After fifteen years of not travelling abroad and not even having a valid passport, I suddenly got the travel bug and, this year, I’ve been fortunate to see three new cities (Amsterdam, Bruges and Ghent) and three beautiful Mediterranean islands (Sicily, Crete and Santorini). It’s been quite an adventure!
My trip to Crete was especially memorable because it was my first ever solo trip abroad, but I didn’t feel like I was alone because I had two very good companions with me: Miss Read and Amy. Some of you might already know that I’m a huge Dora Saint (Miss Read) fan and her Fairacre series is particularly dear to me. I’ve enjoyed many Miss Read-inspired days with the writer’s daughter, Jill, and you can read about our visits on the following pages:
But Crete was definitely the furthest a Miss Read novel had ever taken me!
When our beloved teacher and her best friend visit the island, they stay at Agios Nikolaus on the east coast. With its views across Mirabello Bay to the mountains, and a pretty lake at its centre, it really is, as Miss Read says, an ‘enchanting town’.
From their base there, they hire a car and visit the Archaeological Museum in Crete’s capital, Heraklion. Amy, who has been there before says, ‘I must spend more time looking at the jewellery which is simply lovely.’
Miss Read adores the museum. ‘It was a wonderful building, with the exhibits well arranged, and everything bathed in that pellucid light which blesses the Greek islands.’ She particularly enjoys the frescoes and the two friends spend a couple of hours at the museum ‘dazed and awed by so much magnificence.’ I was there for about the same time and feel that I really didn’t do it justice at all – there were so many treasures!
After lunch in town, they drive the short distance to the Minoan palace of Knossos where Miss Read falls in love with the dolphin frescoes in the Queen’s room. Unfortunately, this was closed when I visited, but I had seen the originals in the museum.
But it’s the spirit of the place and of the Minoan people that really leaves its impression on Miss Read, making her wonder if climate affects character. ‘The secret, I decided, was simply the sun. Given that, given warmth and light, one was more than half-way to happiness.’ And I have to agree with that. Miss Read and Amy visited in August. I was there in mid-October and it was still warm and sunny. It really does make a difference to how you feel, and one line from Farther Afield that I remembered with a smile on my own return home was when Miss Read says, ‘One could almost feel the tan fading. We were in England again.’
If you would like to read Farther Afield you can find it here: