The last two days in Athens were very relaxed. After spending the previous week in 'The Nest' fixing and upgrading things, it was great to relax and enjoy the vibe of a big capital city again. We drank (more) coffee, ate (more) desserts and shopped for a few (more) knick-knacks for the shelves. All in all, a lovely time.
Tuesday was a long travel day. We flew from Athens to Charles De Gaulle in Paris, then Paris to Edinburgh. With the layover and travel at each end, it was almost twelve hours by the time we arrived at Ella & Inge's in Edinburgh around 10.30 pm. Just in time for a quick hello, and then off to bed!
Karina came down with a cold, but she soldiered on. On Wednesday, Inge and Ella both took the day off, and he and I got fitted for rental kilts for the wedding next year. Then a long walk around the city, to the shopping centre and visiting the Christmas markets, lunch at Dishoom, then home again. The weather was crisp and cool, and at one stage during lunch, there was a very light snow, which didn't stick at all.
Of course, we're coming to the shortest day of the year, but it's wild how quickly it gets dark here! After Athens, it was very noticeable - by 4 pm, the sun was well and truly setting. It never gets that high during the day, either. Our six or seven hours in the city was the bulk of the daylight!
I've been having a lot of things delivered to Ella's ready for us to collect. One I was particularly excited about was the new iPhone 15 Pro Max. We use the phone for all the photos of the blog, so a better, more flexible camera is a big plus. Also, I dropped the old phone in Türkiye and shattered the screen, and it was due for replacement anyway. One of the other tasks was transferring to the new phone, and of course, I was able to spend a little bit of time experimenting with some "before and after" type shots to get a comparison. It really is a significant upgrade!
The main reason we are here is actually to do a house sit. It's not something we've tried before because, of course, we had our dog Rosie that needed looking after. It's very straightforward: people advertise for house sitters online on a website, you apply, and if they accept, you get to go and look after their house while they do whatever they are up to.
We're currently in Glenfarg, north of Edinburgh. It's a lovely location for us, with lots of green, rolling hills, fields to walk in, some very friendly dogs to play with and a great big kitchen to cook in. We're having a wonderful time and enjoying the break from the boat. The house is quite large, and the hosts generously allowed us the loan of a car, and for Ella and Inge to come and stay for a few days, so we're all having a country getaway. It's a great way to experience new parts of a country without paying for accommodation - a win-win for both parties.
The dogs have been very entertaining. They are well-trained and very responsive, and they love getting outside and exploring the vast fields, no matter the weather.
It started to snow properly on Saturday, and we had about 5 cm on the ground when we drove down into the nearby village to collect Inge, who was coming up from Edinburgh on the bus. We're still excited and happy to see it – especially when we can sit inside by a radiator with big picture windows, warm and cozy and watching it fall. We did take the dogs out for a walk, especially the younger 2-year-old cocker, who loves to run and explore; the snow is no barrier for her.
The house we're staying in is an old farmstead on the side of a hill with amazing views over the valley below. It was remodelled extensively a few years back and is an interesting combination of a couple of old buildings which leads to a very horse shoe-shaped layout. One feature that we've loved is the Aga oven.
If you're not familiar with these (we certainly weren't) they are a very "old fashioned" style of range oven, upgraded slightly for the modern world. Basically they are a huge chunk of cast iron that takes hours to heat up and so consequently, the oven is never turned off (at least in winter). They double as a heat source, a place to dry clothes and just stand beside to warm yourself. They also cook crumpets better than anything I've tried before (as long as you remember to turn them over!).
The hot plates are always on too, covered to stop the heat escaping; you simply lift the lid and start cooking! There are two ovens, a "simmer oven" and a "roasting oven" which maintain the same, consistent temperatures. Overall, the theory supposedly is that because the entire thing is cast iron, it radiates heat that doesn't "dry the food" like a convection oven blowing air. All I know is that the Coq Au Vin that we made was excellent and the roast potatoes were some of the better ones we've had!
The other news this week was the results of the biopsy on the ulcer removed from my ear. It turns out that it was, in fact, skin cancer, but thankfully, just a Basal Cell Carcinoma. This is the most common form of skin cancer and generally doesn't spread. There's no further treatment as it's already been excised, but I'll need to keep up my sun screen and sun protection as well as get checked closer the next few years. For those sailors out there (or anyone who spends any time outside), do make sure you get any suspicious spots checked on.
The thoughts of our movements next year are slowly taking shape. There is, of course, Ella and Inge's wedding on June 1st. We'll still have the spot in Mytiline, which, because it's paid for, is the perfect place to leave the boat. So that dictates our early season movements (not too far away). The exciting change that's just occurred is Ella secured tickets for us all to go to Eurovision (just one of the preview shows, but still exciting) in Malmo, Sweden towards the start of May.
Which means that we need to be there. We'll probably take a week at least to check out Copenhagen, Denmark and Stockholm, Sweden, which leaves us with only two weeks before we probably want to head to Edinburgh to help prepare for the wedding anyway. It doesn't seem worth it to travel to Sweden, back to Mytilene for two weeks and back to Edinburgh, so we'll probably try find either a house sit or a maybe just enjoy travelling on land during late spring for a change!
Today we brave the icy roads to take Ella and Inge back to the bus stop so they can head home to Edinburgh and we spend the rest of the week here playing with the dogs (and the Aga), hopefully squeezing in a day trip to Perth and then head back to Mytiline on Thursday.
Until next time,
Tim & Karina