Sir Patrick Leigh Fermour
Travel writer, traveller, scholar and greek hero. At age 18, in 1930s he walked from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul. During the war he helped the greek resistance in Crete and daringly captured a german general and abducted him to Egypt.
In the 1960s Paddy and his wife Joan built a hideaway in the southern Peloponese in Greece where he lived till his death in 2011. He wanted the house to become a retreat for artists, writers, and scholars. The Benaki Museum and the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Foundation are restoring the buildings and Aria Hotels will provide the services.
There are three stone buildings surrounded by gardens of olive and cypress trees. The perfect place to 'create' during the day and spend evenings discussing and arguing with other artistes over glasses of local Manian wine.
His book 'A Time of Gifts' is an enchanting tale of his travels through Europe as far as Hungary. The second volume in the series is 'Between the Woods and the Water' appeared in 1986 and the third volume taking him close to the Turkish border 'The Broken Road' was published after his death.
My mother read all his books, especially those on Greece, 'Mani' and 'Roumeli' and often wondered if he would finish the trilogy of his walk through Europe before her death. Alas she died before he did and so never read the last volume. I did however, many years ago, write a letter to him asking on her behalf when the book would be published. He replied, not mentioning the book, but telling me about his stay near the watermill opposite Poros with his Roumanian lover Balasha Cantacuzene. I sent the letter to my mother who of course was thrilled. I wish now I had made a copy of it, though it probably still exists somewhere amongst her papers.
Painting by John Craxton
An exhibition is being held at the British Museum from March to July this year focusing on the friendships of greek painter Nikos Ghikas, english artist John Craxton and Fermor. The exhibition is titled 'Charmed Lives in Greece' and records their love of greece and their lives on the island of Hydra, Corfu, Crete and at Fermors villa at Kardamyli.