Informing the Campfire Community every day

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Crysse Morrison - 18 Sep 2018
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Frome - as you probably know if you follow this blog - is famous for its independent council: visitors arrive literally from across the planet to interrogate the IiF (Independents for Frome) about how the town became engaged with the concept of local autonomy. Founding father Peter Macfadyen wrote a book about it - Flatpack Democracy - and the reason I'm talking about it now is because I've realised there's a huge connection between Frome and Skyros Holistic Holidays on the Greek island of Skyros. There too, they do things differently.

  

There, as in Frome, there's a commitment to creating a sense of community. Frome has the structure of a town council whereas Atsitsa is a hut-village on the west coast of the island, home to temporary communities. Daytime activities include windsurfing, abseiling, yoga, singing, art, writing - which is why I go there (here's my fantastic morning group) - and impro drama, with evening activities like starry walks, dancing, pub quiz, and on the final night a glorious cabaret. 

It's all a mix of esoteric, creative, and plain wild. Food is terrific, accommodation isn't, and participants - often from high-powered jobs unused to latrine ablutions - come year after year, loving the ethos every time as each group creates its own identity: a precious community in which every individual is cared for and valued. Like Frome, Atsitsa's creates its community identity by attention to diverse individual needs and a lot of meetings. There's morning demos daily for the whole group, then œkos (small group sharing) and paired co-listening to go deeper... and there's interest group meetings which all come together on the last night in a cabaret so glorious you can hardly believe that five days ago these people were still trying to remember each others' names.

To illustrate that lovely Appollinaire quote, here's lovely Lilla who believe-it-or-not had never before danced suspended from a pine tree in a silk sling... 
"Come to the edge," he said.
"We can't, we're afraid!" they responded.
"Come to the edge," he said.
"We can't, We will fall!" they responded.
"Come to the edge," he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

 

But if our happy band sounds more like 1950s Butlins than a Greek idyll, there are in fact many options  to evade cabin-fever. You can walk down the pine road to Cook Nara where there's ambient music and wifi at the taverna and exquisite soft sand, shallow turquoise sea and loungers...and you can walk right across the island to the old town where tiny white houses - to hide from pirates - pile like sugar-lumps behind the massive rock. There you'll find cobbled streets so old and narrow that even the local taxis stop below the Plateia in the centre, music bars & shops staying open till late - that's because they take the longest siesta in the world and only reopen around 7pm - and the long sandy 'town beach'. Near the top of the rock, overlooking the cerulean-and-golden glamour of the bay, is the most amazing museum I've ever visited: the Manos Faltaits Museum has an extraordinary range of treasures and its gentle-voiced curator, who is also called Manos, can tell you fascinating facts about anything that takes your interest because he knows every item.  Here's pictures of our first glimpse of the town from the 9 mile walk, and Manos with some of the art works. (Thanks for the me-pix, Berny)

 

And now I'm home but still waking on the island, my mind finding it hard to grasp there will be no dash to yoga, no lavish breakfast on the trestle tables under the bougainvillea, no morning meetings...  no local wine at 2€ a brimming glass, no singing on the terrace and no more sunsets spilling across the Aegean sea...

But Frome has a way of re-asserting itself, as evidenced by a large sticker on the post at the corner of my road when I arrived :-)

And from another Greek island - Skiathos - a picture of Vicki Burke's holiday reading... (Thanks Mark Brookes!)

I've had really great feedback on Frome Unzipped, and came home to this particularly lovely email from Bob Ashford, ex-Mayor & now Chair of Fair Frome: ...Absolutely brilliant. So much I had forgotten about and so much more I have remembered. Written with warmth, humour and passion and found myself smiling throughout. Genuinely the best account of Frome I have read and does justice to all those over the years who have made this such a great place to live. Good on you!
Makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it...  


Published originally on my blog:

 

1 Comments

823

Michelle Spriddell

Sounds wonderful x

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