We have fairies at the bottom of our garden!
Behind Vassiliki Bay on the south coast of the Greek island of Lefkas is a broad crucible of rural farmland. While the bay is a mecca for water sports enthusiasts in the hinterland small arable farms, vineyards and olive plantations abound. No more than a few hundred yards from the beach are some small holiday villas. Tucked away amidst the surprisingly lush greenery the silence is broken only by birdsong and the occasional barking dog or car on the road to Vassiliki village some distance away.
The weather here in early June is comfortably warm and sometimes hot with occasional showers; rather like the summers of old in England that we like to remember.
My wife Clare and I chose this location to ‘get away from it all’ for a couple of weeks following years of active holidays and life in London. The peaceful rural location is just perfect with our own pool and the facilities of the village or bay to hand should we need them.
The villas are served by a little country lane, barely wide enough for a tractor and heavily potholed. Either side are orange and lemon orchards, olive groves, small fields of potatoes and other salad vegetables and meadows with grass so high that the young goats tethered within can hardly be seen.
Beyond the valley there are ridges whose flanks are densely covered with cypress and ancient olive trees, some up to 500 years old. Above these is scrubland; still very green for the time of year due to an unseasonably wet spring that has impacted some crops according to a farmer we spoke with earlier. To the rear of the villa, beyond the hillside town of Agios Petros 4 miles away, are slate-grey mountains.
We appear to be cosseted within the arms of high ground to the bosom of a rural hideaway and this impression becomes stronger as the day draws to a close. Under a salmon red sky homely lights twinkle on the hillsides as night falls and the nearby trees become silhouettes. In time eyes are drawn closer to home and reflect the magic and beauty of this setting.
Then little lights are seen twinkling in the hedgerows too! Those not expecting such a display will blink, doubting the evidence of their eyes. But the twinkling is real. At first just one or two but as the darkness deepens they multiply. Like a flotilla of tiny lightships sailing on a sea of deepest green or, if you like, a host of fairies dancing from leaf to leaf.
The fact that we know these to be fireflies which use pulsing bioluminescence as part of their courtship is irrelevant. Quickly donning shoes we steal quietly into the lane, seemingly to join the party. Hedges are alive with tiny pulsing lights which from time to time sail silently by. Fields are carpeted, apparently by a mesh of tiny dancing fairy lights.
But no Christmas display was ever this magical. No story this real. No first night on holiday this spellbinding.
We really do have fairies at the bottom of our garden!