So What is There to Write About?

We’ve been in lockdown here on Crete for almost 5 months and everyone is feeling totally fed up! A couple of weeks ago they tightened up the restrictions even further and we are now only allowed to shop locally. No more trips to the large supermarkets in Chania. Also we are not allowed to travel by car to exercise, which means we shouldn’t be going to Kalyves for our lovely walks along the beaches there. Curfews are still in place from 9pm until 5am and you must always have a valid reason for leaving your home.

View of the White Mountains behind the long beach in Kalyves.

View of the White Mountains behind the long beach in Kalyves.

Nevertheless, Debbie and I have been going into Kalyves at least once a week for groceries and other errands and then we have spent a few hours exploring the beaches anyway! We’ve also been avocado-scrumping! There are so many avocado trees if you know where to look and a few weeks ago we came home with bagsful! But when we decided to try our luck again last week, we were not as successful. Most of the avocados had already been harvested or snatched by other people. Then just as we were about to give up, we found a few trees that appeared to have plenty and better still – they were low enough for us to grab! There was a wire fence stopping us from entering the field, but I found a spot low enough for us to climb over. We hurriedly began plucking the avocados off the trees when a truck pulled up along the fence. The farmer saw us and started shouting angrily in Greek! He waited while we scrambled back over the fence, apologizing profusely. We left the bag over the other side, but he leaned over, grabbed it and then handed it to us. We thought he would confiscate the avocados, but thankfully he let us get away with around 10 each! So we were very lucky and we couldn’t stop laughing about it afterwards!

Underwater Scene with Altum Angelfish in Seashell Mosaic & Collage Painting - size 20 x 60cms

Underwater Scene with Altum Angelfish in Seashell Mosaic & Collage Painting – size 20 x 60cms

Due to the lack of tourists last year, I don’t have to build up my stock of Seashell Mosaic Collages, so I have still been trying to come up with brand new subject matter. This is proving to be very difficult as I feel I have already covered most of the ideas which can successfully be created in Seashell Mosaic. But actually I was inspired to create an underwater scene, after visiting Georgioupoli beach a couple of times with Debbie, before they tightened restrictions again. We picked up lots of interesting ocean life on those visits and I have incorporated some finger/hand sponges and some dried burgundy sea moss in my artwork with the Altum Angelfish. Otherwise I am still creating variations on existing designs and themes.

Seashell Mosaic Collage Painting - size 30 x 40cms - available to purchase from my Etsy shop

Seashell Mosaic Collage Painting – size 30 x 40cms – available to purchase from my Etsy shop

The weather has continued to be clement this winter, which makes it all the more infuriating that we can’t travel! I am so missing our beachcombing trips, especially as day after sunny day goes by and we are stuck within 2/3 kilometers of our homes. Every now and then Lisa, Debbie and I have been getting together at eachother’s homes, to socialize and catch up. But we’ve all been dearly missing our visits to the tavernas and coffee shops and still there seems to be no sign of the Greek Government easing any of the restrictions.

Seashell Mosaic Collage Painting - size 75 x 27cms - available to purchase from my Etsy shop.

Seashell Mosaic Collage Painting – size 75 x 27cms – available to purchase from my Etsy shop.

I had my first Covid Vaccine yesterday and I have to say I feel lucky compared to some of my friends, who have not been able to make appointments because of the bureaucratic system here. Last October I finally got around to applying for an AMKA number and I am so glad I did this before Brexit. An AMKA number is like a national health insurance number and is only given after a certain age (I’m not about to advertise mine now!). You must have this number In order to book a covid vaccine appointment and this shows you are on their system. Some of my friends don’t have AMKA numbers so have been told to visit a certain website where they can register for a temporary AMKA number. But weeks have gone by and they are not getting any kind of response back after they’ve registered their details. There is much concern amongst the younger expats here.. that they may have to wait so much longer for their vaccines. For various reasons Greece is not doing nearly as well as the UK in vaccinating their population – which of course is spread over so many islands.

Another warm sunny day. My view on a power walk down to Almyrida.

Another warm sunny day. My view on a recent power walk down to Almyrida.

Of course Greece wants its tourism back and so they are doing everything they can to ensure this happens. Greek Easter falls on May 2nd which is very late this year, so we all think there is a strong possibility that everything will re-open in time for this most special time for all Greeks. Last year they were gutted to have their most important celebrations cancelled. Orthodox Easter to the Greeks is what Christmas is to the English – a time of joy and celebration!
Fingers crossed – I really hope I’ll be able to write about more interesting times in my next post.

Enjoying Weeks of Sunshine and Warm Weather!

I am loving the mild winter we’ve been having here on Crete. A noticeable indication of just how much sunshine we’ve been enjoying shows visibly on the mountains, where almost all the snow has melted. The fact that we’re still in lockdown is frustrating but is nowhere near as limiting as it is in the UK. I have been making the most of the hours of sunshine and warm weather by getting out and about on walks, because there is always somewhere close by to explore on foot.

On the craggy cliffs of Plaka's coastline

On the craggy cliffs of Plaka’s coastline

Last week a friend showed me the wonderful cliffs with the salt pools along Plaka’s coastline – right on my doorstep! In some parts it was quite rough going along the edges and ledges, but hey – it was a great workout! On another day we walked through and around the outskirts of local old Greek villages and then along the craggy banks of a river in Georgioupoli. Always taking a picnic lunch with us, we can’t help but appreciate the endless beautiful scenery. I am so fortunate to be living on this beautiful Island and there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be during lockdown.

Where we had our picnic lunch on Plaka's beautiful coastline

Where we had our picnic lunch on Plaka’s beautiful coastline

Because the weather has been so wonderful this winter, I have been keeping up with my power walks around Almyrida and Plaka. These walks have had the added benefit of seeing other people I know along the way… everybody wanting to take advantage of the warm sunshine. Although this hasn’t appealed to me so far – I have seen many locals and expats swimming in the sea, which is bracingly cold in the wintertime.

Where the river meets the sea at Georgioupoli

Where the river meets the sea at Georgioupoli

The only clouds on our idyllic horizon have come in the form of powerfully strong south winds. Last week these kept me awake all night and I was almost afraid to see what damage they had caused the following morning. The two enormous tied-to-the-railings yucca plants, which are on the two south-facing corners of my wrap-around balcony – were all over the place! I opened up my bedroom shutters and was faced with a yucca plant on its side, several meters away from where it should be. Over the years I have grown accustomed to these wild and powerful south winds and I was convinced I’d secured both giant Yuccas as much as it was possible. But I have to remind myself that I should never underestimate the power of nature.

Santorini Scene in Seashell Mosaic Collage - 25 x 50cms - Available to purchase from my Etsy shop

Santorini Scene in Seashell Mosaic Collage – 25 x 50cms – Available to purchase from my Etsy shop

Not being able to travel further afield to enjoy the usual beachcombing I do during the winter months is a total bummer! There are shells I need to restock on for ongoing commissions or new designs. Talking of new designs I finally attempted a Santorini scene. Like the cats – for many years I had dismissed the idea as being unachievable in my style of Art. The seashells are always the biggest problem. In this case would I have enough grey-tinted seashells for all the different shades of the white buildings? I know now, that until I can source more wedge-shaped Donax or Coquina, I will not be able to repeat this design. It was a huge challenge and involved many hours of sorting through thousands of seashells to get the right shades. In all my designs I prefer to use the seashells’ natural colours and only have to paint them occasionally as is the case when I need Santorini blues!

Little Mermaid - 13 x 18cms - Available to purchase from my Etsy shop

Little Mermaid – 13 x 18cms – Available to purchase from my Etsy shop

Another design I have only ever done once, is a mermaid. About 10 years ago I was commissioned to do one for a little girl and so I chose Ariel and painted her face. I never do faces in seashell mosaic because they just don’t work in small scale. So I never made another mermaid even though over the years I’ve been asked if I do them.

Although I can do variations on existing designs I am sort of running out of new subject matter and so I decided to try a mermaid again. The two designs I’ve come up with were really enjoyable to create.  I decided to paint the shells of the mermaid’s tail and I added a glaze to enhance the scales.  When viewed in sunlight or other lighting, the mermaid’s tail is really eye-catching.  Both, including the Santorini Scene are available to purchase from my Etsy shop. https://www.etsy.com/shop/seashellbeautyinart/

Today it is 23 degrees with abundant sunshine again and I’ve been writing this post on my beautiful balcony overlooking the sea and the mountains.  It’s no surprise that I should feel so lucky to be here.  I couldn’t resist posting this photo of my sunset here a few days ago.  Change is on the horizon from Sunday and temperatures are set to plummet to 8 degrees, with strong northerly winds and very heavy rain for the following days.

Another Awesome Sunset from my balcony.

Another Awesome Sunset from my balcony.

A Christmas of Joy Worth all the Stress of Covid

I arrived home to Crete on 2nd after leaving a very cold UK and I am blown away by the wonderful weather I’ve come back to!  I am amazed to be sitting here on my balcony with warm and tranquil sunshine washing over me like a comfort blanket. It’s been blue skies and sunshine ever since I returned and it’s forecast to be 24 and 25 degrees at the weekend. Wow!  Despite having a list of stuff I need to deal with – I just have to sit here and enjoy it!  My view is magical and my recent memories are magical… so I am perfectly placed to write all about them here and now. Continue reading

Wild Horses Won’t Stop me from Spending Christmas with my Family!

Having been in lockdown ever since my last post, there is very little to talk about and so this is just a short post before I leave for the UK for Christmas. It is only 3 days till I go yet I still have not had confirmation of an alternative flight I accepted after yet another was cancelled 2 weeks ago. I knew that because of this pandemic, trying to get to the UK for Christmas was never going to be easy. I expected cancelled flights but wild horses aren’t going to stop me from trying! Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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

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