About Clunegapyears

Travelling around Europe with James in our motorhome

04.22: Mini Road Trip East Crete 1

Heading East

Friday 19th April

Kalimera readers – James here blogging after a long gap – for all kinds of reasons…..   We Jazzed to the east of Kriti – via Heraklion for a new Jez key – we seem to misplace keys – occasionally…  (K:  What he kindly doesn’t say is that I hid two sets of Jez keys somewhere safe.  Along with the roof box keys.  News sets all round required!) We wild camped overnight in exactly the same spot as 4 years ago – big Spinalonga.

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A repeat overnight … just over onto Big Spinalonga

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K walked up to a chapel and later when looked oat our blog from 4 years ago saw I’d taken the exact same photo.

Pachia Ammos

Saturday 30th April 2020

While wrestling with the roof box on our Suzuki car, I strained my wrist – painful – so Nurse Clune bandaged (not banjaxed) me up. No running and an easy day and Lidl shopping… 

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Nurse Katherine LOL!  A tea towel was sacrificed to make a bandage and dog lead used as a sling.  K wasn’t a Girl Guide for nothing, even if they did ask her to leave!

Tholos Beach

Sunday 1st May 2020

Another lovely beach overnight – hair pruning – moi and big O…In the morning, I ran and K did Pilates of the Caribbean – or Aegean…I’ve got up to 5Km walking and running – keeping my pulse rate below 106/120 max. We’ll run/walk a half marathon in October – to accompany Maddy and Jordan – virtually – raising money for MacMillan nurses…

We liked Tholos.  One close Taverna and a few bodies (alive).  Only the Brits were sunbathing with a needed wind break. Walked to the end of the beach and spotted a chemical loo  (which we used: not us but our cassette). 

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Tholos Granary was used in Roman times.  Goods were shipped in and stored until they were sent by pack horse to a port on the South.  The question has to be, why didn’t the ship just sail to the next port?

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Tholos Beach and some geezer taken from the granary.

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 Corrie STOP!

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Oscar post pruning.  J had his head sheared too! 

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We do not have a choice.  Too many so called friends have spoilt CO2 and now they expect to have a bed snuggle every morning.  Corrie goes to extremes and lays her head on a pillow and is often under the duvet!

Mochlos

Monday 2nd May 2020

Parked at Mochlos – as 4 years ago…  Am – drove to the town – it rained – sought refuge in a taverna – for local lunch – aubergine salad, fava and moussaka (K:  You forgot about your side order of fries James!) – noshtimo! 

Overnight was near Sitia … a turtle hatching beach.  Again a spot revisited.  K checked when turtles come up to lay eggs on the beach (May-to September is the answer) and did a recconnaisance walk before releasing our beasts.  Locals smiled and waved at us or even came and had a CO2 cuddle.  Nowhere have we found people to be as friendly as in Greece.

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Looking back to Tholos Beach.  

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Mochlos.  When it rains  what to do but have lunch.  Last time we were here we sat outside and watched a cat try to climb a pole to reach a squid hung out to dry.  Today we watched rivulets of water come under the restaurant awning.

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Fortunately the sun came out as we walked back to Jez.

Sitia and onto Chiona

Tuesday 3rd May 2020

City of Sitia  – walk – seeking a phone case, cable – no luck so will order online. Lovely city Sitia.  Proper working town. Obligatory coffee… 

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Yep, cold and windy.  May in Crete!

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Roman Fisheries.

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Coffee stop.

Drove to Toplou Monastery – famous building – and scene of defences against Ottomans and Germans…..Well worth the Euro 8 for entrance. Ecclesiastical vestments and altar bits – reminded me of being an altor boy in Glasthule St Joseph’s…

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Toplou Mnastery.  It’s wealthy as they own tracts of land on this this western point.

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And it does look like a fortress.  Part of the museum was guns from the Ottoman resistance and WW2.  It seems incongruous but most Greek priests and monks took up arms.

On to our overnight stay at Chiona.  We chose a different restaurant to last time we we were here, just to shake it up a bit!

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So far it has been too cold, wet and windy to get the stand up paddle board out.  It is travelling strapped into CO2’s sofa …. they have to take turns and occasionally they both manage to get up there.

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Chiona Beach Wetlands.

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Chiona Beach.

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Nearby Palaikastro Minoan site.  It was second in size to Knossos but not fully excavated.  Free to wander as no warden or box for the EUR3 fee.

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Local sausages for J.

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Possibly the best shrimp saganaki I’ve had.


Another Catch Up!

Update … Another One!

Feb to April 2022

We parted the UK shores with Jez fully laden with more stuff destined for our Crete house.  Still had to leave some things behind, but we’ve been ‘allowed’ a storage unit in the Aged P’s new house car barn.  You can imagine our excitement after having had to remove everything down to a toothbrush as the Aged p’s downsized.  The storage unit is currently is home to a heavy combination microwave cooker and various items of camping kit.  Plus some things we will use when we are back in the UK in the motorhome.

We travelled to Crete via Antibes to spend 2 days with James’ daughter Sarah and family.  Quite a compliment that 5 year old Jade wanted to spend a few hours with us alone whilst Sarah was at a party with Cian.  Jade was amazed at our strange home on wheels.  A bed that comes down from the roof.  A wardrobe under the bed.  Cupboards under the floor.  She was determined to use our strange toilet and so did!

Back on Crete we spent a few nights in Jez in the Kalives carpark, near our house.  We needed to clean (or so we thought, but our lovely gardener who had been checking on the house had cleaned for us!) and unpack.  We picked up a hire car, another Andy Pandy Car (Fiat Panda).  Small but serviceable, but it took several loads to get our stuff up to our house.  And the house needed a lot of sorting to accommodate our new stuff.

We had ordered a new car, a Suzuki Vitara back in November.  We knew ETAs were sliding with supply issues so we popped into the Suzuki dealership to ascertain a realistic date.  Yep, not March, more likely May/June.  Ooh er … we are paying for a hire car.  Do you have anything else available?  An, XXX but another EUR2000.  The charming Mathew said I’ll check the computer but I really don’t think so.  Then his eyebrows waggled and we held our breath.  Yes, exactly the same spec as ours due in 3 weeks.  Destined for a lease company but they wouldn’t know / mind if they had ours many months later.  And it came with a better media panel (basically and android tablet).  Under 3 weeks later, it was ours.  Any names suggestions welcome … it’s grey and reg is XNY3632?  After the debacle with Zorba, which was such a great name, we’ve not thought of anything suitable.  So we now have a hopefully reliable car with a 5 year warranty, after all the car and van costs of last summer!

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Nameless car.

I was back to the UK for a few days in March for the Aged p’s 60th birthday celebration and Mum’s birthday a few days before … no diet then!

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Jez has been stored at an airport car park with CCTV, gates and security 24/7.  A great rate of EUR180 for 5 months.  We’ve taken him out twice now, leaving the car in his place.  Robyn came over in March and we headed off around the main sights of the west.  The weather was bloody awful  The first night was sooo windy, only James slept.  Must be the sleep of the innocent!  I lay there thinking that I couldn’t wake Robyn in the bed over the cab to move the van to a more sheltered spot.  And Robyn lay there thinking, if this were my van I’d move it.  We made sure we found more sheltered spots after!  Our trip included Stavros (Zorba’s famous dance was filmed here), Falsarna, Elephonisi, Paleochora and Matala.  There is no road along the south coast, so twice we headed north only to come south again.  On one such drive, we had snow piled 2ft high either side of us, hail, snow, rain and wind!  We were wearing all our clothes and using the van heating … in March in Crete!  The worst March weather Crete has had in 35 years!

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Got a stick happy dance from Oscar on Elaphonisi.

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Sheltered overnight at a monastery.

The Aged P’s came over for 11 days.  We rented an AirBnB house near Agious Nikolas.  An ice cream in Ag Nik, Big Spinalonga walk and a meal in Plaka and a drive around the Lasithi Plateau.  Great mini trip, but again cold and windy.  Given the Aged P’s are wine connoisseurs (alcoholics!), we did a wine tasting and compared wines from another tasting J and I had done.  You wouldn’t come to Crete for the wine … it’s expensive for the quality compared to other EU countries … as the Aged P’s have told me after their Bulgarian wine tasting 2 days ago!

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Chill time on our patio.

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Navigating a steep down, up and a ford at the Botanical Gardens.  A good lunch was at the reward.

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The Ag Nik Glutton.  A rare species 

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View finally of the Lasithi Plateau a bendy drive up.

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The wine snob.  To be fair, it was rank.

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A chicken diner delivery on our balcony, after a couple of mojitos!

Maddy arrived for 6 days.  She’s in the last throes of her MA so did a few hours most days essay writing, sleeping and chilling.  She and Jordan are back in June for 2 weeks.

Otherwise, we’ve met up with good friends who live near us, had a few walks, and done admin.  Amazing how the time flies!  We finally got to meet our lovely landlady, who was over staying with her partner’s family.  She has assured us that she’s happy for us to continue renting long term, so we’re good to do a few things to the house.  Small world here.  I had admired a painting in one of our favourite restaurants.  Googled the artist and messaged her.  Lives not far and yes she has a studio / gallery near her home  I booked to view her work for a couple of weeks hence.  Half an hour later a message from our landlady … the artist is the mother of her partner!  The artist’s name is an unlikely Balsam Wood … how cool is that. And we now have a lovely painting hanging on our wall.

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2022.01: Unplanned UK Winter

Update …

Sept 21 to Jan 2022

A long time since the last post.  Whilst few significant things occurred we seem to have been busy!

 

James’ Heart

The bypass was scheduled for early October.  J was in the hospital, had ordered his dinner and was then told that it was to be postponed.  Too many staff off sick from the Covid booster.  By this time, I was at the Aged Ps and about to have dinner.  The hospital was a good hour away and more with rush hour traffic.  So J ate his hospital pasta and I had my meal before I fetched him … was that so wrong of me?!  As visitors are not allowed, I’d booked myself busy for 5 days whilst he was supposedly in hospital.  So James came with me … a few nights at Stonehenge wild camping with the motorhome having a few more repairs.  And then overnight up in Twickenham helping a friend clear the attic prior to moving house.

In the end the surgery was 26th October just over 2 weeks later.  He was under a good surgeon, but he had to leave so the substitute was an even better bet.  The top Prof, who rang me himself early evening.  He’s big, as in top man, in beating heart surgery.  Yes, that is a thing.  I had to google it as the consultant had not mentioned it and neither of us was keen to know the specifics of the actual surgery.  I subsequently read about beating heart and skipped over the video that started with the incision into the skin, and would have gone onto the whole procedure … too much info for a sensitive me!  In essence, the heart and lungs are not put onto a pump but are able to operate as normal.  Suction holds the part of the heart still where the surgeon is working.  Pump / normal open heart surgery around been since the 1950’s.  Beating heart since 1995, so still relatively new … not all all open heart surgery suitable for beating heart.  The surgeon told me his recovery would be much quicker and so it proved.  

James surpassed all the milestones and was walking a few miles within a week and a half  Very little pain from his chest unless he sneezed!  Paracetamol was sufficient and that was for his upper back discomfort.  The nurse explained this pain is due to the position they put you in to prise open your chest.  He’s itching to get running, even short distances, but that’s a few weeks off. And then we’ll be back into the hills of Crete!

The cardiac nurse team are amazing.  They respond quickly to emails and calls and we’ve had one assessment meeting with them.  He’s been given exercises to do 3x a week and we’ve been walking a lot building distance and speed.  The Rolex is off … replaced by a Fitbit so he can ensure his heart rate doesn’t go above 106!  I was slightly envious, of his new Versa 3, which includes built in GPS and its olive green … my colour and mine’s only a Versa 2!!!

 

Family and Friends

Lots of getting togethers … mostly lunches!  Our theory was that we’d eat out once a week, but fine dining.  We could afford to do this is we dispensed with ordinary lunches and coffee & cakes.  Using the Michelin app, we booked into a number of local Michellin plate restaurants for set lunches.  All well and good, but we still seemed to have the odd pub lunch and those coffees!   I discovered the Bognor Fishermen’s Association fresh fish stall … so we’ve eaten skate, a whole brill and Dover sole … yum.  Bonus of Bognor is a wonderful homemade open all year ice cream parlour!

And Christmas  … a proper family Christmas.  Our last was 2018.  Again Clare and Chris hosted and we all took bits …but C did the bulk of the work.  It was truly brilliant. Party games, cards etc.  And Boxing Day 3 meats and salads.  All yum!  And Maddy and Jordan came down on Christmas afternoon and stayed Boxing Day until Jordan had to return home to watch Chelsea with his family!  He’s a lovely chap, but sadly he’s into that round ball game instead of rugby!

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All our van Christmas decorations were in Crete, so I raided Poundland …. our tree!  If you can call it that!  Supposed to light up … wasn’t worth taking back for a refund!! 

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Every year the Aged Ps purchase Christmas stocking gifts whilst on their travels.  There was a lot from the UK this year! 

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Arundel.  Wed been for a Michellin plate lunch and walk and then booked a city walking tour for a few days later when Frances and Edward visited us.

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Arundel castle.

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Whole brill cooked with hassleback potatoes in the motorhome with Michelle and Craig.

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Misty Stonehenge.

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Maddy’s graduation.  Did I mention she gained a 1st?!!

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Kalives is the nearest town to us in Crete … found this boat at Chichester marina.  No owner around to ask why it is so named.

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Mum repeated oft that there is NO STORAGE at their new house.  All our stuff was cleared out and under duress they will store a bulky coat and wash kit.  Then they took pity on us … I was offered space to put a storage box in the car barn!  I put it together too.  Needless to say, it is now FULL.

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We’ve really come to like the area around Chichester.  It may be flat, but lots of inlets and wiggly coastline.


Campsites

Whilst the weather was good we stayed at Connor House and mostly Woodlands Farm 5 pitch site.  Lovely couple run Woodlands … very basic but woods with deer.  However, the lack of sunshine meant the solars were just not harvesting sufficient juice to run all our gadgets and heating.  I was also concerned that post surgery J would need to be kept warm and whilst our gas is super efficient (radiators and under floor heating), I did not want to keep moving the van for gas refills.  So we needed EHU.  And with impending bad weather … hard standing.   Being nearly 5 ton we have a tendency to sink!  We moved to one site, intending to stay there, but the owners were a bit off.  Told me off for putting on the awning light when I took CO2 for their night time pee, would not let us move to the sunny side, even though we planned to stay till January.  So we voted with our wheels and moved to another site.  We were really happy here until the owner doubled the price (we had been using a lot of power at one point as there was a severe cold snap) and the field we were in became very muddy.  I got serious pee’d off with soggy doggies and mud splatters … despite doggy dry bags.  After New Year we moved to another site with proper concrete hard standing … woken every morning at 6.00 am but the tractor … lovely walking there though.  Finally we ended up at Concierge Camping.  Famed for being on a motorhome TV programme where one chappie in his posh van declared he liked it here, as it was expensive enough that he knew he would only meet people like him.  Well, I dont think he can of been there when we were … as with all our accumulated mud (van, CO2 and us) we definitely lowered the tone.  To be honest, it is worth every penny, as the facilities are fab – even a free ice making machine and dog shower.  And at the weekend there is quality Thai street food for sale.  

I think we’ve experienced most of the suitable sites now in and around Chichester … if you need a recommendation?

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Deer at Woodlands Farm. They come down from the Downs in winter and the noise they make at night and during rutting is somewhat unnerving.

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The cold snap at Sunnyside.


Tythe Barn House

Having not been to our Devon house that is used as holiday lets for over a year, we’ve used it a lot this year.  Quarantine back in May. A quickie when the Aged Ps and Clare & Chris used it in May.  November for 2 weeks as it was between guests … the thought of J recuperating with more space was attractive.  And he normally does the washing up but was excused chores, and it has a dishwasher!  Nothing selfish on my part!!!  Then we’ve had some damp work done so we stayed whilst the plaster was drying and then for 2 weeks in January.  We probably won’t get back down there till 2023!  Lovely to be able to share it with family and friends.

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The kitchen had been mostly packed away for the damp work … the housekeeper seemed to know which kitchen kit was most important to us!!

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The main Combe Martin beach with the tide out. 

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The other beach at Combe Martin … with the tide out!

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After a storm at Woolacombe beach.

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Regular walking / running route around Whistlandpound reservoir, especially after some of the humungous downpours we had as the track is mostly firm.

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Walk along to Hebdon Mouth

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Hebdon Mouth

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A Devon road … a motorhome is a no go!

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Baggy Point walk.

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Nothing Baggy about this man!

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Baggy Point looking across to the 2 miles of Woolacombe beach … we did sample the Thai fishcakes at the cafe this end.

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Hang dog – Kelsey is not used to sharing the comfy spot!

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Clovelly is a private estate with gardens and a village.  The ticket was valid for a week, so we went with Lisa and Danny and then with Robyn.

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Fab walk with rushing water and mossy boulders at Watersmeet with Robyn. 

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It was David’s birthday when the Turkish Lockdown family stayed  Lisa did decorations and I did a meal.

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I did warn them that Devon is the wet test country … non stop rain!  Sunny the day after they left, of course!  This pic was taken at the Rocks near Lynmouth.

Mini Tour of North Kent

Loved it.  We intended starting at Gravesend and following the coast around.  But we had to return to Chichester earlier than planned as we (J specifically) had to isolate prior to surgery, and we found so much of interest that we didnt move as fast as we thought we would.  And of course, he was still getting very tired, so we were mostly active in the mornings.  Definitely unfinished business.

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Gravesend Temple.  A wedding was going on but the guests were happy to chat.  Had a free tour and were offered free food. Classes, older person clubs, sports gourds etc … money here but used for the community.

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Guess where this wedding guest made his money!

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Also in Gravesned a WW2 festival.

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We also visited Rochester, but we really liked Chatham Dockyard.  So much to do and the ticket was valid for a year so we went back a second day and still did not see it all.  This is one of the massive old dry dock coverings.

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The Ropery is one of the longest brick built buildings in Europe.  Length determined by the metres required for an anchor rope.  And this is still in use.

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Bikes are used by staff to get from one end to another.  The building would not meet current work regulations … all the windows gaped.  On our tour of the Ropery, I got to have a go at twining rope and came away with a sample. 


 

 

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2011-2027: Zorba Repatriation And Unexpected Events

2011-12-: Preparation and Planning

Thursday 2nd & Friday 3rd September 2021

Another early start to drop Jez back into Abacus for more work to be done … we coffee’d and walked locally into an Andover Park as we didn’t have the car.  Late afternoon arrival back at our usual 5 pitch C&CC site, Woodlands Farm.  

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Replacement rear view and reversing camera …  the last one had fogged over.  Driving a nearly 5 ton vehicle with no rear view is not ideal!

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Lots of resident deer at the farm … mostly Roe and a few Fallow.

The background to this trip is that cars can only remain in the UK for 6 months or they have to be imported.  6 months would be up at the end of October and we also had a load of belongings to take across to the house in Crete.  J’s consultant had not argued about us going to Ireland for J’s daughter’s wedding, but had said no to him travelling to Greece.  So he was going to stay home (in Jez) with CO2, whilst I took Zorba and stuff to Crete.

Zorba the Greek car was collected from the Aged P’s.  Well, eventually.  He didn’t want to start.  A new battery in May, so not that.  Jump started off the Merc.  No power steering.  Googled and apparently it is usual for electronics to go haywire on jump starting.  Switched off and jump started again … power steering worked this time.  Back at the Farm, he was then emptied and all the boxes re-sorted to reflect the fact that James’ heart surgery would mean us staying in the UK IN WINTER.  Then reloaded.  All the PLF and transit rules done and understood.  Route plotted.

Maddy, my daughter co-driver was put on the insurance.   Plan well and truly sorted …. Maddy and I would catch the late afternoon overnight ferry on 6th Sept from Ancona to Patras.  4 hours to do a 2 hour drive to catch the next overnight ferry to Crete, arriving early on 8th. Maddy’s boyfriend, Jordan, flying in on 10th.  All to fly back on 17th.  Friends rate my planning.  They’ve not met my mother or sister, who are scary when it comes to planning, but what could possibly go wrong?!

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Fully laden … no room for you Oscar!

2013: Refusual at the First Hurdle

Saturday 4th September 2021

Final check of all paperwork and in the afternoon I set off to collect Maddy from Farnborough.  Zorba wouldn’t start again, so another jump start and I took the jump leads with me!  I got quite adept at accosting men in car parks to allow me to jump start from their cars! … Tesco as I collected a prescription for J and then Halfords to buy a lithium jump starter pack.  This will be fine, really, honestly, I told myself.  We can just jump start our way across Europe!  Then once there, I’ll take Zorba into the garage to have starter motor and alternator checked.  

Maddy drove back down to Chichester to get used to a left hand drive manual car on the wrong side of the road and parked nose out so we could jump start it again!  We had supper at the Aged P’s as our Tunnel crossing not until 0230.  We thought they’d probably put us on the next available train if we arrived early, so we got in the car to set off …. awful grinding and whining noise.  Then deathly silence.  A similar noise to the last time Zorba had to be low loadered to the garage for new injectors.  Zorba really wasn’t going anywhere.  The whole point of the trip was get Zorba back to Greece and was refusing!  I was on the verge of aborting, until I looked at Maddy’s face … she and Jordan were really looking forward to a holiday.  Decision … a fast decision.  I’d take the Merc.  At least our stuff would get over to Greece and I could bring back some winter clothes, not that we have many!

If you’ve never tried emptying a roof box, removing it … fixing it to another car and reloading it in PITCH DARK …. don’t!  It really isn’t the easiest thing to do.  But we managed it and it did stay on!  The Merc’s seats down, the inside was filled to the gunwales.  Interestingly it is less capacious that the Skoda Roomster – aptly named.  Excess boxes and bags were relocated to the Aged P’s garage … despite their downsizing house move and being told they didnt have room to store our stuff!  Ooops!

Slightly frazzled we made it to the Tunnel in plenty of time and did catch and earlier train at 12.45 p.m.

2014: Tyre Pressure but not Tired

Sunday 5th September 2021

One of the benefits of travelling across the EU on Sunday is that most countries ban trucks unless they are refrigerated goods, so the roads are relatively empty.  Our route was toll free through Belgium and Luxemberg, re fill with cheap diesel, and then toll free through France to Basel.  Bought a vignette for Switzerland and used the free Gotthard tunnel during Sunday night.  As Maddy had not been put on the insurance for the Merc, I was driving overnight.  Once offices opened, we tried to get her on my insurance … no, my ex pat insurance will not cover anyone under 25.  No go with her insurance either as they won’t cover 3rd party on other vehicles if under 25.  We ended up paying for expensive day insurance that ran for 24 hours so she did a couple of good stints behind the wheel.

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 It got warmer as we moved south … layers were peeled off….

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… and hair tied back … the air con doesn’t work, so windows had to be opened.  I found another use for a mask to keep my hair from blowing in my face.

A few weeks ago we’d had a tyre warning light come on … nail … tyre repaired.  However, having inflated the tyres for a heavy load, the warning light came on again.  Every time we stopped, I was having to check and re-inflate.  Could anything else go wrong?

Having made good time with only a few nanny naps, we stopped in Como and had a proper restaurant supper.  Well deserved.  We had made such good time we had some big nanny nap stops that later that night.

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Maddy had pizza, but my swordfish with caponata was lovely.

2015-2116: Killing Time and Missing the Next Ferry

Monday 6th & Tuesday 7th September 2021

We had made such good time, having allowed for holdups …. but we even managed to get past Milan before the rush hour and so arrived in Ancona at 9.00 a.m.  We parked up at a Motorhome stop that J and I have used a number of times … formerly Auchan, but a few other shops and cafes.  Breakfast and lunch … Maddy clothes shopped, of course!

We drove down to the port mid afternoon.  Paid for our tickets … only to be told the online office had incorrectly used previously bought tickets, but it did mean we paid less than we thought.

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The ship was late in … they didnt send the the text offering me alternative dates until after we had sailed!

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All these trucks did eventually make it on board….

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… meanwhile, I consumed a few of these.  It was Cretan wine, after all.

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We treated ourselves to serviced dining … if you can call it that!  Linen table napery, but rubbish food and service and very expensive.  J and I have never eaten on board before as we’ve the dogs, but never again.  And the cabin stank of ammonia … obviously the toilet tanks needed cleaning out!  The food was almost enough to make you gag, but the cabin stink certainly was!

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Fortunately we’d brough our own brunch.

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With time to kill on the 22 hour crossing, we dyed our eyebrows!

The ship was 4 hours late into Patras so no hope of catching the next overnight ferry.  Oops … my carefully laid plan!  Before we docked, Maddy was onto a booking site and found us a beach hotel for about £50.  We had a lovely supper at a neighbouring restaurant.  A fraction of the price compared to onboard too.  Before we left the port, we found the Minoan office and rebooked our Pireas – Chania ferry for the following evening.

2017: Tourist Day

Wednesday 8th September 2021

The ferry from Pireas was less than 2 hours away and didn’t depart until evening, so we had all day to kill.  We thought about sunbathing …. but it was grey with showers.  Tourists, it was to be.  We drove up the mountains to Kalavryta to a holocaust museum.  I’d been before with J and the Aged P’s but had found it very moving.

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Video recordings of some of the now grown up survivors and girls told of their first hand experiences, making it very real.  Descriptions of how the women and children tried to identify their family and then dig graves with bare hands in the frozen soil, as all the tools had been destroyed when the Germans burnt the all the houses.  Just as moving as the first visit.

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View from the hill were the men and boys were mown down and now where many still lay.

 Maddy is rather fond of Corrie (Oscar too sometimes!) and wanted to see where we had found her.  I think she rather hoped we would see a close relative of Corrie that she could adopt … don’t know who she thought would look after it with her about to go off to Kings to do her Masters!  Fortunately, this time, Accorinth was bare of strays.

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James and I have stayed here twice later in the year so never seen it so dry.  It was about to close, so we only had a quick wander.

This ferry left on time AND the cabin did not stink.  And we’d taken our own picnic, so altogether a better and shorter crossing.

2018: Cleaning Day

Thursday 9th September 2021

We were up in plenty of time to have a coffee on deck and watch the approach into Chania port.  And with no more set backs, we were straight off and within 20 minutes we parked by our house.  Before we unpacked the car, we had to clean.  It had been empty since end April, but unwelcome residents had moved in!  Yep, stink worms and cockroaches again, especially in the basement where Maddy was to sleep.  So debugging and bleaching started at 0630!  Once Maddy’s bed was made, she climbed into it and I continued the clean moving up the house … she gave me a hand for the last bit and then we unloaded the car and roof box.

With the house pretty much in order, we had supper Almyrida with Gillian … lovely to try a restaurant that has been shut whilst we have been in residence during the winter.

2019-2024: A Holiday

Thursday 9th – Thursday16th September 2021

Jordan arrived the next day, so he and Maddy spent a few days sunbathing.  He is very fair (strawberry blond!) and used more than a tube of factor 50.  We went into Chania, I collected a ring a jeweller friend of a friend had replaced the stone.  I hired a car for Maddy for 2 days and they had an overnight in Rethmyno and visited Knossos Palace.  We ate out a lot … with friends, including a Sunday tea party in aid of animal charities: we ate our body weight in cake!  I also spent some time visiting car dealerships … after a summer forking our thousands on cars, we had decided we really do need a reliable car.  It needs to be Greek as we will be in Greece for more than 6 months each year and big enough to transport us and CO2 to and fro to the UK.  Short list of a Hyundai Kona and Suzuki Vitara … need to test drive and J to look at them in the UK.

On his own in the UK, J dog walked and waded through a pile of admin and jobs.  He had use of my sister’s car for a week and ate in a few pubs and at my parents … just as well as he’s a can’t cook won’t cook man.  I’d left him a few frozen soups and casseroles …. honest!

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 Almyrida with all the sun umbrellas out. 

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I got to walk and run one of our favourite local walks … Plaka head.

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On the way to one of my favourite restaurants, we stopped for a sundowner overlooking Almyrida.

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Chania.

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One of our meals in Eleanora’s.

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Maddy and Jordan flew out lunchtime on Thursday.  Think they had a good time, as they spent most of the previous day trying to work out how they could stay!  Having cleaned their room, I dined back up the hill with friends …. it really was fabulous to see friends after 5 months.

2025: The Return Journey Commences

Friday 17th September 2021

With the ‘children gone I completed the cleaning and got all my paperwork in order.  Rather hoping for an incident free trip as I was doing the return leg solo.

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I treated myself to a good late lunch in Chania at Salis restaurant which has been recommended by Ann … wonderful fish followed by two flavours of ice cream  Didn’t realise each was an entire pudding … I was offered two spoons lol!  Dill ice cream with strawberry jam and watermelon with pickled rind … both delicious.

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To save a little money, I’d booked an airplane reclining chair instead of a cabin … only an overnight crossing … medicine to help me sleep!

2026: Patras Tourism

Saturday 18th September 2021

Arrival in Pireas early morning and I drove to Corinth … I’d booked an antigen test there at 10.00.  I had a walk and beachside coffee beforehand.  Test was only EUR10, so a bargain compared the Kalives ones that Maddy and Jordan had had at EUR25 each.

Still with lots of time to kill, I drove to Patras.  Despite sailing in and out, we’ve never actually gone into the town centre.  I walked up a massive flight of steps to Patras castle … arriving as a sweaty puddle.  The first thing I did once on board was shower!  Fortunately I’d a cabin for this 22 hour crossing to Ancona.  Very few tourists, no British again and mostly truck drivers.  At Pireas the lorry loads were being clambered all over by a private security firm looking for immigrants.  I’d had to open the rear doors and boot.

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Patras Castle steps were right at the end of this boulevard.

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View from Patras Castle. 

2027: Mostly Bored On-Board

Sunday 19th September 2021

Straight off the boat in Ancona and I’d not had to show my double tax cert or even my passport.  More docs had to be presented from Crete to the mainland.  Being Sunday afternoon, I knew to expect traffic heading up to Milan and Como, but there were quite a few road works too.  I got my head down for a bit and then it was plain sailing back through the Gotthard Tunnel at just after midnight and Switzerland.

 

2028: A Good Run and a 3rd Ferry

Monday 20th September 2021

A pretty straight run up to Calais, with another cheap fuel stop in Luxemberg.  On one morning stop, I booked my day 2 Covid test, did the Gov PLF and booked the ferry.  Not used a Channel ferry in years as a) I remember lots of times where I felt sea sick (funnily enough don’t on the Greek ferries), and b) you have to leave the dogs in the car.  This time, I booked DFDS as it was a lot cheaper than the Tunnel at short notice and with a Flexi ticket I could turn up 72 hours either side of my booked crossing and be put on the next available ferry.

I arrived a day earlier than I’d booked and caught the 5.30 ferry. Again largely empty other than trucks.  The hour and a half passed really quickly as part of the Flexi ticket bonus is that I had a meal voucher.

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DFDS chicken curry free … as part of my ticket.  OK it was too … better than Minoan / Grimaldi!

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A meal with a view.

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Before I knew it, Dover in sight.

I got hauled over in Dover … why and where had I been.  Was this my car? etc.  I handed over V5, passport, Greek residency, Greek Tax number, Greek rental agreement and explained why and where I’d been.  He conferred with colleagues and checked my boot and I was allowed to leave.  

Back home to James and CO2 by 9.00 UK time.

So this return drive was just over 3 days door to door, with 3 ferries, 2 of which were overnight.  1125 miles door to door.  963 miles in 24 hours including nanny naps from Ancona to Calais.

Was it hard?  No, not really.  Audio books kill the journey.  More fun coming out with Maddy.

Would I do it again?  Yes, if need be.

Maddy and Jordan got a holiday.

We got most of our ‘stuff’ from the Aged P’s old house to Crete.

I saw some friends.

Failed on getting Zorba out of the UK  … Since our return the garage has established that the diesel pump must be disintegrating to cause the new injectors to fail and the battery was also not being charged …. so he is definitely for the scrap heap.  Not one of our better buys.

2006-2010: Shannon Back to the UK

2006: Oscar Disgraces Himself

Friday 27th August 2021

“Talking (at a distance) to the farmer’s wife she had also visited Fatima and goes there with fiends once a week to pray.”  Typo from the last post spotted by Mick P … couldn’t have been more unfortunate / inappropriate / ironic!  She was a lovely lady.

With another Covid test giving us the all clear and still having all senses of taste and smell, we left our sanctuary and drove to Clonmacnoise … another free for now Irish Office of Public Works site.  Not only are the ruins of the ancient monastery numerous and varied, they are also in a stunning spot over the Shannon.   It’s on the main tourist trail, but again Covid quiet for our visit. So important that the Pope visited and held a mass here in 1979.  Being the wet and windy Emerald Isle, a cover was erected over the specially made alter.  Oscar used it as a peeing post!

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We overnighted at Shannonbridge Marina.  We bought a waterways card giving us access to the toilets and chemical emptying.  Water was free all along the harbour, so I even did a washing load … stealth version where I keep the twin tub in the garage and the waste water (eco as I use soap nuts!) spilled directly into a drain, we had conveniently parked over.

We had a long chat with a chap called Joe (his email is JoefromIreland, wonder if he’s the only Joe in Ireland), who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure.  To avoid being prescribed drugs, he’d researched and come to the conclusion that a plant based diet could halt and even rectify most conditions, including heart.  Quite a draconian approach as one dr / guru / exponent even eschewed oils and nuts … not leaving a lot to add protein to your food.  We did consider it (briefly), but decided against … we like food too much.  However, we have added a lot of veggie and plant based meals to our diet.  We really notice a few lbs coming off when we have 4 veggies meals a week.  Those weeks where we eat out / eat a lot of meat … we put it back on!!!    Mindful of Joe’s advice, we ate out … if we’d wanted to go plant based our choices would have been limited to tomato soup … we chose chicken and salad!

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The old bridge across the Shannon from Shannonbridge Marina.

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Stunning by night!  But a pub next door and a few groups / parties on boats that continued until about 3.00 a.m. meant I had a bad night.  I also cleared up a load of glass bottles from the party goers … GRRR!

2007:  Ringdoon (Ringdoom), but no Gloom

Sunday 28th August 2021

We set off to walk a peninsula into Lough Ree containing a medieval castle and village.  We arrived and the land owner had closed the site!  The farmer had erected loads of No Dogs and then Keep Out signs.  We weren’t the only ones to arrive not knowing it was shut.  We parked in a nearby car park having a lot of landscaping work done for lunch.  And then as it was so peaceful and beautiful we stayed the night.  We walked to the nearby St John’s Wood, ancient woodland, being preserved.  And such a lovely evening, we moved the van a smidge and had a BBQ.

Another camper arrived and they joined us for a quick drink.  He is a teacher in Ireland and said he does no school work at all during weekends or holidays … either the Irish schooling is pants or he is a truly pants teacher … I’ve never come across one that could get away with confining the workload to weekdays during term time!

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Lovely and warm so time for a paddle.

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Judy’s Car Park.

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Peaceful spot to do some knitting … my knitting and unpicking notebook!

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BBQ spot.

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Double trouble snuggles.

2008:  A Distillery but no Purchase!!!

Sunday 29th August 2021

We headed to Dublin and stopped a Killbeggan distillery en route. They claim to be the oldest distillery in Ireland …. but upon being questioned by James … Yes, Bushmills were awarded their licence first, but Killbeggan started production earlier.  Killbeggan also stopped production and the the distillery was resurrected … of sorts.  It’s owned by another distillery, which is where the Killbeggan whiskey is made.  Using different water etc, it would NOT taste the same as the original.  And we didn’t think much of it anyway … we decided for the price, Dad would prefer a supermarket brand!!!  Very unusual for us to come away without a purchase.  

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One of the old pot stills … have a feeling this came from elsewhere…

We spent two nights at Camac Valley Campsite near Dublin.  We have used this site a lot, and like the big neighbouring park for running and dog walking.

2009:  Greyfriars and Family Meeting in Bray

Monday 30th August 2021

A short walk along the coast at Greystones … there is a coastal path all the way to Bray, which we will do one day.  

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Light lunch in Greystones.

Then a Covid distanced meeting with two of the brothers in the Lidl carpark at Bray.  Tom and Mary we had see at Sinead’s wedding, but John had only just flown in from Chicago.

 

2010:  Irish Tintern Abbey

Tuesday 31st August 2021

With the Rosslare ferry at stupid o’clock on the following morning, we drove south to Tintern Abbey.  First we stopped off to see Amelia, another sister … fab that we saw all but one of J’s siblings this trip.  Tintern Abbey was founded by the founder of the Welsh one.  He was crossing to Ireland in rough seas and prayed that if he was delivered safely, he old build an abbey where he landed. 

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 It was a lovely walk to the Abbey.

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I walked the labyrinth with Corrie, an evening habit I did on our Turkish lockdown campsite.

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Tintern Abbey … a lot of restoration going on, but due to covid the library was shut.

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Colclough Walled garden … lack of staff meant the numerous laden apple trees were not being harvested … visitors were encouraged to help themselves.

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A different route back.

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Oscar seems to have mastered the sideways head movement to get his sticks through.

The Tintern car park would have been ideal for an over night, but too far for our early ferry, so we moved onto St Helen’s.  What a fab spot.  We were joined y an Irishman in a Spanish registered van, his ferry was direct to Spain. 

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A ferry on the horizon … ours not until morning.

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Jez overlooking the harbour.

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I walked the coastal path in both directions … Oscar is camouflage hound.

2010: Homeward, but not quite.

Wednesday 1st September 2021

7.30 Ferry and managed to cat nap with our blankets on some benches.  As CO2 had to stay in the van, we stopped at the same car park in Fishguard on the way out and I took them for a walk.

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That’s the ferry we arrived on.

We overnighted at Stonehenge and the next day Jez was due into Abacus for work.

Only 2 weeks in ireland, but a great mix of family and travelling.  A great trip.