My life as an English artist on a Greek island 1988. Part 5

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“Greece at Last”

Mountains in Northern Greece- My life as an artist in Greece

We made it through the last road toll and crossed the border into Northern Greece. The sun raised its head above the horizon and the clear light filled the Van and our minds. Baz, Ged and myself cheered – we did believe that we had made it out of the country that in less than 18 months was to descend into violence and ethnic cleansing.

Baz, now relieved of the nervous tension that had accompanied our long drive through Yugoslavia started to feel his lack of sleep. “Do yo see them ar’kid.” He said to me. “See what Baz?” “Those rabbits, they are jumping all over the place in front of the Van.”

I told him to stop immediately and made him swap places with Ged who was still in the back of the van in his sleeping bag. Baz didn’t argue and neither did Ged. We had stopped in a beautiful landscape with the mountains of Northern Greece all around us. Ged settled into the driving seat and we belted up – my belt was one of those that went across the waist and Ged was a standard waist and shoulder driving belt. We had been well trained by the the 1980’s Government campaign for seat belts: “Clunk Clip Every Trip.” We set off again in good spirits and full of smiles. Within 5 minutes a police car was behind the van flashing its lights. We pulled over.

The Policeman came up to the passenger door and opened it – “He said something that was Not Greek – I realised at that point we were still in the Republic of Yugoslavia – “Seat Belt – Not on !” He said aggressively. I pulled my waist passenger seatbelt to show him that I did in fact have a seatbelt fastened. He looked at the belt and then at me and quickly shut the van door. They walked back to the car and drove off. “He must have seen us and thought I was riding without a belt. And they probably wanted to stitch us up with a cash fine.” I said to Ged. Ged grinned.

“Lets get the Fuck out of this country.” Ged said and put his foot down on the accelerator.

Lamina In Greece- my life as an artist in Greece
Lamia in Greece

the port of Aegina.

After many hours we finally passed into Greece and headed towards Thessaloniki. I’d worked out in my AA road map book that would be the best route before we should to turn off and head West – inland. I had decided we would rest up at a hotel overnight before the final leg to Piraeus to catch the Car Ferry to Aegina. We got to Lamia in central Greece for early evening. We found a hotel had a meal and a drink and the three of us went to our rooms and then bed. The next morning we rose early and carried on to Piraeus without incident. It was the first time that we all started to enjoy the trip. At Piraeus we embarked onto the ferry and less than two hours later we were driving off the Ferry again onto the port of Aegina.

The road to the villa I had rented was 20 kilometres from the Port of Aegina Town. It was situated a couple of Km’s outside of a small village called Agia Marina [Eng: Saint Mary or Marie or Marianne]. The road turned into a dirt road as we negotiated the twists and turns before arriving at the Villa. Baz and Ged knew their time was limited as far as staying to see the island, they both had to get back to England and their jobs. We wasted no time at all and unloaded the Van – Baz grabbed a brush and swept the inside and the outside of the villa. It was in the middle of a Pine Forest, it was remote and within a short hop down a steep road to a small cove, where I could swim when it became too hot in August.

Coast of Aegina island Greece Denis Taylor Artist
the coast road to the villa

After taking my stuff out of the van we decided to walk to the village and buy some food to stock my fridge with. The walk took quite a while and I was glad Baz and Ged helped me to carry the plastic bags full of goodies and the many bottles of Water I’d bought in two six packs of one litre each. The village was deserted except for the one supermarket. We shopped by ‘sight’ only as my Greek was basic and Ged and Barry knew no Greek at all. We decided to walk back to villa by way of the coast. We had a quiet afternoon and a relaxing evening. Early next morning Baz and Ged prepared to set off on the long journey back home to Manchester. “At least we know which way to go.” Baz said as he saw that I had marked the route we had took in the map book as we had travelled along. I gave him more than enough money to finance the trip back home and advised him to stop at the first Bank he saw in Aegina Town and exchange the Drachma’s to mostly Austrian Shillings, Deutsche marks, maybe US dollars and British Pounds for the toll roads, petrol and food. I hugged my brother, then Ged. They climbed into the van and set off – Baz shouted out of the Window – I’ll be back in September- And then the van went out of sight and into the distance through the pine forest.

I then realised this idea of mine – to find or get back to my real self again, through Art – was real. I was now alone. I didn’t want to dawdle or panic and wanted to get going with the Odyssey voyage inside my mind.
I began to set up my studio….
Denis Taylor Greek Artist

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