It was the second time we have stayed in the villa on Kefalonia, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. The place is as close to paradise as I’ve ever seen, and memories from the two holidays, two years apart, are already blurring into a blissful whole. The South African woman who built and runs the villa with her husband is something of a fairy godmother to us, and this second trip firmed our friendship. She’s a tiny, blonde, sprightly sixty-something, and she tells us we remind her of her own “babies” (she likes our shiny faces and the way we hug each other; she says that my brother’s chuckle is like water over pebbles). She and mum bond over chardonnay and chats. She built the villa with love and eccentricity: deciding on the layout by laying on the bare earth and declaring that this was the view she wanted from the master bedroom; sourcing marble sinks and vintage shutters from the mainland and hanging antiques from the branches of ancient gnarled olive trees; planting the garden with fruit trees, peppers, tomatoes and aubergines.
In the evenings we would sit on one of the several terraces and drink gin and tonics as J fired up the huge stone barbie (there’s no need to eat out, and anyway, the euro is a killer at the moment) to cook chicken marinated in herbs, lemon and olive oil, all produce from the villa. Our fairy godmother and her husband would join us sometimes, and stories would tumble from her (“wait, there’s another one coming, another story just coming round the corner, then I’ll go”, she would say).
There are two bedrooms, with wooden shutters and South African art, and ensuite wet rooms with shower heads as big as sideplates. My sister, my brother and I shared a bedroom, so that Mum could have one of her own. A and I slept in a double bed, and J had a little bed normally used by children, which is the source of much hilarity (he’s nearly 30. And a big slab of man). Truthfully, I loved it. How often do adult siblings get to spend so much time together, at such close quarters? Slightly irritating nocturnal habits aside (J dictating bossily exactly when lights-off should be, ie, the exact moment when he’s ready to go to sleep: A and I mumbling deliriously in our sleep), of course. Most days after lunch, we’d take turns to have showers, then get into our jamas and all have a nap. Like babies. But I felt as calm as a baby, and as untroubled, during these times. Perhaps it reminded me of when we actually were children.
I’m afraid this post is terribly smug- but honestly, smug doesn’t even cover it. It really was that good. It’s rare that your holiday accomodation is the place you want to spend all your time on holiday, and I’m amazed that we stumbled across this villa on the internet. It’s serendipity, I guess.