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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 18:47 GMT
Corfu's expats differ over the euro
Over 2,500 British expats live on the island
By the BBC's Charles Rhodes in Corfu

For any Britons missing home in Corfu, English Imports, tucked away in a narrow side street in Corfu Town, is practically a shrine to all things British.

Susan Daltas
Euro-phile: Susan Daltas of English Imports
Rochelle Agathos, nipping in for some clothes with her daughter, tells me "all hell will break loose" when the euro replaces the drachma on 1 January.

"At the moment locals know the money, but I feel when both of us don't know the money it will be a complete disaster."

Well-known British staples like Bisto, Bird's custard and stuffing are the best sellers.

But although there are more than 2,500 British expats living on the island, most of the customers are Greek.

Romantic connections

Susan Daltas, who owns the shop, is typical of many British-born women living on Corfu.

I look on things now as a European because our family is European

Susan Daltas
Most of them met, fell in love and married Greeks after coming on holiday.

Susan met her husband when he was studying in Leeds.

She claims she had to be dragged here kicking and screaming after she fell in love 24 years ago.

But that is hard to believe now as she is a confirmed Europhile: "I look on things now as a European because our family is European. We have two nationalities, two languages and two religions, and I look on the euro as a good thing for that reason."

Death of the drachma

An hour's drive from Corfu Town, and you reach a part of Corfu that most holiday-makers never see.

Hilary Whitton Paipeti
Whitton Paipeti mourns the demise of the drachma
It is not very far from the bustling town, but the blind bends and impossibly steep gradients make even the most reckless driver slow down.

The beautiful mountains in the north of the island with their tiny isolated villages are largely unspoilt.

Every Saturday the British Corfu Ramblers can be found somewhere here.

Hilary Whitton Paipeti, who edits the Corfiot English-language newspaper on the island, guides the walkers along the ancient north-south long-distance trail.

She is a confirmed Eurospectic and mourns the passing of the drachma.

"I think it's a shame that a currency that's 2,500 years old, just at the drop of a hat, because of a bureaucratic process in Brussels, is just suddenly going to disappear."

Psychological barrier

A day later and some of the British expat community meet again at Holy Trinity Church.

The British have worshipped here since 1870.

But today there are praying for a new chaplain to lead them.

While I lived in Britain I felt British, but now I feel European - I definitely feel the channel is a psychological barrier

New Corfu resident Stella Lewis

This, more than the euro, is the topic that dominates conversation. They hope to make an appointment by the spring.

Stella Lewis and her husband visited Corfu on holiday for the first time in June.

Now, they are members of the congregation after selling up in Britain and retiring to the island.

Mrs Lewis says that, since the move, her attitude to Europe has changed.

"While I lived in Britain I felt British. But now I feel European. I definitely feel the channel is a psychological barrier to Britain feeling European."

And like many others on Corfu, she believe its only a matter of time before Britain joins the euro.

See also:

04 Dec 01 | Europe
'Problems' threaten euro launch
05 Sep 01 | Africa
Euro printing hits Africa
28 Aug 01 | Europe
Cross-channel views of the euro
02 Jul 01 | Europe
Paris gets to know the euro
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