Our House

Today’s Blog is a bit different because I am trying to keep to just one subject.

This is actually the house next door, but the two houses are like peas in a pod – not identical but recognisably siblings, actually sisters, Aretousa and Pasiphae.

Here is Pasiphae, and it is where we have been living since March 2020. Today is actually a kind of anniversary. We came out for 2 months on this day (26 February) 2018. We first found it through AirBnb in November 2017, and it was really a shot in the dark. When I looked at the location on the !:140,000 Michelin map of Crete, I thought it would be in a kind of suburban area of Kissamos. So it was a real surprise that it was up a winding road, with a view over the bay, even the ferry port in the distance. I can still remember the drive, maybe in the dusk, the small hire car steadily climbing, following the directions and wondering where on earth we were going and if it could possibly be right. But it was. Tina was there to welcome us and I an almost certain that there was a bottle of wine, bread and a warm dish of stuffed peppers on the table. One of the best meals we ever have.

At the time we were looking for a house to rent for Spring 2018, and after viewing several others we decided to go for Pasiphae. At the time, we had no idea what a good decision this was.

The house is built of stone, so most of the interior walls are unfinished stone. We have come to really appreciate the soft sound that this gives in the rooms. Acoustically, the house feels rather like a single space, and that has made us exercise a lot of consideration for each other in terms of the noise we make – whether it’s Zoom yoga, washing up or Al beating out time in his makeshift bedroom studio.   The bed is comfortable, has great views over the sea, and hills to the West.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I am hoping that this year or next, some of you will come over to see us here in Western Crete, and until we have our own place where you can stay, these houses are a perfect solution. At the moment we don’t know exactly where we will be when, or when where, but we know that you will love staying here as much as we do, so you might want to make plans to come anyway!

The website  (click  on the rainbow) tells you everything you need to know – the houses are comfortable, have pools, 2 bathrooms each, one with a bath and one with a shower and a washing machine. Solar water heating means there is almost always plenty of hot water,(bearing in mind that economical use of water is good in such a water hungry region). There’s an outdoor shower, fabulous in the summer. Swimming pool is small by Oympic standards but good for a splash about when it’s hot. Just floating about on an airbed takes a lot of beating. Still working out how to read whilst doing this.

The houses are around 15 minutes from our favourite local beach at Viglia.  Bigger beaches are also available! 

And there are plenty  to choose from. Many of you will have read the blog, on and off, and will know that we have many walks from the house in nearby olive groves. Further afield there are the Cretan gorges, famous and not-so-famous. There’s a Minoan / Roman settlement (Polyrinia) on a hill that we can see from the bedroom window. Fantastic spring flowers.

I haven’t talked about the food yet – there are plenty of restaurants in the area, mainly simple beach tavernas, but some ‘hidden gems’ as well. There is a plan afoot to provide a new, exciting dining experience almost right next-door. But I am not going to give that game away.

We have made friends here, with our hosts, with our neighbours. In spite of the lock-down we have managed some minimal outdoor socialising, a birthday party, and a home delivered Christmas dinner. Here are our hosts and friends, Tine and Eleni.

Smells: so important! When we walked into the house it smelled right. No heavily scented cleaners or ‘air fresheners’ just a comfortable clean smell, with maybe a little polish. Outside there is a scented hedge, jasmine, and a lemon tree, all of which contribute to a heady summer mix. And just yesterday, the air smelled like spring in some way I can’t define. A mix of daisies and new foliage maybe. That and the sun angle seem to raise a felt memory of our first taste of Cretan Spring.

What else to say? We will be here at least until the end of May, after which we probaby need to attend to a few things back in Bristol! This has been a strange year for everyone, but it’s hard to think of a better place to be ‘locked in’. If you are interested in coming out to visit, get in touch with me , and I can pass you on to our friend Tina, or there’s a booking form on the website.

So – we hope to see you in Crete, sooner or later!

Γεαι σας!


Spring, Summer, Autumn and Spring again

Spring, Summer, Autumn… and Spring again.

Τι καιρό; What’s the weather like?
According to my Greek textbook, there is a Greek saying:
Από Αύγουστο χειμώνα
Κι από Μάρτη καλοκαίρι
Loosely translated as :
Winter begins in August; Summer begins in March.

Maybe because of climate change, or maybe because of our attachment to the notion of 4 seasons, it hasn’t quite been like that. When we arrived in march last year, Spring was definitely springing up everywhere, with many flowers already out, and just after we got here a day that caused our neighbour to ask us why we were wearing winter clothes! As it turned out, we needed those clothes on many days right through into May, and we were certainly lighting the fire in the evening until the wood ran out, maybe early May. But in between there were days when we went to the beach and swam.

Autumn was defined by some crisp mornings, beginning maybe at the end of October, when we returned to the log fire. There have been a few days when we have lit the fire before 5pm, and on a few mornings I have used the air heat exchanger to warm the living room-kitchen for yoga practice.
In November, I think, the bare earth of the olive groves turned bright green, and by November, they were carpeted with small yellow flowers with lush foliage, high enough to make my ankles and almost knees wet after rain. In January the anemones began, sometimes just one or two and sometimes a whole bank, often mixed in with daisies.

This year, after a heavy crop, the olive trees have been mercilessly pruned, with whole branches lopped off, sometimes revealing views that we didn’t know were there. It is a vicious process, with the sound of chain saws and pale open wounds.

 The product of this carnage is next year’s firewood, but the smaller leafy branches are quickly dried Ian drifts next to tracks, before being burnt in very neat bonfires that leave near-perfect circles of ash. Sometimes there are left over charred bits, good for kindling as the heat of the fire has dried them out.

 The snow on the White Mountains behind Chania is less than it was when we arrived last year in early March. The weather has 3 weeks to make up the difference and at the moment it looks unlikely.

The last few weeks have also brought more bird activity. There are many small birds, blackbirds, doves around, as well as the usual hooded crows and hawks of various sorts.

Below is a Video link to a pan from Al’s ‘listening spot’ just below the house.  Spring birds, distant chainsaws and a hawk!


Winter Update
After all that, we are due a cold snap of 5C but feeling like -5C!! A new load of logs this morning, so maybe a few days of earlier fires.
Monday: we have got the cooler, rainy weather and now I have just lit the fire. The logs are neatly piled up – or as neat as I can make it, given that they are pretty weird shapes and sizes. My neat-freak side wants them to be tidier but so long as they can stay dry, that’s the main thing. We were promised high winds and Tina and Eleni collected up our chairs and tied down the tables. I guess that’s what’s meant by a high wind in Western Crete.

Today you have a choice: massive Led Zeppelin live version of [Whole Lotta Love]
or a much quieter soundtrack from Studio Ghibli’s [When Marnie was There] which I haven’t seen yet. We have been having a rock music mini-binge. Must be the weather!

Chick peas and cabbage – a combination I haven’t used before. There are any number of recipes out there, so I invite you to Google that combination of ingredients.
Here’s one I made:
https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/turmeric-and-coconut-braised-cabbage-with-chickpeas (Sorry not a link – cut and paste )

Fritters have also come onto the menu – courgette quite classic, be sure to salt and wring out the grated courgettes. Another great recipe for chick pea and sweet potato fritters from The Happy Pear.

I think I have had a literary relapse. I couldn’t quite manage LANNY – maybe another time. So have resorted to the classiest crime novels I could find. Oh and The Midnight Library – sort of interesting and sort of irritating. The Life we Bury was an interesting page-turner. No spoilers. I also like the Scandi-Icelandic genres. About to start Ragnar Jónasson’s Winter Kill, and I have The Song of Achilles lined up. It has been lined up for a while; I may have to buy it.

Did I mention that I have become a ’Trekkie’? We have started with season one of Star Trek. I never watched it the first time around, and I am loving it. There’s something relaxing about the pace of the episodes, and even the old 4×3 TV ratio makes for comfortable viewing. Temporarily giving up with Adam Curtis on the BBC iPlayer. Westerns: News of the World – Netflix film. Good guy finds abandoned white child, abducted during Indian raid. Atmospheric. Watchable. The White Tiger – for a dose of India. Close to the book and very visual. Has the smell of India. We are casting around for a new series, in spite of another 10.6 series of Star Trek.

This is the year of the Ox. My sign. I feel as though I really am going to have to put on the yoke and do some heavy ploughing if our lovely ideas for a life in Crete are to materialise. Of course my partner in harness is a Horse, so watch out for some interesting team work as the horns and hooves fly. It will not be a straight furrow, but the harvest should be bountiful.


Feeling a little … what’s the word – maybe wistful.
Not sure I have ever written that word before. Let Fairport Convention describe the feeling.



PS I make no apology for repeating myself in the blogs – I don’t check back on what I have written previously, and I don’t expect everyone to read everything in any case!

Coming soon:  Castles in the Air.