Happy Beachcombing Trips with my Friends

Despite all the awful consequences of this Covid Pandemic, I have had such a great summer.. that the bubble was bound to burst at some point! For the last few years October has always ended up being a month for sorting problems out and this year was no different. But always being positive by nature, I’m not even going to mention what these problems were. There is no need to because I have resolved them all and anyway, I have far nicer things to talk about!

Fascinating Stavros with the famous 'Zorba the Greek' mountain backdrop

Fascinating Stavros with the famous ‘Zorba the Greek’ mountain backdrop

For most of October the weather here on Crete has been warm and sunny and just perfect for beachcombing. Lisa, Debbie and I have had 3 recent beachcombing trips which were all fabulous days out.  We visited beautiful Falasarna first and although the large main beach was bereft of any seashells, the beach further up the coast yielded a bounty of different seashells, driftwood, sea glass and more. In fact there was so much to discover and collect that we stayed on the beach until it was going dark, when we were finally forced to leave!

On the way back from Stavros we stopped at a beach in Souda and found a mermaid!

On the way back from Stavros we stopped at a beach in Souda and found a mermaid!

The following week we visited Stavros but here we found very little in the way of seashells. This is quite unusual for Stavros as all my previous years of beachcombing there, have always yielded a good bag full of seashells. Nevertheless, Stavros is such an interesting place with its ruins emerging from the sea and which we discovered were not the ruins of an ancient village but rather where the sandstone had been quarried from. So Lisa, Debbie and I enjoyed our day out just as much because our beachcombing days are just as much about exploring what we come across as they are about collecting sea treasures from the beaches.

Further along the precarious coast from Bali - we discovered a beautiful almost private beach

Further along the precarious coast from Bali – we discovered a beautiful almost private beach.

For the next week we chose Bali and the lack of seashells was also apparent on all 4 of Bali’s beaches. So we turned the day into another exploring expedition and found 3 more small beaches and coves, tucked between the rocks further along the coast – places we hadn’t been to before. Some of these beaches were not pleasant to drive to. In fact it was quite scary in some places where the road had no barriers at the side of a steep sheer drop down to the rocks and sea below. Luckily this is Greece and so there was no traffic, which meant I could drive in the middle of the road – very slowly! As always, we had a fabulous full day out and as it happens, Bali turned out to be good for collecting the small grey pebbles I needed for a new design I am working on.

Debbie took this stunning photo of the sunset as we were leaving this last beach on the way back from Bali. Right at the far end of Georgioupoli.

Debbie took this stunning photo of the sunset, as we were leaving this last beach on the way back from Bali. Right at the far end of Georgioupoli.

Now we are back in lockdown here on Crete and this means we can’t go beachcombing for at least 3 weeks. This has got to be the single worst aspect of lockdown for us as we all love exploring Crete’s beautiful and amazing coastlines.

Most of my time in October was taken up with things that went wrong or had to be sorted, but I was desperate to get back into my art and creating more seashell mosaic collages again. Because I didn’t have a normal summer of selling and producing, I felt as though I had ‘creative-block’ or ‘artists’ block’ – like writers occasionally have. But now I am happy to say that I am back into my art and currently working on some new ideas. I’ve also begun work on one of my winter commissions.

Another beach at the far end of Georgioupoli that we explored on the way back from Bali. Another stunning photo from Debbie too!

Another beach at the far end of Georgioupoli that we explored on the way back from Bali. Another stunning photo from Debbie too!

Another important activity that had been placed on the back burner for many weeks was my keep fit regime, which I had to change anyway. I have always meant to take up Yoga regularly and as luck would have it; my friend Debbie has been doing Yoga for years. Even better – she recently moved to Plaka and I can walk to her apartment in 5 minutes. We are round the corner from each other and so I have been learning all the movements so that I can practice at home too. I’ve also started to walk more. I’m usually so busy and in such a rush to hop into my car to the shop or wherever.. when these places are close enough to walk to! Then there’s my power walks.  This morning the sun was shining and it was so warm that I went for a long walk all around Almyrida and then back uphill to Plaka. I even managed to pick up a few shells from the little beach in Almyrida, including some really rare and special purple seashells that we also found plenty of at Stavros. There is only a small window of the year when these gorgeous seashells can be found on the beaches of Crete. So talking of beachcombing again – I am getting plenty of healthy exercise on our beachcombing trips.

Last night before lockdown and celebrating my Birthday with Lisa & Debbie

Last night before lockdown and celebrating my Birthday with Lisa & Debbie

Not much has been happening on the social front, apart from drinks in Vamos for Lisa’s Birthday, an ‘open mic’ night at Totem in Plaka and my birthday. All I felt like doing to mark the occasion, was having dinner somewhere in Almyrida and then a few drinks somewhere afterwards. But lockdown was suddenly announced and so I met up with Lisa and Debbie in Almyrida on the last day we were allowed out. We had a nice meal in Psaros and then ended up at Captain Jack’s for drinks as it was the only place open and even then – only til midnight. This has been the law all through summer too. It was reasonably lively in there, obviously – it being the last night everyone could go out. We had such a giggle that night! As for my actual birthday, I spent all that Sunday at home chatting on WhatsApp or Skype to Family and friends. It was lovely.

I did have an interesting night a few weeks ago when the weather took a real turn for the worst. It started with a few days of heavy rain, followed by a big storm. Debbie’s friend Ross (whom I’d met a few times before) was over and as she‘d recently moved to Plaka, we’d planned to eat and then do a mini ‘taverna-crawl’ so that they could get a real feel for the village. I still don’t know why we went out that night because it had been raining and thunderstorming all day! By the time we met up in the square it was so bad that we were forced to dive into Vangeli’s for shelter! We decided to order some food here and were perusing the menu when the storm appeared to reach its height and the thunderclaps became deafening and actually quite frightening. Of course all the electricity went off and so we couldn’t eat because they couldn’t cook! So we only stayed for a couple of drinks and to catch up with other friends in Vangeli’s. To be fair – we all love a good storm here.. but I’d rather have watched it all from my balcony. That night the lightning struck a telegraph pole in Plaka square and set it on fire!   For two days afterwards, most of Plaka was without electricity or water. I was lucky as I had both!

My wonderful Grandkids! I do miss them!

My wonderful Grandkids! I do miss them!

It has been so difficult to decide what to do about booking my flights back for Christmas. At least now the UK has removed Crete from the dreaded list, I won’t have to quarantine when I get there. But I now have to go back to taking 3 flights to reach Manchester. Aegean cut their usual direct route from Athens to Manchester and I now have to fly via Amsterdam. This means doubling my journey time and makes things more complicated because I will be using two different airlines. You cannot book a check-in bag online but must pay at the check-in desk on the day you depart. So this makes it more expensive. Also KLM have already cancelled one of my flights and this has affected the others. This is no easy time to travel but I cannot imagine spending Christmas without my Family and if Zoe, Rich and Mark all managed to visit me on Crete this summer, then I must try my best to visit them in the UK, as I have done every year since I moved to Crete.  I just have to carry on believing that somehow I will get there. 🙂

UK’s Quarantine List Didn’t Spoil Holidays with my Family

Despite the UK adding Crete to their quarantine list – it didn’t stop my brother, Mark from enjoying his Cretan holiday with me. He works in the film industry, which like everything else has been greatly compromised and anyway, Mark has been working from home on his book and so the quarantine restrictions on his return to the UK weren’t an issue for him.

After collecting Mark from the airport, we dumped his luggage at mine, changed and went straight back out for dinner in Almyrida. Carl Axon and other bands were playing at Nikitas that night and as music gigs have been conspicuous by their absence – I felt we should not miss out on this one. Everyone was there and it was a great way for Mark to kick off his holiday. The music and atmosphere was great and we danced in the sand outside the taverna because we weren’t allowed to dance in the bar!

Dinner by the beach in Kalyves with Lisa and Debbie

Dinner with Lisa & Debbie by the beach in Kalyves

The following night we met up with Lisa and Debbie for a meal in Kalyves and Mark and I also dined out at Umami, the Asian Fusion Restaurant in Almyrida. We did all the usual things one enjoys on holidays – spent time on the beach and swimming, coffee and snacks at Franscoise and the odd night on my balcony just talking, talking and more talking! We had so much to catch up on. I don’t think I would have been able to have this quality time with my brother if I didn’t live here on Crete.

Mark and I dining at Umami - my Favourite restaurant in Almyrida

Mark and I dining at Umami – my Favourite restaurant in Almyrida

As soon as Crete was added to the UK’s quarantine list – Almyrida emptied itself of tourists and many more cancelled for September. So I realized that after only two selling days in Almyrida, where I sold a further 6 Artworks, this was now the sudden end to my season. However when Mark and I visited Kalyves it seemed a little busier so I decided to pitch up there for two days instead. Normally I do not consider Kalyves as a good place to sell and true to form – I did not make a single sale, although there was much interest which may come to fruition in the near future. Aside from this, these last two selling days in Kalyves made a really pleasant change of scenery and not least of all because I had Mark, Lisa and Debbie for company.

Selling by the beach in Kalyves

Selling by the beach in Kalyves

As luck would have it, when Mark and I were at the Cantina end of Almyrida beach, a tourist there commissioned me to do a special piece of artwork to commemorate their forthcoming wedding here next year. She was already familiar with my art and has since contacted me after browsing my Etsy shop, SeashellBeautyinArt. I now have several custom pieces to keep me busy over the coming winter.

At the end of Mark’s stay he agreed that he’d achieved everything he’d hoped for on his holiday – rest, relaxation, fun and laughter! I loved all our stimulating and enlightening conversations and enjoyed his company immensely. In these times of uncertainty, the busy lives we all lead and the distance between us – who knows when we will get the next opportunity to catch up on all that has been happening in our respective lives?

Playing with Arthur on the beach in Almyrida

Playing with Arthur on the beach in Almyrida

So cute... little Arthur is having so much fun in the sand!

So cute… little Arthur is having so much fun in the sand!

Two days after Mark left I collected Zoe, Rich and little Arthur from Chania. Because of the UK’s sudden quarantine restrictions for Crete, it was much harder for them to make the decision to come to Crete as planned. In the end they were able to work something out with their jobs, using up some more of their holiday entitlement for quarantining. Zoe and Rich felt that this first holiday for them as a family was what they both needed so much that it was worth the other sacrifices they would have to make.

The weather has been good for the whole week and Almyrida was so quiet that we felt like we had it all to ourselves! My Grandson Arthur has just turned one and because he has only started walking recently, he is a wonderful bundle of energy! I loved all my playtime with him, whether that was on the beach, by the pool or at home. Naturally we were out every day but spent our evenings at home because it was easier with Arthur. Anyway, it’s not as though we were missing anything as there was nothing going on. I babysat two of the nights so that Zoe and Rich could dine out together and enjoy some time out on their own. Again we had some lovely evenings just chilling and chatting on my balcony overlooking the sea and the mountains. On the last day we went into Chania, which again was unusually quiet and spent the afternoon on the picturesque harbour front, where we had a long and leisurely lunch before heading back to the airport.  Zoe and Rich also agreed that the holiday had done them both the world of good and was just the break they needed.

Zoe, Rich & Arthur at the deserted poolside of Almyrida Beach Hotel

Zoe, Rich & Arthur at the deserted poolside of Almyrida Beach Hotel

As for the problems the UK government caused in adding those 6 Greek Islands to their quarantine list for no good reason – I will just never understand! It makes no sense when you see how Covid-free we are on these islands. Many cases we had this summer were brought in by young UK tourists, as was the case with the plane returning from Zante to Wales. Those people did not get the virus from Zante but rather brought it to Zante in the first place! Prior to letting UK tourists onto the island, they were largely Covid-free.

An afternoon on the Harbourfront in very quiet Chania

An afternoon on the harbour front in very quiet Chania

If not for the UK restrictions I would have sold well in Almyrida in September, as I had done in August. Nevertheless, in weighing everything up – I feel so fortunate to have still been able to have all my immediate family and my brother – especially all my grandchildren staying with me this summer.  I feel truly blessed because wonderful things always seem to happen here on Crete!




Back to a more normal life.

What an unexpectedly busy August it’s turned out to be! I started selling by the beach in Almyrida right after Emma, Ash and the kids left Crete, and because it is still so quiet in Almyrida – especially for August, I decided two days a week was enough. Yet those two days have proved to be really profitable. I have sold a total of 29 Seashell Mosaic Paintings this August and I am more than happy with sales, given these unprecedented world circumstances. Continue reading

Always Believe Something Wonderful is going to Happen.

I have just enjoyed the most wonderful week with my Daughter Emma, Son-in-Law Ash, and gorgeous grandchildren Ralph and Neve!
Because Ash has not been able to go on holiday with his family, since their wedding here 4 years ago, they decided to book a lovely family room at the Almyrida Beach hotel, so that they would have a more restful holiday. The fact that Ralph and Neve are at the ages of 4 and 2, I now realize what a handful they are and how hectic things would have been if they’d all stayed at mine! Big bonus for me too really.. as I got to spend plenty of absolute quality time playing with Ralph and Neve, without all the clearing up! Continue reading

Missing Almyrida’s Tourists

I realize that I haven’t posted for many weeks, but then there hasn’t really been much to write about.  For the first time in 11 years I have not been selling my unique Seashell Mosaic Paintings & Collages by the beach in Almyrida. I have dearly missed seeing the tourists that visit Almyrida every year and meeting all the new visitors that arrive from all over the world. I have missed that wonderful holiday atmosphere that is so normally prevalent in Almyrida during the summer months from May to October. I have missed all the buzz and the fun that comes with my beach selling season. Continue reading

Lovely Cretan Winter Sun & Working Outside on my Balcony

During these last five or six weeks I have thrown myself back into my Art and creating Seashell Mosaic designs in readiness for the coming summer beach selling season. Designs such as Seagulls, Girls on Swings, “Always Believe…” sand quote and Pink Flamingos were in great demand, yet I could not produce enough last summer, after selling out of the ones I created over the winter months. So I am hoping I will be better prepared this year. Continue reading

The Year 2020 is Sure to be a Good One!

I came back home to Crete for New Year, after having had a wonderful Christmas in the UK with all my family. I returned on the 28th December to dreadful weather, having missed all the best of it whilst I was in the UK. The thunderstorms in Plaka were so severe that most of us didn’t have internet for days and power cuts were frequent. My car battery had died and it appears that there are some electric issues too, which I am still trying to sort out. I am thankful for my good friends Atremis and Rob, who both went out of their way to help me.. right up until New Year’s Eve! Continue reading