Family matters

The week before last, our son Graham arrived from London for a week’s holiday. He had said before he came that he just wanted to relax at the beach, recover from a hard year teaching and drink a few beers – and that is precisely what he did!

Two extraneous matters impacted on his stay – the first being that we heard from Canada on the day of his arrival that my sister Bridget, had had a massive stroke and was not expected to survive (of which more later) and the second being the arrival of the first serious heatwave here in Crete this summer.

It’s amazing how different, life is when the temperature rises from the high twenties to the mid- thirties. Five or six degrees seemed to make a huge difference particularly as it also became very humid at times. There were some days when we were walking round like zombies and it was almost too much trouble to go to the beach. That however was the solution because it seemed cooler there and while the sea is now deliciously warm, it is also cooling in the heat.

Am I complaining? Certainly not! We had a great time with Graham both at the beach where the highlight was him on the lilo which he felt he needed. Eat your heart out, Harry the Hippo! (Rosie will get the joke.)

It was also his 30th birthday while he was here so there were celebrations to be arranged and enjoyed – like a wonderful cake from the bakers here in Kavousi and supper at Panorama.

We also took him to see the magnificent Γιάννης Χαρούλης at an outdoor concert at Koutsouras near where we used to live in Ferma, in the company of H2 at whose house we were entertained beforehand. This meant that Graham was able to visit Bonnie’s grave – a must for any family member these days. The concert was fantastic.  Γιάννης played for over three hours straight, either with his brilliant band or unaccompanied – no mean feat in the heat even at midnight!

Last week we took Graham back to Heraklion en route to Barcelona to meet a friend and thence to Paris to meet up with Emily. It was great to see him and hear all about the problems of teaching in a ‘problem’ school in London, his plans for the future and the excitement of being part of the Senior Management Team. On the way to the Airport, we stopped for a meal in Sissi.

While all this was going on, we were also coping with the news that my sister had died and wondering how we were going to get out to Canada for the Memorial Service. The problem for me was that my passport was away in Belfast for renewal which meant that I would have to get a temporary one from the British Consul here in Crete. This was not particularly problematic but would the Canadian authorities accept it and could I book a flight without it? Fortunately and very unexpectedly, my new passport arrived here just as I was dealing with these issues. I am not a particular fan of the British bureaucracy generally but in this case, it was a fantastic service – delivered to me by courier here in Kavousi just over two weeks from the date I sent it to Belfast – credit where credit is due!

I am of course devastated by the loss of my sister. We didn’t see each other that often but had become quite close and I shall miss her. She was a person who could quite truly be called wonderful.

Bridget with John & Sheila 2006 02

Sheila and I leave in a day or so for a flying visit to Ontario for the Memorial Service on Saturday and we will spend a couple of days on the Island in Georgian Bay, where she and her husband have a cottage and then go to Toronto for a few days sight-seeing before returning home at the end of next week.

Jeremy CorbynA few final things to mention. Firstly, I need to say how excited we both are at the success of the Jeremy Corbyn campaign for the Labour Party leadership. It is hard to believe how the things which he and others before him like Tony Benn in particular, have been saying for years, have suddenly struck a chord with the young especially. Graham was waxing quite lyrical on the subject and it seems to have something to do with straight talking and honesty. We can vote and he will be getting our support too because he speaks our language.

Secondly, we had a fun evening here in the village at the weekend when there was a concert at the Olive Oil Factory featuring a Greek Band, a display of traditional Cretan dancing and then most of the audience joining in. No, Sheila and I did not join them although Sheila would have been up there had there been anyone to show her the ropes. We sat with our friend Maria and some of her family and friends and managed a bit of conversation in Greek before the music started. We also took part in the Greek equivalent of a raffle in which Sheila appears to have won a floor mat for the car! However, we have to collect it from a garage in Ierapetra tomorrow, so it could actually be anything! We shall see.

And thirdly, we are eating our own grapes. Last year we missed them because we were in the UK but just now, we are feeling like Roman Emperors as we feast straight from the vine!

Finally, the temperature has dropped a little and we even had a short rain shower at the weekend. This is unheard of in Crete in August. Crazy weather this year!



4 thoughts on “Family matters

  1. pondbug

    We seem to live in unpredictable times – not least in the case of politics and the weather (on top of the usual stuff). Jeremy is speaking in Aberdeen this Thursday – I’ll be in Glasgow but Colin and Barbara are going so we’ll get a report back in due course. Did you see Alastair Campbell is warning everyone against voting for him – a sure way to garner support for Jeremy esp in Scotland.


    1. jude

      Dear John
      I am really sorry to hear about the death of your sister, losing a sibling, at what ever age, is horrible. Will be thinking of you.
      Best wishes


  2. Veronica Willins

    Very sorry indeed john to hear the sad news of your sister.It must have been a terrible shock for you and no prior warning. Was good that you had Graeme visiting at the time as it always lightens the load with family around. He looks to be having a very relaxed time on that lilo!!Envy!!You will be heading for Canada now and Georgian bay sounds lovely. It is so vast and i think i remember sheila saying something about Parry Sound on your last visit. I will be thinking of you as I just returned from visiting my son malcolm and family there in June(he is in Collingwood, also on Georgian Bay and so beautiful). Take care,safe journey and i hope all goes well for you. A sad journey to make but am sure that everyone will rally round and help you through a bad time. Will be in touch again soon, Sheila. All the other news was good and am glad that there is some fruit on the vine to enjoy!!
    Deepest sympathy,
    Veronica xx


  3. Mary Scott

    Hi John and Sheila, Very sorry to hear about the sudden death of John’s sister. Hope you have a great time in Canada despite the sadness. I’m not able to go to see Jeremy Corbyn tomorrow but I rejoined the Labour party to vote for him xx



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