This summer, we treated Grumpy Old Women comedy writer and TV producer, Judith Holder, to a Solos holiday around the Greek Isles - and not just any holiday. Boat by day, hotel by night, this was a sailing holiday with a twist. Here's what she had to say about her experience. Spoiler alert: she loved it!

Grumpy Old Women co-writer Judith Holder on a boat in Greece

I’d always fancied being one of those ”I’m on a Yacht and You’re Not” people who sail into harbour on their own personal or chartered yacht looking smugly independent before dropping anchor in a secluded cove for a swim, while you look on enviously from your day cruise.

However, I’d always consoled myself with the fact that as nice as it would be to have your own yacht, with your own itinerary, I didn’t envy them one bit having to sleep in a cabin the size of a chest freezer and all that hanging over the side when it gets choppy.

So when Solos asked me to go to Greece on a week’s sailing holiday but staying in hotels and not on-board the boat, I figured this might be worth the punt.

Our 55-foot motor yacht (which is very big by yacht standards) was a handsome beast - more of a motor cruiser than a sailing ship, and large enough for all of us to have plenty of room to spread out on deck with our own sun loungers, and a crew of three to look after us.

Sailing boat in the Greek isles
Sailing boat in the Greek isles

The thing about lolling about on a fabulous boat is yes OK you could do that by a hotel pool, but then you wouldn’t have an ever changing backdrop of coastline, with jaw dropping villas, honesty box beach bars, wild goats jumping precariously from one cliff top to another, and dolphins to keep you on your toes. Best of all you can lie on deck and simply take in the huge dollops of turquoise and navy blue sea, and sky, sky and then more sky.

Looking out to sea for hours on end does something to me; somehow it grounds me, puts things into perspective and recharges me like nothing else. I have no idea why. It’s like mindfulness without the app, a spa day without the toweling dressing gown, so it was effectively a huge detox.

Best of all, our days at sea were punctuated by anchor stops to swim ashore to deserted beaches, and visiting some of the most charming ports that island Greece has to offer.

Group of solo travellers on a sailing boat in the Greek isles

View from the sailing boat in the Greek isles

We spent most of our time sailing around Kefalonia and Ithaca. Both islands are what Greece should be about, harbour fronts with fishing boats selling their catch, tavernas and bakeries painted in sea blue and pistachio.

The jewels for me were Vhathi on Ithaca, and Fiscardo on Kefalonia, both are St Ives meets Cannes but without the traffic. Greece at its most ravishing.

You can still eat right next to the gloriously clean lapping sea for around 20 euros a head for two courses with wine. The Greeks do simple food very well - kebabs, slow cooked meat, fish and wonderful squid, but I especially loved their zucchini balls and feta cooked in the oven with tomatoes and herbs – both simple but have rarely been out of my thoughts since I came home. (Perhaps I need to get out more).

Greek taverna in the Greek Islands

Greek taverna in the Greek Islands

The group, as ever with Solos in my experience, was a delightful bunch. There were 15 of us, roughly aged 40s to early 70s, including 3 men (all of whom turned out to be ex-police officers, how weird is that?) By the end of the holiday we were operating like an extended family, sharing food, tea bags, and pooling antihistamine. It’s a great formula – enough independence to feel you have your own space, but companionship if you want it.

What to pack:

  • Boat shoes
  • Sunblock - and lots of it
  • Seasickness pills

What not to pack:

  • Evening sandals or posh stuff - this is not a luxurious holiday

Grumpy Old Women co-writer Judith Holder taking a swim



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