Picturesque Almyrida

Here on the beautiful Island of Crete it’s been a long hot summer and it isn’t over yet! September is proving to be a hot one too and I’m pleased to say that sales have really picked up during the last two months. Hence the reason I’ve not written for a while, because much has been happening in my life both professionally and personally and it’s all taken precedence over this Blog!

One of Almyrida's pretty beaches

One of Almyrida’s pretty beaches where Zoe spent much of her time relaxing.

Zoe came to stay with me for a much-needed break from the stresses of her job. She was in desperate need of some rest and of course was also here to progress with her wedding plans. Rich had too much work on so she came alone.  Originally, Emma and Ralph were trying to get flights out for the same week, but sadly Emma also had work commitments and so I didn’t get to spend time with her or Ralph and oh I do miss my cute little Grandson so much!  Such is life… but I really do believe things always  happen – when they happen… and for a reason.

One of Almyrida's pretty beaches

The other side of the beach, where Zoe and I spent quality time and swam last weekend.

That week with me in Crete turned out to be just what Zoe needed! We got so many important details about the wedding sorted and on the days I was selling, she was quite happy spending time by herself; lots and lots of swimming and relaxation; reading her book and feeling completely at home In Almyrida. Zoe has visited Crete so many times now, that it feels a little like her second home!  It’s the same for Emma when she visits.   I was able to join Zoe on other days and I couldn’t help taking some snapshots of the beautiful and peaceful setting we were relaxing in! I may live here but I rarely find the time to appreciate how lovely and picturesque Almyrida is!

On Thursday evening we met Neisha, the wedding planner and Kirsten in Chania – at the caterer’s cafe restaurant. Here we were treated to samples of all the dishes Zoe has decided to go for including the wine – all of which were complimentary. That done and food and wine decided, we moved onto the Harbour Front to a restaurant called Salis and who’s owner is a friend of Neisha’s. We drank a cocktail and I have to say that the food at Salis is all organically home-grown and deliciously different! I would definitely recommend this place!

At Salis Restuarant on Chania Harbour Front

At Salis Restaurant on Chania Harbour Front – Zoe, Kirsten, Neisha & I.

The following evening we went to Maddie’s in Kefelas, to watch a band that has been highly recommended and is a strong possibility for the wedding. We thought they were brilliant! They had everyone up and dancing all night and they were talented and accomplished musicians. When the gig had finished Zoe approached the lead and singer for a chat. What a genuinely nice guy he is, with no airs and graces and he has readily agreed to perform at Zoe and Rich’s wedding at the end of next May.  Fingers crossed that Rich will like them too, after he hears them on Zoe’s video clips and Youtube.

On the beach in front ofCafe Franscoise in Almyrida

Zoe and I on the beach in front of Cafe Franscoise in Almyrida.

And so it was a different Zoe I took back to the airport than the Zoe I had collected the week before. She was tired, negative and on edge when she arrived, but rested, positive and happy when she left and although she did not want to leave, I reminded her that in just over seven months she’ll be back again for three whole weeks around the wedding. Needless to say I did my usual crying all the way back from the airport, but (practicing what I preach) with my flight back to the UK for Christmas and New Year already booked, I know it won’t be long before I can see and spend time with everyone dear to me again.

Since Zoe left I have been busy trying to keep up with demand for certain designs of my Seashell Mosaic Collages which have been particularly popular in August and September. I’ve already mentioned how sales have improved during these months and this means I have more work to fit into less available time! Same old… same old story.

Lisa and I at Nikita's in Almyrida

Lisa and I at Nikita’s in Almyrida last night, where 4 different bands were playing.

My social life has been busier again too and yesterday I spent the day showing my good customers and friends – Paul, Sheila and John – all round Chania and they treated me to a lovely lunch at a restaurant situated high above the Harbour. Last night I went to a four band gig at Nikita’s in Almyrida and have to say that was a cracking night! Such a variety of music styles, entertaining and great to dance to! My Friend Lisa plays the beat box in one of the bands and so I went along to support her. There were heaps of people I knew there and I partied until collapsing onto my bed at around 2am this morning!  There is a big party taking place in Plaka Square on Thursday Evening.  There will be more Live music from Backtrax and I missed last year’s party, so I was told last night that I had better be there this year!

Still Loving the Holiday Atmosphere in Almyrida

Why does time have to pass so quickly? Maybe it’s because my life is so full and busy or maybe it’s just because I’m growing older…? They say that time flies by as you get older. It’s true.. and as always happens, Karen and Mike’s visit came and went in a flash!

We had such a good time! Lots of ‘catch up’ chat and discussion, lots of laughing, wining and dining out every night; lovely lunches at beachside tavernas in Almyrida and Kalyves, where we had plenty of relaxation, swimming, chatting and playing games!

Karen & Mike

Karen & Mike – having just retrieved Mike’s cap from the wilderness that is my garden downstairs! It had blown off Mike’s head while we were on the balcony in the strong winds.

We also went on Yorgos’ Speedboat Trip. I’ve taken other visitors on this trip but not Karen and Mike and I was keen to see if they enjoyed it. It’s only a two hour journey and covers the coastline from Almyrida, past Kokkino Chorio and beyond. Along the way we stop at many interesting caves, until we come to the one where a Greek man lived for many years before meeting and marrying an Englishwoman! At this point on the trip, those who wish to take a closer look, are encouraged to jump off the boat and climb onto the rocks. The entrance to the cave is situated high up and one must first navigate a series of steps and ladders the Greek man built, in order to reach the entrance to the cave. This all looks a little scary from ground level and many people, including some of my friends, have not attempted the climb. You couldn’t keep me from going up there though – every time! I was fascinated to see how this amazing Greek man lived – so ‘at one with Nature’ – for so long.

It was only last year that I was lucky enough to meet him! He came to my stall by the edge of Almyrida beach, bought one of my artworks and we got chatting. He was accompanied by the Englishwoman he fell in love with and today they live happily in a village called Kefelas, in a very unusual house that I’m sure he constructed himself!

The Scream that is embedded in the cliff face!

‘The Scream’ that is embedded in the cliff face!

But I digress!! Back to the trip and at certain points, Yorgos points up at the cliffs and we see goats hanging there precariously… as if they have special hooves keeping them attached to the practically vertical jagged rock! There were lots of them and I can’t remember seeing them on Yorgos’ trips before. So when we reach the Greek man’s cave – Yorgos explains that all the activity of the goats has dislodged many pieces of rock, making the climb up rather more dangerous. Naturally, he was concerned for everyone’s safety, but what a shame! I’m so glad I saw inside the cave when I did.  I didn’t take many photos this time, but I wish I could find the ones of the Greek man’s cave I’d previously taken.

After the cave, Yorgos took us to an area along the coast which is good for snorkelling and we stayed there for about 45 minutes. Karen was not so confident about snorkelling, but after some good tuition from Yorgos and about 15 minutes’ practice – she had improved massively and loved it! We saw lots of brightly coloured fish and rocks of all forms and shades. It had been so hot again that it was wonderfully refreshing to spend time in the water! We all agreed that despite not seeing the Greek man’s cave, it was still a great trip.

Enjoying a drink or two at Franscoise in Almyrida

Enjoying a drink or two at Francois in Almyrida – Karen and I at the start of their holiday.

All in all we spent a wonderful quality week together. This is indeed rare because when I return to the UK at Christmas times, Karen and Mike’s home is like Piccadilly Circus, with family members coming and going all the while! But it was over too soon and I am missing them lots – just as I am missing Ralph. I love to see him on Skype, watch him playing and chatting away to himself.. now just starting to string words together. I so love him to bits!

On the beach work front… I am fumbling along like all the other people who work in Almyrida for the summer season. It’s not the same as it’s been for the last 7 years… something’s changed. Tourists are not spending as much and there is nothing anybody can do about it! Never mind – I am still enjoying my beach selling days and loving the holiday atmosphere. Almyrida is busy and buzzing! I still count myself lucky that I am selling my seashell mosaic artworks every day, albeit fewer in number. I am always happy to see customers I’ve met from over the years, as well as meeting new people. This week just gone, weather conditions have been ideal for selling – not too hot with a nice breeze off the sea. But temperatures are souring again and I just know I’ll find myself frequently dipping in the sea to cool off!

Beautiful sunset in Almyrida

Just couldn’t resist – another beautiful sunset from my balcony!

Almyrida has that Holiday Atmosphere Again!

It’s Easter Sunday and I’ve been busy getting the spare room ready for Zoe and Donnas’ visit in a couple of days. The weather has been glorious again and so later this afternoon, I couldn’t resist a couple of hours working mosaic on my amazing balcony! Now I am enjoying the peace and tranquillity and the early evening sun, whilst I lounge comfortably on the balcony sofa. Quite a contrast because yesterday I was taking a break at the same time, but it was anything but peaceful! Bangers and crackers were going off intermittently, making me jump out of my skin every time! This in turn, was setting off all the dogs barking and even the sheep below me were starting to protest! Clio the cat who frequents my balcony, jumped 3 feet into the air when one particularly loud banger went off! That did make me laugh!

Easter Saturday in Plaka Square

Easter Saturday in Plaka Square. You can just see Judas hanging from the gallows in the middle of the bonfire!

All day the villagers had been building the customary bonfire in Plaka Square – ready for tonight’s big burn! As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous Easter posts – this bonfire is for burning Judas on and is a night when Plaka is full of people carrying lighted candles. It all makes for an atmosphere of warmth and togetherness.

Because the evening doesn’t really get going until nearer midnight, I didn’t walk up to the square until around 10pm last night. Lots of people I knew were already out and about and all the restaurants in Plaka were packed with locals and tourists alike. We based ourselves at Vangeli’s and took two tables outside. It was a mild evening although it got chillier as the evening wore on. We chatted while watching the square fill up with people leaving the church after the service with their lighted candles. All night the bangers were going off at odd occasions, making us all jump, but as Robert my Dutch friend said – and I agree – you’ve heard and seen nothing until you’ve spent a New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam! Finally, after the church bells started ringing, they lit the huge bonfire which for those of us that were feeling the chill, was most welcome! It was a lovely evening and I was home for just after 1.30am – so not too late really!

Seashell Mosaic Collage - 30 x 40cms

Seashell Mosaic Collage – 30 x 40cms – available to purchase from my Etsy shop – SeashellBeautyinArt (Shop link on menu bar above)

Back in the here and now, I’ m looking down on Almyrida and it’s like a picture postcard! All the shops and restaurants are open again and I imagine it’s been really busy down there today, with many Greek families, tourists and local residents. Yesterday I noticed a couple of sailboats and a few canoes out on the water. Now I can see an enormous cruise ship leaving Souda Bay so I’ll bet Chania has been majorly busy too.

I wish David and I could have had an exhibition on the Harbour Front in Chania this Easter. I think we’d both do really well. Sadly yet again, we cannot have an exhibition there this year because they changed the whole system again. Applications were received electronically in February. Because the information was on a different website, David was unaware of this until just recently, so we’ve missed out! Also it sounds like they are prioritising applicants that are local Greek organisations and artists, so who knows if we would even have secured a slot? Whatever will be… there’s always next year.. but I am so disappointed because I love and miss those wonderful exhibitions.

Seashell Mosaic Collage - 25 x 30cms

Seashell Mosaic Collage – 25 x 30cms – available to purchase from my Etsy shop – SeashellBeautyinArt

Ever the optimist, I have the whole of the summer season to look forward to and so much else besides! I am excited to see and spend time with Zoe, followed immediately by a week’s holiday in Spain with Mum and my sisters and then some quality time with Emma and gorgeous Grandson Ralph.  After another great Skype call with Emma and Ralph, I reminded Emma that she hasn’t sent me any recent photos of him.  I will soon put that to rights when I am back in the UK.  Hey though, starting from Tuesday, and after having had three intensive months of creating my seashell mosaics –  I will be having three weeks of socialising, holidaying and relaxing with family and friends! Absolutely fab!

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!

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