Monday, August 24, 2009

An Apple a Day

It's no secret that I wish I had a garden.
Even though my balcony is a riot of flowers, shrubs, herbs and tomatoes, it's not the same ...

So there I was the other day, relaxing with a glass of wine in the garden of a friend who lives a few doors away.
'Just look at that ...' I breathed, gazing at the rosy apples carpeting every inch of the grass and hanging from the branches of 2 ancient trees.
'Yes,' she said, 'Such a nuisance. I can barely eat one a day. They just lie there and rot, attracting wasps. I wish I could get rid of them to be honest.'

Say no more.

After a couple of hours spent in the timeless bucolic pursuit of apple picking:
  • The rotten ones have been collected into her compost bin.
  • Bags of apples have been distributed to all the kids on our estate, and from assorted windows the sweet smell of apple pies and crumbles wafts on the breeze.
  • Another vast bag has been taken to the refugee hostel down the road and another has found its way to Brighton.
  • Both dad and I have spicy stewed apples in large containers in our fridges.
  • I've resurrected my mum's fab recipe for apple cake (ultra moist and yummy).
  • We've been eating fruit salad for breakfast.
  • There's nothing like crunching into a fresh organic apple - almost as good as chocolate and a lot better for you.
Just imagine what I'd do if I had my own garden ...

The Youth of Today ....

If you believe the tabloid headlines, you probably think everyone under 21 carries a weapon and takes drugs.

If that's your mindset, everything you see and hear will feed into that preconception and appear to confirm your worst fears.

I was looking at my two boys sitting on the tube today and trying to see them through such eyes.

At close to 6', 14 year old First Born towers over most adults.
Little Guy, aged 11, is smaller and grungier and is currently sporting an impressive black eye.
If you searched FB's bag, you would find a blunt instrument (a rolling pin) and a small plastic bag of herbs.

You would assume the worst, wouldn't you ...?
Go on, admit it.
It's highly unlikely you'd assume they were on their way to visiit their 94 year old grandfather to make pizza for him ...

And the black eye?
Yesterday, the 2 of them were cuddling. (Yes. Cuddling.)
LG pulled away and turned smack into a pole.

He's actually very pleased with the result:
  • It looks satisfyingly spectacular
  • It looks a lot worse than it feels
  • It's the one place on his body that he can't see, so doesn't have to deal with the anxiety.
FB, on the other hand, is mortified. He can hardly bear to look at LG and is consumed with guilt, feeling (wrongly) that he was responsible.

The youth of today -
- deserve to be judged by their actions and not their appearance.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

By Rhodes less traveled

When I think back to my own childhood it's the holidays that remain most vivid in my memory.

That's how I think of the last 14 summers - as creating memories for my children.

This year, we decided to take a break from soggy campsites and headed off to Rhodes for 2 weeks of guaranteed sunshine and pampering.

We stayed at the Lisa Hotel, near Ixia on the northwest coast, deliberately choosing somewhere off the beaten track and away from the major tourist centres. With just 35 b&b rooms, the family run hotel is intimate and friendly. Our spotlessly clean rooms overlooked the pool, where the boys spent up to 8 hours a day when we weren't out exploring the island.

I wrote a chapter a day and luxuriated in the opportunity to enter worlds created by other writers.
(Massive respect to Nicola Monaghan for The Killing Jar - by far the best book I've read in a very long time.)

We also hired a car for a couple of days, traveling the length and breadth of the island.

Petaloudes - Valley of the Butterflies

Away from the commercial centres, Rhodes is rugged, exquisite and largely unspoiled.

Spot the building, vehicle or person

Prasonisi - the southernmost tip where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean

Ancient ruins at Kamiros - don't even think about it ...

We spent a lot of time in Rhodes Old Town ...

... where we followed this sign ...
... to the last remaining synagogue in Rhodes ...

... all that's left of the once thriving community comprising 5 synagogues, schools, rabbinical training colleges ...

In 1944, the 1600+ Jews of Rhodes and Kos were deported to Auschwitz. 150 survived. The community is now too small to hold regular services but the synagogue and museum are lovingly cared for by those remaining. We met an elderly man who showed us the tattooed number on his forearm - he was 13 in 1944 but was big for his age and strong, so was put to work, avoiding the gas chambers. He gazed at our own 2 boys and asked their names. Little Guy's name is the same as the man's father. He laid his hands on their heads and blessed them.

The next generation.
During those days when we went out exploring, we entered the past. But in the evenings, we engaged with the here and now, gathering with a phenomenal bunch of new friends at the hotel bar...

... run by Michael and his son George.

George boasts that he makes the best cocktails on the island - and he could be right.

I had sex on the beach - I even had sex on the moon. Best of all, I had not one but two screaming orgasms.

They have the power to bring out the extrovert from the driest of stones and I even found myself discovering the attraction of karaoke.

We're home now and attempting to adjust. But if you like what you've seen here, I thoroughly recommend the Lisa. If we go again we'd go self-catering and book direct, which you can do here.

Or just phone 0030 22410 93557 (from the UK) and tell Michael that Debi sent you!