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Welcome to San Stefanos (NW Corfu) => San Stefanos news and views => Topic started by: Kernock on April 04, 2011, 01:57:55 PM

Title: Memories of an Octogenarian
Post by: Kernock on April 04, 2011, 01:57:55 PM
At our regular 6 O'clock Club on a Friday night at the Weary Friar we chat about the many things one does over a pint or two.  One member is a long time visitor to SS and in fact introduced me to the village in 1988.  Over the years, as a Notary, he has helped many ex pats in the village on legal matters and is known by many residents and locals, having spent over two years of the past 30 enjoying the life there.  I often mentioned the Forum to him and printed out a few pieces of which he had an interest. 

About a month ago he told me he would write a few lines about his life in SS.  Last Friday at the ‘Club’ we talked among other things about the demise, and possible extinction, of Plymouth Argyle Football Club, (where he was a past Director in the days when Malcolm Allison and Bobby Moncur were Managers)  in addition to saying the final copy for the Forum would be sent to me this week.

Sadly, the following day, on Saturday, Peter had a heart attack and died.  I thought it would be fitting to send this to you as a tribute to someone who really loved the village.  As a senior Elder in our little Cornish village, he will be sorely missed, as he will, I am sure, to his many friends and acquaintances in SS (sorry Peter Agios Stefanos following his gentle rebuke at the end of his piece!).  RIP Peter.

PS.  If any of you who knew Peter and would like further information please e mail me

PPS. I have had to adapt the following from a PDF.  Apologies for any typographical errors and its format!

Peter Skinnards notes

I have read the various recollections of regular visitors to Agios Stefanos and, as one ofthe Iong-term visitors, I thought it right be of interest to add my own recollections.

As some of your readers know, I am a lawyer in the UK and in 1978 my firm was
instructed to form a travel company known as ‘lios Island Holidays', which is still
trading today. This company was created by a lady of Greek background, Nita, and her
husband Eric who was working in television in Plymouth at that time. Having formed the
company, my wife Shelagh and I were invited by Eric and Nita to visit Corfu the
following year, 1979, as guests of their company. I had visited Corfu some years earlier
(when on a cruise) but had no idea of the whereabouts of Agios Stefanos. We duly
accepted the invitation and thus began a love affair with the village and its people,
which has continued to the present time.

On our first visit we were recommended by Eric and Nita to stay at the Hotel Nafsika,
opened, I believe, by George and Theodora in 1978 following their return from America,
What fun it was in those days, with not many tourists, and with few locals speaking
English and few tourists speaking any Greek - but we all got by! People grumble about
the roads today, but in those days the roads to the village were really just Country
tracks. When waiting for friends to arrive, we used to sit drinking in the Nafsika garden,
looking across to the top of the hill where the road comes from Avliotes, waiting to see
a cloud of dust to warn us that a bus or car was on the way to the village!

In those days the village was centred around the old part, with the three tavernas of
Manthos, The Waves and The Golden Beach. What we of that era refer to as ‘Sunset
Strip’ - where the modern development has taken place - did not then exist and the
village virtually ended at the cross-roads (where what we knew as the ‘Bus Stop
Taverna’ - ie George’s - still is).

Along past The Condor and the Thomas Bay Hotel etc, right up the hill past Romanza,
was then all open country.

Over the years we have always stayed ln the old village, at the Nafsika, the Golden
Beach, Manthos' Apartments by the Church (long before Fedra and Christina's) and
then when Michalis Mouzakitis came home from ‘the ships' and built Anatoli apartments,
we began to stay there with him and Katie and have done so ever since.

The old harbour was the only facility for boats and the beach did not have any facilities
whatever - not even deck-chairs. I have several photographs of those days, showing
the undeveloped beach, often with a herd of goats brought down from nearby fields.
Those of us who began to holiday there regularly would in those days form working
parties to clear up areas of the beach from seaweed and other debris.

From 1979 to date, my wife and I have visited every year (except 1983 when our
daughter Bethany was born) and when I was younger, I normally came three times a
year - first for the Greek Easter, then some Weeks in the summer with the family and
friends and then again on my own in October, with the excuse that I was going to help
my Greek friends close up the Island for winter! '

Travel to and from England was not easy in those early days and we frequently had to
travel from our home In Cornwall to Heathrow, then fly from Heathrow to Athens, then
catch the local flight from Athens to Corfu - and the same in reverse. Over the years my
family has followed our lead and my son Nick, my eldest daughter Sally, my grandsons,
my nephew, niece and other relations have all visited and maintained the family
tradition (only last summer we had a family party of seven, plus numerous friends).
Thankfully, we can now fly from Exeter or Bristol.

During our thirty plus years of visits, we have enjoyed many friendships with the locals
and have forged friendships with many ex-pats and other regular visitors who share our
love for the place. In the early days I used to accompany Michalis to visit his parents in
Avliotes. His father was a veteran of hard times in the Second World War and was
considerably older than me. He would ask Michalis ‘when is the old Englishman coming!’
and we would sit happily for hours on his terrace, not speaking a word of each other’s

We have introduced countless friends to the village since 1979 and I did suggest some
years ago that the locals should consider appointing me as ‘Honorary Mayor’ For my
services to local tourism!

May I add a grumble from an old man!  So many people now refer to the village as `San
Stefanos' - this is a modern appellation, introduced by travel companies and other
businesses to ‘freshen the image’ and to distinguish it from the other Agios Stefanos on
the north-east coast. The correct and true name of the village is Agios Stefanos and can
we long-time visitors please discourage the use of the name of ‘San Stefanos’, which is
quite out of place in this lovely old part of Corfu. Your contributor Tony recently
published some photos which he described as being of ‘San Stefanos 1983-96' -
challenge him to produce any evidence of the use of that name in 1983!

Title: Re: Memories of an Octogenarian
Post by: Jules on April 05, 2011, 12:56:23 AM
What a lovey recollection of times gone by in our favourite holiday resort. May he rest in peace having created so many memories for his family as well
Title: Re: Memories of an Octogenarian
Post by: debra on April 05, 2011, 01:37:38 AM
Wonderful memories -would love to hear more - so sad he's no longer here
Title: Re: Memories of an Octogenarian
Post by: Jimbo on April 05, 2011, 03:49:20 PM
That's a lovely account. I totally agree that it should be Agios rather than the Spanish-sounding San.

I wish I'd had the chance to interview him on camera. The story of the evolution of these Greek villages is fascinating. Some get the balance right, some get it disastrously wrong. Think Kavos, Laganas etc. But, of course, we can't expect them to remain picturesque and primitive. Άγιος Στέφανος has, it seems to me, got it just about right by not targeting high-volume teenage drinkers but generally older people who have probably got more money and more brains.

Still - a good age to go. 'stin ygia mas. 
Title: Re: Memories of an Octogenarian
Post by: don on April 06, 2011, 11:27:01 PM
I too would love to hear more of what Agios Stefanos was like both before and as it developed. I really enjoyed reading Mr Skinnards reminiscing. It's a great pity he was unable to share more memories with us.
Title: Re: Memories of an Octogenarian
Post by: cornishmaid18 on April 08, 2011, 02:37:43 AM
How peculiar! - saw The Weary Friar mentioned in the first post and thought of Pillaton - we visit fairly regularly and def prefer the bar to the back room!
Have also just read The Cornish Times from cover to cover and seen the announcement of Peter's death and now, having read Peter's memories of San, sorry, Aghios Stefanos it seems like the world is getting rapidly smaller!
We only discovered the village two years ago (The Nafsika) - we stayed at Theodosia Apts last year and have two trips planned with Noula to Margaritta's this year.
We have a long way to go to catch up!
Title: Re: Memories of an Octogenarian
Post by: tonyco1 on April 08, 2011, 02:52:57 AM
Hi Kernock - (and Cornish Maid)
My Mother was Cornish, born in St Austall in 1915, and called Barbara Mary Pick.

Thanks for posting that wonderful review from the late Peter Skinnard. (RIP Peter, I wish I now had the time to chat with you, alas not to be!).
I must concur with him and agree that the resort is indeed called Agios Stefanos - Avliotes.
It is part of the Village being within the boundaries, and is ruled by the local council there.
This is what differentiated it from Agios Stefanos NE.

However, I believe that Agios means Saint or San as it is now known, and of course I refer to it as such these days for that reason.
Newer visitors would probably not realise that Agios was the correct name, and of course Peter was correct in his thoughts.
I read with great interest as my first trip was in 1983 and we travelled with Greek Connection. The way Peter described it was exactly as we found it in those days.
Dirt tracks - no street lights, we brought out torches each year. We also stayed with Michallis for a number of years as Katie (his wife), was the Greek Connection Rep!!
She did a few demo's of Greek dancing with Stefanos (now runs the Condor), when he was in the golden Beach with his Brother Nikos.
I thought back and discussed with Linda, and we think that we have met Peter many years ago as his name is very familiar and we stayed in the next Apartment
to a couple where the guy was older than me and called Peter, I am pretty sure he may be the same person. Was his wife called Joan??
What a shame anyway - I bow to Peter's memory and wish his Family well, my thoughts are with you.
Title: Re: Memories of an Octogenarian
Post by: Kernock on August 03, 2011, 06:35:24 PM

I just thought that anyone who might have known Peter Skinnard and was not able to make the Gathering last Sunday week would like to have a view of what went on.

Gathering to Remember Peter Skinnard at St Spiritos Church, Agios Stefanos. 24 July 2011

Enter Church:  “RAF March Past”,  Walford Davies.

Peter Willaim Skinnard was born on 5 January 1921 and died on 2 April 2011 aged 80.  On 1 April Peter sat on his stool in the corner of the bar at the Weary Friar, the local Village Pub at Pillaton for the regular 6 o’clock Friday night get together.  He was dressed rather more sombrely than usual for a Friday evening, in a dark pinstripe suit.  He had just attended a funeral ‘next door’ at the Church of another resident in the village and Peter commented that the congregation was probably a record for a village funeral, such was her popularity.  The next morning he travelled with Shelagh and Bethany to Plymouth to his favourite restaurant in Plymouth. It was a lovely spring day, driving along the high banked Cornish lanes full of spring flowers.  After a good lunch he rested back at home, phoned up a handyman in the village to repair some plumbing in the house. Later that evening he, sadly, passed peacefully away.  I think many may believe that is a great way to go, although it is never easy for those left behind. Ten days after Peter commented on the funeral attendance at the Parish church it was exceeded at Peters own funeral with crowds spilling out into the churchyard and in the road beyond.  Such was Peter’s immense popularity through his many walks of life.

Bethany, in her words at Peters funeral, talked about the passion he had for life, and how right she was.  At that 6 o’clock club meeting the evening before he died he spoke with sadness about the news that Plymouth Argyle Football club was in deep financial trouble and possibly going into extinction.  For 20 years Peter was a Director and later Vice Chairman of Argyle, the Green Army, and often said how honoured and privileged he was to be asked to take this position having been a fan of the Pilgrims from a very early age.  He took this job on with passion, which may have included a few wild nights along the way and hours talking tactics with past Manager such as Malcolm Allison and Bobby Moncur, probably over a glass of Champagne, but he did far more than Directors normally do for a club. Not least embracing pastoral care helping players who had earned a small fortune by their standards to save and spend wisely.  What a pity that passion does not lie with the current board of directors when their main interest appears to be their own financial success.

Peters passion for life went right through his career, from his school years at Plymouth College through to service in the RAF where he gained the Sword of Honour for the best student in his year (hence the RAF march on the entry to the church).  And then his period in politics. He served on the County Council and became Saltash’s youngest Mayor at the age of 32.  Besides having a brilliant career in his chosen profession of law, he carried out numerous duties in and around Saltash,. Chairman of the Ferry crossing from Saltash to Plymouth, and senior posts for the Saltash Yatch and Football Clubs and Plymouth theatre among them. 

He was a very good and active sportsman and represented Cornwall at Tennis and regularly played Cricket for Saltash.

Peter loved family life and adored, and was proud of, his three children Nick, Sally and Bethany: although not wanting to side I have a sneaking suspicion that Beth might have just been his favourite, merely because he was considered nearly Grandfather status when she was born and it gave him a new lease of life. The bond between Beth and Peter transcended the age gap and from an outsiders viewpoint they appeared soul mates.

And Shelagh, his wife of nearly 40 years. ( which, I have on good authority  ran consecutively not concurrently with his first wife). Of course there were occasions, as in any marriage, when there may have been a small Cat and Dog ‘contra tom’ but he adored his wife and admired her many talents and the little extract that follows my bit exemplifies the love he had for her. 

And then we have his passion for his faith, which he kept very much to himself and rarely imposed his beliefs on others – apart perhaps from chastising my wife Jan for not attending morning communion on some occasions. He was a Churchwarden for Pillaton for many years and became a lay Canon for the diocese of Truro.  In fact in some ways I wonder if Peter should have been born 100 years earlier.  For 50 years he lived in the Old Rectory at Pillaton and I imagined him as a learned Rector looking after his flock and spending many hours in his study sorting out his sermon for the next service.  He worked hard for the Truro diocese and one Friday, after a mornings work at the office at Callington he drove down to Truro on diocese matters.  He returned to the Weary Friar for his 6 o’clock meeting, a little late, and later collapsed with exhaustion on the pub carpet.  Medics were brought in and a Police lady was leaning over him when he came around. On opening his eyes and seeing this lovely female with pouting lips six inches away from his face his first words were “Lord am I in Heaven”?!

Having lived at Pillaton for 50 years Peter was always assisting the locals.  There are many residents who have spent hours in Peters study discussing their legal matters, perhaps over a glass of malt, and I don’t suppose he charged a good many the usual solicitors rate.  Peter was a self confessed pub man, and it was opportune that the pub was just at the end of the Rectory drive; he loved chatting with the mix of class, creed, sex and age of those around him and embraced their interests.

And now the reason why we are in this lovely church today. ( and we are very grateful for the use of it).  Perhaps above all of his passions in the past 30 odd years was that of Agios Stafanos.  (I emphasise Agios as Peter abhorred the Thompson modernising of  the word to San Stefanos). Peter first set eyes on the village following work he did for Ilios Island Holidays who were setting up a tourism service.  He and Shelagh were invited by the owners, Nita and Eric, to visit Agios Stephanos in 1979 and entered the village down a very dusty, dirty and bumpy road that opened up from Avliotes on to the bay with sheep roaming over the sands.  The Bay he came to love.  They stayed at the newly built Nafsika Hotel and enjoyed frequenting the three Tavernas existing at the time, Golden Beach, Manthos and Waves.  They later stayed at the apartments built by a young man returning from the Navy and with few exceptions since then returned to Anatoli with Michalis and Katie. He did miss out on 1983 when he thought he had better be at home for the birth of Bethany.  Peter reckoned that he had totalled over two of his last 30 years in the village and in that time introduced a lot of friends and relatives to the village.  In fact he commented that he ought to have been given the status of Honorary Mayor for services to tourism!

 In the time here he had become friends of many locals and ex pats in and around the locality.  On many occasions Peter would come over by himself, sometimes twice a year.  At this point I need a bit of help filling in the details!  Ostensibly Peter came over to study the Greek Orthodox church and indeed he was interested in this and loved Easters over here.  However – rumour has it that there was more to his stays over here than he let on back home.  The story goes that it was a time when he might enjoy an appetitive of Ouzo, followed by a glass of Retsina and a Metaxa ( 3 star) to end the meal before tucking himself up in bed by 11 o’clock with a good book!  Perhaps I will be enlightened in the next hour when you are all welcome for a drink to Peter at the Kamini Bar! 

However, I know, as a Notary Public, he helped many of his friends sort out legal matters between the UK and Greece. He felt at home chatting to locals, such as Michalis’ Dad, who didn’t speak a word of English and Peter hardly speaking fluent Greek. But they just understood one another.  It is an example of his interest in life and people.  To his dying day he would ask about life in Agios Stafanos and often phoned people such as Manthos, Julie, Shirley and Carolyn when she was with us, to hear how things were going.  He loved hearing news about the village and regretted in his later years he was unable to visit quite as often as he would have liked. He was fond of local music and especially the impromptu musical evenings at Manthos Taverna.  Peter liked Nana Mouskouri and the song that follows is not traditional Greek as some would wish, but the sentiment is there.

Peter Skinnard will be missed by so many for a host of different reasons.  In Agios Stefanos he will be remembered as a kind gentleman in the true sense of the word and will be missed as much here as he will back in Cornwall.  God Bless and RIP Peter.

Song: Nana Mouskouri  “Amazing Grace”

 Life in the Woods

Bethany:  This extract from Bambi “A life in the Woods” by Felix Saltan–, was selected by Dad as a duologue with Mum.  In Dad’s original draft he made notes on how it should be performed.  Sadly that performance was never given but the words of Dad are said by Dick

Narrator:  The leaves were falling from the great oak at the meadows edge.  They were falling from all the trees.  One branch of the oak reached high above the others and stretched far out over the meadow.  Two leaves clung to its very tip.

Peter:It isn’t the way it used to be.

Shelagh: No.  So many of us have fallen off tonight we’re almost the only ones left on our branch.

P: You never know who’s going next. Even when it was warm and the sun shone, a storm or cloudburst would sometimes come, and many leaves were torn off, though they were still young.  You never know who’s going to be next.

S: The sun seldom shines now – and when it does it gives no warmth .

P: Can it be true – can it really be true, that others come to take our places when we’re gone and after them still others, and more and more?

S: It is really true.  We can’t even begin to imagine it, it’s beyond our powers.

P: It makes me very sad.  ………………..  Why must we fall?....

S: What happens to us when we have fallen?

P: We sink down…

S: What is under us?

P: I don’t know, some say one thing , some another, but nobody knows.

S: Do we feel anything, do we know anything about ourselves when we’re down there?

P:  Who knows?  Not one of all those down there has ever come back to tell us about it.

There is a pause

Don’t worry so much about it; you’re trembling.

S: That’s nothing.  I tremble at the least thing now.  I don’t feel so sure of my hold as I used to.

P: Let’s not talk any more about such things.

S: No, we’ll let be.  But what else shall we talk about?

Another pause

S: Which of us will go first?

P: There’s still plenty of time to worry about that.  Let’s remember how beautiful it was, how wonderful when the sun came out and shone so warmly that we thought we’d burst with life.  Do you remember?  And the morning dew and the mild and splendid nights…………………

S: Now the nights are dreadful; and there’s no end to them.

P: We shouldn’t complain.  We’ve out-lived many, many others.

S: Have I changed much?

P: Not in the least.  You only think so because I’ve got to be so yellow and ugly.  But it’s different in your case.

S: You’re humouring  me

P: No really; believe me, you’re as lovely as the day you were born.  Here and there a little yellow spot but its hardly noticeable and only makes you more beautiful, believe me.

S: Thanks, I don’t believe you, not altogether, but I thank you because you’re so kind, you’ve always been so kind to me.  I’m just beginning to understand how kind you are.

P:  Hush

Narrator:  She kept silent, for she was too troubled to talk any more.  Then they were both silent.  Hours passed………………

Music:  Blondie.  “Heart of Glass”

Poem: The Island, By Shelagh Skinnard circa 1995.  Read by Shelagh               

One day we will not go there any more
And run along the soft sea shore
Never to hear the cicadas plaintive sound
Pounding our senses in a ceaseless round
Parading our bodies
To the relentless sun
Kidding ourselves twill keep us young

Retsina the potent sensual swill
Listen to the classics
And take your fill
Never to see the whitewashed church
Nesting on the hill
Do the pink flowers surround it still

One day the time will come
And we shall not be returning
But every Summer we will remember how it was
And be filled with an aching yearning

Leave church to Elgars. “Enigma Variations”