Category Archives: Tennis

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

Advertisements

January blues and Spring hopes

023-02

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

img_20170101_171615

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.

001

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.

img_20161222_191505

img_20161216_152323

img_20161218_123221

img_20161221_143457 img_20161225_111838

 

img_20161225_131246

img_20161225_140350

img_20161229_131350

img_20161228_195832

img_20161230_222123

lila-01

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).

img_20170115_150926

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!

img_20170117_165412

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!

030

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.

img_20161006_151820_2

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