New normal, “Stockholm Syndrome” and some lockdown freedom

During the second month of coronavirus lockdown in a marina in Athens, we started to develop a “new normal” – long joint video chats at the weekend with our son and daughter and partners, chaotic Zoom sessions with my extended family (20 – 25 of us at a time with a range of ages from 7 to over 70) and weekly activities with our “bubble companions” from S/V Polykandros.

Afternoon tea on S/V Polykandros

The little family of four aboard “Polly” were on the brink of a new life – a sailing adventure that had seen them bravely sell up their house and contents and leave their everyday existence in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Instead of sailing into the wild blue yonder, however, they were, like us, confined to their sailing yacht at Alimos Marina in Athens for who knows how long, due to the Greek Corona Virus lockdown.

Making gin and tonics on S/V Sunday

We discovered that the children Luca (13) and Nina (10) enjoyed art but all their art materials were in boxes that were still stuck in New Zealand. So Jonathan, who went to art college many moons ago and had a couple of sketchbooks and some pencils stashed away somewhere, “volunteered” to run drawing classes.

Some excellent still life drawings

I also elected to join in as I am totally useless at drawing and have always wanted to test Jonathan‘s oft-quoted assurances that “anyone can learn to draw”. Our daughter Hannah who appears to have inherited my lack of prowess with a pencil decided to join in remotely. Then my two sisters (who appear to have more talent than I was blessed with but who also felt their skills needed upgrading) also decided to join in via Zoom.

Hannah really captured this bowl well during our Zoom Art class session.

The children and their Mum Silke could already draw really well so my lack of skill was glaring in contrast. I battle on however, and will now admit that while I could never be a Picasso, or even a half decent amateur artist, it is possible to learn “tricks” and techniques that with practice could allow even me to draw a possibly recognisable portrait. Practice and application is what’s needed now!

You can laugh if you like but compared with anything else I’ve done it was amazing!
My second drawing of a face since I was a school girl! I shall keep practicing for sure!

Another regular activity (for me anyway) has been twice weekly yoga classes with Silke who had a yoga studio in New Zealand called “Heartspace”. (

After ten sessions, Silke’s carefully selected yoga postures have caused the annoyingly persistent pain in my shoulder joints to vanish. Amazing! At weekends, afternoon teas with delicious home baked scones, pies, cakes and biscuits or barbecues have also helped life feel much more “normal “.

Lucy is trying to tell me that were still some biscuits left in the tin
Lucy has another try at telling me that there were still some biscuits in the tin!
Baking on board has its difficulties – missing useful items such as a sieve, scales etc and no thermostat on the oven (it’s either on or it’s not!) etc
The apple pie was good though
Lucy enjoyed her cake
No golden syrup in our local shops but still made Anzac biscuits on on Anzac Day

Jonathan and I have been walking each day – some days along the seafront and on others around the marina and along many of the piers looking at all the boats.

A beautiful sky on one of our daily walks
No people, no rubbish – the water in the marina gradually became gloriously clear
So many beautiful views
There are still some lovely old villas nestled between the apartment blocks on the seafront
Usually, this promenade would be heaving with people but all was quiet during lockdown
Some of the beautiful craft in Alimos Marina
Another lovely evening walk

Some days we hit the suburban streets inland a little for a change of scene and sometimes we have had lovely Lucy dog canine crew member of Polykandros to accompany us.

We walked passed this nursery on one of walks through the suburban streets
An Australian bottle brush bush!
Another reminder of Australia – a lovely eucalypt
Lucy enjoying the beach
The empty lockdown beach!
Along our pier some of the charter companies have planted little gardens in boxes
There was no one to water the plants and we had a spell of very hot weather
Capt’n Birdseye to the rescue!

One day we took a fairly substantial walk (8.5 km round trip) to Lidl to restock our wine cellar which had taken rather a Covid related hit during the previous weeks! We felt rather embarrassed that a dozen wines rolled out of the trolley along with some meusli, a bottle of gin, some lemons and a packet of rocket! Not everyone ‘s idea of essential supplies!

Essential supplies from Lidl!

On one of our strolls around the marina we found a brand new Lagoon 50. We were having a good old “sticky beak” when out popped Igor, the skipper we had hired last year to show us the ropes on Sunday.

Looking at the new Lagoon 50’s anchor

It was great to have a chat and a guided tour of the brand new boat that he had just skippered all the way from the manufacturers in France.

The new Lagoon looking very swish.

The following weekend Igor and his almost nine-year old daughter came to visit Sunday and we met up later with the young people from Polykandros for a game of bat and ball.

Language is no barrier when playing bat and ball

At the end of April we celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary. No dinner out for us but we did pop a cork on a bottle of Prosecco and we enjoyed some luscious pasta with an indulgent mushroom and cream sauce!

Cheers to us! 34 years married – exactly half our lives!
Wedding anniversary dinner

Around this time the marina in which we are staying completely closed down. We hadn’t seen any of the workers from the charter boats since we first arrived in Athens but most days we had seen a few people take a stroll through the marina during their evening constitutional or cyclists enjoying the quiet road to exercise in. Once the marina was closed down we saw nobody except for the security guards who patrolled up and down the marina piers.

Definitely no entry into Alimos Marina!
Our pier would normally have cars, motorbikes and loads of workers and tourists crowded on

We were very lucky to hear of a secondhand Magma BBQ from Tim, skipper of Polykandros. He had made enquiries from the German seller but in the meantime had found a good one locally so he handed the details on to us.

Testing out the new BBQ

The BBQ was in good condition and selling at an excellent price so we grabbed it gratefully. Despite the coronavirus shutdown it arrived quite quickly and we soon had it installed and gave it a trial one Saturday evening.

Chicken kebabs cooking
I even received these beautiful flowers from our lovely offspring for Mother’s Day
They lasted for ages!

Greece had done so well in keeping cases of coronavirus at a very low level (only 146 deaths as of 4 May), that on that date restrictions began to be relaxed. By 12 May it was announced that for the first time since measures were introduced, people could move around outside of their immediate area.

Taking social distancing to the extreme (look up!)

This relaxation meant that after almost two months confined to barracks we were able to hire a car and go shopping for household items (at IKEA) hardware (to fix things on Sunday,) and to larger supermarkets to find items we weren’t able to buy at our small local food store.

Our little car – free at last!
The car park looked empty but by the time we had finished shopping there were queues for miles! We ended up having to dump our trolley and leave after waiting in a queue for 15 minutes and then being told it was closed

I had been hankering after some proper English cheddar cheese. Much to my delight I found Cathedral Cheese (a family member is Marketing Manager for this brand so it’s a must-buy for our extended family!). It was extremely expensive but we threw caution to the wind and purchased three 350g blocks.

Oh yessss! Cathedral Cheese!

We were even able to go out and buy a new dinghy and motor as the one that came with the boat had some serious age-related issues and the engine wouldn’t “idle”.

Jonathan trying to nurse the old outboard back to life

We purchased our new runabout from Leadmar Marine – George (Georgios) and his Dad were very charming, helpful and very easy to work with (George makes good coffee too). We ended up buying a Canadian designed Gala and a six horse-power Mariner four-stroke engine.

Enjoying our coffee in the Leadmar Marine office

One evening we drove north along the beautiful coastline to the Temple of Poseidon for a picnic and to watch the sun set over these lovely and historic ruins.

Taking in the view on the way to the Temple of Poseidon

It felt so good to have the freedom to take a drive, admire the view, have a picnic, feel the breeze on our faces but we almost didn’t go. We were all tired from our mammoth shopping trips but more than that, I believe we had developed a weird sort of “Stockholm syndrome” (

The Temple of Poseidon- photo courtesy of Tim Whitaker

We had become so used to being cocooned in the safety of our own space that instead of feeling claustrophobic and confined we started to feel happy to be confined. It was actually quite challenging to push ourselves out of the routines and rituals we had established and to get out of our “comfort zone”.

The stunning Temple of Poseidon

When it came to it, we all felt so glad that we had made the effort as the view of the temple was stunning, especially in the evening as the sun was setting

The temple – stunning in the setting sun

PS In case anyone is wondering how our grandducks are going here is a recent photo of them enjoying a camp fire in our son and daughter-in-law’s garden! Haven’t they grown?!

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

4 thoughts on “New normal, “Stockholm Syndrome” and some lockdown freedom”

  1. Another amazing and interesting post. I realise I may be suffering from slight ‘Stockholm syndrome’ myself!

    I hope you manage to get through the necessary bureaucracy and off onto the ocean wave very soon!



    1. Thanks Sarah. Great news! We received our transit log today which allows the boat to be in Greece for 18 months, although we will have to take it out after six months. However, as we will only be allowed to stay for 90 days out of any 180 days that won’t be difficult. Hopefully we can alternate between our UK and Australian/NZ passports. It’s all so complicated!! Should be heading out soon!!


  2. George/Georgious and I so enjoyed having a bit of escapism this weekend, by lying in our slay bed, pretending to be on a raft! and reading your Greek blog.

    Currently, I’m having a big battle to get my money back from Tui for our cancelled week in Skiathos, involving hanging on a phone help line for fourty five minutes, (they did warn me I could wait up to an hour for an answer!) speaking to a “furloughed young girl” in Wales, who had to shout “Mum, I’m on the phone!” at one stage and after a long silence, while the girl had to check something, got cut off, grr! I only had the Tui help line registered on our phone and needless to say, despite having my number, she didn’t call back!!

    George recognised the Chianti label on the bottle you were drinking, but admits to having forgotten if it was any good! But he liked the look of the Prosecco bottle, the beer bottle top is a very traditional closure and a throw back to the fifties. He’s about to try some Portugese wines from Lidl’s Wine Cellar Collection.

    Congratulations on your Wedding Anniversary onboard your swish cat! You certainly won’t forget what happened on your 34th one!!

    And fingers crossed you’ve now set sail and are off on your Greek Adventure. Bet you’ll miss your “bubble family” they seem really sweet and fun…and as for your drawing, I’m very impressed. Probably have never told you that one of the reasons I changed from doing a zoology to a psychology degree, was because I was hopeless at drawing cells, bones etc and found all the microscope work wearing glasses frustrating!

    Hopefully Stockholm Syndrome (I’m interested to read the article from your link later) won’t hamper you on your trip. So far, I have spent almost four months cocooned in our house and garden for almost all the time apart from our daily walk, visit to the shops etc.
    When Camilla&family came to visit us for the first time, for a picnic in the garden, last Tuesday, around the time the news of Cummings flouting lockdown was released, if you’ve heard anything about that! Camilla commented that I was very uptight!
    This week we went to visit them in Christchurch and it felt strange finally leaving our “safe home”, but the visit was much better, apart from not being able to hug and kiss them, as Max could roam freely in their house and garden, rather than me stopping him from entering our house, to play with the “old school toys” left over from Camilla&Jack’s childhood .

    Bon Voyage! Stay safe!

    Much love to you both,

    Yamas! Sally&Joerg kala!



    1. Oh Sally you made me smile at a time when I was feeling about to tear my my hair out and Jonathan’s too except he has shaved all his off! A funny but frustrating thing happened last night when we went to dinner at our friends’ boat after an exhausting and trying day with electricians not turning up and our shore power busted (fixed now). Lucy dog was very happy to see me and jumped up to say hello. That was fine but she decided to have a second loving embrace and knocked my phone clean out of my hand. It shot up into the air did a double somersault with pike, bounced off the jetty and into the water! So today while I should have been getting ready to leave tomorrow, I had to go and buy a new phone The rest of the day has been a fruitless exercise in trying to access my email and other accounts I wont bore you with the details but suffice to say I have been on the verge of committing ritual hari kari. Your message saved me murdering someone or doing damage to something so thank you! Hope this reaches you as my emails aren’t working!! Sending you both lots of love and will send another update soon!


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