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Eating breakfast on the balcony, whilst looking at the majestic White Mountains, always sent my mind racing away with thoughts of the Greek Gods. Alas, at this time of year the snow has almost disappeared, yet the underground rivers would be bringing their bitterly cold water tumbling down the many rivers and streams. On reaching the sea, old inlets would be remade, the fast flowing water eroding the banks before making new channels.

My brain was wandering. I pictured myself as a young god riding a huge fish into the waters of Poseidon.

“Fancy a swim then love? With no wind, the sea should be nice and calm.”

My dream shattered in an instant as my wife’s words swiftly brought me back to reality.

“Why not?” I quickly replied.

Twenty minutes later we had packed everything in the car and readied ourselves for the ten minute journey to Kalyves beach. But, as usual on Crete, the weather could change quickly and the wind had already decided to come out and play.

By the time we reached the long stretch of sand my wife spotted a faded red flag hanging limply from the lifeguard’s tower. I’d seen old rags in better condition but why was it flying at all. Out in Souda Bay, I could see one or two white horses but not a herd anywhere. And at the farthest end of the beach, adjacent to the harbour wall, the waters looked like a tablecloth with just a few creases to spoil the neatness.

“I’m not swimming. The red flag is showing,” my wife said with both hands on her hips.

“But the lifeguard hasn’t arrived yet. I bet that old cloth has been left up from yesterday when the wind was blowing the sand everywhere.”

“Look, Rick, you want to go for a swim? Fine! But I’m not, it’s too dangerous.”

“You wanted a swim and you know you can swim out a hundred meters and still be in your depth, so what’s the problem, love?”

“I’m not going in.”

Stubborn she was, so I threw a last look over my shoulder and walked to the edge of the tidal mark. Only one person was paddling in the shallows farther along the beach.

I grinned and didn’t hesitate. Adjusting my goggles, I dove into the clear waters of the massive bay and saw the first of many silver flashes. Images of large schools of fish surged into my mind but those days were long gone for overfishing with tiny mesh nets had seen to that. But as I swam, I felt free, for all the sea was mine. Dreams like that came easily when the way forward looked so inviting, so perfect to swim and to enjoy perfect relaxation.

Within minutes, I realised that the short tidal range in the bay must be at its lowest for my hands was hitting the sandy bottom. I had to change to breaststroke and head out into slightly deeper water. The sea threw the odd wave at me especially as I swam towards the middle of the curved bay, but all in all, I relaxed and enjoyed myself. I viewed others in the shallows but no one else swimming. I wanted to shout out to the tourists, to tell them that it was safe and that I could easily stand up with the water at my chest height.

But then I paused in mid-stroke.

This was heaven. And the bay was mine and mine alone. I owned it body and soul. Feeling like a true god of old I swam on my front and relaxed on my back, letting the gentle waters soothe me almost into slumber. Relaxation on any holiday was a precious commodity but this was so much more than that. My brain slowed in time with my breathing. I let the current take me along knowing that the waves would wash me into the shallows and thus the spell would eventually be broken.

But I wasn’t ready to see my bubble of contentment disappear.

No way. I was happy to let the tide take me until I could once more see the soft ceases in the sand below me. Eventually, I stood up, the waves barely touching my knees. Looking back at the shimmering shadows on the sands beneath me, I hoped that others would feel the same as me, at least for one that one perfect moment in time.

My wife walked to the edge of the surf. “Did you enjoy that love?”

I nodded. “It’s really safe. Why don’t you come in?”

I held out my hand and my reluctant wife followed me into the water. She glanced at the warning red banner flying limply in the gentle breeze, took a few hesitant steps and saw my smile. Within minutes she was enjoying every moment of nature’s finest waters of life.

I kept to my word, for I had promised her that I would stay nearby, to ease away any fears she had, even though I knew they would be groundless.

“This is wonderful, hubby. Thanks for persuading me. I’ve never had my own personal sea chaperone before,” she gave me that wondrous smile, the one she gave me when we first met, and my heart soared with love.

Looking at all the other bathers now entering the water, I had to grin, hoping they weren’t expecting the same service.

My wife pointed.

The lifeguard had arrived and at last, the faded red had been replaced with … nothing.

He was too engrossed in drinking his hot chocolate whilst chatting up a bikini-clad girl.

All we could do was laugh, and on such a wonderful day, that was more than enough.


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