All that really matters…

We are currently living in such unprecedented times right now that I wasn’t sure whether to write this next post. As I reflect on all that has been happening with this deadly pandemic in just a few short weeks… sitting outside on my balcony I feel almost cocooned. There is no sound outside except for the waves rolling onto the shores of Almyrida Bay, the odd seagull squawking, the odd sheep bleating. Everywhere is deserted of people, cars and bikes.

The Greek government closed down everything weeks ago and have acted responsibly from the outset. The population of Crete is so small in comparison to it’s size, so I am feeling extremely fortunate to be living on this beautiful island during these exceptionally uncertain times. What matters is that – thanks to modern technology we can at least maintain virtual contact with all our loved ones – no matter where in the world they might be. But isn’t it at times like these, that we should all question our priorities? Family has always been top of mine, but I also believe that if you don’t have good health – you have nothing!

Ralph, Neve & Arthur - 3 of my most precious jewels.

Ralph, Neve & Arthur – 3 of my most precious jewels.

In such a short time everything has come to a standstill and the only thing that matters to the human race right now is our health. Without it, life as we have come to know it, may cease to exist. Is this our “wake-up” call, a time for us to review the way we live our lives and the things we put importance on?

So I can only write about how the Coronavirus has impacted on my own life. I was so looking forward to seeing Zoe, Rich and baby Arthur, Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve this summer and now they may not be able to visit me on Crete.  For the first time I have no idea when I will be with my family again.  This matters more to me than any loss of income from my art business.  All my precious jewels live in the UK and so of course I have been following the English news, to see how this worldwide crisis is affecting them.  Also, 3 weeks ago I realized that Almyrida may not get many tourists – if any this summer. Nobody knows where all this is leading. Still… I’d like to stay positive without being too unrealistic. For the last 3 weeks I have not worked as much on my Seashell Mosaic Collages, freeing up time to do other things instead. In true ‘Michaela fashion’ – this means getting the very most out of every single day!

Nautilus Shell in Seashell Mosaic on Sand - 30 x 40cms - available to purchase from my online Etsy shop.

Nautilus Shell in Seashell Mosaic on Sand – 30 x 40cms – available to purchase from my online Etsy shop.

I’ve still been keeping fit with work-outs, weights and power walks, but the gym I go to shut 2 weeks ago, so I couldn’t do my crossfit classes anymore. However and luckily for me – this didn’t matter because Charlie returned from New Zealand middle of February and we resumed our bike rides and work-outs. After training with Charlie for over a month I am happy to say that I can see and feel subtle but positive changes as I get stronger and fitter. I am improving on the bike all the time, gradually getting used to cycling up the hills and slopes, with Charlie introducing short sprints in between. The regular bike rides and working with the weights has done wonders for my muscles! Despite all the lockdown restrictions, thank God we are still allowed to look after our personal fitness, especially now when it matters more than ever.

Standing by Imbros gorge on the way to Frangokastello.

Standing by Imbros gorge on the way to Frangokastello.

I’ve had some wonderful beachcombing days out – also with Charlie and right up until the lockdown. We’ve visited Falasarna, Frangokastello and Bali as well as other places along the way. The Cretan weather has been so mild this winter, with plenty of warm sunny days which are perfect for beachcombing. In fact it was so hot in Falasarna that we stripped to shorts and t-shirts and were still too warm!

With Charlie, overlooking Imbros Gorge, on the way to Frangokastello.

With Charlie, overlooking Imbros Gorge, on the way to Frangokastello.

At Frangokastello the seashells were just not there when we went. Sure we picked up a few, but I am extremely selective as to what shells I use in my seashell mosaics and it is always pot luck as to what is left on the beach to collect. The oceans deposit their treasures on the sandy shores and then take them away again the next day. We explored quite a bit of the coastline there before deciding to visit Chora Sfakia, which is situated further along the south coast of Crete. We walked along the seafront of the deserted town and managed to get a takeaway latte, served through a hatch at the only place we could find open.

At the deserted seaside town of Chora Sfakia on the south coast of Crete

At the deserted seaside town of Chora Sfakia, on the south coast of Crete

Just before we were locked down we squeezed in a visit to Bali. We explored all 4 beaches without results. The seashells I normally collect from Bali were conspicuous by their absence, but again – it didn’t matter because it just meant we had more time to explore other places. With Charlie driving and navigating – he soon found access to new areas of coastline I hadn’t been to before. Each beach or cove so different and unique and all wonderful places to have a picnic lunch!

Near Bali, at one of the coves Charlie managed to find access to!

Near Bali, at one of the coves Charlie managed to find access to!

I absolutely adore these days out, am always in awe of the breathtaking scenery we travel through and always grateful for these opportunities to experience  the awesome nature the beautiful Island of Crete has to offer. I wonder when we’ll be able to go out exploring again?

Yet as I sit in the warm sunshine on my balcony, writing up this post… I am still counting all my blessings.