It seems like a very long time since I last wrote anything for our Blog – an omission brought about not by oversight but a combination of general lethargy and having too much else to do!
Sheila ended her last Post with a comment that Scotland had just beaten England at Rugby so it might be as well to start this one with an acknowledgement that they have just done the same at cricket – somewhat more alarming in my view but nevertheless, an achievement that needs to be recorded if only to avoid the excess of triumphalism which is usually associated with such events.
With that out of the way, I feel that my first task is to bring our readers up to date with life in Kavousi. In this context, the saddest thing which has happened was the death of Mina, wife of Andreas who are neighbours of ours and who have both been very kind to us over the years we have lived here. Mina was small in height but big of heart and voice and I have a special affection for her because she always addressed me as ‘Γιάννη μου’ – my John! Unfortunately we were unable to attend her funeral because we were away and they happen so quickly here but we miss her.
The other news of note was the increased prevalence earlier this year of Saharan Dust. This has always been a feature of life here but this year it has been much worse and we are warned by the people who claim to know about these things that climate change will mean it will be something which increasingly we will have to get used to. Perhaps the worst example this year happened while we were in Heraklion when day suddenly became orange night and quite literally you could hardly see across the street.
Upcoming Brexit nightmares have led us to decide that we would officially relocate to Greece, so with that in mind, we became tax resident here last year. In this context we have just paid our first tax demand and were pleasantly surprised that it was quite a lot less than we were expecting. There are reasons for this which are too difficult to explain here but when you take into account the fact that health costs are not really now provided by the State, except for emergencies, then the difference is probably understandable.
So, with tax sorted, the next item was a Greek driving licence and after many hiccups along the way, I finally got mine in April!
Now it is Sheila’s turn. The next item to be addressed was our residency permits. We thought it might be good to apply for permanent residency (not the same as citizenship), so last week we headed off to the Police Station in Ierapetra, armed with copies of just about everything and in an interview carried out entirely in Greek, we managed to satisfy the authorities as to our situation and we expect our new cards sometime next week. It was the first time here that we have managed to have every piece of information requested by the bureaucrats at the first time of asking!
Then there was the problem with my electric bike! Poor maintenance on my part coupled with a design flaw relating to the battery terminals resulted in ongoing electrical problems during the early Spring. After two and a quarter trouble-free years, it was a bit of a blow when the helpful bike shop in Sussex said that they could do no more without the bike being returned. Cost-wise this was prohibitive but as they had a sale on and offered me a further 10% off, plus a cheap freight deal, I bit the bullet and bought a more or less identical model but with an improved electrical system, with the intention of using my old bike for spares. Unfortunately, the new bike was damaged in transit (not surprisingly given the treatment it had received), so I had to wait a further two weeks or so before a replacement part arrived and I was able to fit it.
I am now back in the saddle and everything is fine!
Finally, a feature of life here at this time of year is usually the presence of thirty or forty young archaeology students associated with the University of North Carolina under the tutelage of the unlikely sounding, Prof Donald C Haggis. They bring excitement to the plateia in the evenings and the beach in the afternoons and spending power to the shops and tavernas but this year they are not here because the current ‘dig programme’ has come to an end. The village is the poorer for their absence – haste ye back.
Our first visitor of the year was Liz Turner – my favourite relative, who arrived at the beginning of April in time for the Greek Easter. We went to the Easter service late on the Saturday evening at the main church here for the ‘Christos Anesti’ ceremony. We duly lit our candles, watched Judas burning on the bonfire and then were invited back to Maria and Nikos’ house for the traditional Easter meal of chicken soup. It was a late night for all but Liz enjoyed it and reported back later that she had been dining out on the experience, ever since she got home to Wiltshire!
Next up were Gillie and Alan from Deeside in NE Scotland, who came to Kavousi for a few days
before we all went for ten days holiday together to the Peloponnese, a part of Greece which I had not visited before. We had a two centre break, staying firstly at Nafplio where we visited the impressive fortress and also took in Mycenae and Epidavros.
Nafplio has a beautiful setting and has an attractive old town, stuffed full of tavernas and at the time we were there (April), was not that busy.
Then we moved on to Stoupa in the Mani, visiting Sparta
both very impressive in different ways. Much walking was done from Stoupa by members of the group
but it was also an ideal location for those, like me, whose walking days are over because it has a fine beach!
We were also blessed with some fantastic weather, so I was able to tone up my tan! The highlight for me however, was a visit to Kardamitsi, near Kardamili, a short distance up the coast where the soldier and travel writer, Patrick Leigh Fermour lived. I spent a memorable morning sitting on ‘his’ beach enjoying the view and absorbing the atmosphere of the place.
Then we left Gillie and Alan to continue their holiday for a few more days, while Sheila and I took the bus to Athens and from there a flight to Catania in Sicily, where after a further bus ride we met up with our children Rosie and Graham at an Airb&B in Palermo. This was Graham’s Christmas present and Sheila and I had chosen the location because we had never been to Sicily. It was a fine choice and we spent a day doing the sites in the City including the market
and the beautiful cathedral at Monreale
and a day on the beach.
In between, Graham found some great eateries and we caught up on family news and played card games just like the old days, sipping wine on the roof top terrace at the extremely well-appointed apartment. And there was still time for homework – Graham doing Spanish and Sheila her Greek!
The best pizzas in Palermo were produced at the taverna next door and next to that was a bar which served cocktails (see cover photo). Who could ask for more?
Then it was time to return home for just a week before we set out for Scotland in mid May but that is another tale!