too powerful. Around three hours later I had the outline of a new novel down in my notepad. It was as simple as that: all the characters, the high-level synopsis, the twists, the themes, and the title. All done.
This new novel will now be the one I shall write for NaNoWriMo, and I’ll put back the one I was already working one until this one is completed — it really is a must-write story.
The character that has caused so much unrest in my mind and that demanded the new story takes precedence, is DI Bobby Lennox, a supporting character from my first novel, Slick, who received a lot of good feedback. I’ve often thought about doing a new novel with him as the main character but wasn’t sure the direction I was going to take it. For some reason, while lying on Vlycha Beach, he barged his way into my mind and threw a story at me set in Rhodes that I just could not resist.
Planning shall continue, therefore, until the end of the month, and the writing will commence on 1st November. I’m aching to begin…