In my last post, I featured a day out with a group of friends from INCO, the international community association based in the east of Crete. This made me think about all the other INCO activities I enjoy and high on my list is the weekly camera club.
It doesn’t matter that I’m not in Crete all year; I join in when I can. Our informal Monday morning meetings are in the Christinas Taverna, Limnes. Each member takes 4 – 8 photos on a memory stick to plug in the TV screen.
I’m not a good photographer by any means and use a modest bridge camera not an SLR. However, I recognise my ‘eye’ has improved since joining camera club and I learn from seeing the great shots by our better photographers. Some members have very expensive kit, others use the camera on their phone. Photo editing is an important aspect for some people whereas I stick to the odd bit of cropping and straightening.
Before the meeting closes, we agree the topic for the following week. I really enjoy this aspect as it makes me keep my eyes open for photo opportunities. Sometimes the topic sounds obscure and I think I’ll not find suitable photos, but then something ‘clicks’ and I snap away. It is always good to see how the different members interpret each theme.
What makes a good photo is subjective – these are my personal favourites from those I took to the camera club during 2019. The text under each photo reflects the theme.
The last subject, door furniture, was an absolute gift for me as anyone who has visited Kritsa will understand – I could have taken along thirty photos! My favourite photo is the two squacco herons on a wall in the Elounda salt pans. I had gone there specifically because I thought there’d be good reflections in the water but the posing herons were a delightful surprise.
I’m back to Crete soon and I’m looking forward to getting the camera out again.
If you’d like to find out more about INCO you can use the contact form below.
January in Crete has been much wetter than in previous visits at this time of year. As soon as we see a brighter day forecast we plan a walk, never knowing when we’ll get the next opportunity. This fabulous walk was in the company of good friends, Hilary and Phil and as he is a walking guide we benefited from a lesser known start to this famous walk. For road directions from Kritsa CLICK HERE
For full walking direction with a Wikiloc map you can download CLICK HERE.
From start to finish the 15k walk took us six and a half hours although Wikiloc says we were only moving for just under three hours. We filled the ‘gap’ with stops to take photos, eat a picnic, explore Minoan ruins and catch our breath on some of the very steep paths.
The more popular walking route to climb Mount Oxa starts in the centre of Elounda and if you visit Eklektos Bookshop you will find walking guides for the area.
Our day proved warmer than we expected and our hats, scarves and gloves were soon consigned to our rucksacks.
Here Phil ponders whether to take us on a shorter or longer route. Of course the longer option suited us all. If you would like a personal guide for walks or excursions in the Lassithi area contact me via the form below and I’ll pass the information on.
I am writing a guide to walks in the Kritsa area and I’ll share details about this in due course.
Meanwhile, here are some of the photos of our walk to Mount Oxa so you can enjoy a virtual tour.
After walking through flat countryside we saw Mount Oxa ahead and could just see the church at the top. There is a very clear sign at the start of the path up.
The first glimpse of Elounda and Spinalonga below us was a Wow moment. We enjoyed the view over Agios Nikolaos while we ate and then more of Elounda when we walked around the headland to explore the Minoan remains. There are also remains of a church that predates the current one dedicated to Timios Stavros, the Holy Cross. According to Phil’s research there were at least 100 cisterns to serve the peak community with water and we saw several remains among tumble-down walls. Alas, we didn’t find the one reputed to have a stash of gold.
This photo shows the distant snowy tops of the Dikti Mountains. How lucky we are to have the health to climb to such wonderful places.
Good walking weather set us searching for our well used book, Circular Walks in East Crete. My annotation let me know it’s seven years since we did the walk, passing ruins of a cheese factory and many windmills. Even though this is a short walk, just under 2.5 miles be aware of overgrown paths, and a steep ending.
For driving directions from Elounda to the start Click Here
We left Elounda, drove through Plaka and up hill to pass Vrouhas and Selles. The next village is Kato Loumas where we parked near the first church. As we drove through Elounda we spotted Kritsa friends Hilary and Phil, so it wasn’t too surprising to hear them toot their car horn as they passed by while we were donning our walking boots.
The walk starts in the alley next to the church.
Turn right by the ruined mill, right fork at the V junction and along a walled track. Lets’s ignore the ominous clouds building up!
Turn right along a concrete track then follow the walled path downhill, the first part is very overgrown. At the bottom of the hill is the old cheese factory and church. While under Turk rule, locals saved themselves from extreme taxes by giving their land to the church. In return, the church charged a tithe for use of the fields. Goat and sheep milk was turned to cheese here as it was easier to transport cheese rather than liquid milk. After Turk rule, land was returned to the original owners.
We were happy to find a key to the church but couldn’t get in, the lock needs WD40!
Carry on along a clear path to a very large well, an excellent rest stop for a flask of coffee. The track continues beyond the well, now heading east. The flower is mandrake and, as all Harry Potter fans will know, is a key ingredient in a potion to restore a person from a petrification spell. After the mandrake I laughed at this gurning rock, surely a candidate for a dose of the magic potion.
On the skyline the wind turbines above Plaka were spinning in the freshening breeze. The many ruined windmills along our route show the same technology is still going strong.
I loved seeing inside of this windmill, the wooden gearing is remarkably intact. We needed the pause as afterwards it was uphill all the way. Where the tarmac road winds up we followed the walled path to cut across it, making it a shorter, but steep climb. The windmill now being used to store agricultural equipment is the first we saw…turn left and the alley emerges at Kato Loumas.
Hilary and Phil must have completed their trip before us and passed by again. I knew it was Hilary, no one else I know would leave a chocolate biscuit tied to our car handle, yum!
We decided to enjoy our soup lunch in the car, and we knew the right spot above Plaka…
Did the walk do you good? The weather forecast is getting better, I feel another walk coming on.
On the way to the centre of Elounda, Crete, just by the post office is Eklektos, a gem of a bookshop. The owner, Lynne McDonald is a font of local knowledge and acts as an unofficial tourist information centre.
From personal experience, I know Lynne loves to support authors of books set locally and I’m proud to say you can find Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa on her shelves. After a busy day out (click here to read Beryl Darby meets Kazanis) Beryl Darby and I were pleased to spend the next day participating in Lynne’s first ABC event – Authors, Books & Conversation. Held in September, the bookshop gave several author’s the opportunity to meet readers over drinks and nibbles.
In addition to local advertising, INCO – the international residents association, supported the event by sending details to their members. The shop and shady veranda buzzed with chat and laughter from the outset, and I know Lynne was delighted so many people came to meet the authors.
An invitation to participate in a Flash Fiction competition brought excellent entries. The one hundred word story could be about anything as long as it included the word, Bookshop. Clever writers covered a wide gamut of topics, funny, sad, eerie, mythological, and romantic. To read the winning entry by Vanessa Westwell, on the Eklektos website, CLICK HERE. As a prize, best selling author, Patricia Wilson presented Vanessa with a copy of her novel, Island of Secrets in audio form. Some people commented afterwards they’d have liked the opportunity to read the entries on the day. Perhaps this is something Lynne will build in if the event it repeated in 2018.
At the end of the afternoon an accordion player made an unexpected, but delightful appearance to round off the event. Here author Richard Stevens dances with his better half, Kay. Writing under the pen name Argy Stevens, Richard’s book is called Discrete Reversal and it’s on my ‘must read’ pile for Summer 2018.
As well as providing a great venue for a chat, a cuppa and local knowledge, Lynne also runs a webpage called Bookshop in Crete and a fun Facebook page,Eklektos Books. If you feel you’re missing out as Elounda is too far away for you to drop in, Lynne will send books by post – just visit her blog and select the tag labelled SHOP.
Previously in this post I mentioned INCO, the Foreign Residents Association for Agios Nikolaos and East Crete. This Not For Profit Organisation supports social, cultural, charitable and community activities. Some members enjoy the gardening club, camera club, gentle walking, weekly coffee and natter sessions, ad hoc days out, quizzes, and fund raising among other activities. Each member participates in as much or as little as they wish. If you are unfortunate enough to need time in hospital then the INCO network can answer questions and allay fears. Members don’t need to live full time in Crete.
JOIN INCO – for a subscription of just €10 per year you get a warm welcome with lots of contact information and emailed activity updates. There are members to take your details and subscription in many places including Elounda, Limnes, Kritsa and Agios Nikolaos. If you’d like to know more you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or ask Lynne in Eklektos bookshop.
I’m well aware this has been a tough year for Lynne, and as well as thanking her for supporting me as an author, I like to take the opportunity of wishing her and the fabulous Eklektos Bookshop a great season in 2018.
Perhaps this is a good time to draw up my must read list in 2018 – easier to stick to than resolutions! In no particular order my list includes Monica – Beryl Darby, Discrete Reversal – Argy Stevens, Seraphina’s Song – Kathryn Gauci, Villa of Secrets – Patrica Wilson, The Ariadne Objective – Wes Davis. I’ll add another two books when John Manuel publishes his next novel and Richard Clark publishes his guide to East Crete. Oh what a surprise… my ‘to read’ list is full of books set in Crete. What about you? What’s on your must read in 2018 list?
Finally, Happy New Year!
Author of Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa and Rodanthe's Gift