Category Archives: Tennis

A Strange Kavousi Summer

In a sense, the above photo sums up what for us has been a strange summer in Kavousi – extreme heat, wild fires, regular small earthquakes and a covid related absense of visitors, which has meant an increased reliance on the presence of local friends for social contact.

The above photograph comes from a video taken recently by our local village journalist, Leonidas Koudoumogianakis (thank you Leonidas). As  wild fires go, it was quite small and because it started on the main road near the village of Episkopi, it was quickly extinguished but it was only a few miles from Kavousi.

We saw it first from the road above, as we were returning from a lunch date in the village of Thripti with both sets of our Dutch friends, Pauline and Chris and Hans and Hanneke. Regular contact with local friends has been a feature of this summer for all of us because none of us have had friends or family visiting from abroad.

Once we reached the main road from Ierapetra at the bottom, we were confronted by a number of fire engines and folk from the emergency services assisted by local volunteers, who were working hard in a strong north wind to extinguish the flames. Fortunately, they were successful but it brought home to us just how quickly these situations can get out of control and all apparently caused by a cigarette thrown carelessly from a passing car.

It has been the hottest summer on record in Greece for thirty or forty years and as has been widely reported in the Media, there have been a number of wild fires on the mainland and especially on the island of Evia, which have been made worse by a continuing strong north wind. Crete has been on high alert for some time but until now, we had seen little or no evidence that there had been a problem here. Now we know just how dangerous they can be.

The heat has been intense since we returned from the UK in mid-July and for a few days, all one could really do was survive with a mix of drinking plenty of water, switching on the airconditioning/fans, the occasional swim and just generally not doing a lot. This comes fairly naturally to me but for Sheila, who needs much more exercise, it was a particularly difficult time.

Eventually, we decided that a beach holiday was needed so we booked three nights in the small village of Kato Zakros.

We have been there many times and some of you who have stayed with us here may recall walking the gorge and visiting the remains of the Minoan Palace, before having a welcome swim and a meal at at one of the tavernas fronting the beach.

We were fortunate to be able to book a room in high season just above the beach and spent three glorious days doing very little, under a sunshade

with plentiful books on our kindles and cooling down with frequent swims and/or a beer.

Sheila had two longish walks early(ish) morning – one each way along the coast and discovered what looks to be a well-marked coastal path which needs further exploration but probably with fellow hikers. Any takers?

We ate well too starting each day with a continental breakfast provided by our hosts,

a light lunch at the same venue

and then the main meal in the evening from a choice of tavernas. It was a great break and we are about to plan the next one!

I mentioned earlier that since we returned  from the UK there have been a number of small earthquakes with epicentres close to Kavousi. This probably has nothing to do with climate issues and more to with the Earth’s tectonic plates and the multitude of faults in our area. Our geologist friend, Chris, is relaxed about it and described it as ‘a good thing’, allowing the pressure created to ease on a measured basis, thereby avoiding ‘the big one’ which everyone here fears! Personally I find the frequent small rumbles, somewhat akin to a lorry trundling along a dirt road, rather alarming but after a while, i suppose you do get used to it. And they were quite small on the seismic scale!

After a delay of over a year, Sheila finally got to play a couple of sessions of tennis recently. John-Pierre and Marina arrived from Belgium and with local resident Nigel making up the foursome, they got up early to avoid the worst of the heat and managed to shake the rust from the rackets.

As I mentioned, exercise has been a problem in the heat and it was only a few days ago that I got back in the saddle for the first time since our holiday. I was a bit stiff the next day after even only a few kilometres but it was good to be out, even if a tad too hot for my taste.

Some readers may recall that I have a project here at our house which involves buying a very small piece of land adjacent to the terrace, on which I want to built a staircase. The negotiations have been going on for nearly a year now and finally we hope will be brought to a conclusion by the end of September.

The land is owned by a local family and the complications relating to multiple ownership has been but one issue of many but finally this summer, we met Vicky from Athens who is the family member who first brokered the deal. She and her daughter came for coffee last week and today we went to her village summer house so that she could show us her Aunt’s house which the family would like to sell as a renovation project.

A project it will certainly be for someone (not us!) but it will make a lovely home when completed. It is situated off a small pedestrian lane not far from us which is always beautiful with flowers and trailing plants and indeed is one of the places in the village which first attracted us to Kavousi. Let us know if you are interested!

As regards our house, we have also acquired a new lamp, made for us by Lydia who is the wife of Gregory, our hairdresser. Lydia searches the beaches on the south coast for a suitable bit of driftwood, dries and oils the wood and mounts it on a suitably large pebble and then creates the most amazing lamps.

She has been working on ours for some months and finally it was installed when we got back from the UK and then we all went out to celebrate in Mochlos with a superb supper at Giorgos’ taverna!

We also have another flower on our Bird of Paradise plant – the second of the summer!

and we celebrated with haggis for supper!

The last two weeks has been dominated (for me at least) by computer issues. I switched on my desktop one morning to get the dreaded ‘blue screenof death’.

A trip to the computer shop confirmed my worst fears – the hard drive would have to be wiped and Windows re-installed. However, I was not too worried because I had taken the precaution of backing-up all my important files to an external hard drive, or so I thought. Just about everything was there and after re-installing all the programmes, I was quickly back up and running except that is, for my family history files! I thought it was all there and much of it was but not my family tree. Luckily I found a file from last year but much of the work done since will have to be re-created. Take notice, friends!

Summer here would not be the same without visits to the outdoor cinema in Agios Nikolaos. We have been twice with Pauline and Chris – on the first occasion to see live opera and on the second, a showing of the 1973 movie ‘The Sting’ with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. We had seen it before of course but there is something special about seeing it outdoors on a warm summer evening in Greece. On both occasions, the entertainment followed supper at ‘Paradosiako’ taverna with our friends and such social contact has been an important part of our summer.

Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, seeing friends here has been one of the particular pleasures of this strange summer. Usually we are busy with visitors but this year being able to spend time with our local friends (both ‘foreign’ and Greek) has provided not just friendship and social contact but also entertainment and laughter. We’re very lucky to live in such a pleasant place as Kavousi, with so many nice folk around.

And finally, for those of you who like a good baby picture, here is one of our two month old granddaughter, Isla, with her first proper smile! They are all planning to come in late October for a week and we can’t wait.

John

 

What a wonderful world

At the end of May, John and I travelled from Kavousi to London and then on to Cornwall where we stayed at our flat in Newquay.  In spite of covid restrictions, we spent socially distanced time with our daughter, Rosie and her partner, Ed over the next few weeks and then on June 28th, Rosie gave birth to their daughter, Isla Rose Broom. 10 days later, we were present at the wedding of our son Graham, to Rhiannon at Islington Town Hall, London. As you can imagine, we are incredibly happy about all of this!!!

Isla was born in Truro Hospital at 7.30 am. She was 9lbs 7ozs (4.28kg) at birth and looked completely adorable from the start.

For some days, we had been expecting the baby to be born and I put my phone on immediately when I woke up. But no news for days. And then on the Monday morning, about 8am, I looked at my phone and saw three pictures of a baby. It was a wonderful feeling and I still feel emotional when I think of that moment. Excitement, relief, wonder, pure happiness, tearful ….

Ed, Rosie and the new baby (with no name at that point) were home at their flat by 3pm that day which seemed amazing to me, given that I remember spending some days in hospital after childbirth.  John and I took flowers round to their flat and we couldn’t believe how well the baby, Rosie and Ed were.  I felt very nervous picking her up as her head seemed so wobbly and she seemed so small. But holding my granddaughter was a wonderful feeling and brought tears to my eyes.

After a couple of days, the baby was named Isla Rose.  John and I thought these were lovely names and they suited our precious granddaughter. For the next week, we saw Isla most days and on the last day, John and I were in charge for an hour as her parents went shopping.  Isla had the good sense to stay asleep!!! . Both parents are very relaxed and so happy with their new daughter.

It was difficult to leave Rosie, Ed and Isla but we did have another family celebration to attend.

Graham and Rhiannon married on July 8th.  When I first heard about the wedding, I was delighted but had selfish worries about what I was going to wear as I realised that shorts and a  t shirt  would not be appropriate! I went to a shop in Agios Nikolaos and the staff there, helped me choose a very comfortable, suitable and colourful outfit and they even took me to another shop where I could buy shoes! After months of lockdown and casual dress , I looked at myself in the mirror in some wonder that I looked so smart!!! The material survived the travel and I bought another dress in Truro, when I was in Cornwall, for the evening. My wardrobe has improved no end!!!

Graham and Rhiannon’s wedding was a delight.  A small group of us attended the ceremony at Islington Town Hall – parents, grandparents, James and Rhiannon’s brother, Nye.  In the circumstances, Rosie decided sensibly not to come.

The bride and groom were very happy.

as were all the relatives.

Afterwards, we went to a restaurant nearby, where we were joined by a few friends of Graham and Rhiannon. The company and the food were wonderful.

 Speeches were made by the bride and groom as well as their fathers. Graham’s friend, Neil, introduced some music into the occasion, including ‘The bonnie banks of Loch Lomond’ which we all had to sing, of course. The evening was spent at the St Pancras Rennaissance Hotel where conversations continued until eventually the young folk went off to a karaoke session and the parents continued to drink and chat. Graham and Rhiannon had arranged for their parents to stay overnight at the hotel which was another treat. Whilst I ate a good breakfast, the next morning, I did not feel so well later on. But it was all well worth it!!!

A few days later, Graham and Rhiannon invited us and our friend, Jane, for dinner at their flat. It was quite dramatic as we arrived by taxi in a huge deluge of rain. They cooked us a lovely meal and we talked about their plans for the next two years. They leave for Mexico City on August 8th and Graham starts work as a chemistry teacher at Greengates School there later in the month. They sounded so excited and all set for adventure!. They are renting out their flat and putting their furniture into storage. We had a lovely evening and we felt very happy for them both.

Recently, Graham and Rhiannon met Isla in Newquay (see cover picture).

While they were there they checked out the new, superb  Airbnb accommodation and they helped to organise Isla’s first barbeque experience which included some rain!

During the four weeks before Isla’s birth, we were unfortunately and reluctantly in quarantine  for 10 days in the flat, so it was good to have a project for that period and then up until the baby was born!  Now Rosie is no longer living in our flat, she had the good idea of renting it out on Airbnb.  There is great demand in Cornwall at present for such accommodation.  But the flat needed some work done to it before this could happen. By the time we arrived, Ed had laid a new floor and he and Rosie had painted much of it. So our job was to finish the painting and complete some other jobs.

We decided also to update some of the appliances – the boiler, cooker and dishwasher – as our contribution to the venture. These were bought and installed so that they would be completely reliable when people came to stay. By the time we left Newquay, the new boiler would not work which was the reverse of what was intended!  However, it was not such a big problem and was fixed after we left, although we had to use cold water for a couple of days!

John and I were also given the task of taking pictures of the flat for Airbnb advertising.  This was a bit of a challenge, not only do we have limited photographic skills but the flat is quite small. The living room/kitchen was easy,

the rest was more tricky.

The second bedroom is quite small!  Fortunately, Ed’s mother, Sue, reassured us that the photos were not so important!  In fact,  Rosie has had no trouble in renting it out for August and September so we are taking some credit for this! The first group of people have arrived and all is good so far.

We also had time for some fun in Cornwall, which is just so beautiful especially in the good weather which we were fortunate to enjoy. Rosie took us to the famous Lost Gardens of Heligan which were lovely and it was especially good to have a professional gardener as our guide!

and I particularly enjoyed the flowers,

the trees

and the Mud Maid sculpture.

On another occasion with Ed and Rosie we had lunch at the Bowgie Inn, near Newquay and were stunned by the most spectacular panorama. I think that the blues of the Cretan seas are unbeatable but actually the view that day of the Cornish coastline was, without doubt, in close competition.

There was another pub outing to meet Graham and Sally  We met Graham in Kavousi, but he lives in Camborne and it was so nice to catch up with them again.

We also went further afield for 4 days. We spent a couple of nights with John’s cousin, Liz and enjoyed her hospitality,

her flowers,

and the wonderful green countryside of Wiltshire

We visited Tim and Liz in Devon and later they also came to see us and Isla in Newquay. While they were there, we enjoyed a local walk showing off the wonderful coastline around Newquay,

  and on another excursion sat watching the ferry from Rock to Padstow

Tim brought with him two local pictures which now are features of our flat. Apparently, John and Tim’s parents went to Newquay for their honeymoon in 1937 and bought these pictures by a local artist. Rosie and all of us were delighted to have something so personal to display in the flat.

It was then time to move on to London for the wedding. At first, we stayed with our friends Sarah and Mark, who with their son, Tom, coped very well with our comings and goings  regarding the wedding and confirmed that we looked fine as parents of the groom!  The next day when we returned, we brought some flowers which had been on a table at the restaurant.

One day I walked with Sarah in Battersea (we used to work together there in the 1980’s) and we went to an Arts community project in which Sarah is involved which was very interesting.

Later we watched England play Denmark in the semifinal of the European Cup which had a good ending!

Then we moved to stay with Jane for three days. She had moved since we saw her last so we were curious to see her new house and garden as well as catching up with her news.  We visited the nearby old Rookery which is one of London’s many wonderful parks!) and Jane was keen to show me West Norwood cemetery.  In 1842, a section of it was acquired by the London Greek community for a Greek Orthodox cemetery.  There are many impressive looking monuments and mausoleums there.

The highlight of the visit was a barbecue with her daughter Chloe, Felipe and their children. Felix, aged nearly two, managed to say my name and Lila was very good at games and cheating at them! It was such good fun!

We watched the football final which was going well until Italy scored and then there was a certain inevitability about the result!  On the final day, we had a good chat and pint,

with Jane, John and Maureen in the County Arms on Wandsworth Common and we then spent our last night catching up with news with our friend Phil in Bracknell in her lovely mobile home

and the beautiful garden she has created.

It was a very nice end to our trip.

The journey there and the journey home had moments of stress, particularly at Heathrow Airport, both going into the UK and coming out of it. But, we feel very lucky that we made the trip!

We arrived home safely by taxi from Heraklion Airport. All was well at home and it was a good feeling to be here. I also like to tell as many people I can that I am a grandmother and a mother in law!!!!  Since then, we have recovered from our trip, enjoyed meeting friends and going to tavernas. I played a game of tennis which was a treat as was swimming in the sea!

Do we miss Isla? Yes, of course but we do get regular reports of her and we receive photos and videos. It is delightful to see the changes in her. I just love her expressions and general development and everything about her!

We hope to see her before long!!!

Sheila

Summer 2019 Part 1 – Happiness to Ηardship and Χαρούλης.

It is mid-summer here in Crete and we are also mid-way through our visitor season, although oddly, while this is the best time of year, as some would say to come to Greece, not many people choose to visit in July and August because they think it is too hot.

Still, the current lull at least gives me time to catch up on a long outstanding update to the happenings in our lives here over the past few months, since Sheila last wrote following our trip to the Peloponnese in April.

Please forgive what might seem to be rather a long list!

Towards the end of April, our good friends Walter & Brigitta arrived back in Crete from Germany and although it proved to be a short visit it was very good to spend some time with them and we hope to see them in London at some point over the winter for a long weekend, particularly as their visits to Crete in future may not be as frequent as we would like.

April was also significant because we changed the basis of our Greek lessons. After five years of struggling with Greek grammar, we both felt that what we need now is more conversation with native Greek speakers and so we started a new regime with our teacher Manolis, whereby we do just that. It is early days yet because commitments in May and June meant that we only had a few lessons on the new basis. Indeed, more recently still, we have had a couple of additional sessions with the girl friend of a Greek friend of ours and these have proved very useful as she speaks very clearly and understands precisely what we want. So we pick a theme – family, music, films etc and then we chat. It is fun. We think we are making some progress. We shall see.

In mid May, Sheila went for a in the gorge at Kritsa with her tennis friend Marina and Yvonne and Alan Payne from INCO. It was a bit of a clamber apparently as Yvonne’s photo makes clear!

A few days later, my cousin Liz arrived from the UK for her customary annual visit. I don’t think she will mind me saying that she is in her 80’s and it is amazing that she is able to cope still with the demands of the journey. Long may her visits continue!

We did not do very much sight-seeing on this occasion but there were two trips to Bobo’s taverna in Pachia Ammos because Liz is a big fan of Bobo (who isn’t) and we also went to Mochlos on her last night for cocktails and supper overlooking the bay at Yiorgos’s taverna.

During the week following Liz’s departure, we went on an INCO trip to the Katharo Plateau which is above 1000 m above sea level and is situated in the mountains behind Ag. Nik. INCO is an organisation for foreigners based in the Ag. Nik. area and has become quite dynamic over over the past few years with activities ranging from walking, through food, archaeology to opera streamed from New York, as well as a useful information service. The Katharo day trip was a morning walking tour to see the early summer flowers, followed by lunch at a local taverna.

Sheila went on the walk while I decided to put the new car through its paces by using the 4×4 to go on the dirt road through to the slightly lower Lassithi Plateau.

Sheila enjoyed the flowers and the walk and I enjoyed the excitement of a sometimes hairy trip through the hills!

One of the highlights of our summer so far. was the wedding in May of Bobo’s son, Γιώργος (George) το Ευαγγελία (Evangelina), to which we were invited. We have known them both for years, Γιώργος from the taverna of course and Ευαγγελία because she used to work at our hairdressers.

The wedding was held in the early evening outside a small church on the sea front overlooking the Gulf of Mirabello, not far from Elounda and the reception at a ‘wedding palace’ just outside Ierapetra. There were probably about 500+ guests and it was all amazing from the weather to the setting, the bride’s dress and the reception – a memory to treasure but unfortunately no close-up photos of the actual event! (Footnote: Γιώργος  was given the weekend off from the taverna but was back at work on the Monday. The honeymoon will be during the winter!)

Our next visitors were Nick and Jude who arrived at the end of the month for a short visit. It was very good to see them here again. they were our first visitors to Ferma, when we arrived in Crete seven years ago, so we were keen to show them our house and the delights of living on the north coast.

The highlight of the trip was a visit to Zakros, where Sheila and Jude walked the gorge (in the company of a great deal more water than is usual!), while Nick and I swam and enjoyed a chat at the beachside taverna over a beer or two.

In early June, we went on another INCO trip, this time to the village of Patsos in central Crete, where we visited a cave used by Patrick Leigh Fermor and the team of British Agents and Cretan andartes in WW2, when the German General Kreipe was abducted, which subsequently was made into the film ‘Ill Met by Moonlight’.

Also included in the tour was a visit to a Byzantine church, a gorge walk and a tour of a new vineyard.

Once Marina and Jean-Pierre arrived back from Belgium in late Spring, Sheila re-started her regular tennis sessions at the Istron Bay Hotel and despite Jean Pierre requiring an operation on his knee, tennis in one form or another (singles/doubles – fun or competition) has been a good source of both fun and exercise for Sheila over the past months. Current start time is 8.30 am to avoid excessive heat which means an early start for everyone!

Mid-June saw us in the Dodecanese for more island-hopping with friend Phil from the UK. We met up in Kos and took the ferry to the Fournoi Islands where we stayed for four days.

Fournoi is really out of the way and frankly there is very little to do but because it is off the beaten track it remains a special place. In days gone by, it was a haven for pirates and there remains something wild about the place and the people. It was a good place to start our trip, relaxing on the beach,

exploring by hired car and foot (and relaxing in tavernas)

and having fun at the village party where Phil showed off her Greek dancing skills.

Next stop was Ikaria, famous as the birthplace of Icarus.

There we stayed at Therma, which as the name suggests has a thermal spring. This provides hot water for a Hammam, which of course we visited and also heats the sea, which was an added bonus. Sheila and Phil managed a couple of decent walks (and meals)

while I toned up the tan on the beach and we all enjoyed the rather different atmosphere of this special island.

In the past it has been the dumping ground of left-wing political prisoners from the time of the Civil War to the Junta and as it was election time it was amazing to see the number of posters up, supporting the KKE (Greek Communist Party). Ikarians also have a reputation for being somewhat laid back and apparently in some of the villages, shops stay closed all day and only open in the evening and for much of the night! Perhaps this relaxed approach to life, in part explains their tendency to live to an extremely old age!

At the end of her week, Phil returned by ferry to Kos and from there to the UK,

while we moved on to the north coat of the island for a few more days on the beautiful and largely deserted beaches there.

Then it was on to Samos where we had rented a studio next to a taverna and very close to a beach on the south coast. A little Greek was attempted

but frankly, we were so laid back by then that it was hard to do anything but drink cocktails

or lie on the beach

but eventually we hired a car for the day and visited ancient Heraion where Hera, wife of Zeus, was supposed to have been born. It is a rather special place and remained an important religious centre from classical times, through the Roman period and even for the Byzantines.

Then we went to Pythagorio, named after Pythagoras who was born there and on our way home bought some items of the rather famous Samos pottery. The island is beautiful and there is more tourism than Ikaria or Fournoi but it is largely unspoilt and Sheila was able to enjoy an early morning walk to a cave, where Pythagoras is alleged to have hid from the tyrant Polycrates, even allowing for the 3 km and three hundred or more steps to get up there!

It was hard to drag ourselves back to Crete but a visit by our daughter Rosie, awaited us in early July and so needs must! Fortunately, she really only wanted to chill out and soak up the sun, so it was not too much of a hardship! Possibly the highlight of her stay was a visit to Stan and Jann’s new house on the hill above Tholos and a swim in their infinity pool. Rosie’s picture was a sensation on facebook!

One sad event darkened what was otherwise a very happy time. My old friend from university days, Vince and his wife Rosy had been intending to visit us at Easter but called off because Vince had become ill. This problem was eventually diagnosed as cancer of the oesophagus and when we returned from the Dodecanese trip, I found out from his brother that Vince was in hospital and had only weeks to live. Suffice it to say that the diagnosis was correct and mid-July found us both on a plane to London for his funeral. Whilst there were happier moments on the trip – seeing friends and family and being able to go to Sarah’s 70th birthday party, overall it was very sad. Vince was a good man, a true friend and I will miss him badly.

To finish on a lighter note, we returned to find everything in order here, the weather fine and sunny and summer festivities in full swing, including a concert in nearby Pachia Ammos by our favourite Greek singer, Γιάνηης Χαρούλης but these will feature in the next Post!

John

5 years in Kavousi

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!

Sheila

It never stops!

Agathonisi

Late Summer and early Autumn has been a very busy time for us – island hopping in the Dodecanese, a ten day trip to the UK, a visit from Sheila’s family and then sailing in the Ionian with friends from Australia. It never stops!

Last year, we had such a good time island hopping that we decided to repeat the experience and ‘tick off’ the remaining islands in the Dodecanese, which we had not visited. We didn’t quite manage that but we did have a great time visiting Agathonisi, Patmos, Arkoi and Kalymnos in the company of our friend Phil from the UK, who usually comes every year to check up on us in Crete. This year, we thought we would give her a different experience.

We met up in Kos and the next day took ferries (two) to Agathonisi which is very close to Samos and the Turkish Coast in the north of the Dodecanese. It is a small island, with few tourists and even fewer cars. Our accommodation was right on the beach

and there was absolutely nothing to do except, swim, sunbathe and walk! In the mornings, Sheila and Phil yomped around the roads and tracks,

while I took to the beach and met up with them later for a beer and Greek salad. Then it was back to the sea and sand. Even stumbling to the taverna in the evening was a bit of a struggle!

It was the ultimate antidote to stress – not that we have a lot of that!

Next up was Patmos

which is larger and more devoted to tourism, largely because of the imposing monastery which dominates the island.

It is reputed to be the place where St John the Divine wrote the Book of Revelations and we duly visited both monastery and the cave where the muse struck. Personally, I think he must have been high on something to have lived in that cave but it perhaps explains why he had such an imagination!

We hired a car one day and tried out various beaches around the island which were extraordinary simply because they were all so different.

After Agathonisi it was good to stay in a bustling town and one night there was even live Greek music at the taverna where we ate.

Our next stop was tiny Arkoi, which was my personal favourite island venue.

Amazingly, it was even quieter than Agathonisi and Sheila and Phil had a problem finding anywhere much to walk because there is only one road and very few tracks (which might account for their expressions!).

I had no such problem with the beach – my only complaint being that I had to walk a kilometre to get there!

We had a choice of three tavernas to choose from in the plateia, which made for a difficult decision each night but otherwise life was simple and uncomplicated!

The highlight was a meal at the port taverna while we waited for the ferry

with great banoffi pie!

Finally, we visited Kalymnos which was different again from the others being busier and more touristy. We stayed in the small village of Emborios in the north west

where the highlight was our last evening when the owner of the local taverna, Giorgos – an ex-professional musician – and his wife, performed solely for us.

Phil is a singer and was able to join in for a number of the songs and it was the kind of magical experience that will remind us of Kalymnos for ever!

We had time for some sight-seeing

and then it was time to return to Kos and head our separate ways. The sun had shone brightly for the two weeks, the sea was warm and just the blue that Sheila likes and the company brilliant. It was, in short, an excellent holiday!

We were home for a week or so and then it was time to go to the UK separately. Sheila went first and I followed a couple of days later. Sheila went to Scotland to stay with good friend and fellow tennis player, Chris and husband, Mike in Kirkcudbright, where we used to live before moving to Crete. She caught up with the gossip, played tennis and met up with a number of friends from the tennis club and former colleagues. Then she went further west to Wigtown to the Book Festival where she joined friends from her youth, Liz and Mairi in a rented cottage for four days.

It sounded a busy programme with the usual format of talks by various authors but also included a play performed in the smallest theatre in Scotland, poetry reading and a Persian supper! She then had a couple of nights in Dumfries with David and Bev before returning home.

Meanwhile, I was in Cornwall visiting our daughter Rosie and trying to progress the proposed new bathroom. The weather was not great but we managed a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan which was special.

The highlight was Rosie’s birthday meal (a week early) and although I didn’t manage to make much progress on the bathroom front – this was mainly because Rosie had it mostly in hand – I did have a lovely time with Rosie and also met up with my old childhood friend Joe, for a good natter.

Then it was a brief visit with Liz Turner in Wiltshire where we had out usual trips to the Outlet Centre in Swindon and to ‘The Silks’ for supper and finally I had a night and day in London. I caught up with James and Graham in a wonderful old pub in Kentish Town and the following morning saw Jane for a coffee before getting the flight back to Crete where I met Sheila at the airport (she had flown in a little earlier from Manchester).

We were only home for a few day , when Sheila’s brother, Sandy and his wife, Winnie arrived for a short holiday. The weather was still warm so a number of swims at Tholos were managed as well as visits to Gournia and Spinalonga.

Unfortunately their trip had to be cut short because of a bereavement in Winnie’s family, which meant that flights were changed and they went home a day early.

We stayed in Heraklion and celebrated Sheila’s birthday the next day, visiting CretAquarium

which was surprisingly enjoyable, particularly the 3D experience and even had time to order our new car. The birthday meal was not quite what was intended but delicious nonetheless at a local (to the hotel), very Greek roadside taverna.

The final piece of excitement in this busy schedule then followed when we flew to Kefalonia to meet up with Judy and her husband David from Brisbane, who had kindly offered to take us sailing for a week.

 

We first met Judy in Kenya over thirty years ago, lost touch for a while and reconnected when I found an old letter as part of the de-cluttering exercise when we left Kirkcudbright. Since then she and I have become friends on facebook.

Still, it was a little anxiety provoking, wondering how we were going to get on after all these years not just with them but also another Australian couple whom they had invited. We needn’t have worried though – Judy is one of those people who is naturally inclusive and we were soon established as a ‘group’!

Sheila, in addition to being assistant fender girl and galley wench, was also appointed ‘Ship’s Story Teller’, while I never got beyond Assistant Cabin Boy! We also won a million dollars three times on ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’!

 

It was a memorable trip as every day we seemed to visit even more beautiful spots, in Kefalonia, Meganisi, Antipaxos and Paxos as well as Preveza and Parga on the mainland.

The weather was brilliant for the whole time, so we were able to swim and sunbathe. The good weather did however mean light winds, so actual sailing was limited, which in some ways was a rather welcome relief for this landlubber, although Sheila would have been up for more excitement (as usual)!

We finished up in Corfu after a memorable week and sincerely hope it will not be another thirty-three years before we see Judy again! Hopefully, she and David will come and see us in Crete next year and who knows, one day our travels may take us to Queensland.

 

Now we are home in Kavousi and back in the swing of things here. Greek classes have started again, We have met up with Pauline and Chris and Hans and Hanneke, inspected Stan and Jann’s new house and have said goodbye to Walter and Brigitta, who have returned to Germany for the winter. Sheila has also been playing tennis. Now we await our new car

and wonder what is happening in our close, where it appears that we may soon have new neighbours if the preparations for building work actually materialise. The weather is a little colder and autumn is upon us, so it will soon be time to light the wood burner and hunker down!

John

Catching up.

Impossible though it seems, we have now been back from our Easter trip to the UK for over two weeks. Good intentions of writing up our visits to Scotland and Cornwall have been lost somewhere along the line, so what follows is a very brief attempt at a catch up and to thank all those who were so kind to us while we were away.

The visit started with a degree of stress because the installation of the new kitchen went to the wire with Manolis, Adonis, Alkis and Michalis all working here during the evening before our departure to get it finished. It meant that we spent the morning of the day we left hurriedly unpacking various boxes of kitchen utensils and shoving the contents into any available space, which included the oven! The result was that when we arrived back here, there was a job to be done before we could get round to actually using any of the new appliances! However, two weeks in and we have just about found where everything is and it is all brilliant and we are very pleased. It is however, just a kitchen so no need to get too excited when there is so much else going on in the world!

We arrived in Edinburgh very early at the beginning of April and took a taxi to Dalgety Bay in Fife where we stayed a few days with Sheila’s brother, catching up with Sheila’s extended family and approving of the progress made by the four great-nephews.

It also gave us a chance to recover from all the kitchen excitement and to note progress on the new Forth Bridge.

Then we moved on to Edinburgh where we stayed with Fiona in Juniper Green and later, Sally and Robert in Currie. It was great to catch up with their news and enjoy their company.

Then we hired a car and went to Kirkcudbright where we used to live, having taken in a visit to some elderly friends of Sheila’s Mum, who live in Glasgow. It has to be said the Kirkcudbright was not looking at its best – the weather having taken a turn for the worse but we enjoyed re-visiting the town and staying with Alasdair and Yvonne, Christine and Mike and Bev and David. Again, it was good to catch up and relax with kind friends. Probably the highlight for Sheila was visiting the tennis club and seeing a number of her old colleagues who made her very welcome and she was particularly pleased at how well the Club is now doing – a fitting tribute to her past endeavours.

We visited our flat (which is now on the market) and did a little cleaning in the hope of stimulating a sale – so far to no avail! We even found time to frequent a few old haunts.

Then we flew to Cornwall where we stayed with Rose in our flat in Newquay and were blessed with some stunning Spring weather for the ten days we were there.

Sheila found time to do a little painting while I did a few odd jobs around the place. Rosie showed us the garden at the hotel where she now works full-time and treated us to a meal in the restaurant there.

It clearly is a good idea to be friends with the chef because we were given at least two extra courses and everyone was so kind and friendly because we were Rosie’s Mum and Dad, so clearly she is both popular and valued!

It was fun spending some time with her and we really enjoyed our stay.

She also took us to see Caerhays Castle grounds, which as stunning, both as regards the floral display but also the setting. Sheila even managed a paddle!

While we were in Cornwall we visited Graham Hilder, late of Mochlos in Crete and one of Sheila’s tennis pals here. He provided a packed programme for us, including a visit to St Ives and a stage to screen performance of ‘Copelia’ from the Sydney Opera House.

I also met up with my old school friend, Terry Larcombe who I had not seen for the best part of fifty years. It was great to see Joe (for such I have always known him), after all the years and to catch up on our lives and I look forward to seeing him again soon.

Then it was time to return to Crete where we found the house in good order and the flowers well-looked after by Maria, in our absence. Since returning, we have had Phil from Bracknell and Liz from the Lake District to stay and Jane from London has just arrived for a week’s walking with friends.

Judging by recent weather (it was 37.7 C the other day in the shade), they may be simply walking into the sea to cool off rather than walking in the hills but we shall see!

Since we have been back, we have also found time to see a tax accountant with a view to considering re-locating to Crete on a more permanent basis. There are some difficult decisions to be made in this respect – none more so than affordable health care but since our recent trip to the UK, we are increasingly of the view that this is something we need to consider seriously.

This is partly a result of the Brexit vote last year but also because each time we visit the UK, we find life in Britain is more and more depressing. Probably the film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’ sums up what I mean. While there are of course many and notable exceptions, the generality is that many people don’t seem to care for anyone beyond their immediate family. There seems to be a lack of generosity of spirit, little value put on teachers and health workers and a growing dislike of foreigners.

As I write this, the opinion polls are still pointing to a Tory win at the General Election, a result which I find personally disturbing because it is my generation which seems prepared to vote back a Party bank-rolled by hedge funds and banks, and which cares so little for all that I value in Britain.

The main reason however is more positive. We like living in Greece. We like the people and we approve of the way they value family and community. We feel happy here and whilst there are of course problems, we feel we can deal with them.

We are not sure we want to live in the kind of society on offer from Mrs May – hence the need to look at an alternative which suits us better, at least for as long as the Greeks will allow us to stay. More to follow on this, no doubt!

John

January blues and Spring hopes

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We’re just back in Crete after a long trip to the UK. We spent Christmas in London with Graham and Emily and her family.

img_20161225_184233Bruce and Cathy were great hosts and organised a splendid celebration. Unfortunately the wine flowed so copiously that photographic evidence is in short supply. Believe me though – we all had a great day.

Many thanks to them for all their hard work and good company and we look forward to seeing them here in September.

Thanks also to Graham and Emily for hosting Christmas Eve celebrations – especially the mulled wine and to James for the loan of his flat.

While in the London area, we visited any number of friends, who spoilt us rotten with both kindness and hospitality. Many thanks to everyone and especially to those who put us up – you are too numerous to mention but it was great seeing you all!

New Year was spent with cousin Liz in Wiltshire who looked after us in fine style despite being under the weather

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and then we moved on to Cornwall to see Rose and the new flat. We were very pleasantly surprised by how relatively spacious it is (although still quite small in truth!), warm and how much Rose had done already to make it comfortable (see cover photo). We helped out a little by doing a few jobs and supplying one or two extras and had a really good stay.

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Now we’re looking forward to going back in the Spring when hopefully the weather will be better and we can get out on the Coastal Trail and see the flowers.

It was an action packed trip and the following photos may give a feeling for some of things we got up to.

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The baby (Lila) is the first grand-daughter of our good friend Jane. She was born a week before Christmas and Chloe and Felipe could hardly have produced a better present for Grandma!

Conversation flowed with friends and family, although two topics tended to dominate – Brexit and Trump! Perhaps fortunately, we can’t do anything about either but we found few folk in the south-east who seemed enthused or excited about either. From a purely personal perspective, it is an anxious time for those of us who spend considerable amounts of time in Europe, where we expected to be able to come and go as we pleased without fear of visa restrictions or red-tape. Having just listened to the PM talking about ‘controlled rights’ for both EU citizens in the UK and vice versa, I feel no less anxious. We can however only sit back and enjoy the next two years and see how the dice fall. No point worrying! 2016 was the year when I was ‘Mr Positive’ after all. You can ask Sheila what I am for 2017!

On a lighter note, we discovered Uber taxis while we were in London. I know that they are not universally popular but as someone who rarely uses taxis whether in London or elsewhere (mainly because of cost), we were delighted to find out how cheap they were. For example, our journey back to James’ flat on Christmas evening cost only £20 for the three or four mile trip (which by the way we had walked in the morning due to the absence of public transport). Apparently Uber makes a loss and the drivers do not get paid a lot BUT in my view the black cabs drivers shouldn’t complain about loss of business because they only have themselves to blame for being so expensive. And Uber is so easy. Free ad over!

img_20170117_165224We returned to Crete to very cold weather. The previous weekend there had been snow in the village which is unusual and there was decidedly more than a nip in the air when we walked to the car at Heraklion Airport. The car started first time however but the house seemed like the inside of a fridge. It took a couple of days with the wood stove running at full tilt and the aircon working in reverse before we warmed up. Oddly, we were never so cold in the UK! However, out came the ‘long johns’ and the fleecy trousers and all was well.

Previous to the snow, they had had driving rain and storms in Crete but the house was dry when we returned so no problems there and the water will be a relief to the farmers, who were getting worried that it might be another winter without rain.

img_20170113_143727That said, now the weather here is better with blue skies and a feel of Spring in the air. My first bike ride revealed the first Spring flowers and a good crop of red peppers

img_20170117_143959and a walk later in the week gave an even better display (see below).

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So, whilst it would be premature to think that Spring is just around the corner (the woodpile is still going down alarmingly quickly – see photo below), there is

some hope that any January blues will soon be dispelled and normal service here can be resumed.

No specific New Year’s resolutions this time around but we both feel the need to get more involved in what is going on here. There are supposed to be a number of refugees being re-settled in Crete so we thought we might try to find out if there are any organisations involved in this work, where we could lend a hand. Feelers are being put out accordingly.

Sheila started back at her regular weekly tennis session over at Mochlos. The new (and very expensive racket) was in action for the first time. She is too modest to admit that there was any huge improvement but seemed quietly pleased with her performance!

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Greek lessons have re-started, although poor Manolis, our teacher, has just checked in sick so no lesson tomorrow. We intend to make a big effort in the next six months to get off the plateau where we both feel anchored at present. We don’t however have any firm plans about how to achieve this, except hard work and trying to use our Greek at every opportunity. It is coming along but so slowly – σιγά, σιγά.

Last night we went to the cinema in ierapetra. The ‘Premier’ has recently been re-opened after renovation and they were showing ‘La La Land’ in English with Greek sub-titles. It was a really good film and the sub-titles were well done too. We know that because we could read them! Now we just need to persuade the operator to have Tuesday lunchtime movies with soup and a roll at half price! I could become a regular.

We came back intent on taking forward plans for a new kitchen but on reflection, financial concerns relating to the fall in the value of the £ against the € have made us have second thoughts. So in a small way Brexit has hit home here already and our British friends are beginning to show some concern. Falling incomes brought about by the falling pound (down by over 20% since last June) with perhaps more to come must be causing anxiety in British ex-pat circles all over the EU. All those Brexiteers might wish to reflect on this before they book their next foreign holiday. It’s going to cost you all a whole lot lot more and you may also have to look after a lot of elderly folk who can’t continue to live abroad!

Finally, it was my name day while we were away, so Maria, our favourite neighbour made me a cake to celebrate and it tasted as fine as it looks!

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John

Oops! October’s Over

Welcome to the new Blog!

It is the last day of October and the rain is falling. We now have a proper stream here, not just a dry bed.

Apart from one day in September, this is the first rain since May and it is to be welcomed by all who live here. My summer clothes have been transferred to the spare room wardrobe and fleeces and socks have been resurrected to a more prominent position. Our house is small and despite a lot of ‘de-cluttering’ over the last few years, there is still too much ‘stuff’ around.  But the clothes are easily managed as there are really only two seasons here – summer and winter. I did wear a pair of jeans to go out to the taverna the other night and they have not been worn for a long time. For me, this 2 season wardrobe is simple and that suits me fine!

While John was away in the UK at the end of September, a friend of ours, Susan, came for a day. She used to live in Siteia but went back to Scotland where we met her in Kirkcudbright and she was our Greek tutor. She popped in to see us last year and this time there was time for a walk to Azoria and to the old olive tree.

It was nice to be with her and I am hoping when she comes back again, she will come and stay for longer and we could do more walking.

I also walked up the Mesona Gorge with Brigitte and all the way round to Kastro.

Such a beautiful walk.

I had a pleasant social time when John was away and I felt very safe because my neighbours kept an eye on me. Food was delivered and in the morning and evening, someone would come and check I was OK. Fortunately I didn’t need help but I knew it was there, which was wonderfully re-assuring.

After John came back, it was my birthday time. which is always worthy of celebration!  John gave me a mountain bike, which had previously belonged to Jann, our neighbour but she didn’t want it and so I  became the proud owner. It has 27 gears and is a lot lighter and of much higher quality than the one I had before.

Now I am very positive about cycling down to Tholos beach and back and have even cycled to the ancient Olive Tree.

John still gets back before me but I feel very good on this bike. He gave me a computer for it too so I am able to know my highest and average speed and distance. I even learned these words in Greek so that I could tell the Greek class that my highest speed one day was 44 kmph!

My actual birthday was spent at the Siteia Beach Hotel and was a great treat.

Siteia is only 42km away from Kavousi but takes 53 minutes (so says tripadvisor) to get there along a very twisty road. So it was good to spend a bit of time there without thinking of the journey home!

Because it is low season, our room was upgraded to something near the size of our own house and the balcony went round a corner, so we could choose to admire the sea or the mountains.

One of the days was beautifully hot so I couldn’t resist the temptation of going to one of my favourite beaches at Itanos to lie in the sun and read a book by William Boyd. We also went to the excellent archaeological museum in Siteia, which resulted in us then visiting Petras, a small Minoan palace

and to Tripitos which is a Hellenic town right by the sea.

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Both are close to Siteia and very interesting.  The town has a choice of tavernas and those that we chose were very nice, including one for lunch on a roundabout!

 

On the way home, we did explore a little bit more of the beautiful Crete coastline.

So ‘When I’m 64’ has now happened and it has been a very positive start to what always seemed a rather unlikely event!

October has been a good month weather wise (except for the last day!) and this has been good as we have had family visits.  I do like to get the credit if the sun shines but I don’t like to be responsible for bad weather!  My niece Claire, her husband James and their two children, Matthew and Rory stayed for a week in a villa in Istron while John’s cousin’s son David, his wife Alyona and their daughter Emily stayed in a hotel in Elounda.  Then, last week, our son Graham, stayed with us here in Kavousi.  They all came on different weeks (with a slight overlap between David and Graham) and we enjoyed seeing them all. The common theme was making sure that everybody  had a meal at Bobo’s in Pachia Ammos and that a day was spent at our house.

so that we could show off our new bathroom, Kavousi, the old olive tree

and Tholos beach.

What a joy to see children in the sea and making castles on the beach!

The water was still pretty warm.  The added bonus from my  point of view was spending some time in Istron and Elounda. We also went to ‘new to us’ tavernas

and found out a little about tourist accommodation locally.  Claire and James’s villa was part of a complex with a swimming pool so I could relax on a sunbed and watch Matthew and Rory enjoy the delights of a lilo.

In Elounda, David and Alonya had a view to die for of Spinalonga

and they had their own swimming pool. Very nice!

Graham was looking for rest and peace and the week went by too quickly but it was a treat too. He came cycling with us to Tholos and I was a bit shocked to discover how fast he went uphill on the way back. I knew I had speeded up on my new bike but within seconds of starting the upward journey, he was far ahead of me and I reflected that whilst I am quite fit for my age (walking, cycling, tennis, swimming), I have to accept that the age difference could be a factor here! John found a number of jobs for Graham to do

and we enjoyed having an evening with our friends Walter and Brigitte and their friends Jens and Annie. Graham, John and I watched a number of films including most of the Indiana Jones ones which I hadn’t seen before!! Graham said that the holiday was just what he wanted

and that’s what matters!

One Sunday, in the middle of the month, Kavousi was the centre for athletes from all over Crete to compete in the 23K mountain run. It starts from the plateia in Kavousi,

and then they run past our friend Maria’s house

and then up the local gorge and beyond. No temptation to participate in this but John and I were there at the start. There was also a 6K run and something shorter for small children.

Yesterday, with a few others, John and I went to archaeological site of Azoria which we see above our house. We have been many times before but this time we were privileged to be shown round by the local archaeologist, Melissa. The site is still being excavated and each year, more is unearthed.

It was a sizeable town in the Archaic period (about 600 BC) and Melissa brought it to life as she described what some of the buildings were used for and the contents of the various rooms (all of which have of course now been removed); the excitement of locating a road in the town this year; and showing us a game played by soldiers that was scratched onto a rock.

She also pointed out a Tholos tomb which she had personally opened this year and showed us a room which they could positively identify as being where they made olive oil because of the contents which they unearthed there.

She remarked that the town had been destroyed by fire which was good from an archaeological point of view because they have retrieved so much stuff that helps to build a picture of life in this city in post-Minoan Crete. However, it appears that the inhabitants must have known that there town was to be destroyed because they seem to have had time to collect their personal belongings and leave before arrival of the enemy, whoever they were (possibly from ierapetra – nothing changes then!).

The only sadness of the month has been that I’ve broken my camera again and will have to buy a new one. I have a new smart phone so I am using it but it is not quite the same. So I think a new one is required, even if  I am supposed to be tightening my belt due to the state of the pound!

Sheila