As the end of my holiday approached, I began to gear up for my return to London.  Awaiting me at home was the prospect of another move.  After a brief panic where we were told that there may be a general strike on the day of my flight, but which they were not able to confirm or deny until the day before my flight which made moving forward impossible, we started the adventure of leaving Greece.

It is hard to explain why leaving our home in Athens is more complicated than leaving anywhere else.  On paper, it should be easier.  After all, we are at home, things are more relaxed by definition, and all the creature comforts we need are available on tap.  Usually we stagger our departures and this year was no different. It makes it less chaotic on the day of departure, also it’s easier for Mum & Dad if the house doesn’t go from pandemonium to just the two of them in an hour.  My brother and his family left first, followed the next day by D.  Then my other sister K, and her husband A left a few days later with their girls.  We affectionately call A&K ‘the Hungries’ because of the truly impressive amounts of food they can put away but also because even while they are eating, their next meal is either being planned, or underway.  It came as no surprise therefore that there was a lot of stuff they ‘needed’ to take home with them from Greece that you can’t get in London.  We all bring oregano back from Greece, it’s just better.  They added to this about 4 kilos of Greek sweets including baklava and massourakia (DELICIOUS rolled pastries from Chios), some wine, and various other Greek delights.  They also prepared a packed lunch as if they were going to trek the Machu Picchu trail and along with their 4 suitcases, car seats, travel cots, prams etc we headed off for the airport and waved them off.

I was moving into their room when we got back.  I had packed my stuff from that morning so I brought it up and started to put my stuff away.  I opened the chest of drawers by the bed and lo and behold, it was full of their stuff.  The drawer underneath – the same, and the one under that too.  Unbelievable, I thought, only the Hungries could remember all of the food but forget their underwear.  By the time we had gathered all the stuff left behind, I was online buying an extra baggage allowance from Aegean.  An entire extra suitcase full of stuff forgotten, plus some stuff my Mum gave me to bring.  No wonder no one believes me when I say I travel light.

I spent the last few days of the holiday catching up with friends and spending quality time with family.  All good stuff.  I will however complain about one thing.  I go to Greece for many reasons, one of the main ones of which is the fact that it is warm.  I appreciate the feeling of the sun on my face, my back, my arms – wherever I can get it.   Sometimes, it is hot, and I appreciate that people don’t like to sweat and huff and puff everywhere, I get that I really do.  Presumably that is why they invented air conditioning.  And here it is, my big complaint, I hate air conditioning.

I appreciate the need for it in countries where temperatures reach 50 degrees centigrade at night.  I appreciate the need for it in Greece, where temperatures are usually around 30 unless we are in a severe heatwave.  I do not understand why we need the ambient temperature in the room to be at 19 degrees.  It should be cooler inside than out, ok, yes.  But if it is 30 out, then 24 is ok for in.  In the wintertime, if the inside of your house was 19 degrees, you would be complaining bitterly that the heating is not doing its job.  In the summer, we all leave the blistering heat and enter the house, only to require a sweater.  The worst culprit in all of this is my mother.

My mother is actually a polar bear I think.

The phone calls start in March or April.

“It’s so hot here already, I’ve turned on the air conditioning.” She complains, as I try to hold the phone to my ear without exposing too much skin from under the slanket in London.

“Mum, please, I don’t really want to hear this right now.”

Not to be outdone, my Dad grabs the phone.

“Maria, help me, your Mother is trying to kill me, we are actually sleeping with the air-conditioning on! I am going to freeze to death!”

This makes me laugh too.  Mum and Dad are hilariously opposite in this regard, she always runs hot and my Dad is always cold.  I can imagine their bed, Mum with the sheets thrown off and Dad huddled under three blankets.

It is really that bad.  When we are over, we all put on sweaters and slippers (sometimes with socks) to sit indoors with Mum.  Then we have to strip if we are going outside even for a minute or we risk sunstroke.  As a result, I can never really tell the outside temperature.  People often question what I am wearing when I go out in Greece.  Not because they don’t like the way I dress (although if you took a survey, that would probably emerge) but because I am always dressed too warmly.  To compensate, I have taken to going out not dressed warmly enough.  I now have to call the people I am meeting and enquire about the weather.

And it is the same in the shops.  In the summer, one of my greatest pleasures is not having to put on several layers to leave the house.  I can never leave without a cardigan or something though.  All the shops are so aggressively air-conditioned that I have goose-flesh within minutes, and I leave before I have finished getting what I want because I am so uncomfortably cold.  I don’t think this is what the shops have in mind is it?  It seems a bit counter-intuitive.

I think the ceiling fan is underrated.  I know it feels a bit like an 80s Greek government office accessory or more at home in a Mexican motel room, but really, it is so lovely to have the gentle (there’s no need to set it to helo levels) breeze stirring around the room.  I am alone in this opinion in my family though.  Apart from the sub zero temperatures in the house, Mum also has a mini fan on every surface.  The kids love them, but I really think we are in danger of getting hypothermia in Greece, in August, and how embarrassing would that be?

So now you know why along with shorts, swimsuits and t-shirts, I always pack a fleece, socks and warm slippers.  You know it’s too cold when you can see your breath over summertime breakfast in Athens….

The day before I left, I was really looking forward to getting home and getting on with the move.  I got a frantic text from R at home.

There’s a mouse in the kitchen!!  Arg!!  Help what do I do?

Break out the peppermint oil.  I answered.

When I got back, the house was minty fresh.

Here we go I thought. Holiday over.  Back to reality.

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