Blogmas day 8- The Christmas Presents

New Year’s Eve, 1994

(that’s when Santa visits children in Greece and Cyprus, on the 1st of January, the name day of St Vasileios, ‘Αη Βασίλης’)

My sister Stella, a then naughty with short curly hair 5 year old and Ι, a stubborn 8 year old were eagerly waiting for my dad who popped outside to meet Santa Claus and get our presents. A year earlier we woke up and ran straight to the real Christmas tree we picked with mamma and papa a few weeks earlier and before we even saw our presents we knew Santa’s been because he ate the cookies and drank the glass of red wine we left for him next to the tree. Oh yeah, we treat Santa to wine in our household, and we are not the only ones in Cyprus who do that. But Santa is supernatural, he doesn’t get drunk with all that wine!

I can’t even remember what Santa Claus brought us either year, I just remember the joy and anticipation. 

Christmas is not about what’s become with all the commercialisation or the presents per se, it’ all about the joy and the kindness that should be celebrated every day, not just at Christmas or the International Kindness day but these little traditions add up to make Christmas… well magical.

I do my little bit helping others, donating, volunteering all year around and I sincerely hope everyone does, so once a year I may overdo it with treating myself and getting little treats for my near and dear ones. 

At this day and age most of us are lucky to afford to get things we really need, so every year I try to get something sentimental, unique and preferably handmade!

Today it’s all about a favourite Christmas tradition, wrapping Christmas gifts. After tidying up and dealing with the usual chores one must do every week (sigh), a bit of writing since I’m a day behind again, I had a lovely winter dinner, put a Christmas film on and I’ve wrapped most gifts. My wrapping skills are not the best I must admit, after the first couple I get impatient, but they turned out OK I guess…

I can’t wait to see everyone’s expression when they open them.

Now, time to decorate the Christmas tree!



Blogmas Day 6- The Christmas market

What a day.

Work has been super busy (damn you HESES return), I had to cancel lunch plans I looked forward to -sorry Ryan!- I met a friend straight after work and I just sat on my sofa to take a breather before I have a shower and relax for tonight. Phew.

Unfortunately the Christmas tree has not arrived so I can’t decorate just yet but it’s not been all bad. I got and ordered most of my Christmas presents including a couple of goodies for myself and I had a lovely afternoon with Suki at the market.

I love the market this year, the selection of beautiful, handmade crafts it’s just wonderful. My favourite by far were the cute little houses with delicious smelling incense burning and smoke coming out of their chimney.

Helen I have not forgotten the halloumi fries, I’ll get some next chance I get!

Right, time to relax before another crazy day tomorrow.

Happy name day to all Nikos, Nikolas, Niki!


Blogmas day 2- the Etsy festive market

Sunday 2nd of December

Today it’s all about the Etsy Local Festive market. I love everything handmade, personalised, unique, creative and to have all the local creative talent under one roof is pretty special.

It’s the second year it’s been running and though I loved the first one, the venue was way too small and couldn’t spend much time on each stall. I hate it when others are behind me waiting, especially knowing there was a queue outside.

But this year it was held at the Spark, our University’s enormous posh modern establishment and I looked forward to it.

After my morning coffee, I sometimes wonder what I’d do with out it, I can’t function, I can’t speak to another human being until I had a sip at least, I got ready. 

I felt like doing something different with my hair, I was aiming for wavy and ended up curly, not sure I liked it, but I never seem to get it right, maybe cause I don’t practise enough. Any advice ladies and gents would be very much appreciated!

And of course I couldn’t not wear another Christmas jumper. For the last 4-5 years I’ve started a few Christmas traditions I maybe one day will pass on to my family, if I ever have one, or inspire others to do something similar. One of them is to buy a new Christmas jumper every year. I threw away one or two, they reminded me of a darker time in my life I don’t need a reminder for but I have already a collection of 3-4. I can’t wait to get one for this year.

After a short stroll through the buzzing with people, Christmas music and beautiful smells city centre I made it to the Spark.

It was busy but there was plenty of space to browse each stall and I have made a couple of purchases. I’m trying hard not to overspend but it’s not easy, especially when it comes to handmade, just beautiful creations.  And there was plenty. Hats, scarves, pins, cards, jewellery, candles and much much more..

I only took a couple of snaps…

And by far my favourite stall, though you may think I’m biased since I know Susan through work, was this. Have a look yourself. And if you want to see more this is her Insta page

I’ve known Susan for years but I somehow never knew she makes such beautiful creations.  I’m always amazed when I discover something new about people, even more so when I see them every day. It just goes to show what a difference it makes when we stop for a moment in our busy lives to have a chat with friends, colleagues, even strangers.

Hope Susan doesn’t mind me mentioning a little anecdote she shared with me today. She doesn’t use her car often but today was one of the few time she needed it. And unfortunately she had a flat tire. Rebecca, a colleague I’ve known for a couple of years, offered to give her a lift and helped her unload her goodies at the Uni. Human kindness at its best. Rebecca is another lovely human I didn’t have the chance to get to know better, and she is leaving Southampton at the end of the week, but this is just an example of how many great humans live amongst us and that’s one of the reasons I still work at Solent. The people. 

Another Christmas tradition I started a few years ago is getting a new unique, handmade ornament for the Christmas tree every year. I’m hoping one day to fill the Christmas tree with special decorations I accumulated over the years, each with a story to tell. 

As soon as I saw this on Susan’s stall, I knew I had to have it. So here it is, this year’s Christmas ornament. I absolutely love it.

Tomorrow’s blog might be a bit late or I might post something shorter, as I’ll be at my last Touch event for 2018, this time at Hythe. If you are around and fancy listening to incredible, inspiring stories of every day people, you can grab a free ticket here

Now time for dinner and get organised for next week. I need a Christmas tree, I still have to get Christmas gifts for the family and still haven’t sorted my outfit for the Christmas party!


Cakes, Christmas, Crafts and bears: Communicare Vintage and Craft Fair

Saturday, 3rd of November 2018.

My first Communicare Vintage and Craft fair as a volunteer.

I’ve been before with my SingNow friends a few times. I still vividly remember the scrumptious slice of carrot cake I had the first time I’ve been and that’s where I got the  hand-knitted peach hat from my brother Andi loved so much, he kept after climbing Snowdon  because it reminded him of me and brought back with him to Ben Nevis a year later.

If you haven’t heard of Communicare before, is a great charity offering befriending, shopping, DIY, transport and other services to those who need it in Southampton.

I always loved the bi-annual Communicare fairs and now I got to be part of it. I’ve been volunteering with Communicare as an events assistant for a while now but since I unfortunately work full-time I can’t attend many of their daytime events, I couldn’t wait for the Vintage and Craft fair, the first event I could help out with.

I was asked to design a flier for it months ago and thanks to Canva, an online platform with free templates- I highly recommend if you want professional-looking leaflets and posters, I came up with this one:

Vintage Fair Flyer-JPEG (1).jpg

After months, the day finally came. And I had such a wonderful time, I went home tired but with a huge grin on my face that lasted for days (well until Monday morning, when reality kicked in and I had to go to work and spend hours staring at spreadsheets).

I made it on time, I know, some of you may be surprised but I always make it on time for things I really care (getting a taxi also helped!).

Communicare fair

Collecting the prizes for the raffle gave me the opportunity to meet and have a chat with all the wonderful stallholders. There was a great variety from antique items, to Beach themed crafts, Christmas decorations, jewellery and paintings.

I spent some time giving out fliers outside with Vicky who was dressed as a bear, adorable, and I was so happy some of the people I gave fliers to, a lovely man with his three daughters who promised to pop by after the girls had their nails done and two couples, amongst others, decided to pop in and see what it was all about.

After a little wander and some purchases- it was hard to resist- I had a break for some delicious cake, again it was VERY hard to choose because of the endless options but I went for banana and chocolate. Yum!



I spent the rest of my time manning the stand for the impressive hand-knitted Nativity kindly donated by Bob ( I think, apologies if I mixed up the names) and selling our wonderful Communibears, of course I bought one too, they were too cute not to, and hand-knitted hats and scarfs.



I loved everything about it. The atmosphere, the live music, Jim Rogers (I can’t believe he sang one of my favourite Ryan Adams songs, Come Pick Me Up is a tune) and Serena Lin, who initially thought a CD was on, she was that good, were incredible, the stalls and all the lovely people I got to meet (and of course lovely people I already knew such as the wonderful Barbara, I love that lady so much, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met).

I’ll never forget Margaret, a retired teacher who went around to sell more teddy bears and ended up buying one for a little girl, she then bumped into one of her students from 30 odd years ago who told her she was the best teacher she ever had. After she took a picture of herself and her student’s family all together she asked her if she could record her saying that she was the best teacher she ever had. The joy in her face was indescribable.

Margaret was just one of the many wonderful humans I had the pure pleasure of meeting that day. There are too many to list and it’s impossible to remember all the names, but every single one made me feel welcome, something I always worry about as an expat living in the UK.

I wish I got to do this every day. Spend all my time making people smile. Maybe one day I’ll start my own charity to do just that. Who knows. Maybe…

In the meantime, I can’t wait for the next Communicare event. Thank you to the lovely Annie, Bryony and everyone else at Communicare for letting me be part of their wonderful charity and help a little little raising money for such a noble cause.


PS Communicare is always looking for more volunteers, so if you fancy joining this beautiful community, or you’d like to donate or attend future events,  all details are here.