Updated: Dec 30, 2018
Solo with 4 paws
Driving solo with my faithful pooch Betsy through 5 countries, a mountain range and an overnight ferry was never my intention. But events overtook me - well technically that is untrue as events nearly halted and I felt I was treading water and getting nowhere for sometime. Back to that later - why am I not at home? Just over a year ago I went on a ClubVass windsurfing holiday (the windsurfing destination in Greece) a fairly windless week of playing at my favourite past time in turquoise waters. But as some trips would have it, it didn’t turn out as I expected, instead the friends who I went out with didn’t come back as friends and people who I’d never met before became friends and were to become a part of my future life. The obvious doesn’t happen, but the unexpected does, I think I can safely say that these last two years have unraveled in unimaginable ways. At Vass the regular evening stroll along the newly laid promenade along the beach to the quay took you past the other beach clubs, cafes and a couple of disused empty buildings. Curiosity got the best of me one day and I explored. Wow! Wouldn’t these make a great studio space and running some events here focused on Plastic Marine Pollution (my ongoing Muse.) The consumption and disposal of single use plastics particularly caught my attention. I duly took the details and when I got home pondered how I could get a Greek real estate agent to take me seriously. A family friend came to mind with authentic Athenian ties. By amazing coincidence one of her friends owned one of the sailing clubs at Vasiliki and although brusque he connected me with the ‘Eco Warriors’ of Lefkada (More of them later.)
I began to speak to friends and family about my ‘bonkers idea’ and completely expected to be told “that’s a stupid idea and forget about it!” But everyone I spoke to said “Yes, it is nuts! But it’s great and you should do it!” Being a creative person does have its drawbacks; most of the ideas never get very far and seldom to completion. However, this was rapidly seeming that it would go somewhere. Being an artist of somewhat limited income and means I wondered how to fund such a venture? I currently ran an Airbnb business alongside my artwork and having rented my house out for 6months in 2012 I thought if I could do that again- it might just work!
Some windsurfing friends during a coffee meet up in Lyndhurst, joked with me about renting my cottage to ‘Try before they Buy’ as they were thinking of relocating to the area. Then next serious plans were afoot to go ahead with this idea! This was rapidly becoming a reality.
If you have ever tried to relocate to another country and take enough supplies for 6 months of art stuff, personal stuff, business stuff, windsurfing kit, bicycle and a dog all packed into my not so new VW camper; Jemima it’s not for the feint hearted!! I also had to prepare my house for my tenants and remove my personal effects.
And just to throw a pretty major spanner in the works my eye consultant said I needed to have urgent laser treatment in both eyes to prevent Closed Angle Glaucoma. I wasn’t expecting that one - I had already stopped my classes and taking any bookings for Airbnb so no income. Of course I needed the treatment done, but this is what caused the ‘treading water’ and the near cessation of my trip.
Despite being told I was going to have both eyes done at the same time, they saw sense and did one eye at a time, this protracted it out even longer. My tenants happily moved in and I became the woman (in a very packed van) with a dog! Help was at hand from a well intentioned friend, but this turned out to be be very short lived and Betsy and I spent several nights on the studio floor.
My co driver Henry, due to his hectic social life and half term could not make the journey for a further 3 weeks; hence a solo drive through 5 countries; England, France, Switzerland, Italy and Greece. One mountain range; the Alps in fog! Many tunnels; 2 very long ones, the Channel Tunnel and the 7.2 kilometre Mont Blanc Tunnel, a horrendous ferry trip from Italy to Greece. I had created a coffin shaped nest in the van so I could get some shut eye and my friend in Milan managed to find a manned and locked car park near to her apartment. I left Thursday am, Milan Friday evening and arrived in Lefkada Sunday morning shattered with sore eyes, very disheveled and beaming from ear to ear and Betsy had been as good as gold.