ΑΠΡΙΛΙΟΣ April 2006
April began warm and sunny.  Although there are still some oranges on the trees the blossom is in bloom. The scent drifts up when we have meals outside on the balcony.

Fields have been ploughed and crops planted. The vine under our windows was bare three weeks ago but now it is covered with leaves and tiny grapes. Some strands are several feet long. Plants grow so quickly. Roses in the garden are in full bloom about four weeks after being pruned back hard.

We had purchased a 'Dial-up' internet package from OTE but when we logged on to register we found that the registration had to be done in a mixture of Greek and Latin script.  Help desk were unable to assist and said we needed someone who could read Greek and translate it to English.

Thursday, 6th April - Alan and Margaret had planned a day out but Roy was unable to go due to his 'bad' back. We three enjoyed a great day. We started off at the Minoan cemetery just outside Rethymnon where there were lots of wild orchids. We then continued on a drive through wonderful scenery to the south coast and Triopetra (three rocks beach). It is a vast stretch of sand with interesting rock features. We sat on the beach in warm sunshine for our picnic. I returned to Provarma early evening where Roy had spent most of the day birdwatching from the balcony.  

The next day by 2.30 p.m. there was a very strong wind and by 5 p.m. the air was full of dust again.  There was a big fire near Chania and we saw fire engines and the 'planes carrying water to douse the fire.

Our Austrian friends called by with 'spoon sweets' and red dye for our Easter hard boiled eggs.

Saturday, 8th April -Roy had arranged another meeting of the wildlife group. We knew that at least fourteen people would not be able to join us. We planned a walk by the river just outside Stilos which we often go. The previous meeting had attracted twenty-eight people with a meal in a taverna afterwards. This time we had a select band of six people and two geese who joined the party.  Chris, an extremely able birdwatcher, spotted several interesting birds. After the walk we enjoyed lunch together at Armeni and then continued birdwatching in Maheri gorge.  The dust in the air increased so we headed for home.

Monday,10th April - we were, at last, able to register our internet package. On the way back though Stilos Roy saw a local lad - George - outside the mini-market on his way home from school.  We stopped and explained the difficulties we were having and he offered to come back with us to help. He hitched a lift in a van going to Provarma. He managed to complete the information required in Greek and after almost two hours we were able to connect to the internet.  We were really grateful for his help. 

The next few days we shopped and had local walks although Roy's back seemed to be worse, limiting where we were able to go.

Sunday, 16th April - for weeks Roy had wanted to return to the Ψυxро Пnyaδι taverna high in the White Mountains where we had seen the golden and imperial eagles. Alan and Margaret offered to drive us there. Although I had been doing the driving I did not relish the mountain road to the top! We had an enjoyable drive stopping off at Tsakistra church where we had a good view of three griffon vultures as they travelled along the valley and over our heads. When we reached the taverna we parked and walked into the mountains enjoying the peace and fantastic views. We returned to the taverna after a couple of hours for a very enjoyable leisurely lunch. It was another lovely day out and we returned home around 7 p.m.   

Saturday, 22nd April -
we woke to find the thickest layer of sand to date covering everything. We had to wash the car before we could go out!

It was Easter Saturday - we planned to join the local people in the service at Stilos church just before midnight. We enjoyed a meal and went to the church. People take a candle and light it from the priest's holy flame. There is a procession around the outside of the church. A huge bonfire is then lit - often with a guy (Judas). The sparks at Stilos went high into the sky about twice as high as the church. It was very noisy with fire crackers and fireworks. All generations attend from small children, dressed in their best clothes to elderly people. They all carry lighted candles back to their homes. Many local people drive home, holding their flickering candles in their cars.  We walked up the hill with ours. The aim is to get home with the candle still lit and mark the sign of the cross over the front door. We managed to do this. This is the second Easter in our house.

Easter Sunday - 23rd April -
we had bought some plants during the week and needed some bamboo to use as supports. About noon we 'popped' to the river near the church just outside Stilos to collect some. As we parked we were called over by a party of Cretan people who had set up for a feast, in a clearing under the trees by the church. We were given delicious cheese pies, meat and white wine and asked to join them. We said we had to walk along by the river to collect bamboo but would return.  This we did and spent several enjoyable hours in their company. They had a whole lamb roasting on an electric spit and another bar-b-q for cooking chops, sausages, meat balls etc. There was a fridge, a stereo playing Greek music, all powered by a generator.

We were given more cheese pies, meat, wine and sausages all before the main meal of the roast lamb!  When the lamb was cooked it was placed on a table and broken up. We all helped ourselves - it was delicious. There was salad, bread and more wine to go with the lamb. We were also entertained with Greek dancing and I had fun trying to join in. 90 year old grandmother even danced. We finished the meal with elinikos (Greek coffee) each cup freshly made on the gaz in a briki.

We had to leave around 5.30 p.m. as we had arranged to meet friends at Exopoli but the party was still in full swing. We had eaten and drunk all that we could but were told we hadn't eaten or drunk enough!

This was an Easter Sunday we will always remember and we thank our hosts for being so generous and welcoming.     

Easter Monday, 24th April -
we met Alan and Margaret near the church where we had partied the previous day. We enjoyed an evening stroll along the river towards Kalives and saw golden orioles and a night heron. We then drove to Kalives for a very enjoyable meal in a taverna by the sea.

Tuesday, 25th April - we had been looking forward to today as son Ian, Jan and Sophie would arrive for a two week holiday in Crete. They had rented a luxury villa in the hills the other side of Rethymnon. They were delayed by three hours in London but arrived safely and managed to find their villa - in the dark.  We visited the following day for lunch staying for several hours enjoying their company.

Saturday, 29th April -
we arranged to meet Ian, Jan and Sophie in Georioupolis.  We strolled down to the small white church at the end of a causeway in the bay. Sophie had great fun throwing stones into the sea. We went on to Lake Kournas and had lunch in a taverna by the lakeside. We later drove back to Provarma via Vrysses for tea on the front terrace. It was a lovely day.

Saturday, 30th April -
Alan and Margaret had asked us to join them on a return visit to the highest road in Crete, through the mountains to the ski centre past Anoghia. The scenery is fantastic. We had good views of Psiloritis mountain. Near the ski centre and the Ideon cave (which was an important place of worship for the Minoans)  is a vast plain in a valley surrounded by mountains - you can almost imagine dinosaurs roaming around. We returned early evening and Margaret produced a delicious mezes meal for us before we returned to Provarma - another great day out. 

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