Britain is understandably obsessed with Brexit but life goes on elsewhere and we have decided that for better or worse, as we are unable to influence events in any way at all (indeed it seems few can!), the best thing for us anyway is just to get on with our lives here in Greece and to distance ourselves as far from the debacle as is possible.
That said, we now get regular briefings from the UK Government telling us what we must do to prepare ourselves for the worst.
Whether this is a good thing or not, I am not sure but at least it means that someone back home seems to be aware that there are significant numbers of (mainly elderly) Brits living abroad and not being a drain on medical and social services, although whether this info has impacted at all on the various Plans (sorry I forgot the ONE Plan) of Theresa May is unknown.
Last week, we were told that we must prepare for problems with Driving Licences post-Brexit. Now I already have my Greek licence but Sheila was refused hers last year for some spurious reason but armed with official UK Gov instructions, we headed to the local KEP (Citizens Advice) Office in Ierapetra to see what could be done. Poor Yiorgos – he had enough of me last year but to give him his due, he seemed to know all about the UK instructions to its citizens and re-checked Sheila’s application and sent her off to the Bank to pay the charge. It remains to be seen what will happen next!
In the meantime, armed with another set of papers, we were off to see Christos, who is a friend of our Greek teacher and a qualified surveyor. He came to our Greek lesson last week to explain the new Land Registration procedure and we thought it best to get on with it. We had filled in the required form and collected everything we thought was needed in terms of background information from various files and were pleasantly surprised to find that he, at least, thought we were in good shape. The following week, saw us at the Land Registry office, where after a nervous start (a few errors on our forms), all went well and our registration went through. Next issue – the renewal of our Health Booklets later this month.
None of the above amounts to ‘trouble’ here in Paradise of course but it does mean that our usual peaceful routine is upset by the requirement to conform to rules over which we have no control. Not really too much of a problem, you might think but there again I always was attracted to anarchism!
What has really been a problem since we returned from the UK on New Years’ Day however, has been the weather. It has rained nearly every day and when it has not been raining the wind has howled either down from the mountains behind us or straight in from the sea in front. And then, to add to the misery, we had Saharan dust cover the house, car and plants with red/brown dust. (See also cover photo of Dust on the snow on the White Mountains – thanks to Crete Post for the photo)
Now the rain was much needed as there was a severe danger of a major water shortage this year but we are told that there will now be enough for the next eighteen months. So, that’s great and listening to rain falling steadily this evening, is anyone hearing me – time to stop now!
While all this has been going on, my health has been causing some concern. We returned from the UK at the beginning of January and I immediately succumbed to a throat infection which did not respond well to the antibiotics. I was only just recovering from this when I got a urinary infection so it was back to the doctor for yet more antibiotics. My stomach did not deal too well with this cocktail of drugs and it was a very uncomfortable time, made wore by the fact that the second lot of antibiotics caused a lot of pain and possibly some damage to tendons in my ankles/lower legs. Strange! I am just about recovered now but January was not a happy month. Sheila however was an excellent nurse especially as I am not an easy or appreciative patient!
On a more positive note, there have been good things happening both here in Greece and in the UK, which have impacted both directly and indirectly on our lives.
There have been some pleasant days in between the rain when we have been able to get out and about – short walks and bike rides to local spots that we like.
Spring flowers are beginning to appear which always lightens the winter gloom.
And the citrus fruit is ripening on our trees.
We had our own Burns’ Supper with haggis coutesy of the British Shop in Ag Nik.
Our lives are enhanced by supportive and friendly people. Visitors and regular readers will know all about our neighbour, Maria. Here she is, helping us with our Greek homework (note headphones) and as a thank you, we gave her a tot of whisky! Maria does not normally drink alcohol but of late has taken a liking to the amber nectar, which she treats as φάρμακο (medicine)!
Deliveries from Manolis the postman, arriving on his motor bike are always a joy. The postal service really works here, once you are known to Manolis. A good example of this occurred recently, when Sheila was advised by a company in the UK that her parcel had arrived at Makrigialos Post Office (some 25 miles away) and could be collected from there. A few years back, we would have gone into panic mode but now we are more inclined to adopt the Greek approach – σιγά σιγά (slowly slowly) and sure enough within the next day or so, Manolis arrived with said parcel. The personal contact here remains very important and that is a very positive benefit, we think.
Alkis has delivered the wood for next winter and even stacked it neatly for us.
Greek lessons resumed in early January and although I sometimes despair at ever improving my speaking and listening skills, there are a number of positive spin-offs. One is of course, our teacher, another Manolis, who provides more than just language lessons. Mention was made above of the assistance he organised with the Land Registration issue and last month, he catered for our cultural development by organising a Βασιλόπιτα (King Cake) celebration
which takes place in the period between Epiphany and the beginning of Lent.
Politics here in Greece have lately been dominated by the negotiated name change for what used to be called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which forms part of Greece’s northern border This is a complex issue with deeply held views on both sides of the argument which as outsiders we can only struggle with. There is some similarity with Northern Ireland/Eire but it would be misleading to take the analogy too far. Αλέξης Τσίπρας. the Greek Prime Minister, has either been very brave or foolhardy (some would even say traitorous) in trying to resolve the issue. We subscribe to the former view, mainly because we like him and his politics and we think both countries can now move on. However, as foreigners, we keep our views (generally at least) to ourselves! He has also just announced an increase in the minimum wage.
And last but definitely not least on the bright side of life, we had a wonderful time at Christmas and New Year in the UK. Thanks to all our friends for their generous hospitality, particularly Mark and Sarah, Jane, Vince and Rosy and Phil and to our family – James for allowing us to use his flat as a base and Graham and Rosie for working so hard to make Christmas happen.
It was Graham’s ‘first time’ and he did a great job both as regards the food
but also organising the entertainment, including the musical ‘Matilda’ and an evening of Viennese Christmas music at St Martin-in-the-Fields.
Lovely also to see James, Claire and Farah for a pre-Christmas lunch.
Great also to see Annie (Finnis) again after a long time and to meet Emerson and his Dad, Matt.
And Lila with Cloe, Felipe (taking photo) and Jane.
And New Year with Phil and friends in Bracknell was indeed memorable!
Cheers and a belated Happy New Year!