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