Gosh it’s been nearly two months since I last wrote! Sorry everyone, it’s been a busy time…! So much has happened since — and I tell you it’s a good thing I try and keep this blog because everything is turning into such a blur! If I didn’t stop to write every now and again, I’d have nothing but the pictures to remind me.
So when I last wrote we were just returning to Cardiff from our Easter break up in North Wales. The weather turned nice for a few weeks so we took advantage and got out and about. Here we are at Llanarch Vineyard, one of the very few vineyards in Wales. It was a nice setting and it reminded me of weekends out in Martinborough… except slightly less relaxing… I wonder why!?
At the very end of April we went out to see Nanna and Taidi in Pembrokeshire, who had recently returned from a trip to New Zealand to see Gwyn, Nicole and the kids. Annoyingly the weather turned cold but fear not! Taidi had all the fires going for us. Can you spot Morgy?
We managed to get out in between the bouts of rain and had a nice day in Cardigan, exploring the recently refurbished Cardigan Castle. Interestingly, the castle had been inhabited by a reclusive woman named Barbara Wood for just over 60 years. It was bought in 2003 by Ceredigion County Council and has since been restored — we enjoyed a really nice lunch in the cafe there with Ann and Steve.
By coincidence, we also turned up in Cardigan for the world-famous “Barley Saturday” Parade: horses followed by tractors followed by classic cars. Morgan loved it!
Back in Cardiff, Aled and Morgy took a trip to “a really big waterfall”. Morgan loves waterfalls and Aled knows all the best spots to take him.
We also ventured east into England to meet our good friends Nic and Liz at a beautiful National Trust property called Dyrham Park. It’s always great to catch up with these guys and the National trust houses really are spectacular.
And then it was finally time for a holiday to the Mediterranean! I’ve been dreaming of going to the Greek Islands for years and years and years. You may recall that I spent some of my Watson months in Cyprus but I’ve never been to the really iconic Greek Islands. So when my parents brought up holiday plans for this year, we decided that instead of them coming to Britain this time around, we’d meet up in Crete.
The holiday was amazing and I loved every minute of it! My parents rented a fantastic villa in the Chania prefecture on the Akrotiri Peninsula, about a 15 minute drive from the Chania airport. They are called Olea Villas I would highly recommend them if you are planning on visiting Crete.
The villa was just gorgeous — and so relaxing! Everything was done to a very high standard and the owner, George, was a wonderful host.
I probably could have just sat near the pool for several days but there were beautiful beaches calling our names. Just around the corner was Marathi Beach, which had fantastic views towards the White Mountains. To be honest, I was totally shocked that there was still snow on the mountains. I kind of knew Crete was mountainous — but perhaps not so mountainous.
Morgy loves the beach as much as we do and with 4 adults to 1 child, it was actually very relaxing! Here’s my Mom with little Morg building a sand volcano.
Our general daily routine was to go to the beach in the morning and then eat a big meal at around 1pm at a taverna. There was a great taverna directly on the beach at Marathi with this view — not too shabby!
After a day or two of chilling at the beach, we took a couple of excursions on the western side of the island. The first was to Chania town, which is famous for its Venetian Harbor and lighthouse.
This was the only real non-perfect weather day so we puttered around the old town. Of course I can’t resist a maritime museum and I was delighted to find a replica Minoan vessel inside…
But I was even more excited to see pictures of this replica with two others which I had found during my Watson Fellowship: the Kyrenia (4th century BC Greek merchant ship replica) and the Olympias (Greek trireme replica). (Honestly what a bizarre life I’ve led!? Here I am yapping about replica ships as if they’re old friends, haha!)
As usual we headed for a taverna for lunch and wiped this place out of fresh calamari. At every taverna, we were astounded by the amount of food on each plate and didn’t really get the hang of ordering the correct portion sizes until about day 5 of this holiday (I have a belly to prove it!). We almost never accounted for the free dessert and small bottle of chilled raki which followed every gigantic meal either. Despite the throat-burning sensations one gets from high proof distillates, we all came to love raki… and it gave us some good practice trying to say Cheers in Greek (Stin ygeia sas)… sadly I don’t think we quite mastered it but hey, full marks for trying. Here’s Dad with a shot glass of raki:
The next day we went to a very famous beach in the southwest corner of the island called Elafonissi. There were a lot of people at this beach but it didn’t matter – it was unbelievably beautiful. That, folks, is my favorite color in the whole wide world.
I wasn’t the only one who loved it. From that day on, Morgy kept asking to go “to the further beach”. So cute.
As if those pics weren’t enough to make you want to go to Crete immediately, I’ll add in some other pics of another amazing beach. This one was a bit tricky to get to but it was well worth the hair pin turns, the rocks slides, the lack of guard rails and the steep walk up and down the cliffs. LOOK AT THAT WATER! I’ve seen a lot of water in my life but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such crystal clear turquoise water as at this beach. Ironically the place is called Seitan Limania which means “Ports of Satan” — but I’m not sure why — it’s beautiful!
Thanks to our very own personal little alarm clock (Morg), we’re up pretty early most days so we were the first ones down to the beach.
This is one of my favorite pics of the holiday — loved that place.
And then I’ll rush through a few final shots — it was just a great time. Beautiful monastery…
Private chef (a genius named Stefanos) cooking seafood for us on the last night…
Here he is making Morgy’s first creme brulee…
And then it was time to say goodbye to Marathi Beach…
Sad! I didn’t want to leave… and perhaps the Greek gods heard my prayers because they sent a contractor to unplug the British Airways computers two hours before we were due to board our BA flight in Chania… but I’ll tell you about how we got home to Cardiff another time. Let’s just say it was a really annoying way to end a super-duper holiday.
Thanks to Mom and Dad for such a wonderful vacation! XOXOXO