Here and There – Separate and Together

During the period since the last Post, we spent a couple of months in Crete working our way through the last days of winter and looking forward to warmer weather. Sometimes this involved doing things together but some, we did separately. Then at the fag end of April, we did something rather unusual – we went back to the UK separately and then later met up and together spent a week in Cornwall, ‘bingeing’ on our granddaughter and of course, enjoying the company of her parents!

So this Post will be unusual in that it will be a joint effort, with input from us both

Sheila After travel in Mexico, followed by more travel in the south of England, it was time for a rest in Kavousi when we returned in early February and to meet up with neighbours and friends and enjoy the magic of tavernas again. Some friends were away but coffee and meals were arranged with whomsoever was around!

We attended an INCO coffee morning in Istron and I enjoyed a walk, organised by INCO, from the nearby village, Lastros, to a windmill.

Then, there was lunch in Natasha’s taverna,

which was extremely busy, due to it being Clean Monday. More walks followed this one but these were with our neighbour Birgitta and her friend Willie. My favourite of these was a walk which again started in Lastros but ended in Mochlos. There was excellent signs to help us on our way

for about half the walk but then after that, they disappeared and it was necessary at times to use google maps. The scenery was beautiful and finally, we caught a glimpse of Mochlos.

There was a nice meal to enjoy at the end of the walk with non-walking spouses.

We had a surprise one Sunday afternoon when John and I thought we were going for a quiet Sunday lunch, but it turned out that a large number of employees from the supermarket, Xalkiathakis were celebrating very belatedly the New Year!

It was all very jolly and of course, there was some dancing.

John and I went to Istron on a couple of occasions to enjoy the beautiful beaches there

as well as visiting the atmospheric archaeological site of Xalosmenos near the Ha gorge.

One highlight on the social front was going to a party in Ag Nik which Janette and Chris White had organised in their house. We enjoyed the company and we admired their refurbished apartment. We also had a rather rainy trip to Heraklion for a blood test for John, but it also included shopping at Marks and Spencers, a delicious meal in Amalia’s kitchen and breakfast at Lion Square.

Since living here in Crete, I have enjoyed reading more about Greece and its history and culture. Over the winter, I read The Greeks by H.D.F. Kitto (1951) and The Greek Way by Edith Hamilton. My focus was learning more about classical Greece. What made these books so interesting was that Kitto, an Englishman and Hamilton, an American are great enthusiasts of this period of history and argue coherently why it was so special for mankind. Hamilton is also incredibly knowledgeable about the Greek plays of this period and I am now about to explore these further.

Sadly, our neighbour, Nikos, the husband of Maria, died in early April. He had been ill for some time but he was diagnosed with stomach cancer about a week before he died.We went to the funeral, which was huge and 40 days later, there was a further Church service with coffee afterwards.

Greeks believe that for 40 days, the soul of the deceased person wanders around their home and locality, saying farewell to their close friends, family and favourite places.

Then, the soul finally departs from this world. We shall miss Nikos and on Saturday, I sat on his seat outside his house and remembered him.

We had a big surprise at the beginning of April. Many years ago, whilst John and I were on a tour of Vietnam, we met a couple, Pat and Jerry, who live on Hardy Island off the sunshine coast in British Columbia. We have visited them there and they have visited us. We learned that relatives of theirs, John and Brenda were travelling in Europe and coming to Crete. We met them in Agios Nikolaos and enjoyed very much their company.

Particularly amazing was that I found out that Brenda had worked in the same school in BC as my second cousin, Norm. It is a very small world sometimes!!!

John During March and April I  spent quite a lot of time progressing an application for a Disabled Parking permit. The process has been lengthy to say the least and at times bordering on farce and because it is not yet complete will form the subject of a future Post. However in early April we headed off to Heraklion for a test in this connection at a specialist clinic. Suffice it to say that this was not a pleasant experience, involving as it did, having large needles stuck in my arms, hands, legs and ankles to which was connected an electric current giving me repeated electric shocks – an experience I never wish to repeat!

However, it meant that we had an excuse to stay over, which in turn allowed for retail therapy for us both and the opportunity to eat at a favourite restaurant, ‘Amalia’s Kitchen’ where we spent a really good evening.

Sheila On 18th April, I flew to Edinburgh and for 2 weeks, I had the pleasure of spending time and having fun with old friends and my brother and sister-in-law. Recently, my brother, Sandy had broken his pelvis after being knocked down by another skier in the French Alps, who carried on down the slope.  After a successful operation in Grenoble and with the help of his daughter, he was airlifted home and is now receiving physiotherapy.  It was good to see Sandy and Winnie and  and I enjoyed their hospitality, their garden,

and walks around Dalgety Bay.

Then, I was driven to Crianlarich Youth Hostel, seeing some wonderful Scottish scenery on the way and the next day, we were lucky enough to have wall to wall sunshine to see the Scottish mountains at their best,

while getting some exercise, climbing An Castiel with friends that I have known a long time.

On both nights the food was delicious. The first night, it was provided by the group and second, we were in a local pub.

Next, another Sheila gave me a lift to Monifieth on the other side of the country, where I stayed with my friend Annie for a few days. One day we went to Carnoustie, where my father had lived as a child. Carnoustie was wet and cold and to make matters worse, many of the shops were closed – it being a Monday. But we found a cafe and we visited my grandmother’s old house called ‘Eudora’.

Other highlights as well as chatting to Annie, were walking on the beach at Monifieth

admiring Annie’s garden

and having a meal and seeing a play in Dundee.

Then my journey continued by train. I had booked the trains in advance and was a little anxious about delays, strikes etc but all nine trains were on time. Even better, the weather was good and I saw some wonderful scenery. I went first to Mythomroyd in West Yorkshire to stay with Chris and John. They have a lovely house, garden and view. We were joined there by another friend, Kathy. She, Chris and I worked for Bexley Association of Voluntary Service in the mid 1970’s.

Whilst it was great just to chat, there was some sightseeing in Heptonstall, visiting Sylvia Plath’s tombstone

and also the very impressive Towneley Hall. It was good too to remember good times on a canal boat years ago.

My next stop was Bridgend in South Wales and getting there involved more trains and the sun kept shining! I stayed with Pete and Anne, who had visited us in Kavousi last year as Anne’s daughter now lives near Chania. I enjoyed a wide range of conversation and entertainment, including a visit to the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff,

a boat trip round Cardiff Bay, a view of the local beach, a walk round their neighbourhood

and watching a nice feel good film!

Then my last four train journeys took me from Bridgend to Cardiff, Cardiff to Bristol Temple Meads, where I met John, then onto Par and finally to Newquay.

John I was on my own for nearly a week in Kavousi after Sheila left for Scotland. During this time, there were two memorable events. Firstly, I was invited to a belated Easter lunch party at Chris and Pauline’s house for which I made a large bowl of Cranachan as my contribution, which seemed to go down well.

Secondly I had to cope with a goat invasion! I was minding my own business after lunch one day when I heard some peculiar noises from the back terrace. Before I had time to get up, a goat’s head appeared round the corner. I am not sure who was the more surprised, the goat or me! It scarpered but as I went to investigate I found another nibbling the vine and a few others waiting to jump the fence from next door! My many years of goat keeping experience then kicked in and I soon had the blighters on the run but what to do, after all I was leaving in two days and did not want to return to a wrecked garden? I managed to find an old table, a pallet and some thick cord and built a palisade where they had got in and was pleased to find that they had not been back, when we returned from the UK!

So, nearly a week after Sheila left Crete, I headed off to the UK and for once the early afternoon easyJet flight was on time, ‘Special Assistance’ at Gatwick worked like a dream and I found myself hours early at London Waterloo, for my train to Dorset.

Nevertheless, time passed quickly and late in the evening, I finally arrived at Dorchester South where Dave, my childhood friend with whom I was to spend the next four days, was waiting with a taxi. Once arrived at the hotel, we we were soon comfortably billeted in the bar with a couple of beers discussing plans and catching up on news.

After a hearty breakfast the next morning, we set off by bus for Blandford Forum, where my paternal Grandmother came from and before her a number of earlier generations, so I wanted to see where her Grandparents lived and find out more about the Great Fire of 1731 which destroyed so much of the town. So firstly, we visited the museum where a lot of space was dedicated to the Fire and also to the Railway which almost certainly accounted for my grandparents getting together, although how and where they met remains a mystery. Then we found where my 2x Great Grandparents had lived. It came as no surprise to find new buildings occupying the location but nonetheless the experience was still quite moving.

The following day we went to Cerne Abbas again on the bus – my Cornish Pensioner’s Travel Card proving very useful. The purpose of the visit was to view the Cerne Giant which I had not seen since I was a child. To be honest the poor fellow was a tad disappointing with his significant attributes hardly visible because of lack of grass cutting and maintenance but for those who have not been, this is supposed to be what he looks like!

Exhausted from two days on the go, we decided to spend the next day in Dorchester visiting the County Museum and Library, the former having recently been refurbished. A visit here is recommended.

Our final day was for me perhaps the highlight of our stay because I managed to realise a long wished-for ambition – to visit the Chesil Beach (or Chesil Bank as we always call it). I had seen it a number of times from the road and from Portland but had never actually been on it. There was a lot of walking to get there but it was well worth it though – one of nature’s marvels, although my photo does not do it justice.

The following morning, I said goodbye to Dave and took the train to Pewsey in Wiltshire, where my cousin Liz met me and I then spent three relaxing days with her chatting, enjoying her cooking, reading and going out for meals. It was a real tonic and just what I needed to recover from the hiking and travel of the past few days – many thanks to Liz for looking after me so well.

Sheila and I then met up on Bristol Temple Meads Station having arrived from different directions and departed for Cornwall where Rosie and Isla met us at Newquay Station. We moved back into our own flat for the next week and very good it was to be back.

Sheila Our stay in Newquay went by all too quickly but we had a great time. and were amazed at how much Isla had changed in the short time since we saw her last, with both speech and physical development being particularly notable.

Here she is helping her old Grandad (Παπους) to get along!

Our first treat was a trip to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, with so much colour – wonderful rhododendrons and around every corner, beautiful plants. Then, there were goats and lambs and finally the adventure playground which Isla just loved. She was impressive in mastering the climbing, sliding and scrambling required to get down from each of the structures that she attempted.

She also has amazing energy

but sometimes just needs to conk out!

The next day, John’s brother Tim and his wife, Liz arrived for a short visit and we went to the Red Lion for lunch, where the food was definitely a success.

In the evening, John and I went to the smart new Lighthouse Cinema in Newquay where we saw Jim Broadbent in ‘The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ which was good and then had a meal out. I ordered a Greek souvlaki which was very nice but nothing like what I was expecting!

At the weekend Ed joined us and we travelled very comfortably in his huge new truck

to an interesting visit to Falmouth Maritime Museum which had an exhibition about pirates and an area where you could play with a boat! This was a perfect way to ignore the fact that it was Coronation Day. The next day, we went to some waterfalls on the River Fowey, near Liskeard, which are situated in an ancient woodland. It was beautiful and Isla lead the way. Her energy and stamina is amazing for one so young.

Then, sad though it was to say goodbye to them all, it was time to return to Kavousi and summer!

Sheila & John


A New Year trip to Southern England

After our return from Mexico, we had a week at home in Crete before we were off on another trip – this time to the south of England. The main purpose of this jaunt was of course to check up on the progress of our granddaughter, Isla but we also wanted to see other family, especially James and his new house in Essex and a number of friends, many of whom had not been seen for some time.

We set out before dawn from Kavousi to get the ‘red eye’ flight to Athens where the connection to Gatwick worked perfectly and unlike the last time we had tried this, we also made the next connection to Newquay and even had time for lunch! Setting out early at least meant that we arrived in Cornwall in mid-afternoon and the flight was even early. This had the big advantage that we then had the opportunity to get to know Isla again so that by Saturday morning, she was ready to come down from the flat above to start serious play and entertainment with her grandparents!

She is a bundle of energy, wakes up very early and expects the rest of her world to fit around her time frame – difficult for a man who has always found the mornings (especially early morning) difficult! Still, needs must, as the saying goes and I was soon building towers with plastic bricks, reading story books and supervising fights to the death with plastic dinosaurs, all before 9.00am!

So the pattern was soon established and Sheila and I willingly fell into a routine which was largely determined by an eighteen-month old tot, aided and abetted by her mother Rosie, who occasionally was able to get with at least a little of her own life, uninterrupted for a while.

The afternoons often involved a walk somewhere, usually to the beach which is only a quarter of a mile away and which, even in January was a treasure trove of interest and activity for a young and active youngster, who at such a young age walks just about everywhere. I was impressed. She certainly does not take after me!

On the Monday following our arrival, Rosie and Ed went off very early to Devon to buy Rosie a replacement van, leaving the grandparents in charge! We felt that we must have passed something of a test to be allowed this honour. There again, perhaps they had no other choice! In any event, we had a fine time and did not disgrace ourselves but we were relieved to hand Isla back in one piece when they returned.

We had a lovely time in Cornwall with the young family and are pleased to report that Rosie and Ed are doing a fine job bringing up their beautiful daughter.

We managed a visit to Truro on the bus, so giving Isla her first bus ride

and we also went to the zoo, which was fun (at least for us).

There were also various meals out but the most memorable was an Indian take-away eaten at the flat. I think both Sheila and I will always remember Isla tucking into her father’s chicken tikka masala with bright red sauce all over her face!

While we were in Newquay, I met up with my old childhood friend, Joe who lives in Plymouth.

He came over on the train and we spent a happy few hours ensconced in the Great Western Hotel, reminiscing about old times, drinking a pint or two and watching the surfers below us, with a view to die for.

Later in our stay, Sheila and I also met up with Graham and Sally for a coffee in the old town. Graham is a tennis friend of Sheila’s from Crete, who now lives not far from Newquay. It was good to see them both and catch up with news of family and friends.

It was with some reluctance therefore after all this excitement that we set off from Cornwall after our ten-day stay but the good news was that Newquay was only the start of the trip and there was much more to come. Our first stop was in Devon where we spent a couple of nights with my brother Tim and sister-in-law Liz. They had just returned from a visit to New Zealand to see their son and daughter-in-law so there was much to talk about over an excellent meal at the village pub.

They then took us to Wiltshire where we stayed a few nights with cousin Liz who looked after us very well, organising a number of visits to local hostelries, including ‘The Silks’, the local village pub which has just re-opened under community ownership and in which I have a small shareholding!

It was good to see her looking so well after a hip replacement and at 91 she is an example to us all as to how to live an active social life in one’s later years.

We then moved on to London where we stayed initially with Jane. She has two young grandchildren who spend quite a lot of time with their grandmother, so we were able to get used to what will become the next stages for us in grandparenting. We also spent an interesting morning at the site of the old Crystal Palace where I had not been for many years

and met up with mutual friends, John and Maureen for an Indian meal in Tooting one evening. It was good to see Jane and we hope to persuade her to visit us again in Kavousi before too long.

Then we spent two nights in a hotel at Clapham Junction where we visited the newly re-opened Battersea Power Station (see cover photo). It was good to see it put to some vaguely useful purpose after all the years of neglect.

We also visited Annie Finnis and her family in Teddington – Annie being the daughter of our good friend Nick who died last year. We have known Annie since she was not much more that a tot and it was good to see her and Matt and their son for an afternoon and to catch up on all their news.

We also used the hotel as a base to meet up with Jill and Pete, who are friends on mine from university days. There were strike days all that week so getting to central London took a little organising but we made it and enjoyed a delicious lunch at a french restaurant in ‘Theatreland’.

Then it was time to move on to Wivenhoe in Essex where James has his new house. It is home for him because it is where he was brought up and his house suits him perfectly

and on our arrival, characteristically, we met him in a pub ‘The Greyhound’ which is close to both his house and the railway station. I remember it well from my time there forty years ago!

I was hoping to meet up with my friend Pat while we were in Wivenhoe but she has not been well for some time, took a turn for the worse around New Year and unfortunately died the week before I arrived, which was particularly sad. We had not seen each other since before Covid and were both looking forward to a good natter. Alas, it was not to be!

On Friday, Sheila met her friend Liz who had driven down from Norwich and they had a walk along the river before repairing to ‘The Greyhound’ for lunch. They were so busy chatting that they did not notice James and I sitting in the corner doing the same! We left them to it.

James’ partner, Claire arrived from London on Friday evening and we had a really enjoyable time together over the next day or so, spending Saturday morning on a trip down memory lane with a visit to Walton-on-the-Naze on the NE Essex coast, enjoying a walk on the prom

followed by coffee and ice cream and

and a visit to the fun fair on the pier!

Our last stop was with our old friend Phil (of more recent island-hopping fame) who lives near Heathrow. She picked us up at Sunday lunchtime from Ascot station and we spent the afternoon with her son Bill and wife, Keira and mutual friends Nicky and John. Somehow Phil managed to feed seven in the confines of a small mobile home – no mean feat! It was good to see them all and to be able to have an advance planning discussion in the evening for an adventure later this year in the Greek islands with Phil,

The next morning, she dropped us at Heathrow for our flight home. Aegean contrived to delay our flight with some spurious excuse, which meant we missed the connection in Athens, thereby arriving back in Kavousi some three hours later than anticipated! That apart, it had been a great trip but we were glad to be home, having effectively been away for the best part of two months.


‘Down Mexico Way’

What a great holiday John and I had in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico!!!

It was such a treat to spend 3 weeks over Christmas and New Year with our son Graham and his wife Rhiannon, who were not only great company but had organised the whole trip, drove and navigated us around our itinerary and dealt with any issues as they arose with their excellent Spanish. Then, there was the Yucatan Peninsula itself, which introduced us to the history of the Mayan people, to amazing colours and light, to Mexican food and drink, cenotes, interesting wildlife and more. The weather was beautifully warm except on one occasion and more about that later.  We stayed in a variety of excellent accommodation, met friendly Mexican people throughout and we learnt a lot from tour guides, bar and restaurant staff as well as from Graham and Rhiannon.

This was our route.

We flew from Heraklion airport on December 13th, changed flight in Athens, where the Special Assistance service was incredibly efficient and then we flew by Air France to Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris.   Unfortunately, the Special Assistance service there did not work so well. Examples of this included the lack of a wheelchair when we arrived at the airport; being left stranded in a corridor by a member of staff, transport  promised by Special Assistance to get us to the airport from our hotel the next morning, not turning up and a long waiting time to get a wheelchair to go through security. The same bad service at this airport happened on the way back as well. The communication problem seems to stem with us coming in on one terminal and going out on another terminal.  I think we might avoid this airport in the future!

We stayed the night in the nearby Ibis hotel on the way to Cancun and on the way back and it was very good. This was the rather cold and grey view from our window before we departed for Mexico!!!

After the eight hour flight we had a taxi booked at Cancun airport and whilst there was a little difficulty finding our accommodation in Puerto Moreles, we then relaxed into the holiday. Our airbnb apartment had a roof top pool, which we liked very much as well as the weather!

We found somewhere to eat and helpful waiters advised us on what to choose, as the menu was very strange to us. The tacos went down well!

The first night, we enjoyed a glass of wine but we avoided it from then on, as the price was extremely high!!!  Suddenly beer seemed a better option.

Graham and Rhiannon arrived two days later and from then on, we had our own guides and rented transport! 

First stop was Valladolid where we stayed for 3 nights. It is an attractive town with some interesting street furniture.

It was a good base to visit the Mayan site of Coba (more on that later) and to swim in a cenote.  The Yucatan is essentially a limestone plateau covered in forest, with any number of underground rivers flowing beneath. I learnt that a cenote is a sinkhole (effectively where the rock has collapsed) and swimming in one was just magical.

I am one of these people down there and the water was cool, refreshing and very blue! After a nice swim there was good food to eat.

After Valledolid,  we stayed in a hacienda near Izamal, which had a pool, a beautiful garden

and a lovely area to eat.

This was breakfast!

On the way there, we visited the yellow town of Izamal and again, I loved the fantastic bright colours that we saw here. both in the town where the houses are mainly painted yellow,

and in the food and drink where the colours were amazing.

This just looks too good eat or drink!

The holiday was a wonderful mixture of experiences. In Rio Lagartos, we hired a small boat and a guide and found ourselves looking at crocodiles, birds and flamingoes.

It was a lovely trip but I couldn’t help feeling that there were too many boats with tourists in them and that was a reason that we didn’t see many flamingoes!!!  As well as the boat trip, our hotel had some very old bikes and John and i did use them, even though they had no brakes and only one pedal!

However, there are no pictures of us on them as we were busy concentrating on the cycling!

Rio Lagartos will be remembered for all of the above but also for my first (and marginally best) margarita of the trip.

I drank more margaritas in Mexico than I have done in the rest of my life. A margarita just seems the right drink to order in the Yucatan!!!  To my surprise they varied greatly, and this

added to the excitement of drinking them!! I must also acknowledge the huge amount of guacamole that I ate. It is so delicious, particularly in Mexico!

We carried on to the small island of Isla Holbox, which is off the north coast, where we would celebrate Christmas and have a late 4 day celebration of my 70th birthday. It had been chosen carefully by Graham and Rhiannon as they had been there last year and thought that it would make a perfect destination for a sun, beach and relaxation lover like myself. We stayed in a lovely hotel.

with a nice pool.

It would have been completely perfect, if it had not been for the weather!  As soon as we arrived, the clouds were visible and they did not disappear until the day we left. In Wikopedia you can read that:

‘From December 21 to 26, 2022, a historic[6] extratropical cyclone created winter storm conditions, including blizzards, high winds, snowfall, or record cold temperatures across the majority of the United States and parts of Canada.’

Whilst fortunately Mexico did not experience this, this weather phenomenon meant that the Yucatan did get heavy rain with strong winds and the temperature plummeted for the exact 4 days we stayed on isla Holbox!!  It was unfortunate to say the least.

We celebrated Christmas and we all received lovely presents

but there was no sunbathing, no swimming and no warm weather. So Christmas day was a bit different from what was planned.

There was torrential rain which made it incredibly difficult to walk anywhere as there was a very limited drainage system on the island.

The colours of the sky and sea were amazing but not quite the colour that we had been hoping for! It was so bad that I didn’t even swim in the lovely hotel pool.  Instead, as would be case on any holiday when there is bad weather, we played cards, read books and talked about the weather! We ventured out for the odd walk on the beach to see a rather different and dramatic landscape from that which we had expected.

The weather was disappointing but I am glad we did see Isla Holbox. It was a wonderful and special 70th birthday present to stay there with Graham and Rhiannon and one day I may go back again. It is a very beautiful place.

The food too was very special and John claims that his Christmas dinner of avocado covered in small pieces of steak resting on a bed of salad, was one of the best he has ever had!

From there, we moved on to Merida and the highlight there was a visit to the wonderful Mayan World Museum. Specifically, it celebrates the culture of the Mayan people. It needs more than one visit, given how mch there was to see! It combines lots of information and lovely exhibits.

During our trip, we visited two Mayan sites, one at Coba, near Valladolid and the other at Edzna,  near Campeche.  This is at Edzna.

At Coba, the site is so extensive that bicycles were available for transport and there was a bit of bird watching as well.

On our trip, Graham and Rhiannon were both very keen to buy panama hats. What I didn’t realise was that they actually knew of somewhere they were made. On our way to Campeche, we came off the main road and with the help of a person who suddenly jumped out in front of us, we were guided to a small building in a small village. There we were shown the process of making panama hats. I had never given a thought to this before and I don’t know the detail because I don’t speak Spanish but I do remember thinking how wonderful it was to find a small business like this, so clearly proud of their products and able to demonstrate what is involved in making them.

We bought one each for Rhiannon and Graham and very good they looked too!!!

In Campeche, as well as a visit to Edzna Mayan ruins, we finally did have a swim in the sea and a little sunbathing which was lovely.

Finally In Bacalar, we stayed in a hotel very close to the lagoon which had the most amazing colours. We had a wonderful boat trip on the lagoon.

But It was the end of our trip, so we enjoyed relaxing at our lovely hotel.

and eating nice meals.

Spot the margarita!






Winter Break

Later this week we leave for a three week holiday in Mexico to visit our son Graham and his wife Rhiannon. When we return to Crete in early January, we have one week here before we leave for another three week triip, this time to Southern England. We will be back home in early February.

What this means for you dear reader is that there will now be no further Posts on the Blog until mid-February at the earliest. We did not want you to think that we had given up up on the Blog, so this latest offering is by means of an explanation for the future and to bring you up to date with what has happened in our lives since the last Post.

We have had a relatively quiet time since our last visitors left. There are fewer friends from Northern Europe here at present and for a variety of reasons there are also others who have decided that it is time for them to return to their ‘home’ countries. We are sorry to see them go but when your heart tells you it is time to leave, then the decision is in effect made. Not for us though – for the time being at least, we have every intention of staying, despite all the ties back in the UK, including our delightful granddaughter!

 The new house below us continues to grow apace, even at times by fits and starts. It is very interesting to watch because the approach is so different to the UK, mainly as a result of all the additional steel reinforcement needed to counteract an earthquake. In mid-November the builders put in the ground floor and pillars to support the upper floor, which had a large quantity and weight of reinforcing rods.

They have spent the last few weeks building the support for the upper floor togther with the required reinforcement and last week the concerte lorries were back to lay the floor. Already work is continuing on the pillars for the roof, which I suspect will be finished by the time we get back from Mexico,  

My birthday was the next event of any significance. We went to Heraklion for a couple of nights and stayed in a city centre hotel where we were upgraded to a luxury suite, It was very impressive with own dining/lounge area but why we needed two televisions, I am not sure, We had a very restful time doing a little shopping, lying on a beach, watching the first few matches from the World Cup and eating (and drinking) well.

As a result of the disruption to the postal service in the UK, my birthday present from Rosie and her family arrived somewhat late but it was fun to receive it when it did arrive, especially as the main item was a selection of curry spices – a particularly good choice as I have recently been experimenting with various new recipes!

Sheila has had a couple of decent walks with folk from the village. The first took them to Thripti village via the E4 Path where the ‘drivers’ met them for a late lunch (and to take them home!). The second was a week or so later when they walked from Thripti village, nearly to the top of mountain – a distance of some 18km apparently. Here is Sheila with Stephane on the ‘lunar’ plateau just below the summit.

I have managed a few shortish trips on my bike which is especially nice in the good weather.

We have met up with H2 (Hans and Hanneke) for lunch at their house – great food as always and good company. We shall miss them when they return to Holland.

We have also seen Pauline and Chris a couple of times for food at their house or drinks at one of the village tavernas, The photo below was an occasion at their house which was loosely related to my birthday.


However, as the nights draw in and the number of tavernas which remain open have decreased this year, we seem to spend more evenings than before hunkering down in front of the TV watching Netflix serials or old films!

We also donated our old bikes to a local charity. They had been languishing in the ‘snake pit’ (underground storage area) for years until Mark and Anca borrowed them last year and Mark cleaned then up  really well. Now they have new homes. Here is Sheila re-living old times before they went!

The weather has been wonderful generally for much of November and in early December and although we have not been swimming that much, it has certainly been warm enough to do so, During the last week, we have taken to setting out after breakfast to do a morning stroll on one of the local beaches and/or paths thereabouts. This is a fitness and health kick for me really, as Sheila nearly always has a walk most days but the warm sunny mornings with a south wind from Africa (without mercifully the Saharan Dust) has meant that it is no hardship!

So that is where we are at currently and it just remains for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year from us both. We will be back in February!

John & Sheila



John and I have been back in Kavousi now for 3 months after our Scottish adventure. It has been a time for impressive house improvement projects, wonderful family celebrations and for the first time since the start of covid, friends coming to stay at the house.  

John has been managing the various projects relating to the house. 

This is the insulation that was added externally to the walls and roof, which is intended to keep the house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

The solar panels are now fully operational.

The panels were bought from a company in Heraklion but installed by Alkis and our local electrician, Michalis.  The most tricky bit of this process was a computer software issue, linking the energy output with John’s computer, so that John could monitor how much electricity was being generated every day. This was solved by Kostas, who has a solar panel business in Agios Nikolaos. John has now been asked a few times for advice about installing solar panels by folk thinking of installing a system and has discovered that our neighbour’s son works in this field, both of which are signs of increased interest in this technology. Our system is the first installed in our village,which John is pretty pleased about.

We now have new outdoor tiles in the front of the house. Much had to be moved in order to lay the tiles including the wood pile and the flowers.

It didn’t look good when the old crazy paving was removed,

but what a good job Alkis did!

and what a difference now!

Isla and I were very keen to keep the tiles clean and tidy and it is a particular joy for me to open the door and admire our tiles!!!!

More important for our well-being, is the work that was done to strengthen our wall. There had been some dislodging of stones recently and this fact led to a huge piece of work and an amazing amount of money being spent on health and safety grounds!

This was the start!

And then the real work started


And this was the finish!  The two men who built this multi-tiered wall were fantastic, always cheerful, working in incredibly hot conditions and building this huge wall.

As you can see we now have a magnificent wall, protecting out house from everything, including earthquakes.  And we now have our own car parking place underneath it. John thinks it is the most expensive parking space in Crete!

Throughout all this work, our neighbours offered advice and comments!

Alkis and his team of workers did an amazing job. The issue of the wall meant that what was first going to be the construction of a simple car parking space, ended up being a major piece of complicated work which Alkis fitted in to everything else he was doing at the time.

But it has not all been about projects!  In early September, we had a surprise visit from John’s great niece, Helena and her boyfriend, Lewis. They were travelling around in Crete by motor bike and it was a real treat to have dinner with them in Pachia Ammos.

Helena is about to begin medical studies in Cambridge and we look forward to to hear about her progress.

We spent a day with friends from Aberdeenshire, Edna and Tony. They were staying in Agios Nikolaos, celebrating Edna’s 70th birthday on September 12th. This was also our 39th wedding anniversary. They came to Kavousi and we spent the day, visiting the sights,

and then in the evening, Edna and Tony treated us to a meal at the Minos Palace hotel. It was lovely to spend time with them. And we could show them the progress of the building works.

John and I had our 5th covid jab later in September, and that didn’t prevent us later, enjoying a lovely Egyptian meal, cooked by our neighbours, Anca and Mark.

The next day, our friends, Sarah and Mark, arrived from London and whilst the weather was not wonderful, we did manage a swim at Tholos, a walk to the olive tree, a visit to the south coast, eating at Bobo’s son’s taverna at Makrialos

and at Mochlos.

While they were here, we also attended an event at the Panagia Church, in Kavousi relating to local tourism.

There was a video of the attractions of Kavousi and presentations to individuals who have made an important contribution to the village, as well as music and dancing.

It was good to see Sarah and Mark, after  a number of years of covid restrictions and inevitably, we spent a lot of  time discussing British politics, which led to some heated discussions!!!! Good to be able to do this with old friends again after so long.

The day after they left, the funeral of our friend, Nick, took place in Edinburgh. We were glad that we had seen him in the summer but were shocked that he died so soon after. His wife Jude, sent us a recording of the funeral which we appreciated very much.  It was particularly poignant that a week later, on October 6th, it was my 70th birthday. Nick was a year or two younger. I felt lucky to be around to celebrate it, have relatively good health, have a wonderful husband and family, such great friends and to have the opportunity to live in Crete, in particular, in Kavousi.

Rosie, Ed and Isla arrived late at Heraklion airport on October 5th.

On my birthday morning, they and John gave me some wonderful presents.

Isla was wearing a babygrow which says happy birthday yiayia (happy birthday, granny). Isla could say the word yiayia (Greek for granny) and I couldn’t have had a nicer present. The whole week that they stayed was a wonderful mixture of playing with Isla at home, going to various beaches including Agriomandra,

and visiting the Water Park, the Aquarium and Heraklion Archaeological museum. I had another little celebration in the middle of their stay when I invited some friends to a meze lunch at Natasha’s in Pacheia Ammos. I enjoyed a lovely afternoon surrounded by friends and family.

 Wonderful!!! It was not the only nice meal that I ate. More good food here in Mochlos.

It was very sad to say goodbye to Rosie, Ed and Isla. They and John had all made it very special. I can understand now, the joy of the company of a grandchild. 

Two days later, James arrived. It was more dramatic than expected. The day after he arrived, there was a huge storm, so instead of lying on Tholos beach, we were at home, hoping that there would be no leaks in the house. There weren’t and instead, we sat around chatting, watching a little bit of football and looking out of the window at the rain! By Sunday, the rain had stopped and we enjoyed the dramatic sky.

But the cloud insisted on hanging about on the mountains for not just a day but for most of the week. But we had a strategy to deal with this – drive to the south coast! So on the Sunday, James and I walked to a waterfall near Ferma where we used to live. The waterfall, as you can imagine was quite dramatic and the sun came out.

On one of the days, James went walking in the hills behind us but on the other days, we all went to Galini beach

and to Tertsa beach. Lovely and James got a suntan!

On the last night we went to Mochlos for a cocktail to celebrate James forthcoming birthday. As you can see, it was a bit autumnal and not as warm as like it!!!

But the Mai Tai was delicious.

Our last guests of the season were our friends Pete and Anne, who live in Bridgend. Pete and I ran the Bexley Cycle Campaign (part of the London Cycling Campaign) in the late 1970’s and he reminded me that we cycled on the yearly London to Brighton bike ride when it was in its infancy. They were visiting Anne’s daughter who lives near Chania, but they had taken a couple of days out to visit us. The visit hadn’t started out too well as my instructions were not clear enough and they ended up somewhere well past the old olive tree!!! it did mean that we could tick that box and not go there the next day!  We talked and talked about our families, our health, moving house etc but we also enjoyed a trip to Mochlos and a walk round Kavousi. 

John and I had planned a visit to them in Bridgend a few months after the beginning of covid, but of course, that didn’t happen. It was such a treat to see them and I hope we will get to Bridgend again one day.

The last exciting event to mention is that our daughter in law, Rhiannon, graduated with a first class honours degree a week past on Friday.

We are very proud of her and so looking forward to seeing her and Graham in Mexico in December,



A long chat around Scotland (Part 3)

The final stop for our tour aroung Scotland was Edinburgh where the Festival and Fringe were in full swing. It was an interesting and somewaht complicated journey to make by public transport from Kirkcudbright and one which involved a short incursion into England – not that anyone noticed!

Christine dropped us at the bus stop in Kirkcudbright where we first took a bus to Castle Douglas and then changed to another for Dumfries Railway Station. Scotrail then took us to Carlisle where we got a Virgin service to Haymarket in Edinburgh. It all took four hours as against perhaps two by car!

We splashed out on a taxi to Mairi and Norman’s house in the west end of Edinburgh and it wasn’t long before I was enjoying a beer in their garden on yet another beautiful afternoon. Scotland really turned on the best of summer weather for this part of our trip.

It probably goes without saying now, that the other thing in good supply beside alcohol on our trip was chat and after a delicious Mairi supper, a liberal quantity of Norman’s finest whisky was needed to lubricate the throat!

The following morning, Mairi, Sheila and I headed over the new Forth Road Bridge for the village of Elie in Fife where Mairi and Norman have a small cottage. A short visit to St Monans for a view of the harbour followed our arrival and then back for lunch at Elie, after which we went for a walk by the sea

and then sat in the garden in the sunshine. Another fine Mairi supper followed and a quiet evening was spent reading and watching TV.

The next day we went to Pittenweam another village on the Fife coast

where the whole place was given over to a community art exhibition with a variety of private houses, studios and garages given exhibiting every kind of artistic endeavour which can be imagined. It was quite amazing and once again the sun shone.

Later, we stopped at a rural eatery for lunch and then returned to Edinburgh in the afternoon.

There we ate an early supper because in the evening we were booked into a Fringe event at Tynecastle Stadium, the home of Heart of Midlothian Football Club. Mairi had arranged for us in to see a play about the ultimately unsuccessful attempt  by the Scottish Football Association, to prevent women’s football being organised in Scotland after the First World War, During the War, it had been very popular with crowds often exceeding 10,000! I say ultimately unsuccessful, although it took over fifty years before the SFA, finding itself in a minority of one in UEFA, finally agreed to allow organised women’s football in Scotland!

The play, entitled ‘Sweet FA’ was performed on a small stage built out from the upper tier of the main stand and was performed by a small cast made up almost entirely of women, who each performed a multitude of roles.

It was brilliantly done and we had a very enjoyable evening. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Thanks Mairi!

The next day, I took the bus to Princes Street in the morning to do a spot of shopping while Sheila spent the day with Mairi and another friend of theirs Liz, who had come up from the Lake District specially for the celebratory lunch. The three were all at school together and have birthdays very close together, which means they will all hit the big 70 very soon.

I had lunch in a Pub on Rose Street and watched the world go by before returning later to join the Party! I was just in time to sample the pudding, which tasted as delicious as it looks.

Later, Mairi took us out to Currie to Sally and Robert’s house which was to be our next stop and our last before returning to Crete. It had been a great few days.

I think that by the time we arrived at Currie, the effect of five weeks on the road must have been taking its toll because when we got home, we found to our dismay that neither of us seemed to have taken very many pictures of our stay with Sally and Robert! So, I need to start this section by apologising to them for the fact that they do not appear in these pages. I assure you, Dear Reader that this does not reflect the quality of their hospitality or indeed the range of activities which they laid on for us!

The weather was still stunning so we spent  the late afternoon and early evening chatting in their beautiful garden.

Of course there was much to discuss from grandchildren (wonderful) to the state of the country (dire) and then we sat down to a delicious supper prepared by Robert.

The following morning, we went to Portobello to visit our friend Nick who has for the last few years suffered from a relatively rare disease which meant that he had to move to a care home. Once again, it was a beautiful day so after talking with him for a while in the garden, we pushed him along the prom and sat in the sun looking across the Forth and eating an ice cream which he could just about manage. Although he could barely speak he was able to make his feelings known by nodding, shaking his head or, as in the photo below, giving a thumbs up sign.

It was very good to see Nick, even though his condition had deteriorated markedly since we last saw him pre-covid. We had an enjoyable time talking about shared times over near forty years of friendship, in particualr happy times both at Sunnyside and on our shared canal boat.

Sadly Nick died only five weeks later. So our visit was timely and both of us were glad that we saw him for one last time, particularly as it was clear that he too had been been pleased to see us.

That evening, Sally and Robert had arranged for us to see Wayne Marshall playing Gerschwin at the Usher Hall, as part of the Festival. He was a revelation as both pianist, conductor (sometimes both at once!) as well as for an encore, playing the organ unaccompaied. Photographs not allowed unfortunately.

Neither of us had ever heard of Wayne Mashall before but we are now firm fans. What a talented man! Another highlight of our trip and he and the orchestra received a standing ovation, which apparently is unheard of at the Usher Hall.

The pace was unrelenting and the next day, saw us heading for Haddington for Sunday lunch at the Waterside Bistro and of course being Sunday meant Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pud for me!

After a wonderful meal, we strolled along the banks of the river as far as St Mary’s Church.

(photo courtesy of Stephen Dickson)

Then it was time to head back which took us the long way rouns along the coast passing any number of famous golf courses along the way.

Our last full day in Scotland, we had always intended to spend sepaarately so that we could fit in meetings with friends and families. For Sheila this meant a trip by train to visit to her home town of Linlithgow, where with a change in the weather, it was raining! Normal service had been resumed.

Firstly Sheila met joyce, an old friend from her days as a Girl Guide for coffee and was taken on a tour of the refurbished Guide Hall.

Then, she met Fiona for lunch.

Meanwhile, I was having what was going to turn out to be rather a disaster of a day. Having taken a bus in the rain to Haymarket station, I was intending to go by train to Dunfermline to meet my cousin Felicity and husband Stuart for lunch. The train which I wanted to get was cancelled but I was assured by the Scotrail station staff that the next one was running. It was not and nor was the one after, by which time, lunch was a distant memory. Flooding on the line was apparently the problem. Hard to believe, as it was the first serious rain in Scotland for well over five weeks!

So I took myself off to a Sports bar for a very light lunch (crisps) although the beer was good and watched cricket and horse racing at the same time on the many available TV screens.

After an early supper, Sheila and Sally went to the ballet to see a modern take on ‘Coppelia’ while I was to be taken by Robert to the Scotch Whisky Association Edinburgh HQ for a whisky tasting session. Now this would have been another highlight of the trip for me but unfortunately, for reasons which might have had something to do with the Festival/Fringe, the place was shut, so Robert and I headed for a large whisky each at the nearest pub!

So ended our stay in Edinburgh. Many thanks to Mairi and Norman and to Sally and Robert for good chat, fine hospitality and wonderful food.

The next morning, before Sally took us to the Airport, we met five of their six granchildren, plus a Granny and it was good to put faces to them after hearing  much about them over the years. At the Airport, easyJet managed a two hour delay to our flight but otherwise all went well and when we finally got home about 2.00 am, all was OK at our house in Kavousi.

What a trip!


A long chat around Scotland (Part 2)

We ended Part 1 of our long chat around Scotland at Cummingston on the Moray coast at the home of Kate and Dod. On the morning of 30 July, Kate deposited us at Elgin station where we took a train to Inverness and were met by our next hosts, Graham and Fiona and their two dogs.

Graham is a childhood friend of Sheila’s from their early days in Linlithgow and for many years he and Fiona lived in East Africa where we got to see them from time to time on our various visits. Now they have ‘retired’ to Scotland and live in Strathpeffer, Easter Ross, a part of Scotland which neither Sheila or I know well.

So it was to Strathpeffer that we were taken for our next stay. I had originally thought that this was to be the most northerly billet of our journey but it is one of the tricks of geography that the Moray coast sticks out into the Firth quite some way around Cummingston and Inverness and indeed Strathpeffer are actually further to the south!

Graham and Fiona live in one part of what was originally a Victorian gentleman’s house,

surrounded by a large shared garden overlooking the valley that leads down to Dingwall and the sea, which indeed was our first port of call after lunch. Whilst Fiona shopped we all walked the dogs, or rather, being a rumbustuous pair, they walked us around a grassy area on the estuary.

The weather remained beautiful for the whole of our stay and one of the joys was being able to sit outside enjoying a glass of wine in the sunshine before supper. On our first evening, Fiona prepared a delicious meal of venison with a salad,

followed by some rather special ice cream that we had bought at a farm shop along the way from Inverness,

The next day was spent touring the Black Isle which is on the north coast of the Moray Firth and to the east of Dingwall. Our first stop was at a favourite spot of our hosts who are avid bird watchers.

To be honest, I was more interested in the oil rigs moored in the Cromarty Firth and the industrial sites of Invergordon and Nigg on the opposite shore to say nothing of the other obvious attractions but each to their own!

Then we moved on to Cromarty where we walked the dogs on the beach

and then to Rosemarkie for lunch at a beachside Pub with views across to Fort George on the opposite shore where a school of dolphins were swimming. Finally, we were treated to an interesting walk in a wood to see the Clootie Well, which was quite an experience. Then it was back to Strathpeffer for a spot of quiet time with my new friend

and later, a rather special macaroni cheese prepared by Graham.

Our final day was spent exploring the delights of the village where, for me at least, the old station buildings, now a museum and cafe were of particular interest.

Strathpeffer was a Victorian Spa town and this is reflected in both the style of the buildings as evidenced particularly by the Pavilion (now restored) and a number of imposing hotels.

In the evening we went to the Pavilion for an early supper before being lucky enough to get tickets for the final leg of Scottish comedian, Fred MacAulay’s summer tour before he moved on to the Edinburgh Fringe. It was hilarious if somewhat racy at times!

The following morning, Graham and Fiona took us back to Inverness to get the train to Perth. On the way, we visited Beauly where Mark Hagger and I started our second walk across Scotland some twenty odd years ago, at this very point on the river

and the eastern terminus of the Caledonian Canal.

Many thanks to Graham and Fiona for a great time in their lovely home and around Easter Ross, as well as for all the good chat along the way.

We duly arrived in Perth later in the day and as the weather was a little ‘iffy’, took a taxi to our hotel which was definitely the least salubrious of all the various locations we encountered on out tour. So we were pretty pleased the next day to say farewell to the ‘New County’ and head for the hills for our next stay. The location was Cray neat the Spittal of Glenshee and many thanks to Mike and Pam for the lift. It was the only place on our tour that we could not get to by public transport!

The purpose of this part of the trip was to help celebrate the Golden Wedding of Sheila’s brother and sister-in-law, Sandy and Winnie. Sheila was a bridesmaid at the wedding and the guest list fiffty years on, included the best man, the other bridesmaid,

as well as family and friends, many of whom of course we knew.

So it was a jolly occasion which over the three days involved a considerable amount of chat, a not insubstantial quantity of alcohol and a lot of excellent food!

Sheila even managed a walk up a nearby hill in the company of her brother, nephew and niece and the four great nephews,

while I caught up with news from various folk whom we had not seen for sometime, including Leckie Shepherd from Aberdeen and Malcolm’s mother-in-law, Rosemary from Sawbridgeworth.

There was cricket on the lawn, although not for the purist as no one seems to teach small boys (there were no girls present) how to bowl without throwing and moreover how to stand in front of the stumps, without looking as though they are holding a large spoon. I fear my father would not have approved!

During the course of the celebrations, the bride appeared in her wedding dress, a feat for which I think she should be applauded, although I was far too polite to say so at the time

and Sandy displayed his talents at mixing cocktails, with his version of the Singapore Sling.

There were speeches,

a cake and obligatory photographs

but it was all a great deal of fun and clearly greatly enjoyed by all.

From my perspective however, the lasting memory will be the quality and quantity of our room. As senior ‘royals’ we were given grand quarters to match our status, with en suite of course and room to relax, write and just sit and enjoy the view, The bed was huge. Quite the biggest I have ever slept in, with room to house a troop of boy scouts, should the need have arisen, which fortunately it did not!

Our next stop was Kirkcudbright (KBT) which first of all involved the potentially tricky need to re-enter civilisation. Fortunately, niece Claire and her boys were returning home to Stirling and dropped us at the station where we got a train for Glasgow Queen St. Disaster struck there when my small rucksack fell to bits but fortunately there was a handy North Face shop close by which saved the day.

From Glasgow Central we took a train to Dumfires where my old snooker buddy, Alasdair met us and took us to KBT. Great to see Alasdair and Yvonne after such a long time and to catch up on their news.

In the evening it was off to the traditional Pensioners’ Supper at the Arden House where food and drink were up to the usual standard and I enjoyed fish and chips and a pint or two of Bellhaven Best! Afterwards, Alasdair got out some of his best whisky and we sampled a glass or two for old times’ sake.

The following day, Sheila walked into town to meet her friend, ex work mate and now published poet, Mark for a coffee at a new cafe which occupies the site of the old Royal Bank premises. She had a good time apparently and the coffee and chat were very good!

Sad though that KBT no longer has any banks, like so many places in the UK. Personally I think this is a sad development and problematic for so many people, especially those who have no transport and/or who are not ‘au fait’ with computers etc but that is how it is, for better or worse.

Alasdair took me into town to do some shopping and I had a nostalgic look at our old house In St Cuthbert Street, over the back wall and as usual, muttered to myself about what had happened to the Elephant weathervane in the back garden!

He and I spent the afternoon trying to sort out tv/computer issues where my limited expertise may or may not have helped and in the evening we went to the Castle Bistro for a wee celebration.

The food was excellent but the cost of living crisis was immediately evident from the lack of customers on a Friday night. Good to see Paul who is the owner/chef again though. Always interesting to get his take on the affairs of State!

The next morning, after fond fairwells and grateful thanks on our part, Alasdair and Yvonne drove us  to our next port of call – Christine and Mike’s house at Senwick. After a good chat and coffee and cake, it was a quick turn around and back into KBT, where Sheila was due to play tennis at her old stomping ground – KBT Tennis Club.

Whilst all this was happening, I walked round and visited Marsali and Daniel for ane enjoyable afternoon putting the world to right and generally catching up. Good to see them both.

The tennis went well with honours even, which was probably just as well because unknown to me, they were all coming back to Christine and Mike’s for a BBQ in their beautiful garden.

It was a special evening because the weather was beautiful, the food was great, with plenty of booze on offer and interesting conversation.

The next day was even better weatherwise and I sat in the gardn for much of the day chatting to Mike, reading and catching up on my diary, while Sheila and Christine went for a long walk to Brighouse Bay and around.

We had another BBQ in the evening and with batteries re-charged, we were ready for the next stage of our adventure, which started the following morning. Lovely to see Christine and MIke who arranged a relaxing and very enjoyable programme for us and entertained us royally. Great for Sheila to be able to catch up with her tennis friends, especially Christine.

(to be continued)




A long chat around Scotland (Part 1)

On July 12 we set out on our much anticipated five week tour of Scotland. It was our first trip ‘back home’ for three years and we wanted to see as many friends and family as possible.  This inevitably meant living out of a suitcase and a variety of people being kind enough to put us up for short stays.

For those readers who may be unfamiliar with the geography of Scotland, I thought a map of our route would be helpful. The codes will be explained as you read along. 

We arrived at Edinburgh Airport (code A/J but please note that only code J is visible!) on the map) in the early hours of July 13 and after a short delay managed to get a taxi to our hotel where they were not expecting us, despite them having been called the day before! Finally we were put up in a kind of spare room but we really didn’t care. We just wanted to sleep for hours and we did!

The next morning, after breakfast, we walked to Haymarket Station where the first three trains to Perth were cancelled! Welcome to Britain and it had nothing to do with industrial action either. Eventually we got there and Maggie and Andrew picked us up and took us to their home in Pitcairngreen (code B/G but please note only code G is visible), where we spent our the next two nights just chilling, chatting, eating well,

drinking very good wine, short hikes for Sheila and generally having a restful time getting over the travel. Many thanks to them both for giving us such a welcome, particlularly as they were leaving  few days later for a wedding in Brazil!

Next stop was the Salutation Hotel in Perth (code G)

where we met up with my childhood friend Dave who arrived from Sweden en route for a family holiday in the Western Isles. He and I had much to talk about which gave Sheila the opportunity for both retail therapy (no excuse needed there!) and  time to meet up with her friend Lesley for lunch.

Dave and I found time to take in the City Museum and Art Gallery and a spent a happy few hours sitting in the sun on a park bench as men of a certain age tend to do! That was thirsty work, so we then needed a beer or two in the hotel bar!

Sad to say goodbye to Dave the next morning but our next hosts awaited so it was back to Perth Station where we found to our amazement that the train we expected to take to Dundee did not exist and indeed according to the bullish ScotRail employee on the barrier, had never existed! So a further wait for the next train and we began to doubt whether our decision to travel by train around Scotland was going to prove mistaken!

We need not have worried however as that was the last problem which we had with the railway. We took a taxi from Dundee Station to the Premier Inn in Monifieth (code C). Having checked in, we made the short walk to Annie’s little house

where she and Gideon, who had arrived from Tanzania without his luggage the previous week, were wating for us.

It was great to see them both after a very long interval and we had much to talk about over lunch and for the rest of the day.

The following day, Sheila, Annie and Gid went for a hike to the beach where there is an impromptu wildlife and bird sanctuary.


We also took a trip to Broughty Ferry on the bus where we had lunch in a pub garden. It was the hottest day during our stay in Scotland (28C) and the same as Kavousi in Crete that day! It will remain a highlight of our stay because I was so hot in the direct midday sun that I had to ask to move tables! This was a Scottish summer after all!

On our last night we went to a local Indian restaurant which was a real treat particularly because the food was so good. Nice to experience a pint or two of ‘Cobra’ for old time’s sake too!

Sadly it was soon time to move on, We said our goodbyes and hope that it will not be as long until we see them both again. And so it was back to yet another train station.

Two short journeys up the north-east coast and we arrived in Stonehaven where Fiona was waiting to meet us and take us to her house in Banchory (code D). We had not visited her since she moved there from Edinburgh, so we needed a tour of the policies and after lunch settled down for a long chat to swap news and put the world to rights over a glass or two of wine.

The next day, Sheila went to Aboyne to meet Evelyne (bumping in to someone else she knew from Community Work days on the bus!) and was able to admire Evelyne’s garden.

I spent the morning with Mark in Banchory chewing the fat and he then walked back with me to Fiona’s where she gave us lunch.

In the evening, Anne, an old friend from Labour Party days on Deeside, came over and with Fiona, we spent an hilarious evening at the local Pub. It was one of those occasions when you laugh until you think you will burst and it will always remain with me as a highlight of the trip. 

On our last morning with Fiona, she took us to Stachan where we used to live, to visit Evie and Jimmy. The two of them and their children, were so much a part of our family when we lived at Sunnyside that we literally could not have got by without them. It was lovely to see them both looking so well  and to hear all about their grandchildren and news from the village.

We had time to fit in lunch with Gillie and Alan and swap all important news about our respective grandchildren as well as other matters and then it was time to move a few miles to Crathes to stay with Moira and Stewart for our last few days on Deeside.

Lots more news to swap and chatting to be done over yet more glasses of wine. Much has changed in their beautiful house (a charging point for the new electric car to name but one)

and yet so much remains the same, espcially the wonderful garden.

The next day, Vicky and Jeb came over to see us for the afternoon and again the tongues were wagging furiously.

And yes, finally here is a picture of Sheila, with Vicky, showing her photos of Isla no doubt!

While we were staying at Crathes, Moira and Stewart took us up Deeside to Aboyne where after lunch at the Black Faced Sheep, we visited an art exhibition in the Victory Hall, which was fun as well as being nostalgic, especially because many of the paintings were landscapes relating to places I know in the area.

On the way back, Stewart took us back along Feughside which was another trip down memory lane.

We also went past our old house but the trees have grown so much that you cannot now see it very well from the road although it does appear that all the new additions may have been removed so that it has returned to its original condition as a ‘but and ben’.

And so it was time to move on to our next stop at Cummingston in Moray. Thanks to everyone in the Banchory area though for looking after us so well and giving us such a great time, especially Fiona and Moira and Stewart. It was wonderful to be back in what I still think of as my natural home.

So, after Moira dropped us off at Inverurie Station, we took the ScotRail service (bang on time) to Elgin where Kate met us for the short drive to Cummingston (code E).

After lunch Kate and Sheila walked along the old railway line to Burghead and back (no doubt exchanging a few words as they went!)

whilst Dod and I put the world to right, from a socialist viewpoint of course.

The conversation was broadened when they returned and it was time for a formal photo opportunity in best Wood tradition (note essential supplies in plastic bag).

As I recall (dimly) after ane excellent meal prepared by Kate, a considerable quantity of wine was consumed and it was rather late before we got to bed. No doubt, like the wine, the conversation flowed and the world would be a better place if we were all in control but I have no recollection of what solutions we came up with. Probably just as well!

The following day, we all went to Lossiemouth to see the new footbridge over the river, which had caused a certain amount of controversy, mainly it has to be said because of funding rather than aesthetics. Personally I rather like it and whilst the old wooden one had its charm. It had apparently become rather dangerous.

A visit to Duffus Castle followed which I thought was attactive,

Followed by Spynie Palace, the home of the Bishops of Elgin in medieval times, which was impressive. It is a pity however, that the tower is off limits as the views would be impressive ,

as indeed are the ruins.

In the evening, another Community Work friend and colleague of Sheila’s, Mary Scott came over to join the party and of course food, wine and conversation flowed. Great to see Mary and catch up with her news.

We were taken out for lunch the next day by Anne Begg who we first knew in Strachan but who has lived in the Lossiemouth/Elgin area for a number of years. Anne showed us her new apartment in Elgin and then took us to a local restaurant for lunch where we spent a happy time exchanging news about families and remembering old times relating to Strachan when our respective daughters were at school and playing football. Both are now mums themselves!

On our last day with Kate and Dod we went to Findhorn for a nose around the Community and a walk on the beach.

In the evening Althea and Norman came for a drink and a chat and after another wonderful meal provided by Kate, our stay in Cummingston was near its end.

Many thanks to both Kate and Dod for their generous hospitality and good company in their deliciously comfortable, with views to die for, sea view house.

(to be continued)









Island hopping again


After missing out on island hopping trips for the last couple of years, we set out with a lot of anticipation on the 7th June for the port at Heraklion to travel by ferry to the island of Naxos, one of the Cyclades Islands. We felt that we had done justice to the Dodecanese Islands in previous trips and were ready for a new group. There was another difference in that we took our own car in order that we could explore more easily.

But there were no other changes to the previous format of staying on 4 different islands, this time Naxos, Irakleia, Amorgos and Koufonisia and with our friend Phil joining us.

First, the ferry stopped at Santorini, which we had visited with our friends Cathy and Bruce some years before. We were quite glad not to get off as the boat emptied considerably and there were many, many buses waiting for the huge number of tourists. However, when we got off the boat at Naxos Town, the crowds there were a bit of a shock too. Fortunately, Phil’s ferry from Athens arrived soon after ours and she was hurried into our car and John drove with the help of Phil’s maps to the smaller town of Agios Prokopias. There was a nice beach beside our accommodation where soon we found a very welcome beer and Greek salad,

The next day, we explored the very attractive and picturesque old town and kastro of Naxos and the centre and north of the island,  We set off for Filoti and Aperathou, stopping for coffee in Halki but we were rather put off by the number of bus tours around. However, the latter did not go further north than Aperathou  and so while  we missed the museums there, we enjoyed the twisty road to Skatho which is part of the emery mining area of Naxos, where we stopped for lunch. There was no menu but the Greek salad, tzaziki and the hospitality were wonderful.

We carried on, had a quick look at Apollonas on the north coast and then stopped to admire an unfinished 12m marble kouros lying on the ground.

You did not have to pay to see this amazing marble statue. For me, it looked like he had a fine resting place.

The next day, we had a day trip first to the island of Delos.  Delos is a UNESCO heritage site and a sacred island.

Phil and I wandered past the Sanctuary of Apollo, Sanctuary of Dionysos, the Agora of the Italians, Lion Terrace with recognizable statues of lions, (see cover photo), House of Hermes, House of the Dolphins, a theatre, house of Cleopatra and much more. There was so much to see and just marvel at.

We looked at the hill but this was a step too far, given the size of the site. A picture would do!!!

John hoped to visit the museum but it was shut for renovation which was a disappointment. However the actual site was not!

It was with some reluctance that I left Delos and we carried onto the island of Mykonos. The first siting of six huge cruise ships in the bay was a clue to the incredible impact of tourism on the island. But that being said, i enjoyed the afternoon there. The town is very pretty

and of course, we admired the windmills.

The down side of our visit was that I lost my camera somewhere, which was a blow because I had loads of pictures of Delos and Mykonos on it. However, my fellow travellers had photos which they kindly shared with me.

The last day on Naxos was spent exploring the south of the island, including Plaka Beach which is 5km long.  There is much tourist development but the roads are pretty basic. So with Phil navigating and John driving, we had an interesting journey as Google took on some decidedly challenging roads!  This included looking at a development which clearly was not finished but looked as if it would have been interesting!

We didn’t quite make Agiassos beach where the Venetian Marco Sanudo landed in 1207 and then ‘burnt his boats’ so that there was no option other than to conquer the island. In the evening, We ate well in Naxos, and the menu included kaloyeros, a dish from there, consisting of beef and aubergines, which was very tasty.

The next day, the car had a huge adventure. We were travelling to the small island of Irakleia, which was the first stop for the local ferry. Our car needed to be at the very back of the boat, so it could be driven off first when we arrived at the island. We were told to park on a very narrow pier which had cars passing us on one side and a drop into the sea on the other! A couple of the cars passed with a centimeter to spare, with me closing my eyes! John reversed onto this boat and all the subsequent boats with seeming confidence and no problems. There are no pictures of this drama for obvious reasons but here is a picture of us just being in a queue!!!

and the ferry we used.

iraklia is a small island with the main town town being the port. We had a nice apartment

and met a couple from Halifax who were island hopping too but over a much longer period. We thought we might meet them on another island but we never did. We travelled on every bit of road there was very quickly and settled down to complete relaxation. The port was pretty,

as were the beaches.

Phil and I enjoyed walking. This was the choice!

Phil found a cafe which was a great surprise!

We then moved onto Amorgos which is a long, thin and hilly island. John drove along the windy and hilly road to reach the very nice Airbnb accommodation that he had booked.

We met Irene, who with her brother Giorgos, ran the airBnb. She was very friendly, offering us a gift of the local raki. Later in our stay, she and her brother gave us a gift of freshly laid eggs, which provided a delicious meal for us.  We discovered that she, like a young woman we met in Iraklia, who was a waitress in a nice taverna there, had both attended Rethymnon University and studied sociology there.

The accommodation was lovely but it was an extremely windy spot. But this area was very quiet and untouched by tourism. We went to a taverna in an nearby village and were surprised to see a man arrive on a donkey. It reminded me of how Greece used to be.

The taverna itself, apart from our ourselves consisted of locals and we enjoyed wonderful meat.

On the first day, we explored the south of the island which included Phil and me walking down to a beautiful beach at Mouros.

and John then drove to the beautiful beach at the southern tip of the island, Kalotaritissas Bay.

The day ended with me eating the best sardines that I have ever eaten. They were filleted and incredibly tasty. Sadly, Phil left us the next day and amazingly got back home to Bracknell on the same day. The trip involved a ferry from Amorgos to Naxos, a flight to Athens and a flight to Heathrow. The ferry was late, the flight to Athens was late but she made it!

After she left, John and I explored the north of the island, with spectacular views of the hills,

and the beautiful sea at Agios Pavlov

and a great beach at Aigiali.

The next day, the journey to the island of Koufonisia was not one I wish to remember. The sea was rough and as a result I felt really unwell! It was a long one and a half hours for me. But I soon recovered, once we reached the island.

It is a quite small with, in my view, not really enough sand for the numbers of people who come here. That being said, it did have a wonderful coast line, in particular the walk taking me from the Melissa rooms where we stayed along the coast to Pori, which i did a couple of times. As everyone knows I never tire of blue seas, sand and rock, so this walk was my idea of heaven.

We drove on every road on the island, which was not a lot, and were amazed to find a petrol station at the furthest place it could be from the main town. Our favourite taverna, where we always ate lunch, was at Foinikas

which was close to where we stayed and to the sea and provided a simple, cheap lunch.

We travelled home by Minoan Lines and by the next evening, we were happily having a meal with Jann and Stan in Dakos taverna in Kavousi. After that, in the following days, we both had haircuts, the car was washed and we ate a nice barbecue at Pauline and Chris’s house.

The most exciting event since we came back was Isla’s first birthday. We got up early and when we were connected by video call, we sang Happy Birthday to Isla. I had baked a cake and we wore birthday hats!

She looked slightly bemused but didn’t cry which might have been a fair reaction! It must be hard when you are 1 to know what all this is about! She opened presents which was very nice. We gave her a small keyboard and some books.

What a great start to the day. Isla had been to Scotland on holiday with her parents while we were island hopping, had been half way up Ben Nevis (her Dad got to the top) and visited Deeside, so there was lots to talk about with her parents.

The solar panel project has progressed a lot but that will be one of the features for the next post. In the meantime, we fly to Edinburgh on Tuesday for a 5 week holiday, visiting family and friends in Scotland. We are looking forward to that.



First steps and three funerals

Towards the end of April we had our first visitors of the year and like the proverbial number 19 London bus, they came in pairs.

First arrivals were Lesley and her niece Gillian from Perth in Scotland, who were staying in Elounda and they came just for a day visit. Lesley is a friend of Sheila’s from way back when and fortunately it was a very pleasant day weather-wise and we were able to eat outside at one of the tavernas in the plateia, after a walk around the village.

Then Sheila showed them the ancient olive tree and the beach before dropping them off back at their hotel.

It was really good to have visitors again, especially as they showed a keen interest in our lives here in Kavousi and in the way of life of the community that we now call home.

Next up were Gunilla and Marianne from Sweden who had been staying the previous week at Lendas on the south coast of Crete attending an art course. Gunilla is an old friend and it was particularly good to see her because a planned trip to see her in Stockholm had to be cancelled because of Covid.

She and Marianne caused quite a stir in the plateia when they took their sketching pads down to a taverna and spent the morning drawing and painting watercolours of both the views and some of the local characters who were having their morning coffee/raki.

A hihjlight of their stay was a trip to Mochlos. Good to be back there again drinking cocktails after a long winter!

At the end of their stay, Sheila took them both to the airport and then spent the day shopping in Heraklion in preparation for our UK trip which started just a few days later at the beginning of May,

We had booked an easyJet flight direct to Gatwick and a connecting flight to Newquay, to give us as much time with out granddaughter, Isla and of course her parents, Rosie and Ed. Best laid plans! We had not been long in the departure area when the dreaded message came up –  the flight had been delayed at Gatwick because (as we later found out) a member of the crew had called in sick and the airline had no one in reserve.

By the time we arrived at Gatwick, the flight was two hours late and our arrival coincided with the gate for our next flight closing!

After a period of panic, our friend Jane came to the rescue and offered us both a bed for the night and a fine supper and it was lovely to see her and catch up on all her news and of course vice versa, despite the fact that her house was having a new roof!

The next day we got the train from Paddington

to Newquay where we arrived twenty-one hours after we should have. As we only had eight days, this was precious grandparenting time lost, thanks to the short-sightedness of easyJet, in sacking many of their staff during the Covid pandemic.

The next few days were spent bingeing on Isla and catching up with developments in Rosie’s life. They were special days and will live in the memory for ever as they included Isla taking her first steps unaided and unsupported! It happened twice and was substantiated but she never did it again until after we had returned to Crete, although within a week she was scooting about all over. We have the videos but no easy way to include them on here unfortunately.

Later in the week, Sheila’s brother Sandy and his wife Winnie came to stay for two nights. Coincidently, they were on holiday in the West Country and wanted to meet their new great niece, so we had a family party and lunch at Bowgies a pub on the cliffs south of Newquay.

It was good to see them after quite a long time, as they were also ‘covid casualties’, at least as far as visiting was concerned.Then we had a family day out to Newquay Zoo which we all enjoyed, including Isla (I think!). The lions were of course the highlight.

On our last full day, we had more family visitors when my brother Tim and his wife Liz came for lunch from Devon, with my nephew Tom and his wife Elsie who were in the UK on holiday from New Zealand where they live. It was great to see them all and to catch the kiwi branch of the family was a special treat.

Isla was on her best behaviour with all these folk and consented without complaining and with her trademark smile, to being passed around willy-nilly!

And then the next day, it was up at 5.00am to get the flight to Gatwick at 7.00am, where we had to wait all day for the connection to Crete, No alarms this time and we were home just before 3.00am, tired but pleased to find everything in order, especially the garden which Stan and Jann had been watering assiuously.

Much of the time since has been spent prepαring for the AGM of INCO (the local foreigners’ organisation). I had somewhat foolishly offered my services as Election Officer and Sheila was standing as Secretary, a post she had been holding in an ‘acting’ capacity for the last six months or so.

Suffice it to say that there was a lot more work for both of us than we had anticipated, largely because there was not much support from the outgoing committee and there were no procedures governing the electoral process (or much else for that matter). Anyway, we got there in the end with Sheila being elected unopposed but not without a degree of moaning and groaning from those who don’t actually do anything themselves but like to have a good go at those who do. I am now a’ grass widower’ as Sheila and the new committee get down to business. Top of the agenda seems to be getting in place a complete set of procedures governing how this body is run!

Stop Press! The moaners and groaners are calling an EGM which hopefully will be held while we are away! Looks like Sheila will be out rather quickly!

However, life has not been a hard grind since we returned to Kavousi. We have met up with friends on a regular basis. We went to Makrigialos with Hans and Hanneke and had a late lunch at the beachside taverna run by Giorgos and his wife Evangelia (Giorgos being the son of Bobo and Maria in Pachia Ammos), which was a treat as not only was it good to see them but the food was delicious in a beautiful setting. Good to see H2 as well!

We also caught up with Jean Pierre and Marina who live ‘on the Hill’ in Kavousi. JP has not been well so it was especially good to see them back in Crete with him looking pretty muich his usual self.

Stan and Jann are here as well and we have spent a number of evenings at local tavernas with them and they helped out at the count at the INCO AGM.

Last weekend we went to Kritsa for lunch with new friends, Peter and Jan at their attractive village house. Good to meet new people too so May has been good for friendship.

Not much to report on my house improvement projects but the solar panels are at least now here and we are hoping that they will be installed while we are away Island Hopping in the Cyclades with Phil next week. Hopefully, you will be able to read all about that in the next Post. There should also be progress with the remaining works below the terrace and we hope to have our own parking space before we leave for our Scottish Tour in July.

Finally, I mentioned three funerals in Kavousi. I should perhaps first explain that these tend to be ‘all village’ events and if you have any connection with the deceased or their family, it is sort expected that you will attend. So, we started with the mother of our electrician, Michalis, who actually died while Michalis was working here at our house. Then, we had not been long back from Cornwall when Manolis whom we have known since before we moved to Kavousi, died at a musical evening in the plateia (village square) and then last week, the brother of our good friend, Maria died, so of course, we had to be there to show support.

So the last month and a half has been a mix of joy and sadness – a bright young thing stepping out in Cornwall and lives ending here in Kavousi. Joy also seeing good friends and meeting new ones. Irritation that easyJet can so easily weasel out of paying compensation for causing so much hassle. Pleasure that summer is arriving with swimming becoming a regular feature of our lives again and the sun is shining brightly. Hassle with the machinations at INCO.

All in all however, life is pretty good at present!