Christmas 2017 in Europe
Our first Christmas away from Australia in 2017 was unusual not only in the fact that we’d left home (actually sold up so we had no home) in Australia, and we were now on the opposite side of the world, 17,196 km (10,685 miles) away from our son Luke. Everything was so surreal that year, as we literally stepped away from semi-rural family life, leaving Australia on the 18th December 2017, and into the beginning of a vastly different yachtie liveaboard life in the Mediterranean.
Living in Australia so far from my birth family who are still in the UK, I decided that being so close now that I was in Spain, that I’d spend Christmas with my sister, Judi. That I did and also stayed with my good school friend Liz and her husband Mark, meeting some of their grown up children and grandchild.
I popped up to Dundee in Scotland on the train and enjoyed a teeth-gritting freezing winter at the foot of Dundee Law, which at 572 feet above sea level, gave the hill a crispy coating of frost which froze my toes when we walked up there and provided me with a welcomed ‘memory’ of how wind chill can numb the body! The welcoming I had by my Scottish relatives however, and from Liz and her family, as well as my darling big sister Judi, was so warm that I found myself enjoying the true blessings of a UK Christmas. The only two people missing were Luke in Brisbane, Australia and Baz, who was learning all about Javea in Spain.
Christmas 2018 in Kaş, Turkey
Last year, Christmas 2018, was spent on our yacht-home A B Sea, where Baz and I had a temporary winter home tied up to the town harbour in the delightful Turkish town of Kaş. There we made the acquaintance of a bunch of friends, some of whom lived on yachts in Kaş marina, some fellow sailors berthed there for winter, and others who were overlanders.
All of us carried everything we owned with us on our travels, either in yachts or re-purposed chunky trucks. Throw into the mix the Turks we met there, and the welcoming owners and staff of Smiley’s restaurant in town, and Passarella restaurant at Kaş Marina, and we discovered a Christmas spirit I hadn’t known for years. Which is odd, given Turkey is a Muslim country and doesn’t actually celebrate Christmas.
I think much of the Christmas spirit, apart from the throat warming liquor that was consumed in abundance at many gatherings that season, came from the friendship that I can only describe as extended family, or soul family, in those people we rubbed shoulders with, swapped stories with and shared meals with over many delightful days, which turned into weeks and months.
My previous Christmas with family in the UK bolstered me along knowing how close I was to my sister compared to previous years. However my heart ached to be with our son Luke, who was spending his Christmas with friends who are his only family in Australia. Of course, he’s chosen that path, wanting to discover how his life opens up on his own terms. It is just paradoxical that while I was now closer to one branch of my family, I was further away from the other. It seems my life choices always put me at a distance from one or the other. And I am learning to live with an empty space which I fill with love of the memories of those people, who I know I will still see every now and then when finances and time permits.
Christmas 2019 in Limni, Evia, Greece
This year, Baz and I are celebrating the winter season in Greece and once again, I’m noticing a different flavour – energy – to our lives. We’re in a studio apartment at a boat yard just north of Limni, a small fishing village on the island of Evia which sits east of the mainland of Greece and is visited in the summer months mainly by nearby Athenians.
The village is fairly quiet in the winter months although we are getting to know the local shop keepers who now ask us how we are, and as we learn a little more Greek, (as we did Turkish last year), I’m sure our relationships with the locals will open up a tad more. The boat yard is fairly quiet as well with only a handful of other boaties on site. The owners and staff are warm and friendly when we see them, but they live off site and visit daily.
Our first floor (second floor USA) studio overlooks the ever changing face of the Evia channel, in that we are able to watch the sea’s moods range from calm bright blues to stormy rich greys as the wind falls, rises and changes direction. The bay we’re in is fairly protected and even southern winds which bring rain but are comparatively mild, haven’t reached more than 40 knots to date. We’re currently experiencing north-westerlies, which are bringing colder weather from the north. But the sky has fewer clouds with the north-westerlies and the sunlight leaves a bright wide strip of silver at the far side of the channel, where the water touches the nearby Greek mainland.
We were settling in with an acceptance of a very quiet Christmas this year when we were approached by Renate, one of the German couples living on site while their boat is on the hard for winter. She invited us with them and two other fellows to celebrate Christmas dinner at a local restaurant on Christmas eve. We were delighted to accept!
The night sky was clear of clouds and while crisp and cool, our nearly 1Km walk from the boat yard to the restaurant was lit by stars sparkling in the black sky, torches and street lights. They’d discovered a short cut from the boat yard to the main road which cut out another 1Km, so it didn’t take us too long to arrive at the restaurant. The Bella Vista, (no website but here’s the address: Epar.Od. Strofilias - Rovion, Mantoudi Limni) was delightful. Inside the brick building was a large hearth tastefully decorated with deep red and gold decorations, and a large log fire provided a welcoming warmth after the cold night time walk.
The staff were friendly, the conversation lively, the food generous and tasty and the wine and ouzo flowed. In fact, I enjoyed my time with new friends so much, I forgot to take photos of our surroundings. As we ate the buttery and delightful Greek Christmas pastries that they gave us after dessert of the creamiest yogurt, fruit and candied kumquats, we made plans to meet the following afternoon to taste Stefan’s dessert wine that he’d made with his organic grapes grown on the other side of Limni. We also had plans to visit some sites around the island that we’d heard have interesting or strong energies, many being sites built by ancient peoples.
I was also happy to note that my foot held up walking the distance to and from the restaurant and was only slightly swollen the following day! As I write this two days later, it’s back to normal and is continuing its healing.
Christmas Day was made extra special with a long conversation with Luke, who was already celebrating Christmas Down Under when we spoke. He sent us photos of his new hair cut, which looks pretty cool. He was happy this year and felt at home amongst friends, and knowing that, was the second best thing to actually having him in Greece with us.
Stefan’s wine was very tasty and I took some vegan raw carrot cake bites and some spicy cashew cheese and crackers I’d made to share with the wine. We took a walk around the boat yard to view each other’s boats and Baz and I returned to our studio to cook our steak which would be our Christmas day meal.
Baz and I don’t often eat red meat and were looking forward to steak which we’d bought from a local butcher and kept in the freezer until Christmas morning. However when I took the steak out to defrost in the morning, I’d forgotten that the cold winter weather (rather than memories of hot Australian summer Christmas weather) meant it would take a bit of time to defrost. Returning from our Christmas afternoon drinks, I was disappointed to see that the steaks were still ice-welded together like a big fat red brick despite leaving them to thaw in the winter sunshine! Operation Warm Water defrosting took place and Baz and I soon enjoyed a delicious steak with all the trimmings – oven chips, caramelised onions, garlic mushrooms and mixed vegetables. A bottle of good Greek red wine later and Christmas dinner 2019 was declared a winner!
All that was left to do was to open our presents. My sister had sent a parcel, we’d purchased a few items from Amazon and some of our generous followers had bought us gifts from our Amazon wish list. A couple that I’d purchased had been returned due to the delivery guy not being able to find the place. And a few were still to come after the Christmas rush, but we are looking forward to discovering what ‘Santa’ has brought us this year. A B Sea will be that much better off, due to our follower’s generosity.
What did we receive?
We’re going to unwrap them tomorrow, so I’ll do a show and tell next week.
In the meantime, Baz and I wish you a wonderful after-Christmas and a New Year that’s full of blessings.
You can see our Q&A video that comes out on Saturday. Just click here. To read the questions, go to Barry's blog this week.
As Tara Isis Gerris from Wild Woman Sisterhood has said:
“Christmas is a state of mind. It’s not about the food or the presents. It’s about creating a loving and warm atmosphere. To cherish peace and goodwill. That’s the real Spirit of Christmas.