Every once in a while, SG or I will mention the words, with a curious mix of certainty and wistfulness, ‘…when we have our little villa on Santorini’. It is usually when we’re talking about things like vegetable gardens or pet goats (me, largely) and almost always when talking, unabashedly, about an ideal life. Because an ideal life, for both of us as it transpires, would be spent on that island, in a small white villa with cool rooms, a ntomatini plant outside and a couple of pets (Günther the mini pig and a goat. I casually said the other day I could use the goat’s milk to make cheese and SG sort of scoffed. He’ll be sorry when he tastes the feta I shall make.) We don’t know how we’ll get the villa (lottery, I could write the next Huge Thing, SG could be mysteriously left a large amount of money that would stretch to cover our modest Greek abode) but we’ll get it somehow. This little villa has nestled itself into both of our consciences. It’s where we’ll be when we get there. It’s that kind of place.
I miss Santorini, often and a lot. That place is under my skin, in my bones in a way entirely different to my home, Australia and Germany. Our relationship is a different one.
On the days I particularly miss Santorini, even days like these, where the Baltic is as blue as blue and the wind whispering through our attic apartment is perfectly cool, I bring the island – or the Mediterranean, really – into my own home. We cook moussaka or prepare huge mezze plates full of tomatoes and cheese and zucchini and garlic. We cook and make do with the colours, the scent, the flavours of summer nights spent in front of beach-side tables laden with dishes and little jugs of cold, tart white wine.
And we talk about our villa with its vegetable garden and pet goat.