fawn and burnt siena | summer rome

Rome apparently has seven hills and we seemed to have climbed at least eight in our first few hours alone . The Trastevere district where we had hired our apartment was very hilly, it transpired, but none of these hills were one of the actual seven. The neighborhood's sidewalks were roughly paved, disturbed where the roots of the Mediterranean stone pines had heaved upwards fortissimo. The leafy streets were flanked by town houses, standing proud and lean in gardens and terraces shaded by spiky palms, lemon and orange trees. The houses were balconied; wrought iron in deep black, set against the earth tones of each facade. Not newly painted; not peeling, shades of fawn and burnt siena, wooden shutters always a degree lighter than the stucco and framing the window. Even for someone like me - probably a good deal colder than the balmy sun-warmed stone around us - it was not hard to imagine Juliette stepping out onto a balcony and calling out to Romeo on the street below. Maybe because that was Verona there was no one out on the street except my sister and I, entranced by the green and the walls and the climbs.

We'd heard horror stories of entrance queues for any famous monument so arrived early at the Roman Forum, with the Circus Maximus and the Colloseum under the same ticket. The Forum and Circus were almost eerily empty before the tourist buses arrived, the complex much bigger than I imagined. The ancient Romans got around, that was clear, and they liked building things. Red, dusty earth swirled under our feet as we padded through the remnants of the government and financial heart of the ancient city. It was signposted, but there was no clear route and the Romans didn't seem to have ease of understanding for foreign visitors centuries later as their main concern. Some say to get a guide or an audio tour, but a bit of imagination and rusty roman history seemed to be enough. Cream swathes of material; togas and laurel; twins raised by wolves.  It was no later than 10am, best, and the temperatures were pushing 34 Celsius. The kind of arid heat that moves over the ground in a haze and dries it to a blushing shade of auburn red, and the trees to muted olive green that appears brushed by a sepia overlay. We stopped in the shade of a cedar, for a drink. I held out the bottle of water to my sister. Et tu, Brute, I said to her, and we moved on. 

There were crowds in the Colosseum in chaotic groups waving selfie sticks, which seemed a pretty fair re-enactment of the real thing, perhaps without the selfie sticks. So instead we walked, as we always do, up a hill, since this was Rome, there was at least a one in seven chance you'd be climbing, but the climb also seemed to filter out a good chunk of the tourists. There were walled gardens, loosely attached to convents and monastaries, where the sisters ambled in the shade, bright white contrasts against the walls in their spectrum of pinks and reds. The shades were like wine glasses on a connoisseur's table, and probably in the hands of more prudent tourists on the buzzy terraces below. The local primary school had come to the park for games, nannies played with their toddler charges in the shade of orange trees and the views stretched far over the River Tiber, the sky so blue it was almost gray, punctuated by the domes of St Peter's Cathedral and the Vatican in the distance.

We had not particularly intended to hit up every tourist site in Rome but I wanted to see Via del Corso, the famous shopping street, and it happened that the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps were in walking distance of each other. The ancient Romans' renaissance counterparts seemed more forward looking in terms of their town planning. We went first to the Pantheon and we might as well have started by being shot in the head. Nothing would have the same impact. It was so foreign but familiar, so silent when the marble on the walls seemed to scream so loud, the handful of tourists inside moved in slow motion but with a sense of urgency, because it was like the whole building was a dream, and if you woke up it would all be over. There had been a sign which baffled Layla and I on the way in - it told visitors not to lie down. Who would go into a monument and lie down? But we could then see why, there was an odd power in the way white light seemed to flood through the dome and reach every corner of the building. Visitors wandered out, slower than they had entered, back into the piazza and shielded their eyes with their hands, blinded by morning sun. The carabinieri, a police-military hybrid that seem to hang out, benignly, on every street corner in Rome, must have got a real kick out of seeing the smugness on pretentious tourists' faces transformed into a blank look of total awe when they emerged.

The streets around the Pantheon and Via del Corso seemed to pump all sorts of blood through Rome - financial, artistic, historic, the fashionable edge. I had warmed to our temporary Trastevere home, but it was defintely the more 'boho', young, neighborhood, and I had been amused and impressed - the local-produce stores, trendy cafes and the raw food place were so, well, LA.   Via del Corso was where the shiny Italian designers congregated in the old Renaissance buildings and was a study in Italian street style, so lessons from the best. A man in a sharp blue suit and polished leather loafers lit a cigarette on the doorstep of Valentino, a white Vespa leant against the wall of D&G, a salesgirl with skin an enviable shade of caramel eased the shutters off the door to Salvatore Ferragamo, all in a days work. The stereotype that Italians know how to dress was remarkably accurate; girls all in black linen and white shoes, the male uniform of blue suits, all rode shining Vespas, most were dark haired, no one looked tired and no one was pale, maybe there's something in the coffee. Despite this also being the tourist heartland there was not a single Starbucks or chain coffee shop to be found, in general far fewer than I had expected, but you could smell the freshly roasted beans from each hole in the wall cafe and wafting out of ground-floor apartments. The modern Romans, it seemed, lived well in their charming Renaissance buildings, gestured enthusiastically while talking, had the most cute and cheerful bambino, drove their Fiats with fervour and took their dogs wherever they could.

I took a half-hearted jog up to the Piazza Garibaldi early one morning to see if I could beat the tourists and the heat to a sunrise view. The rising sun was partially blocked by the night blanket of cumulus puffs, on their way out but the skies seemed painted by streaks. The clouds were heather gray and soft lavender, girly peach and sweet caneteloupe, breaking to the lightest blue in parts. The domes of the Vatican bloomed round and classic in pale beige, the huge war memorial of the Piazza Venezia a solid slab of pillared white marble, the rest of the skyline punctuated by the pixel-squares of townhouses and cathedrals unchanged for centuries. Doves swooped and plunged in the middle distance and church bells rang, each chime bringing to life the stories of empire, demise, rebirth, creation. The metallic notes made me realize that one thing we forgot to do was to throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, which would supposedly meant a certain return to Rome. But then I knew I'd be back. There was still a  fog of cobbled squares we hadn't yet touched, there were hushed streets where dogs barked from behind iron gates, there were lines of cypress trees against the titian facades of sunkissed villas, and morning light would still stream through the shaft in the roof of the Panthenon. 


hello all :) Rome was, in all honesty, one of the most beautiful European cities I've visited. We did so much more than I talked about here (we even went out to the countryside one day, but that's a post in itself) and I could just go on about the beautiful buildings and people and sunshine... if you're jealous I get it. Anyways now we're back, I should hopefully be baking again soon, since aaalll the summer fruit is here and I have a few plans for this space over the next few months.
Hope you're all enjoying these warmer days. Ciao xx


the ebb and flow | lemon-blueberry loaf

nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)
nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)

It was our dad who picked us up from Heathrow the other day after our trip. He was waiting in arrivals, a smiling face in the crowd. Two weeks ago he'd been there himself. His homecoming. In three days he would be back. His departure. It's odd, in families like ours, where people keep coming and going. In families which are absence and reunion. We flow like rivers. Rivers run dry, it's a reaction to absence. Slowly, rain trickles down and the level picks up. The currents move you along as usual. There's a reunion and your river is full.

lemon-blueb-3-1.jpg
nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)
nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)

You learn to pick it up where you left off. Changing seasons, hair cuts, height. The same jokes, the same fights, the same people. Absence. Maybe it taught me things. You learn to appreciate someone's presence - waking up in the morning and knowing everyone is home. Small things. Seeing the coffee cup on the sideboard and knowing that someone's already awake and pottering around. Getting back from a cold, wet walk with the dogs and finding the lights on, fresh towels hanging in the hallway and knowing that someone is home. If people were around all the time, wouldn't I grow complacent? I know I do, because in the short periods that dad's work has been more from home, I just sort of get... meh, too used to it in a way. I wonder what it's like for those who have grandparents living in the same town; or where normality is having all your people under the same roof, a dad who works the 9 to 5 at an office. It's just not - not a concept to me, for some of us jobs are in other places, there are dusty port cities all over the world, nucleated families who are together but apart. The absence puts the every day, the ebb and flow, into perspective. Time seems to tumble down a waterfall. From above, from the outside, it seems to be barely moving. But deep in the swell, when you're swept up in the currents, things go fast. There are whirlpools of thoughts, everyday events that you only recollect when the spinning has stopped and you're on the other side, sitting on the banks with everyone and you're looking back and thinking "I can't believe that much time has passed". Because the truth is that it will rain. And your river will rise. And you don't notice it rising because you're in the water and totally taken along by the flow.

nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)
nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)

The last time dad was visiting I was still practicing for my driving test. This time, last week, I drove him to our local train station with a full license. The sky was smooth and slick, cool, monochrome gray, like tiles in a Kinfolk kitchen. The radio raved about the 4cm snow expected overnight and worse ice. Howling wind through the ribs of trees over the Broadland marshes, the landscape in muted green and brown, fields fallow and hedgerows bare. Dad and I stood on the platform, the wind eating through our clothing, looking over the tracks into the distance. A long straight path. We talked, just like normal, as if we were like the three other passengers. Just off to the city for the afternoon. Not that my dad had three trains and two planes and twenty four hours of travel ahead of him. Alone. But we talked, about trains and wood working and the London Underground, as dads and daughters do on drafty rail platforms in January. The train arrived on time. "Go", my dad said to me as he moved towards the carriage. The little station was eerily quiet. Down a country track, in the middle of the Broads, a part of that muted landscape. There was an old rickety bridge, the rail house needed painting, there were a few arbitrary tracks leading to it from the fields. I wanted to wait. To watch him and the train leave. But he didn't like to see me stand there. He wanted to see me go home. Always his little girl. That was absence, somewhere he'd missed me swim out of the shallows and into the channel. "Go now" he said again. Our rivers, running dry. By tomorrow they'd start filling again.

I went. Over the wooden bridge and his train left. I turned back to watch it, from the bridge, I waved to him and waved to the retreating train as it cut through the murky browns and greens.

nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)
nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)
nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)

My car was one of the few parked in the pebbled lot, nestled in the brambles and the naked branches. I sat for a few minutes, door locked, and listened to a blackbird, remembering all the boring day to day questions I'd forgotten to ask my dad. Never mind, I thought, there's next time, and next time, it will be spring, our rivers will be full.

nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)
nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)
nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)

So here's a lemon blueberry loaf. And a funny story about how this was the first gluten free recipe I wrote myself, and how I miscalculated and forgot a cup of flour, but it still turned out ok, albeit after three days in the oven. What I'm trying to say is that if you'd like to start baking gluten free, this loaf is ahem very forgiving and you can't go wrong because I've remembered the cup of flour. I'm calling it the 'house loaf' because I think it's the most requested recipe of mine, and I know it may seem slightly odd to pair lemon and blueberry but it's seriously so addictive. A zesty, sunny shock of citrus from the lemon and a bright sweetness from blueberries. Not to mention the vitamin C and anti-oxidants that winter loves to sap. This loaf has a very light crumb with all the yogurt and is not overly sweet, more of a breakfast or snack loaf. To keep it simple I generally do a 1-1 rice flour oat flour mix, but I see more people concerned about trace levels of arsenic in brown rice - if that's you, I've tried a new option, it's in the recipe notes. Either way, I really hope you try this. The comfy sweater of loaf cakes. Sending lots of winter brightness your way. Happy weekend xx

nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)
nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)

Lemon - blueberry loaf

// gluten free + dairy free option // makes 1 9x5 inch loaf

1 cup (100g) oat flour, certified gf if necessary
1 (120g) cup brown rice flour OR 1/2 cup (60g) brown rice flour and 1/2 cup (60g) millet flour *
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (150g) light muscavado sugar or coconut sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/4 cup (60ml) melted coconut oil
2 free range eggs
1 cup (240ml) plain yogurt (I used goat yogurt, use non-dairy or regular as you wish)
1/4 cup (60ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (this was 1 1/2 medium lemons for me)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (150g) blueberries, fresh or frozen (frozen will make the batter a bit blue, but I find that so pretty)


Preheat the oven to 175’C / 350’F and line a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl combine the flours, flax meal, baking powder and soda, salt. Add the cup of blueberries and toss them through so well coated in flour – this stops them sinking to the bottom. Set aside.

In another large bowl, combine the coconut oil, two eggs, sugar and lemon zest. With a whisk, beat together till smooth and dark brown. Add the vanilla and 1/4cup (60ml) lemon juice with the yogurt and beat again till smooth and pale. It always reminds me of thin tahini at this point, probably a personal thing.

Add the wet mix to the dry mix and use a flexible spatula to combine till moist and even. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake till the top is cracked and golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean – probably about 1hr-1hr 5 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes then allow it to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Being gluten free and fairly light, it will be a bit fragile but if you would like neat slices, wrap the cake in foil for a bit and refrigerate and then cut.

The cake will keep, in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5 days but freezes and defrosts very well.

notes

*There are some concerns about trace levels of arsenic in brown rice. I’ve done some research into this and found that in the UK and EU, imports of rice are very closely regulated and surveyed for arsenic. There are strict standards and that seems to make brown rice products sold through UK/EU companies very much food safe because the sources are regulated . I buy my brown rice flour from a British brand. I don’t know in the US, though, how much regulation there is and I understand the concerns came out of the US initially. Either way, I know this can be off-putting if you don’t know the sources of your flour, so I’ve tried cutting the rice flour with millet flour . For the first time tested the recipe with half the quantity (1/2 cup or 60g) millet flour which acts very similarly in baking, and it worked just as well. So you have another option if you don’t want to go with all brown rice flour, though I wouldn’t recommend going above a 1/2 cup millet flour because it can be slightly bitter and also a bit pale yellow, which works ok here for the sunshine effect but it may become too much. Hope that helps.


nutmeg and pear | gluten free + whole grain lemon-blueberry loaf cake (refined sugar free + dairy free easily)

nutmeg and pear favourites

summer Corfu: part 2

nutmeg and pear | the real Corfu: travel guide to unspoilt Greece away from the crowds
nutmeg and pear | the real Corfu: travel guide to unspoilt Greece away from the crowds

the sides of the valley were densely forested, covered in a quilt of pine trees. the trees cast a warm green glow over the little dirt path and in their shade ferns colonised. where the hills and trees fell away grew sudden shocks of wildflowers in gentle lilac and blushing pink, around them hovered hundreds of butterflies; white and delicate. on the right of the path, a crude wooden fence marked out pasture; on the left, a little stone hut that the ferns were slowly reclaiming. everywhere, a heavy hush. the call of a bird of prey somewhere in the forest, a view into the valley reaching the tree-clad slopes of the Turkish mountains. a feeling that here, nature presided - that you were in a rare place where the wild things could really run wild. you'd never see any, but you felt they were there.

nutmeg and pear | the real Corfu: travel guide to unspoilt Greece away from the crowds
nutmeg and pear | the real Corfu: travel guide to unspoilt Greece away from the crowds

we'd spent four days perusing Corfu's quiet northern coast, nosing in secret coves, climbing hills for sea views and eating feta. The European summer holidays had started and things were getting a little buzzy in our sleepy neck of the woods (one person. walking along the secret cliff path to our hidden beach. one person! shock. horror.)and we were so badly spoilt, we decided we needed to head inland. into the hilly hinterland of the island, which we'd read so much about in the books by Gerald Durrell. where there were endless fields of wildflowers in the spring, where streams gurgled through mossy dells. sure, the coasts were rugged and gorgeous, but we knew that for the real end-of-the-earth wild feeling, Corfu's vertiginous heart was where to go. But we hit a conundrum: we had no transport (long story), taxis were expensive and we didn't know where to ask to go ("a taxi please... to some place off the beaten track"). this, compounded by the fact that being just Layla and I, we didn't want to wander into Greek wilderness, yet we're not the type to join a tour. Solution: Corfu Donkey Sanctuary. yes, we are the kind of people who visit a beachy island and end up at a donkey sanctuary. donkeys aside (they broke my heart, but the work the people are doing is admirable) the place is a sanctuary, precisely because it lies somewhere in that valley under the watchful eye of the Turkish mountains. it's a maze of overgrown hunting tracks that criss-cross the luscious green, there is an incessant choir of birds. all the while, you're again imagining a goat herd wandering through the high grass, playing a flute; a conductor to the orchestra of cicadas who play the anthem of the middle of the earth. It's easy to forget a taxi brought you here.

nutmeg and pear | the real Corfu: travel guide to unspoilt Greece away from the crowds

we were kids again, playing in the ruins of the fort, firing the canons and looking over the shimmering bay at the enemy boats coming in. it was ubiquitous gray stone, no architectural marvel. but Corfu's old fort sat perched at a height in the old part of Corfu Town with a view over the slate rooftops, turning the labyrinth of little streets in the Jewish Quarter into a checkerboard interrupted by the loopy spires of the old synagogue. not quite the Acropolis, wild grass grew rife in the courtyards and between the cobbles, the place had an air of dilapidated mystery. but where else could we have wandered in the blistering mid day heat, hearing the footsteps of invading armies in the tunnels, the cries of the warriors echoing off the cool stone walls. we'd barely been on the island a few days and we could have written a novel, it is no surprise that Durrell could write a trilogy after growing up among these crumbling pieces of history. not that Corfu town was totally frozen in time - people were trendy, all golden skinned and wearing dark sunglasses, sitting on pavement cafes in the charming pedestrian precinct where the roads were a glossy cream marble. somehow we strayed away from the main course, into a warren of cobbled narrow streets, like the desert plates on the banquet table. washing fluttered on lines hung from wrought-iron balconies, black paint peeling while window boxes exploded in color. a cat slumbered in the shade of a doorway, Vespas rested against graying stone walls, the sound of someone practicing the violin floated out of an open window. we hadn't gone far looking for the real people: not on a tour that revealed 'local secrets', not into some seedy area of town, but just a step away from the buzzy main streets and we were immersed in Corfiot life.

nutmeg and pear | the real Corfu: travel guide to unspoilt Greece away from the crowds
our flight home was scheduled for the evening. on our last day, we took the bus to a small beach town nearby, sands were quiet, we were pensive. the trip had been one of those last minute things: lots of hurry, little expectation. we'd lost the low cost high-rises of the package holiday brochures and found the coast where you could still hear the sea and not just other people. it's even thrum against those pebbly shores, white stones kissed by the sun. the pines still seemed to embrace the ocean; they tumbled down those rugged slopes into the water's open arms. the hot air was full of mystery, each landmark held a story, there was an inherently raw romance to the way the gnarled olive trees leaned and whispered in the breeze, how the cicadas chattered late into the night. like the hills, the crumbling stone walls, the old fort, the groves, the cicadas told stories, and after a week, we were ready to write our own. we arrived in howling wind and rain, black midnight at London Stanstead, shivering in our summer shorts and imagining the moon rising clear and silver over the sea, as the little island slept under the watchful eye of the Albanian hills and Turkish mountains.
nutmeg and pear | the real Corfu: travel guide to unspoilt Greece away from the crowds

Practical stuff

Places: Corfu Donkey Rescue: ok I know this seems weird but we can't go somewhere and not meet furry animals. Therefore, this place. It's worth the taxi trip out not only to help the cause (donkeys, till recently, have been treated very badly in Greece) but also because the location is gorgeous and the drive very scenic. I contacted the owner who gave me the number of a local taxi firm who knows the rescue center and it's not such a bad thing to have another taxi number on hand. The sanctuary is free to visit, we gave a small donation, cuddled the donkeys, brushed them and met some cute pups.totally worth it.

Corfu town: the main city is also definitely worth a day, at least. There are lots of small shops in the Jewish quarter, pretty decent shopping everywhere, lots of cafes, the old fort and some really nice looking museums too.

There is apparently lots of hiking on the island, we saw lots of trails but had no map and no desire to get lost. If you're more organized than us, there's hiking on the volcano which is probably amazing, judging by what we saw without climbing much at all.

I'd also recommend visiting the little towns Kassiopi (cue Indiana Jones moment in an abandoned Byzantine fort) and Kalami which is home to one of Gerald Durrell's houses (the White House). AND rent a boat! In Nissaki we rented one through Nissaki rent-a-boat, you can rent one for the day and stop in deserted coves and pretty places like that. Also, the boats are very easy to handle even for incompetent people like me, and the sea is very calm.

Transport Haha. Big warning here: rent a car from the airport through an international firm like Hertz or Avis or something. We planned on renting a motorbike, which is common, but were given a dud whose engine was broken and had no fuel. We tried to arrange a car instead but they decided you have to be 23 (yeah, what about 21 at least?) to drive a car and we lost the money we'd paid for the motorbike, real clever. So we really struggled: everything in Corfu is quite strung out. Taxis are available but unreliable at best - the central taxi company Alfa seems to organize most taxis. Also if you are renting a motorbike be aware that the roads are very, very hilly, so maybe best avoided if you've never done it before.

We ended up taking the bus around and though it's routes are not endless, where they did go, they really worked. We were very sceptical but they ran on time, had English speaking conductors and all had AC. Their website is not very clear but bus stops have schedules which are accurate and they operate between islands too! Island hopping by bus just might become a thing.

Before you go, I'd recommend you read at least one of the Corfu trilogy by Gerald Durrell who put the island on the map. His descriptions of the wildlife, the scenery and the people are insanely vivid and whether you visit or don't, you'll be taken there.

"as the ship drew across the sea and Corfu shrank simmering into a pearly heat haze on the horizon black depression settled on us, which lasted all the way back to England" - Gerald Durrell, My Family and other Animals. Corfu has that effect on you.

Hope you enjoyed the final part of the guide! If you have any questions or anything feel free to ask any time. Hugs xo

 

summer corfu: part 1

corfu-travel-shutterberry

The apartment was perched up a steep hill, as if the climb into the village had not been high enough. The balcony was a typically Aegean affair, stone the colour of turmeric, with black iron grills. Plastic table and chairs, dark wood shutters, cream stone tiles. From those plastic chairs was the view of the curving bay, a crescent that was kissed by stony beaches backed by forests of pine. The trees clung to the rocky slopes, and everywhere the forests tumbled into the ocean in masses of emerald needles. The air was constantly alive with the sound of birdsong, the tingling smell of the pine, the mountains of Albania cloaked in a blue haze on the horizon.

corfu-travel-shutterberry

This was Durell country. Not the Corfu of high rise package holidays, not the Corfu with throngs of tourists, but the Corfu where we found an apartment to rent in an olive grove. Like the pines, the olives hugged the rugged slopes, gnarled branches bleached by a 40 Celsius sun. In the cooler patches orange and lemon trees grew rife, like moss in a Northern European garden, so much fruit that the branches sagged under their weight. Roadside shops sold seedlings and vibrant Bougainvillea, the flowers that adorned so many of the white village houses.

corfu-travel-shutterberry

We were great fans of the books by Gerald Durrell and following his footsteps, Layla and I rented a boat from the small taverna by the village beach. "Here are the papers" the boatman said, handing us a pile, "in case the coast guard stops you. Oh, and also, don't go too much to the right there, that's Albania and they don't like it". He gestured vaguely to an area on the map. It was a small speedboat, easy enough to master. The sky was bright blue, that colour that you only find in the tropics, not the muted pastels of Europe. Our boat sent white foam flying with the breeze, other boaters gave us a passing wave, we got sunburnt. All the while those Albanian mountains and their haze lay on the horizon, like the "sleeping giant" Durrell had so vividly described in his books. We passed cove after cove of deserted golden beach, the water beyond brochure blue, the hulls of yachts whiter than the movies, the sun sharper, the spray a cool blast. Our hair was tangled from salt water, shoulders beyond repair.

corfu-travel-shutterberry

The evening faded into a chorus of cicadas. I don't know why, but it wasn't what I was expecting. I'd been out in the bush on safari but this place had the feeling of being more alive than anywhere I'd been; like the hills and groves held stories. That from among the crumbling stone walls you could imagine a shepherd leading his flock of sheep; that out of the olives could emerge a herdsman, that the deserted hillsides were not quite deserted. It was the kind of place where you could sit, at a plastic table and chair, listening to the grasses and branches hum with life, since there was not much else to listen to. By the time it was dark, the hills were enveloped in a silence more deafening than the cicadas themselves and the moon was a bulb, suspended over the still mirror of sea.

corfu-travel-shutterberry
corfu-travel-shutterberry

Practical stuff

My sister and I spent about a week in Corfu in July and it really was the best week ever. We were choosing between a couple of Greek islands but we really couldn't have chosen better, it's a beautiful place and the photos don't do it justice. I've never seen bluer, clearer water or more epic coastline (and I've seen a few)

We decided to go self catering which was a great decision, I would totally recommend the place we stayed in Nissaki in the quiet north of the island. It's called the emerald coast and it's a good choice because there are pockets of all inclusive high rises etc but not here! The Amalia apartments were pretty simple but beautiful among the lemon trees, close to the town and beach but in general pretty quiet. The kitchens are well equipped but they're also close to the buzzy cafes and tavernas by the beach; there are 3 supermarkets in walkable distance. vegetables that are super fresh + actual sheeps feta cheese is dinner done. Greek yogurt + strawberries and oh my goodness the peaches and that's breakfast done. For lunch, take a picnic or find a little taverna. I could just sit on those balconies forever. There is AC too, which is great in the summer.

I will talk a bit more about things to do and transport etc in part 2, I think I've talked too much already. I hope that you enjoy these travel posts (but don't worry there is Apple pie and cookies coming this way shortly). If you've ever been to Corfu or are planning on going, please let me know! For more photos you can check out my instagram, and you can subscribe so you see part 2! Also shout out to the sister (Layla) for being such a nice looking person in my photos. Hugs xx