Beryl Darby in Kritsa, 2016

143725467Beryl Darby author of the excellent Yannis, set in Spinalonga, Crete has published her eighteenth book in her family series. Her personal target of two books a year leaves me in awe.

Over the past few years I’ve been delighted to have Beryl spend a day with me in Kritsa, and each time I’ve tried to show her something new. This year the focus of our day was a drive up above Kritsa to the Katharo Plateau.

As the road rose higher, and the terrain changed dramatically, I explained how the only people to farm and live on Katharo are Kritsa folk. I recounted the legend that explains why…

A Turkish Pasha took a young woman called Alexaina from Kritsa, to join his harem in Constantinople. (Anyone who has read my novel will know history repeated itself!) Out of the Pasha’s many wives she was the only one to bear him a son and overwhelmed with joy he promised Alexaina her hearts desire. Hearing her choice was to return to Kritsa he agreed on the condition she wait until the boy was ten years old, of course her son was not to go with her.  

Rich red colours in evening sun
Rich red colours in evening sun

When the grown boy visited his mother she hung out red carpets in his honor. Alexaina  complained about the constant bickering over the fertile Katharo Plateu between local folk and those down on the Lassithi Plateau.

Called on to settle a  current dispute Alexaina’s son decreed that from that day forward only Kritsa folk had the right to farm on Katharo.

RICOH IMAGINGMeanwhile, back in the current day, we bounced along a rough track past grapevines, apple and pear trees to reach the small church with a bomb as a bell.

Giannis of Katharo


Rural traffic jam

Afterwards we visited the taverna run by local paleontologist, Giannis. Among his locally found collection are the remains of a pygmy hippopotamus.

Heading back to Kritsa we came to an abrupt halt. Faced by a herd on a mission we just had to wait while they passed by.

Now I’ve a year to plan our next day out.








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