NOTES FROM A GREEK ISLAND

One thing I love most about the Baby Awards is the cute product packaging – all those little elephants, giraffes and balloons and panda nappies. And the sense of wonder, that freedom that babies and toddlers have. All their free time – no rushing to the next appointment or racing to renew a driver’s licence.

The sheer joy of being small, when everything’s new and exciting and your friends share your room, from cuddly koalas to your patched-up Teddy at the foot of the bed, who’s made it through the generations but is still going strong. The spontaneous tears, the unstoppable giggling. ..

Notes from an English Summer

One of my most important jobs was as a summer nanny to two little boys. Their mum, who worked full time and left the house at 5am every morning, said to me one day: “You’ve got a sense of wonder which is quite rare, never lose that.” In hindsight, I think a sense of wonder is one of life’s best assets – it’s a way of staying young.

Luckily for me, that summer was one of Britain’s best…day after day of high pollen counts and blue sky days, with grass up to your ankles and raspberries waiting to be picked.

We did go fruit picking, we, the three musketeers with raspberries spilling out of our baskets (the ones that actually made it into them). We played in the park, laughed till our stomachs hurt, see-sawed till we were dizzy and sang along with our favourite songs on the car radio. While the boys tackled the local park’s climbing frame, I thanked my lucky stars I wasn’t stuck in an office.  I had two of the best, cheeriest, funny little guys as my pals for the whole summer and every day was priceless (and exhausting!)

If something broke and I was struggling to fix it one of them would say “Try again, Fi!!”. When their mum was in New York and the youngest one got sick and I had trouble finding the doctor’s office in a maze of a town with a million roundabouts, the eldest one (five) quietly piped up from the back seat “Keep calm Fi and you’ll find your way.”  I hadn’t said anything about being lost, but he picked up on it. Zen words of wisdom from a five year-old, amazing. “Keep calm and you’ll find your way”, and we did.

 

Notes from a Greek Island

Back in the day, on our summer holidays in Mykonos, it took us  around 20 minutes to get ready (“us” being three twenty-somethings desperate for some sun after too many temp jobs in London).

10 of them were blow drying our hair (and more often than not, at 6.30pm on when the rest of the island was doing its hair… “paff!!”…another electricity cut).

A couple of quick coats in mascara courtesy of a car wing mirror on the way into town on those power-less evenings, it was more about getting out into town for the night than worrying about perfecting our makeup.  Choosing a place for dinner… toes in the water and grilled fish at a tables-on-the-beach taverna, or salad and pizza in a place in town?

photo: Mykonos Blanc 

The scent of the fig trees…those jasmine-filled evenings, horiatiki salads and spanakopitas,  then it was off to the nearest beach club where we danced almost until dawn broke, sitting by lantern-lit pools discussing which guy was (really) the best looking, and the nicest/most interesting or potentially the best husband – or where we’d like to live or what we’d do when we got to 30 and had officially grown up.

I was thinking about yesterday’s Baby Awards. Toddlers teach us so much while they still have so very much to learn. I find it sad seeing so many (young) women obsessed with perfection –  the perfect eyebrows, the perfect weight (what is that?), the perfect blah blah blah. All sources of stress! What a waste of time.

For the hour you’re plastering your face with concealer, foundation, illuminator, etc. etc. you could have been out the door by now and someone, someday, is going to see you without makeup (surely, are they not, and if not, how bizarre? Imprisoned by your own vanity and cosmetics collection).

One thing we know for sure: it doesn’t matter how beautiful you are, beauty is not insurance against divorce or unhappiness. And, lest we forget, striving for perfection goes against the laws of nature. It’s OK not to be. Those “ugly”lemons in the organic store aren’t sobbing in the mirror.

On those Greek holidays, now stored in my head like slightly fading home movies, I’m sure we didn’t waste hours fixing our hair before we headed out to watch the sun set. We definitely weren’t contouring, highlighting, faffing around with lip primers. We were living life to its full, wonderful, in-the-moment brink. Sleep when you die. Bare-faced, with freshly-washed hair and a bit of a tan, we were ready to go and go anywhere.

Every day was a new adventure. We worshipped the sun and the sea and the simple life – Greek yoghurt, watermelon and Nescafe breakfasts in our swimsuits before we flip-flopped our way to another day at the beach. Savouring every day until it was time to go back to school/uni/work and autumn fashion was all over the September mag covers.

Luckily for us there was no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, no Snapchat, no updates.  We didn’t post photos of our Greek salads (???) We shared the Greek scenery/holiday romance pics later, over cups of tea and toast back in drizzly, busy London.

Sunloungers were for lounging in the sun, not texting people from. Bosses didn’t call us – they couldn’t, haha. Bikinis were for optimum tans and shell collecting as well as attracting the scuba diving instructor. And if we had had to deal with every “beach beauty ritual” everyone’s pushing these days, we’d have never got out of the bathroom.

Maybe I’m imagining it, but I could swear we cut ourselves more slack and were less perfection-obsessed back then, and had much more time for play. More fun, more free, less vanity-obsessed. Toddler life lessons at their best.

Last but not least, congratulations to everyone who won a Mama & Baby Award, here’s a moment from yesterday…

 

 

 

 



2 responses to “NOTES FROM A GREEK ISLAND”

  1. Joanna White says:

    This is one of my favourite posts yet from you, Fiona. Exquisitely joyfully written and yet so sadly painfully true. Thank you!

  2. Alexandra Jansons says:

    What a beautiful post and reminder about the most important thing in life – living in and enjoying the moment. Thank you for sharing xx