Winter Light and Mr Toad

Here’s the inspirational link – since we can’t actually travel much, get aboard Al’s NIGHT TRAIN.

I do have a photo of the winter light, but missed the toad that I found in our woodpile! Now we are well into the second lockdown and I think we are both feeling a little stir crazy and fractious today. Just when I felt I was sort of turning a corner with Greek, I now feel myself to be , if not back at the ground floor, maybe wandering around in the lingerie department looking for the way out. Apologies, that’s a terrible metaphor. Think Father Ted. I was doing ‘small talk’ with my Greek teacher this morning and she chose the topics Christmas, weekend, summer, hobbies and something else I can’t remember. I found myself not just stuck for vocabulary, but stuck for content. Christmas I have tried to avoid for most of my adult life, preferring to spend the holiday on a beach, in a city, even hiding out a t home…. What a Grinch! Hobbies? No knitting, crochet, painting, musical instruments, organised sport…. Help! Reading, watching TV, Facebook & Instagram, yoga, cooking…. None of these feel like hobbies in the traditional sense. Quick somebody, buy me an AirFix kit. Or should I try making the Sagrada Familiar out of matchsticks.

22 December

Well , it’s been a while! I have a ‘new’ Mac – a refurb. Or maybe just overstock. Anyway, not the very latest since it always seems to take a few months for the new operating systems to bed in. I spent quite a lot of the last couple of days on the phone with a very helpful and competent chap called Bruno who helped me through the migration process. Not quite straightforward since 2010 was very miffed and wouldn’t cooperate at all with the new arrival. A bit like trying to introduce a kitten to the old cat. Anyway eventually the old cat settled down, and now here I am playing with the kitten.

British in Greece

Well, we are well on our way. We applied some while ago to be part of the Greek health system – the only way apart from extortionate private insurance. As the UK Gov has been kindly reminding us in the gaps between podcasts, we have left the EU and the transition period runs out in a matter of days. I will draw a veil over the Greek bureaucratic process. Maybe that is for another time! Enough to say that we have our precious ‘health books’ entitling us to treatment in the 9th best health system in the world. And I should shortly be in possession of a Greek driving licence. Al had completely confused the system with dual nationality but no actual civil existence in France. Happy Days!

What I am Listening To


Mark Carney’s excellent Reith Lectures

And I have probably said this before, but the New York Times’ puts out a podcast called THE DAILY. Somehow the Americans seem to be just better at podcasting. I find myself going back there when I need a new one. I do listen to Newscast from time to time, a habit formed when they were Brexitcast and I still cared what was happening in their world. Now I find them a bit too uncritical of the UK Government, and maybe just a little smug. Queen Laura Kuenssberg, it always feels to me as if she has one eye firmly on her dame hood, perhaps followed by DG of the BBC. But maybe that’s just me, as they irritatingly say so often on Brexitcast. New Statesman daily Podcast, mainly because they all sound so YOUNG. Stephen Bush says ‘like’ more times in a minute than I draw breath.

What I Watch

Really this should be What We Watch, since mostly we watch together win the evening, holding one of our laptops whist sitting on the sofa. I am very taken with His Dark Materials and can’t quite make the link between this series and the second Book of Dust. But I will hang in there. I may have to read / listen to the original again. There’s a great BBC audio production of the His Dark Materials, completely faithful to the books. I got a bootlegged copy from Jamie Hunter which I listened to whilst working on Snork Maiden in a distant winter.

We have also started to watch a French series on Netflix CALL MY AGENT. A small French agency in Paris (where else). A new star each week makes a different problem for the agency to solve as well as an insight into Parisian life and loves. And a dog called Jean Gabin. Some gentle and very well done slapstick. Very French.

One series only of GODLESS – a kind of feminist western. I love westerns for the landscape and the horses. This one has an unusual storyline, and plenty gunfire and, of course, horses.


No reason why any of you would know this, but I send this Blog out to Friends of Snork Maiden. As some of you know, she has been visited at least once a year, but we haven’t sailed her for an astounding 6 years. I used to wonder how it was that boats didn’t move from the spot, well, now I know. Initially we wanted to just do something different for the summer, so off we went to Sardinia in the all terrain C5. Spectacular trip, mainly camping, with a drive down through France and a lot of ferries. Then Al’s mother died, his Dad was hard put to cope – you can see how that went. All the time we hoped we could sail ‘next year’ and progressively, it didn’t happen. I had such high hopes of this year (2020) that I bought an entire set of running rigging (ropes, to you) and a few other bits and pieces at last year’s Southampton Boat Show. We would usually be in France by the end of May in a ‘normal’ sailing year, but as we all know, this year was not at all normal. We had only just come out of lockdown, were hitting the beach and snorkelling as often as we could, and the Cretan summer seemed like a safer and all round better proposition than travelling back to the UK. Hard to recall now the restrictions that were in place. I think June and July saw restaurants opening for outdoor service, but we pretty much kept ourselves ‘shielded’ apart from a few outdoor meetings with friends. So Snork Maiden was left in her land berth, unvisited and with her hull dry. Somewhere in those 2000 Brexit pages, the status of a UK boat kept in France, may be explained. One last try next year, and if we don’t manage it then, we must sell her and let someone else have a go. There are many charter fleets in the Greek Islands, and bargains come up at either end of the season, so not hanging up my sailing trousers just yet.

25 December 2020

Christmas Day – we have often spent 25 December out of the UK. I don’t like the schlocky aspects, although I do like the ‘feel’ of December. We got married on December 18th and I get a kind of anticipatory sense in the early part of December that I can trace back to 2006. So that Christmas was our Honeymoon in Venice, by train, of course. Then I think I went to India straight after for a month’s yoga in Pune. I can also remember Christmases in Mexico, California (with Stuart and Gayle), the Canaries, Spain, Naples and last year, Athens. This is just a reminder of how much the world has changed in 2020. This year not just exceptional because we were swimming a couple of days before Christmas but also because our friends and neighbours offered to cook us Christmas lunch, bringing it over to us, since we can’t yet all enjoy a meal around the same table. Fish, perfectly cooked in a bed of Mediterranean veg accompanied by a special salad, laced with figs and home sun dried cherry tomatoes. Enjoyed with a bottle of white wine from another of our friends here, and chased with a glass of port (also a gift) and followed by a serious afternoon snooze. Oh yes, then a game of Scrabble with a Greek twist. Είναι Ελλενικα, οχι Αγγλικα. Get the idea? We modified the game to allow copious dictionary consultation and no scoring (although Al claimed that he won). Oh and in the morning we walked on Falasana beach, a short drive away. A good day!

Brexit, Corona Virus

Maybe keep these for another time….

And for you plant lovers, there is a sort of early spring thing going on here in Crete, which has its very own take on the seasons: