Living on Crete Just Gets Better and Better!

We’ve had such a mild start to our winter this year on Crete. Ever since I returned from the UK we’ve had wonderful warm and sunny weather.  A few thunderstorms but very little rain. How lucky we are and how pleased I am that I have been able to take full advantage of it!

But first I had some important stuff to take care of, matters I had been putting off for a while now. Always bearing in mind what happened to my Sister Leonie and my Mum, and add this to the fact that Brexit is looming – I needed to finally take out some private Health Insurance. I’d already done a fair amount of research into private healthcare over the last 18 months or so, but never took it any further. Now I have complete peace of mind, thanks to a very reasonable deal through Piraeus Bank, where I hold a Greek Euro account.

Scarrrrry Ralph at Halloween!

Scarrrrry Ralph at Halloween!

Neve... cute little witch at Halloween!

Neve… cute little witch at Halloween!

In order to be accepted for the insurance, I first had to undergo a full medical examination, which the manager of Piraeus Bank organized and which was all available locally in Kalyves. I had a heart examination – an ECG and a Full Heart Scan. Thankfully all the results were normal. I also had my blood tested for practically everything! Again, all the results were good and normal, apart from my cholesterol, which was slightly up and which I am addressing. Last year I was able to get a chest X-ray whilst in the UK and this also showed up clear. I am totally thrilled with all these excellent results, which prove I am as healthy as I’ve been feeling! Needless to say, I was offered the health insurance without a hitch!

Birthday Party at Umami, Almyrida

Cutting the cake at my wonderful Birthday dinner with friends at Umami.

I have to admit that I haven’t worked on my Seashell Mosaic Collages as much as I would normally have been doing at this time of the year. This is because for this last month I have been going out more with lots of my friends here and having an absolute ball! The Halloween Party at McGinty’s Irish bar was great fun and Carl Axon and his band were brilliant! Two days later Carl threw a party at his fabulous home in Gavalochori. There were lots of people I knew there, the food was delicious and the booze flowed. Carl’s playlist was so good that we all enjoyed plenty of dancing too. He even laid on an impressive fireworks display which we all viewed from his top terrace. Carl is a brilliant host and certainly knows how to throw a great party!

At Brian's Birthday party in Chrissie's garden

At Brian’s Birthday party in Chrissie’s garden

Then it was suddenly my Birthday and it seemed to last all weekend because there was something going on every day! For my Birthday celebration on the Friday night, my new friend Charlie had booked a table at Umami – the Asian Fusion restaurant I have mentioned in my last post – where, with just a few of my friends, we enjoyed more of their fabulous food, and Charlie took care of everything including a lovely Birthday cake! Talk about being spoilt rotten – champagne, Prosecco, flowers, chocolates and more!

At the Souda War Cemetery - Soldiers parading during the Remebrance Sunday Memorial

At the Souda War Cemetery – Soldiers parading during the Remebrance Sunday Memorial

The next day we went to a Birthday Party in the lovely garden of my friends, Chrissie and John. Chrissie did us all proud with her wonderful curries and from noon until early evening, we basked in the glorious Cretan sunshine. It was a relaxing day of socializing in great company again.

It was Remembrance Sunday, the next day and we met before 10am to go to the Souda War Cemetery (next to the American Military Base) for the Memorial. It was a beautiful and moving service conducted outdoors in the sunshine, in the immaculate grounds. Afterwards we all drove to a large taverna in Likotinara, where they had laid on a big lunch for over 100 people. This taverna was decked out to look like it was the 1940’s, complete with bunker. There was even a singer called Pru, who was dressed in 40’s style clothing and who sang all the old war songs brilliantly. It was very atmospheric and even moved a dear old gentleman to tears. Later we all took part in a fun quiz about famous celebrities born during the war years. We were shown a picture of the celebrity as a child and then had to guess who they were. This was hard! When it came to the answers, we found we could get a few more when seeing their photos for a second time, but by then we had already passed our answers to the team next to us! All in all – a very enjoyable full day out!

On a bike again, after 25 years!

On a bike again, after 25 years!

Aside from all this partying and going out I’ve been doing… there is another thing I have been thinking about for a while. The medical I had for my health insurance also made me think about my fitness. Sure it would appear that I am healthy, but fit?! Definitely not! Right up until I left the UK in May 2009, I had been regularly running 3 and half miles, 3 times a week with my Brother-in-law, Mike.  I was as fit as a butcher’s dog! I told Mike that I’d continue to run when I was in Crete – only on the beach instead of the road! But I never did because I was always too absorbed with my business. About 7 years ago I did some pilates and circuit training for a short while but gave it up because I was too busy with work. So I’ve done nothing to improve my fitness since.

My fit Personal Trainer and new friend, Charlie!

My fit Personal Trainer and new friend, Charlie!

Ah yes, my new friend Charlie… they say people come into your life for a reason.. well he has certainly inspired and motivated me into my new fitness regime! It all started with him telling me about how he enjoys his bike rides.  I loved riding my bike when I was young and so all I wanted to do was go on a bike ride with him! I had not ridden a bike properly for over 25 years and was quite nervous about how I would fare. At first I was wobbling all over the place and couldn’t seem to steer properly – talk about embarrassing! Charlie had done all the adjustments to the saddle and he gave me a cycling helmet – but a bike with gears? I don’t ever remember using gears! Anyway, that was nothing compared to the actual ride. Crete is not an easy place to ride a bike and he had chosen a roughly 9 kilometre route with as few hills and slopes as possible, but there were still some long, if only gradual hills to climb that really took it out of me! When we got back Charlie had worked out a short (as it was my first session) exercise routine showing me how these exercises will tone and firm me up! He has also been looking at my diet and suggested extra foods to include, so that I don’t lose weight, but hopefully gain a little in all the right places!

Charlie and me after one of our bike rides!

Charlie and me after one of our bike rides!

Having always kept himself fit as part of his lifestyle, Charlie is certainly qualified to advise me. For many years he was a karate instructor so he fits the bill perfectly as my new Personal Trainer! The weather has been perfect and so far I have had three bike rides followed by about 45 minutes of varied exercises – with Charlie upping the tempo slightly each time. I feel absolutely great after the training, what a buzz! Charlie has now gone to New Zealand for 3 months but he has left me a programme to follow while he is away. I definitely intend to keep this up and yesterday I did my first power walk – all uphill from Almyrida to my house! I will also be going once a week to the open Gym, Crossfit in Kalyves and taking part in a keep fit class there. I have not been doing keep fit for long, yet already I feel like I have more energy! I feel so alive!

In the coming months I will start beachcombing again and of course I will be working on my Seashell Mosaics, building up my stock for next summer. There are always plenty of social events going on here in the winter, so I will also be out and about lots with friends and maintaining this new balance I have recently worked into my everyday life. Living here on Crete really is wonderful and just gets better and better. I am in such a good place right now and feel even happier than I usually do!  I have so much to look forward to in the coming months and In just over 2 weeks I’ll be back in the UK with my wonderful family again for Christmas, returning to Crete for New Year.