A Beautiful Day in Bali

There’s not much to report since my last post. Working on my Seashell Mosaic Collages is always a given, because whenever there isn’t anything else that takes priority – I am busy creating! This is also the time of year that I do my seashell sourcing and place orders with my regular suppliers. But I wanted to write this final post of 2018 before I return to the UK on Saturday morning.

Seashell Mosaic Collage - Girls on Swings - 18 x 24cms

Seashell Mosaic Collage – Girls on Swings – 18 x 24cms

In the last few weeks I have been out and about socially and had some fun nights at local gigs in Almyrida and Vangeli’s in Plaka. I have also enjoyed my Spa treatments – courtesy of my good friends here on Crete, who gifted me these wonderful treats at my Birthday party! I’ve been shopping in Chania and made the odd brief scan of Kalyves beach after storm Penelope! Easy to do at the drop of a hat as it’s only a ten minute drive from home. But the best day out – by far – was a couple of days ago, when Debbie, Kim and I went to Bali for the day.

I had been wanting to arrange another day of beachcombing for many weeks. It’s been at least a month since Debbie and I went to Falasarna. But the weather has been miserable, with lots of rain almost every day. In fact it was really difficult to find a day that wasn’t forecast to rain. However, I struck lucky when I chose Tuesday because it was sunny, warm and calm – just perfect beachcombing weather!

One of the four beaches at Beautiful Bali

One of the four beaches at Beautiful Bali

I was driving – another chance to enjoy my new car – and after picking Debbie up from Vamos and Kim from Kalyves, we headed off to Bali. When we got to the first main Beach, I was surprised to find that the taverna opposite, which is usually always open – was shut! The whole area was utterly deserted! The drive had taken about an hour and a half and so we all fancied coffee and juice, especially after a quick inspection of the beach proved disappointing because of the lack of Seashells. This was because the sea was rougher than I had ever seen it there, the waves taking up nearly the whole depth of the beach. The seashells were all in the waves!

Kim and I wander along the second beach in Beautiful Bali.

Kim and I wander along the second beach in Beautiful Bali.

However my usual optimism kicked in and I told Debbie and Kim that there were still 3 other beaches to explore! Neither has been to Bali because Debbie doesn’t have a car and Kim only recently arrived on Crete in August.
So off to the next beach we went and this was also completely deserted, with no open taverna or cafe in sight! Thankfully, there were more shells, stones and general beach debris along the shoreline of this beach. After about an hour here we really were looking forward to refreshments and so I took Debbie and Kim to the beach at the port, where I had often had coffee during winter beachcombing. But when we got down there, everywhere was shut up and apart from the odd schoolboy or fisherman, there wasn’t anybody around! I suddenly realized that I had not been to Bali for a few years and how much it seemed changed and so quiet. I can only assume that over the last few years, the strict austerity measures and lack of tourist spending power may have contributed to this. Or is it just that this pretty little resort of Bali has become only a summer place now?

The tiny Port in Bali, where we all sat and enjoyed our picnic!

The tiny Port in Bali, where we all sat and enjoyed our picnic!

Where we all live – in the Apokoronou area of Crete, there is quite a large spread-out expat community and this keeps all the shops and tavernas open all year instead of just for the summer.
We came to Bali to beachcomb and so this didn’t bother us and in fact, was a bonus! The sun was shining, it was pleasantly warm and we found a great spot at the edge of this beach by the port, to enjoy our picnic. We ended up having such a laugh! It was delightful to have, what seemed to us all – the whole of beautiful Bali to ourselves! When I pointed out the final beach to Debbie, she was raring to go even though we had many steep steps to climb up and down, in order to reach it.  But this was also no problem for us as we all enjoy the exercise.  It’s exhilarating!

Debbie and I exploring the second beach at Beautiful Bali

Debbie and I exploring the second beach at Beautiful Bali

When we stepped off the last one onto the sand, we all agreed that it was the best beach out of all four! We also found some really good stuff there, including some rocks I had never seen before – unusual very flat rocks with what looked like gold and silver streaks in them – absolutely gorgeous! When covered in varnish, they will reveal all their magnificent colours.. as they do when they are in the water. Kim collected bagfuls of these and other interesting rocks and stones too. It was a wonderful beach and we stayed there for quite a while before heading back – arms full of beach treasures – for Kalyves and a long-awaited coffee at Apicorno!

It was a wonderful adventurous day out with stunning scenery wherever we went! Add this to amazing company.. and we all have so much in common! Debbie, Kim and I all share a passion for this wonderful life we have access to here on Crete!

Bali Beach Crete

The best beach by far! Leaving our mark in the sand, Debbie looks the part in our Bali adventure!

Now that Christmas is not too far away, I am so looking forward to going back to the UK and being with all my family again. Christmas this year is at Emma and Ash’s home on the RAF base down south. Rich is driving Zoe and me down there on the Friday and we will all stay until Boxing Day. I can’t wait to see Ralph and Neve! I’m also looking forward to seeing Mum and staying with Karen and Mike, where I will be sure to see everyone else and also catch up with all my friends in the UK.

My Big Birthday Bash on Crete!

I am writing up this post on my wonderful balcony, on this cloudy day in November. We’ve just come out of a prolonged period of fine, sunny and warm weather and now we are getting rain and thunderstorms. But right now it is not raining and I can hear the sea and see the waves rolling onto the shoreline all around Almyrida Bay. Vasili’s sheep are in my garden below again and so I hear the tinkling of the ‘main’ sheep’s bell and the odd almost baby-sounding bleats coming from the little ones. They seem to lamb all year round on Crete. It must be our wonderful climate!

Almyrida - as seen from Plaka

View from my balcony on this cloudy day in November.

It’s been many weeks since my last post and I am in the perfect place to reflect on the highlights of these past weeks. Well one of these highlights has to be my new car! I finally picked it up a couple of weeks ago – a Hyundai Atos and I love, love, love it! Even though it is another old car, it is in tip top condition, having had only one owner who really took care of it. My wonderful Greek friend Artemis found the car for me and helped me with all the bureaucratic paperwork that goes with buying a car here on Crete. He is also helping me with the sale of my Punto. Old cars hold their value here, particularly the Hyundai Atos – renowned for its reliability and longevity. It is much cheaper to run and being higher off the ground, is much more suited to the roads and tracks here. I hardly feel the bumps in this car! Finally.. the Atos is black and I have always looked good in black!

open mic night at totem

Our girly night out before Lisa leaves for the UK. From left to right – Debbie, Lisa, myself and Kim.

A few weeks ago I joined Lisa, Debbie and Kim for a girly night out at Totem in Plaka. My close friend Lisa has gone back to the UK for 6 months and we shall all miss her! So we got together for ‘open mic’ night at Totem and a couple of days later we met up again on the far beach in Kalyves for a while – on the Saturday afternoon before Lisa was to leave on the Sunday. It was lovely to sit in the sand chatting, in the warmth of the October sun.

About a week or so later, I got the chance to take my new car for a long drive when Debbie and I had a wonderful day of beachcombing at Falasarna. It was fabulous weather with no wind, making perfect conditions for beachcombing (Falasarna can get very windy indeed!) We covered two separate beaches along this breathtaking coastline, and filled our bags with gorgeous sea treasures!

Christmas Camel! Seashell Mosaic Collage on Sand - 20 x 20cms

Christmas Camel! Seashell Mosaic Collage on Sand – 20 x 20cms

As is usual at this time of the year, I have been busy creating some of the seashell mosaic designs that sold well in the summer months. I also decided to create a small design for Christmas – My Christmas Camel!  A little pun on words, but I think it is a really festive picture. Actually I made one of these a few years ago and sold it at the annual Almyrida Christmas Fayre. Since I stopped my beach selling I have made a few private sales. Amongst them are my good customer friends, Jonathan and Grete, who paid me a visit at home in order to purchase two artworks on behalf of their friends in Norway. Grete and Jonathan have a second home in Kefelas, spend a great deal of their time here on Crete and It is always a pleasure to see them! I have also acquired a few recent Etsy sales… cigar, cigar… as they say on Crete…slowly, slowly. The online shop is an on-going and long-term project and can be extremely frustrating! It doesn’t help that Etsy keep changing their SEO and algorithms which set you back each time. I never would have dreamed that it would be so difficult to get established online and only wish I had realized this at the beginning, instead of only taking steps to address the necessary work needed – over a year after I opened the shop!. Thank goodness for Stiliyana, who has been helping me since January.

Birthday cake

Birthday Cake! – courtesy of my friend Patrick.

So this brings us to much more recent events, the biggest highlight of the past few weeks has to have been on November 8th – my 60th Birthday! I had already picked up all my post from the village square over the previous couple of weeks. So I had lovely cards to open from all my family before I’d even had breakfast! Then all day long I was receiving Skype calls from family. Emma Skyped me in the morning, with Ralph and Neve. Ralph was supposed to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me – but of course was too shy when it came down to it, bless him! Emma managed to make a recording and sent it to me soon after our Skype chat.  Ralph’s 3rd Birthday is exactly a week after mine and we share the scorpio star sign. I also spoke to my Mum and my Sister Karen and Brother, Mark. Emails with Birthday wishes, texts and messages on Facebook (which I admit I barely have time to use) were coming in all day. It made me feel really special!

Birthday girl!

Sotiris brings out the cake, with all 3 candles lit!

Then in the evening I had a big Birthday Party! I only decided to have this party two weeks before my birthday and it was my family who persuaded me to mark the occasion in some way, when I hadn’t really given it a thought!  It was held at my local taverna, Vangeli’s in Plaka Square, who put on an amazing spread of traditional Greek food, amongst a variety of other dishes.  Shanna had decorated Vangeli’s beautifully – understated but elegant (if you can be elegant in a Greek Taverna!)  in a purple and silver theme and with purple scented candles on each table.  My good friend, Ray was DJ for the evening and what a sterling job he did! Not only did he offer his services and equipment for free (there’s a joke in here somewhere?!) – as a birthday present – he played brilliant music all night and inspired almost everyone to get up and dance! Patrick kindly organized my large and scrumptious Birthday Cake and when Sotiris brought it out for me to blow out the candles (I think there were only about 3!) – I laughed because they had the numbers 06 on the top! Sotiris said that it was because nobody could believe I was 60!

Catching up with friends

Carching up with Alan, Sue and David

My only regret is that I didn’t properly organize photos of the event.  Even though I took my camera with me, I didn’t think to use it as I was too busy socializing!  Thankfully, my Canadian friend, Bob was happy to take a few photos for me.  Sadly, all the various lighting systems meant the photos were blurry and not as good as we’d hoped, but at least I have been able to show a few of them.

I cannot believe the generosity of my friends here on Crete. They came to my party with such wonderful gifts, which I really wasn’t expecting and I was thoroughly spoilt! I am so lucky to have such lovely friends here on Crete. It was wonderful to see everyone together as I don’t see many of them on a regular basis. My long work hours keep me at home a lot, and creating more balance in my life is something I am still working on. But what a fabulous time I had – drinking copious amounts of Prosecco, enjoying fabulous food, chatting with lovely friends and loving lots of exhaustive dancing!  It was a great party and I had a wonderful time!

Jackie and I take a dance down memory lane and do 'The Bump'!!

Jackie and I take a dance down memory lane and do ‘The Bump’!!

I need to make time to socialise more…

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