Sunday, 18 October 2015

One Onion Beach - a short note of thanks.

Saturday, 17th October.

Ionion Beach is a lovely camp site situated a few miles south of Killini on the west coast of the Peloponnese. From its small beach you get a great view of the hills of Zakynthos on the horizon. The site has shady pitches, flowery pathways, a good restaurant, modern facilties. It's idyllic. The place is easy to find, as it is well signed off the Patras to Pirgos main road. The signs, written in the simple, sans-serif font that Greeks prefer when using the Latin alphabet,, say.. - Ionion Beach. To the English eye it's almost impossible not to see this as 1 onion beach, and so that is what this lovely spot will be always be called, at least to my mind.

'One Onion Beach' - how else could a Brit read it?

Shady pitches with oleander hedging...

direct access to a clean, private beach...
modern, spotless facilities set in flower filled terracing...fab campsite!

It is especially good to be here for real, because we've been enjoying its delights vicariously for years thanks to following the Magbaz blog. Margaret and Barry are seasoned travellers and have visited Ionion Beach frequently and have always sung its praises. Now we are here, I can see why.

Yesterday I received some really nice feedback about our own blog from members of the Facebook Motorhome Adventures group. I was really touched. More than that, when one person mentioned that reading the posts helped him anticipate what he might do with his retirement I felt somehow our debt to the bloggers we followed over the years was being repaid in kind.

As our late 50s approached, though work remained frenetic and increasingly fraught and stressful, our thoughts started to turn to how we might spend our retirement. We had coveted owning a motorhome for years, but it was only when Gill started following motorhomers' blogs that we realised that people were not just using them for holidays, but were travelling in them long term, for months and years.

Cold winter evenings in Buxton were brightened by snippets from Jay and Ju's 'Our Tour' blog as they recounted exciting escapades in Morocco or Sicily. Their tales of a freer existence proved inspirational. Gill is a voracious reader, soon she was following Mazbaz, and Jenny and Ewart's 'Travelbunyip' blog. She downloaded Kindle books by people who had converted their journals into ebooks. There was a tale of a couple with their 13 year old son who bought an ageing Winnebago, christened 'The Beast' and set off for year long adventure around Europe. Closer to home, a young man recorded his adventure of travelling around the coast of England in a venerable VW campervan. His mission - to find the finest cream tea in the land.

What these varied stories had in common was that they were all extraordinary adventures undertaken by perfectly ordinary people, people no different to us, and that was inspirational. I have always enjoyed travel books, by Paul Theroux, Nick Crane, Alain de Botton, and Rebecca Solnit. These people are extraordinary adventurers, intrepid philosophers of the road. In a sense their achievements can seem dis-empowering; on reading their bold adventures the armchair traveller is pinned back into their cushions, left with the thought, that was extraordinary, but quite beyond my capacity to emulate. The blogs that Gill introduced me to had the opposite effect, these were journeys we could also do, the only thing stopping us was having the time.

Misfortune gifted us the opportunity. Redundancy gave us the time and a bit of cash to pay off the few thousand pounds left on our mortgage, with enough left over to buy a middle-aged, somewhat matronly motorhome. The fact that despite being first time buyers we did choose the right van for our needs is due in no small measure to what we gleaned from reading blogs - all sort of useful stuff, about re-fillable gas cylinders, average costs of travel, places to wild camp in Greece. So, sitting here on a warm evening at One Onion Beach, the Ionian sea lapping a few yards away, a lone cicada chirping away in the oleander hedge, I raise my glass, the toast is, "Long may we travel, long may we blog!


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