about Agios Georgios north, Corfu

Agios Georgios

"Yeorgios"

I came across Yeorgios several years ago during one of my early morning jogs, (that was the way I worked out the walks for this site). Going along the quiet bottom valley road I was just entering a bend in the road when I disturbed 2 huge guard dogs from their dozy slumbers outside a tumbledown farm building on my right. Luckily I was running so was past the narrowest part of the road before I realised how big and vicious they were ... and also discovered how fast I could run !! Looking back at them, when I realised they were not following, I could just make out they were chained to a tree around which they hurled themselves in fury towards the stranger who had dared to walk past.

The following autumn I went that way again hoping that the dogs were not there. This time I approached by walking quietly but just before I reached the corner they once more exploded into life. But was I going to risk it this time? Due to the bushes I could not be sure how far their chains would reach so hesitated for a while. I could definitely see the dogs, like huge wolf-like alsations with great furry manes leaping and straining at their chains, and could also see the weak fence was useless if those chains broke !
The commotion brought the farmer out of the building. I waved and smiled at him and he shouted at the dogs to quieten them. I shouted " efharisto" (thank you) to him and walked quickly past.

That was my first meeting with Yeorgios.

The next year once again I was jogging along that road when the dogs heard me coming and exploded into action. A face peered out from the old building to see what was causing them to react like this so I waved. The face lit up when Yeorgio recognised the idiot who ran around the Agios Georgios roads in the early mornings. I called on my few Greek words to say "good morning" (kalimera) and ask him if he was well, which he politely answered "yes" (nei). Then I ran on.

For several years I continued my morning runs with camera in hand to record routes for my walks and would stop at Yeorgio's place for a chat (sort of). Yeorgos didn't speak a word of English and only had a few teeth so a conversation between the two of us was difficult. He tried to tell me how easy it was to learn Greek. I tried to tell him I had been to Greek lessons for 2 years and had tried hard to learn it. He said I must buy a Greek book and write down a word. Then he wrote some words in the dust on the bonnet of his old car and made me repeat them after him !!! He told me his son was a doctor in Athens.

I took Yeorgio's address and sent him Christmas cards for a couple of years.

One year when I passed he was not at home but I saw his car outside a neigbours tiny cottage. Yeorgos was sitting at a table under a tree with his two elderly neighbours. I shouted "kalimera" (good morning). He recognised me and called me in for a Greek coffee and some bread with my 2 new friends.

He asked me how long I was staying in Corfu and I said until Friday. He said he wanted to see me before I went home so the morning we were due to leave I made sure I was up early enough to jog the 3km to his place along the valley road. We had a chat and he disappeared into the building only to re-appear with a plastic bag with about 10 fresh eggs from his hens. "They are for your breakfast when you get home" (in Greek of course). Naturally I couldn't refuse such a kind gesture but hadn't the time to walk back to the hotel or I would have trouble being ready for the airport bus. So I had to jog ... very carefully holding the bag of eggs ;... for 3 kms ! They were kindly accepted by the hotel owner.

During this time I had made contact with a Greek man named Stathis who lived in Glasgow but originally was from the nearby village of Aspiotades where his father and Yeorgios lived. Amazingly Stathis told me he had worked for Yeorgios on his farm when he was a teenager.

Some time after New Year, Stathis emailed me to say his father had told him that Yeorgios was ill and in hospital. Soon after that another sad email stated that Yeorgios had died.

A couple of months later we were back at Agios Georgios for our favourite May holiday. My wife and I walked along the valley road and past the old buildings. The land was overgrown and the building doors were blowing in the breeze. I felt really sad. No sign of the dogs. We wondered what had happened to them.


Deserted buildings

Later in the week some walkers told me they had seen the body of a large wolf-like dog lying in the stream not far from the buildings. It had been shot !

Several years later, in 2013, we walked past again and saw the sad old sheds, now in ruins with loose iron sheets flapping in the breeze. Bushes and long weeds had grown up to disguise even the existence of Yiorgo's little piece of Corfu landscape, now just a memory !