Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Crete holiday with family.....

Thursday 5th October
     Very early start tomorrow and also to save the cost of parking two cars at the airport sisterS and bilK came to us to sleep over. I'd been out all day at my monthly craft group and they were already here when I got home. Dinner was booked at the local pub. 

Friday 6th
     Alarm went off at 3am and we managed four of us through the bathroom, last minute sorting/zipping/weighing of cases, playing suitcase tetris in the boot and driving away from the house by 4am. Pleased to say Ipswich to Gatwick, parking, checking in, security, breakfast at the Lebanese restaurant (pleasantly uncrowded) and flight were all quite uneventful. Prearranged taxi at Chania airport to meet us and sisterS had the keys to let us into her friend's villa in Kokkino Chorio.

     First thing we noticed was no power, the owners had said it goes off sometimes and we could put the emersion on for hot water from the consumer unit upstairs, hiding under a picture, both men gave it deep and meaningful looks and flicked switches as men do and decided to wait and see! We opened shutters and brought our stuff in and generally had a look round and sat on the balcony to admire the view

     Cloudy but beautiful and so warm. That's when it was noticed that the pool was making noises so not all the power was off! So sisterS and I knocked next door and met the neighbours Margaret and Allen. They were so helpful and Allen fixed our problem by uncovering another consumer unit in the lounge (under another picture) easy when you know how.
     Seems Greek bugs of all kinds really find me tasty and having only been sitting on the balcony for a very short while my feet and ankles had at least a dozen very itchy bites!
     The owners had rented their car to us too, Hubby our driver, so we made use of it straight away for essentials at the nearby supermarket, milk, fruit and stuff for breakfast as we plan to eat out each day. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any shopping or eating places we can walk to but Hubby said he is happy to drive and limit his drinking.
     Going by the owners recommendations in their comments book it seems Kokkino Chorio only has one eating place and the next nearest village Plaka has a choice so that's where we went, tonight Taverna Takis. First we were served bread, butter, olives and dips (only €1 each on the bill for that) I was happy drinking the water provided and so was sisterS, large beer for K, small beer for Hubby and we ordered or main courses which were delicious. [I could mention what we each ate each night but I'm sure you'd find that really boring, I will say we all chose traditional Greek dishes and enjoyed something different every night]. Deciding we were all too full for dessert we asked for the bill but before that arrived another round of drinks on the house, more beers than we had ordered the first time, then cake arrived then a jug of Raki with four shot glasses all on the house hahaha.
     Before the night was done I'd gained lots more itchy bites and bilK was also complaining of insect bites. My afterbite stuff was passed around.

Saturday 7th
     We were all sitting outside having breakfast that bilK cooked when we heard an enormous crash, so Hubby went to investigate and discovered a very large picture on the upstairs landing had fallen off the wall and glass was all down the marble stair case! Hubby made a great job of clearing it all up, took him ages and not enough space for us to help. We all agreed not to go barefoot at all. Seems the pin in the wall had snapped in half so not our fault and could have happened at any time. 
     We had decided today to visit Georgioupoli, unfortunately on the way there Hubby had a minor car accident, minor for us as we were totally unharmed as was the stationary lorry he just caught the back of but the poor car lost its door mirror which scratched all the side on its way to the ground uuuurrrrggghhhhh! What else could go wrong today?
     Thankfully Georgioupoli was beautiful and helped get us back into holiday mood. First stop at the beach was to see if we could replace the broken picture, but these were far too expensive.
     Lovely long walk along the beach up to a long rocky causeway leading to a small building, it was a little too uneven under foot for K and I so Hubby and S set off hand in hand.
     K has had a nasty reaction to his bites and they're all swollen and pussy and look very hot, think he could do with an antihistamine but he says he's fine. A whole day in shorts and Hubby now has lots of really bright red bites which he says don't really itch. So three of us have all reacted differently and sisterS hasn't been bitten at all.
     Back to the villa for a relax and the dreaded phone call to tell the owners what had happened, they are coming out two days after we leave so said they will deal with it all themselves, of course we said we will pay.  Then another taverna in Plaka for dinner and sure enough we were treated to all the free stuff again and more as S had drunk apple juice and K beer and wine and all were repeated, shame I'm only on water! We sat outside and the many scrounging cats that are always here were more of a problem especially bothering sisterS. Benefit of sitting outside though was when the young musician/beggars came around we could hear them and we did give them a few cents each time. 

Sunday 8th
     Really interesting trip out today to the Hellenistic and Roman ruins and baths and amphitheatre in Aptera

Only mishap of the day was Hubby banging his head on a very low ceiling ouch!
     We had lunch in Aptera where we just wanted a small snack. S&K ordered what looked to be starters off the board and Hubby and I asked for small Greek salad and with the complimentary loaf of bread etc it filled the table. We were brought complimentary plate of grapes and asked if we wanted Raki, but even K can't do that stuff lunchtime! We thought the place was called Tabepna but discovered that was just another word for Taverna. 
     Our two men in the front using satnav and the driving around these roads is always eventful and taking twice as long  as it should because of missed turns, zig-zagging mountains and roads too narrow to drive through. Apparently we were only about seven kilometres from home and it took nearly 25 minutes hahaha. 
     Evening meal back into Plaka. Coming back and a nightcap someone suggested playing a game but none in the cupboard were suitable, so I found some pub quiz trivia questions online and that proved popular enough to become our end of evening ritual before bed. 

Monday 9th
     First thing to do today was send a happy birthday message to our son.
     We took a drive into Chania and had a good walk around the market. Hubby had said he wanted a day not driving so we bought provisions for lunch for tomorrow, the cheese stall holder gave us lots to taste before we bought.

     A lovely lady at a clothes stall pulled me over to say, only in Greek, she had tops in my size and showed me one after another after another until actually there was one I really did like enough to buy. She gave me a big hug, business must be bad she seemed almost desperate that I bought, so I felt good about my new top and that I'd helped her if only in a very small way. 
     We walked back to the car to put our purchases in the boot then off in the opposite direction to find the old town and the old Venetian harbour. It was beautiful and stopped for lunch overlooking the posh boats docked there. According to my phone app we've walked nearly 10km here.

     We also came across a tiny synagogue built in the 1500's I think, now the only surviving remnant of a past Jewish community here on Crete.

Tuesday 10th
     Having a lazy stay at home by the pool day to give Hubby a day off from driving, he's done lots already through some of the narrowest streets and most obscure directions both from the satnav and bilK.
     Beautiful weather so loungers by the pool and K actually went for a swim even though Hubby had put a foot in and said it was freezing, K is very brave! Had another quick chat with the neighbours who recommended a couple more places we should visit.
     Lunch on the balcony was an absolute feast.
     Hubby did drive into Plaka for our evening meal.

Wednesday 11th
     Vamos was recommended, mainly for an eating place for lunch I think, but we'd got there too soon after breakfast so just had a walk round. Not much there really, mostly residential but S and I popped into a tiny book shop and gallery to discover in a back room a craft workshop where a few people were making mosaic pictures and they were more than happy for us to chat and take photos of what they were creating.

     Our next stop Rethymnon, a wonderful mix of old and new and beautiful churches and the harbour.

     SisterS quite liked this hat

Thursday 12th
     Another busy day with lots to see, first Sauda Bay then the Allied War Cemetery, very humbling.

     We made another stop at Kalyvis beach and had a drink right on the sand, I even went in for a very brief paddle (I'll only ever get my toes wet hahaha). Then because of another recommendation we went in search of the Koumos Taverna. Not the easiest place to find but so worth it, totally unique, we had lunch there and spent ages wandering around and taking photos, it's all amazing

A small part of my face is in this ceiling as I noticed a tiny 
mirror embedded amongst the rocks so I lined myself up. 

     Our last evening meal was back in Elpis in Plaka as this was sisterS's favourite.

Friday 13th
     And all too soon it was time to pack up and head home. We had instructions on airport parking so the car would be in the right place for our hosts to collect on Sunday. We had replaced all we'd used in the villa and bought them a thank you gift. And thankfully another uneventful journey home apart from the traffic delays on the M25 which meant we didn't make it home to freshen up first but went straight to the booked pub for our dinner.

Saturday 14th
     After their final sleepover and Hubby cooking breakfast S&K loaded their car and set off for home.
     Another lovely holiday over, our last for 2017.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Spain Holiday with friends.......

Sunday 24 September started oh so early with the alarm going off at 3:30am. Think I'd had about four hours sleep.
     We were on the road at 4am allowing a bit extra time as the main road to Stansted has had road works over night for months and months....... actually it was all open so we got to the airport early.
     We'd already arranged between us for each couple to go through formalities as we arrived then all meet up in Wetherspoons for breakfast, which was a good idea saving any of us hanging around. Hubby and I weren't the first there as my case was selected for extra security which took another 20mins. We weren't the last either so when six of us were all together we had breakfast.
     After my bacon butty and cuppa we took the long walk to gate 48 and they were already boarding so straight on. Unfortunately the hand luggage quota had been met so four of our bags were put in the hold. Slight delay on the runway then a really easy flight and we were met by the booked taxi at Malaga airport.
     Always so lovely being in bfriendM's apartment and as six close friends we are going to have a great holiday.

The days between were a mixture of relaxed and busy and always quite hot, even the one rainy morning was grey but still hot. We were out every day, either local walking to the beach or supermarket or the fascinating Chinese hardware shop or getting the bus to Fuengorola for the market and a failed attempt to see the castle which was closed, and the market at La Cala.
     Late afternoons were siesta for all but me (makes me feel dreadful sleeping in the day). There was also some use of the pool in the community garden (that was without me too). And there was the afternoon beers and pre-evening drinks (also excluding me,  I'm sounding like a bit of a party pooper!). While they snoozed I read and when they woke it was lots of conversations and laughter. 
     Eating out every evening is delicious as bfriendM's local knowledge takes us to all the best places. On the beach for paella, Argentinean Steakhouse, Mama Nostra's Italian, La Plaza which is a bit classier and this week had a Rod Stewart tribute act who was very good and got us all up dancing.
     The men rounded off most evenings playing pool and made friends with a group from Norway who we saw various times, very friendly and very funny. Meanwhile we sat outside and both girls chatted to Jimmy's and the Asian lady who are regular sellers of bags and novelty items, yes they both bought stuff too. When we made it back to the apartment it was more drink and snacks out on the balcony with bedtime always after 1am, even on the last night when the plan was an early night.....I knew that wasn't going to happen hahaha

Friday 29 September and we are packed up and picked up by the booked taxi at 9am. Very crowded airport was the usual queuing and waiting around and was really busy, but it does the job of getting us from there to here so can't complain. Big goodbyes as we headed off to different car parks, but we'll see each other on our usual Wednesday night out. 

Great fun and great memories, so probably a good point to add photos.......

So now just seven days to unpack and process all the laundry and repack then off to Crete. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

Ipswich Heritage Open Days.....

Spur of the moment decision to join Daughter for a trip round Ipswich on the second day of their Heritage Open Days weekend and we were so lucky weather wise it was perfect for a good meander through town.

I do find it hard to believe that I've lived here for 34 years and been into the town centre more times than I could calculate but there are so many very historic buildings I hadn't even noticed existed. Tut tut!

Tooley's Court
Our first stop was into these alms houses which are still very much lived in as sheltered housing. Lovely greeting at the gate and a really knowledgeable gardener next, then into the building and down to their communal lounge/dining room and a cup of tea. They were all keen to look after us as we were their first visitors. We also met John, a resident, who showed us around a couple of empty bedsits and his own one bed flat.

Reading from the leaflet they gave us it was essential for very wealthy merchants of the 16th century to prepare for their end of life journey by possibly setting up a fund to pay the clergy to pray for their well being after they'd gone, a Chantry (we have housing nearby called Chantry estate which must be connected to that). An alternative way to ensure entry to heaven was to leave a substantial sum as an endowment to some charitable cause. This was Henry Tooley Portman's legacy, in his will be left a proportion of his estate for the erecting of alms houses for the well being of the poor souls within. William Smart was also a successful merchant and his will provided for additional endowments to the property. They were built in 1551 and rebuilt in 1846 in the same style to a much higher standard. More had been added at various times since.  As Daughter said "Amazing that a legacy from 1551 is still funding accommodation for the elderly today", residents pay a relatively small rent which is subsidised by the interest on the original investment! Wish my savings did that well.

3-5 Silent Street
Grade 2 listed late medieval beautiful building which spent many many years as the specialist second hand book shop. Now empty so you can clearly see all the beams and interesting architectural bits.
The ruins of this Dominican Friary were shown to us by a local geologist pointing out, amongst other things, the marine worm borings in the stone showing that it was brought inland from the coast.

Pykenham's Gatehouse

This is recorded as one of the earliest domestic buildings in Ipswich. It has been home to more than 20 generations. It's tiny inside so must have been a struggle for the gatekeeper's wife if they had children too.
Willis Towers Watson

The Ipswich building is one of the group's largest and most established locations for a company that's in more than 120 countries. Opened in 1975 by Harold MacMillan. The outside is totally black glass. The half acre roof top garden, just outside the rooftop staff restaurant, is lawned to provide insulation and has plenty of benches and tables to give a pleasant change from the office space for lunch in the sun.
The lime green and bright yellow is the colour scheme throughout. Guess that was to put you off turning up for work with a hangover hahaha

This building design has won several awards and in 1991 became the first modern design to receive Grade 1 listing, meaning nothing that can be seen from outside can be changed and nothing structural or decorative inside will change either. Looked to me like desks, chairs and cabinets etc have all been updated.

Daughter and I joined the swimming pool tour. I had heard the building had its own pool but was also led to believe it was only a rumour. Well the ground floor was actually built with an indoor pool along side the gym and creche. Seems the 1970s office workers weren't really into daytime exercise and they were infrequently used so following a full survey of staff it was decided the maintenance costs couldn't be justified so the gym and pool were closed. Because the building is listed the pool remains under the ground floor office space so it could be reinstated if it ever needed to. The creche was never used and I'm assuming that must have been because fewer mums would have worked full time back then.

We had lunch in the staff restaurant and a quick walk round the rooftop garden giving us a great view over the town centre and a nosey down into the little town house gardens.

Then it was home as we'd run out of time,  so maybe next year we'll have to try and visit some of the other 31 places in the Heritage list we didn't see this time.
Really enjoyed all we did see and always lovely having mother/daughter time.