Folegandros Cottage

On my first visit to Folegandros in 1991, I stayed in a small one roomed cottage. When I say cottage, you may imagine something far grander than it really was. Just one room. Two thirds of the floor area was taken up by a double bed that touched the walls at three sides. On the other side a bedside table, and a couple of folding chairs. There was a ledge in the wall behind the bed. That was it! I enjoyed staying there! There were sheep in a barn next door, and a bathroom outside - often with a donkey tethered outside. I went back to see the cottage a few years later. Admittedly, it was a wet day. I noticed the goatskins drying nearby and the tannery, and animal smells. Not at all idyllic on that day.

As soon as I got off the bus in 1991, I was offered the cottage. I walked with my landlord-to-be down a lane to the edge of the Chora. And there was the mini one roomed cottage, with the detached outside bathroom with superb views of the monastery. To the left was a stone barn with sheep. On some nights there was a donkey parked outside my door. The building on the other side was being converted for residential use. It was just off the track leading to what looked like an open-air disco - which was shut. Beyond was on olive grove. Perhaps not such an idyllic location when the disco was open. The cost? 500 dr. a night.

Was it a cottage, or was it a barn or sty? It was comfortable enough with its stone walls, beamed ceiling, large bed that almost filled the room and a convenient ledge in the wall behind, but my neighbours were animals! I felt in touch with the past, for this was not a cottage purpose built for tourists. There were all mod cons, across a yard, and I often had to pass a tethered donkey to do my ablutions. I say all mod cons, and so they appeared to be from inside, but outside there was a large water tank on the roof to which water was delivered by tanker. I never did work out the arrangements for delivering water. On the first day the landlord looked dubiously at the tank and said it might be OK if I had a shower the following day. I used the water sparingly and it never ran out during my stay. I saw no water delivered to my tank, either, although I did see water being delivered elsewhere in the Chora. In the centre of the village were a number of wells. There were also taps at the edge of the roads. I only used the latter for washing my hands when eating at tavernas, but I saw how the water supply would have been obtained from the streets before alternative arrangements were made to the houses. I enjoyed living in my cottage. When I went back to 'my' cottage a few years later, I saw the goatskins hanging all round the approach to the cottage. It was hard to see why I had found my stay in the little cottage so idyllic. Either the goatskins were not there in 1989, or I had not noticed them.