Return to Crete
Having made the decision to live for a while in Crete we spent several months sorting out our affairs in England. Battles with call centres and insurance companies, sorting out financial matters and deciding whether to sell or rent our house took far longer than we expected. We had lots of items to sell. Some were sold on the internet,  others at car boot sales (not my favourite way to spend a Sunday!) The summer on the east coast, apart from the last two weeks we were there, was quite dull and overcast most of the time. We have left the house in the hands of an agent to deal with tenants and any problems. We met our first tenant whom we feel sure will enjoy the house and garden.
 
The next decision was what we could bring to Crete, what we should leave for the tenant and what should be stored.
 
Our flights were booked for 6th September. We decided to have one cubic metre of goods transported to Crete. We spent days packing nine boxes for the overland journey.
 
On 1st September the van arrived to collect our boxes for Crete.


 

A hectic weekend followed. We had not sold our car but people were still ringing to ask about it. Keys had to be taken the agent and the house and garden prepared for the tenant. Any food left had to be given away.  Friends and family called to say goodbye and we visited my parents for another goodbye, which was very difficult.
 
After a few more traumas with call centres, we left our house on 5th September to drive to Gatwick and stay overnight. We still had our car, which is now with our son's in-laws who will sell it for us.
 
The flight to Chania on 6th September was good and only took 3 hours 25 minutes.  When we came out of the airport it was good to see Jim (our neighbour in Vamos during the previous winter) who had a hire car ready for us. We called in at the supermarket for essential supplies and were back at our house in Provarma by  3 p.m. Everything was as we had left it in May - however the concrete was still wet on our promised car parking space. We had to continue parking in the road. There was a nice, firm, new sofa and two new arm chairs and a new cooker. We were surprised how green everything still was in the garden. The vine was heavy with huge bunches of grapes. There were figs and pomegranates, aubergines, peppers, and roses in the garden. We were welcomed by Yiannis and Niki and given eggs and olive oil.
 


 

The weather was hot and sunny but we had to visit Hania to choose a car (not the weather for this task!) We needed one as soon as possible as our budget did not stretch to long term car hire. We had some test drives and settled on a Suzuki Ignis, as it has a good ground clearance to avoid the rocks in the road and the flooded roads after a downpour.

Friday, 9th September -  during the morning we saw a 'passing out' parade at the naval base at Souda Bay. In the evening we saw a wedding at the small church on the road from Vryses on the way to a 'get together' at Alan and Margaret's house overlooking Georgioupoli. It was a lovely evening.  They had provided a wonderful spread as usual and lots of drinks. We were able to sit outside until after midnight being entertained by four of the guests with guitars.
  

Sunday, 11th September - we, at last, managed to take time for a swim. It was wonderful in the bay at Kalives - here's to many more dips before Christmas.
 
Monday, 12th September - we visited Kalives for shopping and to find an accountant. This is necessary if you purchase a car or house and you also need a tax number. Efi agreed to be our (glamorous) accountant and arranged to meet us at the tax office in Chania at 9 a.m. the next morning.
 
Tuesday, 13th September - we met our accountant as planned.  Within ten minutes we had our tax number. We had tried previously by ourselves but failed.
 
There is a small shrine just outside our house and we were invited to a 'Blessing of the Cross' a 5 p.m. that evening. Chairs were set out in the road and villagers arrived with herbs, wine, oil, pastries and pies. There was a table set out with drinks and eats. A pile of round, sweet bread was stacked onto a small table by the shrine. The priest arrived, long wax candles were lit. Three were pushed into the top of the pile of sweet bread. The priest waved incense, blessed the bread and there was chanting in which the guests joined. The bread was cut into huge slices and distributed. We also had cookies, pies and drinks. The occasional car went along the road. We went home at 7 p.m. with cinnamon cookies and sweet bread. Niki then gave us grapes, lemons, green figs and peppers straight from the garden.
 


 

Wednesday, 14th September was hot and sunny again but we had to go to Hania to continue our search for a car. Later in the day we visited Sue in Megala Horafia.  She has been in Crete for 25 years and now runs a taverna with her husband. It was still very warm on the balcony at 10 p.m.
 
Thursday, 15th September we visited Kalives for shopping.  Later that afternoon there was a storm.  We had a short power cut from 6.30 p.m. until 6.50 p.m. Our emergency lighting came into operation - good to know it works.
 
Friday, 16th September - there was a storm and torrential rain overnight but the weather cleared again by 11 a.m.  We went into Hania again and ordered our car.
 
Saturday, 11th September - another meeting of the Crete Western Wildlife Watch Goup was held from 11 a.m. at Lake Kournas. The weather was hot and sunny. Fourteen people attended and we had a lovely lunch. Everyone ordered a different  dish and we all shared a delicious variety.


 

Sunday, 18th September - we left our house to visit Jim and Tilly who were our neighbours last winter. It was really lovely to go back to the olive grove. We had a long chat with them, and with Nick and Debs who had also called in. We sat by the pool and enjoyed drinks and eats. Nick and Debs are working on their new house so they left before us but invited us to visit. We left Jim and Tilly and visited a few of our old haunts and made our way to Nick and Deb's house.  The difference since May, when we last saw it was amazing. It is a beautiful house in a lovely location. They have kept as many of the original features as possible around the house such as olive trees, other natural features such as a stone shepherd's house, and the original vegetation. The pool is fringed by six olive trees. We enjoyed more tea and cakes sitting on the balcony admiring the view. We eventually arrived back in Provarma at  7p.m.
     
Monday, 19th September - we were expecting the delivery of our nine boxes from England at 9.30 a.m. We had last seen them on 1st September when they were collected. We received a call from the driver at 9.15 to say he would be late, as an oil tanker had crashed on the National Highway setting the road and hillside alight.  He told us to look up at the black cloud hovering over the area. He managed to reach us by 11 a.m.
 

Tuesday, 20th September - we went to Hania to attempt to register with IKA the Greek Health Service but were beaten by the bureaucracy. Although we had all our documents we were sent away.  We'll try again later! The fact that the Pensions Service in England had sent a document saying I had been receiving a pension since 1923 did not help!! If I had received my pension in 1923 I would now be 142. We collected our post from the mini-market in Stilos - always quite entertaining - we have to make sure we are given the correct post. Sula also gives us a Greek lesson.
 
That evening Niki (our landlady) came to work in the garden and gave us grapes, figs, chillies, peppers, lemons, plums and aubergines - and a rose.
Wednesday, 21st September - we had planned a swim at Octopus Bay with friends, but the sea was rough so we decided against it.  We had arranged to return the hire car that evening so we did more shopping to ensure we had enough supplies to last until our own car arrived. We returned the car to Kalives. We decided to walk along to a favourite taverna for a meal. We walked by one taverna and friends Chris and Margaret called out to us.  They had arrived the previous day to check progress on their lovely new house at Vamos. It was good to see them again. We enjoyed a meal with them and then took a taxi back to Provarma.
 
Thursday, 22nd September - we decided that we should start unpacking the boxes from England. We enjoyed a welcome break for coffee when friends Alan and Margaret called in to see us. We spent the next three days unpacking and storing everything away. It all went somewhere!
 
Sunday, 25th September - the weather had become cooler from Saturday. When the temperature fell from 80 degrees to 76 degrees it felt quite chilly!!
 
Tuesday, 27th September - hot and sunny again at first then mist and cloud. We walked to Stilos for bread and other fresh supplies. I asked for grapes in the mini-market (in Greek of course) Sula shook her head, then took a bag outside to the vine next door and proceeded to pull off bunches of grapes - no money she said. Our shopping trip - ten minutes down the hill took an enjoyable hour and a half.
 
Wednesday, 28th September - hot and sunny again. We had been expecting a call to say our car was ready - but no luck. We went for a walk when it was cooler in the late afternoon through the lanes to the gorge near Maheri.
 
Thursday, 29th September - still no call from garage. We made our first purchase from the many vans which sell their wares around the villages - just a loaf of bread. I still have to sort out the fish van and the fruit and veg.  We did an extra long circular walk from one side of Stilos, along the river and back through the village - took about two hours. We contacted the garage to be told that our car would be arriving from Athens the next day. Late afternoon Yiannis, our landlord, said he had come after us to help him tread the grapes for his wine, just after noon. We had just left for our walk so unfortunately missed the occasion.
 
Friday, 30th September - still without a car, we needed to get to Agia Reservoir for a meeting of the Wildlife Group at 5 p.m. Alan kindly offered to take us, and on the way, call in at the garage to check our car. This we did and were told it would be ready on Tuesday the following week. Twelve people attended the meeting at Agia and eleven of us went on to Kalives later in the evening for a pleasant meal at a taverna by the sea. Two other friends brought us home.
 
Sunday, 2nd October - the weather forecast had been cloudy with showers. Alan and Margaret had invited us to join them on a day out in the Omalos plateau region. We took a picnic and had several stops during the day to admire the glorious scenery. We went to the head of the Samaria Gorge - wonderful view. It does not matter how many times you see it, it is always breathtaking. We collected sweet chestnuts at the roadside - quite a large bagful each. The weather was clear and bright all day, in spite of the forecast and we all enjoyed the day. We invited them for a simple meal when they took us back to Provarma.
 


 

Monday, 3rd October - just leaving to walk to Stilos when Chris and Margaret (with the new house in Vamos) managed to find us. It was great to see them. We had coffee on the front terrace and then had a lift to the village.
 
Tuesday, 4th October - collecting car day.   It seemed simple - taxi to Kalives, collect cash for car from bank, finalise insurance cover - previously arranged - and then another taxi to Hania. To cut a long story short we enlisted the help of the men sitting at the kafenion in Stilos who 'phoned for a taxi after sign language and limited Greek to get the message across. We had to find a different insurance company as the girl we needed to see was in the Hania office. We had to wait for the safe to be opened in the bank. We saw friends Pat and Roy outside the bank and Roy kindly offered to drive us to the garage to collect the car.
 


 

That's it for now - more adventures next time, now that we have 'wheels' again. We'll be collecting more sweet chestnuts, walnuts, almonds and figs from the countryside.
 
Back to diary index