When I was ten years old, my family and I moved from beautiful, sunny Glyfada on the coast near Athens to less sunny, (but also beautiful in its own way) Ascot, in Berkshire. It was the eighties, the internet didn’t exist (not in our homes anyway), so it was literally like moving to a different world for me. I had been to Berkshire once before, for a couple of weeks’ holiday. And I already did speak a fair bit of English- I could understand and be understood quite well. But there is no doubt about the fact that it was a huge change. From the environment being greener with more spaced out housing, to the people being completely different, and the weather being cloudy and wet. From a one floor apartment on the second floor to a detached house with stairs!
It seems I had the writing bug even at that young age. Thanks to my beautiful cousin Emy, I have in my possession a box of letters I wrote to my grandma during that time. Emy found them at my grandma’s house after she passed away, and sent them to me.
Here is part of the first letter I wrote:
Giagia (grandma) hello!!!
How are you? How is pappou ( grandpa)? Are you going out at all? I hope all is well. We are so and so. Our house is, of course very nice, warm, and small- just what we need. But there are the problems. However they are small and it’s not worth ruining our mood about such things. So I will tell you the joyful things first. It’s very nice here as there is a lot of green everywhere. Our little house is in an area which, as mum will have told you is called Ascot (spelled ‘Assckot’)……. Now I will tell you about the house: it has a living room and a kitchen and a dining room….. there is a guest room or study where grandma Katerina sleeps at the moment. Our house has stairs and the rest of the bedrooms are upstairs. That, as you’ll remember, was my biggest dream: it’s fantastic! Only it doesn’t have a real fire place, only a decorative one. I didn’t like that very much, but what can we do.
My room, when we came in for the first time was awful: the bed was messy, it didn’t have sheets, the room had a horrid bed side table and generally had a freaky look. When I first came in I lost all hope. But then I thought that if I take the ugly things out and put in my own beautiful things, then my room will be a doll. And so it was……. We may buy a desk for my room because at the moment I don’t have a place to write. Right now I’m writing from grandma’s room, as she has a table..
Please don’t worry and don’t be sad. It is nice here, and we will be nice to mama…
My biggest problem is Harry. He annoys me all the time. Right now he won’t let me write. Oh now thankfully he’s gone. Ok so I hope you’re well…. you must enjoy yourselves and go to the cinema with your friend Mr Svolopoulos. And most of all don’t worry. Be well…..
Pappou I hope you got my Candy magazine. Thank you. I love you very much and I kiss you,
Below the writing there is a sticker of the Greek flag, underneath written “the most beautiful country”. On the other side of the paper, a drawing of our house.
I laughed so much when I read this letter recently. And I remembered what it was like to be that little girl, leaving her home and moving somewhere new. Missing Greece, but also embracing all that was new in England. Such a lot to take in. Such a lot to adjust. Such a lot of change.
I think this move made me who I am today.
I hope you were amused by the letter. If you can read in Greek, here is the full thing: