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13 May

By MICHAEL HAAG

Their life in Corfu was portrayed as idyllic in ITV's drama. But as the series returns, a new book about the Durrells tells the real story: breakdowns, booze, a secret abortion... and nudity galore

Their life in Corfu was portrayed as idyllic in ITV's drama. But as the series returns, a new book about the Durrells tells the real story: breakdowns, booze, a secret abortion... and nudity galore
In My Family And Other Animals, the author Gerald Durrell gives the impression that his family went to Corfu in 1935 almost on a whim, selling their English house and sailing into the unknown to escape rainy summer days and stuffed-up noses. They laughed and wrote beautifully of their island idyll, but nobody in the family talked about what had really brought them to the island – the sudden death of their father in India, the devastating effect it had on their mother, and the yearning to restore something lost.

The youngest of the family’s four children, Gerald, whose love of animals drove him to become a famous zoologist, wrote in his 1956 book how the family stayed for five years in this Mediterranean paradise until the onset of World War II. ‘Living in Corfu,’ he concluded of the hilarious adventures he recounted, ‘was rather like living in one of the more flamboyant and slapstick comic operas.’
But a new book, The Durrells Of Corfu, by family friend Michael Haag, reveals for the first time the secret of why the Durrells really went to Corfu. By drawing on the family’s letters and an unpublished memoir by Gerald, it shows a darker tale than My Family – one cloaked in tragedy and driven by alcohol abuse and a nervous breakdown.

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10 May

"What? Workout on vacation? Are you crazy?" Those who have little or no relation to the exercise may stop reading already.
But those of you who are fitness enthusiasts or have workout during winter and wouldn’t like to see their labors lost after a holiday period, they must continue reading. So, those who want a ... last minute boost before showing up on the beach.
No, we are not exaggerated with exercise, just think that is a shame and unfair to start all over again in September and to feel remorse for every glass of alcohol or fried calamari in beach bars and restaurants.
You are on vacation in northern Corfu and you can exercise yourself by hiking, biking, swimming and any other activity in nature. Yes, this sounds good, but doesn’t compare with a professional half-hour (or more) program with assistance of experts on the field.

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05 May

Two-day events dedicated to the celebration of the miracle Virgin Kassopitra, organized by the church council of the Church of the Virgin Kassopitra and the cultural association Kassiopi.
On Sunday, May 7th at 19:30 will take place in the Great Vespers Church of Panagia Kassopitra.
On Monday May 8th at 8:00, it celebrated Holy Mass and after this, the standard litany of the Sacred Image will be held. In the evening of the same day, at 20:30, the festival will take place with live music from the cultural association Kassiopi.

From the book "Kassiopi a small place with vast history" in research and writing of Helen Saracen, we learn the important story of the miracle with several historical details:

In 1530, the name of Kassiopi became famous when on May 8th, a great miracle took place in the church. A few days earlier, in Corfu town, a young man called Stefanos was unfairly accused of flour theft. The Venetians were ruthless when it came to their laws. Stefanos had to choose between two punishments. Having his eyes gorged out or having his hands cut off. He chose the first, as he was poor and fatherless and needed his hands to work. The Venetians proceeded with the punishment. The outcry led him and his mother away from town and they ended up in Kassiopi. They sought shelter in the church and the monk agreed to let them sleep there for the night. While asleep, Stefanos felt a hand touching his eyes. He opened them and saw a female figure next to the icon of Virgin Mary. Stefanos tried to wake up his mother who was sleeping next to him. “Mother, I can see the flame of the oil lamp” he cried out to her. But being exhausted and half asleep, she paid no attention to his words. She assumed that her misfortunate son was dreaming.

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01 Mar

Se spune despre Grecia ca este una dintre putinele tari care ne dau «cheia catre cunoasterea de sine». Fara nici o indoiala, se poate spune despre Corfu ca este o insula a carei identitate multiculturala isi are radacinile intr-un trecut mitic ce forfoteste de evenimente istorice. O simpla plimbare pe malul marii aproape te poate convinge ca legenda cu privire la iubirea dintre nimfa si Poseidon este adevarata, pentru ca insula pare a fi un taram al zeilor.

Corfu este o insula din Marea Ionica situata intre coasta vestica a Greciei si Italia. Multi nu stiu ca aceasta insula, cu o suprafata de aproximativ 600 de kilometri patrati, este mai aproape de Albania (la doar doi kilometri distanta) decat de coasta Greciei. Gratie numerosilor maslini care cresc aici, insula Corfu si-a castigat renumele de “Insula Verde”.

Diversitatea – acesta este marele atuu al insulei. Fie ca vorbim de nordul, de vestul, sudul sau estul insulei, exista statiuni special dedicate familiilor cu copii sau, dimpotriva, tinerilor dornici de distractie.  Insula prezinta multe atractii pentru orice fel de turist: coasta nordica si estica se adreseaza celor care vor sa se bucure de sporturi nautice, distractii litorale si viata de noapte intensa, pe cand coasta vestica si sudica, zone mult mai linistite si izolate, mai neatinse de civilizatie sau, sa zicem, mai putin ‘transformate’, se adreseaza celor care isi doresc un concediu mai relaxat.

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05 Jan

It’s widely recognized that the island of Corfu is a highly sought after holiday destination for people from all walks of life. Named on many travel sites as one of the best Greek islands, the beaches, stunning scenery, family friendly atmosphere, and intriguing nightlife are all elements that come together to create this magical holiday haven.

The town of Corfu however may just be a reason in itself to visit this gem of the Ionian. Rightly called by the locals as just “the centre”, it is conveniently located in the middle region of the island, making it quite easily accessible no matter where you happen to find yourself.

Despite being quite a small island, the history of Corfu, and in turn its town, is rich. The island has been inhabited in the past by many colonies, the Romans, Byzantines, and the Venetians among them, and all of them leaving a distinctive architectural stamp in their wake.

In the words of Countess Flamburiari, “Corfu town is Venice and Naples, a touch of France and more than a dash of England, apart of course from being Greek”. The best place to witness this marriage of cultures is old town, Corfu’s very own World Heritage site. Deemed by many as one of the most romantic places to visit in the whole of Greece, the abundant cobbled streets of old town are the perfect place for lazy-day strolling, especially during or after sunset.

New town on the other hand is where most of the hustle and bustle of town life takes place. Centred around the square of Saroko, it is the area in which most of the high-end shops can be found. Although not as architecturally impressive or noteworthy as its older counterpart, new town still has the Corfiot charm about it and is a mandatory pit stop for almost all Corfu holiday goers as it is where the drop-off point for all the main bus routes is located. Read More

27 Dec

Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author

Will Rimell
Reporter Daily Echo

 

IT WAS 70 years ago that two British war ships, sailing between Albania and Corfu, were illegally destroyed in a row that cost the lives of 44 seaman.
They were targeted by Albanians, who protested that the channel the ships were sailing down belonged to them and was not, as the British government claimed, international waters.
On October 22, 1944, it was decided the issue would be tested and two Royal Navy destroyers, HMS Saumarez and HMS Volage, were ordered to sail into the channel.
But Romsey man Bob Yeomans, who was a sailor on the Volage, said it did not go to plan.
The day before, Royal Navy personnel conducted a sweep of the channel to see if any objects were in the water that could proves hazardous to the ships; but nothing was discovered.
However, Albanian forces planted mines in the stretch of water following the naval sweep, with deadly intent.
"The British government thought they would test the problem and sail us through the channel to prove it was international waters," explained Bob, who is now 90-years-old.
"Just as we were passing the end of the north channel, the Saumarez blew up – they had hit a mine.
"It was horrendous; she went up with a big bang and there were bodies spewed everywhere. We honestly did not think it would happen."
Bob, who had also served in the Navy during the World War Two, added: "My ship, the Volage, then went in to help her.
"Then, as we were towing her out, the Volage struck a mine as well. The bowels of the ship, almost 40 feet-worth, was blow away and the ship started to break up.
"Seven seaman went down to the bowels to try and repair the damage, but part of the ship then just broke away and the men went down with it – their bodies were never recovered."

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18 Dec
Anita Isalska
 

Like every great seducer, Corfu knows exactly how to reel you in. Sunsets, sandy beaches and clear seas have made this Ionian island a summertime favourite. But look past these easy charms and you’ll discover what makes Corfu truly magical: the scent of pressed olives, monasteries draped in bougainvillea, and fortresses that rise above bluer-than-blue seas.

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18 Dec

CARE has a small shelter near Sidari in the north of Corfu.
The Charity started 11 years ago when 8 puppies were found close to death in a dustbin. All were nursed back to health and subsequently, literally thousands of animals have been re-homed either in Greece, Germany, Austria and the UK.
CARE presently has a small shelter near Sidari, situated in the north of the Island. With limited space and facilities, this means we sadly cannot take in all the reported strays but CARE has a mobile unit and along with groups of volunteers, CARE has set up feeding stations and the strerilization of these animals wherever possible.
The CARE sanctuary offers temporary lodging for these animals whilst new homes are sourced. The animals are also checked by the vet, and as far as possible any medical requirements are administered. Read More

01 Dec

Ben Dowell recommends a stay on the Ionian island – especially the tranquil north-eastern corner

When Keeley Hawes was facing prison, violence and general corruption in BBC drama Line of Duty earlier this year, she tweeted a picture of herself in the sun-drenched ITV drama The Durrells as an antidote to all the grisly goings-on in her other role. It was a neat touch to show us a picture of the Corfu-set show, and just what we needed.
Corfu, the northernmost Greek island situated just off the western coast of Albania in the Ionian sea, is clearly a beautiful place. But why, I asked, had it fallen off my holiday map?
I had not been there since I was a 19-year-old inter-railer and ended up in a place called The Pink Palace, a ramshackle Corfiot hotel for backpackers. Drinking, wet t-shirt competitions and the kind of fun which did not pay too much heed to classical civilisation was the order of the day.
No, Corfu is not for me, I used to think. It's one of those Greek islands that has been spoiled by hedonistic travellers and swamped by concrete. In fact, I had only been back to Greece once since Pink Palace-gate, and that was to a family hotel in Cephalonia that did not live up to my expectations or the brochure.
But The Durrells made me think twice.
ITV’s drama is filmed on the island and is based on Gerald Durrell's memoir, My Family and Other Animals. In 1935, the Durrells — twenty-something novelist Lawrence, Leslie, teenager Margo and animal-loving Gerald (who grew up to be an eminent conservationist as well as an author) and their long-suffering mother who is played by Hawes — swapped England for Corfu.
They lived on the island until the Second World War broke out in 1939. And the picture painted by Gerald in My Family and other Animals, and in the more literary works of his elder brother Lawrence, of an unspoilt backwater with stunning scenery and wildlife was recreated beautifully in the TV series.
But of course the Durrells association with the island had a sting in its tail. The success of Gerald’s books put Corfu on the map, and he held himself responsible for the tourist invasion of the 1970s and 1980s, and railed against the island's overdevelopment.

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05 Nov

Throughout history just about every country-- Italy, Turkey and Russia, France, England, and finally Greece-- has ruled Corfu. Who can blame them?

In homage to Gerald Durrell, who wrote Marrying Off Mother and My Family and Other Animals, both set in Corfu, I visited that Greek island with my mother—who, like Durrell's, was in no mood to be married off—and her dog, a brindle-and-tan dachshund I nicknamed Stepfather because his place on the hearth far surpasses that of a pet. "Where are you?" my mother can be heard yodeling to him throughout the day. Even with his head buried in the dirt, he never fails to respond to the call. At the Corfu Palace Hotel, in Corfu Town, it welled out of my mother's throat every time we were about to go out. The teeming jungle of scents that the hotel rug must have been to the creature's nostrils made him lie low—under the beds, to be precise, from where he had to be coaxed out or pried loose, which we accomplished by lying prone on the bed. We had breakfast on our veranda, beneath a flowering acacia, looking out through a gentle arch at a riotous garden of pink and purple petunias, plumbagos, marigolds, and zinnias, but even the scent of toast and Greek coffee failed to lure Stepfather out of hiding. So it was that we had a spirit dog with us—one that, at the end of a week, could have written volumes about the floors of cafés, the blue-gray carpeting of a rented Mitsubishi, the temperature beneath deck chairs, the smell of Corfu air (the fragrance of roasted corn, for instance, at night on the square).

We held in our hands a little piece of paper with the name and number of a person to call in Corfu. My mother had obtained it from a friend on the neighboring island of Paxos, where she has spent the past 20 summers. "Ileana," it said, and next to it were five digits we dialed eagerly as soon as we had settled into our room, treading somewhat gingerly around each other's sensibilities at the thought of the coexistence ahead. Ileana spoke good Italian and very good English, and in a mixture of both instantly invited us to her house for drinks that evening…but she would pick us up.

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