So Happy to be Beachcombing Again!

When I came back from the UK late October I brought my sister Leonie back with me. She has had many serious problems with her leg over this past year and it was time for her to think about her return to Cyprus. Crete was a natural first step and I really enjoyed Leonie’s company for the few weeks she stayed with me.

The Retreat

Enjoying drinks for my Birthday on the sunshine terrace of The Retreat in Kokkino Chorio

It was great to have Leonie here on Crete for my Birthday. I don’t think I would have bothered to organise anything otherwise. I have so much else going on that it just wasn’t a priority! As the food was so good last year I decided to have a slap-up Sunday Roast at The Retreat again. Leonie also wanted to see the place where Emma and Ash married last June, because sadly she couldn’t attend the wedding. On Sunday the weather was glorious and a few of my friends joined us on the terrace of The Retreat for a good excuse to enjoy a few drinks in the sunshine before consuming one of the best Sunday roasts we’ve all had! Ian who runs The Retreat in Kokkino Chorio, is English and certainly knows how we Brits love our Sunday Roast Dinners! It was a great day and carried on afterwards at our local, Vangeli’s in Plaka.

The following weekend I travelled back to Cyprus with Leonie so that I could help her settle in. The weather in Cyprus was glorious and we got loads done. I couldn’t believe how many people I knew on the planes both outbound and back into Crete! Thanks to Ryanair, it’s a hop skip and a jump to reach Paphos from Chania and many expats take the opportunity to have short breaks in Cyprus.

Elafonisi

Someone visiting Elafonisi left this very large message in the sand! “On leaving take with you you memories. Leave only your footprints.”

On the work front I have been busy creating whenever I can. I still have to make time to add more photos and details to my Etsy Shop listings, but too many other matters have demanded my attention lately.  I also opened up a Facebook account which I thought I’d never do!  But hey – It’s good for my Art Business!  I finally got my car back after more than ten days in the garage. It went in for repairs, a service and MOT. It’s a long story and the whole saga has cost me another 650 Euros. After over seven years of throwing money at it – I think I need to change my car next year!

Elafonisi

A very small part of beautiful Elafonisi, where I was collecting some shells

Happily last week Nick, Ron and I visited Elafonisi for the day. I was desperate to go beachcombing! It’s been so long since I’ve had the chance and I just couldn’t wait to feel the warm sun on my back and the sand between my toes again. I couldn’t wait to start my hunt for beautiful seashells, which will eventually be woven into my seashell mosaics. I am never happier than when I am on a beach and by the sea. It was indeed a glorious day with lots of sunshine and not a breath of wind. I absolutely loved it and managed to collect lots of the shells I needed. I know this is the start of much more beachcombing which I will do in the New Year. I am hoping to get at least one more day, perhaps in Bali before I go back to the UK for Christmas and New Year – now less than 3 weeks away!

Beautiful White Mountains over Almyrida

View from my balcony this morning – lots of crisp white snow on the mountains! Beautiful!

For the last few days the weather has been awful with lots and lots of rain and wind. Temperatures have been dipping to as low as 12 degrees – that’s cold for we ex-pats! I woke this morning to see the first snow on the mountains and it looked stunningly beautiful!  Beacuse last winter was so mild it seems ages since there was so much snow up there!  The time has been flying by so furiously that I can hardly believe it’s just two more days until the Almyrida Xmas Fayre again! My photo this morning shows how much improved the weather is today but its forecast for sunshine and showers on Sunday. This will be my eighth fayre and it looks like being the last one, the organisers are saying. I have written about these Fayres in previous posts and I’m sure that this final Fayre – held every year at the Almyrida Residence and Beach Hotels and hugely popular with all the residents of the Apokoronas area of Crete – will be just as great as it always is, raising tons of money for local charities and giving everyone that real Christmassy feeling!

I Love Being a Yaya!

I had the most wonderful time during my recent 3 week visit in the UK. I love, love, loved every minute of it! I was based at Emma and Ash’s cosy home in Helsby near Frodsham, a beautiful rural area near Chester. I couldn’t believe how much baby Ralph had grown and all the things he can do now! And he’s just soooo cheeky! I was totally amazed by how much Ralph progressed during the weeks I helped look after him and I took some wonderful videos of him which I can watch whenever I’m missing him and can’t Skype with Emma.

Ralph & I

Ralph and I at Emma & Ash’s home in Helsby

As his doting ‘Yaya’ I am besotted with Ralph and feel so lucky to have had such quality time playing with him. I was absolutely enthralled with just watching him while he discovered new things he could do. Of course – as with all babies – his curiosity and excitement in absolutely everything is a joy to witness so closely! Quite simply – I enjoyed a priceless three weeks of wonderful happy experiences that I shall always treasure.

The first weekend with Emma and Ralph, Zoe was able to join us and the four of us enjoyed a leisurely Saturday lunchtime at a charming cafe within a quirky gift shop in Helsby village.

Ralph & his steering wheel!

Ralph playing on his favourite steering wheel at the local children’s park in Helsby.

It had a play area at the back and Ralph loved it! Afterwards we visited the local children’s park where Ralph had an absolute ball! He was crawling all over the place – from one thing to another to end up back at his favourite steering wheel! The sounds and noises he makes when he’s excited are hilarious and exciting at the same time. Zoe, Emma and I just loved every minute of watching and playing with him. Wow, did I get some exercise in – especially going up Emma’s steep stairs with Ralph in my arms, several times a day! I am not used to stairs anymore, having lived the last seven and a half years on one level.

Ralph on Zoe's shoulders

Ralph on Zoe’s shoulders and with Emma

During the first two weeks Emma had several appointments to attend at the hospital and health centres, in connection with her shoulder operation and Ralph’s routine checks. I had previously voiced my concerns about driving in the UK after so many years of driving on the opposite side of the road on Crete. The sheer volume of traffic in the UK these days scared the very wits out of me! I know I’m a wimp but I have the added responsibility of carrying my daughter and grandson in the car, in an area I wasn’t familiar with and I was not feeling confident about the whole thing! However, I gave it a whirl and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It really helped that Helsby and the surrounding areas were more rural and much less built up and that the times I drove were all outside rush hours.

Warrington Gym Tots

Hannah with Ralph in the Gym Tots Room at Warrington Gymnastics Club

But I still had some scary moments when dealing with the heavy traffic and horrendously complicated roundabouts in Warrington. Emma, Ralph and I spent an afternoon at Warrington Gymnastics Club which my sister Karen and nieces Sophie and Hannah help run. The timing was perfect because none of the classes were on and so we virtually had the place to ourselves. You cannot imagine what an incredible play area that was for Ralph! We plonked him in the middle of an enormous soft and spring-loaded bright red floor area – which was scattered with a few blown up tubes and brightly coloured objects, including a baby walker. It was an endless space for him to charge around with the walker, without bumping into anything! Ralph soon made a beeline for the large boom box that was in one corner – standing up against it while instinctively swaying his hips to the beat and making us all laugh! He loved it when Sophie and Hannah (his second cousins) jumped on the trampoline with him in their arms. He watched Hannah – a double Olympian – do a high somersault from the trampoline into an enormous pit full of foam blocks! Wow! It was all so worth the horrible driving experience in Warrington!

Meal at Mercato

After our meal at Mercato – with my sisters, Karen and Leonie and brother-in-law, Mike

At the end of the second week at Emma’s, Ash was granted leave to come home for the weekend and I returned to Karen and Mike’s, to give Emma, Ash and Ralph some family time together. Ash was more than capable of looking after Emma and Ralph and it meant I could have some quality time with my sisters Karen and Leonie and brother-in-law, Mike. For the Saturday evening, Mike had booked a table at Mercato – the new Italian bar and bistro in Bramhall. We had a great evening because there’s always so much to talk and laugh about. So when we’d all finished our deserts and coffees we continued the party spirit back at the house, with all our favourite music and some downright daft dancing!
On the Sunday teatime – Karen, Mike, Leonie and Sophie came back with me to Emma’s and we all shared a late Sunday roast together at a pub restaurant close by. Ralph in his little wooden highchair, sitting at the top of the table – was the star of the show again!

On our lovely country ramble!

On our lovely country ramble – Ralph sits in his chair on Ash’s back, with Emma, Zoe and Rich

The last week was even busier with Ralph as Emma had to work from home. She is not allowed to drive for another three weeks but does not need to wear the sling anymore. She is gradually gaining strength in her shoulder and arm with physio and daily exercises. So on my final weekend it was great that Ash was again granted leave to come home and he drove Emma, Ralph and Me to Zoe and Rich’s new home in Huddersfield to stay for the weekend. Ash had bought a second-hand child-carrier – the type you see on the backs of serious walkers. Well Ralph absolutely loved being up high in this chair, when we all went for a long walk through the countryside, stopping at various country pubs for refreshments along the way. We ended the day at a favourite restaurant of Zoe and Rich’s, where I enjoyed one of the best steaks I’ve had for ages!

A very photogenic goat!

Couldn’t resist putting up this picture I took of a very photogenic goat – posing for the camera with Ralph just peeking behind Ash’s shoulder!

On Sunday we visited a large old Victorian park and spent a few hours there, playing with Ralph and even trying out some of the children’s apparatus ourselves! By late afternoon we were enjoying coffee and cake in the huge conservatory that had been converted into a cafe within the park grounds. Then we returned to Zoe and Rich’s house for a slap-up Sunday roast expertly cooked by Rich! It was a great weekend and a lovely way to end my three week stay in the UK – with all my closest family around me! By Monday evening I was back at Karen and Mike’s in time for my flight back to Crete on Tuesday morning, from Manchester Airport.

At the park with the ducks

At the Victorian Park with the ducks – Emma, Ralph, Ash, Zoe and Rich

I’ve been back home in Crete now for several days and have had much to pick up and continue with, such as the final tweaks to my new Etsy Shop, which officially opens in a couple of days on 1st November. Here is the direct link to the shop:

SeashellBeautyinArt

There have been many more matters to pay attention to – not least of all – my car! It needs a service, MOT and has other problems that worry me. There’s also a very personal matter that is demanding my time and energies and I will talk about this in a future post. Let’s just say that I’m hoping some extremely good news will come out of it!

After such a packed three weeks of quality time with my grandson and underneath all that’s going on now, back home on Crete – I am missing Ralph sooooo much!

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My New Etsy Shop is Opening Soon!

A whole month has flown by again and I have been totally absorbed and occupied with expanding my art business.  As explained in some of my recent posts – I have been shocked at the fall in sales, which appears to be due to the spending power (or lack of it!) of most of the tourists visiting Almyrida this year.  All the local businesses here have suffered and I have realised that my marketplace is too restricted.  Continue reading

Life is full of Surprises!

Here we are nearing the end of August and it’s looking like being the worst August for sales that I’ve ever had! How can I have survived so well during seven long years of world recession, only to be thwarted by Britain’s sudden and dramatic exit from the EU! Naturally I have only assumed this outcome from all the facts I have accumulated over the years. The British are definitely my biggest customers, followed closely by the Scandinavians, Americans and Europeans. Continue reading

Fran and I Enjoy Exploring More of Crete.

Since Fran returned to the UK, having spent two whole weeks with me – I’ve been running around like a headless chicken, in an effort to catch up on production of my unique seashell mosaics and mixed media art! I am now well into the busiest part of my summer selling season and that means I must work countless hours during the days I am home, in order to produce enough artworks to meet demand. During the two weeks Fran was here, we went out every day I wasn’t selling and what a fab time we had too! Continue reading

Selling my Unique Seashell Mosaics & Collages in Almyrida

After Emma and Ash’s wonderful wedding on 2nd June – already over a month ago, life has resumed its normal pattern and I have been back in full swing with the selling of my unique seashell mosaics and collages.  Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I am to be found sitting and working at the edge of the beach in Almyrida with my displays and work table. Continue reading

Emma and Ash’s Wonderful Wedding!

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks that I shall cherish for always.  I have been happier than I ever could have imagined and it’s all because of Emma and Ash’s wonderful wedding! Prepare yourselves for an epic posting!

For me it started just over two weeks before the wedding when Emma, Ash and my gorgeous Grandson, Ralph arrived in Crete on Tuesday 17th May. From that moment on we were all in ‘wedding mode’… although I was in ‘Ralph mode’ for quite a lot of the time! Well what did you expect? After all, I am his doting Yaya – the Greek word for Gran or Nana. In all, I had over three weeks of blissful time, playing with and helping to look after Ralph. Continue reading

Now it’s all about Weddings!

I’m sitting on my windswept balcony, on the sofa while I write this. It’s the best spot on the balcony, giving more shelter in the corner from the wind. It’s really only the gusts that are sometimes a little scary but they can disappear as quickly as they arrived and now and again you get a little lull and all is calm for a time… before it returns in earnest and you never know what’s coming next! Continue reading