Good Riddance to January & February!

I haven’t had time and I haven’t felt like writing a post for what seems like ages. I seem to have been in a depressive state and it hasn’t helped that I’ve had so many time-consuming problems to deal with in January and February. But most of all… My dear Sister Leonie’s sudden passing still feels so raw. I can burst into tears at the mere drop of a hat!

Despite all this, I have ploughed on with all the important things that have been on my ‘to do’ list for too long. Work that I have been meaning to do for so many months, but which always got shoved to the bottom of my priority list. My online Etsy Shop, as I’ve mentioned before – needed much work in order to fully optimize traffic to SeashellBeautyinArt (link on menu above).  As with any online shop – it’s a long term project and because I don’t physically have the time to produce my art as well as to promote it, I enlisted the help of someone who’s professional knowledge should help boost sales of my Seashell Mosaic Collages from my Etsy Shop.

Greek Blue Door & Steps in Seashell Mosaic Collage - 25 x 30cms

Greek Blue Door & Steps in Seashell Mosaic Collage – 25 x 30cms

I never knew this, but the key to achieving this lies with Pinterest. Pinterest is THE search engine for homemade art, but it takes time. First I had to optimize all the titles and tags for each listing. Then Stiliyana, (the wonderful young lady who is currently running my Pinterest account) had to link all my work to this Pinterest account. The work involved has taken many long weeks and with daily management of this Pinterest account, we should start to see the numbers grow and the statistics increasing… resulting, we hope, in more sales.

But, oh my goodness have we had problems with this Pinterest account! Many hours have been wasted when Pinterest would suddenly suspend the account without reason and we would have to open up a new one and start all over again! I cannot remember how many times I have changed the password and the major issue with all this hassle – is the total lack of customer support from Pinterest. It would appear that Customer Service there just does not exist! After several days, sometimes a week of no response to my ‘help’ emails, I called a couple of telephone numbers listed in search engines. Only to learn that these were people that were pretending to be Pinterest Customer Support, but were only interested in gaining remote control of my laptop! I called two separate numbers and both were bogus. Having been scammed just recently (I wrote about this in my November post), I recognised the scam immediately. I emailed Pinterest about this, saying that their lack of customer support had created an opportunity for this fraudulent activity – but they appear to be unconcerned. And so they have made things extremely difficult and stressful during this whole process. Stiliyana and I are hoping that things have settled down now, fingers crossed!

Whilst all this was going on I also had problems with my company, Art on Crete Ltd. It is a very long and sorry story which gave me so much stress that I refuse to relive the misery of it by relating it in this post. The end result is that I have shut down the company because sadly, it has all been a total waste of my time these past two years.

Time is such a premium for me… so precious because I need so many hours to produce my Seashell Mosaic Collages, and I was getting more and more stressed by all the time I had lost in terms of producing my artworks. Hours and hours have gone on all these other matters that I needed to prioritize. Such is life… and these things are meant to try us!

My Star Signs were popular last summer. Here's mine - Scorpio in Seashell Mosaic on Sand - 20 x 20cms

My Star Signs were popular last summer. Here’s mine – Scorpio in Seashell Mosaic on Sand – 20 x 20cms

Finally I was able to make a start on the two commissions I received last summer. They have been a real challenge but also a welcome break amongst all the horrid stuff that has gone on. I have spent countless happy hours on these artworks and still have more to do, so they are still works in progress. The couple who commissioned me are so nice and actually first contacted me in June – through this Blog! They were researching a visit to Crete, found my Blog and then clicked on the Etsy shop link at the top of this page. They loved my work and wanted to meet me during the course of their holiday. They wanted to commission me to do a pair of artworks for the wonderful new oceanfront home they are having built in Australia. Eric and Fahimeh toured around Crete and paid me a visit at my stall in Almyrida last September. There they purchased a couple of my artworks and then gave me some details for the commissions they wanted. It was so lovely to meet them and I am grateful to this blog that they found me!

On the way back from Elafonisis - An old Greek mountain village, taken from the road above.

On the way back from Elafonisis – An old Greek mountain village, taken from the road above.

I have also made a start on building up my stock for the coming summer selling season at the beach in Almyrida. Many of my new designs were popular last summer and the Star Signs sold well along with my Greek Blue Door and Steps and the Old Greek Urn and plant.

Another ‘must do’ and a pleasure I cannot begin to describe, is beachcombing. I haven’t done nearly enough to replenish seashell stocks and I’ve had withdrawal symptoms from NOT beachcombing! We have had such a mild and pleasant winter so far here on Crete. So many warm and sun-filled days when I’ve been itching to get on a deserted beach and explore… but have been too bogged down with what I call ‘shitty stuff’ to enjoy my usual winter pastime. I was so determined to get such a day organized and finally on Friday I went to Elafonisis with my friend Nick, his girlfriend Jenny and her puppy, Gremlin! It is by far the furthest place I travel for beachcombing.

Beautiful Elafonisis

So busy picking shells I forgot to take photos of the beauty all around me! So just before we got back in the car I took this one of my mate Nick, his grilfriend Jenny and her little dog, Gremlin!

It’s at least a two hour journey which was made longer because I had a flat tyre! Nevertheless, this did not in any way spoil the day. The weather was glorious, lots of blue sky and warm sun – the perfect day for beachcombing! We took a picnic as there would be nowhere to get a drink or some food for miles. But I just spent every possible moment collecting the beautiful seashells that are to be found in such abundance here at beautiful Elafonisis. It was such a wonderful tonic for me after all the shit that’s gone on and I loved every minute I was there.

I feel as though so far this year – I have not been my normal self. I am usually so positive… yet I’ve been feeling so low down in spirit. Going to Elafonisis reminded me of why I chose to live and work in this most wonderful and unspoilt place that is Crete, and has been my home now for almost nine years. Crete will always be my sanctuary.

Just after Sunset over Almyrida Bay

Taking a quick break on my balcony, after sunset the other day… just gorgeous!

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!

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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