INTO THE IRANIAN DESERT – SWIMMING IN THE DESERT! 1976

THURSDAY 11TH NOVEMEBER, 1976

“In the daylight we could see quite dramatic cliffs behind us and a little village close to tents.  The usual crowd of spectators gathered (some on bicycles) to watch the morning ritual.

First stop was at a fabulous swimming pool, made from a fresh spring – beautifully blue and clear with trees round it.  Six of us decided to brave the cold water – me, Nikki, Chris, Mark, Rob and Diane.  Cold at first, but stayed in quite a bit because so refreshing.  Then sat around in the sun.  Talked about Rose Street [in Edinburgh, famous for its pubs]  Diane had worked for 6 months at the Tankard Lounge (Paddie’s Bar).
Next stop was in a little town – kids swarmed around bus – could hardly get away.  Mary [a very independent New Zealander] got left behind!  Apparently there’s always hassle there.  Had sandwiches (butties) outside town.
Saw Qanats

-outer signs of underground irrigation systems –
mounds of earth with deep shaft in the middle.

[Iranians have been digging these ingenious water tunnels for over 2000 years and this traditional method of water supply is still very important in these desert regions.  They also feature in my novel  THE VANISHING OF RUTH]

Scenery becoming more and more barren and dry.  Tried to shop in Neyriz but couldn’t even find any bread – must close down for siesta time.

Climbed up terrible mountain road, bit like Suardal [family home on Isle of Skye – see my memoir BEATLES & CHIEFS for tales of a 60s childhood] track in places  (except the hairpin bend variety!)
Great view over a lake; mountains spectacular too – sheer rock faces and jagged peaks.  On other side, road riddled with channels and some under pools of water.  Got stuck in one channel!  Back of bus wedged into bank – all got out and pushed.

Came across group of people sitting by side of the road – women swathed in black – obviously a bus stop!

Camped on rocky ground again – inside of tent like a series of mole hills – so many bushes under tent!”

THASSOS ISLAND – cakes, surf and dishy Greeks all to ourselves, 1976

Thassos Island and Keramoti on the Greek mainland were to be the inspiration for a disturbing incident in my novel THE VANISHING OF RUTH

http://www.amazon.com/THE-VANISHING-RUTH-enthralling-ebook/dp/B0041KL6NA/ref=sr_1_13?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350512603&sr=1-13&keywords=Janet+MacLeod+Trotter

Ferry to Thassos Island

FRIDAY 15TH OCTOBER, 1976

Boat building

“Got the ferry across to Thassos Island – half hour trip (calmer than Skye crossing).  Fairly cloudly over island.  Landed at small town.  Wandered around streets with Neva and Sally – headed straight for cake shop.  Worked our way through apples, bicuits, pastries too!

Various ruins in town – bits of pillar lying around.  Walked out along front, began to clear.  Saw men sorting their fishing nets and further along there was a timber yard with 3 boats being made – just the skeletons so far.  Lovely smell of freshly treated wood.  Also passed a shed with boy scout emblems on the walls – they get everywhere!  (Boy scouts not walls).

Nosed round small crafty shops, selling clothes, pottery, belts, jewellery etc.  Walked along past ferry landing, sat by the sea.  Met 2 English blokes who had been on Island for 2 or 3 weeks – we were quite an event as most tourists had left by now.  The really fat one said there were no jellies today – I nearly split myself when I saw his flabby belly – a bit incongruous!  They directed us in the direction (good English) of a nearby beach; so we stocked up on more food (a real piggy day!) – bread, toast, honey, cheese, yoghurt – Neva had another cake!

Neva and Sally on Thassos Island

We walked out of the village, up a lovely wooded hill road – great forests covering all the mountains.  Lovely leafy, sunny walk, very quiet and deserted.  Came down to a group of chalets, passed various open air dance floors and bars – everything closed down, so didn’t have to pay, but made our way down to the private beach.  Fantastic breakers, so dashed straight in, whole beach to ourselves (only 1 little man in the distance).  Picturesque island just off the headland – Neva said looked like the Whitsun Islands.  Ate picnic and I snoozed in the sun.

Walking back, a taxi suddenly appeared and a man offered to take us in to the harbour – so got a free lift and reached the ferry in good time.  Met us with Bill and Shirley, Adrian, Chris and Hans.

Coming into Keramoti again – looked like South American swampy village, very flat.  Sally and I wandered around Keramoti – lots of hens and rather shabby plots, though houses were quite gayly painted.

Lovely sunset early evening – played with a football with a little local boy and Adrian – ball kept going into the flooded areas – my white trousers got an even worse coating of grime!

Keramoti beach bar

Most people had a meal out at the nearby bar – took ages to come.  I had 3 small fishes, tomato salad, chips and bread – washed down with plenty Domestica!  Bar filled up with Greeks – eventually we were all dancing.  I went and sat with some Greeks – 2 really dishy.  The Thessalonican medical student was a bit persistent, suggested a swim – eventually escaped saying my husband was waiting for me!  Hid in the bus.  Felt a bit down again – Mark cheered me up.
New girl finally caught up with bus – Mary (New Zealand).”