Celebrating 10 Wonderful Years on Crete!

Yes, I cannot believe that I have lived on this wonderful Island of Crete for ten years! Those ten years have seen me living out my dreams because I have always wanted to live like this… by the sea and so close to nature and all her awesome glory. The lifestyle I’ve enjoyed has been so perfect for me and is everything I could have hoped for and more! How far removed it is from the life I led in the UK because here I have lived a simple, busy but contented, peaceful and happy life from the moment I stepped onto Cretan soil.

One of the awesome views from my balcony in winter!

One of the awesome views from my balcony in winter!

Without doubt – I am a different person to the one I was when I left the UK all those years ago.  I am so much happier, for starters!  I really know myself so much the better now.  Seriously?  The list is endless and I won’t bore you with the details, but I can assure you that it’s all positive stuff!  The fact that I have funded my wonderful expat lifestyle from selling my unique Seashell Mosaic Collages is in itself a dream come true! I live in a wonderful apartment that boasts the best views in the area. I have it all – the awesome White Mountains, vast expanses of ocean fringing Almyrida, Kalyves and Souda Bays, the rocky cove at the bottom of the hill below me and countless olive groves. Surrounded by this wonderful vista – I am uplifted and feel a deep sense of inner peace and calm which I sadly, never experienced in the UK and which has so helped me to cope better with all the sadness and grief of the past 18 months.

Another awesome sunset view as seen from my balcony this week!

Another awesome sunset view as seen from my balcony this week!

For the years now to come, I want to create more balance in my life. I have worked long, countless but happy hours on my Seashell Mosaics for the past ten years and I need and want to slow down now! I want to free up more time to socialize again… something I’ve definitely not felt like doing for over a year and a half.

So it is with a fresh attitude that I started beach-selling during mid May. Now that the pressure is off – I am feeling more relaxed and so even though we are at the middle of June – I am still only setting up in Almyrida for 2 days a week.   This seems to be working out fine, given that it is still early in the season and Almyrida doesn’t really get busy until July. Nevertheless, I sold 12 Artworks last week and I am more than happy with that! One of my latest designs has been really popular and I’m not surprised! Living in and visiting a beautiful place like this, it’s easy to believe that something wonderful is going to happen!

Inspiration and hope written in the sand

Inspiration and hope written in the sand

I have always said how much I love selling by the beach in Almyrida! I have loved meeting all the new and returning tourists that visit Almyrida in the summer and I love talking to all the people I know here. I guess this part of my life is where I have done the most socializing during the past ten years!

Talking of socializing, it was so nice to meet up with Paul and Sheila again. They are such a lovely couple and have bought so many of my Artworks over all the years I have known them. They came to Plaka and treated me to a lovely lunch in Almyrida recently where we enjoyed a long and over-due catch-up.

it was also really good to see Jill, Rick and their family when they visited a few weeks ago. I joined them all for a couple of afternoons on the beach and so enjoyed lunch and dinner with just Jill and Rick on the nights we met up. We had a lovely meal in Psaros on their last night – good food, nice wine and great company – these lovely people are such good friends to me! I miss not seeing more of them.

Eating out at Psaros with Jill & Rick on their last night.

Eating out at Psaros with Jill & Rick on their last night.

I have over ten years of jam-packed fabulous memories of the kind that could only have come from my life on this most beautiful Island of Crete. More recently I gave both my beautiful daughters away at two fabulous family weddings in 2016 and 2018. Zoe and Emma have come to Crete almost every year since the beginning and sometimes twice a year. I have countless uplifting memories of their visits, sometimes both together, sometimes with boyfriends or sometimes – just on their own. Now for the last 3 years I have enjoyed spending ‘holiday’ time with my gorgeous grandchildren, Ralph and Neve as well!  All the members of my family and many friends have been out to visit and stay with me over these past ten years.

Just a few weeks ago - on Kalyves beach with Ralph & Neve

Just a few weeks ago – on Kalyves beach with Ralph & Neve

I have been to so many beautiful and fantastic places here and met so many different people. I have also made some good close friends here on Crete.   I’ve enjoyed fantastic times with family and friends alike and Crete’s wonderful climate has made all these memories the best!  All in all – there’s simply every reason to be optimistic about the next ten years of happily living on Crete! I feel as though I am entering a new chapter in my life and it’s all looking positive for the future.

My Precious Jewels!

What a wonderful week I’ve just had with my two gorgeous grandchildren, Ralph and Neve! My daughters and my grandchildren are the precious jewels of my life and they illuminate every breath I take through their very existence. So a week with all four of them was just pure bliss for me!

Me with Ralph and Neve on Kalyves beach

Me with Ralph and Neve on Kalyves beach

Zoe is pregnant and expecting my third grandchild in August. My little family which used to be just Zoe, Emma and me, is now growing larger and larger and there will soon be eight of us! I cannot begin to tell you how much they all enrich my life and make me so very happy. How lucky am I that I got to spend this past week’s holiday of happiness and fun with my family at my home on Crete. Ash has been posted to Cyprus for three months and Rich had work commitments, so they were both unable to come, but (and of course I am biased!) my precious jewels were all here!

Cute and gorgeous baby Neve!

Cute and gorgeous baby Neve!

The weather continued to be unsettled but I think we were lucky to have had so many beach and pool days. It was largely sunny and warm, although we had first some very strong south winds which filled the air with red dust and then the last two days there were particularly gusty west winds. Yet we always managed to find somewhere more sheltered, like the lovely large and grassy pool area at the Langden Hotel in Almyrida or the Almyrida Beach Hotel poolside.

Enjoying our dinner by the sea at Dimitri's

Enjoying our dinner by the sea at Dimitri’s

I will never forget waiting at the airport for their arrival and Ralph spotting me from inside the baggage claim hall. He just ran the distance straight towards me, calling “Yia yia! Yia yia!” And he ran into my arms with such gusto that we fell backwards onto the floor, laughing our socks off! It was great that Zoe and Emma booked such an early flight because by about 3pm that first day, we were already on the small beach in Almyrida! It was so sunny, warm and calm that we stayed there for a few hours before going to Dimitri’s for dinner. After that first day, we had dinner at home every night, preferring to eat out for lunch every day instead, apart from two exceptions where we took a packed lunch and the cool box. It was easier and made sense with two small children – Ralph is three years old and Neve is just eight months.

On Kalyves beach

On Kalyves beach

We spent a day on Kalyves beach and although it was windy, we were sheltered by a large wooden taverna. I have so enjoyed playing with Ralph and Neve on the beach. I took Ralph for a walk all along the beach and we were looking for interesting things that had washed up on the sand all the way! We walked right up to the small harbour, where I sat Ralph on the large torpedo and we even went inside the tiny chapel, which was only big enough for one or two people to stand in.

All my precious jewels - infront of the fountain in Georgioupoli square

All my precious jewels – infront of the fountain in Georgioupoli square

Saturday was the only really cloudy day, with a couple of brief showers and when we saw the forecast we decided to visit Georgioupoli for the day because it’s a really nice place to walk around, have coffee, lunch and browse a few shops. We came across a large children’s fun park with a taverna and spent a wonderful couple of hours watching Ralph and Neve while they enjoyed all the facilities. There were two huge bouncy castles, a go-cart racing track, trampolines, a ball park and playhouse to name some of them. Both Ralph and Neve had such a good time – well we all did as they were such a joy to watch!

At the Almyrida Beach Hotel

At the Almyrida Beach Hotel

Some of the days we visited the Almyrida Beach Hotel poolside where there is a play area for small children and we alternated between the harbour end of Almyrida beach and the small beach at the other end of Almyrida. Locally we are spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches and poolside terraces in which to enjoy our time together as a family.

Ralph playing with Neve

Ralph playing with Neve

I am so grateful to have been able to create these opportunities for all of us, by living on this beautiful Island of Crete! I will have been living here for ten years on 13th May and right from the beginning, I have enjoyed so many memorable family occasions. This most recent holiday is just as special in so many ways and I love being a Yia yia!  I loved talking to Ralph – you can hold whole conversations with him now! It’s such fun playing with him, soaking up his enthusiasm and sense of adventure! I loved watching Neve while she enjoyed playing in the sand, laughing at her reactions to everything! To help during mealtimes, bath times and bedtimes were all such pleasures for me! I loved every single minute of this family holiday and I shall cherish the wonderful memories for always.  And I am so proud of Zoe and Emma.

Lunch in Georgioupoli overlooking the Square

Lunch in Georgioupoli overlooking the Square

So naturally… I cried buckets all the way home, after dropping all my precious jewels off at the airport! Then I cried when I arrived home and saw the highchair, the toys, travel cot and Ralph’s camp bed. I moped about for the rest of the day, missing them all so much. It’s a long journey for them to make with Ralph and baby Neve, but the children were angels on both journeys. Thank goodness for Skype, which gives us virtual reality whenever we want and need it! Zoe and Emma Skyped me when they had arrived safely back at Zoe and Rich’s and I talked to Ralph who said he wanted to go back to Crete, bless! Neve was crawling all over the place and full of energy! She had slept well on the plane in Emma’s arms, bless!

On the little beach in Almyrida

On the little beach in Almyrida, Neve was obsessed with taking my sunglasses off and making me put them back on so that she could take them off again!

Now I am busy getting ready for my beach selling season, watching the weather every day, for the best day to start. It’s proving very difficult this year, with this ongoing unsettled weather we’re still having – most unusual! I am not rushing to sell while the winds are so strong and I am so exposed to them whilst I am working. Sitting there at the edge of Almyrida beach, the gusty winds are liable to blow away my whole display! I have already experienced this unfortunate casualty several times over the last 10 years!

I am looking forward to my dear friends, Jill, Rick and all of their family’s visit for two weeks from 24th May. Jill and Rick were the first people to come and stay with me when I moved here in May 2009. Two weeks later and they were here, which helped me to really settle in! Jill and Rick are not staying at mine this time and last June they ended up staying at my house without my being there, as I stayed in the UK when Mum was so poorly. So it is wonderful that I can make up for that and spend some time with them on this holiday instead.

Cheeky Ralph on the little beach in Almyrida

Cheeky Ralph on the little beach in Almyrida

I am also looking forward to meeting up with Paul and Sheila with their family, any day now. They are good customers and I have come to know them well over the years. Sadly I have not been able to see them for the last few times they have been to Crete – due to my family commitments. But this time we will definitely meet for lunch and a long overue catch-up!

Here are some more photos from our wonderful family holiday here on this beautiful Island of Crete!

Fond Farewell to 2016

The stunning view from my balcony

Back at home on Crete – the stunning view from my balcony!

Happy New Year!
I’m sitting on my fabulous balcony, stroking Clio who is sitting in my lap (a story for another time!) I am spellbound as I stare at the sheer magnitude and majestic splendour of Crete’s White snowy Mountains. It is late afternoon and the sun is about to go down on what has surely been an idyllic winter’s day on Crete. I am so completely at peace in my world right now and am amazed to realise that my life appears to have been a long series of struggles, until I moved to Crete. From the moment I stepped onto Cretan soil, I knew I had found my sanctuary… and all my past wounds began to fully heal. I have been reflecting on the two wonderful weeks I’ve just had in the UK during Christmas and New Year and I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me feel! And so it is almost with a tinge of sadness that I bid a fond farewell to 2016. Continue reading

So Excited About Christmas!

Doesn’t time just fly?! Now I haven’t left enough time to write up this last post, for what has been an incredible and wonderful year for me.
It started off with my house move to what is undoubtedly my ‘dream’ home. Then my daughter Emma and now son-in-law Ash, got married right here on Crete and what a huge and wonderful family wedding that was! And let’s not forget the joy I’ve experienced being a ‘Yaya” to gorgeous grandson Ralph! Continue reading

Getting into the Christmas Spirit!

I have found it very difficult to tear myself away from my work lately. So three weeks has all but flown by again and means I have had to remember everything else that I’ve been doing during that time.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to Jeff and Shauna’s Thanksgiving Dinner again. I say fortunate because only about ten of us received an invite. What a feast and a spread they put on! The turkey was enormous yet somehow Jeff and Shauna managed to cook it to perfection and the whole meal was wonderful – very American! A great evening was enjoyed by all of us! Continue reading

There’s always so much happening in the summer!

I’ve been so busy since Mark and the kids left, catching up on production of my Seashell Mosaics and Collages. They have been selling like hotcakes this August – thank goodness because sales for June and July were disappointing, due to a number of factors I think. The tourists that were here, were not spending much and it would appear that other local businesses and restaurants were reporting much the same. Continue reading

An Exhilarating Way of Exploring the Coastline!

Despite being visitor-free for the last two weeks I have been keeping myself busy, in keeping with the full life I lead here on Crete. All through the summer, for three almost 12 hour days of every week I am situated at the edge of Almyrida Beach, selling my seashell mosaics and collages. Never wishing to waste any precious time, I am working on my mosaics in between chatting to tourists both new and those that return year after year. There are people I know who pass by and stop for a chat and the whole day has a real social feel to it. I really love my selling days because I get to meet so many lovely people from many different places. Continue reading