Lucy, September 2018


Summer 1973 an I was 18 years old.























I remember Tom Paxton songs being sung on the beach.

He wrote many Vietnam themed sings.

One was "I Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound":


It's a long and dusty road, it's a hot and a heavy load

And the folks I meet ain't always kind

Some are bad and some are good

Some have done the best they could

Some have tried to ease my troubled mind


And I can't help but wonder

Where I'm bound, where I'm bound

Can't help but wonder where I'm bound


I've been wanderin' through this land just doin' the best I can

Tryin' to find what I was meant to do

And the people that I see look as worried as can be

And it looks like they are wonderin' too


And I can't help but wonder

Where I'm bound, where I'm bound

Can't help but wonder where I'm bound


Well, I had a little girl one time, she had lips like sherry wine

And she loved me till my head went plumb insane

But I...

(Full lyrics on Google Play Music)








Lucy, September 2018


Summer 1973 an I was 18 years old.

At the end of  a month on an interrail ticket travelling around Europe, instead of returning home to the UK, I caught a train to Athens and then the ferry to Crete.


I lived under an olive tree, slept under the stars, for 5 and a half weeks.

At the back of the beach were olive trees, where we all had our own olive tree to sleep under and left our rucksacks unattended when we were on the beach.

I met many who had been in the Vietnam war.

I remember the Minoan caves with frescos. We weren't allowed to sleep in them in the summer of ’73. They dated back to 1500 bc, the Minoan era.


There was only one bus a week or twice a week  from Heraklion. That was only road then in 1973.

In the  evening two policemen always sat outside the cafe bar.

Tents were not allowed. I heard that in ’74 they wouldn’t allow rough sleeping and only tents. The beach was shingles/pebbles at Matala.


Chickens ran amongst us sleeping about 5 am and a rooster crowed and woke you up. The chickens were owned by a taverna (which was in the sole row of basic food shops eg bakery and veg shop, one that made goats cheese and eg souvlaki bar).  The bar had an outside seating area and basic toilet around the sidewhich went into a pit, we all queued up for. It was free though. It was situated at the end of the row nearest the olive trees at the back of the beach and always had Bouzouki music playing setting the atmosphere which could be heard at a distance if you were under your tree (not out of your tree!).

Here is an example of that Greek music on Youtube.

I went once with a group of four over the mini mountain to the Red Beach where we all stripped off.

Once I borrowed a mask and snorkel and the flora and fauna at the foot of the mini mountain was beautiful.


We joined into a couple of traditional Greek wedding parties in the evening. The dancing was in an area where the bus came in, just above the beach between taverna and olive trees.

The Greek women all wore traditional black dresses. Older men served in bars in traditional Greek outfits.

They would shrug shoulders saying 'Daxi'. They liked the British because of World War 2, when the British got involved on some of the Greek Islands.

It was a rapidly changing time for the Greek Islands at that time. No guest houses, hostels, room packing with sleeping bags for hire.

People slept on beach in sleeping bags. Foundations for guest houses were being started and beginning of a further road nearby.

I don't know what was financing this holiday trade expansion but it rapidly changed the islands from traditional to business like.

I lived on large loafs of homemade bread, 1 kg of tomatoes and a greek yogurt (made next to the taverna) each day. Sometimes some goat cheese they made there.

Locals used to catch octopus and beat them on ground by bar to make tbem tender.

If  you had a tiny glass of ouzo 2 p (prices went up next year by 100 percent I was told) you were served a tiny tapas plate which included piece of octopus. Retsina was another alternative.


There was a man who made leather sandals there with soles from old tyres.

There was a Souvlaki bar. Only bit of modernisation there in ’73.

There was a shop that sold fruit and vegetables where I bought my cheap tomatoes.




I returned home and should have returned to the 2nd year of a strict Merchant Navy radio officer course in Plymouth a few days later.  I threw it all in. I couldn’t face going back to the conformity.

A few  weeks later I had settled down and had to really fight to resume the course at a different college in Bristol five weeks later.


I returned to the Greek Islands the next summer but the Cyprus Conflict with Turkey broke out while on Mikenos. I joined up with some Kiwis on an old yacht and ended up on Ios.  I had intended originally to return to Crete and Matala, but there were no ferries, as the war hadn't broken out.


I went on to travel the world, not with back pack but on Shell UK oil tankers as a radio officer and then with Canadian Pacific as a radio/electronics officer on tankers and bulk carriers.


I have never forgotten Matala. I found the experience life changing.


Lucy Knight