Memories of Christmas with Loved Ones in the UK

This New Year post has been a long time coming… I had three wonderful weeks in the UK but received some bad news shortly after my return to Crete. The New Year has not started off well for me at all!

But I don’t wish to dwell on this now – only to relate all the really good stuff about my Christmas and the weeks leading up to it. The most wonderful event of all was seeing my new Grandson, Ralph for the very first time. He is just adorable! I spent a long and happy week at Emma and Ash’s new home in Helsby, near Frodsham and relished all the quality time I spent with Ralph… loving every minute of it! It truly is a special time in my life – becoming a nana and I wanted to make the absolute most of my brief time with Ralph. Living in Crete I won’t get to see him as often as I’d like and the love I feel for him has completely overwhelmed me!

Me and my gorgeous grandson

Enjoying my time with gorgeous Ralph at Emma and Ash’s home

While I was staying in Helsby, Karen, Mike and Mum collected me to go for a visit to Preston, where my late Father’s family were holding a special ceremony for the burial of my Aunty Pauline’s Ashes. It was so strange but also quite lovely to meet so many of my cousins, having last seen them at my Father’s funeral almost 25 years ago. We had a big lunch in a large pub afterwards and we all just exclaimed that none of us had really changed in all this time! I have such fond memories of having fun with them when we were all children!

Also during my week with Emma and Ash, I met Ash’s parents for the first time. They live about an hour’s drive from Helsby, in Shrewsbury and we visited an enormous Christmas Fayre for the afternoon, enjoying toasted marshmallows over an open fire in a huge tepee which was set-up for this occasion. Later we had a slap-up Sunday roast dinner in a nearby pub. It was good to meet Phil and Angela before the wedding and they seem like nice people. One day Emma had booked an appointment with a local photographer and now I have a beautiful photo of Ralph to display in my home in Crete. She also cooked some wonderful meals and I so enjoyed just chilling with Ralph, Emma and Ash in their delightful and cosy home. They were both going to spend the few days over Christmas with Ash’s parents but oh, how that week flew by… it was over way too soon.

Toasting marshmallows

Toasting marshmallows at the Christmas Fayre in Shrewsbury with Emma, Ralph and Ash’s Mum, Angela

After my wonderful stay with Emma and Ralph I spent about five days at Karen and Mike’s where Mum and Leonie were also staying. It was so good to enjoy the run-up to Christmas with so many cherished members of my family. I also managed a dinner and a long evening of catching up with my close friend, Fran and the same again with dear friends, Jill and Rick, when they treated me to a tasty meal at Turquoise – the new restaurant in Bramhall village. It’s not until I see everyone who is dear and special in my life that I realise just how much I miss them! Hopefully some of my friends will come out to visit me in Crete this summer – I really hope so! What is particularly wonderful is that all of my family will be coming out to Crete at the end of May for Emma and Ash’s big wedding! Something to really look forward to this year.

The three of us with baby Ralph

The three of us with baby Ralph

Three weeks just wasn’t long enough to fit everyone in and so I missed being able to see some of my friends. However a few days before Christmas Zoe drove up from Norfolk to catch up with family and friends in Cheshire and we left Karen and Mike’s to spend an afternoon and evening with Emma and Ralph. It was so special for the three of us to get together and we walked with baby Ralph in the pram to a cosy little pub near to Emma’s house. There we had a meal and talked for hours about all the events and things that we have to look forward to in this coming year. At lunchtime the next day, after teary goodbyes, Zoe and I set off for the long journey back to the charming cottage she shares with Rich in the quaint village of Lyng in Norfolk.

Zoe and Rich -Wells-Next-The-Sea

Zoe and Rich – now happily betrothed, in Wells-Next-The-Sea

This is where I spent Christmas, like last year, only this time it was with Rich’s parents, his sister and her husband. So I have now met both sets of future in-laws within the short space of two weeks! We had a great time visiting the village pub next door on Christmas Eve. It was jam packed with what must have been absolutely everybody from the village. I spent hours chatting to Rick’s Mum, Kate that night and got on really well with her. Rich’s family were staying over and on Christmas morning after we’d all opened our presents we got an extra special surprise.  Rich asked Zoe to marry him!  He had asked me the night before – on the quiet – for my permission to propose to Zoe but I had no idea it would be on Christmas Day! I am so happy for them both and so is Rich’s family.  What a lovely time to declare your love in front of all the family!  Just like last Christmas, Rich did us all proud by cooking a marvellous Christmas Day feast, which also became a special celebration of their engagement and we had lots of fun playing games for a few hours afterwards.

The day after Boxing Day, Zoe, Rich and I went to Wells-Next-The-Sea and spent the afternoon walking around the pretty harbour and the village before ending up on a boat bar to enjoy mulled wine and Dutch pancakes! A pretty girl with an incredible voice was on the balcony of a large pub opposite the harbour, singing the most beautiful operatic melodies. So many local people were out walking and all of them stopped to listen to what really sounded like the ‘voice of an angel’ The atmosphere was quite magical!

My Granson Ralph

My little Grandson Ralph. I do miss him.

Again time ran away for us and after staying with Zoe and Rich for five days and nights, I had to catch the train back to Stockport and Karen and Mike’s home in Bramhall. They still had a totally full house of guests, family and friends including all three of their children, my nieces Sophie and Hannah and nephew, Rob. By this time everyone was feeling a bit jaded and lethargic after so much indulgence over the festive period!
So that left me with only one full day of my three week visit left. How lovely then, that Emma was able to come to Karen and Mike’s with my gorgeous Grandson, of course! We had lunch in Bramhall Village and then spent a totally chilling and relaxing afternoon and evening at Karen and Mike’s fabulous home. To cuddle and play with Ralph on my last day in the UK was more than I could have wished for and I cried buckets when they left and I had to say goodbye again.

The first couple of days I was back on Cretan soil I was missing Ralph and my daughters, Zoe and Emma – so much, but just kept reminding myself that it wouldn’t be too long before I saw them all again . So when New Years Eve was upon us I decided to have a real blast! Everyone was going to our local taverna in Plaka – Vangeli’s. He laid on a superb buffet which was on the house! I splashed out on a bottle of Proseco and that was on top of two large glasses of wine I’d already consumed at home! Consequently I was extremely merry but hey – that was only right and fitting for my very first New Year on Crete! We all had a great time and I’m sure that all the dancing I did is what kept me going far into the wee hours….

So… back to the bad news I received on the second day of this New Year. My landlady came and told me I would have to move out of my home because their daughter wanted to move in with her boyfriend! I was absolutely devastated. I have made this my wonderful home for the past four years and never envisaged leaving it. Just the thought of the upheaval made me feel quite sick! With all the work I still have to do and the wedding looming I just couldn’t imagine how I would cope. But most worrying of all was the fact that I may never get anywhere as good or for as little rent as I have now.

This past week I have been in a depression as I searched all the local estate agents and put the word about to everyone I knew. Word of mouth is very often the key to solving many problems here and I prayed that someone would know of a place suitable for me. Every time I viewed a possible new home and knew straight away that I couldn’t be happy there, I would come home and cry. Part of my wonderful life here is living in a beautiful location with a stunning view and Plaka has become more and more popular over the years so that good places are few and far between. Friends were telling me to be realistic and accept that I probably wouldn’t find anything as good as I have now. I refused to believe them and summoned up as much of my characteristic optimism as I could. And guess what?! It worked and I have found somewhere that ticks my most important boxes! My new home is going to be right across the road from here: a much better position as it is off the main road and has the most stunning and unobstructed views I could ever have wished for! I will be virtually right above the sea so that I may even go to bed listening to the waves – something I have always dreamed of! It’s more money than I am paying now but is still unbelievably great value for money. All my family have been telling me that this was meant to be and a blessing in disguise and I really do believe it was now.

So this is why I couldn’t bring my thoughts together and write this post until I could be sure that I had found a new home to be happy in. I am going to be extremely busy for the next two months as I have to vacate my apartment by the end of February. I must find the time to do the move and carry on with all my artworks in between. I have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to in 2016.

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