Lovely Cretan Winter Sun & Working Outside on my Balcony

During these last five or six weeks I have thrown myself back into my Art and creating Seashell Mosaic designs in readiness for the coming summer beach selling season. Designs such as Seagulls, Girls on Swings, “Always Believe…” sand quote and Pink Flamingos were in great demand, yet I could not produce enough last summer, after selling out of the ones I created over the winter months. So I am hoping I will be better prepared this year.

Painting with Seagulls in Seashell Mosaic - 25 x 30cms

Painting with Seagulls in Seashell Mosaic – 25 x 30cms

The weather has improved greatly in the last few weeks, with much less rain and more sunshine. But the wind has returned with a vengeance! However, twice this week I was lucky enough when the wind dropped, the sun was shining in blue skies and I was able to work on my balcony. It was warm and wonderful to be working outside again. Although I have also had odd days in January when conditions were good enough. With the amazing backdrop of the awesome snow-covered mountains, the sea and countless olive groves – who wouldn’t envy me my studio?

Painting with Girls on Swings in Seashell Mosaic - 18 x 24cms

Painting with Girls on Swings in Seashell Mosaic – 18 x 24cms

I have carried on with the power walks and settled into two crossfit classes a week. Though I have been finding it difficult to tear myself away from my work in order to make the crossfit classes at 4.45pm. Normally I would have carried on until 7pm. But hey – I was determined to bring more balance into my life and working out regularly is all part of that. Besides – the buzz I feel afterwards (and everyone who works out will tell you the same) – would make me a small fortune if I could bottle and sell it!

On the social front, I recently went to a party night at my local taverna, Vangeli’s. There was good food, music and a whole load of people I hadn’t had the chance to catch up with for ages! Needless to say – that was a long and a late night! There have been a few music quizzes I went to at Captain Jack’s, enjoying fish and chip suppers afterwards and I’ve also been to a Carl Axon gig at Simon’s in Kalyves.

The grand hallway of this enormous house!

The grand hallway of this enormous house!

A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to visiting where Lisa has been living for the last couple of months. What an amazing place! I can only describe it as an English manor house remotely situated at the foot of the mountains, with breathtaking views all around. The outside is still a modern build, but the inside is traditionally ‘old English’. It is a charming place to live in and Lisa is so lucky that the owner asked her if she’d like to move in to take care of the dogs and cats there, and generally look after this otherwise neglected and unlived-in mansion. The owner does not live there as he spends the majority of his life living on his large old schooner. You could see his boat from my balcony during most of the summer last year, when it was docked in Almyrida bay. We spent a lovely afternoon there and Lisa has drawn me a map for next time, as she had to meet me at the national road in Kalyves – otherwise I never would have found the place and I get lost easily – no sense of direction!

It’s looking like this may be quite a long term base and home for Lisa and so I will be going there lots more. The other good news about this lovely English manor home on Crete, is that my friend Debbie will be moving in there with Lisa when she returns after her treatment from the UK in April. I can’t wait to see her and am so pleased that she is well again.

The far beach in Stavros

The far beach in Stavros

A couple of weeks ago, Lisa and I spent a day in Stavros, beachcombing. Again – weather conditions were great, with lots of warm sunshine and no wind. There are two main beaches there and I have mentioned Stavros in previous posts. The last time I was there was in March 2018 when ‘The Beach of Zorbas’, as they call it, was in much better condition. This time it was a bit storm scruffy, but still beautiful. My goodness! You should see Almyrida‘s beaches right now! I’ll try to remember to bring my mobile and take a photo, next time I go for a power walk.  I’m really bad at remebering to take photos, because I always get so distracted!

Relaxing on the pretty little beach near Stavros

Relaxing on the pretty little beach near Stavros

Despite the debris from the storms we had in January – both beaches were still awesome to explore. We took a picnic as we always do (because most of the tavernas are closed at this time of year) and collected lots of pretty seashells. On the way back we pass another popular beach bay and so decided to stop there and take a look. We quickly noticed that there were very few shells on this beach but we decided to spend a relaxing hour there anyway… just enjoying the beautiful scenery, peace and sounds of the sea and the seagulls. It is a really pretty place and I really should find out the name of the beach… but you could say that we felt so lucky, as we always do – to have so many beautiful beaches on our doorsteps – to visit whenever we want!

The Year 2020 is Sure to be a Good One!

I came back home to Crete for New Year, after having had a wonderful Christmas in the UK with all my family. I returned on the 28th December to dreadful weather, having missed all the best of it whilst I was in the UK. The thunderstorms in Plaka were so severe that most of us didn’t have internet for days and power cuts were frequent. My car battery had died and it appears that there are some electric issues too, which I am still trying to sort out. I am thankful for my good friends Atremis and Rob, who both went out of their way to help me.. right up until New Year’s Eve!

Gorgeous little Arthur

Gorgeous little Arthur!

But let me rewind to my Christmas in the UK. I arrived on the 10th and for the first 5 days I stayed with Zoe, Rich and Arthur in Golcar, Yorkshire, spending lots of quality time with my gorgeous new Grandson, Arthur who is just over 3 months old. We walked a little, shopped a little and enjoyed lots of lunches in quaint Yorkshire cafes (Umm… I do love a home-made scone with lots of jam and clotted cream!) We also did lots of chilling at home because the weather was very cold, miserable and forever drizzling with rain! We decided to go into Bramhall one day and I was lucky enough to meet up with Jill in a local cafe where we had lunch. It really was a spur of the moment thing because I otherwise would not have had the chance to see her this time round. But the sheer volume of traffic meant it took over two hours to drive back to Huddersfield. I am so glad that I don’t have to suffer these problems on Crete. I could not go back to being stuck in my car for hours on end, day in and day out! What a waste of precious time!

Ralph as one of the three Kings in his first Nativity Play.

Ralph as one of the three Kings in his first Nativity Play.

On Saturday we drove down to Bury St Edmunds and the military base where Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve live. Zoe and Rich were in one of the guest houses nearby and I moved into Emma and Ash’s for the next 6 days. The first two days Emma worked a 12 hour shift and the following day, drove 4 hours to York for an interview, where she and the family will be living from January onwards. She got the job, which made the 9 hours of driving all worth it. As for me – well I thoroughly enjoyed those two days of looking after Ralph and Neve. We all went to the church on the military base where we watched Ralph in his first Nativity Play.  Amongst all the children, many crying and running off the stage, Ralph played his part as one of the three kings so well and did us all proud! During those 6 days I loved all the rough and tumble games we played, all the things we did together… the hugs and kisses, the laughter and the fun!

All of us, except Ralph, out for a late pub lunch near Bury St Edmunds.

All of us, except Ralph, out for a late pub lunch near Bury St Edmunds.

WIth Cute little Neve

With Cute little Neve at the pub lunch.

We spent as much time all together as we could, given Emma’s commitments and Rich and Zoe‘s planned visits to all of Rich’s family in Norwich. Many had not yet met baby Arthur. But we enjoyed a late lunch at a cosy pub – all of us apart from Ralph, who was at nursery. One evening Zoe, Emma and I had such a laugh when we decided to have a girly night out at a local pub near the base. The rest of the time I just made the most of being with my family and playing with my Grandchildren.

With Zoe & Emma on our girly night out

With Emma & Zoe on our girly night out

For me it was all too soon when It came to parting with Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve. They were leaving for the Lake District and then Shrewsbury, where they would all spend Christmas with Ash’s family. So I left with Rich, Zoe and Arthur and returned to their home in Yorkshire for my Christmas with them. And it was lovely… relaxing and very happy! On Christmas Eve late afternoon, we went to a charming and very busy pub in Golcar for a lovely meal. In the morning, after opening all the presents (90% of which were Arthur’s!), Rich cooked up his speciality breakfast of poached eggs and smoked salmon. Delicious! Then we wrapped up warmly for a walk and ended up at a local pub for a tipple or two! Christmas dinner was just the finest, expertly cooked by our excellent resident chef, Rich! He did us proud and we are all so lucky to be eating so well. We had every intention of playing some games afterwards, but somehow Arthur stole the show! He is a joy to interact with, responding with lots of smiles, giggles and laughter. He is a dream baby and as long as he is getting plenty of stimulation during his awake periods in the day.. at night he is out for the count and sleeps for up to 11 hours, bless!

Rich, Zoe & Arthur on our Christmas day walk and tipple at the pub!

Rich, Zoe & Arthur on our Christmas day walk and tipple at the pub!

On Boxing Day Zoe and Rich drove me to Karen and Mike’s home in Bramhall. Zoe and Rich were staying for lunch and we arrived to a houseful of guests. All of Mike’s family were there and it was great to see Caroline and Tony amongst them, as I haven’t had the chance to catch up with them over the last year or so. Sadly, I didn’t get a proper chance to chat this time either, because it was all just a little chaotic with everyone else there too! So we all passed a pleasant few hours catching up with everyone, before it was time to say my tearful goodbyes again… this time to Zoe, Rich and Arthur. Although I’m always sad every time I part with any member of my family – It’s only a temporary feeling because I know that they will all be here with me on beautiful Crete again – at some time or another this summer.

I was only in Bramhall for two nights and a day, but it was enough to catch up with Karen, Mike, Sophie and Hannah, who are all happy and well. It was good to just chat and chill out and we ended up watching “It’s a Wonderful World” – a classic black and white 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama with brilliant emotional acting by James Stewart. It somehow popped up in a search when we were looking for a decent film to watch. I love the film and have seen it many times but the others had never seen the movie. I recommended we all watch it, and wasn’t at all surprised when everyone had tears in their eyes by the end of it!  For me the message is loud and clear. We can all be so grateful for the wonderful family and life that we have.

With Ray, Karen, John & Chrissie at the New Year's Eve Party at Captain Jack's in Almyrida.

With Ray, Karen, John & Chrissie at the New Year’s Eve Party at Captain Jack’s in Almyrida.

I made the absolute most of the time I had with my family this Christmastime and then took the long journey home to Crete. Every Christmas it is the same – a 14 hour trip because there are no direct flights to Chania over the winter period. So I am always relieved to be home again. Even though there have been problems to deal with and really bad weather, I was looking forward to seeing some of my friends at the New Year’s Eve Party, as I rarely spend New Year on Crete. There has only been one other year but I can’t remember which one.

WIth Chrissie, Lisa & Brian at the New Year's Eve Party

WIth Chrissie, Lisa & Brian at the New Year’s Eve Party

I could not believe the state Almyrida is in again! The central area between the hotels is flooded with two feet deep seawater and there are rocks and debris strewn everywhere. Almyrida looked totally storm-damaged! But I arrived at Captain Jack’s, just opposite the beach where the waves were crashing, and realized that the bad weather hadn’t deterred anybody from celebrating the start of 2020, because lots of people turned out and it was busy. A couple of local bands provided the live music, the food was good, the wine flowing and there was a real party atmosphere. We greeted the New Year in with a glass of champagne and a fabulous firework display that gave us all a scare when a large spark fell amongst us, hitting Brian on the foot and Ray on the top of his head! Thankfully no-one  was hurt and it did give us all a really good laugh afterwards!

A great New Year's Eve fireworks display and I even managed to capture this one!

A great New Year’s Eve fireworks display and I even managed to capture this one!

Yesterday I woke up to see blue skies and sunshine again and it spurred me into doing my first power walk of 2020. It was hard going after all the Christmas and New Year indulgences, but I persevered and felt so much the better for my efforts. So I will continue my keep fit programme, knowing that it is so good for me… and I can’t shake the positive feeling that 2020 is sure to be a good year.

August is Still the Busiest Time of my Year

Even though I wrote in my last post that I was having a more relaxing summer.. August has ended up being surprisingly busy for me!  I say this because – like all the other businesses in Almyrida this summer – customers have been few and far between.  August has always been my busiest month for sales and I am pleased to say that this year was no exception!  In the current circumstances, I count myself extremely fortunate to have sold 54 Artworks in August, including a couple of sales on my Etsy shop – Continue reading

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! Continue reading

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. Continue reading