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.

A Wonderful Holiday in the UK

My summer beach selling season finished on the last day of September. Luckily, September turned out to be almost as good as August and so I really cannot complain about my overall sales figures for this summer. I did reasonably well considering all the economic circumstances.

New Mother & Son - Zoe & Baby Arthur

New Mother & Son – Zoe & Baby Arthur

The very next day I flew to Manchester for my 3 week holiday in the UK, which was especially planned so that I could meet the latest little blessing to arrive in my growing family! Baby Arthur was born to Zoe and Rich on 9th September and so was just over 3 weeks old when I first held him! He is just adorable and the absolute image of his proud Dad. I spent the first six days of my visit with Zoe and Rich and loved every minute of my time with little Arthur. At the weekend we visited Hebden Bridge and Slaithwaite – two charming Yorkshire villages set amidst beautiful surrounding countryside. Both days we ate lunch there and browsed the shops and the weather was fine but cold!

Zoe & Me at Hebden Bridge

Zoe & Me at Hebden Bridge

I was not expecting it to be so cold in the UK yet. I have memories of past Octobers being like Indian summers. I packed all the wrong things to wear, thinking Christmas was surely the time to pack all my woollies. I was wrong! I had to borrow Jackets, scarves and woolly jumpers from Zoe, Emma and Karen!

Bedtime story with Ralph & Neve

Bedtime story with Ralph & Neve

After almost a week with Zoe, Rich and little Arthur, I took 3 trains from Huddersfield to Bury St Edmunds, where Emma picked me up from the station with my other two Grandchildren, Ralph and Neve. Ash was away training for a promotion. I had just 3 days at Emma’s but I had an amazing time with Ralph and Neve. One of those days Emma worked while I looked after them. Another day, we visited a large play centre called Curve Motion, and had lunch there. I could watch Ralph and Neve play all day long, but equally enjoy playing with them. Ralph is almost 4 and Neve is 14 months. It is scary how fast time passes and Ralph is a proper little boy now – doing everything for himself and talking non-stop. Neve is a little bull in a china shop, toddling and stumbling and falling and climbing every moment she is awake! An unstoppable force of will in constant motion! How lucky and blessed I am to have 3 such wonderful Grandchildren in my life!

With my gorgeous three Grandchildren, Ralph, Neve and Arthur

With my gorgeous three Grandchildren, Ralph, Neve and Arthur

On the Friday morning, Emma drove me, Ralph and Neve back up to Yorkshire, where she and Ash had booked a lovely old cottage in Holmfirth for the weekend. Our family is getting too large to be accommodated altogether in one place, so this cottage was perfect as our base camp and I would go back with Zoe and Rich to their home a few miles away, in Golcar – only to sleep. So by late Friday afternoon, Ash had joined us, along with Zoe, Rich and baby Arthur. Emma cooked a wonderful lasagne in the large open-plan Kitchen/Diner, replete with Aga and stone floors.

In the farmhouse kitchen at the cottage in Holmfirth.

In the farmhouse kitchen at the cottage in Holmfirth.

On the Saturday morning we met at the cottage again and drove into Holmfirth centre for lunch before taking a long walk through the beautiful countryside and around a large lake. It was a lovely walk even though for the last half hour we all got drenched in the rain. This did not bother us too much as we stopped by a lovely cosy country pub for dinner. Afterwards we all went back to the cottage and spent another lovely evening in the lounge in front of a roaring log fire, chatting and drinking after the kids had gone to bed.

All of us... on our long walk through the Yorkshire countryside

All of us… on our long walk through the Yorkshire countryside

Most of Sunday was spent hanging out at the cottage and Emma cooked another fab dinner for us all. We all had such an amazing weekend together and I am so proud of my wonderful family. All too soon, I said my goodbyes to Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve and returned to Zoe and Rich’s for a further 5 days. We had a couple of shopping days but otherwise – just chilled at home, where I spent lots more quality time holding and helping to look after cute baby Arthur. He doesn’t cry much at all… but then he doesn’t sleep much either! This, of course is quite normal for a newborn and although Zoe is very sleep-deprived, she is coping so well.  Rich, who is back at work, just seems to sleep through it all!

The lovely scenery we saw on our walk

The lovely scenery we saw on our walk

My sister, Karen had not yet seen Arthur and so she drove to Zoe and Rich’s to collect me, which saved me from having to take a couple of trains back to Stockport. I spent the last few days of my UK holiday in Bramhall at Karen and Mike’s. Caroline and Tony were supposed to be joining us that night, but Caroline was poorly and so they had to cancel, which was a real shame. But I’m sure that I will see them sometime over Christmas. I did manage to catch up with my friend Ange the following day, when we went for a walk in Bramhall Park and had lunch at the cafe there. On Sunday I went to the Trafford Centre with Mike. We did quite a lot of shopping and had lunch there too. That evening I had a lovely meal with my dear friends Gill and Rick in Bramhall at the new Asian Fusion restaurant.

Love this photo! Proud Dad, Rich just couldn't resist dressing Arthur up in cute mini cloth cap & matching braces!

Love this photo! Proud Dad, Rich just couldn’t resist dressing Arthur up in cute mini cloth cap & matching braces!

Me with cute Grandson Arthur!

Me with cute Grandson Arthur!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, my three weeks in the UK was packed, sharing wonderful occasions with family and friends. It was a real holiday for me after my busy summer of beach selling. I have mentioned many times before, how I love to relive these precious memories through writing them up in this Blog. I am back home in Crete now, where it is so much warmer and sunnier and I have swapped my winter woollies for shorts and t-shirt again! Although I am really missing my Daughters and Grandchildren, I know it’s not long until I will see them all again around Christmastime.

At the cottage - Zoe, Rich, Ash & Emma with Arthur

At the cottage – Zoe, Rich, Ash & Emma with Arthur

So now, amongst other things, I am busy ordering canvases and seashells for my unique Seashell Mosaic Collages. Also, I’ve only been back a few days but have already thoroughly enjoyed a recent night out in Almyrida. I joined about ten other friends at the new Asian Fusion restaurant where Ernest Berry, one of my favourite musicians was doing a solo gig. The food comprised of 5 separate delicious courses spread out over the whole evening, with Ernest playing throughout the night. We danced a little, talked loads, ate loads and drank loads and my new friend Charlie put the icing on the cake by insisting on picking up my tab!

There are many other events to look forward to over the next few days too! A Halloween Party at McGinty’s in Georgioupoli and a house party at Carl Axon’s – another talented musician who many years ago, used to play with Doctor and the Medics and who now spends a lot of his time doing gigs in our area of Crete.

August is Still the Busiest Time of my Year

Even though I wrote in my last post that I was having a more relaxing summer.. August has ended up being surprisingly busy for me!  I say this because – like all the other businesses in Almyrida this summer – customers have been few and far between.  August has always been my busiest month for sales and I am pleased to say that this year was no exception!  In the current circumstances, I count myself extremely fortunate to have sold 54 Artworks in August, including a couple of sales on my Etsy shop – Continue reading

Enjoying More Free Time This Summer.

The summer months from May through to September are normally so busy and hectic for me!  Looking back over the last ten years – I really have spent long and crazy hours producing and selling my unique Seashell Mosaic Paintings and Collages.  It has been all about supply and demand!  My Art Business has totally consumed my time and energies but don’t get me wrong because I have loved every moment of it! Continue reading

Celebrating 10 Wonderful Years on Crete!

Yes, I cannot believe that I have lived on this wonderful Island of Crete for ten years! Those ten years have seen me living out my dreams because I have always wanted to live like this… by the sea and so close to nature and all her awesome glory. The lifestyle I’ve enjoyed has been so perfect for me and is everything I could have hoped for and more! How far removed it is from the life I led in the UK because here I have lived a simple, busy but contented, peaceful and happy life from the moment I stepped onto Cretan soil. Continue reading

Remembering My Lovely Mum

Following New Year I had been home for barely two weeks when I received a phone call from my sister Karen, to tell me that Mum’s health had seriously deteriorated and so I immediately flew back to the UK. She had just been moved to St. Ann’s Hospice so that they could better manage her condition and make her more comfortable. Thankfully I was able to spend the last week with her in the hospice, along with many other family and friends who visited regularly up until the end. Continue reading

Christmas is about Celebrating Quality Family Time

This Christmas time I went back to the UK much earlier than I usually do.
This is a good thing because I was able to spend lots of quality time with my Mum – even though she slept so much! Also my brother Mark came to visit for a couple of days with his two children, Honey and Ted and it was so good to see them all again! As always, it is good to catch up with Karen and Mike, while I base myself at their beautiful home. Continue reading