Date: 11 September, midnight.
Location: Crete, sitting in a giant empty restaurant being fed and having English practised on me by the waitress who has stayed up to pull together a cold plate after my plane was delayed and I missed dinner.
It's been one of those weeks that has felt luxurious in its fullness – utterly exhausting in practise of course. Monday dates (yes I'm back into that, yes dates plural), Tuesday a private showing of the Hockney exhibit at the Royal Acamdey with drinks and canapés followed by dinner with my boss and her friends at the poshest place I've ever eaten (a lot in there to unpack, I know), Wednesday work trip to Leeds followed by law firm party at the Aqua rooftop with gawp-worthy views over Regent Stree at sunset, Thursday work until 2am, Friday brief collapse, Saturday Georgia O'Keefe at the Tate Modern followed by a bottomless brunch with old friends new to London (more on that to come no doubt), Sunday work and scramble to Gatwick. And now, sun, rest.
Have I said this before? How wonderfully disorientating I find it to land in a foreign place after dark, not knowing what to expect when you wake the next day? I land in Crete around eleven at night, having been naively surprised at long the flight was. Three and a half hours? Where are we going, Turkey? (My stunningly bad geographical skills strike again! Yes, actually Alex, we're basically in Turkey. Huh, how had I not known that?) Then we're all swiftly waved through immigration and in a cab I drove along dark roads. What's out there? How far are we going? Where is the water? Is it pretty and bucolic or industrial? Where was that Minotaur meant to be? How far is it on the ferry from Mykonos, from where Paris and Twiggy will depart tomorrow?
I'm super excited to see these two, both of whom have recently fled London for good (in Paris's case I'm very hopeful that the 'for good' will actually be just a 'for now') but I confess, I struggle with group trips. First, I'm an introvert and, whilst I love my friends, time alone also thrills me. Also, I'm ruthless with my time and seem to expect the same from others, despite knowing how unfair that is when we're all on holiday! I just hate to be late, I hate faffing around, I have a disproportionate fear of missing busses/trains/planes. It is not my most charming quality. Despite making a conscientious effort to relax I feel my blood temperature start to creep up the second I hear a, 'Don't worry, we'll get the next one' or, 'I'm sure they'll be late too.' Deep breaths, you stress-head. I'm not certain how much of this is innate and how much of it has developed as I've spent my career sorting out messes where other people 'just go with it' and assume it'll be fine. Ok, therapy session over.
Opa! I'm in Greece!
When I thought about my ideal holiday I realised it would be a balance between time alone in a beautiful place and time with the gang. So that's what I've swung (and, thankfully, they're sufficiently au fait with my, shall we say, niche qualities that they took this in stride). So, I have four days at Insula Alba (the 'White Island'), a deliciously new, minimalist, pool-heavy resort on the coast by Analipsi where Cafe deal Mar plays all day and all of my meals are included and I plan to spend my days reading and writing on one of the bright white, canopied day beds by either the beachside pool or my private pool. Yeah. Then I have three days in a very different town with Paris, Twiggy, Chandler, Monica and a friend from Perth (we shall call him Flipper as he loves the water and is smart and playful like a dolphin) and another Melbournian friend (Bambi for our purposes, as she's the youngest and wide-eyed). They're there already and describe our hotel as 'a zoo'. I'm partly dreading it, but also partly super excited to hang out with them and see more of the real Crete. This stunning white palace of mine is not the real Crete and I will, I hope, never be the sort of person who thinks it is.
In the meantime, my soft white king bed and Netflix await.