Getting ready to Live Below the Line 2014

I will be honest, I have never managed to live on a £1 a day whenever I have taken part in this challenge. That is mainly because I cannot bear the idea of value bread, value sausages, frozen vegetables and pasta sauce from a jar.

This year I thought I would do some forward planning, mainly because I start my new job next week, so juggling that with shopping and cooking will be a challenge to me, after not being in paid work for nearly three years. £5 book

I went back to this book, first published in 1987, revised in 1995. I was a bit surprised at the cost of some of the items on the shopping list.£5 shopping list 1a £5 shopping list 1bAnd then I typed some items from this list into the online shopping page of a well known store to compare prices of some, not all of that on the list. It also conveniently compares its prices with other stores including Aldi. I also know Aldi prices pretty well as that is where I do most of my shopping.

1 chicken. Average cost is £5 but there are 2 for £8 and 3 for £10 offers. Aldi have a free range chicken at £4.99

Whole meal flour (2) £1.49

Plain flour 75p

Red lentils 75p

tinned tomatoes 31p

Baked Beans 24p

12 eggs £1.95

Porridge 38p

Potatoes £2.00

Oranges (6) 76p

Given that the prices in the book are I am guessing 1995 prices, food prices do not seem to have increased very much in 19 years. Yet all most of us are spending more on our food. Why is this?

Maybe we all buy too much food which we don’t use? Are the BOGOF offers to blame for food waste and perhaps food poverty?

There is of course very little meat on the list. I know that at least a third of my food spending is on meat and we are not what I call big meat eaters. I am also surprised there is no pasta on the list. At 29p for 500g, it is a good staple, filling food.

A Girl Called Jack

A Girl Called Jack

Meat will have to come of the menu next week. I will bake my own bread as I can make it for about 45p a loaf, and that for me is better than having cheap supermarket bread. I will cook with lentils, vegetables, pasta and rice. I will also therefore be looking for inspiration from A Girl Called Jack.

Gathering the ingredients

Gathering the ingredients

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What I do know is that nearly 1 million people used foodbanks in the UK last year. My new job is with an organisation that runs a foodbank.  I am going to do my best to live on £1 a day next week, I am hoping my son and husband will join me. The difference to what I would usually spend on food and what I actually spend next week will be donated, in food, to Smethwick Foodbank.

If you can donate this is the shopping list of items they need on a regular basis. Contact The Trussell Trust to find where your nearest foodbank is.

You don’t think it could ever happen to you? Many of us are 3 payslips away from not being able to meet household bills, if redundancy or sickness strikes. I have been there, down to my last pound with 3 days till the next dole cheque arrived. I was lucky as I had a family that could and would help. Not everyone is so fortunate.

Will you Live Below the Line next week?

Can you donate to a local foodbank or become a volunteer?

 

Not quite island hopping in Greece

But almost.

Santorini was always going to be the main destination for our week in Greece. Despite there being no direct flights from Birmingham to Santorini or to Athens, I knew that as a nation of sailors there would always be a ferry to catch. I thought we may get to visit a couple of other island in The Cyclades, but that was not to be. Yet, the Blue Star Delos that sails at 7.30 am each day from Piraeus to Santorini stops at Paros, Naxos and Ios, so at least I got to see these.

Greek Time

Greek Time

To get to Santroini we first had to get to Piraeus on the overnight Amek Lines Kretti 2. It sounds like a long way round, and it was, but in the end the arrangements suited our needs to always be on the move. I last did this sailing in 1979 and we slept on deck on towels. This time we were assigned couchette seats on the top deck, and thought they would be adequate as they were bigger than seats on a plane, but that was not to be.

Everyone , including the police, watched tv, smoked and talked all night. Instead we dozed on uncomfortable chairs in the bar area, along with most of the other passengers. The experienced travellers knew the best seats and spread out early on so they got somewhere semi comfortable to sleep. We did however have very good value food from the cafe (with the company of the bearded Mykonos FC) and waiter service at the bar. If I did this again I would probably look at upgrading to better seats.

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We had 24 hours in Piraeus and Athens and visited The Acroplis and had lunch in Plaka. I would highly recommend that you base yourself in Piraeus especially if you have, like we did, a7.30 am sailing the next day. It is easy to get to Athens on the train, we got a 4 Euro all day transport ticket, and Piraeus had lots to offer in the way of coffee shops and bakeries, and cheap accommodation.

Our next ferry was the Blue Star Delos.

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Despite an early start this was a lovely relaxing mini cruise to The Cyclades. If the weather is kind there is plenty of seating on deck, kennels, a cafe selling fast food and a bar area. We had traditional spinach pies for €2.4 each, tea for €1.2 and a latte for €3.70. It was crowded and you need to board early to get decent seats, although there is the option of upgrading to numbered seats in quieter areas.

The best bit for me was pulling into the ports of Paros, Naxos and Ios. Then finally Santorini. Mom told that the best way to approach Santorini is by sea. She was right.

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I wanted to get off at all of them. Hopefully next year I will. I love the mad frenzy of passenger embarking and disembarking, the chaos of getting vehicles on and off the ferries in such a short time.

As we visited each island the numbers dwindled on the boat. When we had left Piraeus the passengers were about 60% locals returning home for Easter and 40% tourists. Most were American or Chinese. By the time we got to Santorini about 75% of those disembarking were Chinese. Speaking to our hosts in Santorini, they told us that in spring most of their guests were from China and from Russia in the summer. Most other tourist we met were American or Australian.

I really cannot recall meeting or hearing any other British people other than at the airport, on our flight, in the week we were there. Not at Knossos, the Acropolis or on Santorini.

Have the English abandoned Greece? Or have they lost their sense of adventure and only visit Greece on package holidays?

If so, that is a shame as you really do not know what you are missing out on. It has been a few years since I was last in Greece, and while I have loved everywhere else I have been too, Greece is still like coming home for me. And I will be back. Soon.

You get what you pay for, don’t you? Budgeting for island hopping in Greece

I have just tallied up the costs of the recent trip to Greece. It seems that the quote I used in previous blogs is very true.

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.  ~Susan Heller

I did well with the clothes, I think. Did I take half as much as usual? Possibly not? Yet I cut back on all the other bits that others deem to be absolutely essential. I didn’t take a hair brush, for example or loads of toiletries and make up. Two pairs of shoes, trainers to wear while travelling and and sandals for the day time were all I needed. And I packed really efficiently.

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I also think I got a good deal with the flights, when the price dropped by £40 per person. What I couldn’t plan for was the cost of the ferries. I also had no idea how much food and accommodation would cost for the week. so yes, there were a lot of variables to contend with, which is where the second half of the quotation, resonates. We really did need twice as much money.

Here is the breakdown, costs for two adults. Flights and other UK costs are in Sterling and everything else in Greece is in Euros.

Travel

Flights  £   175.38
Taxes  £     62.58
Baggage  £     96.00
FerriesHeraklion to Piraeus (overnight deck class) €         58.00
Piraeus to Santorini  €         75.00
Santorini to Heraklion (Fast Cat)  €      112.00

Our orignal plan was to go to Santorini from Crete and maybe island hop. As the Flying Cats were not operational until the 17 April we changed our plans, which I wrote about here.Delos, or ferry form Piraeus to Santorini

As it was we had a bonus day in Athens and the costs of the ferries were about the same as if we had got a return Flying Cat to Santorini. They did however take up a huge chunk of our budget.the Flying Cat from Santorini to HeraklionWe opted for Bed and Breakfast at all our accommodation. I think that this was money well spent, although in Piraeus there were lots of cheap coffee shops and bakeries to get a breakfast, yet as our ferry was at 7.30 am we took advantage of the 6 Euro supplement at our cheap 30 Euro per night hotel for a breakfast from 6am including a shuttle to the ferry.

Accomodation

 Hotel  per night  B&B
Kastro  €     45.00  €     45.00
Kronos  €     60.00  €   120.00
Argo  €     42.00  €     42.00
Nectarios  €     52.00  €   104.00

 

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The cost of the Kronos Hotel on the Friday and Saturday in Heraklion reflects that it was the weekend running up to Easter. This was the most expensive accomodation we stayed in. We were not going to consider the Youth Hostel in Heraklion as it had such dreadful reviews.

Anita Argo in Piraeus at 30 euro without breakfast was the cheapest and had the smallest bathroom and no view. We were offered an upgrade at 10 Euro but as we were only there one night, with an early start, we just wanted a clean room to sleep in.

Nectarios Villa was the star accommodation. We paid extra as we had an apartment, a double room was c 45 Euros with breakfast but they were all booked. We would not hesitate to stay here again. Santorini has a reputation for being expensive yet this accommodation was well priced. And so welcoming.

All the places we stayed in were clean, with hairdryers and good showers. The Greeks must be the friendliest people on the planet, all the staff in all the hotels were helpful and genuinely lovely people. Even the man at Argo who was pretty grumpy at 8 am when we wanted to check in early, after a poor nights sleep on the overnight ferry, was lovely a bit later in the day (perhaps he just needed caffeine).

Food

Many years ago Greece was somewhere you could get food very cheaply. Not so much now. As a guide a beer was between 3 and 5 Euro, a Greek salad between 4 and 5 Euro and a main course  about 8 Euro. Some places were cheaper others more expensive.

Portions were generous and we could have saved money by having a salad at lunch time. We didn’t of course. The food was too good to miss. The only bad meals we had were in the centre of Heraklion. Corner Cafe Club SandwichRubbish Club sandwiches with horrid fries right in the middle of a fashionable square where all the students hung out and food poisoning from a back street taverna. Pantheon, that looked like the place locals would hang out.

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It was deserted when every where else was packed and we really should have known better.

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Kastella,  on the sea front we ate at twice, was very, very good and we regret not just sticking with it.

Food €   252.10

Drink  €   139.10

We averaged 36 Euros a day on food and we ate very well for that. We only had beer or soft drinks, wine would have cost more.

The absolute bargains of this trip however were visits to Knossos at 6 Euros and The Acropolis at 12 Euros. How can you miss these?

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Have you been to Greece? Where would you recommend we visit next?

 

When preparing to travel Part 3 (things I didn’t use)

I packed the lightest I could on the recent week trip to Greece. I used almost every item I took, except these. Things packed not usedDetails on how I packed and what I took were in these previous posts.

I didn’t use the swimsuit, sarong or shorts.

The extra t shirt was not needed either.

The Kindle, not used.  I had a paperback and that was all I needed. Annoyingly I left it at Birmingham Airport on the way home and I hadn’t finished it.

The Cag in a Bag, as it rained on our last day in Santorini, if I had not packed it away would have been quite useful. By the time the rain got really heavy we were back at the villa, so we only got damp, not wet.Ten minutes later the sun was out.

All beds were new and sheets clean so sleeping sack not needed.

Good quality towels were provide even in the cheapest 30 Euros a night room, travel towel not needed.

Would I pack all of these again? Yes. They were light and took up very little room and could have come in useful.

I am glad I had room for an extra, warm top. I wore one and packed a second. The evenings and mornings were chilly and the last day it rained and was quite cool.

I really could have taken less toiletries as all bar one room (the cheapest) provided shampoo and shower gel. All the rooms had towels and a hair dryer. This was not the Greece I was used to. They had decent showers and hot water too.

Greece has moved on from the days of showers over the toilet, thin towels and old mattresses on a concrete base. We paid from 42 to 60 Euros for a double room with breakfast, and that price did not always reflect the quality of the rooms. We didn’t check out hostels and having just seen this review of the Hostel in HerakIion I am pleased we didn’t.

I will be sharing details of where we stayed and the costs of our week in Greece in my next post.

 

Santorini, a final resting place for Mom, via a few other places she loved

There is only one reason I went to Santorini. Mom had asked for her ashes to be left there. She first went there in the 80′s with her sister in law. Every summer Mom and Brenda went island hopping in Greece. And she fell in love with Santorini. And so did I.

Oia

Oia Santorini

Windmill Santorini

Windmill Santorini

After just over a year since she passed away, I finally decided it was time to take Mom ‘home’. Just before she died she told me she wasn’t sure that she wanted ‘it’ to be Santorini. I think she was worried that it had changed from what she had remembered. And she had since travelled to so many other places she loved. Dalyan, Turkey being one.mom dalyan by the river

After she died, I was not sure where she really wanted to be, her partner and I thought Dalyan and my daughter suggested we took her to all the places she had travelled to. A lovely idea yet limited by money, I was not sure I could fit in Thailand, Egypt, Greece, Malta, Menorca,Turkey, Hong Kong, and goodness knows where else she had visited.

Approaching Santorini by sea

Approaching Santorini by sea

I had three overseas holidays last year and took a little bit of Mom to two of those destinations and one in the UK. I may have broken a Turkish law but I knew she loved it here.Dalyan

And I found the perfect place in Malta too.  I chose Marsaxlokk as it is a colourful village that hosts a lively Sunday market, and no one loved a good market better than my mom. Only after I had scattered her ashes I realised that the curtains hanging in a little house overlooking the spot where I left her are identical to the ones my mother had in her home.

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Mom had also been an actress and one of her very last proper outings was to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see The Tempest. I thought she may enjoy being here, in the shadow of The Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

In the shadow of The Royal shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

In the shadow of The Royal shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

As time went on, I knew I really needed closure and in my heart I knew I had to take her to Santorini.Oia Santorini

We could only get flights to Crete at this time of the year, yet I was pretty sure that we would be able to get to Santorini from there, by boat. As it was it turned out that the fast ferries were not running until 17 April and we flew home in the early hours of 18 April. At that point I was thinking I would only get a day trip to Santorini and have to spend the rest of the week on Crete.

I was not prepared to give up and with the help of a brilliant travel agent, Paleologos, in Heraklion, planned an itinerary that got us to Santorini on the 15 April via Piraeus. We would be leaving Santorini on the first fast ferry on the 17 April at 6pm, with plenty of time to get our flight at 1am on the 18th. Cutting it fine, and the Sea Cats don’t run if the weather is windy. Ah well I had taken out insurance and enhanced it to cover unexpected events, given our history of holiday almost disasters. If the weather made us stay longer in Greece, so be it.

It also meant that we would get an unexpected bonus of visiting The Acropolis in Athens.The Acropolis

Mom had made her first journey in Greece from Piraeus in 1980 when she travelled solo, flying to Athens and then getting a ferry to Rhodes. She loved Piraeus and the bustle of getting on and off ferries, so I was pretty sure she had had some influence on these plans. She was going to get her last bit of island hopping in before settling on Santorini.Santorini

A twitter friend recommended accommodation in Santorini. What a find! Affordable, comfortable and the owners, Katerina and Nectarios treated us like family rather than guests. And Katerina is a fantastic baker. We didn’t want to leave.Katerina

Santorini has an reputation for being expensive, and yes there are some places that are eye wateringly pricey, yet it is still possible to visit and enjoy Santorini on a modest budget.

We were based in Fira, the capital, but I had an inkling that it was Oia that Mom had stayed in, so we took the bus there with Mom in the back pack.

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Oia is stunning. I had seen countless photographs and was worried that it would not live up to my expectations. It exceeded them. And I knew this is where Mom was meant to be.

We got away from the crowds and searched for the perfect place. And found it.

Mom wasn’t religious yet I thought being in front of a tiny church was appropriate.Church in Santorini

And this field of daisies just seemed to be the right place.Daisy field

This is the view.The final resting place

And I chose the right place, as after I had left her in her final resting place, although off the main drag where tourists gathered, everyone who passed the field stopped to admire them and the view. So she will get plenty of visitors. She would like that.Daisies

Take twice as much money…. as plans often change

Our first night in Greece and hit gold with the hotel, booked via Booking.com. Exhausted after a four hour flight, landing at midnight, we really thought we would need a comfortable night as at the time we had no idea what our forward travel plans would be. We were pleasantly surprised to be put in to an only just finished fully refurbished room at Kastro Hotel.

Until we could see what ferries were running to Santorini we could not book ahead any further, and sadly we could only get one night here, when our plans to go to the Cyclades straight away were thwarted by the fact that there are no ferries there until the 17 April. We fly home at 1am on the 18th.

As the primary reason for this trip to Greece is to fulfil the wishes of my mom, which was to have her ashes scattered in Santorini, we knew we had to come up with a plan.

So far, everything about this trip had gone so well. The cost of the flights dropped by £80. We were first through passport control at Crete which has never happened ever. There were no queues at Birmingham airport check in or security. We had left before all the hold ups in traffic around the airport. My hand luggage was not searched and swabbed as it has been done on the last three times departing from a UKairport. And we score this hotel.20140411-195935.jpg

I knew there had to be a solution, as there was no way that the islands would be complete cut off from, and here is the lightbulb moment, from the mainland. Of course, Piraeus.

Long story, cut short, we are going to Santorini, via Athens. Which has had a huge impact on our budget. The upside, is we get to Athens and visit The Parthenon.

This trip is really turning into my 1979 holiday, re visited. More expensive of course, but totally worth it.

We have had to move hotel, not so lush but overlooking the sea and 10 minutes from the ferry terminal. We sail overnight on 13 April, to Piraeus, tourist class, just like I did in 1979. I have booked  one night in an hotel costing €30 and then we sail to Santorini on 14th, returning on the very first fast ferry to Heraklion on 17th at 8pm. I only hope it all goes to plan, as we have a plane to catch 5 hours later.

 

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When preparing to travel part 2

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.  ~Susan HellerSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

One t shirt, one pair of shorts, one dress, two pairs of linen trousers, two favourite holiday tops and one cover up/sleep wear. Rolled and ready.

Into a packing cube. Undies, socks, swimwear and sarong in another.

Add a cardie and into the bag they go.

Sandals, travel towel and silk sleeping bag liner tucked around the packing cubes.

Add toiletries, hat and bag for the day time. This is my second Healthy Back Bag, with lots of handy compartments and is big enough for an iPad, sunglasses, notebook and pens, all safely tucked away and organised.

These will go in hand luggage, also in packing cubes. Minimalist make up as you can see. New on my Kindle is a book by Dave Dean, Hammocks and Hardrives, The Tech Guide for Digital Nomads. I live in hope. Seriously though, Dave was a great help to me when planning my RTW trip and I would suggest if you are serious about travelling and being a digital nomad, he is the man!

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Same routine for the husband. Seven shirts/t shirts, one pair of shorts and one pair of cargo pants, plus sandals, towel and sleeping bag liner. I even managed to get an additional warm top in for us both.

Weight of case fully packed? 10 kg each and hand luggage 3 kg each, that is pretty good going I reckon. And if were not for silly Thomson airline rules we could carry this on with us. The only thing we would do different is buy shampoo or shower gel at the airport or destination.

Crete, Santorini and who knows where else, here we come.

When preparing to travel….

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.  ~Susan HellerWill it all fit? The money is fixed at £500 plus flights for 7 nights backpacking around the Greek Islands. The flights to Crete are booked and one night at the Kastro Hotel is reserved via Booking.Com and both were well within the budget. I just hope we manage to find some equally good bargains on rooms in Santorini and wherever else we visit. Packing, that is a different matter. We saw these UPPTÄCKA backpacks at Ikea and bought them because they have wheels too. When we used rucksacks on our RTW trip we so rarely needed to haul them on our backs and I really struggled with carrying my pack even though it weighed less than 10kg. I guess I am less a backpacker and more a flashpacker and at 55 I have nothing to prove.

I am also a convert to packing cubes. The pink and blues ones are also from Ikea. No hunting at the bottom of the bag for undies or socks. And full, they all fit perfectly into the larger rucksack. I have found these on the left purchased at Lakeland so useful, keeping cables, adapters and plugs all in one place, combined with these adaptor wraps, also from Lakeland.Cable tidies These certainly help me not to leave any adaptor plugged in at a hostel or hotel. And when, inevitably I have to unload my hand luggage to be searched at airport security. We also need to be prepared for cooler evenings as Greece in April can be chilly, yet if we are hopping on and off ferries I don’t want to be lugging a heavy coat on a warm day. My trusty Kag in a Bag combined with a warm top will have to suffice. One pair of shoes to travel in and one pair of sandals. And that is it. The trusty cagool It all has to fit into these two rucksacks, one to check and one as carry on. If I could only take one carry on that would be ideal, however the airline we are travelling with have a 5kg limit for hand luggage. We had to pay £48 for each bag we check, and have an allowance of 20 kg per bag. The 20 kg cannot be split over two bags, you pay for the bag not the weight. Who needs 20 kg for a week in Greece? Reluctantly I paid for two bags on top of the flights. The fact that the flights dropped in price by £40 the day I booked somewhat softened the blow. Still Thomsons, it is a silly policy. The bulkiest and heaviest items (apart from shoes) are toiletries. I keep saying we will cut back, and always struggle to do so.Too many toiletries I have bought a 3 in 1 shower/shampoo/conditioner, I use hardly any make up and have had my hair cut in an easy to manage style (thanks Vangelis) as I am definitely not taking hair dryers and straighteners. Maybe one hair product to project it from the sun. Sun lotion, toothpaste, Eight Hour Cream and Bare Minerals Sunscreen and that is all. Did me for 5 months on the RTW trip, will certainly do for 7 days in Greece. I am packing and flying tomorrow, wish me luck. And please feel free to share your packing tips with me.

More memories than photos

After I had published my last post about Greece, a number of other memories from that trip in 1979 popped into my head. Amazing that after 35 years I can recall so much. some of the photos jog the memory, like this one that reminds me that the van broke down a lot.The VW, more repairs

As my travel companion commented on my Facebook Page, it was indeed a great holiday. We travelled with a company called Consolas Travel who amazingly are still in business. I say amazingly because I am surprised any of their drivers survived more than one trip, their driving was so atrocious.

They got lost, a lot. Most memorably in Paris. They had no business being in Paris as we were heading for Boulogne sur Mer for the ferry back to Dover. They were following road signs for Bois de Boulogne. We spent an hour driving around Paris looking for the port.

Eventually they decided to ask for directions. Greek drivers in Paris asking for directions. Words that never belong together on one page. They were of the belief that if they shouted in Greek, Parisians would understand them. Arms were waved, by both the French and the Greeks. One passenger made the attempt to interrupt but they were having nothing of it, until she pushed her way off the bus, and asked for directions in perfect French.

She then directed the Greek drivers out of Paris and to the port. Where our ferry was departing.

We were just grateful to be alive never mind in the right Boulogne, as these particular drivers didn’t stop the coach when they switched over. Yup, one guy kept his foot on the pedal, the other took the steering wheel and as one slid out of the drivers seat, the other slipped in.

When we had left Athens we spent all our last Drachma on food and drink for the journey home. We bought bread and tinned sardines. The reason I remember this was because we shared our food around the coach, as many of our fellow travellers had no money left at all. We didn’t quite feed the 500, but our loaves and fishes sure went a long way around that bus.

When we stopped in Venice we were penniless. Beautiful city, and everyone was diving into ice cream except for us. Yet generosity has a habit of being paid forward, and one of the passengers bought us an ice cream each.

Before departing from Omonia Square we spent a last day in Athens. The bus left early in the morning so we needed somewhere close by that was cheap to stay the night. John the Kiwi was travelling back with us, so it made sense to get a room for the three of us to cut costs. Five of us had spent many nights in one room, on one beach, in one VW,  so we thought nothing of it. It was cheap, but not very clean. It was for one night and all we could afford. Sara in Athens

It was only after checking in, and hearing rats scuttling around the room did we realise how dirty the place was. What we also didn’t realise, till much later, was that most people rented the rooms by the hour. We were slap bang in a red light district and most of the rooms were occupied by prostitutes and their clients. We had no guide book or internet, we had no idea. We did emerge unscathed, if unwashed and itchy. Think hovering over the loo, careful not to let anything touch you anywhere.Cathy, Sara and John hanging out by the van

Despite sleeping with prostitutes and rats, that trip to Greece is so memorable. I can still see the sun setting in the middle of the bay, in Matala Crete. That night we slept without a tent, with the Milky Way as our roof. I have no photos of that, indeed much of the holiday is not recorded on film. I have 38 photographs from a trip that lasted about three weeks. I can take that many in a day now, but then film was expensive to buy and develop, when the film ran out so did the photos.Agios Nikolaos Harbour

Another memory was of the time we spent in Athens on a camp site we didn’t pay for. The banks were on strike and non of us had any cash. We couldn’t put fuel in the van and had no money for food. rob drove on the camp site, and we were told it was full, so we told them we would just turn around and leave. Instead we kept on until we found a spot that we could squeeze into. It was right on a beach and we spent the day swimming and sunning.

Ellie and Coral

Back in those pre recycling days, you got money back on empty bottles. We needed cash and people had left empty bottles on the beach. So we collected them and exchanged them for a few Drachma.  And that is how we survived for a couple of days until the banks re opened. Dropping of Ellie to stay with her ex in Athens, we had already lost Cathy to a holiday romance, the four of us decided to visit Crete.KnossosI don’t think I will be visiting Knossos or seeing much of Crete this time. Strikes and weather permitting, I will be going to some islands I have never been to before, The Cyclades. Can you tell I am looking forward to it?

 

 

 

500 Days of Homelessness

Coral:

This is how it can go wrong. Count your blessings.

Originally posted on eternally smiling:

This week, the Huffington Post published this article asking if our government really cares about homelessness. I read the article from my hostel bed; where I have spent the last 500 days in first stage emergency accommodation for the homeless, after losing my flat due to my housing benefit being cut back in 2012. One line from the article resonated with me.
“In just three short years, the number of everyday people being pushed into homelessness has soared by over a third.” I felt mixed emotions at this. Outrage that not only myself had been forced into this situation, grief that it had happened to me and so many others, and relief, that the story was out there.  I wanted to tell my story, properly, for the first time.

This is my story.

In 2008, I arrived in London aged 25 with a job, a home, and apparently in full…

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