Climbing down the steps of our easyJet A320 in the early hours of Saturday morning at Bristol Airport was a minor shock to the system. The 29c we left behind late on a Corfu evening had turned into a cool (cold?) 13c. As ever, I had not even taken any kind of warm weather gear – a hoodie, perhaps – because you just don’t need it in the Greek summer. And even if it rains, you know it will be sunny again soon enough.
As my head finally hit the pillow, I slipped peacefully into dreams of Corfu.
It had been 30 years since my last visit to the island and it has changed so much, largely for the better. In 1985, Corfu was expanding rapidly, too rapidly for its own good, at one point threatening to destroy the reasons you went there for in the first place. The bay around Corfu Town was heavily polluted, the smell around Corfu Town was a disgrace to the island. No one dared swim in it back in 1985. In 2015, you can see that Corfu stepped back from the brink and it is, once again, a picture postcard holiday island.
There are eyesores, of course, like Kavos in the south, the 24 hour party people cesspit, a place I feel that one day the people and politicians of the island will need to confront. And there are other resorts that have lost any sense of Corfiot identity, assuming they ever had it in the first place. They need to be vigilant.
we stayed mainly in Arillas, in the north west, a semi-sleepy but wholly authentic Greek seaside village, bursting with top tavernas and restaurants. I read a lot, walked a bit, drank a lot (there's a surprise) and ate comparatively little, which led to an unheard of weight "loss" during the two weeks. I must be the first person in history who went to Greece and actually lost weight.
I had intended to meet up with the people I saw back in January whilst planning my book, but I made a total mess of the timings. We had changed our holiday dates in order to attend our friends' wedding and I kind of assumed I'd be able to fit in visiting people around that. I didn't and I can only apologise to everyone I intended to meet. I couldn't even fit in my visit to a brewery this time, never mind organising a piss up in it.
As with every single year, my favourite day was spent at Kanoni, at the end of the runway. We sit for an hour or so on the causeway across the lagoon watching the big jets come and go, after which we ascend the steps to the Cafe Kanoni for lunch, watching planes all the time. It is not so much a habit as an addiction, a trip without which the holiday simply wouldn't be right. In years gone by, I have literally spent the entire day in Kanoni and it is only the fact that my family might be tempted to chuck me into the lagoon if I tried to pull the same trick today that stops me doing it today.
We drove to the magnificent Taverna Nikolas in Agni for a stupendously wonderful early dinner, we managed to spend a short time on the beach at little known Kalamaki, just west of bustling Kassiopi. And we drove through Sidari, which I find is always the best thing to do with Sidari.
For much of our visit, the sun was hot and the wind was brisk, but for the last days the wind dropped and the temperature soared. That was probably the only time I found the heat slightly tricky to deal with, but I'd rather have that 34c than the dismal August day we have today! I shall just have to make do with spending my time with friends and family and celebrating my good luck in being able to do so.
It is highly likely we won't be back in Corfu next year. Not because we don't want to - obviously we do! - but events, dear boy, are conspiring against us and as pointed out before I shall turn into my elderly grandfather complaining about the worst summer ever (since last year).
In the meantime, I shall continue to dream and daydream about Corfu. It's a great place and it's generally better these days than it was before and we'll be back soon enough, don't worry about that!