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Matching Granny Lesbia! Travel glory and a war story

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 21 November 2017

My father's mother Lesbia Winnifrith (nee Cochrane) was noted for many things, not least foir me being - as are all Cochranes - a great Hellenophile.  Playing rugby with the boys at the Dragon School, being pretty useful at cricket and also the undisputedly best player of mass family games of Racing Demon were some of those things I remember. There is a story from the war, involving travel from when my father, aged three, returned from evacuation in Westmoreland.

The Blitz was over and my grandparents wanted their kids back with them in London although they seem to have enjoyed their time up with the family of the cook in the far North. My father got off the train with his elder brother Charles and was met by my grandmother who was, in the reserved way of the upper classes, delighted to see them.

My father spoke by then with a clear Northern accent and is reputed to have asked "so who are you" of his mother.
Sticking with the train theme my grandmother was noted for being the most punctual woman on this planet. She never missed a train in her life apart from when she once arrived so early that she caught the train before. And that brings me to my journey from Bristol to Kalamata.

I had worried that with a flight landing at Athens at 6.50 PM and the last bust to Kalamata going from the main bus station at 9 I might just struggle to make it and would face a night in Athens. I worried needlessly. Easyjet had the plane, thanks to a strong following wind, on the stand at 6.30. I raced through passport control in minutes and my rucksack arrived after just a few minutes of waiting. The traffic was thin and my taxi got me to the bus station in time to answer a call of nature and still catch the 7.30 bus (an express not a local like the 9 O'Clock.) By 10 PM I was in Kalamata and on my way to the hotel.

Aged 49 at last I match my grandmother.

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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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