Having Lots of Fun Playing with the Grandchildren!

Emma, Ralph and Neve returned to the UK almost 2 weeks ago and I have been so busy with my art business that this is the first opportunity I have had to write a post about their stay with me.  We had a rather worrying start to the holiday with Neve being poorly and Emma unsure whether she was well enough to travel.  But both Ralph and Neve came running from the arrivals/baggage hall, under the barrier and into my welcoming arms, as soon as they saw me!  And I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Neve has child asthma and there was every chance that they may not have been able to come to Crete at all.  So Emma and I felt extremely fortunate and I knew that Crete’s wonderful fresh air would be really good for Neve.. and it certainly was!

Ralph & Neve on my balcony

Ralph & Neve on my balcony before we head off to the beach in Almyrida

Needless to say it was a full week as we alternated between pool and beach days.  The pool days were largely spent at the Almyrida Beach Hotel where we always had a nice lunch and we did spend one day at the Almyrida Bay Hotel because it has such a huge pool with good facilities for children.  But it was like last year, in need of a little attention and not very well staffed. Although the lack of people staying meant it was very quiet and this was actually quite nice.

On the beach early eveing after a pizza tea in Almyrida

On the beach early eveing after a pizza tea in Almyrida

We enjoyed days on both beach ends of Almyrida, especially loving the Tsunami beach where there are shallow rock pools which Ralph and Neve loved exploring and swimming in.  I turned myself into a big kid again and Ralph and I especially enjoyed jumping over all the large waves coming in, getting drenched, losing our footing countless times and laughing our socks off as larger waves loomed towards us!  It was perfectly safe too because the sea is so shallow in that area.

Swimming in the shallow rock pools at the Tsunami beach end of Almyrida

Swimming in the shallow rock pools at the Tsunami beach end of Almyrida

 

On our last evening we ate out instead of at home and dined at Elia & Thyme restaurant in Almyrida.  It was a lovely meal which we followed with drinks for Emma and me, and ice creams for the kids on the beautiful roof terrace of the Almyrida Residence Hotel.  Here Emma revisited some wonderful memories of her wedding reception which was held there in June 2016.  Emma and I just relaxed back on the plush sunbeds on the raised decking by the infinity pool, while Ralph and Neve ran around like kids do.

Ralph & Neve have fun with the dinghy and all those penguins someone was selling!

Ralph & Neve have fun with the dinghy and all those penguins someone was selling!

I had a really wonderful time playing and swimming with Ralph and Neve and I know I am really going to miss them when they are gone…  The week just passed too quickly and then suddenly I was driving them back to Chania airport for their late flight home.  Their flight was delayed almost 3 hours and didn’t take off until 2am!  The problems ongoing in the travel industry and at the airports this summer are dreadful and especially stressful for families with small children.

Outside my home before we go out to eat in Almyrida

Outside my home before we go out to eat in Almyrida

So with family back in the UK, I got down to creating more designs that I have sold out of.  July turned out to be a bumper month and I sold 40 seashell mosaics, including a couple of sales at the Gavalochori gift shop, which is now stocking around 20 of my Seashell Mosaic Paintings.

August is also proving to be a busy month for sales and once again I find that there are not enough hours to enable me to keep up with demand.   But I am sticking to setting up my stall on only Mondays and Thursdays so that it is not quite as hectic as the years before Covid, when I was by Almyrida beach 3 days a week.

At Elia & Thyme in Almyrida

At Elia & Thyme in Almyrida

 

At the beginning of September my lovely and dear friends, Gill and Rick are returning to Crete with Rick’s brother and his wife, after the absence of a few years (Covid didn’t help!) They are all staying at the Emerald and I am so looking forward to seeing them here again.  On the 8th September Zoe, Rich and little Arthur are coming to stay with me and I am super excited about their visit too, especially as they didn’t make it to Crete last year.  Happily there is still so much to look forward to this summer….

 

 

Tourists Return to Almyrida and My Art is Selling Like Hot Cakes Again!

It’s been a busy month especially for selling my Seashell Mosaic Collage Paintings. I have still only been setting up my stall 2 days a week – usually on Mondays and Thursdays, yet I am already struggling to keep up with demand for several popular designs this year. I’ve spent all the free hours I have at home, creating more Mosaics to replace the ones I’ve sold.

Seashell Mosaic Collage Painting by Michaela Raeburn

Everybody’s favourite cat, memories of Crete. Very popular design this summer. Seashell Mosaic Painting 18 x 24cms

Of course this is all good news but it does mean I have not had much time to take a break and enjoy a nice long swim, which I took frequently last summer.  However I see this as a temporary but necessary sacrifice, even if it is interfering with my newfound balance in life. After all.. I have had 2 lean years where I did not sell so much, so I want and need to make up for those losses. Anyway.. my daughter Emma and Grandchildren Ralph and Neve are arriving for a week’s holiday in just a few days and then I shall have at least 5 whole days of swimming and fun playing in the water! I am probably as excited as they all are!

Seashell Mosaic Collage Painting by Michaela Raeburn

Another popular design this summer. Flipflops & Footprints – 30 x 40cms

Now that Covid (or should I say the world’s governments) is no longer dictating our lives, this is the first summer that feels like everything is back to how it should be. There are many more tourists in Almyrida this July, particularly Norwegians, I’ve noticed.. and many more British holidaymakers. But I have met people visiting from many other countries too.

I am happy to report that my art is flying off the display boards and I have already sold 22 artworks so far this month. I am also relieved that so far we have not experienced the constant high temperatures of over 35 degrees that we had to endure last year. I have been comfortable working from home and have not needed to use the aircon yet. A real bonus when you consider the extortionate electricity bills we are all being forced to pay. I hope and pray it stays that way.

Phoenix playing in Drapanos

The new band called Phoenix, playing in Drapanos

All the live music events are back in force. In fact some nights there have been two bands playing at two different venues and it’s been difficult to decide which ones to go to. A couple of new bands have recently formed, playing refreshingly different music. A few weeks ago there was a great atmosphere in Vamos square, when ‘The Vibes’ and ‘Three Little Birds’ played. All the tavernas around the square were packed outside and they closed the road to all traffic, which meant there was a nice big dancefloor! We all danced loads that night and now I wish I’d taken some photos.

Lisa & I at John's birthday celebrations

Birthday boy John took this photo of Lisa & I

I could easily have gone out every night lately, but with so much work on I chose to listen to the Three Little Birds, who played with 2 other bands at Nikita’s in Almyrida about a week ago and that was also a great night. I must remember to take more  pics of the bands actually performing,  I’m always too busy enjoying myself! A new band called Phoenix played at a taverna in Drapanos and we celebrated a friend’s birthday at a taverna in Kalyves where Carl Axon and his band were playing. There was another really good group of musicians playing on the roof garden of the Almyrida Residence that same night and so Lisa and I left a little earlier and managed to enjoy the last two songs and a cocktail up there.

Carl Axon at Kalyves

Carl Axon with young guest singer/guitarist playing at Kalyves where we celebrated John’s Birthday.

I am really enjoying the summer of 2022! Wonderful things have indeed been happening and It promises to continue to exceed my expectations in all ways. As usual, I am feeling so blessed and lucky to be living the wonderful life I lead on this beautiful Island which is Crete and which I love so much.

Extra Quality Time with my Family in the UK

I almost couldn’t believe that my return journey to Crete, after 16 lovely days with my family in the UK, was totally stress-free and absent of any delays. After the awful trip from Chania to Manchester and having seen and heard all the horror stories – I was quite prepared for another rotten travel experience and had decided I would just go with the flow and not let it get to me.  My outbound flight had been delayed by over two hours in Chania and when it finally arrived in Manchester, there was no staff to bring steps so we couldn’t get off the plane! Much later in the baggage hall, there was nobody to take the suitcases off the planes and onto the conveyor belts.  More and more flights were arriving but there was not a bag or suitcase to be seen! I was worried about my daughter who had to leave the car park because it was getting too expensive to stay. When I eventually got my bag (and I was one of the lucky ones!) I had to walk way beyond the airport to find Emma waiting by her car. How ironic that I was actually looking forward to travelling again – post pandemic. Yet it was far worse because the travel industry was so totally unprepared for the sheer volume of people wanting to finally get away. What a fiasco!

Needless to say – however bad the travel experiences – it is always worth it to spend such quality time with my family and grandchildren. It is a real holiday for me and I enjoyed and loved every minute of it. I stayed with Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve for the first 9 days, happily looking after Ralph and Neve for the two days Emma was working. Luckily the weather, although not as good as I’d hoped – was dry and quite sunny at times so we were able to visit the park and go exploring in the woods where we found a treehouse!

 

 

The military base where they live, gave out free tickets to Flamingo Land and so we all went there for the day and the weather was really nice. As it was half term it was very busy and queues for the rides were taking an hour or more. We decided on only a few choice rides, Ash taking Ralph on the steepest rollercoaster in the world – no less – whilst Emma and I queued for a couple of rides with Neve.

It is many many years since I visited a leisure park like Flamingo Land and I must say I was impressed. There was also a zoo set among the beautiful grounds of what once must have been a huge estate and manor house. We spent the whole day there and enjoyed a wide variety of options for lunch, which we ate outside in the sunshine. It was a lovely day out and shortly after we arrived home, Emma and Ash left to go to York for the evening and an overnight hotel stay. As it was their wedding anniversary and they don’t often get the chance to go out, I urged them to take advantage of my being there to babysit.

At the Platinum Jubilee barbeque

At the Platinum Jubilee barbeque held on the Military base

The next day, on the Saturday there was a big party and barbeque in the grounds of the Military base, held to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Again we were so lucky to have good weather as the sun shone for most of the time.  Zoe, Rich and Arthur had travelled from the other side of Yorkshire to join us in the celebrations, which turned it into a real family affair. Aside from the free barbeque, there was a large bouncy castle for the kids, a brilliant play list of music and tunes that many got up to dance to and we brought along our own beer and wine to drink. It was a wonderful day and we stayed until well after 7pm. Zoe, Rich and Arthur were staying over so after we had put all the kids to bed – we continued the party, drinking and sitting around a fire pit in Emma and Ash’s garden, playing music and chatting all evening.

Ralph, Neve & Arthur waving their union jack flags at the Jubilee party

Ralph, Neve & Arthur waving their union jack flags at the Jubilee party

Platinum Julbilee Barbeque

Enjoying the Platinum Jubilee Party & Barbeque

A couple of days later Emma drove us to a shopping centre in Leeds, where we met Zoe. Because the children were back at school and nursery, we had a totally free day of shopping which included a tasty lunch, enjoyed in the sunshine in the garden of Gino de Campo’s restaurant. Then I went back with Zoe to their house in Golcar. It was a shame because the weather was not as good in their part of Yorkshire. In fact I found it rather cold because it was so windy. However this did not stop us from enjoying some quality time together. Zoe had the whole week off work, which was great for me. We spent time shopping and actually did some gardening which I really enjoyed, having only pots to tend in Crete. I also got to play with Arthur lots and I babysat a couple of times so that Zoe and Rich could go out. Like Emma and Ash – they rarely have the chance to go out without the children.

At Ilkley Food and drink festival

At Ilkley Food and drink festival

On the Sunday there was a food and drink festival being held in Ilkley. Zoe and Rich had been to this festival many times before and this year Emma, Ash and the kids came along too and met us there. It was wonderful as I wasn’t expecting another opportunity where we were all together again. Live music from different bands played all day, giving a real festival atmosphere and there were more rides for the kids. Dozens of food and drink stalls of every variety were dotted all over this huge field including many more stalls and marquees selling all kinds of edible treats and crafts. But – in typically British style – the weather this time did put a dampner on things as it was so windy and there was no shelter on that open field! Strong gusts meant that food flew off our plates and drinks were whisked out of our hands, with the children getting all upset at one point. But hey – we all had a great time really and it did brighten up later on in the afternoon.

I really enjoyed my extra holiday in the UK and I intend to make this visit in May/June a more regular thing. I can’t and don’t expect my girls and their families to visit Crete every summer and if they can’t come, then I am only seeing my grandchildren at Christmas time. As it happens I have been really fortunate that Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve all came for holidays here in 2020 and 2021. Zoe and Rich visited in 2020 but were unable to come in 2021. However this summer I am spoilt as Emma , Ralph and Neve are arriving for a week’s holiday on 21st July and are staying with me this time. Also Zoe, Rich and Arthur are coming over in September for two weeks, four days of which will be spent in Cyprus where Zoe’s best friend gets married. I will be looking after Arthur whilst they are there. So I have much to look forward to this summer.

I was back selling by Almyrida beach again two days after I arrived home and am pleased that I sold 5 Seashell Mosaic Collage Paintings that day. Among them was the hugely popular design – “Always believe something wonderful is going to happen”. In only 5 separate days of selling this season – I have sold two of these already! And you know what? I truly believe that something really wonderful is going to happen this summer…..

Ange & I Enjoy Walking The Imbros Gorge

I have had three good selling days so far this month but the weather was not good enough for a couple of days last week and disappointingly I only managed to sell on the Monday. Tomorrow will be my last day in May before I fly back to the UK for 16 days. The weather otherwise has been sunny and hot and for the first time in two years there are plenty of tourists – including British – around and about Almyrida and Plaka.
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Now I Have Time for Everything Including Lots of Socialising!

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Goodbye to the Good Weather for Weeks of Cold and Rain!

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Making the Most of the Warm Winter Sunshine

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A Very Happy 3 Weeks in the UK with Family at Christmas Time

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Enjoying Long Walks in the Beautiful Cretan Countryside

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Disappointing, Dull & Miserable Weather For October

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