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A Sunday Morning by the church in Koroni, Greece

Tom Winnifrith
Sunday 14 May 2017

I could not sleep for reasons that I shall discuss later so was up at the crack of dawn leaving the Mrs and Joshua snoring loudly in our hotel room. We are in Koroni, a pretty little sea port around the coast from Kalamata, going away from the Mani. The stated reason is to visit the parents of the husband of the sister of the Mrs, Stavros & Stavroula. It is the latter who taught me everything I know about the art of goat milking.

I say that Koroni is pretty. It had old buildings, narrow and winding streets and a charm. It is still a working town as well as a tourist resort. So there are fishing boats in the harbour and this morning I wandered through a market where the local peasantry bring their fruit and vegetables to sell - it was an array of colours and the size of the specimens on offer is stunning. We might almost be in Chernobyl.

On the other hand, I do not enjoy eating out in any place in Greece that has a whiff of tourist. There is the hard sell from the owner as you walk buy, the insistence that all his fish is fresh and local when the octopus and calamari is almost certainly not. And there are the relatively high prices one pays for fairly ordinary food.

Before any remoaners start bleating, the pound is now just 2% down on where it was before Independence Day last year. Tourist Greece used to offer cheap and cheerful food (ie, not terribly good). The standards of cooking in most tourist resorts have not improved but prices went up once the drachma was replaced with the Euro. They need to re-adjust downwards. I resented paying 9.5 Euro for a very tough pork souvlaki with a few greasy chips, which I gave to Joshua.

I thought fondly of Miranda's up in Kambos where there is never any fish on offer. But where the cooking is consistently good - if simple -  and where a meat and veg option plus an ouzo & greek coffee will still leave you with change from a ten Euro bill. In Koroni one can watch the sea but the noise of people and tinned music is everywhere. Up in Kambos there are just a few people talking and laughing, you gaze up at the mountains or at the castle on the hill in the other direction. You just ponder as the world goes by.

My family has been writing about Greece for 150 years. Greece is "in the blood" but that Greece is up in Kambos not here by the seaside.

At 8 AM and the tourists are sleeping off last night's ouzo. I found one coffee shop open and it is opposite the main church and so as I tap away on my laptop, smartly dressed little old ladies wander by on their way to praise the Lord. I can hear the priest intoning loudly inside. The people respond in an age old ritual. That would be the same ritual being celebrated by many of the folks back in Kambos right now.

No doubt many people reading this, including my proudly godless daughter Olaf, will deride such faith as just another meaningless relic of the old world. But Daddy what is their stance on LGBT issues? Don't you know who won Eurovision last night?

Which is likely to be more long lasting: the modern cult of celebrity and ephemera or the quiet faith of the little old ladies, even if it fails to condemn Tim Farron for homophobia as all snowflakes and metropolitan elitists must do once a week as their ritual? On that, my almost 16 year old daughter and her ageing father are, as usual, likely to disagree.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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