Monday, 2 November 2015

Quiet days in Githio

October 28th - 31st October.

We have been on the go for a month now, so we decided to slow down for a few days and rest at Camping Githio Bay, about 3.5km south of Gythion town. It's a lovely site set in an olive and orange grove with a big pool and direct access to the sweeping sands of Mavrovouni beach. The only negatives, the pitch wifi is iffy, and the trees, lovely as they are, do make manoeuvring onto the pitches a delicate matter. With all the olive trees the site sells its own cold pressed extra virgin oil; it's very good.

We have visited Gythion twice, the first time before we pitched-up, as we needed bread. It was 'Oki Day' when the whole nation celebrates the moment when Greek leader told Mussolini to bugger off, after Il Ducio sent an ultimatum threatening Greek sovereignty. We could hear chanting and singing across the harbour as we parked at the pier. Even though it was still mid-morning cafés were filling up. As we locked the van, four all terrain fire trucks parked behind us and their sprucely uniformed crew jumped out of the cab and started collecting money in the local cafés. I expect whatever parade was due to happen later would the feature the fire engines. Given the risk from wild fires in the summer months, I expect these guys are local heroes.

Fire trucks waiting for the parade

The lovely Githio

Very much as active fishing port...

Anyone for octopus?
The quayside filled up with cars as families arrived for the festivities. Although it would have been great to stay to see the fun, we became concerned that we might get hemmed in. We headed to a bakery to buy bread for lunch. The small filou pastries were too tempting, so we bought four of those too, then drove to the campsite.

Filou pastries - we chose, Pistachio, Lemon, Chocolate and a Noisette..
Next day we cycled back into town. It was much quieter, we suspected the entire place was suffering from a collective hangover. Just before you arrive at the town centre there is a small island in the bay accessible over a causeway. We cycled around it and found a church, a lighthouse and a fortress surrounded by umbrella pines. From here you get a great view over to Gythion which spreads up the steep wooded slope from the harbour; it all looks quite Italianate. 

We searched out an ATM, failed to find the post office, then wandered about a bit looking at menus and fighting off the waiters' hard sell. Eventually we settled on a place right next to the sea. The young waiter was really friendly and explained the the menu. I chose an omelette with local Mani sausages. and Gill ordered Moussaka. As side dishes we had potato chips fried in olive oil and sprinkled with oregano and a dish of fried courgettes. In fact, these were served as starters, tapas style, rather than sides. It was all rather good, especially the courgettes, and Mani sausages which had a sweetness about them. Later we found out that they flavoured them with oranges - quite unusual.

In order to reach the harbourside tables...
the waiter had to dodge the traffic on the busy main road.

At the sight of  the courgettes, quick fried in a tempura batter, Gill is quite overcome.
OK, it's a plate of chips, forget Skegness here, they are lightly fried in olive oil and dusted with oregano.
Other than that, we've relaxed, taken a few walks, done a bit of laundry. I cleared out the rear garage and gave it a bit of a sweep out. Then I decided to wash the van. I noticed it had a few more 'twig scratches' than before, but what can you do, the more adventurous you are the more you risk minor bodywork damage. In the end if you opt to live in a motorhome for months on end, it will suffer wear and tear.

Although the campsite is hardly busy, there are probably more than a dozen other vans dotted about, so by Greek out of season standards - a hotspot. All the usual suspects are here, and our next door neighbours who are, well, what is the best way to describe them? Extraordinary might be a good word.

First the usual suspects:

1. Us - the recently retired on a shoestring....

Us - watching the euros, living in the lump sum.

2. Grand Tourists

Monsieur Go Peep
won't live on the cheap,
his van's a German designed one.,
He clogs up every road
with  a car that he's towed,..
Let's pray that we're not stuck behind one!

3. Bear Grillis goes motorhoming

His truck is all set for crossing the Sahara, all wheel drive, a metre ground clearance, winch on the front, additional fuel and water containers (metal camouflaged) strapped to the side, solar panelled roof...we saw them later in Lidl car park.

4. Rat-race escapees.

"Aaah bless," we sixty somethings go, at the sight of the cute young couple in an ageing campervan, taking a career break to travel..... 

In Spain last year we saw variants of the same characters, and others beside - Concorde millionaires, ardent homeschoolers....but we never came across anything quite like our nextdoor neighbours here - 

quite extraordinary neighbours... (tribal aspirations)

The tribe's tents
All wrapped-up against the evening chill...
The group next to us were as far away from being a typical Janet and John nuclear family as you could imagine. Their encampment spread across two two pitches. They had a minibus with Austrian plates and an estate car. Accommodation comprised of a dome tent, a tepee and a kitchen tent. The group comprised of three  women - in their thirties I guess - and ten children. There were two older kids, a girl who looked about thirteen and a boy a couple of years younger. The others ranged from around 8 years in more or less equal intervals to the baby - not quite walking yet. 

Most days were sunny and warm and the toddlers and tweenies ranged across the site left to their own devices, the older ones looking after the younger. They had lots of fun, were boisterous - but they never bothered anyone else or got up to real mischief. What was surprising to our British sensibilities as they ran amok without a stitch on, and clearly had been doing so for weeks as they were tanned from head to foot. 

Two things struck me, firstly tabloid hysteria in the UK concerning fears about paedophilia have made us very nervous about children and public nudity. We are more prudish than a generation ago when it was fairly normal to allow under fives to run about bare in the garden or at the beach. Fear of abuse and paranoia about skin cancer has put a stop to all that. 

Given the propensity of the grown-up members of the tribe to drift about in harem pants, then I think our next door neighbours were definitely on the alternative side. Even taking this into account, I do think the UK has become overprotective towards its children, and though the encampment next door may have slightly overdone the noble savage bit, it was refreshing to see kids playing naturally in the outdoors without a bit of technology in sight.

The second thought I had was how much all of this was linked to aspects of the Bettany Hughes book I am reading. One short chapter concerns the education of girls in 5th Century Athens; its called 'Running With the Bears.' Once Athenian women were married their lives became quite resticted. However, pre-pubescent girls were sent to outdoor camps between the ages of ten and fourteen where they were able to 'run with the bears'. The idea was that by allowing them to run freely in the natural environment, looked after by priestesses, they would 'run the animal' out of themselves, and so become more moderate, and 'modest' adults. What we seem to be doing is precisely the opposite, restricting children's opportunities to be free, and saddling them at a very early age with SATS and measurable targets and so on. Most children now are in nursery early, and pre-school places are required to meet external standards just as much as schools. Of course these places should adhere to high standards of care, but sitting in meetings with Ofsted inspectors talking about 'a curriculum for babies' I just wanted to scream. So for all the tepees and the harem pants and the paraphernalia of an outdated hippydom, I was glad to see next door's tribe 'running with the bears', or should that be 'bare'!  

In its own modest way, staying at Githion Bay campsite has proved thought provoking as well as enjoyable, furthermore, it is rather lovely too. I do like Greece....

Lovely wooded pitches

direct access onto Mavrovouni beach.

Sent from my iPhone


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