The Daily Mail 27th July 2012
“Ithaca, the Greek Legend that Hollywoods finest simply cant get enough of”
by Simon Morris
….she is certainly taken by Jamie the next day.
He is a diving expert who swapped the overrun waters of Thailand to teach people about the marine habitats here. In a traditional Kaiki, we motor from bay to bay and are shown all sorts – a mine shell on the ocean bed from World War 2, the remnants of an old trawler. However, the real treat is the sea life. In one snorkelling spot, Jamie arms me with a net and Im challenged to find starfish or sea cucumber to house in his onboard aquarium. Job done and its time for a scrumptious lunch.
Sunday Times Travel August 2011
Instant Escapes – Crowd Free Kefalonia
“Ask a local” – Christos Danopoulos is a fisherman, and has lived and worked in Fiskardo for about 27 years.
“For me, the real joy of Kefalonia is the water and the wildlife. We have rare monk seals and turtles that hide away in wonderful bays and coves easily discoverable by boat. Row into Dafnoudi and you will see a lovely cave on your left – the bedding in the pebbles will show you where the seals have been snoozing. For children, especially, theres nothing more thrilling than snorkelling and diving. Jamie Stirling, a marine biologist from England, has run fantastic Marine Adventure family days out on his caique for the past nine years. And the sunsets in this part of the island are second-to-none. A favourite spot of mine is Alaties. Theres a little taverna there, where you can watch the sun go down over the water with a glass of local Robola wine.”
The Times Wednesday the 6th July 2011
“Enjoy the riches a Greek island still has to offer.”
Forget the debt crisis on a tranquil peninsula in Cephalonia by Tony Dawe
… the company offers guests the opportunity to hire boats and yachts, take a Jeep safari into the mountains or join day-long excursions to the neighbouring islands. The highlight trip is Jamie’s Marine Adventure, a day of swimming snorkelling, lunching and exploring local history and marine life on board a traditional wooden caique.
At three anchorages on either side of the Ithaca channel, Jamie Stirling, a marine biologist scours the seabed in search of starfish, sea cucumbers and sea urchins. His best trick is to lure an octopus from its underwater lair. he places his trophies in a small aquarium on the boat for a post lunch lecture before returning them to the sea.
Greece, Telegraph Travel, Saturday, February 3, 2007
“Oh what joy for every girl and boy” by Nick Trend
“Hey!,” shouted Jamie across the waves. “Come and see! Its an octopus garden.” I relayed the call to the other snorkelers and dipped my mask back beneath the waves. And there it was, a neat dome of stones, each about the size of half a football, and a roughly circular arrangement of pebbles scattered on the sand around it.
I watched as Jamie took a gulp of air and duck dived towards it, clutching a plastic bottle of strong saline solution. One squirt of the salty water and the octopus shot out of its den, aiming directly at him. He headed straight for the surface and emerged with eight tentacles strapped around his chest and a big smile on his face.
This was nothing new for Jamie Stirling, a young British marine biologist who has fallen in love with summer on the Greek island of Cephalonia and set up a small business there. This, he says as he gently prises off the suckers and carefully puts the animal in a string bag, is the usual way to collect an octopus for observation.
Almost every day in the season he takes a boat out of the harbour to explore the coves and islands. Unlike many of the caique owners who offer such trips, he
has a unique selling point. He knows just how to use his wide-ranging knowledge of marine life to fascinate both children and adults.
On our day out we collected an amazing variety of creatures, examined them in the on board tank and returned them unharmed to the sea. The octopus was the most fascinating, but we also held sea urchins (the ones with the poisonous spines) and nervously at first, let them shuffle across our palms. There was no pressure on the spines, explained Jamie, so there was no risk of our skin being punctured.
We looked at sea cucumbers, examined the strange, five toothed mouths of different types of starfish, and learned how they disgorge their stomachs in order to digest their prey. We snorkeled over a mysterious wreck, spotted mines left over from the Second World War, stuffed ourselves with Greek salad at lunchtime and sprawled on the deck to recover. And once, during our last afternoon snorkel, I thought for a moment I spotted, far off in the watery shade, the canary-coloured nose cone of a small submarine but no it cant have been.
The Times August 5, 2006
“My Greek island reverie on Cephalonia”
On Cephalonia, Angus Clarke mixes snoozing, reading and sunbathing with gentle snorkelling
AT FIRST blush, the more glutinous aspects of the sea slugs sex life, the bizarre genitals, the mucus are strange things to find yourself discussing over lunch.
We, a dozen or so British tourists, had signed up for Jamies Marine Adventure, a day of snorkelling and marine biology in the warm blue waters between Cephalonia and Ithaca. After sailing out of Fiskardo harbour and a gentle morning being shown the wonders of the deep well, the shallow in uninhabited coves we sat in the shade on the caique at anchor to eat a lavish picnic lunch while Jamie Stirling told us about the creatures he had captured and put in his Perspex tank starfish, octopus, three colours of sea urchins, and the sea slugs.
Stirling is a marine biologist from England who has settled in Cephalonia for the past six years. He talks about his science with delightful enthusiasm. Despite the sea slug a creature even less alluring than the bearded men on the boat who had smeared Vaseline over their whiskers to get a decent seal for their face masks, Jamies Marine Adventure is a hoot and recommended for any family with juveniles of any age. And what with all the gastro, cephalo and pod in the scientific names, it is a cheery way to pick up a few words of Greek as well.
It was probably the most energetic thing we did in our week on Cephalonia. The island is ruggedly grand, with stupendous coastal roads and delicious beaches, but we spent most of our time in peaceful seclusion at our villa, the Olive Grove, a five-minute drive from pretty Fiskardo a typical Ionian port in the Venetian style and the shops, just sprawling by the pool, sunbathing, swimming, reading, and planning meals.
We would have been quite happy to move in permanently. The villa, a 19th-century farmhouse complex, has been modernised to a comfortable, but not excessive, level of artless luxury. There are lots of attractive details: a vast beamed living room, the original worn marble sinks, an oar fastened to a wall as a banister, here and there enigmatic bits of wrought iron, blackened wood and basketwork, relics from pre-electrical cooking and smallholding. Two shady terraces gaze down across the small pool and a hillside of olives to the sea and Ithaca.
A few minutes walk down the hill and through the olive groves brings you to a pretty cove with an olive tree growing on the white shingle beach. By day the peace was broken only by the sea breeze in the olives, bees humming in the rosemary and jasmine, the exaggerated screeching of jays and the donkle-tonkle of goat bells, the gate to the garden bears a notice asking you to keep it closed owing to Danger of goats invasion, and in the silence of the evenings we could watch the moonlight sparkle on the sea where the sea slugs were doing unspeakable things to each other in the darkness.
The sweetness of watching the moon rising over Ithaca was somewhat tempered by my poolside reading, the latest archaeological theory relocates the legendary island kingdom of Odysseus to the other side of the island altogether, where indeed Homer put it. The theory is a complicated business of changing sea levels and seismic convulsions.
As if to confirm it there were two small earthquakes, tremors really, during our week on the island, in truth we were by then so relaxed that we didn’t notice them, but in the south of Cephalonia crockery was jolted off restaurant tables and the sand was shaken off 40m of beach to reveal the limestone bedrock.
Tumbledown buildings are to be seen everywhere you walk or drive. (Walkers are advised to take substantial footwear, the limestone maquis is gnarly, and drivers should be warned that the free auto-rental maps are inspirational rather than navigational once you leave the principal roads.) If you have the time and the energy there is lots to explore on Cephalonia, ancient sites, secret beaches, vineyards and wineries, wonderful scenery, but frankly if you have only a week not much can beat a couple of hours indolent snorkelling in clear blue water, checking up on the gastro, cephalo and pods.