Tag Archives: relaxation

Living the Good Life

Are you more “Tom and Barbara” or “Jerry and Margot” when it comes to your approach to life? There’s no way I could let a reference to this unforgettable 70s British sitcom pass without a gentle nod in their direction, but my blog post is actually all about our exceptional retreat in Syros during our recent Greek holiday. Somewhere that embraces the self-sufficient lifestyle of the Goods and yet provides an experience that even the pickiest Leadbetter would struggle to complain about.

The Good Life Greece is owned by the charming and laid-back Nick, who, despite having called Greece his home since 2004, still speaks with a distinguishable Australian accent and, with the help of his sons also set up a number of small businesses in Athens, including our base whilst we were there, the Athens Studios. Escaping the noise and busyness of the capital city, the Syros villas match the peaceful beauty of their location and gave us a chance to recharge our batteries whilst embracing the simplicity of Greek island life.

Our home for the week was the idyllic Balance villa, a traditional stone house surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Carefully designed to be sustainable and eco-friendly, the villa was simple with an understated luxury that we all enjoyed. The children were welcome to pick vegetables, hunt for eggs and harvest the figs on the nearby trees; and enjoyed every moment as they explored the grounds around the villa. With 2 bedrooms, a kitchen I’d love to have at home, bathroom and spacious living/dining area complete with TV and DVD player, there was more than enough space to house us all without risk of getting in each other’s way. A beautiful stone patio circled 2 sides of the house with amazing sea views, which we enjoyed on our quiet Sunday “at home” when we spent the day playing card games, listening to music and soaking up the sun in absolute peace.

Before we arrived on Syros, Nick and I had exchanged a couple of emails and I gratefully accepted his offer of a pack of local foods to welcome us to the island. I was so delighted by this decision when we discovered the wonderful array of goodies that filled the fridge and pantry. Fresh fruit and vegetables, goats’ cheese, yoghurt and milk for G, local sausage, cooked meals and chicken kebabs for M as well as eggs, fresh bread and, most importantly, local beer and wine gave us everything we needed for the first few days. Nick also hosted a wine-tasting evening mid-week, where he introduced us to a number of fantastic Greek wines accompanied by a spread of delicious local foods. We met our Dutch next-door neighbours, whose 11 year-old son quickly became great friends with both M and G as well as a willing partner-in-crime!

We loved every moment of our holiday on Syros and would go back in a heartbeat. I am particularly tempted by the thought of a Christmas spent there and, who knows, maybe we’ll make it back before too long.

Marks out of 10: 10/10 without hesitation

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An unexpected day off!

As a parent of a child with a chronic illness, one of the unexpected challenges you have to cope with is finding people you trust to take on their care, even for a short while.  It can be difficult to entrust your child and their needs to anyone other than immediate family and, for Mums in particular I suspect, that may mean you end up doing almost all of their care by yourself.  The opportunities to have that much-talked about and desired “me-time” are often few and far between and, to be frank, if you do manage to grab some, it’s usually at the cost of not spending it with your significant other at a point when time together is most needed.  shipsIn the 6 months since M had his tube, Mike and I have become like those proverbial “ships that pass in the night” as we juggle work commitments, school timetables, extra-curricular activities and those few social events that have helped keep us sane.  Any time we have managed to spend together has revolved around appointments or meetings about M and the constraints of school hours.

We are extremely blessed that we do have an amazing support network surrounding us, which pulls together to ensure that we are able to keep going to work and can even occasionally both be out on the same evening, albeit often at separate events.  helpMy days are made easier by the fact that M’s school have so willingly shared my burden and responsibility by ensuring there are members of staff who know how to take care of his feeding pump and tube, meaning that I don’t have to be there every minute of every day.  Without a doubt, their decision was made easier by the fact that I work less than 5 minutes away and they know they can call whenever they need to, but those phone-calls have been few and far between.  My Mum lives close enough that she has been able to continue the routine of picking G and M up from school a couple of times a week, allowing me to work my hours and has been willing to provide some invaluable school holiday care for us too.  We even have a babysitter who was willing to learn about the tube and whose GP parents, less than 5 minutes away, were an added bonus for the couple of hours we’ve needed once or twice.

Last week, we had an amazing offer from good friends – in fact, those GP parents I’ve just mentioned – which astounded us and gave us a break from routine that we haven’t enjoyed since last December.  It all started at the beginning of half-term, when an unexpected text arrived on my phone as I was in the middle of convincing M to help me clear out and clean the pit he calls his bedroom:

Hi, we wondered if we could look after the kids for you on Bank Holiday Monday so that you can have a bit of time for yourselves.  Let us know what you think. O x”

Then there was a flurry of messages between us as I sat on M’s floor, overwhelmed and close to tears at the kindness of these friends.  Not only were they offering to take G and M for a couple of hours, as I originally thought, but in fact wanted to look after them for the whole day and take them to a local wildlife park that I knew my 2 would love.  They sorted out food, were not phased by the pump and tube and even claimed to be excited at the prospect of having G and M as their guests for the day.  What was even better was that the children were as thrilled as their hosts at having a day out too; and what a day they had!  For the rest of the week, it’s been endless tales of marble-run competitions, playing in the hay barn, seeing the animals and the zip-wire in their back garden.

timeoffAs for Mike and me, well, we had our day together and enjoyed every moment.  It may not have been the adrenalin-filled adventure experienced by our children, but we had time to buy some much-needed bits and pieces for the house, enjoy coffee and cake mid-shopping trip and lingered over a late lunch not constrained by complex food allergies and a restaurant of our choice.  We didn’t get to the cinema as we had originally hoped we might, but thanks to my Mum, we got our night out at the theatre the following weekend instead – I know, two dates in one week, unheard of!  Most importantly, we were able to spend precious time with each other without worrying what G and M were up to and without waiting anxiously for my phone to ring.