It’s Late, but Summer is Finally Starting to Kick Off!

It’s true! Aside from the exciting UEFA Championship final between UK and Italy happening tomorrow, slowly, slowly Almyrida and Plaka are starting to fill with more tourists. I cannot wait to welcome the UK tourists back. They have definitely been conspicuous by their absence, with mostly only Germans, Russians and a few Americans visiting. But with the easing of restrictions in the UK on travel, this means many more British tourists can now visit Greece without having to quarantine on their return.

Sold last week in Almyrida - New design for this year - Little Mermaid Seashell Mosaic Painting

Sold last week in Almyrida – New design for this year – Little Mermaid Seashell Mosaic Painting

This is the best news ever, as Emma and Ash have been waiting for months to find out if they can actually take the flights they booked for the last week in July. They are coming for 10 days this year, staying for the first week at the Langley Hotel in Almyrida and then coming to me for the last 3 days. I am so excited that this has become possible again! I can’t wait to spend quality time with my family, especially my Grandchildren Ralph and Neve!

Sold last week in Almyrida - Love Seagulls Seashell Mosaic Painting

Sold last week in Almyrida – Love Seagulls Seashell Mosaic Painting

Wow, have we been having some hot weather! We’re only just coming out of a heatwave which has lasted for at least 2 weeks. Just when you need Crete’s strong breezes – they disappear! The temperature on my back balcony overlooking the sea, was just short of 50 Celsius! The trouble with extreme temperatures is that your energy is completely zapped! At times the heat literally drained me, leaving me feeling so lethargic that I couldn’t be bothered to do anything! Thankfully, we have our wonderful Cretan breezes back and temperatures have come down to a more normal level for this time of year. I do hope we don’t have another heatwave when my family is over, as I will want to be playing all day with Ralph and Neve and I need all my energy for that!

Relaxing on one of Almyrida's beaches after swimming

Relaxing on one of Almyrida’s beaches after swimming. I can actually see my house from here!

Anyway I found the best tonic for me during this heatwave, was to grab my towel and head for the beach for my regular long swims in the so-warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Ahhh..what bliss! A couple of hours on any of Almyrida’s beaches and I come home feeling refreshed and energized! However, during these heatwaves, aircon is absolutely essential if you want to work or actually do anything at all! But I am distressed to find that I rely on it more and more, as each summer goes by… and realize again – the very real consequences of global warming. Nevertheless, I am so happy to live by the sea and to live the life I lead.

At Carl Axon's birthday gig at Posti de Cafe in Kavros.

At Carl Axon’s birthday gig at Posti de Cafe in Kavros.

So I am pleased to write that my life has more of a ‘back-to-normal’ feel about it and of course that feels good! I had my first selling day last week during the heatwave (I must be mad!) It felt like the right time to test the waters and set up my stall in Almyrida, as I have done for the last 12 years. But I was lucky.  Although I was concerned about coping with the heat – even with the constant shade of my parasol – I needn’t have worried because there was a lovely breeze coming in off the sea behind me and when that died down a little, I would nip across the road, take a quick 2 laps of the pool at the Almyrida Residence Hotel, and then slip my dress back on wet, over my wet bikini. This kept me cool for ages!

Always a best seller! Baby turtles Race for Life Seashell Mosaic Painting

Always a best seller! Baby turtles Race for Life Seashell Mosaic Painting

It was really strange because Almyrida just appeared mostly deserted. Last year my first selling day wasn’t until 3rd August and there were definitely a lot more tourists around then. So maybe it was a little too soon? Anyway I stayed until about 4pm, having surprisingly sold 2 of my Seashell Mosaics and here’s the weird thing – I sold the exact same 2 designs as I had on my first selling day last year! How amazing is that?! The two designs were my best-selling Baby Turtles ‘Race for Life’ and the inspirational “Always Believe Something Wonderful is going to Happen”.

I have so far done 3 selling days and sold 5 of my Seashell Mosaic Paintings, which is not bad, all things Pandemic considered. I am going to do only 2 days a week selling in Almyrida – exactly as I did last year. Only this year I have a feeling the season will be much longer, in my optimistic way of thinking. Last year it was only 5 weeks long but I have a feeling this season will carry easily into October, because everything is kicking off so late and everybody needs a holiday!

Lisa, Gail and I on a recent night out.

Lisa, Gail and I on a recent night out.

My social life has also picked up a little and I’ve recently been to Carl Axon’s birthday gig at the Posti de Café in Kavros, A birthday party at Nikita’s in Almyrida, where we danced in the sand by the sea, to music from various bands, and an evening in Kalyves with Lisa and Gail. I haven’t seen as much of my friend, Debbie since she moved to Vamos. She doesn’t drive but I have been up to Vamos a few times to visit her.

So it really feels like summer proper is about to launch and I am excited about the UEFA Championship final between the UK and Italy, which I shall watch tomorrow evening in my local, Vangeli’s in Plaka square. Yet even more wonderful is that Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve will be arriving on Crete in just two weeks from today. Oh happy days!

Missing Almyrida’s Tourists for the Second Year Running

How strange and sad it is to see everywhere so quiet and deserted for the second year in a row. Both Almyrida and Plaka would normally be buzzing at this time of the year, yet there are barely enough tourists to warrant all the restaurants and shops being open. Indeed everywhere is open but everywhere is almost deserted!

Available from my Etsy shop SeashellBeautyinArt

They look good together! The last of my new tropical fish designs in Seashell Mosaic Collage 20x20cms each – available seperately or together as shown on my Etsy shop, SeashellBeautyinArt.

I feel the same as I did last summer, chomping at the bit to set up my stall and start selling again. I am missing Almyrida’s tourists as all the local businesses here are. But it’s more than that, it’s the buzz and the atmosphere I’m missing.  I am pinning all my hopes on a possible late season starting in July. With regard to the UK tourists – sadly I think the UK Government’s decision to keep the Greek Islands off their Green List, is weak and unjustified, like last year. Still what can we do except to remain positive for the later summer months.

A small part of beautiful Elafonisi

A small part of beautiful Elafonisi

On a much happier note – on May 1st, Lisa, Debbie and I had our wonderful beachcombing trip to Elafonisi. It’s a long drive but absolutely worth it! We were surprised to see more people there than we had expected. But it was a warm sunny Saturday which meant that many Greeks were there too. You are hard pushed to explore the whole of Elafonisi in just one day. It is too vast and there are so many coves and beaches to cover on foot. Nevertheless we made the absolute most of our precious time there and we all came away with bagsful of ocean treasures to use in our crafts. It was wonderful to cool off by walking through all the shallow lagoons.

Falasarna

Collecting Seashells in Falasarna

In the following weeks Debbie and I visited Stavros, Bali and Falasarna again. Lisa was unable to join us because of work commitments. When we arrived at Falasarna we were surprised to be approached by a film crew! A Greek filmmaker had come to Falasarna to make a short documentary about the plight of the Greek tourism industry here on Crete. He wanted to interview me after Debbie told him we were there to collect seashells for the art pieces I create and sell to tourists. He said he was making the documentary for the BBC and I thought, really??
I actually asked him if it would take long, because I was itching to get down to the shore! Afterwards they followed us around for a while, also using a drone. But we ignored them and just got on with our beachcombing.

Falasarna beaches had lots of seashells and pink sand. Just gorgeous!

Falasarna beaches had lots of seashells and pink sand. Just gorgeous!

Two days later Nick was at ours doing a job on the roof and he told me he’d been quite shocked when he saw me on the BBC News the day before! I honestly never expected that! They had edited the interview down to just a few sentences but the written version of the full film was published online, where my name and mention of my Seashell Art appeared in dozens of news journals around the world. Wow.. I really did underestimate that Greek filmmaker and all this is good for raising my online profile. If I can find out how to put the YouTube link into this post, I will.. because the film is only 1 minute 16 seconds long.

20x20cms Scallop in Seashell Mosaic on White Sand, available to purchase from SeashellbeautyinArt

This 20x20cms Scallop Seashell was made from tiny pink scallops that I’ve collected over the years. Available to purchase from my Etsy shop SeashellBeautyinArt.

So we have finished with beachcombing now until at least October or November. It is far too hot to be walking in the full sun all day and anyway – the seashells are just not there anymore. Falasarna was the best of the last few beaches we visited. Stavros and Bali had very little to offer.

Also it is too hot now for power walks and so I have swapped them in favour of a long refreshing swim in the sea instead! For the last two weeks I have been feeling like a tourist myself – every time I nip down to Almyrida, usually mid afternoon for my swim.  I never had time to do this pre-covid as I was always either selling or working on my Seashell Mosaics at home.  I’ll take my book and Sudoku with me and spend a blissful two or three hours by the sea. A long cool drink from the taverna behind guarantees a free sun bed. All of a sudden I am on holiday! Often I have the company of friends but sometimes I am just happy to be by myself, appreciating the wonderful surroundings, my lifestyle and thinking of how lucky I am to be here as a resident and not a tourist. I get to stay here!
I finally picked up my new Biometric ID Card, so I am safe to remain here on Crete for the foreseeable future. Oh lucky lucky me!

Enjoying the sunset on my balcony sofa after my swim!

Enjoying the sunset on my balcony sofa after my swim!

So What is There to Write About?

We’ve been in lockdown here on Crete for almost 5 months and everyone is feeling totally fed up! A couple of weeks ago they tightened up the restrictions even further and we are now only allowed to shop locally. No more trips to the large supermarkets in Chania. Also we are not allowed to travel by car to exercise, which means we shouldn’t be going to Kalyves for our lovely walks along the beaches there. Curfews are still in place from 9pm until 5am and you must always have a valid reason for leaving your home. Continue reading

Enjoying Weeks of Sunshine and Warm Weather!

I am loving the mild winter we’ve been having here on Crete. A noticeable indication of just how much sunshine we’ve been enjoying shows visibly on the mountains, where almost all the snow has melted. The fact that we’re still in lockdown is frustrating but is nowhere near as limiting as it is in the UK. I have been making the most of the hours of sunshine and warm weather by getting out and about on walks, because there is always somewhere close by to explore on foot. Continue reading

Warning! Never Book Anything Through Lastminute.com!

The only reason I am even telling this sorry tale is to let people know that Lastminute.com should come with a health warning! It is a long narrative if you can be bothered to read it. But they are a despicable company and should no longer be allowed to conduct their illegal business practices. Covid is no excuse for their total lack of customer service and outright lies to their customers!
Lastminute Customer Service is not fit for purpose and I hope I persuade anyone who reads this not to go near them! Continue reading

A Christmas of Joy Worth all the Stress of Covid

I arrived home to Crete on 2nd after leaving a very cold UK and I am blown away by the wonderful weather I’ve come back to!  I am amazed to be sitting here on my balcony with warm and tranquil sunshine washing over me like a comfort blanket. It’s been blue skies and sunshine ever since I returned and it’s forecast to be 24 and 25 degrees at the weekend. Wow!  Despite having a list of stuff I need to deal with – I just have to sit here and enjoy it!  My view is magical and my recent memories are magical… so I am perfectly placed to write all about them here and now. Continue reading

Wild Horses Won’t Stop me from Spending Christmas with my Family!

Having been in lockdown ever since my last post, there is very little to talk about and so this is just a short post before I leave for the UK for Christmas. It is only 3 days till I go yet I still have not had confirmation of an alternative flight I accepted after yet another was cancelled 2 weeks ago. I knew that because of this pandemic, trying to get to the UK for Christmas was never going to be easy. I expected cancelled flights but wild horses aren’t going to stop me from trying! Continue reading

Happy Beachcombing Trips with my Friends

Despite all the awful consequences of this Covid Pandemic, I have had such a great summer.. that the bubble was bound to burst at some point! For the last few years October has always ended up being a month for sorting problems out and this year was no different. But always being positive by nature, I’m not even going to mention what these problems were. There is no need to because I have resolved them all and anyway, I have far nicer things to talk about! Continue reading

UK’s Quarantine List Didn’t Spoil Holidays with my Family

Despite the UK adding Crete to their quarantine list – it didn’t stop my brother, Mark from enjoying his Cretan holiday with me. He works in the film industry, which like everything else has been greatly compromised and anyway, Mark has been working from home on his book and so the quarantine restrictions on his return to the UK weren’t an issue for him. Continue reading