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!
But let me rewind to my Christmas in the UK. I arrived on the 10th and for the first 5 days I stayed with Zoe, Rich and Arthur in Golcar, Yorkshire, spending lots of quality time with my gorgeous new Grandson, Arthur who is just over 3 months old. We walked a little, shopped a little and enjoyed lots of lunches in quaint Yorkshire cafes (Umm… I do love a home-made scone with lots of jam and clotted cream!) We also did lots of chilling at home because the weather was very cold, miserable and forever drizzling with rain! We decided to go into Bramhall one day and I was lucky enough to meet up with Jill in a local cafe where we had lunch. It really was a spur of the moment thing because I otherwise would not have had the chance to see her this time round. But the sheer volume of traffic meant it took over two hours to drive back to Huddersfield. I am so glad that I don’t have to suffer these problems on Crete. I could not go back to being stuck in my car for hours on end, day in and day out! What a waste of precious time!
On Saturday we drove down to Bury St Edmunds and the military base where Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve live. Zoe and Rich were in one of the guest houses nearby and I moved into Emma and Ash’s for the next 6 days. The first two days Emma worked a 12 hour shift and the following day, drove 4 hours to York for an interview, where she and the family will be living from January onwards. She got the job, which made the 9 hours of driving all worth it. As for me – well I thoroughly enjoyed those two days of looking after Ralph and Neve. We all went to the church on the military base where we watched Ralph in his first Nativity Play. Amongst all the children, many crying and running off the stage, Ralph played his part as one of the three kings so well and did us all proud! During those 6 days I loved all the rough and tumble games we played, all the things we did together… the hugs and kisses, the laughter and the fun!
We spent as much time all together as we could, given Emma’s commitments and Rich and Zoe‘s planned visits to all of Rich’s family in Norwich. Many had not yet met baby Arthur. But we enjoyed a late lunch at a cosy pub – all of us apart from Ralph, who was at nursery. One evening Zoe, Emma and I had such a laugh when we decided to have a girly night out at a local pub near the base. The rest of the time I just made the most of being with my family and playing with my Grandchildren.
For me it was all too soon when It came to parting with Emma, Ash, Ralph and Neve. They were leaving for the Lake District and then Shrewsbury, where they would all spend Christmas with Ash’s family. So I left with Rich, Zoe and Arthur and returned to their home in Yorkshire for my Christmas with them. And it was lovely… relaxing and very happy! On Christmas Eve late afternoon, we went to a charming and very busy pub in Golcar for a lovely meal. In the morning, after opening all the presents (90% of which were Arthur’s!), Rich cooked up his speciality breakfast of poached eggs and smoked salmon. Delicious! Then we wrapped up warmly for a walk and ended up at a local pub for a tipple or two! Christmas dinner was just the finest, expertly cooked by our excellent resident chef, Rich! He did us proud and we are all so lucky to be eating so well. We had every intention of playing some games afterwards, but somehow Arthur stole the show! He is a joy to interact with, responding with lots of smiles, giggles and laughter. He is a dream baby and as long as he is getting plenty of stimulation during his awake periods in the day.. at night he is out for the count and sleeps for up to 11 hours, bless!
On Boxing Day Zoe and Rich drove me to Karen and Mike’s home in Bramhall. Zoe and Rich were staying for lunch and we arrived to a houseful of guests. All of Mike’s family were there and it was great to see Caroline and Tony amongst them, as I haven’t had the chance to catch up with them over the last year or so. Sadly, I didn’t get a proper chance to chat this time either, because it was all just a little chaotic with everyone else there too! So we all passed a pleasant few hours catching up with everyone, before it was time to say my tearful goodbyes again… this time to Zoe, Rich and Arthur. Although I’m always sad every time I part with any member of my family – It’s only a temporary feeling because I know that they will all be here with me on beautiful Crete again – at some time or another this summer.
I was only in Bramhall for two nights and a day, but it was enough to catch up with Karen, Mike, Sophie and Hannah, who are all happy and well. It was good to just chat and chill out and we ended up watching “It’s a Wonderful World” – a classic black and white 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama with brilliant emotional acting by James Stewart. It somehow popped up in a search when we were looking for a decent film to watch. I love the film and have seen it many times but the others had never seen the movie. I recommended we all watch it, and wasn’t at all surprised when everyone had tears in their eyes by the end of it! For me the message is loud and clear. We can all be so grateful for the wonderful family and life that we have.
I made the absolute most of the time I had with my family this Christmastime and then took the long journey home to Crete. Every Christmas it is the same – a 14 hour trip because there are no direct flights to Chania over the winter period. So I am always relieved to be home again. Even though there have been problems to deal with and really bad weather, I was looking forward to seeing some of my friends at the New Year’s Eve Party, as I rarely spend New Year on Crete. There has only been one other year but I can’t remember which one.
I could not believe the state Almyrida is in again! The central area between the hotels is flooded with two feet deep seawater and there are rocks and debris strewn everywhere. Almyrida looked totally storm-damaged! But I arrived at Captain Jack’s, just opposite the beach where the waves were crashing, and realized that the bad weather hadn’t deterred anybody from celebrating the start of 2020, because lots of people turned out and it was busy. A couple of local bands provided the live music, the food was good, the wine flowing and there was a real party atmosphere. We greeted the New Year in with a glass of champagne and a fabulous firework display that gave us all a scare when a large spark fell amongst us, hitting Brian on the foot and Ray on the top of his head! Thankfully no-one was hurt and it did give us all a really good laugh afterwards!
Yesterday I woke up to see blue skies and sunshine again and it spurred me into doing my first power walk of 2020. It was hard going after all the Christmas and New Year indulgences, but I persevered and felt so much the better for my efforts. So I will continue my keep fit programme, knowing that it is so good for me… and I can’t shake the positive feeling that 2020 is sure to be a good year.