Tag Archives: Rodanthe

Beryl Darby visits the Kritsa fused glass workshop

Beryl Darby, author of the successful family saga that starts with Yannis, set on the former leper island of Spinalonga, Crete, paid a return visit to me in Kritsa during September.

Beryl Darby with Rodanthe
Beryl Darby with Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa

Beryl paused for a photo next to the bust of Rodanthe, now known by the honorific title, Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa. What a coincidence, it’s the same as my novel’s title!

You can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that Beryl bought a copy of my book via Amazon, and carried it all the way to Kritsa for me to sign.

Fused Glass:

I know that Beryl is always interested in learning about crafts that she may refer to in her novels, so I asked George Perakis to demonstrate his glass fusing and pottery techniques to Beryl, and her friends, Lilian and Jane. Hover over the photo to see the text:

The fused glass is available in various outlets, so if you see a piece with branded Christin P, and a sticker declaring, ‘Made in Kritsa’ be assured that you have a unique piece hand-made by George. Even better, visit Kritsa and buy direct from George’s workshop, it’s at the back of the square, right where the bus drops off and picks up, so it’s easy to find. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the prices, and George is expert at packing so that your chosen piece will get home safe and sound.

Handmade Ceramics:

Find Out More:

To find out more about the fused glass you can Click Here to visit the Facebook page, or to visit George’s website Click Here.

Arisitidis Cafe

After thanking George for his interesting demonstrations we walked on up Kritsotopoula Street to Aristidis Cafe for lunch.

Beryl wouldn’t think her visit to Kritsa complete unless we had lunch at Aristidis Cafe, and as always, Aristidis made us very welcome.

Kritsotopoula Memorial:

Our last stop was the Kritsotopoula Memorial, created by the British sculptor based in Kritsa, Nigel Ratcliffe. The stone relief is at the site of the major battle where our heroine, Rodanthe fell from the dreadful wounds that exposed the female truth beneath her male disguise.


If you want to visit, it is 3k from Kritsa, just before the entrance to the Lato archaeological site.

This wonderful work is accessible to all free of charge.

Next Year?

Although we all said, ‘See you next year,’ it may well be that Beryl and I will be busy at a literary festival, in Elounda. As far as I know the date is not confirmed yet, but a Facebook page is ready so you can Click Here to learn more.

Kritsa’s Famous Church and House

After travelling overnight to arrive ‘home’ in Kritsa circa 9.30 a.m. on 5th August  it wasn’t long before an early siesta became more attractive than cleaning up the wind-blown debris that had accumulated outside.

Urgent banging woke me, and in a very disheveled state, I opened the door to Peer, a friend who lives further down Kritsotopoula Street. He’d come to tell me that the small church of Afentis Christos (featured in Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa) was to  re-open that evening with a special service, and he correctly guessed that I’d be disappointed if I found out the following day.

Rodanthe's family home

Rodanthe, the heroine of my story eventually became known by the honorific title Kritsotopoula, meaning Girl of Kritsa. This was her home, and flags led the short distance from here to her father’s church, Afentis Christos.

Christos Afentis KritsaThe church has a protective coat of new plaster aimed at preserving the frescoes inside. Some parts of the church date from 13th C, like the famous Panagia Kera on the way to Kritsa.

Christos Afentis Celebration
Afentis Christos Celebration

Many of the congregation sat on a low wall around the church yard while others took along folding chairs.

Pappas addressing the congregation
Pappas addressing the congregation

In front of the external altar the aroma from baskets of rich, spicy bread mixed with heady incense.

All church photos by kind permission of Peer Moore-Friis.

Loukamathes, doughnut like cakes, dripping in honey featured among the tasty treats offered to those who’d attended the service. This photo is from Kouzina’s Kitchen, pay her a visit for many more delicious recipes.

Click photo for the recipe
Rodanthe's House in Kritsotopoula S
Rodanthe’s House in Kritsotopoula Street

The family home of Rodanthe has a distinctive cross above the door.

Nikos Massaros at the door of Kritsotopoula Museum
Nikos Massaros at the door of Kritsotopoula Museum

Here is Nikos Masseros, a descendent of Rodanthe’s family showing guests into the restored house that will soon open as a museum. People enjoyed the opportunity for an advance viewing.

Yvonne Payne inside the house of Kritsotopoula
Yvonne Payne inside the house of Kritsotopoula

I’m sitting on a sofa in the kitchen. In my story the sofa was also Rodanthe’s bed.

If you’re interested in a novel set in Kritsa visit Amazon to find out more:



Rodanthe’s Name Day

Today, 9th June is an important day for all Greek Orthodox women and girls called Rodanthe as it’s their name day. A name day celebration is similar to a birthday, bringing good wishes in the form of Chronia Polla, meaning Many Years, and often cake.

03-DSC06125As the young heroine in Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa is Rodanthe it seemed like a good reason to celebrate. So, thank you to Lynne McDonald from Eklektos Bookshop in Elounda who organised a coffee morning. Hospitable Lynne usually offers a tea or a coffee to visitors to aid their browsing, but today they also had cake!

Early bird, Tony Airey was already at the bookshop when I arrived so he had the first signed copy of the day. This was appropriate as Tony was one of the first people to make contact with me when I set up this blog.

07-DSC06132These cheerful holidaymakers are Bob and Patti, all the way from…Spain! Well that surprised me.

imageAll shop visitors during the morning had the opportunity to enter the free draw to win the second of two specially made Kritsotopoula book signing pens, or the equally rare Kritsotopoula key ring. Lynne gave the tickets a good mix.


This is Karen Harding, who won the pen and I’ll be posting the key ring to F. Robertson next week.

If you visit Elounda be sure to find this gem of a bookshop, Lynne stocks new and used books, and as well as dispensing cuppas, she is a font of local knowledge. Click here to go to the Eklektos Facebook page.

I wonder what my real life heroine, Rodanthe would say if she knew that nearly 200 years later people were still celebrating her name day? Chronia Polla, Rodanthe!

Kritsotopoula’s Kritsa Launch

5-DSC06051Aristidis Cafe, in the centre of Kritsa, is right opposite Nikitakis Gift shop where my historical adventure novel, Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa is on sale.

Although the location of Aristidis Cafe made it an obvious venue for a launch party, the main reasons I chose it are the hosts, Aristidis and his wife Irene, who go out of their way to welcome guests to Kritsa. Their comfortable seating and sun umbrellas make it a great relaxing point for visitors to the village, and of course, those umbrellas gave us good protection from the rain!

It gave me an extra thrill that despite the language issue, several local people came along to wish me well, including the Chair of the Kritsa Village Cultural Association, Νικος Κοκκινης and the Chair of the planned Kritsotopoula museum, Νικος Μασσαρος. Three local women, with excellent English language skills, also bought copies of the book so I await their feedback with a mix of nervous excitement!

2015-05-28 19.21.52This is me with Nikos, owner of Nikitakis gift shop. Even though he’d moved the book stand inside due to a rain shower, it didn’t dampen my spirits. I count myself lucky that Nikos chose to stock Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa right in the middle of Kritsotopoula Street.

2015-05-28 18.30.47

These traditional musicians added to the lively atmosphere, no one danced though, too busy chatting!

3-DSC06052Of course Nikos sold books during the evening,  and I felt like a celebrity as I signed copies. This is me signing the book bought by Steve Daniels, who writes one of my favourite blogs, Crete Nature.

Some guests even brought along books for me to sign that they’d previously purchased, either from Eklektos Bookshop in Elounda or via Amazon, shame I couldn’t sign the ebook versions!

2015-05-28 18.55.26

Just for fun we had a prize draw and winners now have an exclusive T Shirt, cap, key ring or pen, all sporting the image of the Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa book cover.

Here is the T Shirt winner, Jean Dugmore.

JessieJessie, the owner Elixirio, Kritsa’s quirky mezes cafe won the hat, and here she is modeling it beautifully. If you fancy an a relaxed evening, with a range of delicious home cooked mezes while you sip your drinks in a shady arbour, then I can recomend you pay a visit, you’ll find Jessie opposite Kritsa school.

My work in progress is a sequel called Rodanthe’s Gift which includes a mystery about the location of some hidden gold, so we had a free to enter game based on this. Thanks to my friend Ann, who managed to speak to virtually everyone during the evening, we gained many entries to find the hidden treasure. Arisitidis generously donated a meal voucher for the lucky winner, of the treasure hunt, Julie Pidsley.

DSCF6788Thank you to Crete Homes for supporting me via sponsorship for this launch event and for placing a link to my blog on their website. This is Hilary Dawson, from Crete Homes displaying Nigel Ratcliffe’s retelling of the legendary poem, Rhodanthe’s Song. I’m indebted to Nigel for generously sharing his translation of the early Greek poem, and for his wise feedback on my early drafts. Our collaboration will continue as Nigel and I have already discussed how I might use some of his work in my sequel, Rodanthe’s Gift. Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing both Rhodanthe’s Song and Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa next to each other in the planned Kritsotopoula museum.

Thank you to Robin Williams, editor of Crete Today Newsletter for allowing me to use this photo of me with Hilary. If you’d like this great monthly newsletter, please email Robin via mediaplus1941@gmail.com

Most other photos are courtesy of Cynthia Pay who gave me permission to use them. Thank you Cindy.

Sincere thanks to all of those people who came along despite the ‘iffy’ weather, and to those who couldn’t attend but still sent best wishes.

Finally, if you enjoy the book, please add a review to Amazon Reviews, they don’t mind if you bought it elsewhere, and it would mean a great deal to me. X

PS – a few days after the event, a report of the event appeared in the local daily newspaper, so thanks to the reporter, Leonidas Klontzas for attending during the event and for making such a full report. I have a cutting from the newspaper so that I can translate it. Meanwhile,  this link will take you to a shorter review on line and, if you can’t read Greek then Google translate will help you read it.


Gaining Rodanthe’s Approval

My sprained ankle is getting better and after several days of sitting with my feet up it was good to walk through Kritsa, siga siga (slowly slowly) with Jan Bebbington and Hilary Dawson, (who works at estate agent Crete Homes). We were en route to Elixirio, a lovely taverna opposite the school. Jessie, the owner of Elixirio cooks delicious and unusual mezes, and is currently open every evening from 7.30pm, except Sundays.

On our way to Elixirio we passed the bust of Rodanthe sited in the square, by the bus stop. Suddenly inspired, Hilary whipped a copy of Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa, from her handbag and suggested a photo.

Yvonne and Rodanthe

I think Rodanthe approved as I read the page where she …..

Ah, you’ll need to find out for yourself, so click on the photo for purchasing details!

Meanwhile, thanks Hilary!

Kritsa Gorge ‘May Day!’

I waited in Kritsa car park at 10.45 a.m. on 1st May to see who would join our free to participate circular walk, to include a descent through Kritsa Gorge. The final roll call was amateur botanist Steve Lenton, (AKA Steve the plant) retired botanist Rosemary Johns, naturalist Steve Daniels (AKA Steve the bug), Lynne McDonald from Eklektos Bookshop Elounda, Cindy Pay, Ann Roxy, Frank and Linda who were in the area on holiday, and my husband, Alan.

I’ve previously shared the route we use to pass through lower Kritsa Gorge, and you’re welcome to print it off. To access it just click on the photo of Alan, below:


This route needs confidence and dexterity to use footholds and hand grabs, and even before reaching this area you will need to scramble over boulders.

Be safe, wear stout shoes, take water, a snack and a companion.

Alan and I have walked this way many times to enjoy the dramatic way views and landscape change, so seeing it through the eyes of people experiencing it for the first time was fabulous. Even though Steve the plant had walked the gorge before he’d not accessed it via the ancient trading path that had probably been laid when the Dorians held nearby Lato. It was while on this path that Ann made a horrible discovery, her husband had correctly identified a plant, and now she was going to have to tell him that she was wrong, ouch! As the path opened out we turned left over scrub and looked back to Lato. A beaming Lynne recognised the description of the area from Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa (only reference today, honest!) and started to mentally compose her bookshop blog about the walk. (Link at the end)

Entering the dramatic gorge bed is like stepping into a different world and it soon became apparent that one of our group, Cindy was going to have more difficulty on the descent than she’d anticipated. We soon learned she is one determined lady! By carefully assessing each clamber and/or drop Cindy worked out the best way to move, and with support from her stick, and other members of the group, particularly Steve the plant, Steve the bug and Rosemary, on she went. Despite this exertion, Cindy took many photos, or was that a ploy for breathing space? Here’s her group shot:

From Cindy 1 Ann, Yvonne, Alan, Lynne, Steve the plant, Rosemary, and Steve the bug. By this point our holiday makers decided to stride ahead so that they could find time for a swim.

Amidst the chatter we could always hear Latin bandied about as Steve, Rosemary and Steve discussed what they were seeing, although they used layman’s terms to help us understand. Rosemary demonstrated how a few drops of water turned a dried piece of black matter into plump green moss in seconds. A trick I’ll certainly use again!

DSC05953 A lump of wood became an interesting find for Steve the bug, as he showed us burrows made by beetle larvae. Notice his waistcoat? Each full of  small items of ‘kit’.

Not long after this Steve the bug asked me if we’d find water. My initial though was that surely he knew to bring plenty of water with him. Doh, he didn’t want to drink it! Imagine his joy when we came to this brackish pond.

DSC05957What a fast mover! That dipper appeared from nowhere. What Alan described as tadpoles were mosquito larvae, apparently important elements of the food chain. Well, let’s hope they all get devoured; I hate it when when a mosquito puts me on the menu!  The real treasure in this scoop was a dead fly. At first I thought Steve was joking, but no, he’s sent it to the British Natural History Museum for identification. Later, as Cindy needed to pass over a deep pond, various people shouted advice, The best from Steve was, ‘If you fall in, grab a handful of stuff from the bottom!’

From cindy 2As we neared the narrow drain like parts of the gorge I worried how Cindy might manage, and confess that at one point I checked my phone signal in case we needed help. I at least wanted to tell those in the lead how far behind them we were. However, the towering rock walls, as seen in this photo from Cindy, beat any signal, just as her determination beat all obstacles.

I shouldn’t give the impression that Cindy was the only person to find it tough going,  it it very rugged terrain. Lynne was heard to mutter, ‘never again, ‘ but after a bath and a glass of something chilled, she’s already made plans to return.


Emerging into an area with more green stuff bought delight for Steve the plant. He found this growing in a rock crevasse and is not 100% sure what it is, mainly as it’s out of its expected habitat.

Of course, he does have a sneaking suspicion of what it is. If you click on the photo with the ‘green fingers’ it will take you to visit Steve’s Cretan Flora site. Here you can see what Steve thinks it will look like later in the summer when he’ll return to make a positive identification.

By now those at the front of our party, including Alan were well ahead, I imagined them back at the cars, sprawled out enjoying a rest. Meanwhile, I crossed a flat, relatively smooth area and found myself on the ground. A loud crack frightened me, and for a few seconds I thought I’d broken my ankle, but it was just a sprain. Luckily the phone signal was good, so I called to ask Alan to return with a walking stick as one of the group had fallen…

All’s well that ends well, and when we all sat with a cold beer, the sheer exhilaration from Cindy certainly made the trip worth while, and I was pleased we didn’t call ‘May Day’ on May Day!


Footnote, in case of a sprain NHS Advice is PRICE, protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

So, now I’ve been idle on my balcony for a few days and I can honestly say there are not many places where I’d be so content! Luckily I’ve found plenty to read, including account of our walk via Lynne’s eyes and Steve the bug’s weekly blog. Here are the links to their blogs:

Click here for Lynne’s blog

Click here for Steve’s weekly blog

Milatos Massacre 1823

Friends Jim and Mo accompanied Alan and me to Milatos Caves as I wanted to explore them again in preparation for a key scene in my draft second novel, Rodanthe’s Gift.


Always dark and eerie, exploring the catacomb caves brings a chill to the back of my neck as I try to imagine the terror of circa 2000 besieged Christians praying to avoid angry Turks.


In contrast, our only worry was to avoid cracking our heads’ on the low cavern roof as we crept over uneven ground lit by a single torch beam.  On reaching a chamber with room to stand I switched off the torch and lit a single candle in an attempt to understand what it might have been like if any of the refugees had managed to take a candle into the caves. Our immediate reaction was surprise at what a wide pool of warm light one candle made; it was such an improvement on a single torch beam.  Right beside us was a stumpy 50 cm stalagmite with a small indentation that made an excellent candle stand.  The flame didn’t gutter at all, evidence that no draught reached our cell in the honeycombed network of caves separated by rock ledges and smooth stalagmites.  We took time to speculate on how those frightened people may have felt, and took note of what we could hear before imagining what it may have sounded like when crammed full of fear and pain.

It wasn’t long before another three torch beams cut through the dark, evidence of the next visitors, so I used our candle to light our way back to a small church built into the large chamber that has an opening onto the hillside.


This church, dedicated to Saint Thomas, has a glass casket of bones as a macabre reminder of the cave’s history.  To learn more about these caves visit http://www.cretanbeaches.com/Caves/Lassithi-Caves/milatos-cave/

Don’t worry if you wish to visit the caves but don’t have a torch among your holiday luggage… Local English residents Alan and Mary sit outside of the caves most mornings to explain the history to visitors, and they will happily loan you a torch to light your way.

I’d love to hear from you if you know why the church inside the cave is dedicated to Saint Thomas.  Meanwhile, I’ll carry on thinking how I can weave this tragic historical episode into my emerging storyline.