Christmas is coming


ManolisI am not tempted to go out today and so it is a good opportunity to write a small contribution for the blog. The reason for the lack of movement here, is that the weather is pretty dull, a bit cold with some rain in the air. This has been the case for a few days.

It is not like this in the south of the island. Yesterday, John and I went to Ierapetra, only 15 kms away and there was a line across the sky, grey on one side, blue on the other. And so we walked along the fairly empty front in Ιεράπετρα in bright sunshine,

drank coffee with our friends Hans and Hanneke  and watched a lone swimmer in the sea.

I suspect there would a lot less chance of seeing such a person indulging in this activity on the north coast. The reason, I think, is do with the prevailing north wind. Cloud accumulates on the hills behind us while the south coast experiences more wind but bright sunshine. It appears rather unusually that this weather has got stuck! However, there is always a positive to be found and that came last night when the sun finally arrived here, still with a background of dark clouds but it did make for a dramatic picture!

And anyway, who wants to go out?  I love the tinsel, cards, presents, music etc that all go with Christmas. We put up the Christmas decorations on Wednesday.

Our house is small so it is not too big a task.

But then on Friday we went to see our friends, Shona and Rich. We had a great time,

but their house and its wonderful decorations (my camera does not do them justice)


made us think that we did need some coloured lights!  Now we haven’t had them all the time we have lived in Crete, so it is possible to live without them but suddenly I felt my life would be enriched by some!  So yesterday, John went to his favourite electrical shop in Ιεράπετρα where they have everything. And we are now the proud owners of 80 lights. John found the ideal, and possibly only location in the house, to put them – round the mirror.

We showed them off to friends last night at dinner!

Christmas here, as has been said before, has a quieter feel to it than in the UK. Many families are involved in November and December, in olive picking. The word ‘κουρασμένος’ meaning ‘tired’, is often heard at present when one asks how someone is. Our neighbours or their families have all been out in the fields and that is the priority for people’s livelihoods. But last week, our neighbour, Μαrία, had finished olive picking and brought over a colourful salt and pepper and a jolly, little tea pot as a gift

and I gave her a poinsettia plant so we were both very happy.

But I can’t stop myself getting excited a little by Christmas. So when our Greek teacher, Manolis, told us about a pantomime locally, that he was appearing in, John and I decided we had to go. The pantomime was ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and was organized by, as it says on its website, ‘The Cultural Organisation of the Foreign Residents of Άγιος Νικόλαος’ called in short ‘INCO’. It was held in α church hall in Neapoli and was a delight from beginning to end. It was a very British production and so funny from my perspective. All kinds of characters appeared, not just those related to Jack and the Beanstalk, such as Angela Merkel, dwarfs, fairies, Mr Bean, Rose and Jack from the Titanic, ‘Take That’ and dancers from ‘Grease’!  Μanolis was the Giant (see cover picture) and he was very good. I particularly enjoyed the scene where he was eating an enormous souvlaki. Below is the cast and Μαnolis receiving the applause, he deserves.

There was a raffle at half time, a solo performance by Βαλάντω Περάκης who has a beautiful voice and then singing some carols with the choir of INCO, led by the producer of the show, Carolyn Watson, who became the conductor! It was hugely enjoyable and congratulations to all those involved.

I sent most of the Christmas cards and presents from Ierapetra Post Office. This took some time, not because anybody else was sending Christmas presents and cards but because many people have bills to pay at this time of year. Inevitably I did not buy enough stamps for the number of cards I wanted to send.  I remembered later that someone had recommended giving letter and cards to our excellent postman, another Manolis, who comes to our door with our post and to pay him for the stamps, which he would send later. But I decided, instead, to go and buy a few stamps in the nearest Post Office at Pacchia Ammos.

It was closed to my surprise on a Tuesday at 10.30am. I was about to come back home and then decided to ask in the supermarket next door for times of opening. To my surprise, an old lady sitting near the till, got up very slowly and I was told that she would open the Post Office for me. We walked slowly to the Post office, she opened the door and I walked into what turned out to be her living room with a counter for the Post Office. I asked for 10 stamps at 90 cents. I ended up with 3 stamps because that was all she had, but we had a nice conversation about where I lived and I learned a little about her and her house. It was not such a good experience in terms of the service provided by the Post Office but I would love to go back and find out more about her life!

Our Greek classes continue and Manolis, not only delivers the lessons, but he sees his adult education remit as including letting us know about events in which he thinks we will be interested. We can’t go to everything but it is great to find out more about what is available. So one Friday in December, we went to a lecture in Agios Nikolaos with our friends Pauline and Chris, about the Minoan Civilisation, given by Αμαλία Γεναράκη (Amalia Generaki), lecturer in English language and Terminology from the University of Crete. The lecture was held in the Lyceum Club of Greek Women, which in itself, has an interesting history having been set up 100 years ago to promote and support traditional skills and crafts of women. You can see some of the exhibits in the pictures.  The club is still very active today.

The lecture was geared to English speakers like ourselves and there was a handout.  Amalia gave a fairly comprehensive overview of Minoan society and the contributions it made to later civilizations.

ΔΙΑΛΕΞΗ ΓΕΝΑΡΑΚΗ 4We felt we deserved a good meal afterwards and guided by Chris and Pauline, we went to the taverna, ‘Portes’ in Agios Nikolaos where the food and the ambience were fantastic.

The bookings for friends and family coming to visit next year are coming in now but first, Annie and Gideon arrive on Tuesday night for a stay of over two weeks, followed next week by our mutual friends, Kate and Dod. The work in the spare room is finished and it looks very nice.

John has booked a Christmas dinner of roast goat and duck at our local taverna, Zorbas, where he had his birthday party. And most important the Christmas cake is nearly finished.

Now, I do need to go out and feed our neighbour Christopher’s, cat. I thought I would feed her in his garden but found that most of the other cats in the area seem to think I was feeding them too! So she is now fed inside

but only once a day, which she is not so happy about and seems to think that meowing outside our door will make me change my mind. She has not been successful so far!!!

Merry Christmas, everybody



7 thoughts on “Christmas is coming

  1. Cathie Pelly

    Doug and I love your blog. Overtime we get excited about being back on Crete and especially in Kavousi. We are planning out next trip as we speak. January 29th we will be heading to Sri Lanka for two months and then in the beginning of April we will be heading ‘home’ to Kavousi for seven weeks. If you hear of any rentals, please let me know. Take care, stay well and have a wonderful Christmas.
    ps. Could you send me your direct email. Thanks


    1. sheilahwood Post author

      Hi Cathie. Thank you so much for reading our blog. It makes it all worth while!!! Great to hear you will be here at the beginning of April. I assume you want to rent something in the village, not outside it? How big? We will look out for you. We are off on the 18th January for 6 weeks to China (to see friends) and then Vietnam and Cambodia. Excited but will be glad to be back here. We have friends here over Christmas and New Year and looking forward to New Year at Pauline and Chris’s house. My email is and John’s is I don’t think we have an email for you either. I hope you, Doug and the family have a great Christmas and all the best for 2016.


  2. Veronica Willins

    Dear Sheila & John, Enjoy hearing all the news from Crete on the Blog and would like to wish you and yours A Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.Hope that you enjoyed your visit to Scotland recently and John was a very welcome visitor at the Salon(Hair-dressing) according to Pauline! Word gets around! Take care and enjoy the Festivities!!and the visitors!
    Veronica xxoo


    1. sheilahwood Post author

      A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you and your family, Veronica. You are a fantastic follower of our blog and I was sorry not to see you when we were in the UK. Only John went to Kirkcudbright to see his friends, Alastair and Yvonne Gordon and I stayed in Dumfries as some people I used to work with had invited me for lunch. We then rushed on to the north east of Scotland for 2 days. All far too short. But I do want to see you all next year. I really like the pictures from the tennis club on facebook!


  3. Mairi Marlborough

    You sound as if you are enjoying a less frenetic Christmas than in Britain. There was a super documentary on this week showing Christmas in the 40s,50’s 60’s 70’s 80’s and 90’s. So interesting to see the changes from decade to decade through the eyes of a family having six re-creations of Christmas – just the kind of social history programme I love. Have a lovely time celebrating with your friends – and thank you again for your very welcome supportive phone call the other day – felt much better afterwards. Love Mairi x


    1. sheilahwood Post author

      That programme sounds really interesting. I was just thinking about my childhood as I was cleaning a couple of brass and silver objects. I always associate Christmas with cleaning the angel chimes and silver lamp holders that my mother clearly thought needed a clean at Christmas time. It is a very satisfying activity especially when the objects in question are filthy! It was so nice to speak to you and I can understand you feel sad but it is a completely normal feeling, given the circumstances. But I think you can have some other feelings too such as being happy that you are so close to your Mum and aunt and you can give them support, which is very precious to them. And I also think you need to look after yourself too and a trip away to India with Liz is a very exciting and magical thing to do. I think once you are away, you won’t be thinking about them all the time. You will have too many other things to focus on. Have a nice Christmas and I look forward to seeing you sometime in 2016. And thank you for being such a wonderful follower of the blog.


  4. Vince

    Most pleased you continue to learn, entertain and be entertained! Minoan history in context sound fascinating. Have a most merry Christmas and a great New Year! Specifically much enjoy the long haul travel!

    With love

    Vince and Rosie



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