Last year on a trip to Greece I met a great couple, Daryl and Lisa, we hit it off and had some great trips and some memorable meals, but unlike many holiday friendships it continues, and this year Daryl invited me to his birthday party back in Greece.
However, there was no mention that the party was going to last six days and would involve vast quantities of Mythos Beer, jumping off the back of a boat into the Ionian Sea, going out to eat a couple of hours past my normal bedtime and a Swedish mother and daughter, all very testing even for this ageing playboy.
There are many elements that make a successful party, the venue, the food, the drink, the entertainment but most important the people.
The venue was The Parga Beach Hotel, set on Valtos beach in the northwest part of mainland Greece it is separated from Parga town by a headland topped with an ancient castle, easily reached by foot for the fit but just a short 5-euro taxi ride for the rest of us.
Made up of lots of little bungalows and two-story apartments it is set in lush gardens dotted with ancient olive trees, five swimming pools, a superb breakfast and dinner buffet, though a comprehensive all-day menu available in the bar or brought to your sun lounger on the beach by the fantastic friendly staff.
You could if you wish would have a great holiday without leaving the resort but then you would miss the delights of Parga Town and the other attractions of this part of Greece, though 41 degrees of heat and all-day sunshine made it very tempting to stay put.
Parga is set around a busy harbour and has many shops, restaurants, bars whitewashed homes with colourful doors and shutters exactly as you expect Greece to be, and full of happy smiling people all happy to meet the first English folk they have met this year.
Daryl and Lisa had put together a great group of guests, not as many as originally planned due to quarantine demands on other reasons and I must admit to being a tad nervous being a stranger in a group that had known each other many years.
But Chris and Shirley, Steve and Carol together with Mike and Diane could not have made me more welcome and within a day or two I felt I had known them for ever.
Now I thought I was well travelled and had got into the odd bit of mischief, but I was not in the same league as this lot, stories about hanging off the underside of the swing bridge in Poole Harbour to hunting with Eagles in Mongolia, not to mention some of the odd things they had eaten, and drunk in China made me feel like I had spent my life in a Franciscan monestry.
So, a tremendous few days with the nicest people I have met in a long time, I am grateful to them all for their genuine friendship, my batteries are fully recharged and I off to Switzerland tomorrow to climb some mountains, when I am back, I will tell you about the food and drink we scoffed in Greece, and perhaps a little story about Inga the Swedish fitness instructor.