The next 10 miles are spent wading through humid heat watching the hills draw slowly closer. This flat plain between mountains is FULL of birds of prey: the valley of the hawks. I see small kestrels fluttering, static above the fields and large hawks soaring, about every 100 metres or so.
Autumn is coming – the hedges are full of blackberries with occasional apple and plum trees too.
I went a bit astray and inadvertently went further south than I’d intended. This was a happy accident as it then meant I had to cycle north along the shores of the Lake Vegoritide. I’m hungry (it being 3pm when really it’s 2pm – I always do this when the clocks change – tell myself it’s ‘really’ something o’clock when actually it just is!). Need food.
Later, much later, after lunch in a cheery place (with Volkswagen campervans wallpaper – Nina Bailey) in Aminteo, I am cycling from one lake to another. I ride past vineyards and mountains and I realise I am muttering to myself. This travelling lark not only broadens one’s mind and enhances the suitcases under one’s eyes but also, I fear, increases the eccentricities already inherent in one’s character. Good job your average Englishman is usually markedly tolerant of eccentricity. I’ve always been a bit scatty, but am in serious forgetful mode at the moment. I’ve just realised I’ve left my travel towel (or left SARA’S travel towel) draped over the balcony at Goldy Hostel. I even took a photograph of it. I’ve also lost my sunhat (left on the floor as I was packing up Rowenna). I’ve lost Sue’s painting of a manadarin duck – all packaged and labelled. And now, the last straw, WELLY! I’ve lost WELLY! I wail to the world. She jumped ship when the bungee rope slipped. I’d just climbed a 4 mile long hill so I wasn’t going back to find her. She’d been losing weight so perhaps she wasn’t very happy and will be better off in the wild. (Now there’s a rationalisation if ever there was one!). POORWELLY!
I peeked in a little church alongside the lake – painted with icons and the sunlight just catching the figures of Mary and Jesus. I rode on and spotted ripe figs in the hedges (along with a few other interesting shrubs I photographed for identification by those horticulturalists out there – Kathryn). Gorging myself, I decided I preferred the sweet yellowy-green figs over the more normal looking purply-green ones.
I decided to camp in an orchard down by the lakeside. The trees had been harvested (of peaches I think) and there was absolutely no sign of other human beings. There was a colony of hundreds of cormorants sitting in a line of dead trees jutting out of the water. I could see the town of Arnissa across the other side of the lake. The tent is still sopping wet after last night’s storms – whoops! I can’t dry it well as I’ve lost my towel too L - I use my leggings instead.
After pitching my tent, I gathered wood for my first campfire. There’s nothing quite like gazing into flames with ones legs roasting. (Even when there are hundreds of sand flies leaping off the wood in your direction! – didn’t last long).
It was the day after full lammas moon – and it was still a luminous globe rising over the lights of Arnissa, its golden reflection shimmering in the water: a magical evening. There were frogs and crickets sounding off to complete the opera. Fire’s getting low, and I’ll survive the damp tent I’m sure.