Zoe & Rich’s Wonderful Wedding on Crete!

After a truly exhausting weekend of cleaning my house and outside areas, which I had dreadfully neglected all winter and beyond, Zoe arrived just shy of two weeks before her big wedding day! It was all go for the first few days, with appointments and last minute details to attend to. We also had a shopping day in Chania, where I finally got a pair of shoes and a bag to go with the dress I bought in the UK a year last April! I was so not personally organized for this wedding! Zoe bought her Bridesmaids gifts and toys for the three children that will attend.

On the Tuesday before the wedding, Zoe and I collected Rich from the airport and I drove them both to the apartment overlooking Almyrida Harbour, which they had previously booked for the wedding week. It was gorgeous – so clean and new and just 70 steps down to the beach. We were warmly greeted by the Greek owner and his wife who brought freshly baked Kalitsounia and shots of Honey Raki to welcome the Bride and Groom to be! If there is one word you can always say about Greek hospitality – it is ‘Superb’!

Ralph at Franscoise Cafe

Ralph offering everyone a piece of his peach at Franscoise Cafe

After settling Zoe and Rich in, going back to mine for hangers and adapter plugs – not to mention Zoe’s wedding dress which she forgot to pack, I later headed back to the airport to meet Emma and Ralph. Because Ash had organized a hire car before he knew he wouldn’t be able to come to Crete, I wanted to be there to help heavily pregnant Emma with Ralph and her luggage whilst she sorted out the car. I was also worried that she may not remember the way back to mine in the dark. Every single flight that arrived that week was delayed because of the annual French Air Traffic Controllers’ strike. All they do every year around this time in the Summer, is to inconvenience and take away valuable time from thousands of people’s holidays and I wonder what they gain from it? Emma’s flight was no different and we didn’t arrive home until after 1pm that night.

Emma & Ralph outside my house, before leaving for dinner in Almyrida

Emma & Ralph outside my house, before leaving for dinner in Almyrida

It was so wonderful to see my gorgeous Grandson Ralph again. He’s a real chatterbox now and such a happy little boy! Everyone wanted a piece of him and I was so grateful that Emma and Ralph were staying with me for this wedding week. We had lots of fun and quality time together – despite the unseasonal and disappointing weather we had!

Yes – the weather was a major stress because it was so cloudy, windy and humid! All week we had been checking the forecast and I have never known one like it for this time of the year – in all the years I have lived here on Crete! There were literally 5 consecutive days of threatened rain and thunderstorms with Sunday right in the middle of it all! At one stage we thought we may have to cancel the venue and the plan for the Bride, her Bridesmaids and me, to arrive by boat was inevitably shot to pieces!

Almyrida Beach

Emma, pregnant with my Granddaughter and Ralph on Almyrida Beach

Yet as everyone started arriving from the UK, we were all just so excited to be here on Crete together again, that we didn’t let the weather spoil anything. We enjoyed every moment.. dining out for lunches and dinners at many of the lovely restaurants that Almyrida has to offer visitors. We all had at least two sunny days on Almyrida beach together and another at the Langley Resort, which boasts fabulous pools and outdoor areas.

The Saturday night before the wedding we enjoyed a big family meal at Thalami restaurant in Almyrida and then Emma, Ralph and I went home to get organized for the big day. I was painting my toenails at midnight! At 11am the next morning we dropped Ralph off with Karen, Mike, Sophie, Hannah and Rob and headed to Zoe and Rich’s apartment for our hair to be done. The rest of the bridesmaids were already there and the atmosphere was filled with anticipation and excitement.

Zoe the Bride

Zoe looking gorgeous, outside the apartment and ready to leave!

The weather was not good – very cloudy and very windy and we were glad not to be arriving at the venue in an open top speedboat! I returned home briefly, to eat, try and learn some more of my speech, and get changed into my wedding outfit. During that small space of time, the heavens opened and it rained hard for about half an hour! But afterwards the sky started to brighten a little and I hoped and prayed that further along the coastline – where the wedding was to take place – it would be sunnier and less windy. Just before I was to return to Zoe’s apartment, to see her getting into her dress, I put on my own – only to realize that because I had not thought to try the dress on previously – I had forgotten that the length needed taking up! Talk about panic! I knew I had to do something or I would be tripping down the Aisle and dragging Zoe with me! I was panicking about the lack of time left and was shaking like a leaf as I tried in vain to thread the needle! Thankfully I got there in the end and was rewarded with a refreshing glass of ice cold Prosecco when I arrived back at Zoe’s!

The three of us!

Ready for the Big Day, the three of us – Myself, Zoe and Emma

When we collected the bouquets for the Bride and Bridesmaids on the way, we could not believe how beautiful the fresh flowers looked and how they even perfectly matched the miniature dried flowers that Zoe had in her headdress and the Bridesmaids wore in their hair! The same flowers were in large glass jars on all the tables and dotted around the venue and I would highly recommend this affordable Greek florist to anyone. The same Greek family organized all the transport and I know what a logistical nightmare that was!

It took two hours to get all the guests down to the splendid traditional, large old Greek Family Beach House and grounds, complete with it’s own little rocky beach and where the wedding was to take place. Guests were provided with refreshing Pimms and lemonade while they waited their turns with the minibuses. Situated further along the coast toward Souda, this privately owned beach house is reached via a long, narrow and precarious track with a sheer drop to the sea, and then a very steep drop in the road leading down to the house. Much later Mihalis was so professional and calm, overcoming a big problem when we started to ferry the guests back to Almyrida and the loaded mini buses could not get back up the steep hill!

Walking Zoe down the aisle

Walking Zoe down the aisle

Despite all the transport obstacles we had to overcome, it was so worth the worry because it was a truly charming and wonderful setting for a wedding! It had been decorated so beautifully, with festoon and fairy lighting in all the olive trees. But it was the weather that really came up trumps for us all! Earlier when it had rained in Plaka, it had stayed dry at the Beach House. The sky was blue with fluffy white clouds and the wind had completely dropped. The sun shone from the moment the service started until the beautiful sunset during the reception.

For the second time, the wonderful honour of being Mother of the Bride and walking my beautiful Zoe down the Aisle, I felt overwhelmingly proud! Emma also looked amazing as a Bridesmaid and a blooming Mother-to-be. The service was conducted beautifully and was very emotional with a touch of humour thrown in. Ralph was an angel and the sun shone throughout the ceremony!

Zoe & Rich taking their vows

Zoe & Rich Taking their vows

The caterers were superb and had gone way beyond what was expected of them. We all enjoyed delicious spit-roasted lamb, Beef Stifado and Sea Bass, which followed a superb array of traditional Greek starters and nibbles. There were numerous desserts and the red and white wine flowed freely. There was a bar for anyone preferring beer or spirits. My speech was a little jerky to start with, but I managed to remember most of it and I hoped I did Zoe proud! Rich’s speech was so like he is – emotive and heartfelt and spoken with tears in his eyes throughout. He especially mentioned the sadly missed members of our family – dearest Leonie, who passed away suddenly last October and who’d said wild horses wouldn’t stop her from going to Zoe’s wedding… Ash – because he was in Malaysia for his job in the RAF, and not least of all… our lovely Mum and Nana, who was unable to attend because of ill health. All week, we had been in constant contact with Mum in Spain, Skyping her every day and keeping her posted with everything that was going on. We kept monitoring her health whilst we were arranging for her safe return by Air Ambulance to the UK.  We sent Mum regular updates and photos throughout the day.

Our Wonderful Family

Our Wonderful Family – minus Mum and Emma’s husband Ash

Whilst we were all tucking into the delicious Greek wedding meal, we were entertained by a really talented and funny guy playing bongo drums and later walking around the tables singing with his guitar! The band, called Small Change and complete with saxophonist, were phenomenal! They had rehearsed Zoe and Rich’s ‘first dance’ track and the Band’s cover versions of all the classics that were on Zoe and Rich’s playlist, were brilliant! What a talented group of musicians! Everyone was dancing right up to the time when they had to pile into all the minibuses for the journey back to Almyrida and Nikita’s Place – where the ‘After Party’ was being held. Again, this had to be done in many trips as cars cannot pass by each other on the narrow track and we had a few problems, as I mentioned earlier.

Rich makes his memorable speech

At the Reception, Rich makes his memorable speech

At Nikita’s we all danced and partied till the wee hours of the morning. Many of the friends Zoe and Rich have made here on Crete and most of Almyrida’s locals also joined the celebration and it was the end of a very happy and memorable Wedding. But most of all… it far exceeded Zoe and Rich’s expectations for their Big Day! It just goes to show that despite all the undertones of stress and worry – about my Mum, the weather and a host of other details… true love conquers all!

Zoe with her Bridesmaids

Zoe with her Bridesmaids

Almost everyone was returning to the UK just two days later and so we all made sure these days were also filled with fun, laughter and reminiscing about the wonderful wedding. The weather stayed sunny and warm for the last day, as we all gathered at the port end of Almyrida beach. I wanted to spend the last few hours playing with Ralph and my eyes welled up every time I thought of him leaving. I am so thrilled to be going back to the UK for Rob and Emma’s wedding in just under two weeks. It means I will see and spend more quality time with all of my family again soon. I am especially looking forward to seeing my Mum. I miss her so much.. especially after the dreadful ordeal she has been and is still going through.

A Magical Place for a Wedding

A Magical Place for Zoe & Rich’s Wedding

We departed for Chania airport that evening – Emma in the hire car with Zoe and Ralph and me in mine with Rich. We stayed with Emma and Ralph until they had checked in and then Zoe and Rich got a taxi to a beautiful place right on the beach at Agia Marina, for their week long honeymoon. My friend Caroline’s flight was not until the Saturday so I asked her if she’d like to move to mine for the last few days left of her holiday. It must be donkey’s years since we had a chance to catch up on old times and new and it helped soften the loss of everyone else leaving. We had a lovely day shopping in Chania, where we met up with Zoe and Rich. We three ladies hit the high street and Rich wandered onto the Harbour Front to explore, meeting up again later for a lovely late lunch in one of Chania’s pretty Plaza’s.

So ends another amazingly wonderful and memorable Family occasion that I shall cherish forever. I am soooooo overwhelmingly proud of my Family and I am so fortunate to have each and every one of them in my life.

Zoe & Rich - Now Mr & Mrs!

Zoe & Rich – Now Mr & Mrs!

Now all I am wanting is to get back to the UK next week, so that I can finally see my Mum. She arrived back in the UK the day after Karen, Mike and family returned home from Crete, but was admitted to hospital the very next day. We are all praying that she will be well enough to attend Rob and Emma’s wedding? She was not treated well in Spain, in fact she was quite neglected and so her health has deteriorated. We can only hope that our wonderful NHS can alleviate some of her health issues so that she may return home to Karen and Mike’s family home, where she will be so well taken care of. Our Dear Mum and Nana is in God’s hands right now…

PHOTO ALBUM

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ZOE AND RICH BEACH RECEPTION (7 of 183)

ZOE AND RICH BEACH GETTING CEREMONY (69 of 90)ZOE AND RICH BEACH GETTING CEREMONY (12 of 90)

ZOE AND RICH BEACH GETTING CEREMONY (73 of 90)ZOE AND RICH BEACH GETTING CEREMONY (83 of 90)

ZOE AND RICH BEACH GETTING READY (34 of 64)ZOE AND RICH BEACH RECEPTION (77 of 183)

ZOE AND RICH BEACH RECEPTION (81 of 183)ZOE AND RICH BEACH RECEPTION (12 of 183)

ZOE AND RICH BEACH RECEPTION (64 of 183)ZOE AND RICH BEACH GETTING CEREMONY (59 of 90)

ZOE AND RICH BEACH RECEPTION (46 of 183)ZOE AND RICH BEACH RECEPTION (114 of 183)ZOE AND RICH BEACH RECEPTION (123 of 183)ZOE AND RICH BEACH RECEPTION (137 of 183)ZOE AND RICH BEACH SET PHOTOS (8 of 90)ZOE AND RICH BEACH SET PHOTOS (54 of 90)ZOE AND RICH BEACH SHOTS (11 of 26)ZOE AND RICH BEACH RECEPTION (180 of 183)

ZOE AND RICH BEACH SET PHOTOS (84 of 90)

ZOE AND RICH BEACH SET PHOTOS (2 of 90)ZOE AND RICH BEACH SET PHOTOS (10 of 90)

The Highs and Lows of Life are Par for the Course.

So much has happened since my last post but this time it will have to be a short one and with no pictures. I don’t really feel like talking about stuff that isn’t important right now. Yes, I’ve been working long hours in order to get myself fully organized for the 15th May, when my daughter Zoe flies to Crete just 12 days before her wedding here! As well as all the things that needed doing for the wedding, I’ve also started my beach selling season. I’ve already done 3 days and as it’s early on in the season I’ll only be doing 1 or 2 days a week this month. Thank God too because I wouldn’t be able to find more time to sell – especially when the wedding is on.

But I cannot waste precious time going into details and relating all my news about everything that has happened since I last wrote. This last month my Mum has been very poorly. Usually such an active person – belying her 81 years of age, keeping active and living so independently in Spain – she has had the most awful 6 months. She lost her daughter Leonie, was forced to move out of the home she had lived in for 9 years and then caught a bad chest infection. The house move was a problem that went on for months. Unlike here in Greece, in Spain it is nigh impossible to get long-term rentals because they only let them to tourists. So Mum really struggled to find somewhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if the grief and the stress Mum has undoubtedly suffered these past 6 months, has contributed enormously to her current ill health.

Thankfully my Sister Karen was able to fly to Spain a week last Sunday. She spent a week with Mum in hospital and is now back at Mum’s and looking after her there, bless her! It has been such a worrying and stressful time for all of us and sad too, because our dear Mum and Nana will not be able to attend Zoe and Rich’s wedding here. We are all gutted. Having said that – the most important thing is that she gets better and we are now working towards flying Mum back to the UK with medical assistance. She will stay with Karen and Mike and be properly looked after. No way could we leave her in Spain on her own… without family. We are going to be optimistic that Mum’s recovery will be good enough for her to at least attend another big family wedding which takes place in just over 2 weeks after Zoe and Rich’s.

Karen and Mike’s son Rob and his partner Emma are to marry in the south of England and we all dearly want Mum to be back in the UK at least a week before that happens, to give her the maximum chance of being able to share such a happy occasion with her family around her.

It is going to be hectic over the coming weeks. So much is going to be happening. Of course I am still excited about Zoe and Rich’s wedding, it really is going to be amazing and it all starts in just a few days time! I can’t wait! To be honest – I think we could all do with a damn good blowout and I know that’s exactly what we’re going to get!
Read all about it, with plenty of gorgeous pics in my next post!

It’s all part of Crete’s Charm!

I am writing up this post in a much better frame of mind, thank Goodness! In fact, everything has improved since my last post.  But best news of all –  is that my second Grandchild is well on HER way!  So I will have a Granddaughter who is due to be born at the beginning of August.  I am so happy for Emma and Ash and absolutely thrilled that it’s going to be a girl! Continue reading

Good Riddance to January & February!

I haven’t had time and I haven’t felt like writing a post for what seems like ages. I seem to have been in a depressive state and it hasn’t helped that I’ve had so many time-consuming problems to deal with in January and February. But most of all… My dear Sister Leonie’s sudden passing still feels so raw. I can burst into tears at the mere drop of a hat! Continue reading

Here’s Hoping 2018 will be a Good Year

For over a week now, I’ve been putting off writing this post. There have been so many ’niggly’ things to attend to and it’s been difficult settling back into and catching up with work. I am still grieving for the loss of my sister, Leonie.

Ralph at Attingham Park

Ralph – who is quite impossible to photograph when he is constantly on the go. Here I got lucky as he went to splash in a puddle at Attingham Park.

I returned to the UK for Christmas and New Year on the 19th December and spent the first four days with my lovely growing family! Zoe and Rich collected me from Karen and Mike’s and we drove down to Shrewsbury to stay with Emma, Ash and Ralph. As always, it was wonderful to spend quality time with everyone again, although I have to say that Ralph is still my favourite for playing with! That’s pretty much all I did at Emma and Ash’s, because he is just the cutest little boy and I am obsessed!

We all had three wonderful days relaxing, having fun, eating out, shopping and walks. We visited a beautiful park and stately home in Shrewsbury, called Attingham Park. When we arrived there we first asked to visit the Santa’s Grotto but sadly, it was fully booked so we couldn’t take Ralph for his first visit to Santa. I think that we were more disappointed than Ralph was! Never mind, we decided to take a good look around the mansion and found it to be quite fascinating!

All the family at Attingham Park

Rich, Zoe, Ash, Ralph & Emma – Inside the stately home at Attingham Park. There was a Christmas tree in almost every living room!

After we’d had some lunch in the cafe there, we went for a long walk in the woodlands and surrounding grounds. Ash pointed out several interesting features along the way, having lived and played in this area when he was a small boy and young teenager. The walk was exhilarating and Ralph was totally absorbed in exploring everything. He was such a joy to watch.  When he got tired, Ash carried him on his back, especially when we were able to walk so close to a small herd of Reindeer. We found lots of little dens made from broken tree branches, scattered around and just the right size for Ralph to walk comfortably into!

Ralph, Ash & Emma at Attingham Park

When Ralph got tired from running around, Ash carried him on his back

It was Ash’s Birthday on the Friday and in the morning Ash’s parents, Phil and Ange and also his brother and sister, Austin and Danielle, all popped in to wish him well. In the afternoon, we went into Shrewsbury town centre to do a little last minute Christmas shopping and discovered they had a Santa’s Grotto in the precinct! We were just in time to book a visit in for Ralph – the last one of the day! I wish I knew how to post up the video I took of him. He was so cute and polite and pleased with the book he got from Santa, Ralph loves his books! The days just flew by and the nights after Ralph had gone to bed, we watched some great movies which is something I rarely do.

Santa's Grotto

Ralph and I play with the false snow in Shrewsbury Town Centre, whilst waiting to see Santa!

Emma and Ash were spending Christmas Day with Ash’s family and Zoe and Rich were spending it with Rich’s Dad and anyway, Rich was on call all Christmas Day. So these few days we all had before Christmas were wonderful and special. It was indeed fortunate that Zoe, Emma, Rich and Ash were all able to get this time off work. Although I did not think I would be able to see them all again before my return to Crete, thanks to my new tablet we had skype contact for the rest of the time I was in the UK.

I was back at Karen and Mike’s by Saturday teatime. Mum was also staying and Sophie and Hannah had moved back home for Christmas and New Year. So there was just the six of us for Christmas Day and it was exactly what we wanted because we all miss our beautiful Leonie so much.

On Boxing Day Karen and Mike drove down to London to stay with their son Rob, his fiance, Emma and their new baby Grandson, Jack. Sophie and Hannah went too. With Mum and I left to our own devices – we got cracking on a jigsaw that was a Christmas present for Mum – and completed it in one day! Despite both of us coming down with colds and continuously blowing our noses, we just couldn’t stop doing that jigsaw!  Zoe was able to visit after work the next day and she stayed the night, so that was a bonus.

Debs, Karen and me

Deb, Karen and me, before we all went into Bramhall Village for the evening

Sadly the rest of my stay was dogged with cold symptoms and tummy cramps and as a result I got very little sleep. Luckily, after taking something to ease the cramps, I was able to enjoy a lovely evening with my dear friends Jill and Rick, who took me out for a great meal at Gusto’s, the night before New Year’s Eve. Jill booked a surprise holiday for Rick’s 50th Birthday and they will be staying with me in June. The medication also meant I didn’t miss out on the traditional Whelan New Year’s Eve Party, and so I am grateful for that. New Year’s Day was spent recovering from the night before and packing for my trip back home.

Back on Crete I have spent the last two weeks doing all the things I have been putting off for far too long. A priority was to finally search for someone who can promote my online Etsy shop, which I don’t have the time or ability to do myself. My unique style of fine art collages is in a very niche market, I think and I need a good marketing plan. I still have quite a list to do but feel I am finally getting somewhere.

Seashell Mosaic Painting Collage - 40 x 50cms

Two boats in seashell mosaic under a palm tree – Seashell Mosaic fine art – 40 x 50cms

For the first time I have found it difficult to get back into my work, but now that I am sorting other problems out, my head is starting to clear and I really want to get stuck into a new project. I have a couple of commissions I would like to start working on and as soon as these other matters have been attended to, I will be doing just that. I also have some new ideas I’d like to progress and know that I will feel much better when I am back in the swing of things and am fully absorbed in my art again.

Looking to the future… it’s set to be a good year with two family weddings taking place and these are really positive things to look forward to in 2018. Rob and Emma are getting married in June in Oxfordshire and Zoe and Rich marry in May here on Crete.

Picturesque Almyrida

Here on the beautiful Island of Crete it’s been a long hot summer and it isn’t over yet! September is proving to be a hot one too and I’m pleased to say that sales have really picked up during the last two months. Hence the reason I’ve not written for a while, because much has been happening in my life both professionally and personally and it’s all taken precedence over this Blog!

One of Almyrida's pretty beaches

One of Almyrida’s pretty beaches where Zoe spent much of her time relaxing.

Zoe came to stay with me for a much-needed break from the stresses of her job. She was in desperate need of some rest and of course was also here to progress with her wedding plans. Rich had too much work on so she came alone.  Originally, Emma and Ralph were trying to get flights out for the same week, but sadly Emma also had work commitments and so I didn’t get to spend time with her or Ralph and oh I do miss my cute little Grandson so much!  Such is life… but I really do believe things always  happen – when they happen… and for a reason.

One of Almyrida's pretty beaches

The other side of the beach, where Zoe and I spent quality time and swam last weekend.

That week with me in Crete turned out to be just what Zoe needed! We got so many important details about the wedding sorted and on the days I was selling, she was quite happy spending time by herself; lots and lots of swimming and relaxation; reading her book and feeling completely at home In Almyrida. Zoe has visited Crete so many times now, that it feels a little like her second home!  It’s the same for Emma when she visits.   I was able to join Zoe on other days and I couldn’t help taking some snapshots of the beautiful and peaceful setting we were relaxing in! I may live here but I rarely find the time to appreciate how lovely and picturesque Almyrida is!

On Thursday evening we met Neisha, the wedding planner and Kirsten in Chania – at the caterer’s cafe restaurant. Here we were treated to samples of all the dishes Zoe has decided to go for including the wine – all of which were complimentary. That done and food and wine decided, we moved onto the Harbour Front to a restaurant called Salis and who’s owner is a friend of Neisha’s. We drank a cocktail and I have to say that the food at Salis is all organically home-grown and deliciously different! I would definitely recommend this place!

At Salis Restuarant on Chania Harbour Front

At Salis Restaurant on Chania Harbour Front – Zoe, Kirsten, Neisha & I.

The following evening we went to Maddie’s in Kefelas, to watch a band that has been highly recommended and is a strong possibility for the wedding. We thought they were brilliant! They had everyone up and dancing all night and they were talented and accomplished musicians. When the gig had finished Zoe approached the lead and singer for a chat. What a genuinely nice guy he is, with no airs and graces and he has readily agreed to perform at Zoe and Rich’s wedding at the end of next May.  Fingers crossed that Rich will like them too, after he hears them on Zoe’s video clips and Youtube.

On the beach in front ofCafe Franscoise in Almyrida

Zoe and I on the beach in front of Cafe Franscoise in Almyrida.

And so it was a different Zoe I took back to the airport than the Zoe I had collected the week before. She was tired, negative and on edge when she arrived, but rested, positive and happy when she left and although she did not want to leave, I reminded her that in just over seven months she’ll be back again for three whole weeks around the wedding. Needless to say I did my usual crying all the way back from the airport, but (practicing what I preach) with my flight back to the UK for Christmas and New Year already booked, I know it won’t be long before I can see and spend time with everyone dear to me again.

Since Zoe left I have been busy trying to keep up with demand for certain designs of my Seashell Mosaic Collages which have been particularly popular in August and September. I’ve already mentioned how sales have improved during these months and this means I have more work to fit into less available time! Same old… same old story.

Lisa and I at Nikita's in Almyrida

Lisa and I at Nikita’s in Almyrida last night, where 4 different bands were playing.

My social life has been busier again too and yesterday I spent the day showing my good customers and friends – Paul, Sheila and John – all round Chania and they treated me to a lovely lunch at a restaurant situated high above the Harbour. Last night I went to a four band gig at Nikita’s in Almyrida and have to say that was a cracking night! Such a variety of music styles, entertaining and great to dance to! My Friend Lisa plays the beat box in one of the bands and so I went along to support her. There were heaps of people I knew there and I partied until collapsing onto my bed at around 2am this morning!  There is a big party taking place in Plaka Square on Thursday Evening.  There will be more Live music from Backtrax and I missed last year’s party, so I was told last night that I had better be there this year!