3rd December 2020 – 26th April 2021
OK, so I’m playing Blog Catch Up, in a big way!
A Tale of Two Houses
The Drapanos house was a Winter let and we wanted a permanent tenancy contract for when we came to convert the beige floppy bit of card (Photo attached with a single staple) to the credit card style biometric residency card. So after the Christmas and New Year festivities we started house hunting. It was all a bit gloomy to start as so many places would allow not dogs. And if they did, they had to be housed outside. The Greeks don’t have the concept of ‘pet’ like us. Can you imagine our pampered pooches being tethered day and night outside? Not happening. Having put a post on FaceBook a UK based lady made contact and suggested we look at her house in Almyrida. We shot over there as we were just about to sign on the dotted line for another house. It was filthy but I could see through the dirt. James took my word for it. This house was cheaper and bigger … and didn’t have a pool as we didn’t want the expense of the maintenance. So we went for it.
Leftheris Villa: Our winter home.
Not a bad place to do Pilates.
It’s a dog’s life!
The new tenancy contract ran from the start of February, so we had two months of double rent. Expensive, but it allowed us to stay over in our mountain retreat the we were meeting up with Drapanos friends. We had access to the new house for a week before we moved in … just as well as we had to move cockroaches and other bugs out! The house had not really been lived in for some years and the basement flat was particularly bad. Even when we left to come back to the UK, we were still sweeping up stinky worms daily despite spraying to terminate them … twice. Our two set of Drapanos friends are kindly checking on the house fortnightly and Julia sends me pix of the worms they are still sweeping up! They don’t actually do any harm, but climb walls and stink if squished.
The Almyrida house (our half is this side) … no name or even a street name. Tried to send a letter to myself … we think Hassan’s Cafe now takes in post. The garden is dog proof … Oscar would have been out if he could have found a way.
We had to buy a few items of furniture … this one is a chest of drawers … I won’t reveal how long it took to assemble! Or that the missing part was found tacked under J’s shoe!!
CO2 have their end of the sofa …
They’re very comfortable there.
We made good use of this!
We really love the house, not just because it is relatively inexpensive but it has a warm vibe, views of the sea and the White Mountains, which have snow until June. The basement is virtually a self contained flat for guests. We’ve put a desk in there so I also use it as the study. We live mostly on the ground floor: lounge / kitchen with double doors through to a covered terrace. Our bedroom upstairs has an en suite and a large balcony with even better views. There is a difficult neighbour …. shame!
Our first aperitif on the upstairs balcony.
As part of the rent, we do some maintenance. So this year, we’ve cleared both levels of the garden and planted herbs. Well, Spiros did all the hard work. He also supplied us with a generous ton of logs for next winter. We have a trade … cakes from me and oranges, raki (sure is strong) and wine. He also supplies really high quality olive oil. Apparently the average Greek family will consume about 80 litres p.a. Stupidly, I did not bring enough when we return to the UK and I’ve had to buy expensive supermarket oil … really nothing like as good. Oh, and we’ve also had all the wooden shutters, doors and windows re-varnished … in some cases they had to be glued back together first as they really were in a poor state of repair. Looking good now …
Spiros handiwork … you couldn’t walk between the over growth. Discovered 3 lemon trees and a small orange tree.
That’s a lot of G&Ts!
New stones coming for the garden … amazed the truck didn’t roll down the steep hill.
Herbs … had to do a fair bit of weeding before the new stones were laid.
The first orange blossom in our garden.
Shutters, doors and windows being repaired and painted.
With such amazing and varied scenery we continued to do some new and revisit other walks. With lockdown there were usually restrictions about not walking with others. At one point we couldn’t even drive elsewhere for exercise. We had planned to do odd trips over the island, but Covid …
Finally some Autumn leaves.
View from one of our regular walks.
Another monumental olive tree …
… Oscar inside it!
With lockdown, events / fund raisers etc have all been cancelled, so we have only been socialising with a few people where we could. We were allowed to meet up for Christmas and New Year … spent both with Drapanos friends. Karl and Julia are amazing cooks so the food ain’t too shoddy! Restaurants and cafes closed, but most were open for take aways. Our favourite restaurant in Drapanos, Eleanora’s, supplied us pretty much weekly. But we also liked a chicken dinner from the souvlakerie or grill in Kalives. Restrictions lifted just as we left to return to the UK!!!
Michelle kindly loaned us a Christmas tree. Other decorations had come with us in our motorhome Christmas shoe box.
Favorite takeaway: Grilled fish from Eleanora’s …. and it’s all MINE, MINE! J likes the battered fish.
Visiting the wine cave for the Christmas purchases was an experience … lots of tastings and spent far too much money!
And I opened my stocking from the Aged P’s. They buy items for Clare and my stockings on their annual travels. This year not many countries … South Africa, Switzerland, France and of course UK.
Not a work of art, though it was. Karl is an amazing cook … passionate about it. His Christmas dinner was something special.
I tried to compete with New Year’s Eve canapés. We had to celebrate NY early due to 9.00 p.m. curfew … But it was midnight in Pakistan!
Julia patronises a particularly good patisserie … this is the traditional New Year cake … one lucky person finds a coin, if they don’t crack a tooth on it. James was that lucky person and he still has the coin.
Cake lady with Valentine cakes!
Julia and Ant loaned us a proper monopoly board … shouldn’t have challenged them to a game … she has a killer instinct!
We started to feel a bit low and slow with persistent lockdown. So we had a few Planning Picnics in a lovely bay. Working on the principle that if you have a diary full, even with chores, the time passes more positively.
I think the incredible water colour where we had the Planning Meetings helped lift our mood too.
Gillian and I spotted the “How much is that doggy in the window?”
Painting project: Gillian wanted to reduce some of the wood effects in her house … so we attacked them with chalk paint and effects. She was a quick learner and was soon going solo.
With so much live stock CO2 have had to show restraint!
We had a few appointments in Chania and walked back along the Venetian Harbour just before Christmas.
Having got our beige residency permits in November, I had to change mine to a biometric come the new year. James, Ireland being in the EU, keeps his floppy beige card for 5 years. It will be rather dog eared by then. To get my credit card sized card, I had three trips to the main Police Station in Chania … submit the forms, documents and evidence of payment, come back for digital finger printing (not sure why this couldn’t be done at the same time) and then to collect the card. Lots of horror stories of folk having the wrong documents and leaving it post 31.12.20 to apply. And different Police Stations wanting different documents. So it was a jubilant moment when I collected mine.
Both J and I have 5 year residency permits. During this time we have to spend a minimum of 6 months p.a. in Greece. No hardship! After 5 years, we can apply for 10 year and have more freedom to be away from Greece.
An important benefit of an EU residency for us, is that we have the right to transit through EU countries between Greece and the UK.
Car Repatriation And Introducing Zorba
We drove to Greece in October 2020 in the old Merc estate. This normally lives on the Aged P’s driveway so we have a car when in the UK. Dad’s function (not his sole function, you understand!) is to drive it regularly, MOT, pump air into tyres etc. Mum’s task is all the admin! Post Brexit, UK registered vehicles can only be in the EU for a total of 6 months. Pre-Brexit it was 6 months before country before you were supposed to import it. As we’d arrived in Greece before Brexit, the old rules applied … in other words we had to get it out of Greece before mid April. We had planned to drive it back ourselves and return in the motorhome, but were nervous due to Covid. In hindsight, we need not have been … I subsequently found a FB group called Roadtrip to UK from Greece and Back … folk detailing their own trips. And there were quite a number making the trip. I’d put a FB post out there asking if anyone wanted to drive it back to the UK and we would pay costs. Julia suggested asking the animal charities. There are SO MANY abandoned dogs and puppies here and a number of charities work tirelessly to re-home them. Greeks don’t pay to neuter dogs or cats, and the pups are often found in bags in skips or boxes underneath. Often lobbed out into car parks. So if anyone is interested in a new pet, PLEASE DON’T PAY £1000’S FOR ONE THAT PROBABLY CAME FROM A PUPPY FARM … LET ME KNOW!
Cretan Animal Protection operate out of the UK. Carl left his van on the Aged P’s driveway. After a delay as he’d tried to catch his flight to Crete with and NHS covid test (duh!), he stayed the night with us. Next day took his PCR test locally, 4 dogs delivered and caught the 5.00 ferry to the mainland. After a second over night crossing, he arrived in Ancona, Italy giving himself 26 hours to make it to Calais for his tunnel reservation. He dropped one dog in Belgium on the way … left the car on the Aged P’s driveway in the middle of the night and then delivered the other 3 pups. He caught a few hours sleep here and there en route and survived on Monster energy drinks!
Expensive at £1200, but it would have cost us £1500 to use a freight company. It got the car back to the care of father and gave us peace of mind.
Two of the pups being re-homed.
If she can go on the sofa, so can I! But that’s not the dog section!!!
In January we bought a Greek car. You can add about 30% to what you would expect to pay in the UK … it hurts. Our choice was limited as we wanted enough boot space for CO2 to lie down. Road tax is around EUR200 for 1.4 litre, but as soon as you go over 2 litre, you’re looking at EUR1000 p.a. So we have Zorba a Skoda Roomster. Dull as ditchwater, but a very functional, if underpowered (1.2 engine), run around, which has to get us to the UK. Prior to setting off for England, we had Zorba checked out by a garage … needed a new timing belt & water pump, brake pads & disks and new tyres and we put new wheels on whilst we were at it. We bought a dog!!! So underpowered and VERY EXPENSIVE!
The Merc had a flat … the same chap that sold us new wheels and tyres did rather well out of us … we ended up with 4 new tyres for the Merc too.
CO2 BONUS PIX