Welcome back to those who have followed our two previous Blogs and hello to anyone new!
We have settled into our new home in Kavousi and have been welcomed by our Greek neighbours who have showered us with fruit and vegetables from their gardens, cakes from their ovens and advice on everything from avoiding paying tax to the best way to paint a roof! Sometimes they are intrusive and often arrive at inconvenient times but invariably they are cheerful, well-meaning and generous. We are grateful to them all for accepting us into their lives, welcoming us into their homes and introducing us to their families.
Sheila is currently away visiting our daughter Rosie, in Argentina so I am taking the opportunity of doing a few jobs around the house, such as putting up shelves and fitting new lights but this has not stopped me doing quite a few other things besides.
This last week has been particularly busy. It started with a fine walk last Sunday with Bonnie from our house up the E4 Long Distance Path into the hills behind the village. This starts off quite gently but you quickly gain height as the path gets steeper and eventually you come out at an ancient olive tree, allegedly over 3,000 years old – believe that if you will – and supposedly the oldest in the world! The path is presumably as old as the tree but is fantastically well made and still in good shape and the views of the village and coastline as you climb, are spectacular.
I made a promise to myself to go back and carry on upwards at the first opportunity!
The Greek language classes which we have been attending since September finished this week and two extra lessons had to be fitted in, including also the end of session Test. I was unhappy about the testing aspect because we had not been informed that this was expected but finally agreed to do it as long as we could use a dictionary and it could be done at home. This was agreed under threat of boycott by the class but it meant we had a busy week. Anyway, I passed but it was a bit like the Greek equivalent of the MOT – it would be hard to fail!
I was invited out twice for meals too this week. Our Dutch friends, Hans and Hanneke (H2) asked me to lunch on Wednesday and one of our English neighbours, Christopher invited me round for supper on Thursday. Hanneke served up a salad followed by venison stew and Christopher cooked beetroot soup followed by spicy fish. Both meals were great and the conversation and wine flowed in equal measure.
On Friday, I bought a garden – well at least I think I bought a garden! Readers who have been following our last Blog – ‘A Year in Crete’ – will be aware that we need to build a wall to one side of our house to stop it falling into a ravine below. The ground below is apparently owned by a lady who lives in Athens and the surveyor who is handling the business for us has been in touch with her to get permission for access and to use a small part of her land for the base of the wall. To cut a very long story short (this is Greece after all), she has put forward a counter offer which is that we should buy the land from her!
So, I had to call her on Friday to try to agree a price for what is a very small and useless parcel of land. No one seemed to be able to give me any advice on value, so left to my own devices I called her and in my best Greek made an offer which was immediately accepted. Clearly I had offered too much – a fact confirmed by one of the neighbours who asked straight out how much we were paying as she opened our electricity bill and commented on how much electricity we had used! Now the villagers are up in arms because they think we are being ripped off and one of them is going to phone the woman tonight to tell her so! Heaven knows what will happen now.
I am still not sure quite what I have bought as there seems some doubt where the property line runs and just who owns what but I have learned that all will become clear eventually and patience (not my strong suit) is required! If it all works out, we want to have the ground leveled and put some fruit trees on it with perhaps a few vegetables. This will be done when the wall is built and some steps will be put in from the existing terrace above, for access. We are both quite excited about it, although everyone else seems not to share our enthusiasm! What do they know, I wonder?
Yesterday, after a visit to the market, I met up with H2 in Ierapetra for coffee at the beach and agreed that they would come over for a walk further up the path from where I went last week. So, they arrived this morning and we drove to the Olive Tree and set off up the E4. After about an hour, we came to a ruined village and then higher up, a church which is clearly still in use, although it is clear that no one lives in the village except in the summer. The views were stunning and next week, we are driving up there again and heading further up the path to see how it gets over the seemingly impenetrable cliffs above the village. We are so lucky to have this wonderful area to explore, literally on our doorstep!
We walked back down the dirt road to the car and then drove to a taverna on the main road to Siteia just up the road from Kavousi, which has spectacular coastal views and finished off the day there with roast pork and local red wine. Νόστιμο (delicious) as they say in these parts!
I am missing Sheila of course and look forward to her return but life is good here and there is plenty to keep me busy. And for those who are interested in what she is up do, I would just add that currently she is on her way to Patagonia, having spent a week in Buenos Aires (which she really enjoyed) followed by a few days near the Welsh settlement further south, looking at nature. Then it is off to Chile and Brazil.
I have just received this photo of Sheila and Rosie on a windswept beach somewhere in southern Argentina!