It’s no surprise that I had a really lovely time in the UK. The first week of my two week visit I stayed with Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve in Thirsk, Yorkshire. The weather was OK this time – better than last year with more sunshine and higher temperatures. The weather I left behind in Crete was still very unsettled and unusual for the time of year. So I was most pleased and surprised that for the duration of my two week visit, the sun shone for most days and we didn’t get any rain!
Ash had free tickets from the military so we all went to Flamingoland on the Sunday after I arrived. It’s such a great place for all the family, especially children and we had a great day there, even though we didn’t get to see and do everything. I am not a fan of the rides but love the zoo and the beautiful grounds there. Needless to say Ralph and Neve had a fabulous time.
Monday of this Bank Holiday weekend, we went for a long walk in another part of Yorkshire where Ash takes Ralph to a special off-road cycle track. Whilst they enjoyed racing their bikes around it, Emma, Neve and I continued walking around the beautiful countryside, taking in some of the ‘Best Views in England’ no less!! Ash and Ralph caught up with us later as we walked higher up and passed by the Gliding Club. The weather was glorious and we watched the gliders for a while. I must say that during this holiday I have seen so many beautiful areas in Yorkshire that I have never been to before, especially in the sunshine! Both my daughters and their families regularly take walks in the surrounding countryside where they live.
Ralph and Neve were off school all of that week and on Tuesday I took them out for many hours so that Emma could concentrate on the on-line lectures that are a part of her new training degree with the NHS. As I don’t drive in the UK, I had to stay local, but this was not a problem. The military housing that Emma and Ash have been living in for the past few years, is located in some beautiful rural grounds with plenty of facilities and things to do outdoors. There are a couple of really good ‘play areas’ kitted out with all kinds of equipment to keep children amused and entertained for hours. There are also some woods right opposite their house, where we went exploring. We actually found a metal detector! We had a great time and spent ages in those woods.
The following 3 days Emma was based back at the Hospital and so Ralph, Neve and I split our play time between doing stuff in their garden, visiting the playgrounds on the base and playing games in the house. I loved every minute of my time with them – even more so because Emma and Ash are not coming to Crete this summer. I can’t remember a year when they didn’t have a holiday in Crete. I cried lots when Rich came to pick me up on the Friday evening, to go back to Golcar on the other side of Yorkshire… and Ralph and Neve were at the window waving frantically as we drove off… This is why a visit to the UK at the end of May is now a regular ‘must have’ holiday. It will be December before I spend any quality time with my grandchildren again.
So I arrived at Zoe, Rich and Arthur’s home on the Friday night to be told some wonderful news! Zoe was 12 weeks pregnant with my 4th grandchild and I really couldn’t be happier for them! Zoe had just turned 40 the day before and they had booked a to go away from the Saturday morning until Sunday teatime. I looked after Arthur, giving Zoe and Rich a much-needed break. Both my girls are unlucky in so far as grandparents are not around to help out occasionally. Rich’s folks live down in Norwich and Ash’s parents are in Shrewsbury. With me living in Crete, they want to make the most of the time I spend with them. Of course albeit usually only twice a year – I get to spend such quality length of time with all my family. If I still lived in the UK I would be working full time, Zoe and Emma work full time and we would barely see eachother.
Arthur and I had a lovely time together, taking a long walk on the Saturday afternoon and playing pirate games and football in the garden. As it turned out, Zoe and Rich decided to return on Sunday afternoon and we all went for a wonderful walk as the sun continued to shine.
Zoe took some holiday time from work and this was a real bonus because it meant we could go out shopping over those last few days, whilst Arthur was at pre-school. We enjoyed lunch out on two of the days – once in Huddersfield and the other at The Springs Retail Park in Leeds. I was happy to be able to buy a few bits and pieces that I can’t get in Crete.
My two wonderful weeks in the UK flew by and Zoe took me back to Leeds Bradford airport on Friday morning. Early on the Sunday morning I was back at Chania airport, picking up Marloes and her friend Trudi who had flown in from Amsterdam.
Marloes is an old family friend. She once au-paired for my family a long time ago. I was the eldest of 6 children born in 6 years and 10 months, so life was pretty hectic for my Dutch Mum back then and although Marloes is 10 years older than me – there was always a special connection. We lost contact with Marloes 25 years ago when she went to live in The Gambia to help the African children. Her friend found me on Facebook and we got back in touch again just before Covid, sadly too late for my Mum who passed away just months before. Nevertheless, Marloes vowed to come and visit me on Crete and here she suddenly was!
It was really wonderful to see Marloes again after so many years… Zoe and Emma were about 9 and 12 years old the last time. We talked for many long hours about our respective lives and about old times. I spent as much time as I could in between selling days. We managed to spend a couple of days and lunches out in Kalyves and Georgioupoli and I am so thankful that Marloes made the effort to come and see me whilst she was on her annual visit back to Holland. It is highly unlikely that I will ever get to visit her in The Gambia. Still…you never know…
Finally the weather on Crete settled down after several days of strong winds and I have already had 4 selling days since I returned from the UK. I am doing well, especially with my cat designs. I thought I had prepared enough of these over the winter but I have already sold six from my beach stall and a further two on Etsy, so I shall have to make more. Both designs – sized 18 x 24cms are available to purchase from my beach stall in Almyrida or my Etsy shop.
The live music gigs are filling up my social calendar and recent enjoyable evenings out have been spent listening and dancing to the music of the new band, ‘The Lions’ at a charity gig in Almyrida. I love their music because it’s so different from all the ‘rock bands’ and Jeffrey is so talented and versatile a musician and singer. I had a late night on Wednesday at Nikita’s in Almyrida, when three different bands were playing. Not very wise when I have to be down at my pitch in Almyrida early the next morning! Many more such evenings are coming up in the near future. But life is for living, especially here on Crete and I intend to continue to live it to the full!