Letter from Greece
ORIGINALLY from Gateshead, Greece is now home to Gaynor King who has escaped the rat race for an idyllic outdoor life but still misses the Geordie sense of humour.
What prompted you to move abroad?
I have always loved travel, having lived and worked in France before, so when my husbands retirement was looming we started looking in earnest at our options. Our friends had recently moved to Rhodes and we went to visit, staying in an adjacent house.
I stood on the patio, looked at the village nestled amongst the pine Forrest and the mountains, breathing in the fresh air, and clear blue skies, and thought ‘ I could live here ‘.
When did you leave and how long have you been there?
We left in 2007 but moved into our house in 2008 which was the same house we had stayed in previously.
How easily did you make friends and find work?
We’d done a lot of research prior to moving, which is essential, and we had checked cost of living expenses and knew we could manage on my husbands pension without having to work. It is a lot cheaper to live here, and although there isn’t much left at the end of every month, we came for the lifestyle rather than riches…
Did you feel homesick?
It’s always strange getting used to a new place, whether it’s moving abroad or another town, but it helped having our friends next door, and we are both easy going socially.
What have you achieved that you wouldn’t have done back home?
Our biggest achievement is a sense of peace. Having had demanding jobs before,we wanted to escape the rat race. To live more simply without having work targets, and work related stress. Many friends and people we know in the UK are unhappy with work and the way their lives were heading and that was a big factor in finding somewhere we could be happy.
Here we live mainly outdoors, we have chickens and a large garden with olive and fig trees. We love England and especially the people , but it’s the lifestyle here that makes it. Being able to plan BBQ s and outings without getting depressed at the grey skies and damp climate. The winters here are cold ( I still wear my thermal vest in Jan and Feb) but with 300 days sunshine a year on average it’s great.
It took me a while to slow down. To accept that if someone asked me what job I did and I said I didn’t work, to not feel guilty. To realise I didn’t have to be what others wanted me to be. To live amongst nature, not having a timetable other than what you create, makes you more aware of who you are and what makes you happy.
We have the internet but we don’t live glued to the screen, as we’ve seen this in the younger generation in the last few years especially.
Does the English accent get you far?
Being in Greece people just presume you are a tourist. I can speak Greek enough to get by now, though most people here speak English. It was nice once we made friends, and got to know people serving in shops and restaurants.
What do you miss about home (excluding family and friends)?
This is a tough question as nothing really springs to mind, other than family and friends as you say.
My husband is a great cook, so any food we like he can make, we have a Lidl and the Greek supermarkets cater for whatever we need.
We lived in Northumberland before we moved here, and it’s obviously stunning, but the weather prevented us from taking full advantage of it. Here the countryside is also beautiful. My husband has just said he misses going into hardware shops and being immediately understood.
What three things should be imported from the North-East to where you are?
The Geordie humour and sense of fun. Organisation relating to paperwork – it is still very corrupt here, and you can’t trust that what is said is going to be the truth.
What three good things would you export from where you are to make the North-East a better place?
The sun. The sun. The sun…..