My Darling Eileen
Thoughts of that canvas of you sitting on the beach in Pelion, which is now on display in our bedroom, brought back special memories of that holiday on mainland Greece.
It was late June 2003. Prior to going holiday, we had been closely involved in the early stages of helping Charlotte plan her wedding to Ivan the following February.
Wedding dress, venue, menus, table layouts, invitations etc were all in the process of being sorted.
There was one challenge, however, that hadn't been solved.
It was the small matter of Charlotte's choice of place setting for each guest. She had the interesting idea of using small stones with the a guest's name written on each stone.
We agreed it was a wonderful idea. But, it begged the question that, if it was going to work, the stones had to be roughly the same shape, size and colour.
Every spare weekend we had was spent trailing round garden centres and gift shops. Week after week and we were still no nearer to finding the right type of stone.
Until we got to Pelion.
The more we explored the area near the villa, the more we found beaches and small coves littered with stones and pebbles.
Every day we went to the beach the prospecting for stones started.
And when we returned to the villa each evening, our cool bag was laden with more stones.
Leaving the beach was frequently far from straightforward.
When the tide was out we could wade round these rock that lay between us and the carpark. When the tide was really in it mean a climb over a very rickety bridge. Challenging at the best of times but scarily precarious when lugging a coolbag loaded down with stones.
Back at the villa, we would screen the day's haul over a glass of wine, setting aside the ones that passed inspection. The rejects went back in the cool bag to be returned to the beach the following day.
By the middle of the second week we reckoned we had the 150 or so stones we needed and could relax.
Relax, that is, until we remembered the one remaining challenge - getting two serious overweight suitcases through check-in.
We need not have worried. It was a tiny airport and the check-in area could only handle one passenger at a time.
I lifted the two hernia-inducing suitcases onto the scales trying to look as casual I could. Were we in danger of being arrested? Our stones may not have been the Elgin Marbles exactly but it felt as if we had half of Pelion in our luggage.
The check-in girl looked at our tickets, stamped them, smiled and, to our considerable relief, waved us through.
Back home, over the following months the stones were cleaned, polished and then the name of a guest was added to each one.
That was six years ago. I don't know how many guests kept their stones as momentos.
We certainly kept yours and mine. And I still have them.
Precious memories of a very special day - and a holiday with a difference.