Enjoying More Free Time This Summer.

The summer months from May through to September are normally so busy and hectic for me!  Looking back over the last ten years – I really have spent long and crazy hours producing and selling my unique Seashell Mosaic Paintings and Collages.  It has been all about supply and demand!  My Art Business has totally consumed my time and energies but don’t get me wrong because I have loved every moment of it!

Seashell Mosaic Collage of Baby Turtles race to the sea - 10 x 30cms Still my most popular design!

Seashell Mosaic Collage of Baby Turtles race to the sea – 10 x 30cms Still my most popular design!

Yet this summer things have been quite different.  For the first time since I started my Art Business, I have lots more free time on my hands in which to pursue other interests and relax more.  This is because beach sales are down quite considerably and Etsy sales too – are very disappointing, but I will talk more about Etsy in a future post.  I know this is due to global economics and circumstances as I see and hear clear evidence of this through talking to customers from all over the world.  Many would love to buy my Seashell Mosaics but cannot afford to.  These are difficult times for anyone selling anything!

Consequently, although I still sell for three days of the week, the other four days are now not taken up with producing. My weekends are free and I only need one day a week in which to prep up canvases to work on during those beach selling days.  This still leaves me with three free days!  The pace of my summer life has suddenly become much slower and about time too!  It’s almost as though a drop in my sales was meant to be!  I have mentioned in previous posts how I want to strive for more balance in my life… well now I have the opportunities to do this, because now I have the time to do other things.

The far beach in Almyrida, so pretty and much quieter!

The far beach in Almyrida, so pretty and much quieter!

For the past month I have been going down to the beach on these free days, just for a few hours at around 4pm.  This is a lovely period of the day to be on the beach and it’s only a two minute drive or a ten minute walk down to Almyrida, so how lucky am I?  I have a choice of three beaches – all different, but I prefer the far beach which is much quieter.  Sometimes I meet Lisa at the Cantina beach, which is much busier.  I love to take long languorous swims in the sea, where the temperature is just perfect for cooling off and where I feel both emotionally and physically energised.  It’s so good for me!  I relax on a lounger in the shade, with a good book and Sudoku, taking refreshing swims in between.  These few hours are so relaxing and remind me of 2009 and the first summer I had here on Crete – before my artworks became so popular.  I am really enjoying again – all the marvellous amenities this wonderful Island and climate has to offer in the summer months.  I already feel that I have more balance in my daily life.

On the Island of Gavhdos and before I head to the shoreline to look for seashells!

On the Island of Gavhdos and before I head to the shoreline to look for seashells!

I’ve also been on a day trip to the Island of Gavhdos recently.  This entailed a coach trip to the south coast of Plakias and from there – an hour and a half ferry ride to the Island.  We were a group of about 50 or 60 people, many of which I knew and so it was good fun all round and interesting to meet new people too.  A coach at the small port of Gavhdos took us to a nearby beach where we could chill for a couple of hours.  There were no refreshments on the boat and so we had drinks and nibbles at one of the beach tavernas there.  Of course me being me – afterwards I headed straight for the shoreline in search of any interesting or different shells.  Sadly I did not find any but I enjoyed a refreshing swim and couldn’t help noticing how many nudists were on the beach.  No surprise I suppose, for this natural Island of Gavhdos.

On Gavhdos - the Taverna at the edge of the beach where we all had lunch.

On Gavhdos – the Taverna at the edge of the beach where we all had lunch.

After this we all boarded the coach again for a tour of the whole Island – so small it is only 10 km long and 5 km wide and is triangular-shaped.  We hoped the coach would be able to take us to Cape Trypiti – the southernmost tip of Europe, but unfortunately the road only reached so far and the rest was a long and steep trek down – which we didn’t have time for, disappointingly!  Otherwise, with the exception of a few scattered old ruins, there wasn’t much else to see on this tiny Island at Europe’s most southern tip.  We were dropped back off at the beach where we all went to another taverna for a big late lunch and some music.  It was a lovely setting at the edge of the beach and the atmosphere was relaxed and lively!  I enjoyed the boat trips and it was a great day out.  In fact it was a very long day and I didn’t arrive back home until 10pm.

Dr Albert Flipout and his One CAN Band - playing at Hasomeri in Vamos.

Dr Albert Flipout and his One CAN Band – A truly funny guy, playing at Hasomeri in Vamos.

I have enjoyed more going out in the evenings too.  To mention a few – a summer festival in Stilos Park and U4ouria Gigs on the Almyrida Rooftop Garden and in Kalyves Square.  Needless to say.. lots of dancing on these nights!  I went to see Dr Albert Flipout’s One CAN Band at Hasomeri in Vamos.  Marianne booked a table so we ate there too.  What a hilarious guy he was!  Apart from being a genuinely talented musician, this half Greek, half Danish musician entertained us with such funny stories!  The lyrics to most of his songs were so ‘off the wall’ and Marianne and I thought – so funny!  His blend of music was brilliant and so full of rhythm. He was a really different kind of entertainer and we loved him so we bought his CD!

Debbie and I on the Almyrida Rooftop Garden at the U4ouria Gig

Only a few weeks ago – Debbie and I on the Almyrida Rooftop Garden at the U4ouria Gig, where we danced for most of the evening!

So as you can tell… I’ve been having lots of fun and enjoying my new ‘free time’.  But as so often happens… something comes along to knock you off your feet and of course this is all part of ‘Life’s Balance’.  On a more serious note, Lisa and I have recently had shocking news about our friend Debbie.  She has been rushed to a specialist hospital in Athens for an emergency operation.  She has bleeding on the brain.  Her family and friends are all in shock and deeply worried about her.  We are all praying that Debbie will make a full and speedy recovery.  Apparently she is in the hands of Greece’s top Brain Surgeon and we take comfort from this.



Celebrating 10 Wonderful Years on Crete!

Yes, I cannot believe that I have lived on this wonderful Island of Crete for ten years! Those ten years have seen me living out my dreams because I have always wanted to live like this… by the sea and so close to nature and all her awesome glory. The lifestyle I’ve enjoyed has been so perfect for me and is everything I could have hoped for and more! How far removed it is from the life I led in the UK because here I have lived a simple, busy but contented, peaceful and happy life from the moment I stepped onto Cretan soil.

One of the awesome views from my balcony in winter!

One of the awesome views from my balcony in winter!

Without doubt – I am a different person to the one I was when I left the UK all those years ago.  I am so much happier, for starters!  I really know myself so much the better now.  Seriously?  The list is endless and I won’t bore you with the details, but I can assure you that it’s all positive stuff!  The fact that I have funded my wonderful expat lifestyle from selling my unique Seashell Mosaic Collages is in itself a dream come true! I live in a wonderful apartment that boasts the best views in the area. I have it all – the awesome White Mountains, vast expanses of ocean fringing Almyrida, Kalyves and Souda Bays, the rocky cove at the bottom of the hill below me and countless olive groves. Surrounded by this wonderful vista – I am uplifted and feel a deep sense of inner peace and calm which I sadly, never experienced in the UK and which has so helped me to cope better with all the sadness and grief of the past 18 months.

Another awesome sunset view as seen from my balcony this week!

Another awesome sunset view as seen from my balcony this week!

For the years now to come, I want to create more balance in my life. I have worked long, countless but happy hours on my Seashell Mosaics for the past ten years and I need and want to slow down now! I want to free up more time to socialize again… something I’ve definitely not felt like doing for over a year and a half.

So it is with a fresh attitude that I started beach-selling during mid May. Now that the pressure is off – I am feeling more relaxed and so even though we are at the middle of June – I am still only setting up in Almyrida for 2 days a week.   This seems to be working out fine, given that it is still early in the season and Almyrida doesn’t really get busy until July. Nevertheless, I sold 12 Artworks last week and I am more than happy with that! One of my latest designs has been really popular and I’m not surprised! Living in and visiting a beautiful place like this, it’s easy to believe that something wonderful is going to happen!

Inspiration and hope written in the sand

Inspiration and hope written in the sand

I have always said how much I love selling by the beach in Almyrida! I have loved meeting all the new and returning tourists that visit Almyrida in the summer and I love talking to all the people I know here. I guess this part of my life is where I have done the most socializing during the past ten years!

Talking of socializing, it was so nice to meet up with Paul and Sheila again. They are such a lovely couple and have bought so many of my Artworks over all the years I have known them. They came to Plaka and treated me to a lovely lunch in Almyrida recently where we enjoyed a long and over-due catch-up.

it was also really good to see Jill, Rick and their family when they visited a few weeks ago. I joined them all for a couple of afternoons on the beach and so enjoyed lunch and dinner with just Jill and Rick on the nights we met up. We had a lovely meal in Psaros on their last night – good food, nice wine and great company – these lovely people are such good friends to me! I miss not seeing more of them.

Eating out at Psaros with Jill & Rick on their last night.

Eating out at Psaros with Jill & Rick on their last night.

I have over ten years of jam-packed fabulous memories of the kind that could only have come from my life on this most beautiful Island of Crete. More recently I gave both my beautiful daughters away at two fabulous family weddings in 2016 and 2018. Zoe and Emma have come to Crete almost every year since the beginning and sometimes twice a year. I have countless uplifting memories of their visits, sometimes both together, sometimes with boyfriends or sometimes – just on their own. Now for the last 3 years I have enjoyed spending ‘holiday’ time with my gorgeous grandchildren, Ralph and Neve as well!  All the members of my family and many friends have been out to visit and stay with me over these past ten years.

Just a few weeks ago - on Kalyves beach with Ralph & Neve

Just a few weeks ago – on Kalyves beach with Ralph & Neve

I have been to so many beautiful and fantastic places here and met so many different people. I have also made some good close friends here on Crete.   I’ve enjoyed fantastic times with family and friends alike and Crete’s wonderful climate has made all these memories the best!  All in all – there’s simply every reason to be optimistic about the next ten years of happily living on Crete! I feel as though I am entering a new chapter in my life and it’s all looking positive for the future.

Remembering My Lovely Mum

Following New Year I had been home for barely two weeks when I received a phone call from my sister Karen, to tell me that Mum’s health had seriously deteriorated and so I immediately flew back to the UK. She had just been moved to St. Ann’s Hospice so that they could better manage her condition and make her more comfortable. Thankfully I was able to spend the last week with her in the hospice, along with many other family and friends who visited regularly up until the end. Continue reading

Christmas is about Celebrating Quality Family Time

This Christmas time I went back to the UK much earlier than I usually do.
This is a good thing because I was able to spend lots of quality time with my Mum – even though she slept so much! Also my brother Mark came to visit for a couple of days with his two children, Honey and Ted and it was so good to see them all again! As always, it is good to catch up with Karen and Mike, while I base myself at their beautiful home. Continue reading

A Beautiful Day in Bali

There’s not much to report since my last post. Working on my Seashell Mosaic Collages is always a given, because whenever there isn’t anything else that takes priority – I am busy creating! This is also the time of year that I do my seashell sourcing and place orders with my regular suppliers. But I wanted to write this final post of 2018 before I return to the UK on Saturday morning. Continue reading

My Big Birthday Bash on Crete!

I am writing up this post on my wonderful balcony, on this cloudy day in November. We’ve just come out of a prolonged period of fine, sunny and warm weather and now we are getting rain and thunderstorms. But right now it is not raining and I can hear the sea and see the waves rolling onto the shoreline all around Almyrida Bay. Vasili’s sheep are in my garden below again and so I hear the tinkling of the ‘main’ sheep’s bell and the odd almost baby-sounding bleats coming from the little ones. They seem to lamb all year round on Crete. It must be our wonderful climate! Continue reading