A Happy and Healthy New Year to everybody. I toast you all with an orange juice,
made with our own oranges!
We are also enjoying mandarins from our garden.
2020 ended in lock-down. The Greek Government announced a national lock-down in Greece on Saturday, November 7th, for three weeks because of the high rates of covid in the country. We are still in lock-down nine weeks later. Because of the lock-down John could not host a gathering to celebrate his 75th birthday celebrations on November 21st. However, there was an impromptu celebration as Pauline, Chris and Maria joined us in the afternoon for an appropriately socially distanced glass of fizzy wine!
and Maria also brought a cake which was delicious.
Then, we had a family zoom session with James, Claire, Iman, Graham and Rosie which was fun and In the evening, John and I ate steak and chips
and I made a trifle,
the first for a long time. It involved making my own sponge and custard. Impressive for me!!! My present to John of a selection of DVD’s was not so exciting but it suited lock-down! My brother Sandy’s present of a DVD of ‘Doctor Finlay’s Casebook’ was inspired, which will be watched once we have finished from the many, many episodes of Taggart. This Scottish nostalgia would not have happened without lock-down!!!!
November is the time for me to have annual medical tests and I prepared this year by abstaining from wine for a number of weeks before. Whilst this may have had nothing to do with the outcome, I was pleased with the results and it meant that I can continue with the pills that I was already taking. That seems a success at my age!!! I did inevitably celebrate and started to have a glass or two of wine again!
I did need a glass of wine when I found out that I needed a new UK passport. My passport was supposed to expire in December 2021 but when I put the information into a UK Government website, it told me it wasn’t valid. I felt that this wasn’t fair but I was not arguing! Now, you can apply for a passport on-line. John helped me by taking photos of me and one of them eventually was accepted as of good enough standard for the document. The photo is horrible with my hair all back and no nice smile! At the end of the process, I was asked to send my old passport back to the UK. I panicked a little at this. I did not like the idea of having no passport, particularly in these covid days where it is important that you can prove your identity as required. Eventually, I photocopied the relevant pages of the old passport and I hope this, with my Greek residence card and Greek driving licence, will be enough to prove who I am, if required. Then I put the old passport in a jiffy bag and sent it to Belfast by registered post. It arrived there in 8 days but I am not optimistic about getting the new one back so quickly!
We have good memories of going to Athens to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre to watch the Greek National Opera Company performing ‘Lucia di Lammermuir’. This year, whilst we couldn’t go to Athens, we watched ‘Madame Butterfly’, performed by the same company but on-line. It was wonderful with an excellent performance by Ermonelo Jaho as Madame Butterfly and whilst live performances are the best, it was such a treat to have the opportunity to see such high quality opera.
Early last year, John wrote about his four grandparents and what he knew about them. He then circulated this to his family. Before Christmas, he finished writing up the family history of the first of his grandparents – his paternal grandfather. It consists of a table outlining the births and deaths of his grandfather’s parents, grandparents and great grandparents and beyond. What makes it come to life is that he provides a lot of information about the individuals, speculates on the reasons for some of their actions and gives some background as to what was going on in that part of the country at the time. There is a lot of detail about some of the individuals and they come to life as John reflects on their characters and what he feels about them. It is a great piece of writing and all members of his family now have a copy of it. Now, he is writing about the ancestors of another of the three remaining grandparents.
Christmas approached and shopping was tricky as the shops were essentially closed except for a few days before Christmas. Even then it was not so easy to buy much but we did manage to buy a new Christmas tree (a little bigger than the last one!).
We were really sorry not to have other members of the family with us at Christmas, but we did have a wonderful piece of family news. Our daughter Rosie and her boyfriend, Ed are going to have a baby in June. As you can imagine, John and I are very delighted and looking forward to becoming grandparents. Rosie is very well and happy and a trip to the UK is high on the agenda for us now.
Christmas was highly enjoyable. Many people had sent cards which decorated the living room. We opened our parcels.
John bought me a new outfit on-line from Next, who have an online shop in Greece. The Body Shop, too, have a base in Greece so my favourite hand-cream and perfume could be replenished. We had a swim at Tholos Beach which was surprisingly OK!
We drank a bottle of lovely white Santorini wine from the mixed case which Graham had sent as a Christmas present. There are another five bottles to drink, which is, in my opinion, a very good present. Graham had bought the wine from a Greek company and it is one of the features of this year that there are many more Greek on-line businesses. We talked to Graham, Rhiannon and Rosie during the day and later ate some turkeyvand Christmas pudding.
Please note my lovely new ‘Next’ top. We ended the day watching the first engaging episode on Netflix of the Queen’s Gambit, recommended by Rhiannon, about a female chess player.
After Christmas, I enjoyed a rush of phone calls to friends before the New Year. The weather was good so it was also a pleasure to go for walks. One of the best was a walk to Chrisokamino on a beautiful day. John met me there on his bike. I sat and looked at this view below for a long time. The sea has so many shades of blue and the light is so beautiful.
And now the anemones are out and what a pleasure to stop and look at them, close up or further away.
On another day, John and I walked near Mochlos.
There was rain in November/December and the colours, especially the greens were just so vibrant!
We have visited Tholos a few times on bike or by foot and I am back to gazing at the sea, as well as John!
Another day, John and I walked over to the next bay near Tholos and you can tell that I am enjoying being out in the fresh air.
One of the unexpected pleasures of the year has been watching many more films, documentaries and series, recommended by other people. In particular, we both enjoyed and learnt a lot about the planets from Brian Cox. At present, at lunchtime, we are watching a Christmas present series, some of which I have seen before, called ‘As Time Goes By’ with Judy Dench and Geoffrey Palmer. It is a good way to describe 2020 and maybe 2021! Every day at lunchtime, we sit down to another amusing episode.
Just before New Year, John and I finished reading (to each other) the novel Σοφία by Ζωρζ Σαρή, aimed at young people. We enjoyed it a lot and while the expressions and vocabulary were tricky at times, we were enthused enough for John to buy another novel of hers.
We spent Hogmanay watching a feel good film, eating pizza, bringing in the New Year with a Greek TV programme, singing along to Scottish favourites and playing cards. It was a fun way to bring in 2021. I thought about Brexit the next day and felt sad but the weather was lovely and I sat happily outside reading a good book on our roof.
2021 started with a load of wood being delivered by Alkis, which looks like it will last for a couple of years!
The schools are going back next week and there is a possibility of the restrictions being lessened generally on January 18th. We wait and see. We are eligible for the vaccine here and I am optimistic that we will get it in February/March. Whilst we would like generally to be able to travel again, the news from Cornwall has made it even more important!