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Finally arrived in Corfu!
15/06/2015, Paleokastritsa, Corfu, Greece

At last, we have finally arrived in Corfu! It has been a somewhat epic journey which started in Saudi Arabia on the 13th April when packing commenced. Returning to the UK for a four week stop at mum's who very kindly allowed us to receive our boxes from Saudi, re-pack and combine with our other possessions cracking the ceilings below mum's loft (!) before being collected by a lorry and departing for Corfu, estimated arrival on the 18th June. As to where we are going to put everything, we have absolutely no idea! Far too much stuff for two people I suspect, but we'll see. The most important items in the boxes are our woodworking tools which we require to build a new kitchen interior and all our own furniture as we don't actually own any furniture with the exception of a coffee table that we bought 15 years ago in Cyprus. We have really been welcomed into the small local community, even though our ability to converse in Greek at the moment is extremely limited; we are working on that slowly! The next step is to get a Greek Residency Card so that we can buy a small collect the timber to build the furniture... but that requires the EHIC card with me here which is a bit of a shame as it is in the UK! We have 90 days to register with the local Police station before we become unofficial 'aliens' so I'm keen to resolve that one soon. Cooking is being done at the moment on two small portable Camping Gaz stoves purchased at the local supermarket. This results in all cooking being done on the Veranda on a small, low coffee table - a bit inconvenient but a great view! Once the replacement kitchen is built, we can get a decent arrangement and cook in the kitchen! We have bought a few small items to get us started over here and also a very powerful Karcher K7 Jetwasher which has been immensely useful in clearing many years of moss and dirt from the paths around the house. Our neighbours have already been commenting on how much better the place looks now that some maintenance is being done. There is a massive amount of work to do and I suspect it will take quite a few years to get everything done. At the moment, it's one step at a time. The first job is to build a sofa so we can sit down in the evenings on a comfortable chair! We have been around numerous coffee shops, bakers and bars photographing furniture to get some ideas on what to build and now have some thoughts and designs together. Now I just need the wood, and a car to collect it... :-) Once this is built, we can start on the kitchen. This will be our first ever major tiling and woodworking project so it will be interesting to see how it all goes. I suspect it will look fine, but will take a considerable time to complete compared to a professional team doing the job. However, we can develop some new skills in the process and I might even end up building and selling furniture one day! So for now, it's mainly gardening and general tidying up. Thursday, boxes arrival day, will be very interesting I suspect!

Moving to Corfu
13/02/2015, Paleokastritsa, Corfu

We have bought a great little secluded place in Paleokastritsa, Corfu and are moving in on the 28th May, coincidentally our wedding anniversary. We'll have a potentially hectic four weeks in the UK trying to work out where in England we have actually stored all of our possessions over the past couple of decades...The rest of the summer and time leading up to Christmas will be spent sorting our new place out. It is in good structural condition but needs some maintenance and minor decoration such as...strip out entire bathroom and redecorate, strip out entire kitchen and redecorate, convert the jungle into a garden, replace all of the rusted garden and terrace railings, resolve the basement flooding issue, etc. All of this will of course be preceded by setting up a workshop in the outhouse to enable all of the above to be achieved. Oh, and we need to replace the asbestos roof with one less offensive to the environment. We have some big ideas on generating some of our own energy, the techniques of which were learned through living onboard Quasar IV for 3 years making all of our own power. The aim is to reduce our water, heating and lighting bills to a minimum. If it works, I'll write a book and sell it to the other expats who live there constantly complaining about how expensive it is to heat their swimming pools and import fresh veggies from Waitrose in the UK ;-) Our swimming pool is the ocean and our veggie supplier is the local market if the back garden plan vegetable patch doesn't quite work out which I suspect may be the case given my lack of 'green fingers' at the moment. Another new skill to learn....along with the Greek language of more time to work! So for now, 'Yassas!'

Leaving Saudi Arabia
13/02/2015, Riyadh

The time has now come for us to finally leave Saudi Arabia, at 0135 hrs on the 1st May to be precise, not that we are counting the days! Life has been very unusual over here but, as a means to an end, has been a complete success. For me, the constant very heavy workload associated with operations work, 24/7, has finally got the better of me and I am calling it a day so that I stand a better chance of living to enjoy my retirement, albeit part time I suspect! For Tracey, the inability to get official work, not being able to drive a car and have to stay covered up in black in the hottest country in the world has not really made for the best time here in Riyadh. KyteMarque crochet animal production has however been very successful and is likely to continue in Corfu I suspect. The many dust storms we experience cause havoc with breathing and generate many respiratory difficulties. It has not however been unmanageable here. The Saudis are very hospitable as a nation, fuel is £0.16 a litre (it costs £4.50 to fill the tank of our Toyota 4x4!), the geology of the country is fascinating and provided the opportunity for some spectacular photographs, and the annual Janadriyah Cultural Festival started in 1985 with 30,000 visitors, now attracts 4 million visitors each year, with great dancing, food and many other attractions including camel racing which is hilarious to watch. Despite the many interesting things to do here, living 400 km from the sea in a dust bowl is not conducive to getting any sailing, diving or horse riding in, so we are now departing the Kingdom for Corfu, where all such activities are available within 25 minutes walking or driving from our front door. Tricky decision as to whether to move or not ... :-).

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