A Little Stroll

Some may wonder if I’m staying on Crete to avoid the dreaded coronavirus, but I’m not. I thought about where I would prefer to spend the next interminable lockdown and, on Crete, I figured I had beautiful mountains to walk in, bars to go to where I can sit outside in the sunshine and the Libyan Sea to kayak on. It also being so long since I spent a winter here, I wanted to see what it was like and nail down any problems in the house (as per the previous post) . As it turns out, the lockdown here is worse than in the UK. All the bars and restaurants have been closed. I have to send a text every time I go out. And masks must be worn everywhere outside the house except when alone in your car or when doing exercise. Still, I have been managing to kayak (since that’s exercise) and was even out on the sea on the 10th of January. The walking has been good too. Here are some pictures along a route I generally take.

Setting out from my house. Left of the gate my lemon tree. Bare fig tree (lovely black figs) on the right, then after that an Agnus Castus. I grew it from a single peppercorn picked up in another village. It’s other name is Monk’s Pepper. The peppercorns it produces taste just like the real thing but, apparently they have a male softening effect hence, presumably, monks using them. Kazani (where they make the raki) on the right under that tin roof.

View across Papagiannades to my left. Same view really as from my front terrace.

Up past my car to hit the road.

They have other lockdown madness here that is puritanical and obviously rolled out by some tight arsed bureaucrat. I learned that maybe I was being a naughty boy taking exercise at a distance from my house, but I’ve spoken about that in a previous post. When I first went out kayaking, there were fishermen along the coast – just one or two. They disappeared and I learned that fishing is not allowed under lockdown i.e. a guy drives down to the coast, sits alone catching fish, and this is a COVID DANGER.

The view once I turned the corner at the top of the road onto the paths. Not very clear on this day. Often you can see Sitia, the sea and an island off the coast as clear as glass.

A recent diversion to the path. After this huge bugger came down they just started driving round it. Would take a bulldozer to move it.

Agois Yorgos (Saint George’s)

Another one is the stuff that is closed and that which is not. All over the peripteros are open and the main product they sell is cigarettes. Yet, in Sitia, the two vape shops are closed. Because isn’t it a great idea when locking down against a respiratory virus for everyone to obtain cigarettes but not the means to stop smoking?

Many of the olive trees have been stripped out now and the olive oil factories belching steam. I still see nets on the ground and hear the sound of the machines they use to bring down the olives – rather like long-handled strimmers but with the plastic thread protruding from a spinning bar.

Those yellow flowers everywhere (the invasive weed in my garden – oxalis) and this is early January. Wait until the Spring.

And another little nugget: because of coronavirus the buses have been stopped. This means that lots of old people (who the lockdowns are supposed to protect) in the villages cannot get to town for shopping, or the doctor, unless they get a taxi at 20 Euros each way. Of course they can’t share the cost of a taxi because, you guessed it, coronavirus – only one passenger at a time. Anyway, they might not be able to eat, get medication or pay their power bills for heating, but they’ll be safe from the virus. 

Excellent little valley. Earlier I saw bushes with white flowers on them down there and wonder if they were oregano. It would certainly be an interesting adventure trying to find out.

Interesting, isn’t it, but once you look past Greece as a sunny holiday destination, you start to realise it is more authoritarian than the UK, laced through with socialist bureaucratic idiocies. It’s also caught in a bit of a unionised time warp that shows up in the thinking e.g. only an electrician can do electrics and only a plumber can do pipe-work. Tad antediluvian.

These little churches are all over the place. Sometimes they are memorials to someone who died in an accident (quite often at the side of the road). Sometimes they mark village boundaries. Other times they are just because someone thought, I’m going to put a little church here.

Love the gnarly old olive trees.

On the road back from Armeni now. I do enjoy this stretch. I guess because it’s mostly downhill!

Anyway, that’s enough ranting about lockdown in this post. You can see by the pictures here that despite the silly rules it’s a lovely place to be. I think I’ve been lucky too as thus far it has been a very mild winter. I’m constantly amazed to be sitting out in January to drink a cup of coffee, or walking in just a T-shirt and jeans and wondering if I should have worn shorts.

The remains of one of their water pumping windmills here, which can be found all over. They used to have canvas in them to catch the wind.

Prickly Pear. I learned to my cost that you handle the fruit with gloves and a great deal of care. The spines are minescule and can leave your hands itching and painful for days.

These are popping up all over the place. A little research tells me they areoing a little research I think they are poppy anemone ‘coronaria’. They come bright red in the spring, lavender pink and white through the summer and, apparently, purple right now. There are masses of them up on top of the mountains I’ll be taking pictures of tomorrow, if it isn’t pissing down.

Etia – Venetian house, village and churches. Apparently you can buy a house there but it must be renovated in the original style. Whether that means without power and running water I have no idea.

And on home to the village. This is an 8km walk (5 miles) and takes me abuot an hour and a half. Perfect way to wake up in the mornings!

2 thoughts on “A Little Stroll

  1. Greetings, Mr. Asher,

    these Cretan vistas are really beautiful, and remind me a lot of my own hometown in Spain, by the shoreline, north of Barcelona.
    I hope 2021 is treating you well so far, and that 2020 was not too bothersome.
    As a huge fan for many years of your written works, I’ve always wanted to express my earnest gratitude and praise for your wonderful, rich and original Polity universe, that has helped me take my mind somewhere better than what my life was at times when I really needed it. I have to say that, despite being a computer programmer by trade and accustomed to long periods locked-in at home, 2020 has been quite a challenge and your books have made it a lot more bearable.

    The lockdown situation in Crete seems to be quite ridiculous, with how it seems to be solving one problem and creating many others, especially for people who don’t have cars or any other means of transportation due to old age.

    There really isn’t much more I’ve got to say, other than these wonderful Cretan sights really make me long to return home and walk on the seaside gravel dirt and gravel paths and to go rowing in the inlets and tiny bays that dot all over the shoreline; and of course that I greatly appreciate your work and want to say it directly. I’ve gotten a few friends to read some of your novels and they were very pleased!

    Thus I hope all is well, that you have a happy and fruitful new year, and especially hope that you’ve got more books in your head to write and put in print for us to read (and perhaps in Aug format not too long in the future!).

    E. P.

  2. Mr. Asher,
    If I could bend your ear for a moment. I’m grazing the underside of 75 years. Loved science fiction from the time I could pronounce Heinlein. Unfortunately I haven’t crossed paths with what I would call rock n roll sci fi writing for a long time. Plenty of space opera but no Hendrix.
    Anyway, just wanted to say thank you. I picked up a copy of Orbus at the library last week. You are a hell of a writer. Glad I discovered your work before I’m on the wrong side of the grass. I hope to hang on long enough take a little Spatterjay virus with me.
    Steve Leard

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