How it all began
Silver Island has always held a very special place in my heart. As a young girl, our family would spend long wonderful summers on the island. Thinking back, my memories are ones of absolute freedom, the engulfing sound of thousands of united cicadas, the silky feel of the turquoise sea with the golden sun on my skin, the feeling of never wanting to leave and the tears that fell when we got on the boat and waved good bye.
Jetting off to London from Cape Town to experience the world at 18, with big eyes and a spirit that wanted to experience it all, I always found a way to have precious time on the place I loved, Silver Island.
What would we use the island for?
It was a common conversation around the table, with my friends who joined me over the years. What could we do with the island? “We could have a health spa, we could rent it out to the rich and famous, we could have a naked commune, we could import big cats on the island and have survival games” And my personal favourite “ a skate boarding park!” The one that always stuck with us was a yoga retreat. That conversation happened 15 years ago.
My sister Claire and I set off on a great adventure in October 2010, travelling from Cairo to Cape Town, using only public transport, through 12 amazing countries in six months. This incredible journey created a shift in me. I didn't know it then, but I met my now wonderful husband in Malawi! On my return from this incredible trip back to london, I started to evaluate my life here...18 years of brilliant London life, friends who will be part of my life forever, I really found it difficult to see a future in the big smoke… I knew it was time for a change, but I had no idea what, I was stuck.
Time for a change and a new adventure
October 2011, I had gone to the island to do some much needed thinking. The sun was slowly rising over the island and it struck me so suddenly. I was looking out to sea, with my feet grounded to my heritage, this is the place where I had my first birthday, where beautiful memories were made, where my sisters and I scattered our beloved fathers ashes...I knew I had to come home. I was so excited about the idea of sharing our extraordina
ry little place on this earth.
First thing I did on my return was call my sister Claire. Having shared my plan to turn Silver Island into Silver Island Yoga. To my relief and joy, Claire was in! The person who has made this dream the reality it is today. Donna, our eldest sister is the creative heart behind all our design detail. It’s amazing how our individual personalities as sisters all compliment each other.
Renovation, refurbishment and upcycling
On arrival at the island, we were faced with what seemed like an overwhelming amount of renovation and refurbishment. From the 70’s blue bathrooms, to crumbling and cracked walls, rotting wood and to the chickens, which had made their home on and in almost everything! Most importantly Claire and I were not quite sure how we were going to afford all this work, and labour, what with Claire being a nurse, Donna, soon-to-be Mother and me, an art teacher & festival worker!
First thing to do I thought, was to call on my incredible friends… a working holiday! Having worked in festivals for 8 years, I was very fortunate enough to have a hugely talented, strong and willing group of friends.
During April 2012, 24 of these friends came out to help renovate the island. It was one of the greatest months of my life. To see the island slowly transform day by day, hear laughter and to see life returning back into the island, was just wonderful. It was during this time that my love for simple & honest cooking for a multitude of mouths, was realised. It was also a chance for me to get to know the local community and the Greek way of life, even with being half Greek, there was a lot to learn!
The renovations were well underway and after 5 months of incredible support and dedications we had renovated 6 bathrooms, scraped, filled and painted 3 houses, replaced doors and windows and build a yoga platform! During the renovations we always tried to remain true to the island, bringing her back to her former glory. While doing so we met the new generation of Greeks whose grandparents and parents shared a long standing history with our family and the island. We bought all our linen and bedding from the granddaughter of the man who used to buy all the wool from our sheep and the person who helped us put our yoga platform cover in place used to visit the island as a child and has many stories to tell involving Silver Island. This place has been just as much a part of their lives over the years as it has ours. To celebrate and thank everyone for their support in the completion of the refurbishment we held a thank you lunch, a day beautifully summed up by Evi our friend and linen supplier...
I would really like to thank you for having us over yesterday! Everything was amazing! You all were so kind and hospitable and I think you are all the perfect people in the perfect place! But I guess the real thank you is because while we were there, I felt all those things we forget in our everyday lives. The calmness and the silence and the simplicity of the sea, of the nature and pure white everywhere...a small story behind everything old and the way you respected it making it new! Reminded me why we should be thankful and proud for our roots. These days Greece is falling apart economically, ethically, socially, politically and you gave me the chance to feel the authentic Greek spirit again! You've done a fantastic job in Argironisos! Simple and natural things are the most beautiful. I might sound exaggerating but leaving the island left me so peaceful inside after a very long time! You've done this place magical! Thank you again
Lessons learned with deep gratitude
The things we have learnt from months of renovating in Greece, is that there is no need to stress, all will get done in the end! It certainly does not always feel that way, but it does all get done! We are so grateful to have such incredible friends and family, without whose help we’d not have been able to realise this dream. We have also got to know and become part of a wonderful new community. They have welcomed us with open arms and have treated us like an old friend, where nothing is a problem, and they go out of their way to help. And when you offer them thanks they reply ‘Tipota’, ‘Its nothing’.
With many thanks to: James, Laura, Pamela, Aisha, Jo, Harriet, Anna, Jules, Mish, Tom, Finn, Lennie, Gaz, Marianne, John, Bobby, Al, Nick, Caroline, Robert, Lucie, Suzanne, Charlie, Gemma, Tom, Lizzie, Gareth, Kat, Rebecca, Helen, Clare, Doogie, Leon and Carmille, Carmen, Maria, Niamh and to our new Greek friends and family.