01 Jan 1970

We spent Sunday relaxing, tidying the house and packing the remaining items. We watched Dirty Dancing and counted down the hours until bedtime which would mean before we know it, it will be time to get up. Finally 8pm came and I headed to bed as I was eager to try to chill out after feeling anxious for the last few days due to spotting a post from EasyJet about strike action in France on the evening of the 9th and all of the 10th causing delays and cancellations as well as some ailments I was hoping would be resolved. 

Monday

At 1am we woke got up. Chloe didn’t sleep much, Mat slept on and off, Josh slept ok and I didn’t sleep at all due to anxiety again. WTF is going on with me, I’ve never been like this before, it is scary. We got dressed and came down, I was able to maintain a small semblance of control so I could do what was needed to get ready. It was amusing when Mat asked me how I was staying so calm! Mat had a coffee and I had a valerian root tea to try and calm my nerves as we got all our things ready, put the holiday blocks in the fish tank, fed the cat (who looked a bit freaked out at all the activity this early in the mosrning) and put fresh water in for Dizzy. Mat got the cases by the door and then he spotted the taxi was already here so the boys got the cases taken to the car while Chloe and I grabbed our things. We all got in the taxi (Mat in the front, Chloe on my right, Josh on my left in the back) and headed off. I sent mum and dad a message saying we had headed off now and it turns out they both couldn’t sleep either due to being excited about our holdiday hehe. 

The journey went quite fast and I wasn’t feeling sick this time but still anxious and tired. Chloe was resting her head on my shoulder and I rested my head on top of hers which was nice. Josh was a bit concerned if we were going the right way but part of the journey I did recognize from the journey Mat and I took when we went to Porto Colom a few years ago. 

We arrived at the airport at about 03:10 and took a relaxed walk up the ramp... well, Mat did. Josh and I ran up it laughing at the exciteable sound the cases made. We regrouped at the top and after pausing for a vape, we headed in to the bag drop. There was a small queue and when we got to the end, there was a staff person there to guide us to a self-service bag drop. I scanned my boarding pass but it said there was a problem, another staff person came over and helped and it worked fine that time. First bag on and it was all good, the tag was printed and I attached it then tapped to add another bag and Mat put the next one on, I added the tag and off that went too. We were a bit disappointed it wasn’t a staffed bag drop as we’d been hoping they would take the carry on cases into the hold but it was ok taking them through so wasn’t a problem. 

Next up was security. I took my belt off, got the clear bag out and my devices loaded into the large grey plastic trays to roll across for checking and then I walked through the scanner followed by Josh. When Chloe and Mat walked through, they both set off the alarm and had to stand in a booth which had curved doors that spun around once. After that Mat had to stand aside while they used the wand over him but Chloe didn’t need that and then they headed over to where Josh and I were repacking our carry ons. That seemed to take quite a while due to all our devices! Finally we were all done and then walked out of security into a snake-like path which was flanked by lots of shops selling the usual airport fare of alcohol, perfume and Swatch. After wondering if we went the wrong way, we came out to the departure lounge and found a seat while we went to the toilet and got some bottles of water. Then we went to find a seat nearer and information board and we sat there with a drink and a cereal bar. It wasn’t very long before the gate information was showing up (101 - 113) so we headed off to the gate which was via some more conveyors which excited the carry ons again. On the side of us were pictures of rain forests and there were rainforest sounds being played over the speakers. We came to a fork in the path and after a moment I spotted a board saying our gate was 107 so we went right and it was not far from where we were. After showing our boarding passes and passports, we sat in the gate lounge and watched our plane being fuelled and loaded with the baggage. We waited about 15 minutes and then the speedy boarding people were called. 5 minutes later we were called and we headed out down some steps and outside to the plane. We went up steps to the plane (we boarded at the rear). I found our seats and we put the bags in the overhead locker then got the laptop and sweets out and sat down. It was quite cramped but not too uncomfortable. I said goodbyes to mum and dad and we taxied to the runway, the take off was more exciting than usual as it seemed the engines were revved quicker and we were forced back in our seats more. Once in the air we started to see city lights below which was beautiful. I was enjoying experiencing the flight so much I didn’t need to use my phone of iPad for entertainment. It was a shame that there were so many clouds everywhere though as the majority of the journey had no views below us. We did enjoy the sunrise which was beautiful and we saw the red clouds from above. There were some strange formations which almost looked like animals jumping up through the clouds! 

We spotted Zakynthos and not long after they announced we would soon be landing so I got ready with my phone to record the landing. It was fun coming down so low over the sea and it was a very good landing. Mat's laptop was in his rucksack which we put on the spare seat next to Chloe and it fell off during the descent. Thankfully it was undamaged. We taxied away from the runway and came down the steps to the coach which took us a few yards to the airport. We joined the back of the queue for the passport control, got through there and then collected our bags quite quickly and then through to find the taxi driver holding a sign with my name on. We went with him and he took us to the hotel which was only about 20 minutes.

We arrived at the hotel at the hotel at just after 12pm and were told our room wasn’t ready (despite checkin being at 12). We went for some lunch after sitting by the bar with a drink and after that we were told our room was ready (around 1pm) so we went to reception and the man there showed us to our room (211). We got changed then went to the pool. The kids said the water was freezing so I opted to jump straight in rather than take ages trying to get used to it. The water was so cold both my feet kept getting cramp :o I swam about for about 30 minutes and then Josh brought the ball down and we threw that to each other a few times. There was a lady who’s husband had pinged her hair band in the pool, she asked if I could get it for her so I had a go but it drifted away from my fingers when I needed to go back up for air. The lady said not to worry and that her husband has to go in as it was his fault hehe. Not long after, I got out and sat on a sun bed with Mat and the kids and had an ice cream, this attracted the wasps and they wouldn’t leave us alone so I had to get up and go elsewhere. We went over to the other pool after we got dry and changed and found some comfy chairs to chill out in. Mat was tired so he went to the room and had a nap so I went for a wander around and Chloe and I investigated the small children’s park then went back to the pool area and then back upstairs. A cat followed us into our room and was climbing over Josh and then got settled draped over Chloe’s leg! Mat was still asleep so I went for another wander around. I was getting quite depressed and the time alone was a little helpful. I was so tired by this time as I had been awake and anxious since 4am Sunday. Eventually it was 7pm and I woke Mat so we could go for dinner. The food looked ok but again it was quite salty and I didn’t eat much as my nerves were still making me feel bonkers. So much so I had to go back to our room and leave Mat and the kids there to finish their dinner. I got into bed and tried to calm down but my chest was burning and I felt like I was going to have a heart attack so I was really struggling to sleep which only compounded the problem. Mat arrived back and put his laptop on the side table then went on the balcony, very soon after that his laptop fell on the floor and it got a small ding in the base. After a little while on the balcony, Mat came in and got settled for bed. Mat gave me hugs when he got back and settled in bed. That helped a lot as well as some talking and music, I finally got to sleep and there ends that Mammoth Monday!

The coke here tastes watered down and cheap. Wasn’t expecting coke quality but it is quite bad. The fizzy orange is sickly and the lime is also sort of sickly. The lager, coffee and hot chocolate are nice at least.

Tuesday

We got up at about 7am and got dressed then went for breakfast at about 8:30. They had already run out of bacon (grrr) though I didn’t have the stomach for it I just had some peaches with yogurt and musli. Mat and the kids had some eggs and sausages among other things.

After breakfast we went for a slow walk to Tsilivi beach. We saw some cats and kittens along the way and it was a pleasant walk and even more pleasant was the very nice beach with calm water. I located the webcam and game mum a phone call because my o2 data still isn’t working. I enjoyed a nice chat with her and dad while they were able to see us on the webcam which was fun. We paddled for a while and then went back to the hotel; saying hello to the cat family and stopping at a few shops on the way.

Lunch was much better today and they had a nice potato salad and pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce. The potato salad reminded me of my nan’s cooking which was soothing to have a taste of home. We spent some time by the pool, played ping pong and then went to Zante town which was more deserted the further we walked so I looked at my map and realized we’d gone too far as the square was not far from the beginning where the taxi dropped us off!. Mat used the gimbal and took some nice videos as we walked, Chloe and I looked in a few shops but didn't want to be too long or the boys would get bored. On our way back to the square we stopped off and got some drinks from the waterfront and then we carried on walking and found the square. It was smaller than I expected but it was still nice to see and we took some photos including the traditional 'pointing' shot. We went back to a shop we’d been in there as Chloe wanted some earrings she had seen when we were passing before.

Mat was feeling very hot by then so we made our way to the taxi rank and got a taxi back to the hotel. It was the middle of snack time when we got back so we had some cakes and a drink by the second pool and Chloe was soon accompanied by one of the cats. We stayed there for a while then went and had a drink at the bar while we waited for dinner which was about 30 minutes. I again struggled as there was some weird looking rice, salad which looked slightly wilted and curry. I had a plate of potatoes cooked with herbs and then Mat got me some spring rolls from the live chef (as opposed to a dead one). They were nice but the sauce was too bitter. I was feeling on the verge of spiraling into anxiety again but Thankfully some talking with Mat helped again. He noticed it happens when we are among crowds which seems right but I’ve never reacted that bad in crowds before. I had some mousse for dessert and we then went to get Mat’s laptop so we could chill out at the pool while watching a tv show.

Josh wanted to stay in the room so just Chloe, Mat and I went down. Once settled, we put on Lucifer and Chloe watched something on her laptop. A cat came and curled up on Chloe’s lap and went to sleep then not long after, another cat came over and sat with her too! After Lucifer, we went to our room and went to bed. I managed to sleep without struggling with anxiety too much which was a very welcome relief. 

Wednesday

We woke at 6:45 and begun packing for our boat trip. I noticed that my face looked thinner which was weird as I’ve not been struggling with the food for long.  Once that was done we went to breakfast where I had toast and jam and some peaches and yogurt. We came back to the room to get our things ready to head to reception for our taxi and I spotted an email from the boat hire person which said the weather would not be good for sailing today so I rearranged the trip for Thursday. We spent the morning on our balcony instead, Mat got caught up with Facebook and I wrote this blog!

The bar opened late this morning and the ice cream wasn’t ready so they went back after 30 min as directed and were told the ice cream wasn’t cold enough lol! It rained most of the day so we didn’t do a lot besides hang out in our room.

After lunch, the rain had stopped so Chloe and I went to the shops. Along the way we saw the cat family again and we stayed there for a while watching them play. One kitten started digging a big hole, it tested it then went back to digging it more until eventually it was satisfied. It stuck its bum in the hole, pooped then filled it back in. We stopped in virtually all of the shops. I was hoping to find some nice tops and a skirt but I only managed to find one T-shirt. Chloe wanted to find some turtle earrings which eventually we did. We went all the way to the beach and back round to the main road again then headed back to the hotel. I was so hot when we got back in but I didn’t want to brave the icy pool despite a good degree of confidence that it had warmed up since then. Wehn back in the room, we chilled for a while and then heard a lot of laughter and splashing, it turned out someone got pushed into the pool fully clothed, then another and then a couple more people jumped in. The lady who needed her hair band from the bottom of the pool on the first day called out "this is lovely, it's the warmest it's been all f***ing week!

We went down to the pool after that and chilled out with a drink then played ping pong for a while. Not long after that it was dinner time so we  went over to the restaurant. The food was Greek themed today and they had my favorite (Moussaka) which was very nice. In Crete, the moussaka was solid and not very nice but this was delicious. 

After dinner we went to the other pool again and chilled out with a drink before going back to our room to watch a movie (Baby Driver). Chloe sat with us for 30 minutes but then decided it wasn’t her cup of tea so she went to her room. We watched the rest of the film then went to sleep.

Thursday

We got up and went for breakfast after packing for the boat trip. Mat had a bad back again and my sides felt very bruised as the beds here are very hard and you can feel the springs digging into you. We had the usual breakfasts, Mat with a full English and me with peaches and Greek yogurt and this time I had toast with poached eggs. The milk from the coffee machine is so watered down the result is pretty much black coffee. We’d still not had a reply from the boat rental place about the weather so I called them instead and they said the weather was still not good so we called the Big Blue boat rentals to see if we could go there instead. It turns out it was ok so we got prepared and at 11 they picked us up in a minibus.

It was a pleasant journey and the views when we got to the harbor were astounding. After some instructions about where we could go and how far to keep away from the land we were lead over to the boat. The pontoon had quite a few planks missing so we were a bit nervous about crossing it but we had no problems and got in the boat. The man there gave Mat instructions on the controls and then we set off to see Keri caves. I sat near the front trying to attach my waterproof camera to my selfie stick but I couldn’t find an attachment it would work with. Eventually I was feeling sick and had to stop for a while. I went to sit at the back and took a travel sick tablet which eventually helped. I was worried I would be ruining the experience for everyone so I was relieved when I recovered. We then went a bit faster which was nice and took some photos of a few small caves along the way. We stopped near a rocky beach and could see large rocks below us through the crystal clear water. I got out for a swim which was such an idyllic experience. Mat wasn’t comfortable getting out as the anchor could snag on the rocks and he wasn’t comfortable with me taking over as he felt where I wasn’t driving much I wouldn’t have enough control of the boat to stop us floating away. A few other boats started coming near so I got back in and we headed back out to go to Turtle Island.

A guy on the beach helped us to shore and anchor in the sand and then we got out and went for a swim. Chloe was nervous about the fish which occasionally swam near so she didn't swim fully and stayed near the boat while the rest of us swam around nearby. There weren't many fish to see but it was still nice swimming in the water which was quite warm. Mat's snorkel mask was giving him trouble so he let Josh use it but it gave him trouble too so he switched over to the goggles but they seemed to be a problem too. After a while we got out and bought hot dogs and drinks from the snack boat and we ate those while trying to keep away from the wasps which were getting very annoying. 

We set off again, this time for Cameo Island to see if we could see any turtles. Josh and I got out and swam to the island, Josh explored a little before we swam back to the boat again and continued turtle hunting. We drove the boat around Laganas beach but didn't find any and eventually we gave up and headed for the dock to return the boat. I sat on the front with my feet in the water which felt so warm I almost wanted to go for another swim. 

We reached the dock and were helped off by the guy there and we went over to pay for the trip. The man there showed us where we'd been and said we'd used just over half a tank of fuel which added 35 EUR to the bill which was still in budget. As we'd enjoyed the trip so much, we booked to go again the next day. He was a very nice guy and we chatted while we waited for Chloe to finish using the toilet in the restaurant next door. The minibus had been waiting as well and it was seeming like a long time so I went to check on Chloe. It turns out she had gotten locked in and the staff were trying to find a key which would work. A few times the boat guy joked about kicking the door and I was wondering how long to leave it before trying just that. Thankfully the owner arrived and his key worked and Chloe was free. It was good she wasn't scared and took it all with good humour. 

Finally we got in the minibus and headed for the hotel. Once we arrived back, we took our things to the room and then went for a drink while we waited for dinner time. By now we'd settled into a routine of dinner, back to the room then to the 2nd pool to chill in the rattan chairs for 30 minutes before heading back to bed with a tv show so that's just what we did.

Friday

We got our bags organised with less than before as we knew what we would use. I got my camera set up on the selfie stick using the bracket to attach it to a pole; not perfect but it did the job. We then went for breakfast and then returned for our bags and went down to wait for the taxi which arrived almost as soon as we sat down. 

We already knew the boat controls but Mat double checked which areas we could go to and then we headed over to the boat. Once loaded on we headed for Laganas beach hoping to spot a turtle. We were all looking out for one and going fairly slow so we wouldn't miss it while also trying to judge where the no-go zone started. We went as close as we dared then turned around and carried on looking. The water was so clear and inviting but it was still a bit cold at this point so I didn't go in yet. We were feeling about to give up when I spotted what I thought was a turtle and yelled to stop. Mat stopped the boat and I got a good view it was a turtle but it was swimming in the opposite direction so Mat turned around and followed as best we could but the turtle was quite fast. I put the camera under water in the general direction hoping I might still get the turtle on camera and we carried on trying to follow slowly but soon we couldn't see any trace of it so we turned back around and headed back towards the dock so we could take the same route as Thursday to go to Keri caves. 

We made it around the tip of the large promontory and not far past where I got out for a swim on Thursday when a coastguard boat waved us to go no further. We went closer to the coastguard and the guy said there were too many waves to go further so we still didn't get to see the full Keri caves. Quite disappointing as we couldn't go to the shipwreck either but c'est la vie, the sea is an unpredictable creature. We went over to our little swimming spot and Josh got out with me for a swim. It was getting colder as I got closer to the shore which I thought was weird. There was no sand, just fist-sized white rock. Josh had trouble with his mask again so I helped with that and then he swam off so I joined him but the mask was a problem again. Each time it only lasted for a few moments before filling with water. I had a swim around and considered going in the cave there but decided I didn't feel safe (years of having it drummed into me not to go near rocky areas in the sea) despite it being calm water. Chloe crumbled some pringles and salted crisps in the sea and I had the camera so took a video of the hundreds of fish all around me. This whole experience was transcendant. I have been using this memory as a 'happy place' since. After that, I swam to the boat and watched as Josh swam to us. When he reached the boat he said he was so out of breath and needed to hold on to the boat but it was a bit dangerous where we were so he hung onto my neck and we swam around to the ladder and got back on the boat. As we left there we saw another boat struggling with their anchor which must have gotten caught on the rocks below (more like huge boulders) and felt fortunate we hadn't tried to put down the anchor.

We set off towards turtle island and headed for the cave with Chloe driving. Once we reached the cave, we could see such beautiful clear water and Mat wanted to get out and swim too but there was no-where sandy enough to anchor so I was going to be the only one. I got my flippers on and was about to swim to the cave when another boat zoomed in there. We waited there for the boat to leave but then another boat appeared and went in followed by yet another one. They seemed so frequent I didn't imagine there would be enough time between boats for me to safely go in there so sadly I abandoned that idea and we set off around the island to go and moor on Turtle beach again. We got out and had a little swim then got some hot dogs from the snack boat and ate them then got settled on the boat again and set off towards Cameo island and then round to Laganas and kept our eye out for a turtle again. 

We spotted a turtle swimming near us and watched it for a while, a couple of people in a small boat were nearby and we motioned to them there was a turtle near us so they came over carefully and slowly, the turtle swam up and surfaced a couple of times then went under the water again out of sight. There were some turtle spotting tour boats which seemed to appear out of nowhere and we went closer into the beach so I could get out for a swim. When I jumped out, I ended up only knee deep which made us laugh as I'd expected to be out of my depth. I was still in my depth at least half a mile from the shore! Mat and the kids went for a ride around while I went to shore to wave at the webcam hoping mum was watching it (turns out she was looking at the Tsilivi cam again). The beach was beautiful, sandy and had crystal clear water and I thoroughly enjoyed that swim. Mat saw another turtle while I was swimming and then he came back and after a while I got back in the boat. We then sailed back past Cameo island and went slowly along the coast enjoying the time and keeping an eye out for more turtles. I sat on the front of the boat with my feet in the water and we were going over pure sand for ages and soon it started turning to rocks which then made me call out to Mat I could see rocks but it was slightly too late as the hull knocked on the rock. Thankfully Mat had raised the engine so it wasn't damaged and then we reversed carefully and tried a new route only to be met with rock again so we had to reverse again (with Josh guiding) and once we were back to sand, we went away from the shore into deeper water. I felt somewhat nervous for a while but soon we were well clear and we carried on our way back to the dock. We had to wait a while for the minibus to arrive so I took some photos while we waited.

Once back at the hotel we went through our usual routine: ping pong, drinks then off to dinner and after that sitting at the second pool with a drink and then back to our room for TV.

Saturday

The following is a rough note to remind myself for when I write it properly... Milling about by the pool, Mat and Josh all day in room, chloe in room a while then joined me and cat sat on her lap ages and got annoyed her getting it off. josh came out for a while considered swimming but decided not to and went back to room. Horse riding

Sunday

The following is a rough note to remind myself for when I write it properly... We milled about the hotel again and after lunch Chloe and I went to the beach. Gramos sang to Chloe

Monday

The following is a rough note to remind myself for when I write it properly... We woke up and had to keep telling Josh to get up and pack the last things then once we were all packed and all drawers and under beds checked we went to breakfast. After brek we got our cases and went to reception through a different route as easier to avoid stairs. Checked out and briefly sat down then taxi was already here. Arrived at the airport very fast and saw a long line, I was going to stand in the line but the others wanted to sit until we saw our flight details come up for checkin. I joked that it probably is our line as all the british people naturally queue (and that was the only flight going to England within a few hours). After 20-30 mins the info was displayed and confirmed my suspision it was our line. There was a toddler screeching for quite a while which was a bit annoying. We got to the desk and the lady said we can put our carry on bags in the hold which was good. Dropped the bags off then went through security with no beeps. we found a place to sit and I hunted down some drinks. Then went to check out duty free shops upstairs and didn't find much so I got in line to buy some bags of sweets which were about 4 EUR each :o when it was my turn the cashier needed my boarding pass but I had left it downstairs so I decided to abort that idea. How could I even be at this stage without having had a pass in the first place?! Chloe and I looked out the window and tracked the incoming flight (which would be our outgoing plane) and saw it so took a video and then saw gate details so we went to the gate (7). Josh spotted some tic tacs he'd have liked to buy but it was too late. We sat at the gate for a while then they opened the doors to go to the coach. It was ages before they started loading us onto the coach and somehow we were last on so had to stand. We were then transported to the plane and we got on the front this time (last ones to get on in that batch, the coaches must have gone back to collect more people after we got on). Took our seats and got Chloe lappy out then we heard there was a 20 minute delay. We actually took off 3 minutes early. Take off was lovely and powerful but I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have in the window seat. I watched a movie on my ipad on the way back and they announced it was windy at gatwick so landing would be rocky. It got a little bumpy and the sky was very hazy but other than the slight rolling, the landing was fine. A bit more of a hard landing than normal though. We had a 'suction thing' as Chloe put it and then we were walking along corridoors with the moving floor. I went to toilet but had to wait as there was a small queue - chloe decided not to wait. when we got to next section josh went to toilet. We went through the snake-line to the e-passport gates. Mat's wasn't working and turned out to be his glasses needed taking off. We couldn't find Josh once we were all through but then he appeared saying we waited where it said not to wait (oops). Then we went to get our cases which I saw just as we came into the baggage claim area so I ran for the case. I saw another of ours about to disappear for another round but once there it turned out it wasn't ours. We didn't wait long for the bags to appear and then we walked towards customs. we went past a moneycorp so asked to exchange josh's 30 EUR, they were going to give him £17 for them so we said no, we'll change them at post office. Went through customs 'nothing to declare' and looked for our taxi which we spotted and it just had 'Stella' on it. I suppose my name is rare enough to not need a surname! the driver took the case I had and lead us through the car park to the car. we got in and headed home. further south we got the more yellow the sky was and we saw the red sun which I'd seen on a facebook post. arrived home and it smelled unlived in and a bit like paint (probably from the new plaster in the downstairs toilet). went to the back door and saw next door cat on the decking with Jess behind the spa. Opened the door and he ran in and we had some cuddles. Started getting unpacked so could put washing on then ordered pizza. Finished unpacking and pizza arrived so we all sat and enjoyed that. so looking forward to bed we went up quite early and went to sleep (it took me a while to return to regular sleep pattern as holiday was very broken sleep and so I even kept waking up at home despite the comfortable bed).

The End