One of most famous English language books about life in Corfu is a book called My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, a memoir of life on the island between 1935-39. It regales reader about antics of his eccentric British family when they moved to Corfu, led by Gerald’s elder brother Lawrence Durrell. How about sailing across Ionian from our base in Lefkada to visit the locations of this very funny yet heart warming British classic?
Over four years between 1935-39, Durrell’s family stayed in four villas, three of which have grounds right on the coast. 10 year old Durrell would potter about on his boat, named Bootle Bumtrinket by his elder brother, and explore coast. Such voyages would heighten his curiosity about natural world, and when he grew up he would become one of the UK’s leading naturalists.
Book would make Corfu a major destination for holidaying British public, and help drag the island into modern age as a place to relax. Where tourism has largely made finding a bit of peace and quiet an effort on the island in itself, there are some great places far from beaten track that are worth a visit. Durrells’ homes are just three of them.
About 4km south of Corfu Town on road between Perama and Benitses is the first home of Durrells. Here they began their exploration of the island and became besotted with people and wildlife of the island. Young Gerald also met local man who would help him focus his mind on what he wanted to do for a living – Dr Theodore Stephanides, who explained to the child what he saw around him, and helped him gain his passion for natural world.
When the family of five, assorted boyfriends, girlfriends, their dog Roger and a number of other pets found Agazini villa too small, they moved up the road to the Villa Anemmoyani at Sotiriostissa, which again is about 4km from Corfu Town. This has its own private jetty and was where Gerald would build and then launch his boat Bootle Bumtrinket, and explore the coast with his dog Roger to his heart’s content.
Here there was a little bit of a family schism, possibly caused by a prank by Gerald on his brother Lawrence involving scorpions and medicinal leeches! Lawrence would move to other side of the island to get away from his crazy family – term crazy being only a relative term, since Lawrence was no paragon of sanity himself…
Where the third home that Gerald, his mother and remaining siblings would live in has been demolished, Lawrence Durrell’s villa at Kalami is now a taverna with a very good reputation locally. You can moor very close to ‘White House’, as Durrells knew it, as it lies right on water. Larry, fed up of living with his maternal family, would enjoy 18 blissful months here with his wife before the whole tribe headed back to the UK at dawn of World War 2.
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