Yianni mou

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There has been a lull in the blog writing but a lot of progress on the building, walking and social front.

We now have a repaired wall holding up our house and a new wall and railings on top of the wall so that small children and anyone else can come here without too much risk. In the end, the work didn’t take too long due to the heroic efforts of Vasili and Lefteris. That being said, it did feel a long time we were living on a building site!

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The week the work started, it rained very badly and Vasili had a terrible cough. But he carried on, repairing a wall which had many holes in it and what a good job he made of it.

Crete 73 036Then on top of that, he built a new two feet six inches wall,  made of stones gathered from the mountains and a stone bench outside the spare room.

Whilst Vasili tried to finish the wall by putting bits of wood on the top, it was clear that good stonemason though he was, a carpenter, he was not! So, something else was required.

Crete 73 022Enter Anesti, known locally as Thassos. He erected two metal rails on top of the wall held up by the wooden supports.

It looks great and all the neighbours came round one afternoon and with Vasili and Anesti toasted the new wall with raki and agreed it was πολύ ωραία (very nice). Crete 73 001

Crete 73 003This was a huge relief to us. It looks absolutely great but as important is the fact that all the neighbours were happy that we had listened to their advice which was: don’t spend loads of money, use local labour, definitely don’t have a clerk of works from outside the village and allow us to come and watch watch!

John was pleased to hear one of our neighbours call to him shouting ‘ Υιάννη μου” (my John). And this is the wall.

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Another improvement to the house was achieved by Rosie. She stayed with us for two weeks.

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She has finished work In Buenos Aires and stayed here filling in some job application forms before travelling to London.

She agreed to paint the outside of the house.

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John had bought the paint, thinking it was similar to the existing colour which has a pinkish tinge to it. In fact, it was a ‘yellowy orangey’ colour (John calls it ‘harvest gold’) and much stronger than the existing colour. I had secret concerns about it to begin with but it has been admired by all and makes the house look so much brighter and vibrant! Below is the spare room looking very smart!

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At one stage, Rosie had three Greek neighbours, all men, looking at her painting for 10 minutes and she said she was ‘spooked’ by the experience. I interpreted this in a positive light. She must have been painting well, otherwise she would not have been short of advice! Unfortunately, she didn’t have time to finish it completely but it is well on the way.

While Rosie was here, she and I had a couple of walks that were wonderful. The first one was similar to what we had done when Vince and Rosy were with us. Below is the scary and spectacular gorge which we powered our way up!

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Crete 72 011In the other one of them we were joined by my friend, Margarita. We walked from the house up the E4 route to the village of Thripti. This took about 3 hours.

There, we met John with the car. The plan was to continue walking up the largest mountain of the area Afendos Stavromenos which is 1476m.

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The difficulty was finding the path. Essentially you have to find ‘the highest house below the edge of the forest’ (Rother Walking Guide). This was found eventually with the help of Margarita asking some local people the way. But it took a long time although we also allowed moments to look at the beautiful flowers.

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By the time we had walked through the forest and were then faced by a steep scree slope which showed no sign of a path,

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we agreed to come back another day for the final ascent.

Another highlight of Rosie’s visit was a swim in the sea at Tertsa. The sea didn’t feel too bad. I forgot my camera so there is no record of the event but it was good and even better was the lunch at the local taverna.  Before Rosie arrived, John and I had retrieved the bikes from the shed and cycled into the olive groves below Kavousi. We got a wonderful view looking aback  the village.

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So later we had a family bike ride to Tholos.

Crete 71 012We only have two bikes so John and Rosie cycled down and I came in the car with Bonnie. Then Bonnie and John went back in the car after Bonnie had a walk on the beach and Rosie and I cycled back up the long hill to Kavousi. Not sure that was very fair!

After Rosie left, our good friend Phil arrived from Midmar. She, too, wanted to walk and on one occasion was given the route of a walk, while John and I went to our Greek lesson. Obligingly she fitted herself round our life here and even participated in a Greek lesson from our neighbours, Nikos and Maria, who appeared one evening. She also was to be seen putting varnish on the wood on our new fence. So beware you people coming to stay! You might think it is a holiday but there is a danger of becoming unpaid labour or having your first Greek lesson!  But in case you think it is all work, Phil, John and I had a nice day out in Zakros and Xerokambos, where we met our Greek friends, Mikali and Eleni. And we had nice meals out and drank copious amounts of retsina.

They Greek lessons are now held quite close to where we used to live which is a bit of a drag as it is half an hour’s drive. But we go to a hall right beside the sea which is rather nice. Chrissa, our teacher, believes in speaking Greek at all times. We have been learning grammar with which we are familiar but a two and a half hour lesson, twice a week, conducted all in Greek does test the powers of concentration! Chrissa is good and while I complain a little and John complains a lot, we think it is what we need!

Crete 73 012This weekend is Easter here and it has been interesting to experience it in Kavousi. We attended the evening Good Friday service in the largest church here with Maria and Nikos and were amazed at the large number of people attending. The focal point is the decorated coffin which is carried out of the church on a bier at the end of the service and people pay their respects to it.

Our German friends, Brigitte and Walter, joined us on Saturday evening for the celebration of Χρίστος Ανέστη (Christ is Risen).

Crete 73 026Everyone in the church lights a candle,the bells chime, there are many fireworks and dramatically, the symbolic body of Judas is hung on a gibbet and a huge fire ensues.

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Less welcome are all the firecrackers which to me are a health risk to your hearing.

Families come together for this most important religious and cultural event. We were invited for coffee by the son of one of our neighbours. He, his wife and two daughters live in Athens but are here for 10 days. We were shown round their house and enjoyed finding out more about our neighbour, who speaks little English. We also saw people walk up the gorge and they were described as ‘tourists’. None of the family seemed to have walked in the hills and there were many excuses offered when John suggested that we walk together when they come back in the summer! Hill walking appeared to be seen as a tourist activity!

Next week John and I welcome our American friends Carol and Dick and then on Saturday we go back to Scotland for 10 days.

Sheila

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3 thoughts on “Yianni mou

  1. Annie Francis

    The house is looking very smart! I like the wee stone bench, a good addition and a fine place to have your sun downer. Or is it, which way is west?

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  2. Liz Turner

    Dear John and Sheila,

    I’ve just read your latest blog and enjoyed all the pictures. I suspect that the men who watched Rosie painting were probably more interested in looking at her rather than the quality of her handiwork! I’m not sure why this is allover the place but since I can read it then I’m sure that you can. David Barnard has been here for a few days over Easter and on Good Friday we went to Wootton Rivers with a picnic and watched the canoe race… at least some of it; about 100 boats went through while we were there and there were far more girls taking part than I’ve ever seen before. David and Alyona and Emily have returned fro China after a great trip and they’re coming here at the end of May. John is in America yet again. Claire is very happy in her flat and she is starting a new job in June. I’ll have to stop as the Book Group will be here ina few minutes. Enjoy Scotland. Love, Liz.

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