November started with showers. We managed a walk during a dry spell, and a drive later in the day.

Thursday, 2nd November - the weather forecast had been for more storms but we woke to blue skies and sunshine - 20C  We took a picnic to the mountains. There was more snow.  We stopped at Tsakistra church and enjoyed a walk. Several wild flowers are appearing and a green carpet is covering fields and olive groves. Purple heather is in bloom. We continued along the road into the mountains but there was damage following the torrential rain. JCB's were out trying to clear rocks and debris. Early evening and for most of the night we again had heavy rain showers.

More snow in the distance

Tsakistra Church

Flower in hills by church

An unusual flower?

Heather in bloom

Road washed away

The next two days were sunny and dry - around 21C. We had local walks and a drive to Maheri gorge. The temperature dropped to 6C on Sunday. We had a walk around the lanes from Stilos and collected a large bag of walnuts - delicious.

Monday, 6th November - was warmer 20C. We enjoyed a lovely lunch at Alan and Margaret's home. Although it was warm enough to sit outside it was too windy on the balcony. Around 5 p.m. the temperature dropped to 14C.

Tuesday, 7th November - in the afternoon we drove towards Aptera from Stilos and stopped on the road to clamber up the hillside to the Minoan settlement. Gives good views of the valley. There were several wild flowers appearing. It was warm in the afternoon sunshine. We enjoyed a walk at Aptera until the sun began to disappear behind the mountains - this is now about 5 p.m.

Inside Turkish fort, Aptera

Kalives bay from Aptera

Lots of these flowers here

Wednesday, 8th November -
was a lovely day - clear blue skies and sun -20C. We decided to take the opportunity for a longer trip. We headed westward along the National Road towards Kolymbari and on to Kissamos We stopped along the road by Kissamos(Kastelli) bay. There were great views of the Rodopos and Gramvousa peninsulas. The boat trips leave from here for Gramvousa and Balos Bay. We then turned southwards towards Platanos. As we drove we had wonderful views of the sweeping bay of Falassarna. The plain by the sea is dotted with plastic covered greenhouses. The coastal views were magnificent, as we drove as far as the junction for Elafonisi at Valhi. Here we turned eastward heading for Pervolia. Just outside the village is an information board giving details about birds that can be seen, especially in the area of the Agios Dikaios peak. We continued along the road to that area, where we parked off the road, and saw several Griffon vultures and other birds - details in Roy's wildlife diary. After a picnic we continued along the road towards the Koutsamatados and Topolia gorges. We pulled off the road just before the entrance to the tunnel.  We were rewarded with great views of Griffon vultures directly overhead. We watched them for some time as they glided over and along the face of the gorge. We then headed northwards back to the National Road and the journey home. The olive harvest had begun in the western part of Crete. The journey of 176 kms passed through wonderful scenery, varying landscapes and several mountain villages. The area had a variety of vegetation and trees and several rivers. Another lovely day out.

Gramvousa and Balos boat

Sweep of Falassarna Bay

Pretty Cove

West coast scenery

Information- Pervolia

Pervolia - stopping point

Scanning for Griffons

Tunnel through Gorge

Part of Gorge

The next day we spent a few hours tidying the garden we have looked after in Provarma, for the past six months.

The following day Jim and Tilly who were our neighbours during our first winter in Crete in 2004, can to say their goodbyes. They have sold their lovely house outside Vamos. They are going back to the UK for a short time and then setting off on another adventure. We spent an enjoyable few hours chatting, out on the balcony, in the warm sunshine. We wish them all the best for the future.

Sunday,12th November - today was warm and sunny (after the previous day which had been dull, cold and rainy) The best of the sunshine appeared to be on the coast. We drove to Douliana and then walked towards Almiritha. It was warm and sunny. Autumn berries and leaves were colourful in the lanes. When we retraced our steps back to the car around 3.15 p.m. the taverna at Douliana was very busy. We decided to eat there another time. Cars were parked everywhere in the lane making it difficult for other drivers as they tried to pass through. One truck that came through had an ostrich (head covered by a sock) in the back. By the time I had jumped out of the way and switched my camera on I only managed a distant shot of the truck with it's cargo.

The next day was again warm and sunny -22C.  We saw the first olives being gathered in our local area. Families will be busy over the next few weeks gathering the heavy crop of olives. Most of the mulberry trees have been pruned and the summer growth and leaves have gone, leaving gnarled, bare branches. The summer leaves are used to feed goats and sheep.

Colourful Tree, Douliana

Winter Berries

Glimpse of Ostrich in truck

Tuesday, 14th November -
there was heavy rain overnight and showers during the morning. We had been invited to lunch with Patti and John at their lovely restored village home at Kefalas. After shopping in Kalives we arrived at their home in sunshine. We enjoyed a drink out in the garden and then a delicious lunch of local lamb. We wandered around the village after lunch - it covers quite a large area and the traditional areas still remain. When we left around 6 p.m. it was 8C at Kefalas and 10C at Provarma.  On the drive home we saw a Nightjar, a Scops owl and then a Barn owl - all caught in the car's headlights.

Wednesday, 15th November - we awoke to clear blue skies and sunshine so decided on a trip, with picnic, to the mountains. We headed through Vrysses to Sfakia for a return trip to Table Land (Tavri) near the Askyfou plateau. The track going up the mountainside to the Tavri plateau has been extended with tarmac. It is possible to drive an ordinary car to the end of the track. Probably it would better if continuing up into the mountains to do so with a four wheel drive vehicle. We parked at the end of the tarmac track and set off to walk up into the mountains. The tack winds round and round with glorious views of the sea, over the mountain tops, and Askyfou plateau where houses and fields look minute. We reached the red and white mast at the peak and the road levelled out for a while towards the first plateau. We walked for about one and a half hours enjoying the fresh mountain air in warm sunshine and the wonderful views. We decided to turn back and give ourselves plenty of time to get back to the car - as the days are much shorter now. We had walked for about ten minutes when a four wheel drive pick-up truck came along behind us. These were the only people or vehicles we had seen there all day. The man and his wife  (Nick and Chrisa) had been up to the plateau to pick special horta (highly valued mountain greens). They offered us a lift back to our car in the back of their open truck. We climbed in by standing on the huge wheel arches. Nick promised to drive slowly as we braced ourselves standing up in the back of the truck. We bounced back down the mountain in about ten minutes - quite exciting. It had saved us a long walk. Nick and his wife (whose home village was Askyfou) spend about five months a year in Crete and the remainder of the time in Canada where they have children. We thanked them as they left us at our car. We then enjoyed a picnic - earlier than expected!! It was still sunny with clear blue skies so we drove down to Askyfou and continued towards the Imbros Gorge for the remainder of the afternoon.

Path to Tavri plateau

Askyfou plateau way below

Mast at peak on walk

Tavri plateau in mountains

Mountains with snow

Roads snaking on Asyfou

Thursday, 16th November -
another lovely day with blue skies and sunshine.  Most days we are able to have breakfast outside on the balcony. Tony and Sue called in for a coffee - we were very pleased to see them. In the afternoon we had arranged to visit Adonis at Kato Stalos where I used to stay 25/30 years ago! It is always nice to see him - he is as generous and friendly as ever. He seems to keep 'open house' always dispensing drinks, coffee and cakes. We were pleased to meet Barry and his artist wife Belsam who were staying at Adonis's apartments until their new house was ready. We were shown some lovely examples of Belsam's (apologies for spelling) paintings - very vibrant and colourful.

Friday, 17th November - another lovely day 20C. We took advantage of the blue skies and sunshine and took a picnic over to the west side of the island again. This time we drove through Topolia and the gorge (with traffic lights and tunnel) south towards Elafonisi on the south west coast. The area between Elos and Pervolia has the largest sweet chestnut plantation in Crete. A 'Chestnut Festival' is held here in October. The area is very green with abundant, various vegetation and wildlife, due to the numerous springs and streams. We saw several 'Strawberry Trees' by the roadside. The area encompassing Meterizia, Agios Dikaios and Tsounara is a Wildlife Reserve. This area ranges from 300 to 1,181 metres in height. There are several mountain villages and the scenery is wonderful and varied, with sea and mountain views, gorges and valleys. We saw several donkeys being used for traditional tasks. It was mid afternoon when we arrived at Elafonisi. It was warm enough to swim but we needed more time to walk to the beach and the island, and to explore. We decided to head back and return another time to spend the day there.  We reached the National Road before dusk and headed for Provarma after another lovely day exploring this area of Crete.

Strawberry Tree

Wildlife Reserve Information

South Coast

Elafonisi Lagoon

Silver Sea Elafonisi

Tunnel through Gorge

Saturday 18th November -
another lovely day. We decided to walk to the garden we have been looking after for the past six months to water the pots. We were delighted to find that Hanse and Elfrieda had returned from Austria and were busy sorting out the house and garden. We sat outside in the sun and were given a delicious Austrian liqueur - homemade from sloes and wheat by Elfrieda.

Sunday, 19th November - was a cloudy day with sunny spells 18C.  We had been invited to Tony and Sue's home for coffee in the morning. We enjoyed looking around their lovely, restored village house in the centre of the old village. Scenes for Zorba the Greek were filmed here. We had decided to have Sunday lunch at a taverna at Douliana. We ate at the traditional taverna and really enjoyed our meal. The family still use an oven out in the secluded courtyard.  After lunch we had a stroll around the old part of Douliana village. Several of the houses have been restored and are used for holiday accommodation. It was a very enjoyable day.

Courtyard of House

No 33 Douliana

Oven in taverna courtyard

Monday, 20th November -
we shopped at Kalives in the morning. Our favourite bakery had been closed for several days - where we bought local bread. Today it had re-opened under new management and now the bread comes from Chania. In the afternoon we enjoyed a walk in warm sunshine at Likotinarea on the north east coast of the Apokoronas peninsula.  The cliffs here are high above the sea giving views of Rethymnon, over the sea, in the distance. Several houses have been built along the cliffs over the past three or four years. 

Bay from Likotinarea View Point 

We rounded off the afternoon spending a couple of hours chatting with Renee and Ron, at Xirosterni, and enjoying tea and buttered scones. They have been working hard on their lovely garden - full of natural features and rocks.

Tuesday, 21st November - was a warm, sunny day 18C. We went for a walk to one of our favourite spots - the church river walk, just outside Stilos. The bamboo, by the stream, which had been cleared a few months previously towered above Roy. The river was in full flow after the rains. The oranges, grapefruit and lemons are ripening on the trees, above a green carpet of Bermuda buttercups whose flowers gradually turn the carpet from green to brilliant yellow. The olives are being gathered everywhere now. There are several pruned Mulberry trees along the route which form intricate shapes. The ford was almost passable. I had to jump out of the way when two cars came through!

Oranges ready for 'picking'

River in full flow

Pile of newly picked olives

Green carpet will soon change

to Bermuda Buttercups

Mulberry Trees

The next few days continued to be dry with sunny spells, around 17C. We had trips out each day. We took picnics to the mountains near Tsakistra and to the other end of the Diktamos gorge at Katochori (the gorge leads to Stilos and walkers enjoy the trek when the river bed is dry.)

We walked up into the mountains from Melidoni another day admiring the autumn colours, glorious views and enjoying the fresh mountain air. Wild flowers are appearing. On the way down the track a driver stopped to offer us a lift back to Melidoni.  On this occasion we said thank you but  we were enjoying the walk.

Caterpillar by mountain road

Katochori entrance to gorge

Stepping stones over river

Flower at Melidoni

Autumn hillside Melidoni

Autumn Berries

We also enjoyed a walk exploring Armeni - where there are natural springs. The taverna here is a favourite eating place with local people - especially on Sundays.

There are lots of lambs and kids in the mountains and on the hillsides. Driving through villages the olive oil co-operatives are in full production. Trucks heavily laden with sacks of olives are a frequent sight on the roads.  When we visited the Vrysses olive oil factory to have a bottle re-filled we were given a small bottle of the new olive oil straight from the press. At this stage it is very cloudy and also has a different taste.

We also enjoyed a delicious dinner at Alan and Margaret's home together with John and Patti, who were due to return to the UK in a few days.

Monday, 27th November - we, together with Tony and Sue, helped Alan and Margaret gather their olives. They had already collected several kilos over the previous days. This is tiring, dusty work but more of a novelty for us. The end result of several litres of their own olive oil is the reward for Alan and Margaret. Margaret provided a lovely lunch as usual.

Tuesday, 28th November - was a calm, sunny day with blue skies 18C.  Roy had arranged a meeting of the Crete Western Wildlife Watch at Agia Reservoir. Several people were unable to attend but thanks to the people who joined us.

The last two days of November were dull, but dry, with a few sunny spells 17C

We enjoyed a walk near Maheri and rounded off the month with another delicious dinner with Alan and Margaret.

After bad weather in October,  November has been a better month with little rain. Now we look forward to December and more trips. 

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