“Margaret Thatcher and Gerald Durrell” …………………….is the answer to my question …………
Not exactly your usual “couple” are they…. But this is my answer to the second of the 2 questions everyone we meet for the first time here always asks, once they realise that we are not on holiday, we actually live here – the first is “How long have you been here?”. The answer to which now is around 30 years and the second being “why did you come to Corfu?”
So, let me explain a “short version” how my husband Andy and myself came to have spent the last 30 years [which is one reason this blog came about – I was looking for a way to celebrate the 30 years and someone suggested this!] and now more than half of our lives on the Greek island of Corfu.
We had been married for a couple of years and had made a lot of money buying a flat in London and then 18 months later selling it for 18,000 more than we had paid for it – doesn’t sound much but in 1988 it was like winning the lottery….. we thought “this is great! -let’s make lots more!” and bought a house, using all of our money we had saved and made and got ourselves a huge mortgage – then the market crashed and along with it lots of peoples, not just ours, lives did the same. At the time a lot of it was blamed on the government [hence Margaret Thatcher being named] and as we had chosen a flexible mortgage, so our mortgage in 3 months tripled…. Andy was working 3 jobs and I had 2 to try and keep the house, until one day we were literally passing each other in the hallway and just looked at ourselves and said – “this is crazy we are living like maniacs trying to keep this house” ….
We had a credit card that had 300 pounds left on it, we went into a travel agent and told them we don’t care really where we go we just want to go somewhere for a week that is hot where we can think what to do about our lives – so the agent said “Corfu”?? And I said “ohhh Durrell country [I had read the famous My Family and other animals while in school] – yes please!” and we ended up in the Messonghi Beach Hotel in Messonghi, southern Corfu in 1988…. hence why Gerald Durrell is also named as my answer!
It was not the best place in Corfu, but it did the trick, we ate, we slept, we lay in the sun [even though it was October!] we drank, I cried and we talked and we decided that we were young, we both had an education in the Catering industry [how we met] and there was a big world out there that needed feeding one way or another so our talents should find us some work, somewhere, somehow…
So, by the last day we were quite positive, we were going to go back, give the bank the keys to the house, and walk away but not with as heavy hearts as we had been feeling!
On the last day of our stay in Corfu we of course had a horrid night time flight and had to vacate the room still by 11am so were hanging around…. We chose a nice looking little taverna for an “early bird” supper to fill the time. As we asked for the bill at the end the owner came out and got chatting and asked what we did – I was a restaurant manager for my main job and Andy was a Head barman – so we told her and chatted about options for work etc and she mentioned with our qualifications and experience we would easily get work in Corfu and then she left to tend to another table…… so we sat a little longer chatting about “Hmmm maybe Corfu would be a good start to our round the world catering tour”………. As we were thinking to get up and wander round until our pick-up time the owner came back, looked at Andy and said “Would you believe my barman has just told me he won’t be here next summer, would you like a job?”
And that was the beginning of our life here in Corfu…….
As I mentioned the reason for this blog is actually a few things – firstly we have now been here more than half our lives, this is our home for better and for worse. During that time a lot has happened, we have had various jobs, I now have my own company dealing with holidays, but also, I have a share in a long-term rental company and deal with a lot of people who like us want to change their lives and think about living here, maybe something here will help them, it was much easier back when we did it and a lot has changed since then, and a lot of it not for the better. Andy has spent his Corfu life in, on or at least near the sea and together we have had and raised a child here, dealt with the health care side of Greece including various hospital stays – there will be a whole few pages about that! – bought a wreck of a building and restored it to a lovely little village home [could write a whole book on that!] , and a whole load of other adventures and basically survived to tell the tale!!
So, this blog will be from the point of view of 2 “ex-pats” who took the plunge, packed up their belongings, bought a one-way ticket and do not regret one minute of it….Welcome to the “Corfu Chronicles” …….