It was with some surprise that we realised that we have now lived in Kavousi for five years. We bought our house on November 6th, 2013 and moved into it on November 30th. When we came to Crete first in 2011, we came for 3 months in the winter, came back for another 12 months a year later and finally we bought the house in Kavousi on the basis that we could see ourselves living in Crete for at least 5 years.
Over this past year, we have discussed the next five years and are certain that we want to stay on, so we now have our permanent residents permits, pay our taxes here and with a few ups and downs we feel good about life here! And moving to the village of Kavousi and this particular house has been a very important factor in this decision.
We continue to make a few improvements, though nothing major at present. In November, Alkis and Mario put up a somewhat more permanent bamboo pergola outside the spare room door, which looks very nice. Next April, there will be no need to struggle with the heavy, tent like material that previously we have used to create shade.
John and I are now the proud owners of a red Suzuki Ignis! We went to Heraklion on my birthday and ordered the car and then went back a month later to pick it up. Now it is in its regular parking space at home.
I am not a great fan of change when it comes to cars, but the fact remains that in terms of driving, everything feels pretty familiar. The biggest difference has been the introduction of technology relating to entertainment and navigation. The Citroen had no technology relating to either and this minimalist approach suited me! But now, one has to deal with bluetooth and have a smart phone before you can listen to your favourite tunes. John is making progress with this new task which is more than can be said of myself. It also has some technology which from my simple point of view confuses rather than assists. The level of fuel indicator has always seemed to me to be adequate in terms of assessing whether one should visit the petrol station. In this car, there is also a range indicator which seems to give different information to inform this decision. But we haven’t got an English manual yet which might inform us how to disconnect things you don’t want! But I am enjoying the new car and recently we enjoyed a very nice trip to the village of Melisses
and visit the many churches and can only be accessed by a dirt road.
On John’s birthday in Heraklion, we stayed at the Lato Boutique Hotel which was very nice and we enjoyed a sea view.
We visited the Nikos Kazantzakis museum, situated in the village of Myrtia where the Kazantzakis family lived, 16 kms from Heraklion.
The museum was very interesting and presented information which helped me better understand why Nikos Kazantzakis is so well regarded. He was constantly trying to search for understanding about a whole range of religious and political issues; he wrote prolifically and had an enormous range of friends and acquaintances.
We carried onto the village of Archanes, where we enjoyed a Greek salad and a beer in the sun-lit plateia. Fantastic!
It was a bit strange to go back the hotel and find that a Christmas tree was being put up. A little early, I think!
On the way back, we stopped at Ammoudara Beach,
and again it was hard to think that Christmas was on its way!
The weather here was not good in November and arguably is now worse in December! We are not used to days of grey skies and rain. But water is needed so it is good but still we resent it!!! But, the weather does lead to dramatic seas and the need for cosy fires!
And there is still some brightness on our terrace with the hibiscus finally flowering and the chilli plant, which I thought was dead, producing some chillies!
We have enjoyed many meals and carafes of wine with friends in local tavernas. We ate a wonderful meal, cooked by my tennis friends, Marina and Jean Pierre, at their house with a view to die for.
Pauline and Chris, too, invited us for food and we had the opportunity to see a black and white film, made in 1927, Metropolis, which was very interesting, leading to a difference of opinion by John and Pauline on the message of the film. We enjoyed it so much that we are going to be invited in the New Year to watch a 5 hour Italian film!!!!
It was great to see the films ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, in Agios Nikolaos, and ‘A Star is Born’ in the cinema in Ierapetra, very soon after they were released. And we are addicted to the New York Met operas, having seen over the last six weeks, Puccini’s La Fancuilla del West with Jonas Hauffman, Marnie, a new English opera, based on the book of the same name by Winston Graham and best of all, La Traviata, last night.
We enjoyed a night at one of the local tavernas in Kavousi recently where there was live music. The next morning with a bad headache, I went to Kritsa for a day of culture, food, entertainment and a raffle, organised for students of Greek and their families by our wonderful Greek teacher, Manolis.
Despite the headache, it was an excellent day!
For something a bit different, John and I attended a book launch in Ierapetra. The book, Εξιλέωση (Atonement) was the last book of a trilogy, set in the times when Crete was ruled by Venice, and was written by Άννα Γαλανού, a novelist from Heraklion. Our present Greek tutor, Μανώλη, and our previous Greek tutor, Χρύσα, were the presenters.
Unfortunately the book is not available in English but Ι learned enough from the internet and the presentation to think that it was my kind of book!
There are some new archaeological excavations in Pachia Ammos which sound pretty exciting. John and I drove down there to investigate and met by chance, Melissa and Vangelis, two archeologists who live in Kavousi. They told us that it is an early Minoan site, older than Gournia and important in that context because it would appear to link the early Minoans with earlier civilisations in the Cyclades, the clue being two apsidal buildings apparently!
This was all pretty amazing to see as some weeks ago it was just a piece of waste ground!
And, of course, there has to some mention of Brexit! We, as British citizens, were invited to a meeting in Agios Nikolaos on November 30th by the British Consulate in Crete and the British Embassy in Athens. The British Ambassador to Greece, Kate Smith, answered questions on a range of issues, particularly relating to the impact of Brexit. Apologies for the bad quality picture but I thought I must show that the impressive speakers with important roles were all women!
The timing was not great as the Brexit vote in the UK Parliament (what vote!!!!!) on the proposed deal was not due until the following week. But, there was a lot of information on offer and it was an opportunity for us to highlight some of the bureaucratic issues which are not entirely clear for us and both the Ambassador and the Vice Consul to Crete listened carefully. In terms of Brexit, it was not so helpful as the Ambassador was hoping that the Theresa May deal would be accepted and kept emphasizing that if this was the case, nothing would change for us. But the audience knew the chances of the deal being agreed by the UK Parliament were pretty small and the uncertainties remained.
John and I fly to London on Wednesday to spend Christmas with Graham and Rosie. We are looking forward to seeing them, as well as James and Claire, Iman and Farah, Sarah and Mark, Jane, Vince and Rosy, Phil…. Merry Christmas to everybody and a happy New Year!