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.  My outbound flight had been delayed by over two hours in Chania and when it finally arrived in Manchester, there was no staff to bring steps so we couldn’t get off the plane! Much later in the baggage hall, there was nobody to take the suitcases off the planes and onto the conveyor belts.  More and more flights were arriving but there was not a bag or suitcase to be seen! I was worried about my daughter who had to leave the car park because it was getting too expensive to stay. When I eventually got my bag (and I was one of the lucky ones!) I had to walk way beyond the airport to find Emma waiting by her car. How ironic that I was actually looking forward to travelling again – post pandemic. Yet it was far worse because the travel industry was so totally unprepared for the sheer volume of people wanting to finally get away. What a fiasco!

Needless to say – however bad the travel experiences – it is always worth it to spend such quality time with my family and grandchildren. It is a real holiday for me and I enjoyed and loved every minute of it. I stayed with Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve for the first 9 days, happily looking after Ralph and Neve for the two days Emma was working. Luckily the weather, although not as good as I’d hoped – was dry and quite sunny at times so we were able to visit the park and go exploring in the woods where we found a treehouse!

 

 

The military base where they live, gave out free tickets to Flamingo Land and so we all went there for the day and the weather was really nice. As it was half term it was very busy and queues for the rides were taking an hour or more. We decided on only a few choice rides, Ash taking Ralph on the steepest rollercoaster in the world – no less – whilst Emma and I queued for a couple of rides with Neve.

It is many many years since I visited a leisure park like Flamingo Land and I must say I was impressed. There was also a zoo set among the beautiful grounds of what once must have been a huge estate and manor house. We spent the whole day there and enjoyed a wide variety of options for lunch, which we ate outside in the sunshine. It was a lovely day out and shortly after we arrived home, Emma and Ash left to go to York for the evening and an overnight hotel stay. As it was their wedding anniversary and they don’t often get the chance to go out, I urged them to take advantage of my being there to babysit.

At the Platinum Jubilee barbeque

At the Platinum Jubilee barbeque held on the Military base

The next day, on the Saturday there was a big party and barbeque in the grounds of the Military base, held to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Again we were so lucky to have good weather as the sun shone for most of the time.  Zoe, Rich and Arthur had travelled from the other side of Yorkshire to join us in the celebrations, which turned it into a real family affair. Aside from the free barbeque, there was a large bouncy castle for the kids, a brilliant play list of music and tunes that many got up to dance to and we brought along our own beer and wine to drink. It was a wonderful day and we stayed until well after 7pm. Zoe, Rich and Arthur were staying over so after we had put all the kids to bed – we continued the party, drinking and sitting around a fire pit in Emma and Ash’s garden, playing music and chatting all evening.

Ralph, Neve & Arthur waving their union jack flags at the Jubilee party

Ralph, Neve & Arthur waving their union jack flags at the Jubilee party

Platinum Julbilee Barbeque

Enjoying the Platinum Jubilee Party & Barbeque

A couple of days later Emma drove us to a shopping centre in Leeds, where we met Zoe. Because the children were back at school and nursery, we had a totally free day of shopping which included a tasty lunch, enjoyed in the sunshine in the garden of Gino de Campo’s restaurant. Then I went back with Zoe to their house in Golcar. It was a shame because the weather was not as good in their part of Yorkshire. In fact I found it rather cold because it was so windy. However this did not stop us from enjoying some quality time together. Zoe had the whole week off work, which was great for me. We spent time shopping and actually did some gardening which I really enjoyed, having only pots to tend in Crete. I also got to play with Arthur lots and I babysat a couple of times so that Zoe and Rich could go out. Like Emma and Ash – they rarely have the chance to go out without the children.

At Ilkley Food and drink festival

At Ilkley Food and drink festival

On the Sunday there was a food and drink festival being held in Ilkley. Zoe and Rich had been to this festival many times before and this year Emma, Ash and the kids came along too and met us there. It was wonderful as I wasn’t expecting another opportunity where we were all together again. Live music from different bands played all day, giving a real festival atmosphere and there were more rides for the kids. Dozens of food and drink stalls of every variety were dotted all over this huge field including many more stalls and marquees selling all kinds of edible treats and crafts. But – in typically British style – the weather this time did put a dampner on things as it was so windy and there was no shelter on that open field! Strong gusts meant that food flew off our plates and drinks were whisked out of our hands, with the children getting all upset at one point. But hey – we all had a great time really and it did brighten up later on in the afternoon.

I really enjoyed my extra holiday in the UK and I intend to make this visit in May/June a more regular thing. I can’t and don’t expect my girls and their families to visit Crete every summer and if they can’t come, then I am only seeing my grandchildren at Christmas time. As it happens I have been really fortunate that Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve all came for holidays here in 2020 and 2021. Zoe and Rich visited in 2020 but were unable to come in 2021. However this summer I am spoilt as Emma , Ralph and Neve are arriving for a week’s holiday on 21st July and are staying with me this time. Also Zoe, Rich and Arthur are coming over in September for two weeks, four days of which will be spent in Cyprus where Zoe’s best friend gets married. I will be looking after Arthur whilst they are there. So I have much to look forward to this summer.

I was back selling by Almyrida beach again two days after I arrived home and am pleased that I sold 5 Seashell Mosaic Collage Paintings that day. Among them was the hugely popular design – “Always believe something wonderful is going to happen”. In only 5 separate days of selling this season – I have sold two of these already! And you know what? I truly believe that something really wonderful is going to happen this summer…..

Ange & I Enjoy Walking The Imbros Gorge

I have had three good selling days so far this month but the weather was not good enough for a couple of days last week and disappointingly I only managed to sell on the Monday. Tomorrow will be my last day in May before I fly back to the UK for 16 days. The weather otherwise has been sunny and hot and for the first time in two years there are plenty of tourists – including British – around and about Almyrida and Plaka.

At Taki's restaurant & the party in Plaka square

With Ange at Taki’s restaurant & the party in Plaka square

Ange arrived on Saturday afternoon and that evening we were up on the Almyrida Residence Hotel Rooftop terrace, enjoying a complimentary glass or two of wine. A lovely couple I met before Covid, Sarah and Chris, finally had their long-awaited wedding celebrations and it was so lovely to see them on their special day. It really was beautiful up there on the roof and it brought back so many memories of my daughter Emma and Ash’s wedding held there in June 2016. I am halfway through a commission for Sarah and Chris – to commemorate this special day in their lives together. They will be forwarding me some photos from their wedding so that I can complete the seashell mosaic design they have chosen.

About halfway through Imbros Gorge

About halfway through Imbros Gorge

On Tuesday there was a big party in Plaka square with a band playing and so we ate outside and danced in the street. The following day we got up early to walk the Imbros Gorge. It was so nice for me because I got to feel like a tourist for the day and instead of driving down to the south coast – we booked an organized trip and went on the coach. It is many years since I walked Imbros and I’d forgotten how beautiful it is! The scenery was awesome and there were many pretty wild flowers everywhere amongst all the rocks. The weather was just perfect – not too hot as we scrambled in and out of the shade of the gorge. The only thing that spoilt it a little for us was the sheer volume of tourists. I did not expect that so early in the season. It was difficult to stop and admire the scenery around us or indeed – take many photos. All along the gorge there were people right behind us. Nevertheless, we loved every minute of it. In the afternoon afterwards, the coach took us further along the south coast to Chrora Sfakia, where we only had a short time for lunch before the ride back.

Posing in an archway in the harbour wall leading to Chania lighthouse

Posing in an archway in the harbour wall leading to Chania lighthouse

The weather was very windy with showers the next couple of days so we spent a full day in Chania, walking all along the harbor wall to the lighthouse. Then we walked the cobbled backstreets and looked at some of the shops before stopping for a late lunch at a lovely open-air restaurant just behind the harbourfront. We should have checked the opening times and missed visiting the Maritime Museum. Also and annoyingly, the Archeological Museum had moved its location and so we missed visiting that too! Instead we continued shopping until arriving back in Plaka and Vangelis for a glass of wine to end the day at around 8pm.

The Amphitheatre at Ancient Aptera

The Amphitheatre at Ancient Aptera

The following day I took Ange up to Ancient Aptera as she was really keen to see some ruins. Again, it has been many years since I was last there and so much more has been revealed since then. First we watched the video they had running in a loop… giving you lots of information about the 2,000 year old site. The computer generated graphics really gave you an idea of how the buildings looked all those years ago. Still intact though, was the Roman three-aisled Cistern which is an amazing example of skilled ancient engineering. The recently revealed amphitheatre is said to be one of the smallest in all of Greece. We really enjoyed walking all around the excavated areas but were disappointed to find the enormous fortress was closed so we couldn’t look inside. We spent several hours at Ancient Aptera, taking a picnic to eat in the grounds.

The view from the fortress at Ancient Aptera

The view from the fortress at Ancient Aptera

In the afternoon we visited Koumos in Kalyves which I have written about many times over the years. It’s a charming place with many interesting buildings and mosaics built by a very talented Greek man over a period of about 30 years. After wandering all around the grounds, we had coffee and a pastry there.

Ange stayed with me for ten days during which we enjoyed a lovely dinner as always, at Thalami in Almyrida and a gorgeous lunch at Elia & Thyme, also in Almyrida. After dropping Ange back at Chania airport last night, I went to a gig in Kalyves where Ross and his mate Matt were playing their acoustic guitars and singing some great tunes.  Tomorrow night I am going to see them again in Vamos, after I’ve finished selling in Almyrida.  If I can get my packing done and organized, I will try and make it to the music quiz at Vangelis on Friday as I forgot all about it last week with Ange.  So my busy social life continues…

Looking through one of the arches in the harbour wall leading to Chania lighthouse

Looking through one of the arches in the harbour wall leading to Chania lighthouse

However I am now starting to get really axcited about my visit to the UK on Saturday. The Last time I was there at this time of the year was in June 2018 for my nephew Rob’s wedding. I can’t wait to see my family again and spend some time with Ralph, Neve and little Arthur.

Now I Have Time for Everything Including Lots of Socialising!

The weather has much improved since my last post and Almyrida has fully opened up for the early tourists. I am going to set up my stall and display in a few days and I am thrilled to be able to start this summer season in May instead of July or only August, as was the case in 2020 and 2021. I am particularly looking forward to welcoming the English tourists back to Crete. Continue reading

Goodbye to the Good Weather for Weeks of Cold and Rain!

For several weeks it has been really cold and we’ve had rain almost every day. So this winter on Crete has been a real yoyo between hot and cold temperatures. It’s been difficult to plan anything, especially beachcombing and long walks. The price of petrol has rocketed here (as all over the world) and we are paying 2.10 Euros a litre at the pumps – the highest in Europe! Continue reading

Making the Most of the Warm Winter Sunshine

During the last six weeks the weather here on Crete has been switching constantly from cold and stormy to warm and sunny. A few weeks ago so much snow fell in parts of Greece and Athens that the Greek government declared two days of national holiday as services and businesses struggled to cope with these extreme conditions. Greece is just not used to this! Continue reading

A Very Happy 3 Weeks in the UK with Family at Christmas Time

So it’s a brand new year again and here on Crete, 2022 started so beautifully with bright blue skies and a temperature of 18 degrees, the snow was shining on the mountains and the waves were gently lapping onto the shores of Almyrida Bay. After the New Year celebrations, I knew a brisk walk would do wonders to counteract all the drinking I’d done the night before.. and it really was reviving and invigorating. Continue reading

Enjoying Long Walks in the Beautiful Cretan Countryside

We all had a wonderful first day of beachcombing in Falasarna the first week in November. The weather was gorgeous and whilst Lisa, Debbie and I were hunting for shells and sea treasures – Ross actually went swimming and snorkeling. As usual we had a picnic on the beach and stayed until after sunset.. and what a beautiful sunset it was! Continue reading

Disappointing, Dull & Miserable Weather For October

For the rest of September the weather here on Crete was much more comfortable to live and work in. I did well from my beach stall and sold 29 Seashell Mosaic Paintings, the majority of which were the larger and more expensive designs, which surprised me! Last September there were virtually no tourists here so I couldn’t sell at all that month. Therefore this is indeed a good result and I am happy! Continue reading

Crete’s Long Hot Summer Continues into September

I am pleased to report that the temperatures gradually came down to a more normal level and by mid August, were a lot more bearable, especially with the return of the cool breezes coming off the sea. By 9th August I was back selling from my stall by the beach. It was busy in Almyrida and Plaka yet still the majority of tourists were from France and Germany. By my recollection of the past 13 summers in Almyrida – I have never seen so many French and German tourists. There were hardly any British tourists this August and I am not surprised, given the way the UK government has made it so difficult for British people to travel this summer Continue reading

Another Heatwave Way Too Hot to Work or Play in!

The post you are about to read was actually posted on 6th August, but the hosting company migrated my site and in the process I have been offline for several days and have lost that post.  As it was a special one (well all of them are special to me) and because luckily I keep drafts, I am re-posting it now.

It is the 6th August and we are in the midst of another dreadful heatwave here on Crete. The Greek authorities have declared it the hottest on record and wildfires have been raging all over Greece and the islands. This is putting enormous pressure on the Electricity supply and this morning we had the inevitable power cut! I am so grateful that this heatwave didn’t happen last week, when my family were over. Out of curiosity I put my fridge magnet thermometer outside on my balcony overlooking the sea, to record the temperature. It went off the scale at over 120F (over 50C) and burst the bulb! Continue reading