Thursday, 13 September 2012

Windsurfing …

Day one of Dynomite’s tour saw us head off for an afternoon on the beach. We chose a beach slightly closer to home … well one that we didn’t need a 4x4 to get to, in doing so found ourselves in Kouromenous sitting on the beach opposite another friend’s taverna. 

This proved to be both a good a bad move, it was good because we were close to a constant supply of ice cold beer, it was bad because, we were so close to the constant supply of ice cold beer that intoxication was imminent and when we all get to that stage interesting ideas pop into our heads… before long we had decided that we should have windsurfing lessons and had even gone as far as booking them for Sunday.

When Sunday came along we were ready to go, well some of us were! We headed down to Freak. Freak is a windsurfing station which has been operating in the Kouromeous bay for a good long time. They set up at the beginning of the season and shut down around October every year. Freak have all the gear that you could possibly need to windsurf. They also have a host of instructors, speaking a variety of languages, to help you on your way and on the off chance that you really make a muck of it they have a couple of boats to come and rescue you.

The bay itself is for most part perfect for the sport, the winds are constant and cross shore thanks to the mountains behind the bay. The sea chop is sufficiently reduced providing a calmish sea to go careering across.

The wind was howling in the morning and I must admit that the thought of getting it wrong and ending up in Libya was not all that appealing, nevertheless we decided to head down to Freak and see what they had to say. To my surprise they let us out on the water … our instructor was about 5 minutes old and exceptionally good at the sport and he was also a great instructor, despite the fact that he made it look like it would be a walk in the park he also swam behind us while we attempted to make ourselves, the sail and the board one in the roaring wind. 

My husband was up first, he is normally a natural when it comes to anything board and water related. After he had gotten his balance and worked it out he was off with relatively little trouble. Of course tacking (changing direction) proved to be a little bit more trying and entertaining for the rest of us on the beach. Eventually he had it figured and was satisfied enough to let Dynomite take over.

Dynomite found it slightly more challenging and had fallen off numerous times before he had made it more than 5 metres from the beach. Slightly frustrated with himself and with an ‘I will make this happen’ attitude he got it going, frustration was replaced with laughter and in the end enjoyment.

Another friend who had also been present at the original beach intoxication evening also joined us. At first she thought that we were completely mad and I honestly thought that she would say thanks guys but I’m ok and leave it at that. I was pleasantly surprised when she decided “why not” and gave it a go. Our friend is not the tallest of people but she got it going and eventually managed to stand up on the board and sail along. – She has since decided that we should have another go next weekend!

Eventually it was my turn, I was convinced that I was going to end up drifting down the beach past the pros and end up on the cliffs at the end of the bay. This was thanks to my experiences from learning to Kite surf with my husband (who had taken to it like a duck to water). I had found it relatively easy to fly the huge kite from the beach and had even found it easy to body drag in the water without crashing the kite, but it was when the kite, the rolls and rolls of flying lines and a board had been mixed together along with a gust or two of wind that I had well …. to put it politely ended up in a bit of a tangled mess.

When I was younger my brother and I were pretty good sailors and used to race small dinghies at the weekends. To prove it, somewhere buried deep in my parents’ storage unit is a box full of trophies and medals which we accumulated over the years, but that was along time ago and didn’t involve standing on a board trying hard to balance yourself and a sail….

In the spirit of giving the others a good laugh, I headed out to take my turn to wrestle with the board and sail and attempt to get the show on the road. To my surprise I actually found it quite easy and once more I enjoyed it, laughing at myself when I lost my balance and fell into the water. Aided somewhat by a board the size of a large family saloon car and a sail that was made for toddlers I got into it and my sailing skills came back to me, I even managed to tack without falling off the board!

It was a lot of fun, the instructor was really good and explained what we were doing wrong without making us feel like monkeys. Freak has all the latest kit which they replace every year, you can contact them through their website by clicking the link HERE.  

A pilgrim’s walk …

It’s been a long while since I posted an update … my tail is between my legs, I have admittedly been rather busy … that list just never seems to get any shorter and so I don’t get out to play as much as before which, depending on how you look at it is not necessarily such a bad thing.

Dynomite decided that he missed us so much he just had to come and hang out on the Island again – this, much to my business partner’s dismay, gave me the perfect opportunity to skive work and go out and play.  

Our first trick after a good portion of Raki drinking was a walk, supposedly it started in Sitia and ended up at a church in Lithenes - a village in the middle of the island. I suppose the walk is more of a pilgrimage for all those who have made a deal with god and promised to walk to the church to hold up their end of the bargain.

I am about the most unreligious person in the world, I still can’t get my head around the whole idea but I have a deep respect for all those who do. I guess everyone has a calling and I have yet to take the call. Despite my lack of religious belief the walk seemed like a good Idea and so Dynomite (suffering from a rather large hangover) and I got ourselves ready to take on the walk… We were walking with some friends who for whatever reason decided to cut the walk short and start about 5kms away in another village.

They picked us up from the house all dressed up and ready to go, I climbed into the car in trainers and gym gear immediately thinking I was extremely under dressed for the exercise.

I had thought that it would be a gentle stroll through the olive groves, by now I should know better… the walk was along the main road, the road which connects the north and south sides of the island. It is busy and has many sharp corners, apparently there is more to a pilgrimage than I had previously thought.

We weren’t alone, my friend’s mother and her mother-in-law had decided to join us which left us with a problem of who was going to look after her daughter. Daddy to the rescue the only problem is that it would take half an hour or so to get to us and if we didn’t start walking it would mean walking in the dark … I am not a fan of walking unlit roads with oncoming traffic in the dark so we started the walk, Dynomite with my friend’s daughter on his shoulders!
Granny Marching up the road!

Shoe swapping ... can't go to church in trainers!!  

Apparently this was quite a wealthy church  

All the priests making a late entrance 

Eventually we made it to the village where the girls got glammed up changed their shoes applied some lipstick and went to the church to light a candle. Dynomite and I – still convinced that if we walked into the church it would spontaneously combust - headed for the village shop originally for a beer, which turned into water when we rethought the drinking beer in a churchyard full of people!