We have been away for few days on a family holiday to Greece. This was the first time we had ever been there. It was idyllic; the seas were extraordinarily clear, with different shades of turquoise because of the limestone sea floors. We sailed round bluffs and headlands, finding coves and caves, fish rich waters and the smell of pines from the trees overhanging the bays. We would swim ashore and look back to the uneven silhouettes of other islands hard to distinguish from each other as the day became hotter.
My husband, Geordie’s ancestors, had explored this part of the world two hundred years ago, endlessly returning, inspired by the achievements of the ancient world and incorporating their passion for the history of Greece as well as Rome into the detail and re-building of Highclere Castle in the nineteenth century. The books in the library at Highclere reflect their knowledge of the culture and institutions. The 4th Earl of Carnarvon translated the lliad from Greek into English stanzas and the twelve white vellum bound volumes sit on a shelf in my study in the Castle today. He actually delivered speeches in ancient Greek as well as Latin to English audiences.
The 4th Earl wrote how important it was to see the pageantry of other countries, not just the black and white written words on a page. It has been a wonderful few days and also a small understanding of how difficult it is for Greek people at the moment to earn a living running their businesses amongst the islands. Greece is a country that has provided the inspiration for democracy and the Olympics, and it is an enduring landscape with kind people and good food it has much to recommend it.