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Living the dream

December 21, 2011


On Sunday, we were invited for coffee at Hans & Hanneke’s in Ayia Fotia – the next village along the coast from Ferma. H2 as they are collectively known are friends of Inge & Michaelis (our hosts) and are standing in for them as janitors of a sort, whilst I & M are in Germany for Xmas and the New Year.

H2 are retired Dutch careers advisers who moved to Crete permanently three years ago. Michaelis designed and supervised the building of their house and we were given the opportunity of being shown round.

The house has a wonderful position on the steep side of the valley leading down to the beach at Ayia Fotia and has great views of both the sea and the mountains. Being on the hillside, it is built on multi levels with no less than seven separate terraces, so whatever the weather and time of year, they can find somewhere to sit outside and enjoy their views.

The house itself is imaginatively designed and although we both felt that the internal rooms were quite small, there are only two of them living there and for much of the year, they can ‘live their dream’ outside.

Clearly, too, the whole enterprise has for them been somewhat of a retirement project and they spend a lot of time working on the garden, which has been terraced and on their olive trees, which this year produced eighty litres of oil. Sheila and I agreed later that if we were ever to move to the sun, our dream house would already have had all this work done!

 We were interested to know whether they had made many friends since their move and the answer, perhaps not surpisingly was that mostly, their new friends are fellow Dutch folk, some Germans and a few mixed Greek and Northern European couples. As regards local Cretans, although they have been kind, even generous at times and welcoming, they have not yet made any Cretan friends.

This got us thinking about our own experience and that of various friends and acquaintances both in Scotland and further afield, when moving into a rural community. We concluded that perhaps the issue is not so much a lack of effort or willingness to assimilate on the part of the incomer but rather the essential conservatism of rural folk who often have their own social structures built on traditional culture which tends to discourage them from dealing with the perceived ‘threats’ posed by incomers with a different background. That said, sometimes of course, the new arrivals just can’t be bothered to get off their arses and try! 

It’s always easy to think that ‘living the dream’ is easy, especially when the sun is shining and the weather reports from home are so awful but clearly it’s not all plain sailing. Unless you are content to live like hermits, considerable effort eg learning the language for one in this case, needs to be made and a focus to your existence is probably a pre-requisite.

From the above, you may rightly gather for the time being, at least, although tempted by the lifestyle, we probably still have too many things we want to do back in Scotland – so Kirkcudbright Tennis Club can rest easy – she may be coming back!



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