My Blog is Now 10 Years Old.. But I’m Too Busy Living my Life to Write About it!

It’s been a good long while since I last entered a post and the best excuse I can give is that I’ve been too busy living my life to find the time to write about it!  Apart from when I first set up this blog in 2013 and wrote many shorter but more frequent posts, my life here on Crete is so chocker block full that it sometimes feels like a chore that needs to be fitted in somehow, like cooking and cleaning.  I can’t believe I’ve been writing about my wonderful life on Crete for 10 years!  The thing is that once I start recalling the events of the past weeks, it’s like I am appreciating my life all over again.  Believe me when I say that I am always grateful…

On the high plateau above Spilli - wild Orchids & Tulips

On the high plateau above Spilli – wild Orchids & Tulips

Weather-wise – April was a big disappointment in so far as there were fewer warm sunny days and it felt colder than we were used to after such a lovely March.  Up until now May has been even more unsettled.  I have spent many long and wonderful hours on re-stocking my Seashell Mosaic Collages in readiness for this season.  There are plenty of tourists about but when I started selling this week, both days I struggled with the weather!  On Monday I felt quite cold and rarely took my cardigan off and on Thursday I battled with the crazy wind even though I set up in what I thought would be a more sheltered spot.  However the strong gusts damaged my parasol and as well as repairing that, I had to touch up the corners of 3 of the artworks that had been blown off the displays.  The forecast for the coming week does not look good and continues to remain unsettled, with rain and lots of cloud cover expected.  I am wondering if I will get the chance to sell one more day before I return to the UK?

Near Stavros Chania Crete

Had to take this photo on the way back from Stavros

Looking back.. Greek Easter Saturday was even better than it usually is because there were two live bands playing at Vangeli’s in Plaka square.  This meant we could enjoy more of the evening before they lit the bonfire at midnight.  Needless to say it was a thoroughly enjoyable if long and late night.  I didn’t take any photos this time because there is plenty of photographic evidence of previous Easter celebrations documented in this blog.

The awesome Lefka Ori Mountains - At Omalos near the entrance to Samaria Gorge

The awesome Lefka Ori Mountains as seen from Omalos, near the entrance to Samaria Gorge

I haven’t been on many of the Happy Wanderers walks in the past six weeks although I have been on two of David’s.  We went to a plateau high above Spilli where many species of wild orchid flourish, among many other wild flowers including fields of wild tulips.  I also have to admit that the taverna in the village of Spilli where we have lunch afterwards was a big draw…. The food is delish!

The second was a visit to Omalos and the entrance to Samaria Gorge, high up in the mountains.  Those awesome White Mountains – correct name Lefka Ori – never fail to take my breath away.  I can see the full range from my balcony, yet being so much nearer to them is a real treat.  Although the warm weather we had in March has melted most of the snow, closer up and you could still see traces of it in the shadowed deep ridges.  It brought back so many memories of when Ange and I walked Samaria Gorge with a large group of friends over 10 years ago.  I’d love to and am determined to walk it again someday.

Exploring the Far side of Elafonisi - Lisa, Kathy and me

Exploring the Far side of Elafonisi – Lisa, Kathy and me.

Debbie and I enjoyed beachcombing days at Stavros and Falasarna, Ross joining us as he was over for a visit in April.  On the coast of Falasarna we found an extra little cove that we’d previously not noticed in the area.  Here we found many more tiny seashells which are perfect for my designs.  When we finally settled on a suitable day for our trip to Elafonisi, the 4 of us went in Lisa’s big car, which is much more comfortable for the long drive than my little Hyundai Atos.  I loved it that I didn’t have to drive for a change, but could instead enjoy all the beautiful scenery along the way.  The weather forecast is important as the area is quite exposed and when it gets very windy it’s not as pleasant to spend the day there.  Just recently, they have stopped cars and coaches from driving down to the dusty car parking areas next to the beaches of Elafonisi.  Instead you have to park at the top of the dirt tracks and walk down.  It is about a 10 minute walk and although we didn’t mind this so much, we could see that it could be a real problem for older and infirm people and those with small children.  Sometimes the decisions they make here have no logical sense to them.  Yes, they want to preserve the natural beauty of Elafonisi… but why then sell off some of the land to a very rich Greek family who want to build a huge tourist hotel there?  To me and many others who live here – that will be what spoils Elafonisi!

Commissioned Artwork - Greek village scene in Seashell Mosaic Collage - 40x50cms

Commissioned Artwork – Greek village scene in Seashell Mosaic Collage – 40x50cms

Sarah and Chris, the lovely couple who got married here in Almyrida last May, finally called round to my home to collect their commission.  It has been almost 3 years in the making, thanks to Covid delaying the actual wedding for 2 years.  I was able to work on the Greek village scene but could not place them into the picture until after their wedding.  I am happy to report that they were totally thrilled with their Artwork.  So much so, that they have left me a most wonderful review on Google.

At Seven Souls Taverna in Georgioupoli

A Chilling Sunday afternoon at Seven Souls Taverna in Georgioupoli

Socially there has been plenty going on during the past 6 weeks.  There have been live music gigs in Vamos and Gavalochori as well as a fair few at my local Vangeli’s in Plaka.  On May Day we had lunch and spent the afternoon in the garden of a taverna in Douliana, listening to Carl Axon and his newly formed band.  This week alone I have been to a gig at Monica’s in Gavalochori, enjoyed a chilling Sunday afternoon listening to live music at a lovely taverna right on the beach at Georgioupoli, A Party on Wednesday evening and I’m off to the opening gig of a new band at Vangeli’s tonight.  I had to turn down the charity gig at Koumos last night!

Lunch in Gavalochori Square

Lunch with the girls in Gavalochori Square

Last week we had a lovely day out when I walked from Plaka to Aspro, where I met up with Lisa and then we walked on to Gavalochori.  Here we met up with Debbie and Kathy, who had walked there from Vamos.  We all had a traditional light lunch in the square next to the gift shop.  It was a lovely warm sunny day and so there were plenty of people out and about, lots of whom we knew.  After lunch we walked to the old Venetian Wells and the ancient Roman Bridge.  There are so many wells and at first glance they all look like little stone dwellings.  The arched roofs helped keep the water clean and free of leaves and debri. Then we walked home again and I really enjoyed the exercise!

Old Venetian Wells at Gavalochori

Some of the Old Venetian Wells at Gavalochori

On Thursday I am off to the UK for a two week stay with my daughters, their hubbies and my gorgeous grandchildren.  I have chosen this particular time to go for all sorts of reasons.   I went the same time last year and it worked out really well.  It is early enough in my selling season to be able to miss a couple of weeks.  It is roughly halfway through the year as I cannot always rely on my family being able to visit me in Crete in the summer.  In fact this year may be the first that neither of my daughters can manage a visit.  Also as both my girls work full time and 2 of my 3 grandchildren are at school now, I would not see any of them!  So I have booked when it is half term at school.  I am super excited and can’t wait to spend time playing and looking after Ralph, Neve and Arthur.

Seashell Mosaic Collage Painting Mixed media 30 x 40cms

Girl collecting seashells in Seashell Mosaic Collage Painting – 30x40cms available to purchase from my Etsy Shop

Carnival is Back and Busier than Ever!

So another month has flown by and time is moving too fast for me to fit everything in that I want to do!  Something is going to have to give…

Kalyves Carnival

Kalyves Carnival

The Carnival in Kalyves was so packed with people that we hardly got a chance to meet up with other friends.  It was extremely windy, which actually spoilt the experience.  There was so much going on.. with food and drink stalls dotted everywhere and tables and chairs all over the pavements.  The music, blasting out of huge speakers everywhere, was cool and funky but way too loud and I wasn’t impressed with any of the floats, although the covid one was amusing.

Debbie, Lisa & me at Kalyves Carnival

Debbie, Lisa & me at Kalyves Carnival

Many locals dressed up and it was a great day for ‘people watching’.  I don’t think the town of Kalyves has ever seen so many people thronging its streets, as the Greeks were determined to party after being denied their carnival for the past 3 years.  Despite the negatives, we enjoyed the spectacles and the atmosphere, which was difficult to capture in photos, due to the sheer volume of people.

Agios Apostoli Crete

Walking from one beach to the next at Agios Apostoli

The prevailing clement weather this March has been great for beachcombing and walking days.  Lisa, Debbie and I have visited Agios Apostoli – an area of several beautiful sandy beaches situated not far from Chania town.  Once we’d parked up it was easy to walk from beach to beach.  One stretch took us over the top of some rugged coastline, where we came across a shack and small cave that someone called home.  It was so hot and sunny that it felt like May or June – not March!  There were many local Greeks spending the day on the beach, swimming in the sea and drinking at the beach tavernas. The whole area had a real holiday atmosphere!  To be honest I knew we would find very little in the way of seashells or sea treasures in Agios Apostoli, but we had talked of visiting the area in winter many times and finally decided to visit.

Shack on te beach at Agios Apostoli

Home to someone – the shack near one of the beaches at Agios Apostoli

We also visited Frangokastello and explored at least 3 beaches along that coastline.  Sadly I have noticed a change over the years and did not find many of the shells I use for my ‘turtle flippers’.  Over 10 years ago I would fill my bag with this particular seashell but for some reason the sea is just not giving them up at Frangokastello anymore.  Or maybe we just haven’t been there on the right days.  Luckily I can find my ‘turtle flippers’ along other coastlines and this is just as well because the ‘Baby Turtles Race for Life’ Seashell Mosaic Collage is still my best seller year on year.

One of the beaches we explored on the coast of Frangkastello

One of the beaches we explored on the coast of Frangkastello and where we enjoyed our picnic.

Yet it was another gorgeous day with a lovely picnic on one of the beaches, lots of healthy sea air and wonderful exercise.  These are all the reasons and more – why I love my beachcombing days, whether we find lots or not.

However a recent trip to Falassarna made up for the lack of shell finds at Frangokastello.  I love Falassarna’s beautiful sandy beaches and they never disappoint when it comes to finding a huge variety of the beautiful tiny seashells, so many of which I use in my Seashell Mosaic Collages.

Beautiful unspoilt Falassarna

Beautiful unspoilt Falassarna

This past month I have enjoyed many more walks including a strenuous climb up a gorge in the Drapanos area with the Happy Wanderers.

Climbing the gorge at Drapanos

Climbing the gorge at Drapanos

Always amazed when I come across another area of coastline I’ve never seen before, this walk started out from Drapanos village on a long road winding all the way down to the sea.  From there we clambered up this rocky gorge, frequently reduced to all fours.  Niall kindly offered me his spare hiking pole and this turned out to be a great help!

Walking the gorge at Drapanos

Taking a quick break and a much needed drink!

The lunch at the main taverna in Drapanos afterwards was superb!  And I can’t remember the name of it!  We were treated to such a variety of local fish and meat dishes as well as local wine aplenty… and all for just 15 Euros.  I didn’t have to eat another thing for the rest of the day, as is usual after a Sunday walk.

Another walk with the Happy Wanderers started in the pretty little village of Douliana and covered the villages of Gavalochori, Almyrida and Aspro via donkey tracks and quiet roads, with some steep uphill climbs.  We walked for around 5 hours before ending back in Douliana for another lovely lunch in Heliostasi taverna, where coincidentally I’d had dinner the night before!  I had been out with a friend for the evening to listen to the ‘Mellow Vibes’ who were playing there that night.

Pink Flamingos in Seashell Mosaic Collage Painting - 30 x 50cms available to purchase from Etsy

Replacing the Pink Flamingos in Seashell Mosaic Collage Painting – 30 x 50cms. Sold from my Etsy shop.

When I’m not beachcombing or walking, I am working on my art and still there are not enough hours to replace all the artworks I sold last summer.  Each artwork takes many hours to create and I enjoy every one of them!  But something has to give and for the sake of maintaining more balance in my life…I can only produce so much… and that has to be enough.  I have about another month to concentrate on building my stock before I start selling again in May.  Also I have booked to go back to the UK at the end of May for 2 weeks.  With Easter looming and many social events planned.. it’s looking like April is going to be a busy month too.


Putting All the Hours into Creating my Art

We were so lucky with the weather in January.  It was sunny and mild for the whole month but in the first week of February it turned cold and stormy with lots of heavy rain – even hailstones!  And suddenly the mountains were full of snow!  This lasted for about two weeks and now, for the past week the warm sunny weather has returned. Continue reading

A Wonderful Family Christmas in Wales

I spent my first night in the UK at my dear friends’ Gill and Rick’s home in Bramhall.  Gill picked me up from the airport at around 6pm and Rick cooked up a wonderful steak dinner.  They spoilt me rotten as they always do, and it was the best and only time I had to catch up properly with them during this year’s Christmas in the UK.  We literally talked for hours…. Great food, great wine and great company.. so what more could I ask for to kick off my 2022 Christmas stay in the UK? Continue reading

How Easy it is to be Happy When You Live on Crete

The weather here on Crete for the whole of November has been absolutely fabulous!  We’ve had day after day of warm sunny weather, perfect for beachcombing and walking.  I’ve also spent countless hours on my art.. as I start to build up my Seashell Mosaic Collage Paintings for next summer.  I sold so well this year that I have a full and busy winter ahead.  Such is my life here that I pack it to the rafters with things I love to do both in my work and leisure time. Continue reading

Enjoying Wonderful Warm Sunny Weather This October

These past few weeks we have been enjoying some wonderful weather, especially for October and it is such a contrast to this time last year.  We had a really bad rainstorm in mid October which caused severe flooding on parts of Crete, but luckily not near me!  For the rest of the time it’s been lovely and warm with sunshine all day long! Continue reading

Making More Memories with Family & Friends This Summer

As predicted, August has been mega busy sales-wise and I sold 51 Seashell Mosaic Paintings from my beach stall and 3 more from the Gavalochori Gift Shop.  This is over double the sales I had for this period last year.  Demand has been so high for certain designs that I have not had the time to make more. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading