“Just one more hill?”….. Thanks Erna!

We had a glorious day today!

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Perfect for downing tools and brushes, leaving the hustle and bustle behind and heading for the hills. Saturday is ‘rambling day’ when I don a pair of stout walking shoes, arm myself with no more than a bottle of water (and the all-important camera) and  join a group of girlfriends (and their dogs) for a  3 – 4 hour trek into the untouched interior of the island.

I never know beforehand exactly where we’re going but aware as everyone is of my aversion to hill-climbing (would that I could!) I’m always informed well in advance if there are going to be any steep inclines, which gives me the option of opting out. Not so this morning!

“Just a gentle hill at the start, then on the flat for miles, before a steep down-hill climb at the end” chirped our leader, my dear Swiss friend, Erna.

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So off we set, happily basking in the brilliant sunshine, enjoying the sights, scents and sounds of spring and chattering away with our friends.

I never considered for a moment that for there to BE a ‘steep down-hill climb at the end’, there would also have to be some sort of steep UP-hill climb at the beginning! I also never considered that to Erna, being Swiss, a ‘gentle hill’ covers just about any mountain that is only slightly less imposing than the Matterhorn!!

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So as the group strode on ahead, a very weary Yvonne dragged herself up the rear, egged on by Erna’s ‘encouraging’ shouts of

“Just one more hill, Yvonne – we’re almost there!”

I swear she must have repeated that sentence at least 30 times!!

When we did finally reach what turned out to be the pinnacle of our climb ( and almost the end of the road for me!) we looked around us in awe at the beauty of the landscape that stretched below us. On one side, far across the hazy horizon beyond the glistening deep blue sea, lay  Skopelos,  stretched out like a lizard dozing in the midday sun

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and on the other side, way below us, the tiny white houses and red roof tops of Skiathos town clustered together, twinkling like the sea in the distance.

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The views were breathtaking! And as for me? Well, I’m afraid I was just completely breathless……..

But to be fair, it was the most beautiful walk I’d ever been on in Skiathos and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Following narrow stream-beds and paths winding under a canopy of olive and pine. Meandering through meadows of wild flowers; pink and purple and white  anemones, bright blue cornflowers, purple grape hyacinth and loose-strife, golden yellow buttercups and dandelions and brilliant red poppies ,

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we finally reached the mouth of a natural spring, where, thankfully, we rested for a few moments.

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(Note the hand-painted sign – these have sprung up all over the island thanks to Mr Ortwin Widman, a relatively recent and very welcome addition to the island community who, since arriving from his native Germany, has worked tirelessly at cutting through overgrown ancient pathways and marking routes for ramblers. He places them in advance of the very popular organised walks he leads all over the island, usually on a Sunday. I believe they are quite long and strenuous (although most enjoyable!) and aimed at the more serious rambler. Once my own fitness level increases (perhaps even after today!) I will be able to join him on his walks too.

I kept wishing I’d brought my paints and easel  along- though I knew no painting I did could ever capture the beauty of all that surrounded us.

The heavy scent of wild sage hung in the air as we continued on through the groves of ancient gnarled olive trees, bent and twisted (them , not me!) as they clung tenaciously and almost horizontally, to the hillsides.

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For hours now we’d heard nothing but the sound of  bird-song occasionally breaking the stillness and saw no other signs of human life at all till we met a goatherd with his mule, leading his goats to pasture on even higher ground.

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The older goats ran away at the sight of the dogs (and us!)

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but the young kids, the cutest of animals, were very friendly and inquisitive; as curious about us as we were of them, although their fiercely protective mothers ensured we didn’t get too close.

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Eventually we began our slow descent back towards the town. On the way,  passing isolated ‘kalivis’

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Open olives groves gave way to gardens with heavily-laden lemon, orange and grapefruit trees and the first signs that we were nearing the town:

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We were five very dusty and weary walkers who finally arrived back at our Austrian friend Marianne’s house where, with dogs watered, shoes kicked off and after a communal collapse onto her squishy sofas (the depths of which I never imagined I would EVER be able to rise from again!) we proceeded to undo all our good work and tuck into the most amazingly delicious, gooey, home-made ‘Baileys’ cream and chocolate  gateau.

“Just a little something I threw together earlier” she said…….. as (having a Viennese mother, myself, I know only too well) only an Austrian can!

Reaching home with just a few short hours to recuperate, I set off for town again. This time to join with the gathered crowds on the new port to observe the global ‘Earth Hour’ in total darkness. This was followed by a candle-lit open-air concert, organised by the International Women’s Group, complete with wine and the company of good friends. Sorry there aren’t any more photos of this important event but it was rather…em…DARK!

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Then finally I headed home where at long last I could (and did!) literally drop into bed……

Ah bed…..

Glorious, glorious bed!

3 thoughts on ““Just one more hill?”….. Thanks Erna!

  1. Thank you Bill, (don’t worry, I take nothing for granted; I count my blessings every single day) and……. Thank you Sadia, yes indeed, every hill was worth the effort (though my legs may not agree!) the views were spectacular….

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  2. Well of course you had a glorious day. Look at your surroundings. Come sit in my cubicle for a day or so that will suck the edges off your unbounded enthusiasum. Nice photos, wish I was there. The envy is not good for me.

    Bill

    Thanks for the award!

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