Embracing and Appreciating My Wonderful Family & Friends.

Gosh! I’ve already been home almost a week and yet not had a chance to write this post when there’s so much to tell!
Zoe and her friend Donna came to stay with me for a week in mid April, primarily to find a venue for Zoe and Rich’s wedding – due to take place in May next year. She had in her mind a certain setting but none of the places we visited ticked the boxes. Until Neisha – the wonderful lady who helped make Emma and Ash’s wedding so special – suggested a place on the coast which sounded just perfect! After twice failing to find it ourselves (it was very remote – access-wise) we were driven there by the owners, with Neisha and Claudia following behind. Well what can I say?! We were all blown away! Zoe was all overcome with emotion, as it far exceeded all her dreams for a special wedding venue.

Zoe and Donna at Koymos

Zoe and Donna at Koymos

It is an idyllic large Greek Summer House right on the beach! Beautiful private grounds all face the spectacular sea and mountain views, making it the perfect place for a wedding. The owners have never rented their summer house as a wedding venue before, so we feel especially blessed to have found it!

Zoe wanted to show Donna around a special traditionally Greek place, only a ten minute drive from my home. It’s called Koymos and I have mentioned this special place in a previous post. I was first shown Koymos a couple of months after I first moved to Crete – around July 2009. That first same summer both Zoe and Emma came to stay and I took them to see it. Zoe was so enthralled with the whole place that she said she would choose Koymos as her wedding venue. It has everything but the beach! Still – it was so lovely to go back and see it all again and to enjoy a cool drink and a Greek snack in such pretty surroundings.

On the Almyrida Residence Roof Terrace

Zoe and I on the Almyrida Residence Roof Terrace

So I had a wonderful week with Zoe and Donna and I wish I had more time to tell you all the other things we did during their week with me, but I don’t! On their last day I too, packed my bags and flew back to the UK with them. Karen and Leonie were at the airport to meet me and by midnight we were at Karen and Mike’s. We had about 4 hours to chat and re-pack before returning to Manchester airport for our 6am flight to Alicante. Mum’s friend Brian collected us for the 1 hour 15 minute journey to our Mum’s home in Javea. Without a whole night’s sleep and all that travelling – I was totally wrecked! But that first day in Spain – it was so lovely to just relax and chat with my Sisters and Mum. This was a special holiday for all of us as we were celebrating Mum’s 80th Birthday.

Javea port

Mum, Karen and I out shopping at Javea Port

The weather was disappointing for the first three days so we went for coffee at the port in Javea, then shopping for ideas for our two future family weddings! We had lunch at a Dutch cafe, where we indulged in our favourite (since childhood) Dutch snack of veal croquets spread upon soft baguettes and topped off with mustard – Mmm… so tasty!

We dined out several times, mostly at restaurants on the Arunal Beach promenade and they were great evenings. If we didn’t all live in such a wonderful variety of places – we just wouldn’t get this type of quality family time together. Mum is so happy in Spain. She has a wonderful life with many friends (which we kept bumping into everywhere we went!) and a great social life she enjoys with the Canasta club, as well as regular lunches and dinners with friends.

Enjoying a meal and wine at Javea beach promenade

All enjoying a meal out on the promenade of Javea Beach

We fitted so much into our week at Mum’s, including time of course for Canasta! But hey, we only played one round because our current crazes are Rummikub and Contract Whist! Because Mum has such a lovely garden to relax, eat and chat in, we were running out of days for me to do a little beachcombing on Javea beach. Karen and Leonie were quite happy to remain in the garden whilst Mum and I headed off for the beach. Once we reached the shoreline, we saw hundreds of the tiny white triangular-shaped seashells that I’ve only ever found on this beach! But could I stop my energetic Mum from immediately bending down to collect them for me?! Together we spent an hour and I was thrilled to have so many of them, thanks to Mum’s help! My Mum is just amazingly fit and healthy for her age. It’s a joy to see her enjoying her life so much in these, her twilight years. May there be at least ten more years of them left!

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The beautiful beach at Javea where Mum and I did some beachcombing

After a wonderful week with our Mum, Karen, Leonie and I flew back into Manchester and Mike picked us up and took us back to theirs. The next two days I spent shopping, firstly with Leonie, locally and then with Karen at the Trafford Centre. Again we were looking for outfits for two family weddings, mostly for me really. I’m rarely in the UK during the summer season and so this was a rare opportunity for me and I’m happy to say I got sorted on both counts! I so enjoyed both days of shopping and lunch with my sisters. When you don’t do these things very often, the odd times you do are always good.

I couldn’t wait to see Ralph!  After the Trafford Centre on Friday, Zoe called at Karen and Mike’s after work and stayed a while, before driving us over to Emma and Ash’s home in Helsby, where we would all spend the weekend together. A whole weekend with my two gorgeous girls and my amazingly cute Grandson! How lucky am I?!!

Ralph and I at the farm

Ralph and I at the Farm.

Ralph has grown so much since I last saw him at Christmas. Of course I’ve seen him loads on Skype, but it’s not the same. He is so independent now, running around all over the place and chatting away the whole time in a language I think only Mummy Emma understands! I love him so so much and I just want to watch, play and cuddle with him all the time! He’s such an affectionate and playful little boy now, and I cherished every single moment I had with him.

On Saturday morning we visited an open farm not far from Emma’s house and spent about three hours there. First we took a tractor ride (and tractor is one word Ralph knows how to say really well!) from the car park to the farm and then had lunch at the farmhouse-style cafe, before going outside again to get up close and personal with the animals! I took so many photos but Ralph was always too quick for me, constantly embracing everything around him, that many didn’t turn out well. But oh what a joy it was just to watch him!

Zoe, Emma & Ralph on the tractor ride to the farm

Zoe, Emma and Ralph on the tractor ride to the farm.

We all ate dinner at a country pub and then returned home to play with Ralph until his bedtime. The weather on Sunday was glorious enough to pack a picnic and head off to Mandley Mere for the day. Only 15 minutes drive from Emma’s, it’s a large beautiful lake surrounded by pretty grounds on which you can lay out your picnic blanket – anywhere that takes your fancy! We had such a lovely day there, the four of us. I have not enjoyed an English summer’s day for many a year and I loved every minute of it! Playing with and watching Ralph was of course, my highlight and when he got tired I pushed him half way round the lake to get him off to sleep in his buggy. Aww… so cute!

Picnic at Mandley Mere

Picnic at Mandley Mere. Such a nice day!

Late that afternoon, we packed up and walked to the pub/cafe set in the grounds and gorged on coffee and cake before we came home. Zoe was dropping me back at Karen’s and so we left soon after we got back to Emma’s. It’s always going to be heartbreaking when I leave Zoe, Emma and Ralph. But the great news is that Emma and Ralph are spending a week with me in Crete later this month, so I didn’t get too tearful!

Back at Karen and Mike’s on Sunday evening I went out with Fran for a few drinks and a catch-up. I also managed to see Gill and share an early doors bottle of wine with her, on the Monday evening, before I left last Tuesday. These past three weeks I’ve enjoyed such quality time with so many of my family and two dear friends, that once again – I appreciate just how lucky I am.

So many things to do at that farm!

So many things to do at that farm!

Back home now on Crete, it’s been a hectic 5 days for me, playing catch-up on my work-related ‘To Do’ list. I had my first selling day by the edge of Almyrida Beach on Friday. It was a great start to my Summer Season. I hardly got any mosaic done because I was too busy chatting with friends and selling my art! What more could I ask for?

Earlier today I went to my friend Jenny’s apartment on Chania Harbour Front. Amazingly I’d bumped into her at Manchester airport last Tuesday, in the check-in queue! Jenny booked the week last minute and so it was a nice surprise. Meeting for lunch was all I could fit into my busy schedule and doesn’t everything always come at once?! Carolyn and Debbie joined us and then they were all headed for one of Jenny’s fab boat trips. If I hadn’t been selling by the beach tomorrow, I would have joined them. I could have had a few drinks and stopped the night at Jenny’s. As it was, my time was spent better by writing up this post. After all.. this is a diary of my wonderful life and it’s here for me to share, look back on and cherish for always.

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