Overstrand Life - Janet's Diaries

February 1st - 15th 2014

Sunday 2nd February 2014 - Feels Life Spring, Beach Clean and Frances Frith

Such a change in the weather since last Thursday – it feels like early spring. Cold grey days have been replaced by sun, blue skies and temperatures almost reaching double figures. At low tide on Friday and Saturday afternoons we enjoyed walks along the beach with Barney. The waves lapped against the shoreline and the sun cast shadows from the groins. I just love winter days like these, the sea takes on a hue you don’t see in the summer months. Our garden has a feeling of spring too with Snowdrops, Pansies, Primroses, Mahonia and Cyclamen in flower. I am keeping my fingers crossed the weather forecast is correct and I will be able to get out in the garden tomorrow and do some general tidying.

Thursday 6th February 2014 - Making Progress and LIfe on a Greek Island

Sunday 9th February 2014 - Comparing Overstrand Life and Life on a Greek Island

Following on from a comment made on Overstrand Life’s Facebook page - I realise that people living in other parts of the UK may not appreciate the similarities of life here to that on the small Greek Island of Symi. I am going to devote today’s entry to explaining these similarities but before I do, I need to stress my comparisons relate to our experiences and visits to Symi and other quieter areas of Greece; a country which also has its share of busy urbanised areas. So let’s kick off with my first question to James at Symi Dream :-

Yes if you are born on Symi you can probably manage the Kali Strata into old age but how do expats cope, especially if they don't have family living on the island to shop, run errands etc for them. A large portion of the population of Overstrand are in their own way ‘expats’ having moved away from urbanised areas, family and friends; seeking a quieter more relaxed lifestyle. In old age, we do not face the hilly terrain of Symi but we too, cannot be supported by our families. However, as in Symi we benefit from a close community, one which helps and supports older residents by shopping, taking them to the Doctors or Hospital, walking their dog etc.

Moving onto my second question - How do expats cope with medical services e.g. dentists, doctors and more particularly referral to hospital and stays in hospital? As in Symi, we are well covered by local doctors and dentists. We have a small hospital in Cromer dealing with minor injuries and simple medical matters; I imagine the proposed cottage hospital in Symi will provide similar services. However, more serious medical conditions are referred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Although we don’t need to travel by ferry; it is a twenty eight mile drive. Once there the parking is horrendously difficult and therefore, we cannot expect regular visitors. As in Symi, in the case of dire emergencies a helicopter service is available. I think most residents will agree, we are indeed most fortunate to have the East Anglian Air Ambulance which only keeps in the air thanks to fund raising, donations and the like..

Now onto my third question - What about the weather? You are honest in your blog about conditions; torrents of rain down the Kali Strata and damp in your house, in winter. How do older expats cope? Norfolk is a relatively dry county, so not much in the way of torrents of rain running down the lanes as they do down the Kali Strata in Symi. We are fortunate that most of our homes are built to stand the rigours of a British winter. Heating is not a problem but there are those without central heating. We do however, have a variety of heat sources e.g. coal, wood, gas, oil and electricity. We also get mould caused by damp and humidity. Our home is nearly eighty years old, benefits from central heating but suffers in places from mould. During the winter months we use a dehumidifier and there is always a bottle of bleach in the cupboard under the kitchen sink!

So that covers my questions to James but there are other similarities which I will mention here:-

Like the out of the way places in Greece, pollution levels here are low. We are away from the murk and have wonderful days with clear blue skies and on cloudless nights the stars both here and in Greece, are just amazing. Our summers here are very different to those in Greece where we have experienced temperatures in excess of 40°C. Our summers are a bit more hit and miss but we do appreciate those hot sultry days when we can eat all our meals in the garden.

We loved being able to roam pretty well were we pleased on our visits to Greece and similarly here, there are unofficial paths and tracks that are open to considerate walkers. Our Norfolk beaches are better than those we have walked along in Greece; it was only Koroni which had comparable length. Only on occasions are our seas like those in Greece. It carries and deposits sand and for most of the year it has a muddy appearance.

We are blessed with nearby towns with shops, which apart from the ubiquitous Boots, Superdrug as well as the national Banks, are run by local people. These offer individuality, a greater choice and a pleasant shopping experience; just like Symi and other small islands. Undeniably we do have supermarket chains but on the whole, apart from Budgens, these are located out of town and of course they do have their place in today’s society; offering on-line shopping (particularly useful to those who are housebound). The village of Mundesely, about a ten minute drive and a slightly longer bus ride from Overstrand, offers pretty well everything from butchers to bakery shop to fish stall and florist. Due to the lack of soil and nature of the terrain, Symi does not benefit from being able to produce much in the way of food. Other islands are prolific, as here in Norfolk where local produced meat and vegetables are available in both shops and at Farmers Markets together with their spin-offs e.g. preserves.

Therefore, saying Symi and Overstrand have their similarities was not a ‘throw away’ statement on my behalf. I hope by taking time to expand and explain, readers will appreciate why we have little desire to roam far from Overstrand.

Thursday 13th February 2014 - First & Lasts and Life in General

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