I have heard so many people say that their grandson, grand daughter, nephew or niece find it hard to move on after Covid and Brexit. Opportunities open a few years ago have challenges, drawbacks and hidden pressures.
Their education has been disrupted.
Their university days which should have been uplifting and full of social events has been curtailed or irreparably damaged.
Opportunities to travel or work abroad have narrowed.
A gap year of travels is weighed down with concern for the environment.
A 20 year old waiter in Greece remarked back in May just as restrictions were being lifted, ‘I’ve always wanted to see a bit of the world and maybe work in the UK for a while but I’m not sure it will ever be the same again.’
This is a theme close to my heart having taught struggling 16 to 19 year olds for over a decade in Luton Bedfordshire before moving to Fife.
There are still a few copies of the first edition which I am prepared to GIVEAWAY FREE in the UK, for just the cost of postage, if you get in touch with me before Christmas and outline briefly why you think it might help. Please don’t name the young person though.
Yesterday, Armistice Day, was a poignant reflection on wars gone by and current conflicts in the world. The words that comes to mind, both attending the service here in Kinghorn and watching the Cenotaph on TV are:
respect, humility, sadness and a longing for peace and freedom, but not without cost if necessary
It was a beautiful day here as we headed down to the Kirk by the Sea:
After the short service we followed the piper, the scouts and cubs, the Lifeboat Crew and members of the congregation up Station Road to the war memorial.
Prayers were said, two minutes silence was observed, the bugle was played and wreaths were laid – a sense of unity with towns and villages up and down the UK.
In the minds of those present I’m sure each could tell a story from WW1, WW2, The Falklands (40th anniversary) Afghanistan, Syria ….) but the tale of bravery of two local lads on the memorial was read out.
Sunflowers had been planted in the summer with an underplanting of blue lobelia, in recognition of friends in Ukraine but, strangely, one remained in bloom for the occasion. Then, as the piper played ‘Flowers of the Forest’ fading into the distance as he walked away from us, a ‘haar’ descended. (a Scottish sea fog)
As Rev Jim Reid said afterwards, nature has a way of reflecting the atmosphere of the occasion and speaking to us in a way that nothing else quite matches.
We were treated with soup and coffee in the Church (Hall) by the scouts, after which folks walked around reading the the wreaths from local organisations and groups in Kinghorn.
We chose two less well known Greek islands for our trip this May. (In fact, like many we have rebooked it three times since 2019) Our main stipulation was that there would not be an airport, but that we would take ferries from Pireaus, Athens.
Our stay on the Island of Sifnos in the Cyclades
After an early 6am start we arrived at the port of Kamaras and the ferry journey was trouble free, sailing into Sifnos harbour in time for breakfast around 9.30. We chose to stay at the harbour because we reasoned that, although it might be busier, we would have access to public transport for getting about. We needn’t have worried. As you can see it was really quiet and peaceful.
From the moment we landed, I realised that this was just what we needed to shake off the pandemic blues, relax, unwind and begin to take steps towards preparing for the next stage in our lives. I don’t know about you, but after an extremely stressful and emotionally traumatic two years, we needed a circuit breaker, and Sifnos turned out to be not only perfect for this, but extremely beautiful too.
We ambled passed the small beachside tavernas in a bit of a daze. It was extremely quiet ~ and the sun was shining down on us. Pausing for breakfast and coffee we could not help but fall in love with this sleepy harbour of Kamaras. Yes, there are several ferries which call in throughout the day, and the lovely setting and sheltered bay is a lure for folks sailing, looking for a place to put down anchor, but it was so laid back and … just lovely.
Our hotel was wonderful too, making us feel welcome from the start. The sun shone. Pathways and the sandy shores beckoned, not to mention the swimming pool.
We walked around taking the paths to visit the bayside churches and just absorbed the atmosphere and views. We took the bus on two occasions up to Apollonia, the main village on the island which boasts a handful of shops, backstreet alleys and steps to wander up and down. It was the beginning of their season and they were only just opening up. Masks were still expected inside shops and cafes, but there were plenty tavernas to eat outside. We even hired a car for two days, reaching the beautiful sites further afield, although we were sure to take time out in our two days to walk cliff paths and along the shore lines. Sifnos welcomes and encourages walkers with a maze of paths all over the island. If we ever go again we must take our walking boots.
How the visit helped both mentally and physically
I felt as if life was finally moving towards a new normal.
Yes, tragedy was behind me but life is a gift, there to be lived.
Walking and swimming, the fresh air and sunshine were like a balm to the body and soul.
As we laughed and relaxed, tension began its slow pace towards evaporation.
There was something childlike in being able to mooch about and explore a new place once more.
It was just wonderful and was just what we needed.
How was I inspired by our visit to Sifnos?
I can’t say that I am now inspired to rush and write a novel set on Sifnos, but it was that overall calmness of the mind, following Covid and bereavement, that will live with me throughout the coming months. I defy anyone not to be inspired, surrounded as we were, by such stunning views and soaking up the sunshine and warmth for the first major holiday in three years.