Chance meetings in Kardamili, Greece. Burgi Bläuel!

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3rd April
Just 2 days ago I dropped down into Kardamili and was wondering if I would be clever enough to spot ‘Leila’s’ tavern, which is where I had been told I would find the 96 year old house keeper for Sir Patrick Leigh-Fermor. Easy.. but sadly all closed up with optimistic signs of new paint and pots etc. Ok, now to find a room. (this was also very easy too!) Along come 3 interesting and lively ladies of middle years and as usual, one thing leads joyously to another!
José from Holland knows Burgi from Austria who just so happens to be the founder of http://www.mani-sonnenlink, (do check out her fantastic web-site) Greece’s first certified organic Hotel and Holistic centre in the village of Pyrgos. From here she organizes international summer music festivals, when her excellent grand piano gets wheeled out of its specially built, temperature and humidity controlled summer shed onto the beautiful oval outdoor theatre for sunset concerts, high above the bay.
So José emails Burgi who emails me and who then picks me up from opposite the bakery and up up up we go into the hills and make music until midnight to an audience of her resident meditators, writers, etc. She is a very capable violinist and so we played the Schubert that I recently played in Noto and some Mozart that I didn’t play in Noto! Oh, and they are mostly Steiner enthusiasts too. Burgi is pure dynamite and laughingly says ‘we musicians can smell each other’ doing a lovely bloodhound imitation. Her sweet dog settled himself comfortingly between my feet right in the middle of Opus 110 in the tricky fugue…. (Such a lovely contrast to the reaction of dogs on the road, who these days take one look at me looking severe, skid to a halt and then run the opposite way!)
On the wiggly road she pointed out PLF’s home and the home of his closest friends whom she knows, ( of course ) and I should visit them shouldn’t I?
so today I rode over, got the house wrong and asked my way of precisely the right man… the rather reserved friend in question. In answer to my best “Kali mera, milate Anglika?” (good morning, do you speak English) his reply was a most elegant British understatement “A little” which had me laughing all the way down the road!
It was all so easy. I quietly gave myself permission to peep at Sir Patrick’s garden, soaking in the atmosphere and noticing with delight the little details that describe a person in their absence. ( I hoped that he might have been glad to let me see something of him, given that his book ‘Time of Gifts’ has inspired the quality and much of the route of my journey) I then returned to the friend’s house with the intention of asking permission to mention them in my blog.
He was just welcoming 2 attractive looking people and before I knew it I was part of the company, sitting at their table drinking ouzo and discussing the finer points of performances of Beethoven and Schubert by performers such as Richter, Michaelangeli, Barenboeim etc in a most cultured fashion.
All of them gave me their telephone numbers and the freedom to look in any time… and I am so touched once again by this open generosity that seems to flow towards me. I can see that it could be impressive to meet a short middle-aged lady on a bike who has travelled this far, but nevertheless it never fails to touch me!
I am standing in the corridor of my Δοματιο (domatio/rooms) as this is the hot spot for wifi. The sea is buffeting the underside of my balcony, and when I wake up tomorrow I will be looking at the azure waves. It is needless to say, exquisitely beautiful here, with snowcaps high up behind the town and Mani towers and 400 year old churches dotted around all over the place.
The hills have begun to be much less terrifying. I simply attempt less and start much earlier. I am having to wait a few days for an essential piece of bike maintenance… like any piece of precision gear, my hub needs it’s oil changing at 5000k ( or 3107 miles) and it is only about 150 miles to go.
Shame!! I have been seduced. Grin grin!
Photos below include Leila (who, incidentally, was sparkling in the post office) and then Kardamili harbour followed by some of the lovely treasures of the Mani.

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7th April….. to continue. Tomorrow, noon, I will be playing opus 109 and then Beethoven’s monumental Opus 111 for an informally invited audience on Burgi’s beautiful Yamaha grand piano. Last night was the most gorgeous full moon, which sat, pale neopolitan yellow on the mountainside for a brief moment before swinging up into the sky.
Tomorrow is our Easter Sunday. I have long dreamt of playing Beethoven’s last sonata into dawn at this special time in the year, as it so easily can express the spiritual context of Easter, with its apocalyptic first movement and the extraordinary and sublime variations with their total affirmation of the renewal and perfection that lies beyond our perception of the horizon.

To assume to play this sonata fills me with a huge mixture of feelings. At the practical level, it is muscularly a tremendous demand for forearms that have been otherwise exercised and somewhat tightened. At the level of will, it is a huge span of attention and focus to hold the beginning through to the end. Emotionally and spiritually it is a turbulent and rousing journey through the extremes and vast spectrum of human experience. For the ego, it poses all sorts of problems like ‘will it be good enough? Will the audience find it too….. etc. etc’
In other words, not for the faint-hearted!
The actors are arriving for tonight’s events. The heady scent of wisteria and fresia float above the outdoor theatre. There is a soft haze over the sea and the distant headlands, and sonnen-link is a hive of spring activity.
Somehow Burgi just beams and laughs and manages to be in several places at once….. Typically thoughtful, she organised a lift for me so that my hands would be relaxed and there would be extra time for me to practice.

Beethoven tomorrow.

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Photos above… the gorgeous outdoor theatre, the gorgeous Burgi and, well, yes ok, the gorgeous ME!!

8th April.
It has been a fabulous day. A most lovely audience filled the room with their heartful listening. Burgi is getting a reputation for her special audiences. I can see why. Stillness and attention of such quality is a wonderful gift. Thank you, all of you for the possibility of sharing Beethoven’s richness.

Lastly, my bike oil hasn’t arrived so I won’t be moving on just yet!
Happy Easter everyone.

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