Monthly Archives: November 2019

Autumnal action

Tholos Beach in Autumn

After John and I returned to Crete in the middle of September, the next month flew by in a social whirl.

Gord, my second cousin, and Debbie, his wife, who live in Coldstream, British Columbia, arrived first. We saw them last year at the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver and they said then that they were keen to come to Greece. They have visited us in Scotland and spent time with us on our canal boat but they have never experienced Greece or Kavousi!   After a few days in Athens, they arrived here and then we explored the east of the island by car and by foot.  Their first day here was a special one in Kavousi as each year the village hosts an important mountain running event. We had a good view from our house of the competitors, crossing the bridge down below before they set off up the Havgas Gorge.

Of course, we ourselves did not take part but Gord, Debbie and I did manage a number of walks which included going up the Havgas gorge, visiting the impressive post Minoan site of Azoria,

admiring the ancient olive tree, whose branches were used for olive wreaths of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and finally drinking a well deserved beer at the very friendly taverna, which is situated next to the tree. We travelled further afield to walk down the Zakros gorge,

and again enjoyed lunch and a beer at the end of the walk. It is always good to choose walks with refreshments guaranteed! Our guests liked the Minoan village of Gournia, and throughout

they were full of wonder at all the evidence of the Minoan civilization, so long ago. We admired the Lassithi plateau and Zeus’s cave,

and we clearly were enjoying the sights and the company!!!

I can’t help taking photographs of blue sea (this time at Spinalonga)

or sunsets (this one taken from the wonderful ‘Panorama’ taverna and

the cocktails in Moxlos.

After a few days, we drove our lovely, newish car to the south of the island and I realised that it was a rough ride in the back seat.  Every time the car was driven over a hole or a dip in the road. Debbie and I experienced a very bad sensation. Debbie was too polite to make a fuss but after my moans,  John did raise the issue with the garage later when the car had its first service and I feel vindicated because it is being fitted with new shock absorbers so I hope that will make a more comfortable ride!  But it was all worth it to see the beauty of Phaistos, one of the Minoan palaces, where one can also view the Messsara plain and the highest mountain of Crete, Psiloritis.

We drove onto Matala for a swim,

and then to Agia Galini where we enjoyed the view from the hotel,

and sampled the tavernas and the beach. On the last couple of days of their visit to Crete, we stayed at a very nice AirB&B in Herakleion.  The main purpose was to see Knossos,

and to show Gord and Debbie the wonderful exhibits from the Minoan period which are in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. This museum presents Minoan life and culture so vividly and each time, I go, I see something  else to be dazzled by, like an amazing piece of jewellery,

or a beautiful pot,

or an old favourite, that just stuns you with the craftmanship.

And as Gord and Debbie said, these works of art were made so long ago!

John and I enjoyed our last meal with them at Amalia’s kitchen.

The next morning, they travelled by ferry to  Santorini. We hope to see them again in a couple of years in British Columbia where there is a plan for another adventure!

Sarah and Mark arrived a few days later from London for a different type of holiday. We joined them for a period of complete relaxation! We walked to Tholos beach, we swam,

we talked and we ate. And it was all centred around Kavousi. Perfect!

Then our Scottish friends Maggie and Andrew arrived for 24 hours!  Maggie and I have known each other since we were children!  They were on holiday for a week in Fodele, west of Heraklion with their family but took a day out to see us. We made the most of that time. I walked with them to Tholos beach, we all swam,  had dinner at Mochlos and the next day I walked with them to the secret beach at Agriomandra.

It was all really good fun!!!!

Then Pat and Jerry, like Gord and Debbie, also from British Columbia arrived for four days.

They had as much to tell us as we had to tell them!  John and I met them on a tour around Vietnam and Cambodia a few years ago and we visited them in their lovely house on Hardy island, British Columbia last year. We hoped they might come to Greece and we were excited when they decided to make the trip.

They flew to Athens and then explored the Peloponnese by car. Whilst they had places they wanted to go to, (some of which John and I had recommended based on our experiences there,)  they were also very flexible, exploring whatever seemed interesting to them. There were occasions when they turned up in a village and found a room, without a previous booking – real travellers!

From the mainland, they went to Santorini for a few days and then flew to Heraklion where they hired another car and explored the west of Crete, finally arriving in Kavousi (the best was left till last!!!).    We found out about their trip and enjoyed interesting discussions about their travel and their impressions. They were very enthusiastic about Greece and curious about aspects of culture that they had glimpsed.

We showed them our village,

the Havgas gorge,

and Azoria.

We went to the east of the island and Spinalonga,

before they left for the Air Transat flight home.

A few days later our friend Susan, our former Greek tutor, from Kirkcudbright, arrived from Herakion by bus on her way to Siteia for a holiday.

We ate lunch, had a nice chat and then she got on the next bus to complete her journey!!!  I hope she will come for a bit longer the next time!

Life had been hectic for a few weeks and when everyone had gone, it was a bit of a surprise for John and me to have no-one staying in the house, other than ourselves! But more of that in the next post!

Sheila

Summer 2019 Part 2 – Family, fun and celebrations

At the beginning of August, we  enjoyed, yet again, a wonderful Yiannis Xaroulis concert in Pacheia Ammos. This was followed the next day by the presentation of a book of poems, Λευκό Χαρτί written by Κωστής  Δερμιτζάκης at the  Melina Mercouri hall in Ierapetra. Κωστής is the father of our first Greek tutor, Nikos, and of Maria who is our pharmacist. John and I are great admirers of the talents of this family.  The presentation included readings of the poems by a number of people, including a well known actor, whom I recognized from watching a Greek soap opera!

There was also music from Nikos and Maria. It was a really nice evening.  A week later, there was a a lively Kavousi village party.

And we celebrated our friend, Jann’s, 60th birthday

Then, John’s son, James, his partner Claire and her two daughters, Iman and Farah arrived in Crete for a two week holiday. First, they stayed on the south of the island near Koutsouras at the Big Blue Beach Bar and Apartments for a few days and we enjoyed a lovely meal with them at the nearby Robinson taverna. Then they came to stay in our house in Kavousi for 10 days while  John and I moved to nearby Pacheia Ammos.

James and Claire are fantastic people to stay in our house. They leave it cleaner and tidier than it was before!  This arrangement suits all of us.   James has come on a regular basis to Kavousi, and like on previous occasions, many a beer was consumed while the issues of the day are discussed!!!

James’s friend, Paddy, stayed in a small house in Kavousi, owned by our friends, Pauline and Chris.  We all met up on the beach or in a taverna.

I particularly enjoyed spending a bit of time with the two teenagers, who are great company and told me a bit about their interests and their ideas about the future. And I was impressed by some of the projects in which they are involved at school.

John and I relaxed on the beach in Pacheia Ammos,

although there was a problem with plastic in the sea and on the beach. It was cleaned up every night but it does lead me to believe that plastic bottles and straws should be banned!  One day, we looked out of our apartment window and saw with some surprise a man riding a horse in the water.  I do not know the context to this but it was definitely an unusual sight!

We enjoyed a trip to nearby Istron, and visited an archaeological  site called Παρινιάτικος  Πύργος  which we had been to before. It is hard to find but so beautiful and quiet.

We then enjoyed a very nice pizza at the Italian Pizzeria Ricardo.  You can see how relaxed I felt during these days with James, Claire, Iman and Farah!

During this time, john and I went to a public lecture in Ierapetra about the Greek language by an Athenian Professor.

It was a challenge for our Greek but we understood some of the gist of it!!

After James and Claire and the girls left, we moved back to Kavousi and started to prepare for a two week trip to Scotland, to celebrate my sister-in-law, Winnie’s 70th birthday. We hired a car from Arnold Clark (after having immense difficulty hiring  car from anybody else as other firms wouldn’t accept our Greek driving licences, without a translation or wanted a credit card). Arnold Clark decided to upgrade us from a small car to a Mercedes!

Now for most people, this would be a real treat but for me, it was anxiety provoking not just because it was automatic but more important, I knew everything would be strange to me.  John was a bit shocked when one day while we were driving, a woman’s voice suddenly asked him what he wanted her to do! It took two attempts at telling her to go away before she stopped talking!

John drove in the rain from Edinburgh up to Cummingstown, on the Moray Firth coast where we stayed with Kate and Dod and also our mutual friend, Annie, who is now living more in Scotland, than in Tanzania.

We enjoyed the chat and the fantastic hospitality and whilst I have been avoiding Brexit news, I did get get caught up in the issues which are paralysing the country and was particularly impressed by the coverage on Channel 4.

John and I are proud of our grapes in Crete but we were even more impressed by Kate and Dod’s grapes and apples

and much more wonderful produce, grown in the north of Scotland! And lovely to see the hens,

reminding us of happy days at Sunnyside, Aberdeenshire.

Our next stop was Cray House, a big country house with delightful grounds near Glenshee, where Winnie’s birthday celebrations were held.

We parked the car and a few minutes later another Mercedes arrived and parked next to ours. That was a good moment!!!  The weekend was wonderful,

spending time with family, people who I usually only meet at weddings and friends of Winnie and Sandy from Dalgety Bay. In addition we had very smart accommodation to enjoy and fantastic food, including delicious langoustines, venison and glorious puddings. On top of all that, there was some wonderful countryside to admire

We saw our fiends, Maggie and Andrew briefly in Pitcairngreen, (more on them in the next post) and then we went to Aberdeenshire, in our smart, very low Mercedes.  John drove very, very slowly up a rough track to a lovely house on GlenTanar, where our friend’s Gillie and Alan live. The car was parked outside their house and did not move till we left! There were some worrying sounds from the bottom of the car as we crawled towards the house.

The house had amazing views. It was all great fun – the chat and the walks and the bathroom was one of the best I have ever had the privilege of using!!! We were introduced to the excellent Finzean Estate Farm Shop and Tea Room (not that we drank tea!)

Then a quick visit with Linda and Gordon in Lumphanan.  Gordon was about to retire the following week so it was good to toast this particular milestone in his life. We were joined by Linda’s daughter, Sarah and family, which was an added bonus. Since we left, I gather that a new collie dog has joined their household which is very exciting.

On our 36th wedding anniversary, we drove on south to Elie, Fife and there we were entertained by Mairi and Norman. They live in Edinburgh but have a holiday home in Elie, a part of Scotland  that I don’t know at all.

There are beautiful beaches there

and the beer  and fish and chips are pretty good too! John and I were very impressed by the Secret Underground Nuclear Command Bunker (obviously not so secret now), near Anstruther. It was built to help safeguard Scotland during the Cold War against a nuclear attack.

It was a scary place but a timely reminder for me of the horror of nuclear weapons (graphically shown in a film we watched in the Bunker). There was lots to see, much to reflect on and they had a very nice cafe!   With Mairi as tour guide, we explored the charming fishing villages of Anstruther, Pittenweem and St Monans.

John and I then moved onto Linlithgow where I met a friend, Joyce, who I know through being a Guide so many years ago and then John and I had a short visit to the house, where I lived until I left home aged 17,

and viewed  some of my childhood haunts. The last few days were spent in Edinburgh, staying with Sally and Robert. We met three of their grandchildren, which was so nice, we saw Europe win the Solheim Club ( I don’t usually watch golf but it was exciting!) and we learnt about impending  work on their house. We had lunch with Sandy and Winnie in Aberdour

and to get there we travelled over the Forth Railway bridge and admired the various bridges.

We went to Princes Street and met Nick, who had visited us in Kavousi earlier in the year. I did some shopping but also went to have a look at the ‘Oor Wullie’ Bucket trail which was in Edinburgh at the time.

Oor Wullie was part of my childhood and so seeing all these wonderful ‘Oor Wullie’s’  was a real treat. A friend of mine sent me an Oor Wullie calendar this year and it sits beside my computer and I look forward every month to a new picture!

We arrived home on the 17th September, after a very varied and enjoyable two weeks and for the next month, it would be our turn to look after family and friends in Kavousi.

Sheila