Living Between the Lines

Donkeys, pool-men and an end to suspicion

This post was scribbled during my recent holiday to Rhodes. 

What makes grown men and women think that riding a donkey up steep, winding steps in temperatures of 40 degrees, will be fun? I have not fallen into this trap I hasten to add but plenty do.

Hence, as we wander through the labyrinth of streets that make up the City of Lindos, we witness many folk of mature years struggling to climb aboard these truculent beasts of burden and once aboard, to stay seated. Nor is this penchant for self-harm shared solely by the older generation.

As we step aside to allow one donkey-train to pass, we note a young couple being carried up the hillside. The boyfriend leads the way, astride a biddable grey donkey which is in turn being led by its owner ever upward. His girlfriend follows, clinging to a second donkey, tethered to the first. The second donkey seems less biddable. No one checks this second donkey’s progress beyond yanking on its rope, urging it to follow the first. The young woman screams as she is all but unseated negotiating a steep turn in the path. She clutches at the reins and then at her hat. Mid-air, she squeals again before she thumps back into her seat. The boyfriend, already round the bend in the path, seems oblivious to her plight.

No, I will not be tempted.

Where are they going, these intrepid travellers? Why, up to the Acropolis which sits at the top of Lindos and still has stonework that can be dated back to 600BC in places. We prefer to make our own way, on foot, thank you.

The holiday I talked myself into taking (‘Talking myself into it’)  has materialized. Lindos, does not disappoint.

The island of Rhodes sits in the Aegean sea, an azure blue that shimmers all around us. The ancient city of Lindos clambers up the rock face, its labyrinth of streets reaching up to where the Acropolis sits on high. Sugar-cube houses blink in the sunlight. Shops, restaurants and bars call us in. Pink and white begonias trail from window boxes and bend their heads into the streets below.

The law of the land decrees that buildings here must all be painted white. No hotels may be built. There is no place for traffic in its steep, narrow streets. Lindos remains a beautiful, historic monument to the past.

Steep steps lead ever upward towards the Acropolis. Others lead to narrow passage ways, threading their way between the shops and quaint little juice bars offering freshly squeezed orange juice for a Euro.

The air is still. The tourists are hot and thirsty. Trade is brisk.

Our holiday on this beautiful Greek island has taken our breath away – I mean literally taken our breath away on occasions. The heat defies belief. We had expected it to be a little cooler now than it would have been even a few weeks ago. Still, we sit in the shade by the pool (in it more than by it) and we read and yawn and read some more.

If I have one guilty pleasure it is reading. I have packed several paperbacks, downloaded several ebooks but I am delighted to find the villa owners have left an entire bookcase through which I can browse. Heaven!

The ‘pool man’ tells us temperatures are way above normal for the time of year and we can expect it to be 40-50 degrees in the shade. (You don’t say?) I wilt at the thought. ‘Pool Men’ are the equivalent of the Oracle on such holidays we find. The Pool Man also sorts out a dodgy air conditioning system and fills us in on local gossip.

He is charming and helpful and deeply tanned beneath his multiple tattoos and piercings. He hails from Northern England as it happens.

I have nothing against Pool Men, despite my earlier reference in ‘I meant to say’ in which I imply that the Pool Man there may have been implicated in the subsequent burglary of our Cyprus villa. It is a suspicion only and just because he told us his son had to flee Britain in a stolen Porsche and was wanted by the police even now, does not mean that he was implicated in any way whatsoever – of course not. Just because his son happened to own the villas we were staying in and had not equipped them with security shutters, leaving them vulnerable to opportunist thieves, means nothing.

Furthermore, it means nothing that the pool man spent an inordinate amount of time ‘casing-the-joint’ I mean, chatting and staring in at the living area where laptops and iPods were on display for all to see and asking about our stay and planned activities. It is of no account that he returned unexpectedly after the burglary, with little sympathy for us but asserting that it would be the Cypriots who were to blame. (The police clearly thought otherwise – a British contingent were known to be at work here they told us).

No, no, my over active imagination is surely to blame for even thinking such a thing.

The villa we are staying in here in Rhodes, has lockable security shutters and a safe. The Pool man is reassuring. I must put aside past experiences and give my imagination a rest – still, makes you think doesn’t it?

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Mark Bathurst

    Hi Deborah, it sure does make you think. Great story, vividly told and I’m with you all the way on the suspicious mind! As for stopping the imagination… No way, that’s why we write the way we do!

    Imagination doesn’t have any limits, so keep going!

  • Andrea Carlisle

    Dear Miss Marple, I think you might be on to something re: the pool man escapade(s). Possibly you might treat your readers with more detailed and private views into their lives, if your imagination leads you there.
    As for the heat, I can only imagine how intense it is. But to read and nap and rise to read again–delicious! Congratulations on stepping out of your nest and into an adventure.

  • patriciaswisdom

    Sounds like a lovely adventure and are you not the lucky one to be able to travel and read in distant locations.

    Your story telling assists in making the trip for me to enjoy – though I do not need worry about the pool man here or there – those events are always disconcerting.

    Thank you for sharing your escape. I liked the trip 🙂

  • Katie Gates

    Even though your writing — as always — describes the environs beautifully, I want to see photographs from your trip. I’ve been intrigued by the Greek islands since owning copies of the amazing coffee table books by Hans Silvester. He photographs cats on those islands, and he does so beautifully.

    Welcome home. I hope the trip was as relaxing as one can have when the Pool Man has no ulterior motives!

  • Hilary

    Hi Deborah .. I went there many moons ago .. young and innocent with a friend who’s now in the States – it’s a beautiful island and I love Lindos .. just stunning .. and did you get to the Valley of the Butterflies? Can’t remember what else we saw .. I guess the beach! We were on a budget – £50 max overseas cash ..days .. but I loved it and one day I’ll go back I hope .. we walked up but thanks for the warning re the donkey ride! Cheers Hilary

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: