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Baby Steps

I feel as though the mosquitoes didn't get the memo that we live here now. There is just no need for all that biting and itching, save it for the tourists if you don't mind.

Our choice of song has moved from West Side Story's 'Somewhere' to Santana's 'Smooth', adjusting the lyrics very slightly to 'well, it's a hot one'. It doesn't go any further, just that one line several times a day, it's such an earworm.

We have also gratefully received lots of tips that have proved helpful so far. Sometimes, the rules need no interpretation, like when we had a power cut 3 times during our big shop at the supermarket and everybody stood perfectly still, like a larger-scale version of musical statues.

Our transition from winter to spring was a sudden one. We discarded not one, but two of the fleece blankets in one fell swoop. A week later we progressed to just a duvet and a cotton sheet. It seems impossible to think that in just a few more weeks, even a cotton sheet will feel stifling. The weather has been glorious and we have promised ourselves we will never complain about the heat. We have fully embraced siesta-time, sometimes sleeping deeply for 3 hours and regretting it at 2am the next morning when we have woken up as bright as a button. The pace of life has been refreshing, if a little difficult to settle into, the need to feel as though we are constantly being productive is deeply ingrained. We have bought bikes and have enjoyed cycling along the harbour, we have swam in the beautiful turquoise sea, we have walked for miles and visited Morris's fan club regularly. The goats are fascinated with him, whilst he strolls on by, oblivious to their interest.

::Photo, Morris's fan club, Ziros::

Our early preparation for residency turned out to be a real stroke of genius. In only 7 weeks, we already have our biometric permits and Greek driving licences in hand. Our temporary AMKA numbers (like NHS numbers) means that we can get our vaccinations and so by mid-June we will be done and dusted.

Easter in Greece was a whole month after the UK. Huge celebrations would usually be afoot, but not this year. Restrictions were relaxed for the day and so we went to have lunch with some of our Greek friends. Eleni is a wonderful cook and has often made us the most amazing banquets laden with enough food to feed an army. Our favourite is her lamb and potatoes, which was certain to make an appearance for Easter and so we were very much looking forward to it.

The tradition is to break their 40 day fast with a soup called Magiritsa. It's made with lamb pluck and intestines - pluck is the internal organs found in the chest cavity of the carcass, consisting of the lamb's wind pipe, lungs, heart and liver. The soup was packed with small, thin tubes of, I don't know, arteries I think. I ate it out of politeness, but it isn't something that would be a chosen starter for us.

Then came out the lamb and potatoes - Opa!!

::Photo, Eleni's lamb and potatoes::

Then came out the boiled sheeps head....

::Photo, Eleni's sheeps head::

Our beautiful friend proceded to chomp on the head like it was a chop, biting into it heartily. It was a Beauty and the Beast kind of moment. I couldn't take my eyes off it, I was fascinated by the teeth and tongue. She then brought out some tin snips/scissors to gain access to the brain. My motto is to always try something at least once, but I couldn't overcome the presentation issues with this one and I politely declined.

All the while, in the background preparations were underway to buy the house. I was in direct contact with the sellers and our offer had been accepted, but there were several issues that had to be resolved before we could move forwards. One of the store rooms on the plot was illegal and a fine was due, there were concerns about some of the other rooms too. You are not allowed to sell a house that has debts on it, and the previous 5+ years of water and electricity bills were outstanding.

The house is our equivalent of the wildcard option in 'A Place In The Sun'. It's not what we expected to be buying but we are 100% sure this is the one and so the issues had to be resolved, someway, somehow. There is a solution for everything, we just had to find it. We have a good lawyer, a good engineer and a good friend who is helping us take each tiny step, bit by bit.

We still have a long way to go, but at least we're going in the right direction.

The cat and the dog have settled in well. We had decided that the cat wouldn't be allowed to go out on her own, she's deaf and there are some local dogs that chase cats. The worry was that she wouldn't hear them and we didn't want to risk finding out what might happen if she couldn't outrun them. She also has a brain tumour and we are not sure whether this is affecting her memory, I couldn't risk her wandering and not coming back. Our solution was to take her out on the lead which has left the locals bemused. The dog has enjoyed lots of walks in the back fields, but we had a continuing problem of finding ticks on him. We had bought him a special collar, and used some drops but the problem persisted and so we tried to find alternative solutions. During our research, we stumbled on an article explaining a condition called leishmania. We knew very little about it, but understood that it's a serious condition. We discovered there was a yearly vaccine available from the vet surgery and it seemed a sensible thing to do for our beloved pooch. The criteria to receive the vaccine is that the dog has to have a blood test beforehand, to check they are not already infected. Our new Vet is lovely, very caring towards the animals that are taken in and has already conducted an operation on Morris to remove a small growth from on top of his head. We sat and watched the entire process in the surgery room, quite fascinated. I'm also fascinated with the mode of transport used to get the animals to the vet surgery.

:: Photo, Ms Sheep seemed happy with the transport service::

The same happened with the blood test. We sat as the blood was taken and the little machine did its thing. The vet looked very solemn as he approached us. It was positive. The sample was sent off to the laboratory as we all assumed it must be a 'false positive'. It came back as conclusive and I was devastated. We had only been in the country for 6 weeks, we hadn't taken him to the beach (this shows our ignorance, we thought the sandfly was only present on the beach, their name actually comes from their appearance as they look like a grain of sand). I have berated myself over and over for not protecting him well enough, for bringing him into a country where the disease is prevalent and for letting him down. I was guided to a support group who advised the course of medication our vet had recommended was correct and consoled with the fact that many dogs contract it, despite every effort. In 3 months he will have further blood tests to see whether the result is the same, as the initial test showed a very low number meaning it is a very recent infection. We don't know what will happen, as yet he shows absolutely no symptoms and we have to hope that the medication will keep the progression of the disease at bay for as long as possible. Symptoms can take anything from 3 months to 7 years to develop. We just need to believe that in catching it so early, we can keep symptoms at bay for as long as possible.

Of our adventures so far, this has been the hardest one.

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