1693-1732: Into the Rental House and Into Lockdown 2

24th October – 2nd December 2020

A New Home!

Packing up from the campsite was made so much easier as Carole had let us leave some stuff in the spare room.  Just as well as I really don’t think I would have got it all back into the car!  And once we found the shed key, we managed to shove all the camping stuff in there.  Some of the crockery from the house is also there, as friends June and Karl gave us their old (as in unwanted) crockery set.  Having unloaded we wandered up the road to one of our favourite restaurants …. all of 200m away  Lovely that Eleanora recognised us from last year … think CO2 are more memorable than us.

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Leftheris Villa.

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View from the upstairs deck.  You can see across the bay to Akrotiri and the sea beyond.

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Looking the other way  no, weve not used the pool brr!  The farmer of this house has a raki still: using the grape must.

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I was doing daily exercise here until it got too cold.

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Kitchen, diner and lounge all in one … Carole has since upgraded the TV and so now we are binge watching The Crown on Netflix and rugby on Amazon.

There is no central heating, but Carole has left us enough heaters to have 2 per room!  Despite this, and having our bedroom window open, we have had nasty black mould in the bedroom.  The calor gas fire and damp air and clothes (we had a lot of rain) are the culprits, despite lots of ventilation.  Bleach, a permanent daytime heater and dehumidifier seem to be keeping it at bay.  

 

A Very Different Lockdown

Less than 2 weeks after moving in, the whole of Greece went into lockdown.  Last lockdown we were on a sunny Turkish campsite with old and new friends … best lockdown experience of anyone I know.  This time we are in a house and entering winter … this is what was planned for when electing to rent in our Happy Place.  The weekly announcement has declared that the lockdown will continue unto 14th December.  

There is a 9.00 p.m. curfew and you can only leave the house for 1 of 6 reasons.  You have to carry your passport and a dated & timed form (or text a code if you have a Greek sim) at all times.  In reality, it is only preventing us from traveling too far to explore / walk and restaurants and cafes can only offer a takeaway service.  We’ve been good patron’s of Eleanora’s takeaways!  

One of the attractions of returning here was knowing people.  James and I are very used to just each other’s company, but always good to have fun with other people.  I managed a bus trip out with Ann and others along the west coast just before the lockdown.  Fortunately some friends live really close by and we have a lovely part time neighbour … so we have been able to do a limited amount of socialising.  Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are all sorted … good to spend it with friends, when you can’t be with family.  I’ve read of a number of people with school age children who are deciding not to spend Christmas with the grandparents … so we are fortunate not to spend these festivities alone.

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Bus trip looking out over the far west coast.

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Bus trip:  Gorge that could be walked until rock falls a couple of years ago.

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We’ve been playing some games …  the travel Monopoly set proved difficult trying to recognise the names in the Greek alphabet, so I hand wrote, Park Lane, Old Kent Road etc.  Much more familiar.

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No shortages here.

High Maintenance Man!

We’ve had to drive into a very quiet Chania a number of times …. mostly for the hearing aid shop.  The lovely Vera had replaced the connecting wires between batteries and aid so they now worked …. but not much use when one keeps falling out.  She took a new mould and then we had to return to collect the replacement … so far this one stays in!  We are not convinced that the hearing aids will remain trouble free, but for the moment, they are working and J can hear / I don’t have to shout!!!

We have also had a saga with the DVLA to renew J’s C1 (3.5-7.5 ton) driving license.  As he is over 70, he has to have an eye sight test and medical.  On arriving in Crete we had posted the new form and photo’s back to the DVLA.  They then wrote asking for permission to contact his doctor and advising that he would need another eye test … different standard for C1.  They completely ignored J’s letter asking if he could take the test in Crete and sent him through the contact details to make an appointment with Specsavers.  Specsavers were able to email a blank form and we found an optometrist in Chania with the appropriate equipment.  Slightly stressful weekend wondering if J had passed the test. If he failed, we would be facing the decision to downsize the motorhome or I do all the driving.   He did pass … 100% with his glasses on.  A return visit to collect the DVLA form and test results … these were then scanned and emailed to our UK Admin Team (Mum and Dad) who printed and posted it immediately.  Just to cover ourselves, we have also posted the original copies.  Another waiting game now to see if the DVLA will accept the Greek test.

With limited other distractions, we have both got back into exercise … mostly running and some Pilates for me.  J had been increasing his distance and frequency … but then had a really painful foot / ankle.  After 3 days resting it, I started to suspect a stress fracture.  A visit to the Doctor was encouraging as he thought it was not a break, but tendon / sprain.  Anti inflammatories, pain killers and rest.  Almost 2 weeks later and J is now able to walk short distances, but it will be a slow road back to running.  

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Views from the Plaka walk that I / we regularly do as it is not far.

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There are generally 2 cruise ships sheltering in Souda  apparently up for sale.

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Huge Olive trunk … the harvest started early this year … partly so people could get some money into their coffers as the summer season had been so curtailed.  A good harvest this year.

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A walk near Kefalas, where a local creates these wonderful stone structures for others to sit and enjoy.

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We wondered why this path had a fence across it at the bottom … it was slightly over grown and slippery.

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Walk and view from Ebrosneros.

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 Walk near us Kokkino Chora …

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 Kokkino Chorio: Steps down to a deep cave …

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… last time we were here, it was safe to walk across. Wetied CO2 back up top so they couldn’t be washed away.

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A walk past the ancient site of Aptera to …

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 Aptera Castle with amazing 360 views.  That triangular lump is Drapanos hill  we live below it.

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Nearby beach walk.


Residency

We had prepared and brought a lot of documents with us believing we would need them for our Residency Permits.  In the event we were only asked for passports, Greek Tax numbers, EHIC cards electricity bill in the name of our landlady and the tenancy agreement.  A slightly anxious 3 week wait, but we got them.  We have the right to remain here indefinitely … we just need to stay in Greece for a minimum of 6 months for the next 5 years.  James is Irish and I could travel with him freely in the EU (no Brexit 90/180 days restriction), but Residency gives us the right to return here. 

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J’s is valid for 5 years, but mine will need to be replaced with the biometric one by 31.12 … but this has not been yet put in place.  

It was more difficult to open a local bank account.  They needed utility bills from the UK, pension statements, Tax Returns, phone contracts etc etc.  All the paperwork was done, but we had to wait for the Residency Cards before we could collect the pass book and cards.  We don’t actually need local accounts, but the ATMs generally charge EUR3 per withdrawal, and we are saving this fee.  

 

Corrie and Oscar D

Oscar here – her nibs – C – has graciously agreed that I can write this diary – with editorial rights!  It’s been a year (!) since we verbalised our thoughts…..November 2019 – pre-virus……  Since then we’ve been in lockdown Turkey with new friends, back to UK, left Jez for Slovenia repairs – and now back to Crete via our non-motorhome charabanc – Merc K100. I am now seven years young – a mere stripling – C we think will be 4 in February……. As for the owners, well – they are getting on too….  A place called Draftyhouse – no, Drapanos – is our base now – not too far from Kalyves – of a year ago.

Now then, reader(s) – we have this thing called – a house!  It looks ok – it doesn’t have 4 wheels and a steering thingy….you cannot drive it to the beach and park anywhere for the night – it stays in one place… well, for us it will be 6 months.  Inside, there’s a living room/kitchen – up a stairs a bedroom and bathroom. But – in the lounge – there’s a magic sofa that has ben designed for myself and Corrie – no adults allowed – unless Katherine is watching “Harlots” (something about women loose at night?) – or “The Crown” (loose people by day and night – talking posh).  Which means we have a telly – who would have thought it?  It keeps the owners quiet in the evening…

All 4 of us are now Greek residents – which means we can swear in the local lingo – and buy stuff. J is a resident for 5 years – and us until January next – something about a ‘Brexit’… sounds nasty. 

K has bought us special doggy collars – how kind of her – b***ocks!  Mine stops me from barking (after a little bark) – is a dog supposed to not bark?  European Convention of K9 Rights come to mind…  Now Corrie likes to chase and pretend play with sheep and goats – her collar gives a vibrate if she wanders too close to those lovely playthings…spoilsports. We think K and J should have collars – with emote controls we operate if they reach for the gin a second or third time!

Lockdown time again – in all of Greece – this dreadful virus is affecting everyone – we hope it goes away very soon.

We’re all learning Greek – so Kalamera, epharisto and parakola – for now.  Our teacher has promised a lesson in naughty words next week!

Back to the sofa, Corrie…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1681-1692: Sunshine Camping in Crete … Mostly

12th to 23rd October 2020

Woohooo … we made it to our happy place.  This is seriously the only place we’ve come back to in our 5+ years of travelling.  And this is our 3rd trip.  And very happy to be here with the expectations of further lockdowns.

Having set off over a week earlier than planned, we knew the landlady would be in residence of the house we’ve rented for 6 months.  In the event, it was longer than anticipated.  They left on Saturday 24th and we moved in the same evening!  So we had 12 nights to find a bed …. we looked at AirBnB, but they were proving more expensive than we wanted to pay … the weather was great, so the tent on a campsite it was.  We thought about moving site mid stay, but we had such a fabulous pitch and felt too lazy to strike camp only to erect the tent again, so we stayed put.

Since we were going to based in the north of Crete for the Winter, we chose to base ourselves in the South.  There were 3 campsites we could have chosen from, one in Agia Gallini and two in Paleochora … we opted for the latter, as the last time we were there our exploring had been limited by extreme weather, which saw us moving the van twice in in one night.  Camping Paleochora was small, but walking distance to the town, BUT you couldn’t park your car next to your tent.  Camping Grammeno had replied to emails and given us a good price … a super site.  Large and spacious, beach front, hot showers and a shared fridge freezer.  Charming Chris, from England, is the Winter guardian.  He has been resident there for 7 years … his motorhome is never going to be driven away … it is held captive by a wrap around decking, steel roof canopy and fencing to contain his 6 dogs and numerous cats!  He was super helpful, loaning us a hookup adapter and suggested we go on a metre for power … we paid about EUR5 for the whole stay, compared to the flat rate of EUR4 per day!  Pretty good given all our cooking is on electric (hob, instant pot, remoska and the Dometic camping fridge).  We also followed up on his restaurant recommendations … although we were about 5 km from Paleochora, there were 2 good restaurants within walking distance.

Chris did warn us that our pitch could become a mini lake in extreme weather … and it did drop copious amounts of the wet stuff on us for a few days.  J drew a line in the sand to measure the rising water level behind us.  The water came close,  but we did  not have to evacuate.  The tent has now had the best (worst!) that Derbyshire and Crete can throw at it … pleased with our purchase. 

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When we arrived the beach was covered in Sea Daffodils.

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Beachside tent pitch = Beachside office  yay.

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And Beachside knicker line! 

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Many fabulous sunsets  we weren’t up in time for the sunrises!

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It was warm enough for Oscar to need a fur prune.

Generally the weather was full on sun … so we did a bit of walking and recommenced running.  The road to Paleochora was undergoing long term (i.e. taking a long time!) renovation, so was closed from 9.00-1.00, then 2.00-4.00, so unless we wanted to get up with the crows, it rather limited where we went. 

We had two attempts on the Anidri Gorge which we had climbed some of last winter.  Once from the bottom and then from the top … so we have effectively done the whole of it now … and it really aint that long … the lower part does involve a fair amount of clambering, bottom shuffling and hoisting of CO2.

Gillian and Steve from one of the FaceBook motorhome forums joined us for a few days and gloated about having not had to run through hoops for their beige Residency Permit.  We hoped ours would prove as easy … we have come with just about every document we could think they may need.

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Paleochora from the castle  we ventured in here several time for coffee, ice cream, shopping and .

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. a veggie meal.  Absolutely delicious.  These starters were corn crips, avocado with a beetroot confit.  The other was sweet potato with a cashew paste and caponata.  

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Walking up the Anidri (Anidhri) Gorge, which we started last winter until rain made it too slippery … this time it was super hot, so we still didn’t complete it.  Corrie had to be on the lead for most of it … she would like to chase the mountain goats … and yes, she would be able to climb up there.

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Anidri George:  James and I are not mountain goats .. a bottom slide was employed here.

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Corrie off lead and wondering if she should leg it off after goats that MUST be around.

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It definitely was not flip flop walking … don’t know how long these have rested here.  Not our size!

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The Grammeno Peninsula was perfect from walking CO2 from the campsite and even better with a full rainbow.

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Last winter James had bought (expensive) hearing aids and they had stopped working soon after we left Crete.  Then with lockdown, getting them sorted was delayed.  He tried in Hungary, but was told there was a glued in connection between the battery and hearing aid so they couldn’t fix them.  Specsavers in the UK had also had a look at them ….  So we had 2 trips to Chania to the hearing aid shop.  No great hardship as it is a stunning 1.5 hrs route over the mountains.  On visit number 1, Vera (stunning and slim hearing aid lady) kept the hearing aids and then on visit 2, she had replaced the cable and they now worked … for a while!  Slight issue where one kept falling out.  

Whilst on the north of the island we also went over to Drapanos to meet our landlady and see the house. Carole has bent over backwards to assist us with doing a proper rental agreement, which we will need for the residency permit application.  We met her on our 2nd trip to Chania to sign the residency agreement, which the accountant then processed / ratified.

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We drove twice up to Chania to the hearing aid shop.

1397-1505: A New Decade and Acts of Kindness

Not wanting to sound soppy …. Both James and I are struck with how kind and helpful people are generally, but this last week has particularly humbled us.


1397: New Year’s Eve Festivities

Tuesday 31st December 2019

Walked on Sandy beach and then coffee and pastries.  We left the street parking outside what may have been a council building; lots of folk going in and out, but sideways places at us –  so with thanks to Paleochora…..

In convoy back to Kalives to load with water and then up to friend of a friend parking (again!).   Act of Kindness No. 1: parking for us arranged by Julia.  Self showered and off to Eleanore’s eatery at Drapanos. Act of Kindness No. 2:  Thank you to June, Karl and Lars for inviting us.  Conversation flowed, and the wine flowed faster!  A little Greek dancing to the live band, but not much room for a dance floor as the place was rammed with diners.  A testament to how relaxed andchilled the Greeks are … the kitchen couldn’t cope with the numbers … 90 covers for a small family restaurant, and hot food was still coming out at 1.00a.m.  Important to the Greeks is that it is freshly cooked.  A lot of tourists complain that starters arrive often with the main course and that it is not piping hot.  It comes out of the kitchen when it is ready and most plates are for sharing.  

We left at 2:00 am – the party was still in full swing – including 10 police officers and wives – drink driving???  “Chonia palla” to all – Happy New Year (sort of) – in Greek!!! 

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The sun out again for our walk on Sandy Beach  

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 … there was a cold wind so no-one was taking advantage of this being the nudist area.

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At Eleanore actually trying to capture the family with fine identical moustaches behind us!

1398: Enforced Easy Day

Wednesday 1st January 2020

Slow start and slow day.  Can’s think why!!!  Back down the hill to Kalives.  

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Dogs just got walked along the beach  more snow on them there hills.

 

1399: Doctor and Soup Making

Thursday 2nd January 

Weather was really grim.  Visited the good doctor to arrange hearing test for moi – pardon? Pm – coffee / wine with Ann and K making batch soup amounted to our sole activity!  A continuing good start to 2020 – shall K ask me to marry her – again – leap year – I would leap at the answer… 


1400: Chania Activity

Friday 3rd January 

After two days of inertia and lack of activity.  A trip to Chania for laundry and late lunch at an amazing restaurant – “Tamam” – which in Arabic means ‘excellent’ – how apposite? 

N.B.  I know laundry is usually undertaken in the twin tub, but the inclemency of the weather and not wishing to turn Jez into a 5 day long Chinese steam laundry, meant a paid for self service facility was required.

K met Ann for coffee and received post that had arrived at Ann’s Act of Kindness No. 3:  this is the second time Ann has acted as post receiver for us  … Valarian for Oscar.  Not vallium … but similar!!  The hope is that it will calm his anxiety and over excitement … fingers crossed.

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Tamam Restaurant, recommence by about 3 people.  In old town Chania, so prices a little higher but excellent quality.  A plate of mixed starters, then from the left  Js veal, pork and cheese pie, Brians beef and aubergine puree, and Kseabass with fennel sauce.  All really yummy.

 

1401: A Lars Led Walk

Saturday 4th January

Blazing sunshine and warm – what a change…….Lars was tour guide for our river walk from Kalyves – as Brian was unwell, we took Zoa – who seemed to adopt me … Longest walk (11km) I have done for a year?  Wonderful views of the snowy hills and then a glimpse of the sea.  Through lots of orange groves … a man slowed his car and thrust his arm out of the window proffering a bag of oranges.  We do like the Greeks.  Not only did Lars guide the walk, he had baked a Swedish apple pie which we had with coffee.  And we left with a chunky slab, a Swedish cheesecake and some lingonberry jam.  Act of Kindness No. 4:  Lars!

Act of Kindness No. 5: One of our recent friends from New Years Eve (Karl) arrived with a smokeless Bbq – he and K had been discussing kitchen gadgets at New Year – how kind is that – amazing!  We just need some fuel and decent weather to test it!

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The snow is definitely a little heavier, but so pretty with the sun on it. 

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A real contrast with the snow and the shirt sleeves only temperature amongst the olive groves.

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Oscar and Zoa had a few stand offs and stick pinching moments  very entertaining!

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Cant wait to give this a go  batteries power an underneath fan so it is ready to cook in 5-10 mins and uses much less charcoal.

 

1402-1404: Wet and Windy

Sunday 5th January

Another day for battening down the hatches….supper with Lars at Icarus…. the menu was a bit limited and white wine ran out so red was a good substitute!  Michelle showed a mug she bought Michaelis – the inscription was “I can’t keep calm … I’m a Greek man!”

As the wind speeds increased, we moved Jez – We’re getting good at this – “CluneVanRemovals”??? 

 

Monday 6th January

K had developed a cold – so a bit of a duvet day for her – poor lamb – not even a ‘girlyflu’… I manfully stepped up the plate and plated (nice pun, J) a sort of meal……’great balls of fire’ – well, great balls of meat with a sweet potato and a few leaves of cabbage. I’m now awaiting the call from ‘DastardlyChef’……..  Act of Kindness No. 6:  Brian kept us topped up with coffees and chocolate!

 

Tuesday 7th January

“Revicanusenlome” (anagram) moved Jez back to our beach wild camping place.  K and Brian had a wet and windy walk with dogs around the head at Plaka.  Supper with Brian … K’s take on a Greek classic … pork with celery.

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Juicing session with the oranges … Act of Kindness No. 7:  Lars had hunted us out to deliver them.

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Massive swell and crashing waves off Plaka.

 

1405: What was that?  Pardon!

Wednesday 8th January

Early start – 0700hrs – blimey!  Blood test results for moi – all positive…..off to Chania – pronounced “hhanya”!  Brian came – we laundrified at ‘Easywash’ – coffee’d across the road where I was persuaded to eat most of our cakes – no great problem – Cretan cakes are scrummy. 

Then – to a hearing specialist – for my ‘earring test. The ‘eerie’ result was what we expected – 2 massive ear trumpets to stick in my channels!  Who remembers ‘HMV’ – ‘His Masters Voice’ – visualise the poor dog…. well, perhaps a little smaller. We won’t mention the Euroresult…….

Splendid lunch again at Tamam – noshtimmo….  Back next Monday for fitting of trumpets and more Tamam foodies – life is a breeze – if you can ‘ear it.  Oh dear, this ‘ere lobe theme may run and run…..

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 ere we go … not Shrek wax but being measured for the hearing aids.

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Tamam:  chickpea soup, rice and chicken and bacon rolls … yummy.

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The Venetian Harbour in Chania has suffered with the strong winds … marble paving slabs ripped up …

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… Sand and rubbish thrown up quite a long way into restaurants …

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And this is relatively calm now.

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Dog walk round the back of Kalives … we are parked up towards the far end.

1388-1392 : Avoiding the Wind

1388: Back at Balos

Sunday 22nd December 2019

Nothing open for coffee en route … straight onto Falassarna, where I got hail and sand blasted on the beach last time we stayed.  A beach walk this morning in the sun and lunch.  After J’s nanny nap we drove back up to the start of the 8km track to the car park for Balos Beach.  We stopped and picked up Brian and Zoa … we wondered how the the AndyPandyCar would cope with the track and the equivalent of 4 adults on board.  We managed not to knacker the suspension!  With the sun and some wind we descended to the lagoon.  Brian and Zoa battled back against the wind along the track to his motorhome.

After fetching Jez from Falassarna we decamped back to Kissamos along the sea front.  It was windy, and I didn’t sleep well … I was also dreaming about the lovely meal we’d had.  We had been to the restaurant with Maddy and had amazing Pork with celery, greens and lemon.  Tonight’s special was cuttlefish with a dill sauce … only one portion left so Brian and I shared.  Also chickpea, lemon and olive soup … I’ve just tried to make this in Jez and it is no where as good as the restaurant’s.  I complimented the waitress / daughter and she has given me her mobile number and said to ring before we come again … her Mum will cook boiled chicken with rice and butter … sounds horrid, but she assures me it is very good … so we will have to go back!

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Kite flying at Falassarna – Brian trying to stay with feet on sand and Zoa trying to catch the kite!

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Track to Balos Beach.

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You’d have thought this chap would have offered to move out of the way!

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James waited and waited, but no donkey taxi!

1389: Hunkering Down in Kissamos

Monday 23rd December 2019

We contemplated a drive up into the hills, but rain threatened and then arrived, so we stayed put. A coffee and cake stop with Brian in town.  I did a little Christmas shopping … a lazy day followed by supper chez nous and a game of cribb with Brian.

We followed Brian to shelter from the wind the other side of the sports centre … so much calmer over night.

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View from the front of the van, before the latest round of wind and rain.

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Zoa also thinks he is a lap dog!

1390: Christmas Eve in Kalyves

Tuesday 24th December 

Having had a half decent night’s sleep, I awoke with energy!  As I opened the side window i spotted a tap and hose …. so the morning became a laundry session.  Twin tub carried around the wall, one of our hoses hanging out of the kitchen window for hot water and the sports centre hose for cold!  Then hot showers for both of us.  Gotta seize the moment!

We returned to Kalyves and joined the lovely Ann and another couple at Simon’s Italian for a set meal and a rock band.  Food was good, wine mostly included and the first set of the band excellent … I recognised most of the tunes.  The second set was essentially just LOUD … a bit to heavy rock for our tastes.  But a great way to start Christmas.

 

1391: Christmas Meal

Wednesday 25th December 2019

A leisurely start … presents and my stocking brought from home.  The Aged P’s buy gifts for Clare and I on their travels this year’s stocking came from Serbia, South Africa, Sardinia, Sicily, Thailand, France …. a lot of dodgy bottles … the green walnut liqueur from the Serbian monastery was very good.

A short walk (blow!) along a coastal path set us up for the next stage of Christmas.  We then drove in convoy with Brian to Drapanos and parked on the driveway of an absent neighbour of Julia and Anthony (who’d helped us with our gas).  A short walk up to Eleanore’s and lunch.  Fava, a mayo dip and smoked sausage to start.  Brian had pork knuckle, which looked better than J and my choice … pork with chestnuts and prunes … tasty but just a little too fatty.  Our left overs, the next night were actually better.

A really relaxed meal, followed by cards … Newmarket, Sevens and Pontoon.  And the wine kept flowing.  As we were leaving, we established that they are also open New Year’s Eve and there is a Greek band playing.  That’s New Year’s Eve sorted then!

 

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Christmas morning walk.

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Looking out to the Akrotiri peninsula.

1392: Boxing Day Recovery

Thursday 26th December 

Another slow start then!  Popped into say thank you to Julia for organising the parking … we can also park there for New Year.

Back to Kalyves … no energy to move far today.  We did manage the walk we’d done yesterday … easy option as we now knew the route!  Also easy option on food as recycled the left overs!

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Forgotten we had this … bought some weeks ago at charity bazaar … tasty, but not as good as my mother’s!


1377-1381: Munchkin’s Visit

1377: Munchkin Arrives and Christmas Begins

Wednesday 11th December 2019

We coffee’d with Brian and kept in touch with Maddy … she had 1hr and 10 mins from when her plane was due to land at Athens to catch her flight to Chania; bear in mind the gate shut 30 mins before the flight departure.  And her incoming fight was a bit late.  But she made it!  Lots of benefits of hand luggage only and a small airport.

We drove in convoy to Kissamos and parked along the beach.  Maddy and I had a short beach walk with CO2 and then she and J napped … she had been awake since 3.30 am!  Supper in a family beach side restaurant … yummy pork with celery and greens.  

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Beach front pitch.  The puddle grew with lots of heavy rain.

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Kissamos Bay is 3 sides of a square.

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Maddy (reluctantly) brought medicines, green card, keys, phone case, hooks etc no room for toiletries and few clothes …

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… so she worked her way through my tops and jumpers.

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But she did bring us matching festive pyjamas … 🙂

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And for the third (out of four) Christmases that weve been away, she and I put up the decorations.

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1378: Polyrrhenia

Thursday 12th December 

We bought coffees from the shack next door to us … Greek coffee or Nescafe?  And headed off in the AndyPandyCar into the hills to Polyrrhina.  The road stops and you walk up through the ‘new’ village to the site of the old.  Great views, but Lin (who is my All Things Crete Guru) told me had we gone all the way to the top, we would have seen both N and S coasts.  However, my fellows were not keen (point blank refusal on the part of one!) to climb further.  

Back at Jez, Maddy worked on a Uni assignment … her approach started with a message to one of the other students … what are we supposed to cover????  Why investigate yourself, if you can get someone to tell you!?
 
A wander around the centre of Kissamos and supper on the main square.  
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Cave dwellings from the Roman era in the newer village.
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Another cave Church.

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You can just make out the walls of the fortress to the left of the church .. such a long way (!!!) so this is where we stopped.
 
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But still fabulous views.

1379: Falassarna and Balos Beaches

Friday 13th December 

Coffee and pastry in town and then we set off for Falassarna Beach, billed as one of the most impressive beaches in Crete.  Lunch and then Maddy and J nanny napped whilst I took the AndyPandyCar up to Balos with CO2.
 
An 8km each way, mostly 1st gear drive up to the Balos Beach carpark.  Most of it was firm, but the recent rains had brought down some scree and there were divots from the water run offs, so a little hairy in places.  But worth every slow full concentration kilometre.  I was very conscious that the last long dirt track we’d driven in the car had resulted in a shredded tyre and I didn’t have James with me to do the change over!  The views down to the beaches were just stunning … and the rain held off!
 
By late afternoon, the winds started and we sure felt them as we were right in the middle of a large flat car park!  We moved after supper to shelter behind one of the restaurants.
 
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Looking down to Falassarna Beach.
 
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Balos.
 
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1380: Sideways Hail and Sand and Kalyves

Saturday 14th December 

A very slow start … one member of our party … and it wasn’t James or I, had stayed up till 0330hrs tracking the election results.  Before we set off I took CO2 for a longer beach walk.  Coming back, the wind got really up and then the hail started.  The wind driving the hail and sand into Oscar and I.  He started off red and white and became a lighter ginger all over from the sand, as he plodded stoically by my side.  Corrie, meanwhile, had bolted back to the van.  I must teach her how to knock at the door … she was still sat patiently waiting for admittance when we finally caught up with her.  Thank goodness for doggy dry bags … the sand fell off the dogs into these as against the floor.  And kept them warm as they dried.  If in doubt about the efficiency of these bags, their heads were still sodden when released 30 minutes later, but their bodies dry.
 
Back at Kalyves, Maddy completed her assignment and ate at Eleanore’s in Drapanos with Brian … this has to be our favourite place near here.  Yummy starters followed by chicken in raki and feta .. delicious and far too large portions, so doggy bags for all (but no sand in these bags and certainly not to be fed to CO2!).  We watched the Strictly final … my fav was crowned champion.
 

1381: Airport Run and Sunday Lunch

Sunday 25th December

Coffee and then I ran Maddy to Chania airport.  I was in trouble as she could have caught later flight, which would have reduced her wait at Athens from 5 to 3 hours … but I’d not checked that any airline other than Agean did this route!  And now her flight is running late … she must be loosing the will to live!

Back at Kalyves, Brian kindly treated us to lunch at Icarus restaurant.  Full bellies again!  And and easy evening.