It was time to take Lisa the labrador pup to the vet for her check-up. We were down at the port by 6 a.m., but the good ship Diagoras was delayed on its long journey from Athens, and daylight arrived while we waited.
It had been an exciting week, as my book Falling in Honey is now out, and the Daily Express published a fabulous story about my move to Tilos. I was thrilled by the support of friends who helped spread the word online. But it was good to leave the computer behind for the day. I'd be spending an entire day, from dawn til midnight, with the dog. And I thought writing a book was hard work...
Lisa took to her first cruise quite happily - naturally, as she was a star from the moment we went up the escalators; the ship's crew were already blowing kisses at her. Up on the top deck, the only section where dogs are allowed, one of them took photos. We also met plenty of other travellers who asked to stroke her and told us about their own dogs. A little boy from Nisyros asked if he could take her for a walk around the deck.
Once in Rhodes, we went to the vet, who gave her inoculations; we bought a hefty supply of bones and chews at the shop; then it was off to explore. First stop, the old town, full of interesting smells for dogs - not a fast walk, then.
We made it at last to Mandraki where I managed to shop while balancing a wriggling dog in my arms. I didn't think we'd be allowed into the smart cosmetics shop Sephora, but we almost weren't allowed to leave, so many people wanted to get to know her - giggling teenagers, pretty beauticians, the security guy. Stelios called: could I buy some screws so he could finish building the dog's new house? Of course...
I'd planned to walk her on Elli beach, but had forgotten what a long way it was, especially when we had to stop every few minutes to discuss her breed, find out where we got her. Finally, after carrying bags of shopping and an exhausted pup, I sat down on a step on a street corner with her to give her a drink and a rest, and sitting there in my hairy dog-clothes I realised people might start throwing spare change into the dog bowl. I was too tired to care.
I love Rhodes on a sunny day out of season, when you can see snow on the mountains in Turkey. We ventured back through the old town and found this lovely street, which gets packed with tourists in summer, absolutely empty now and bathed in sunshine. Exhausted, I lay down on a bench doing my homeless person act again, with the sun on my face, while Lisa devoured a chew; but soon we had company again.
It was a pleasure to meet so many nice people. I usually have my nose buried in a book. An elegant old lady in black was taking a walk down a cobbled street and chuckled at Lisa.
The ship was due to leave Rhodes for Tilos at 7 p.m., but knowing it's often delayed, I hoped to find a friendly cafe. The Technourgeio Cafe is one of my favourite places for its recycled wood decor, art on the walls and eclectic menu. It just happens to look out towards where the Diagoras docks, so it's the perfect place to wait. I hesitantly carried Lisa in my arms, asking if there was any chance we could come in...
The waitress gave me a welcoming smile and told me she loved dogs, and to sit anywhere. So I got to eat, and Lisa got to sleep for a while... until we met a lovely seven year old girl who laughed when Lisa licked her face, and told me tricks I need to teach her.
It was getting cold so we found a little spot just inside the door at the top of the stairs. Lisa spread herself out right in the middle so that all passers-by would be sure to see her.
We sat for a while with a young chap who'd just lost his job as a mechanic in Rhodes due to lack of business, and was heading up to northern Greece to live with his girlfriend there, grow some vegetables and start a different life. His parents in Kalymnos would be coming down to see the boat when it docked at 4 a.m., just to see him for a few minutes. As he talked, he stroked Lisa to sleep.
And in case you missed it, here's the link to the Daily Express story!