An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sex and sensuality

Do I want to share this with you? Really? Something so personal? So sensual? Why not? We do, after all, share an awful lot of very personal stuff here in The Lavender Way and that is how we all like it right? Share and share alike. Can you handle sheer sensuality? Let's see! (What a lot of non-normative punctuation we are using today.)

First stop on the journey (both senses) of sensuality cam awaking in our new bed to the sight of sun streaming into the room. Eight of the clock and appointments in Xania for Gill's annual MOT start at midday. There is almost no wind and the day is mercifully dry. Stepping through the front door and lapping up the rays of sunshine radiating down from a cloudless sky. Standing on the south facing winter terrace and soaking up the bone warming heat of those rays - good morning Molly and Bridey! Next up, a delightful, satisfying, first cigarette of the day while making and brewing (cafetierre) a pot of Guatemalan coffee to be drunk hot and black en famille. Open up the blinds to let the heart lifting light in - golden and all-illuminating - picking out motes on the air that stirs at my movements. And then open up the windows to let in the clean sweet air and examine the primulas that are already open in the early sunshine.

Clean out the cellar and then spend time with the girls in their run - cleaning and cuddling up together. Bridey pushed her muzzle into my neck as we smooch on their sun deck. Molly climbs all over me, licking my hair and face. Gill too. And then cleaning out the ashes from last night's stove - the aroma of fully combusted olive wood. The scent of lavender everywhere in the lounge from the bolster Gill made from withered flower heads.

With bowels and bladders emptied we don sunglasses (yes it really is that bright) and it's into a sun warmed car for a short trip down to the national road where we tarry in the sun waiting for the bus into Xania (the X is pronounced much like the "ch" sound in the Scottish word loch). Watching small banks of cloud near and then bypass the sun that hangs over the snow capped mountains - the azure blue sea 50 metres to our left. Our life is not so hard on days like this. And then a chauffeur driven, luxury drive into Xania watching the burgeoning of spring in the fields and gardens as we go. Finally catching sight of Souda Bay cerulean blue as we pass the bend that reveals the ancient site of Aptera. Mentally blanking the idea that there may be nuclear weapons stored in US naval facilities there.

In Xania we drop into a favourite cafe but, finding it too crowded with the sun drawing so many people out of their homes, we simply acknowledge an old friend and make our way down to the agra where we are served good strong coffee frappe by a friendly waitress while we watch crowds gather for a protest march - demanding more money for schools and less for bombs - in the midday sunshine. Speeches, singing, and chanting interspersed only with birdsong and the odd whistle of a traffic policeman. Gill wanders of to her first appointment but I linger awhile finishing up.

And then, for me, it's off to an English bookshop. Behind the minaret this little shop nestles in a narrow shady back street. There are not miles of shelving. It is not an Ottakers or anything like one -it is not a Foyles. But, several shelves of english language books will do for one so deprived of this rare pleasure. Head on one side, I graze for some minutes, savouring, before actually touching one. Saramago filed under detective fiction? I slide the volume from between its shelf partners. Read the puff on the back over, breathe in that rarified scent of paper and print, finger the covers and caress the spine, take in the cover illustration and open it at random. Begin to read a paragraph, a page: good quality prose, intriguing. Riffle back a few pages - perhaps a chapter - and repeat. Riffle forward - and repeat. Delightful. And so it goes on for an hour or more. Finding and sampling the delights of real books, in the flesh as it were. Feeling up the dust jackets, reading the publishing histories, checking out the other titles, dipping into the author and translator biographies. Sniffing deeply of the second-hand volumes and checking for annotations, corrections and dedications. The varied colours of the papers between publishers and the different densities of text. Hours of endless sensuous fun.

So I exhausted his stock and discovered that he is closing at the end of this month (make a note in the diary to check in there for the closing down sale ( Jose Saramago, Tom Robbins and few others on the list). High on the sensations of the bibliophile I wandered next across to my favourite record shop. Not your run of the mill, tedious, modern record shop where those diminutive and boring CDs and DVD nestle cheek by jowl with computer games and vacuous coffee table volumes on cookery and the like, calendars and dodgy prints. No, not at all, this is a proper record store with real records all along one side - 12 inch vinyl - and a lot of it virgin vinyl or heavy vinyl with thick covers and proper liner notes! The owner suggests new stock I might enjoy - he knows my tastes - and plays suitable tracks as I browse aimlessly and without cash. There are gems to be found. I found them - every one of them. The heft, the scent, the almost nostalgic reverence descends and I lose myself.

Some modern media cannot replace and will never supplant my love for the forms in which I first found these treasures. I love DVDs above VHS tapes but books made of paper and board, and records made of vinyl, are among my first loves and lasting attachments.

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