If it wasn’t for the rather prolific sightings of these strangely beautiful toadstools in our garden, I’d be hard pressed to believe that the weather has changed at all since the summer. Really warm today again, with masses of sunshine so I was able to line dry all my holiday washing 🙂 Thanks for staying in touch with me on Twitter and Instagram when we were in Crete – we had such a lovely time, and I’ve got lots of photographs to show you now. It was also great to read all your comments on the blog when I got home. I had every intention of writing to you while I was away, and sunbathing, but my iPad had other ideas!
There’s something rather special about taking a late summer break, especially when we had such a wonderful summer in the UK. Crete is an island that Colin hasn’t been to before but I had a fun time away with my friend Jo there in 2012. The weather this year was much the same – lots of sunshine, a stiff breeze, but a very impressive thunderstorm at the end of our week!
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Corsica. We were staying in a small town called Analipsi that is right on the coast. Unlike most of the Greek islands Colin and I have visited, the beaches here are very sandy, and the sea is incredibly warm. We gave ourselves three days to completely chill out, and then hired a car. Luckily we both enjoy having a good old look around places, and our first trip was to Rethymno on the western side of Crete overlooking the Sea of Greece.
Our little car didn’t like the hills much on our 90 minute journey, but was okay freewheeling down the other side! We found a very large beach and spent a few hours there before heading into the main city. What a fabulous place! We decided to find the Fortezza Fortress as we’d read it was well worth a visit, and we weren’t disappointed! It is set on a hillside that overlooks the town and the sea, and was built in the 16th century by the Venetians who occupied Crete in order to protect its citizens from Ottoman invasions.
It is huge, and the solid walls are very high. There was so much space actually within the fortress and lots of buildings too, including a gunpowder warehouse, a temple, a mosque, a church and an artillery warehouse. It was a beautiful day and we had a fabulous view from the reinforced walls. Colin took these photographs while I did my best poses!
We had a tasty Greek salad and mezze while sitting in the sunshine in a small square a little way from the Fortezza, and then we set out to explore the port. What an atmosphere – so alive and busy, and as the sun set over the harbour we took this photo.
The journey back home through the mountains was a little hairy, with our tiny car running on what felt more like donkey than horsepower! Being overtaken by folk on quadbikes wasn’t much fun either! However, undeterred, we decided on a shorter journey the following day, this time to the east of the island and the ancient town of Elounda, originally known as Olous.
It’s been inhabited since Minoan times, was incredibly wealthy in its day, and even had its own currency! But the ancient city of Olous sank into the sea, and its ruins are still visible on calm days. Sadly the day we went it was incredibly windy, so no sightings were made, but we made good use of our time mooching around the natural harbour where there are still natural saltpans that had been part of the lucrative salt trade centuries before.
Of course one of the biggest tourist attractions there is Spinalonga Island, once a military stronghold during the Venetian rule, but transformed into a leper colony. By 1913, after Crete became part of Greece, anyone afflicted with the disease was sent there. The author Victoria Hislop was so moved having visited that she wrote her bestseller “The Island” which I’ve read, and found incredibly beautiful but sad.
I had been there on my previous trip to Crete, and Colin was happy just to look across the water of the Gulf of Mirabello at the island itself, so we chose not to go. If I’m honest, I was rather glad, as I’d found my visit quite disturbing yet moving, and the memory of it had stayed with me.
We had lunch in a little waterside restaurant, and then headed down the coast to Aghios Nikolaos to the aptly named Golden Beach. What a stunning place! Incredibly soft white sand, and warm, clear seawater. We both fell in love with it, and as the sun set and we headed back into the town of Aghios for dinner, we vowed to return the following day. We ate fresh fish that night, in a little restaurant on the edge of the harbour and then bought a handmade linen and crocheted tablecloth from one of the many shops that line the very narrow streets there.
The following day was another hot sunny one, and we got to the beach a little earlier, and had a lazy time just splashing around in the water and snoozing in the sunshine. I’d made sure I brought the Philip Kingsley Product of the Month – that delicious Pomegranate and Cassis Elasticizer for my hair. It’s very bleached at the moment and needs plenty of TLC. Interesting that Crete is filled with pomegranate trees that in turn are filled with fruit!
We had to get our little car back that evening, but it had been a lovely couple of days finding out more about this beautiful island. There was a spectacular storm on our final night in Analipsi, with sheet lightning and thunder so loud that it woke us both up at 4am! It was still raining in the morning and stayed cloudy for most of the day, but that was fine by me as we were heading home that night. I felt sorry for folk who arrived on that day though, as it was probably warmer in the UK! We got home at 3.30am on Friday – which was 5.30am Greek time – and then I was back at the Q for 5pm! Talk about hit the ground running 🙂 But it’s always lovely to come back to work and see my friends, and I felt genuinely rested too which was a bonus.
I’d treated my skin to a Gatineau Gommage exfoliation before applying their Moisturising Mask, as although I’d looked after my skin while I was in the sun, it seemed a tad dry. Natalie who did my make-up that night complemented me on my smooth complexion, so clearly it worked!
Did you catch the Lakeland hour at 7pm? What a brilliant British company. The heated vertical airer with the cover was superb, but I loved their drain weasels too. Such a great way to remove gunk from your drains without chemicals! I do love a practical product.
Talking of which, something I’d never be without is my sonic toothbrush, and so I’m particularly delighted to be unveiling the Soniclean Ultra as our TSV on Tuesday morning. Can you imagine how clean your teeth will be with their 40,000 brush strokes per minute?! Well I can tell you, having used mine (I chose the pink but there are other colours) that they feel as though I’ve visited the hygienist! It’s rechargeable, comes with eight brush heads, and has four different modes – including a whitening programme! Two things to say: firstly apply the toothpaste BEFORE you press the on switch and DO expect it to tickle a little bit if you’ve not used one of these toothbrushes before. It’s under £40 – I remember when Sonic toothbrushes were over £100! – so I’d suggest you get in early and order yours!
I’ve got an hour of Dyson today at 4pm and then our Fashion Fix show at 7pm followed by a whole hour dedicated to H by Halston. I hope you can join me 🙂
With my love,