Just too Hot to Work in!

Temperatures have really soared these past few weeks and I have often found it just too hot to work in! About two weeks ago we had a heatwave which lasted 4 days and left everyone feeling drained and lethargic. Temperatures were in the 40’s and it was too hot to do anything! Luckily I only had one selling day during the heatwave period. Working on my seashell mosaic artworks, under the shade of my parasol and with the breeze coming off the sea, I am usually quite comfortable. But where was the sea breeze when you really needed it? It made me realise how much I rely on it to keep me cool during the long days that I am selling my seashell mosaic art at the edge of the beach in Almyrida.

DSC09465

On gorgeous Georgioupoli Beach, playing Rummikub with Nick!

On the first day of the heatwave I had my air conditioning units serviced and cleaned. Then after my selling day on Friday I spent the Saturday indoors with the air conditioning on non-stop! On Sunday, the last and hottest day, my mate Nick and I spent the day at Georgioupoli beach. There was actually a breeze and the sea was the warmest and calmest I’ve ever known it be there. I could have drifted in that sea all day long, feeling the intermittent waves of cold river water mingling with the warm sea water. It really was heavenly! With every dip we took we saw people just standing in the sea, chatting! We had Lunch on the beach and played a couple of games of Rummikub in between frequent stops for a swim or cold shower – all within easy reach… although Nick almost burnt his feet on the sand! Talk about walking on hot coals! This wonderful day on Georgioupoli beach saved me a fortune on my electric bill and was the absolute obvious and best thing to do to escape the heat – Spend time in the sea!

Greek Urn in Seashell Mosaic Collage - 20 x 30cms

Popular this summer – Greek Urn in Seashell Mosaic Collage – 20 x 30cms

With world economic circumstances prevailing I am lucky to be still selling my seashell mosaic artworks, albeit a lesser number of them. My larger and more expensive designs have been selling, as well as many of my new designs. But it is my small 5 x 7” designs that are suffering. They are the cheapest artworks I sell and they’ve been super popular with all the tourists who have visited Almyrida during the last 7 years. Now everyone is having to tighten their belts and all the local services and businesses have noticed reduced spending. This recession began during the middle of last summer and I can’t help wondering if Brexit has much to do with it!

Anyway, I am most excited about my sister and brother-in-law’s visit! Karen and Mike are arriving on Saturday, for a much needed week’s holiday. I am really looking forward to spending some quality time with them and having a little break myself – but only on non selling days!

Greek Donkey in seashell mosaic collage - 20 x 30cms

Popular this summer – Greek Donkey in Seashell Mosaic on Sand – 20 x 20cms

Back to the present and with temperatures in the mid 30’s it’s been hot, hot, hot again but rain is forecast for tomorrow and that is most unfortunate as it’s a selling day! But I am going to turn up regardless and pray the rain is contained in the mountains, over which already there is heavy cloud cover. At least if it does rain, everywhere gets refreshed again and temperatures drop to a more manageable level.

When your Feet don’t Touch the Ground!

These past six weeks I feel as though my feet have barely touched the ground! Hence the reason for this latest post which I had originally intended on writing two weeks ago!

Ralph is all ready for his first day on the beach!

On my balcony on their first day – Ralph is all ready for his first day on the beach!

On Tuesday 23rd May Emma and Ralph came to stay with me for a week and what a wonderful week it was! They arrived in the evening and we ate dinner in Almyrida directly from the airport. Ralph was happily chatting away in his own little language all the way back. I switched my selling days so that we could all go to the beach on the first two days of their holiday. I was dying to see Ralph’s reaction to the sea and the sand. Ralph loves water anyway but he was fascinated with the sand!

Ralph with his bucket and spades and a little friend!

Ralph with his bucket and spades and a little friend!

Armed with two mini spades and a bucket, he was happily amused for hours, paddling in the sea and running all over the place, tripping up over his own feet, getting straight up and then off he was again! He never stops wandering off to see what he can find next. Ralph is mad about bikes – mostly motorbikes but actually – all bikes and it’s his favourite word! Here on Crete they are everywhere and so Ralph was in his element!

On the Friday I had my usual selling day at the edge of the beach in Almyrida. Emma’s close friend Hazel and her daughter, Isabelle (who was bridesmaid at Emma and Ash’s wedding) arrived to spend the last 4 days of the holiday with us and was staying at the Almyrida Beach Resort. Isabelle and Ralph get on so well together and it was lovely to watch them playing – or rather, to see Isabelle forever trying to keep up with Ralph! As Ralph’s Yia yia, I am having to stop myself from writing about him, extolling all his many little virtues, when he is only 18 months old!

On one of those 'dodgy weather' days, poolside of Almyrida Beach Resort

With Hazel & Isabelle, poolside of Almyrida Beach Resort – on one of those ‘dodgy weather’ days!

Sadly the weather here on my little part of Crete took a downturn for those last four days. We had lots of cloud and it was chilly in the evenings when we ate out. I actually had to pack up early that Friday, just before the heavens opened – damn! Not a good ‘welcome’ for Hazel and Isabelle! Saturday, Sunday and Monday all ended up being mostly cloudy, with a few sunny spells and more rain interspersed. But we made the most of things and were still able to spend quality time around the poolside of the Almyrida Beach Resort, even playing Rummikub when Ralph was asleep.

Inside the small Arcade in Almyrida - because it's chucking it down outside!

Inside the small Arcade in Almyrida – because it’s chucking it down outside!

Naturally, it was a wonderful week spent with my gorgeous Grandson and I made sure to take heaps of photos and some video footage that I can watch whenever I’m missing him. It was so difficult to choose which photos of Ralph to include in this post – because there were so many.  So this post is entirely dedicated to photos of Ralph!  I was totally unprepared for the massive wrench I felt on parting with Emma and Ralph at the airport. I cried all the drive home and when I walked into the house and first saw the highchair with some jam on toast still sitting on the tray; and then the cot set-up in my art studio – it set me off all over again!

At the front of my house

At the front of my house – Emma and Ralph, who is pointing to my neighbour’s rusty old moped and exclaiming “Bike!!!”

The following day I was back by the beach and working on my seashell mosaic art. But as soon as I’d set up my stall and display, I called Steve to ask him to collect the car seat that Ralph had used and that Steve had so kindly lent me. Having the seat in my car was also making me well up and get teary!

Life carries on and I had much catching up to do after Emma and Ralph’s visit. I have had some custom work to start and have been prepping up designs that I can work on whilst I’m selling. The weather has been unsettled and two or three times I have been rained off! Not good for business! Thankfully, things have now settled down to our more ‘usual for the season’ weather – hot, sunny and windy!

Trying to coax Ralph into the sea!

Trying to coax Ralph into the sea at Almyrida’s small beach. You can actually see my house on the hill!

If work hasn’t been taking up all my time – my social life has recently taken a whirl! I’ve been to quite a few events just lately, including a gig that my friend Lisa was playing in, at Kokkino Chorio square. I’ve enjoyed cocktails on the Roof Garden of the Almyrida Residence and attended a charity event in aid of Sara’s Hope Foundation, held at The Retreat, where Emma and Ash’s wedding ceremony took place. A lovely three course meal, all wine included (as much as you could drink!) and entertainment that really was entertaining!

Last night was a refreshing change too! I went with a friend to Georgioupoli, where we had dinner in the square followed by cocktails at a nearby hotel afterwards. I feel as though I am slowly catching up with everything and that my feet are slowing down and back on firm ground! My focus has to be 100% on work for the next five weeks or so – until Karen and Mike arrive for their visit to Crete on 22nd July. Also and most wonderful – Zoe, Emma and Ralph are all coming for another week to Crete in September!  In my rich life here on this beautiful island, there is always something to look forward to.

Almyrida has that Holiday Atmosphere Again!

It’s Easter Sunday and I’ve been busy getting the spare room ready for Zoe and Donnas’ visit in a couple of days. The weather has been glorious again and so later this afternoon, I couldn’t resist a couple of hours working mosaic on my amazing balcony! Now I am enjoying the peace and tranquillity and the early evening sun, whilst I lounge comfortably on the balcony sofa. Quite a contrast because yesterday I was taking a break at the same time, but it was anything but peaceful! Bangers and crackers were going off intermittently, making me jump out of my skin every time! This in turn, was setting off all the dogs barking and even the sheep below me were starting to protest! Clio the cat who frequents my balcony, jumped 3 feet into the air when one particularly loud banger went off! That did make me laugh!

Easter Saturday in Plaka Square

Easter Saturday in Plaka Square. You can just see Judas hanging from the gallows in the middle of the bonfire!

All day the villagers had been building the customary bonfire in Plaka Square – ready for tonight’s big burn! As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous Easter posts – this bonfire is for burning Judas on and is a night when Plaka is full of people carrying lighted candles. It all makes for an atmosphere of warmth and togetherness.

Because the evening doesn’t really get going until nearer midnight, I didn’t walk up to the square until around 10pm last night. Lots of people I knew were already out and about and all the restaurants in Plaka were packed with locals and tourists alike. We based ourselves at Vangeli’s and took two tables outside. It was a mild evening although it got chillier as the evening wore on. We chatted while watching the square fill up with people leaving the church after the service with their lighted candles. All night the bangers were going off at odd occasions, making us all jump, but as Robert my Dutch friend said – and I agree – you’ve heard and seen nothing until you’ve spent a New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam! Finally, after the church bells started ringing, they lit the huge bonfire which for those of us that were feeling the chill, was most welcome! It was a lovely evening and I was home for just after 1.30am – so not too late really!

Seashell Mosaic Collage - 30 x 40cms

Seashell Mosaic Collage – 30 x 40cms – available to purchase from my Etsy shop – SeashellBeautyinArt (Shop link on menu bar above)

Back in the here and now, I’ m looking down on Almyrida and it’s like a picture postcard! All the shops and restaurants are open again and I imagine it’s been really busy down there today, with many Greek families, tourists and local residents. Yesterday I noticed a couple of sailboats and a few canoes out on the water. Now I can see an enormous cruise ship leaving Souda Bay so I’ll bet Chania has been majorly busy too.

I wish David and I could have had an exhibition on the Harbour Front in Chania this Easter. I think we’d both do really well. Sadly yet again, we cannot have an exhibition there this year because they changed the whole system again. Applications were received electronically in February. Because the information was on a different website, David was unaware of this until just recently, so we’ve missed out! Also it sounds like they are prioritising applicants that are local Greek organisations and artists, so who knows if we would even have secured a slot? Whatever will be… there’s always next year.. but I am so disappointed because I love and miss those wonderful exhibitions.

Seashell Mosaic Collage - 25 x 30cms

Seashell Mosaic Collage – 25 x 30cms – available to purchase from my Etsy shop – SeashellBeautyinArt

Ever the optimist, I have the whole of the summer season to look forward to and so much else besides! I am excited to see and spend time with Zoe, followed immediately by a week’s holiday in Spain with Mum and my sisters and then some quality time with Emma and gorgeous Grandson Ralph.  After another great Skype call with Emma and Ralph, I reminded Emma that she hasn’t sent me any recent photos of him.  I will soon put that to rights when I am back in the UK.  Hey though, starting from Tuesday, and after having had three intensive months of creating my seashell mosaics –  I will be having three weeks of socialising, holidaying and relaxing with family and friends! Absolutely fab!

Help! I Desperately Need Colourful Coquina Seashells!

It’s been a while since my last post and that’s because I’ve been totally absorbed in my art, continuing with my creative splurge while I can. I have loved and enjoyed every single minute of it! All of my new designs can be purchased from my Etsy shop – the link for which is just above on the menu bar. Continue reading

Happily Enjoying my Creative Splurges!

white mountains

The amazing view from my balcony – you can see why I love working here!

I’ve been working on my balcony this afternoon. Recently we’ve had some odd days in between rain and cloud that have been so warm and sunny – that it was just plain daft not to work outside! A few weeks back we had so much snow and it wasn’t just confined to the mountains but crept into our villages as well! I got stuck in the snow and ice several times on my way to the dentist in Vamos. A journey that normally takes around 10 to 15 minutes took me over 45 minutes and was so treacherous that I was holding my breath for most of the way! In 8 winters of living here on Crete I have never seen so much snow! Continue reading

Fond Farewell to 2016

The stunning view from my balcony

Back at home on Crete – the stunning view from my balcony!

Happy New Year!
I’m sitting on my fabulous balcony, stroking Clio who is sitting in my lap (a story for another time!) I am spellbound as I stare at the sheer magnitude and majestic splendour of Crete’s White snowy Mountains. It is late afternoon and the sun is about to go down on what has surely been an idyllic winter’s day on Crete. I am so completely at peace in my world right now and am amazed to realise that my life appears to have been a long series of struggles, until I moved to Crete. From the moment I stepped onto Cretan soil, I knew I had found my sanctuary… and all my past wounds began to fully heal. I have been reflecting on the two wonderful weeks I’ve just had in the UK during Christmas and New Year and I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me feel! And so it is almost with a tinge of sadness that I bid a fond farewell to 2016.

Gorgeous Ralph!

Gorgeous Ralph!

In the afternoon of the day I arrived in the UK Emma and Ralph came to stay with me at Karen and Mike’s. It was so wonderful to see and hold Ralph again! He is unbelievably gorgeous and has such a sweet and happy nature. He never cries and is such good fun to play with! He slept right through the night, as always and continued to do so for the three nights we stayed at Zoe and Rich’s over Christmas. I know that as his ‘Yia Yia’ I am totally biased but he is truly a dream child.

Because Emma had to work the next day, I had the unbridled pleasure of looking after Ralph for the whole day. My Mum (Great Yia Yia) and I decided to take a walk to the local shops with Ralph in his buggy, but got caught in a heavy downpour leaving us all drenched! Luckily Karen rescued us and we all changed into dry clothes when we got back. Apart from that unfortunate incident the day flew by as I played with and looked after my gorgeous Grandson.

dsc08683

Playing with my cute and gorgeous Grandson!

All of the following day was spent shopping with my Mum. Apart from a quick coffee and cake stop, we must have walked a solid four hours, traipsing the streets and shops for last minute bits and bobs for Christmas etc. I honestly can’t believe my Mother’s stamina! For a woman who is fast approaching 80 years old, she is incredibly fit for her age! I had a really lovely day with my Mum and felt thoroughly spoilt! We ended our day with dinner and wine at a lovely restaurant (another treat!) before catching a taxi back to Karen and Mike’s. At their house it was as busy as ever with family continuing to arrive for Christmas. My Nieces Sophie and Hannah with Sam, Nephew Rob with fiancé Emma, as well as Mike’s Brother with Martha and their two children! So you can imagine that Karen and Mike’s large family home was more like a hotel – with NEVER a dull moment!

Christmas night out.

Ange, myself and Fran on our Christmas night out in Cheadle Hulme.

On the Friday before Christmas Eve I went out with my friends Fran and Ange. We met at the Church Inn in Cheadle Hulme at around 6.30pm and it was buzzing in there! We enjoyed catching up on all our news whilst drinking several glasses of wine. Fran was not drinking because she was driving and when, at around 10.30pm, we decided to move on to the John Millington, Fran decided to go home, which was a real shame. There was live music and we met some people we knew, so we carried on drinking till after midnight. Great fun!

Ralph with one of his pressies

Emma, Ralph and Zoe on Christmas morning. Shame the photo is a bit blurry!

At lunchtime on Christmas Eve Rich came to collect my Mum and I and drive us to Zoe and Rich’s lovely new home in Golcar. Emma, Ash and Ralph arrived about an hour after we did and I can’t tell you how happy I felt to have all my family together with me! On Christmas morning we spent at least two hours opening our pressies one by one and loving Ralph’s reactions and delight in opening all of his presents! Christmas really feels like Christmas when there are young children in the family. We’ve not experienced that for a very long time. So it was all quite simply – wonderful!

Emma Ash and Ralph

Christmas Day in the local pub. Emma and Ash with baby Ralph asleep in his arms..Aahhh!

Once dressed, we all wrapped up warm for a lovely pre-dinner walk. We stopped at a pub for a Christmas drink and because it was packed in this bar, we didn’t stay long and Rich needed to see to the dinner anyway. Oh what a Christmas feast Rich cooked for us! It was delicious and how lucky is Zoe to have a fiancé who can cook like that?! I am jealous!

One of Ash’s surprise presents to Emma, was the re-edited version of their Wedding video. The first had been disappointingly awful – so bad that Emma and Ash would not let anyone see it. Emma had requested the videographer to send her all the raw footage so that she could arrange for the video to be professionally re-edited. Knowing Emma, I had resigned myself to not seeing it for even a few years! It just wasn’t a priority for her. With Ash away training in the RAF, Ralph to look after on her own – not to mention a full time demanding job – she already has her hands full! So Ash had secretly organised the re-edit and during the late afternoon, whilst we were all relaxing on the sofas after our fabulous Christmas feast, we watched Emma and Ash’s Wedding video for the first time! Watching this two hour film brought back all the feelings and emotions I felt during that so special day. Naturally I have my own copy – a treasured memory of a treasured day spent here on this beautiful Island of Crete.

Playing with Ralph in his new Mini Cooper!

Playing with Ralph in his new Mini Cooper!

We ate, we drank, we laughed, we played games; we watched a movie and did all of those things that families do at Christmas time with their loved ones. How fortunate I am to be blessed with the wonderful family I have. Boxing Day was much the same with more wonderful food, more playtime with Ralph and more games.

At around lunchtime the following day, Emma, Ash and Ralph left to spend a few days with Ash’s parents in Shrewsbury. Then Rich drove Mum and I back to Karen and Mike’s. It was great because the next day my Brother Mark came for a two day visit. He wasn’t able to bring Honey and Ted because they both had other commitments, but it was really good to see Mark again, especially as the last time I saw him was over two years ago, when he, Honey and Ted came to stay with me in Crete!

dsc08701

Karen, Mark, Mum and me – celebrating Mum’s soon-to-be 80th Birthday.

As Mum’s 80th falls in January and because she lives in Spain, we took Mum out for dinner and then drinks at Mike’s parents’ apartment afterwards. It was a lovely evening which all ten of us thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t believe my Mum is going to be 80 years old – she is truly amazing!

Karen and Mike’s closest friends, David and Deborah arrived to spend New Year. People have been coming and going continuously so there was still room at the ‘Whelan Inn’ – believe it or not! I made plans to meet with my lovely friend Gill and another friend I’ve not seen since she left the UK and moved to Spain over 10 years ago. I had finally got back in touch via Facebook. She now lives back in the UK after her recent split from husband, Jon. Gill’s husband Rick collected me and then Chris and kindly drove us all to Bramhall village, dropping us off at the Bubble Room. It has been over 10 years since the three of us enjoyed an evening out together and we had such a good time! We met lots of different people including two lovely women I would definitely have seen more of, had I still been living in the UK. Wow, how the three of us chatted and I realised how much all our lives had changed over these past 10 years.

dsc08705a

Chris, myself and Gill during our night out in Bramhall Village.

At around 11pm we strolled around the corner to the Yardbird, for some good music and maybe dancing? Karen, Mike, David and Deborah had all eaten at Mercato’s – across the road and were enjoying a few nightcaps in there. So naturally we joined them for an hour or so, squeezing ourselves into the seating booth they were in! Mike kindly treated us to a bottle of wine and after they left, Gill, Chris and I carried on the evening, dancing, chatting and having fun. We all had a great time!

New Year’s Eve came around so fast! Karen and Mike threw yet another of their legendary New Year’s Eve Parties and this year there were lots of younger people there as many of Sophie and Hannah’s friends came along too. I was so happy that Zoe and Rich were able to make the party and stay over. It meant I got to enjoy some more time with Zoe. Emma and Ash spent the evening at theirs with Ralph, preferring to stay home alone together and I can’t say I blame them!

dsc08707

I didn’t take many photos at the party – too busy enjoying myself!

We did a couple of great team quizzes , played a drinking game I’ve forgotten the name of and were entertained with charming live Irish music performed and sung by Charlie and her partner, Steve! Some of us (not me though) even got up for some Irish jigging! The food was as fabulous as it always is and the wine – the best, especially given what I’m used to in Crete! David and Deborah joined a dance class in Dubai and had been showing us all how to dance the Rumba. We also had a little expert tuition from my Mum – having once been a champion ballroom-dancer herself, in Holland! I even managed to do a little ‘Swing Roc’ with David. I’d not done that for over 10 years either! The Last few guests left after 4am!

dsc08657a

Ralph in his miniature Mini Cooper!

Naturally, New Year’s Day was a little jaded for all of us but we soon perked up when Emma, Ash and Ralph popped in for a visit in the afternoon. I was thrilled to get this last opportunity to see Ralph. We did a couple more quizzes together and I so enjoyed playing with gorgeous Ralph again. It was quite heart-wrenching when we said our goodbyes.

On my last day we all decided to visit the Trafford Centre in Manchester and enjoyed lunch at one of the Asian restaurants in the Centre. Back at Karen and Mike’s I packed my cases ready for my flight back to Crete in the morning. Then we all had a relaxing evening chatting about the events over Christmas and New Year – another fabulous and memorable two weeks to end what was a wonderful 2016 for me.

So Excited About Christmas!

Doesn’t time just fly?! Now I haven’t left enough time to write up this last post, for what has been an incredible and wonderful year for me.
It started off with my house move to what is undoubtedly my ‘dream’ home. Then my daughter Emma and now son-in-law Ash, got married right here on Crete and what a huge and wonderful family wedding that was! And let’s not forget the joy I’ve experienced being a ‘Yaya” to gorgeous grandson Ralph!

Granted I missed out on my annual exhibition on the Harbour Front in Chania and when you add that to the loss of sales on the beach (and I still blame Brexit!) – then money-wise it’s been the only and worst year in seven. But really – I can’t complain. In fact the unexpected poor sales were just the ‘kick up the arse’ I needed to broaden my marketplace – instead of relying on just one small holiday resort on Crete. Now my new Etsy shop – seashellBeautyinArt (link above on menu bar) has given me a world-wide marketplace and one that operates 24/7! What could be better than that? Well…fingers crossed – it’s still early days.

Right now, I’m almost packed and ready for my flight back to the UK at the crack of dawn tomorrow. I love Christmas in the UK – obviously because I can be with all my family, but also because I think England epitomises Christmas and does it like no other country can!

I can’t wait to see and play with Ralph again. It’s actually only been about a month since I was in the UK, but of course I still missed him – despite regular Skype contact. So Karen is picking me up from the airport tomorrow morning and Emma has managed to get tomorrow afternoon off. She is coming with Ralph to stay the night at Karen and Mike’s and I will look after Ralph all the next day while Emma’s at work. I am so excited!

cute as ever - Ralph!

Cute as ever – Ralph!

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone! My Mum has already arrived from Spain and is staying at Karen and Mike’s. Bless them both – they do end up running a hotel for family over the festive period! On Christmas Eve morning, Zoe and Rich will come to collect Mum and I, to spend Christmas at their lovely new home in Golcar, somewhere quite rural in Huddersfield.  Emma, Ash and Ralph will also be joining us and we will all stay at Zoe and Rich’s for 3 or 4 days. We are especially excited because Ralph will be sooo entertaining at the age he is now – just 13months old. It’s going to be just wonderful!

Then there’s my friends. I really hope to touch base with lovely Jill and Rick at some point and also Chris, who is a mutual friend and one I haven’t seen for at least 5 years! Chris moved to Spain about 10 years ago and is currently in the UK for Christmas too. I’m also looking forward to enjoying some festive drinks with my old chums, Fran and Ange on the Friday before Christmas Eve. We’ve already arranged to meet up at the Church Inn in Cheadle Hulme and will probably move on to John Millington’s til late so that should be fun!

I do so hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas too, and a healthy, happy and lucky New Year.

So Happy to be Beachcombing Again!

When I came back from the UK late October I brought my sister Leonie back with me. She has had many serious problems with her leg over this past year and it was time for her to think about her return to Cyprus. Crete was a natural first step and I really enjoyed Leonie’s company for the few weeks she stayed with me.

The Retreat

Enjoying drinks for my Birthday on the sunshine terrace of The Retreat in Kokkino Chorio

It was great to have Leonie here on Crete for my Birthday. I don’t think I would have bothered to organise anything otherwise. I have so much else going on that it just wasn’t a priority! As the food was so good last year I decided to have a slap-up Sunday Roast at The Retreat again. Leonie also wanted to see the place where Emma and Ash married last June, because sadly she couldn’t attend the wedding. On Sunday the weather was glorious and a few of my friends joined us on the terrace of The Retreat for a good excuse to enjoy a few drinks in the sunshine before consuming one of the best Sunday roasts we’ve all had! Ian who runs The Retreat in Kokkino Chorio, is English and certainly knows how we Brits love our Sunday Roast Dinners! It was a great day and carried on afterwards at our local, Vangeli’s in Plaka.

The following weekend I travelled back to Cyprus with Leonie so that I could help her settle in. The weather in Cyprus was glorious and we got loads done. I couldn’t believe how many people I knew on the planes both outbound and back into Crete! Thanks to Ryanair, it’s a hop skip and a jump to reach Paphos from Chania and many expats take the opportunity to have short breaks in Cyprus.

Elafonisi

Someone visiting Elafonisi left this very large message in the sand! “On leaving take with you you memories. Leave only your footprints.”

On the work front I have been busy creating whenever I can. I still have to make time to add more photos and details to my Etsy Shop listings, but too many other matters have demanded my attention lately.  I also opened up a Facebook account which I thought I’d never do!  But hey – It’s good for my Art Business!  I finally got my car back after more than ten days in the garage. It went in for repairs, a service and MOT. It’s a long story and the whole saga has cost me another 650 Euros. After over seven years of throwing money at it – I think I need to change my car next year!

Elafonisi

A very small part of beautiful Elafonisi, where I was collecting some shells

Happily last week Nick, Ron and I visited Elafonisi for the day. I was desperate to go beachcombing! It’s been so long since I’ve had the chance and I just couldn’t wait to feel the warm sun on my back and the sand between my toes again. I couldn’t wait to start my hunt for beautiful seashells, which will eventually be woven into my seashell mosaics. I am never happier than when I am on a beach and by the sea. It was indeed a glorious day with lots of sunshine and not a breath of wind. I absolutely loved it and managed to collect lots of the shells I needed. I know this is the start of much more beachcombing which I will do in the New Year. I am hoping to get at least one more day, perhaps in Bali before I go back to the UK for Christmas and New Year – now less than 3 weeks away!

Beautiful White Mountains over Almyrida

View from my balcony this morning – lots of crisp white snow on the mountains! Beautiful!

For the last few days the weather has been awful with lots and lots of rain and wind. Temperatures have been dipping to as low as 12 degrees – that’s cold for we ex-pats! I woke this morning to see the first snow on the mountains and it looked stunningly beautiful!  Beacuse last winter was so mild it seems ages since there was so much snow up there!  The time has been flying by so furiously that I can hardly believe it’s just two more days until the Almyrida Xmas Fayre again! My photo this morning shows how much improved the weather is today but its forecast for sunshine and showers on Sunday. This will be my eighth fayre and it looks like being the last one, the organisers are saying. I have written about these Fayres in previous posts and I’m sure that this final Fayre – held every year at the Almyrida Residence and Beach Hotels and hugely popular with all the residents of the Apokoronas area of Crete – will be just as great as it always is, raising tons of money for local charities and giving everyone that real Christmassy feeling!

I Love Being a Yaya!

I had the most wonderful time during my recent 3 week visit in the UK. I love, love, loved every minute of it! I was based at Emma and Ash’s cosy home in Helsby near Frodsham, a beautiful rural area near Chester. I couldn’t believe how much baby Ralph had grown and all the things he can do now! And he’s just soooo cheeky! I was totally amazed by how much Ralph progressed during the weeks I helped look after him and I took some wonderful videos of him which I can watch whenever I’m missing him and can’t Skype with Emma.

Ralph & I

Ralph and I at Emma & Ash’s home in Helsby

As his doting ‘Yaya’ I am besotted with Ralph and feel so lucky to have had such quality time playing with him. I was absolutely enthralled with just watching him while he discovered new things he could do. Of course – as with all babies – his curiosity and excitement in absolutely everything is a joy to witness so closely! Quite simply – I enjoyed a priceless three weeks of wonderful happy experiences that I shall always treasure.

The first weekend with Emma and Ralph, Zoe was able to join us and the four of us enjoyed a leisurely Saturday lunchtime at a charming cafe within a quirky gift shop in Helsby village.

Ralph & his steering wheel!

Ralph playing on his favourite steering wheel at the local children’s park in Helsby.

It had a play area at the back and Ralph loved it! Afterwards we visited the local children’s park where Ralph had an absolute ball! He was crawling all over the place – from one thing to another to end up back at his favourite steering wheel! The sounds and noises he makes when he’s excited are hilarious and exciting at the same time. Zoe, Emma and I just loved every minute of watching and playing with him. Wow, did I get some exercise in – especially going up Emma’s steep stairs with Ralph in my arms, several times a day! I am not used to stairs anymore, having lived the last seven and a half years on one level.

Ralph on Zoe's shoulders

Ralph on Zoe’s shoulders and with Emma

During the first two weeks Emma had several appointments to attend at the hospital and health centres, in connection with her shoulder operation and Ralph’s routine checks. I had previously voiced my concerns about driving in the UK after so many years of driving on the opposite side of the road on Crete. The sheer volume of traffic in the UK these days scared the very wits out of me! I know I’m a wimp but I have the added responsibility of carrying my daughter and grandson in the car, in an area I wasn’t familiar with and I was not feeling confident about the whole thing! However, I gave it a whirl and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It really helped that Helsby and the surrounding areas were more rural and much less built up and that the times I drove were all outside rush hours.

Warrington Gym Tots

Hannah with Ralph in the Gym Tots Room at Warrington Gymnastics Club

But I still had some scary moments when dealing with the heavy traffic and horrendously complicated roundabouts in Warrington. Emma, Ralph and I spent an afternoon at Warrington Gymnastics Club which my sister Karen and nieces Sophie and Hannah help run. The timing was perfect because none of the classes were on and so we virtually had the place to ourselves. You cannot imagine what an incredible play area that was for Ralph! We plonked him in the middle of an enormous soft and spring-loaded bright red floor area – which was scattered with a few blown up tubes and brightly coloured objects, including a baby walker. It was an endless space for him to charge around with the walker, without bumping into anything! Ralph soon made a beeline for the large boom box that was in one corner – standing up against it while instinctively swaying his hips to the beat and making us all laugh! He loved it when Sophie and Hannah (his second cousins) jumped on the trampoline with him in their arms. He watched Hannah – a double Olympian – do a high somersault from the trampoline into an enormous pit full of foam blocks! Wow! It was all so worth the horrible driving experience in Warrington!

Meal at Mercato

After our meal at Mercato – with my sisters, Karen and Leonie and brother-in-law, Mike

At the end of the second week at Emma’s, Ash was granted leave to come home for the weekend and I returned to Karen and Mike’s, to give Emma, Ash and Ralph some family time together. Ash was more than capable of looking after Emma and Ralph and it meant I could have some quality time with my sisters Karen and Leonie and brother-in-law, Mike. For the Saturday evening, Mike had booked a table at Mercato – the new Italian bar and bistro in Bramhall. We had a great evening because there’s always so much to talk and laugh about. So when we’d all finished our deserts and coffees we continued the party spirit back at the house, with all our favourite music and some downright daft dancing!
On the Sunday teatime – Karen, Mike, Leonie and Sophie came back with me to Emma’s and we all shared a late Sunday roast together at a pub restaurant close by. Ralph in his little wooden highchair, sitting at the top of the table – was the star of the show again!

On our lovely country ramble!

On our lovely country ramble – Ralph sits in his chair on Ash’s back, with Emma, Zoe and Rich

The last week was even busier with Ralph as Emma had to work from home. She is not allowed to drive for another three weeks but does not need to wear the sling anymore. She is gradually gaining strength in her shoulder and arm with physio and daily exercises. So on my final weekend it was great that Ash was again granted leave to come home and he drove Emma, Ralph and Me to Zoe and Rich’s new home in Huddersfield to stay for the weekend. Ash had bought a second-hand child-carrier – the type you see on the backs of serious walkers. Well Ralph absolutely loved being up high in this chair, when we all went for a long walk through the countryside, stopping at various country pubs for refreshments along the way. We ended the day at a favourite restaurant of Zoe and Rich’s, where I enjoyed one of the best steaks I’ve had for ages!

A very photogenic goat!

Couldn’t resist putting up this picture I took of a very photogenic goat – posing for the camera with Ralph just peeking behind Ash’s shoulder!

On Sunday we visited a large old Victorian park and spent a few hours there, playing with Ralph and even trying out some of the children’s apparatus ourselves! By late afternoon we were enjoying coffee and cake in the huge conservatory that had been converted into a cafe within the park grounds. Then we returned to Zoe and Rich’s house for a slap-up Sunday roast expertly cooked by Rich! It was a great weekend and a lovely way to end my three week stay in the UK – with all my closest family around me! By Monday evening I was back at Karen and Mike’s in time for my flight back to Crete on Tuesday morning, from Manchester Airport.

At the park with the ducks

At the Victorian Park with the ducks – Emma, Ralph, Ash, Zoe and Rich

I’ve been back home in Crete now for several days and have had much to pick up and continue with, such as the final tweaks to my new Etsy Shop, which officially opens in a couple of days on 1st November. Here is the direct link to the shop:

SeashellBeautyinArt

There have been many more matters to pay attention to – not least of all – my car! It needs a service, MOT and has other problems that worry me. There’s also a very personal matter that is demanding my time and energies and I will talk about this in a future post. Let’s just say that I’m hoping some extremely good news will come out of it!

After such a packed three weeks of quality time with my grandson and underneath all that’s going on now, back home on Crete – I am missing Ralph sooooo much!

img_0489